Hello and welcome!
Last Thursday, we had the annual anniversary Mass at Regina Cleri for the priests both diocesan and religious who were celebrating 50 years of ordination.
We began with Mass and afterwards we had dinner together.
At the dinner we presented Msgr. Paul McManus with a birthday cake marking his 99th birthday.
On the cake there was one candle, which I held out for him to blow out.
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Following the Mass at Regina Cleri, I attended the annual fundraising banquet for the Cardinal Cushing Centers in Hanover.
The event supports the wonderful work of the center, taking care of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. There was a time when I believe most of those served by the center would have been children with Down syndrome, but now they serve people with of a variety of disabilities and adults as well as children.
With Lisa Alberghini of our Planning Office for Urban Affairs; Franciscan Sister Joanne Schatzlein from Milwaukee who is on the Board of Directors; and the director of the Cardinal Cushing Centers, Jo Ann Simons
During the evening they presented the Franciscan Leadership Award to Leo and Paul Vercollone of VERC Enterprises for their commitment to helping employ people with intellectual disabilities.
As I like to say, there were so many initiatives the Cardinal Cushing began that I could spend my whole life going around celebrating the anniversaries of the many great institutions – mission societies, hospitals, seminaries and schools – that he founded. But of all the many things he did, his favorite was the St. Coletta School, which is now the Cardinal Cushing Centers.
In fact, it was for that reason that he asked to be buried there in a Chapel which is a beautiful replica of the Portiuncula in Assisi.
The gift that they gave me for the evening was a drawing of the Portiuncula by a young man who is at the Cardinal Cushing Centers.
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Saturday, I went to celebrate the Capuchin ordinations for the St. Augustine Province in Pittsburgh.
There were two Friars ordained, Brother John Paul and Brother Manuel, who is from El Salvador. There were many Salvadorans in attendance so, of course, we commented on the recent beatification of Archbishop Romero.
It was a great joy to ordain two more Capuchin Friars to the priesthood and to be with my brothers from the St. Augustine Province of the Capuchins.
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Following the ordination, I departed for Rome for meetings with the Holy Father and the group of Cardinals who are advising him.
On Monday, we began our meetings.
As has been announced, one of the issues that we addressed was the establishment of a new tribunal that will deal with bishops in cases where there has been a lack of oversight or other malfeasance in the direction of a diocese concerning abuse of minors. A new section will be established within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Ever since the abuse crisis began, one of the strongest objections has been that the Church has not had a mechanism to really deal with issues of accountability, or that the structures that were in place were insufficient. So, it is our hope that this new tribunal will be able to address that problem.
The new tribunal will also help to deal with the backlog of open cases against accused priests, of which there are many. This has also been a very great concern among those in the Church — that it has taken so long to process these cases. It has been a great source of anxiety for the accused priests, the victims, the parishes and the dioceses involved. So, this tribunal also will help to address another very important need in the Church.
We are grateful for all the work by the members of the Commission for the Protection of Minors and Msgr. Robert Oliver around these issues. It is something that we have been working on for a long time and we are very glad that it has come to fruition.
Another issue that we dealt with was the establishment of a plan to reorganize the communications departments of the Holy See, bringing together the various entities such as L’Osservatore Romano, Vatican Television, Vatican Radio, the Holy See Press Office and other related entities.
We are very grateful to the Holy Father for having accepted these two recommendations.
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As I always like to do when I’m in Rome, I spent some time visiting with our seminarians who are studying there.
One evening, we went to the Piazza Navona where we had ice cream and watched a performance by a fire dancer, which was quite a treat!
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On Tuesday, I joined a group of Catholic journalists led by Father Roger Landry for dinner by the Pantheon.
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On Wednesday, I happened to meet this group of students from Ave Maria University on the street and they asked to have their picture taken with me.
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During this time, the bishops of Puerto Rico were in Rome for their ad limina visits and I had the opportunity to have dinner with Archbishop of San Juan Roberto González, who had been auxiliary Bishop in Boston; Bishop Álvaro Corrada del Río, who is Bishop of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. We were also joined by Father Chris Marino, who is the rector of the Cathedral of Miami.
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And yesterday, before leaving for home, I went to have lunch at the Capuchin curia with our Father General.
While I was there, I noticed this painting of several Capuchin saints including Padre Pio and Father Leopold, a very famous confessor whom I believe the Holy Father mentioned in his letter announcing the Year of Mercy.
Until next week,