IMAGE: CNS/Gregory A. ShemitzBy George P. Matysek Jr.WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Cardinal William H. Keeler, Baltimore's 14th
archbishop, who was an international leader in Catholic-Jewish relations and
the driving force behind the restoration of America's first cathedral, died
March 23 at his residence at St. Martin's Home for the Aged in Catonsville. He
The archdiocese said the cardinal will lie in repose March 27 at the
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption in Baltimore. His funeral
will be celebrated March 28 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, also in Baltimore.Pope Francis, in a papal telegram March 24, sent condolences to Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori and the archdiocese, expressing gratitude for "Cardinal Keeler's years of devoted episcopal ministry" and his "long-standing commitment to ecumenical and interreligious understanding. He called the cardinal a "wise and gentle pastor."
"One of the great blessings in my life was coming to know
Cardinal Keeler," Archbishop Lori said in a
statement March 23. "Cardinal Keeler will be greatly missed. I am grateful to the
Little Sisters for their devoted care for the cardinal."
Keeler was the bishop of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, when he was appointed the
14th archbishop of Baltimore in 1989. Pope John Paul II made him a cardinal in
1994. He retired in 2007. As president of the U.S. bishops' conference from
1992 to 1995, he participated in a wide range of national and international issues.
As part of his work with what is now the U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Keeler developed a reputation for effectively
building interfaith bonds. He is particularly noted for his work in furthering
Catholic-Jewish dialogue. He was appointed moderator of Catholic-Jewish
Relations for the USCCB.
"As a priest, bishop of
Harrisburg and archbishop of Baltimore, the cardinal worked to bring the hope
of Christ to people's lives," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston
Houston, who is president of the USCCB. "He also built bridges of
solidarity to people of other faiths as a leader in ecumenism and
"Cardinal Keeler was a dear
friend. The most fitting tribute we can offer is to carry forward his episcopal
motto in our daily lives: 'Do the work of an evangelist,'" Cardinal
DiNardo said in a statement.
He called the late cardinal
"a servant of priestly virtue and gentlemanly manner" who is remembered
by the USCCB for "his generosity of spirit in service to his brothers and
the people of God."
Cardinal Keeler's death leaves the College of Cardinals with 223
members, 17 of whom are from the United States. The College of Cardinals has
117 members under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave.
In his statement, Archbishop Lori remarked on
"the respect and esteem" in which the cardinal was held by his
brother bishops, and praised his leadership in Jewish-Catholic relations and in
Orthodox-Catholic relations. Archbishop Lori also said he was known for his
"prowess as a church historian" and had a "deep love and respect
for the history and heritage of the Archdiocese of Baltimore."
Cardinal Keeler was an ardent promoter of the
Catholic Church's teaching on the sanctity of all human life. He twice served
as chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities and
testified at all levels of government on legislation ranging from abortion to
euthanasia to capital punishment.
Among the cardinal's many accomplishments in the
Baltimore Archdiocese, Archbishop Lori highlighted "the wonderful visit of Pope
St. John Paul II to Baltimore in 1995, the restoration of the Basilica of the
Assumption and the creation of Partners in Excellence which has helped
thousands of young people from disadvantaged neighborhoods to receive a sound
"When I would visit the cardinal at the Little
Sisters of the Poor (in Cardinal Keeler's retirement), I gave him a report on
my stewardship and told him many times that we were striving to build upon his
legacy -- a legacy that greatly strengthened the church and the wider
community," Archbishop Lori said.
Born in San Antonio and raised in Lebanon,
Pennsylvania, William Henry Keeler knew from an early age he was called to the
priesthood. In a 2005 interview with the Catholic Review, Baltimore's
archdiocesan newspaper, he recalled visiting his grandfather's farm in Illinois
when the local Catholic pastor stopped by for a visit -- pointing to the
4-year-old boy and announcing that he would one day become a priest.
He was ordained a priest in Rome July 17, 1955.
He served as assistant pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Marysville,
Pennsylvania, before taking on other assignments as secretary to Harrisburg
Bishop George L. Leech and as a "peritus," or special adviser, during Second
Vatican Council meetings in Rome.
He later was named vice chancellor and vicar
general of the Harrisburg Diocese and named an auxiliary bishop for the diocese
in 1979. Four years later he was appointed its bishop.
"He was a true churchman whom we are greatly
honored to have called a priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg," said Bishop
W. Ronald Gainer, head of the diocese since 2014. "His roots and Catholic
education in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, prepared him to do great work for the
people of God.
"This area and diocese benefited
significantly from his leadership and passion for service and
evangelization," Bishop Gainer said. As a priest and bishop, Cardinal
Keeler "worked fruitfully to advance increased cooperation and warmer relationships
between different Christian communities, both locally and nationally. ... I
thank God for his priestly life and ministry and for his inspiring service to
all."Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of
Washington called it "a privilege to have known Cardinal Keeler for more
than three decades."Besides collaborating on USCCB
initiatives, he noted that when he was Pittsburgh's bishop, 1988-2006, and
Cardinal Keeler was Harrisburg's bishop, the two worked closely together
through the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference. When then-Bishop Wuerl was named
Washington's archbishop, and Cardinal Keeler was Baltimore's archbishop, they again
had an "opportunity to work on important initiatives through our roles
with the Maryland Catholic Conference," Cardinal Wuerl said. The Washington Archdiocese includes some Maryland counties."Cardinal Keeler was a
beloved pastor of souls, exemplary leader, and a respected collaborator in
ministry," he added in a March 23 statement. "His episcopal motto, 'Do
the Work of an Evangelist,' foresaw our efforts now in the new evangelization
and his efforts to build bridges among peoples offered us an example that is
much needed in today's culture."As Baltimore's archbishop and head of the
nation's first archdiocese, the 1995 papal visit to Baltimore
-- at Cardinal Keeler's invitation was one of the prelate's proudest moments. St.
John Paul II celebrated Mass at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, visited the
Cathedral of Mary Our Queen and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, shared a meal at Our Daily Bread and
encouraged seminarians at St. Mary's Seminary in Roland Park.
A prodigious fundraiser, Cardinal Keeler established what is now
known as the Archbishop's Annual Appeal. In 1997, he launched a major capital
campaign known as Heritage of Hope that raised more than $137 million from more
than 39,000 gifts and pledges.
The cardinal also established the Partners in Excellence program,
which provides tuition scholarships for children in inner-city Catholic
schools. Since its inception in 1996, Partners in Excellence has provided more
than $26 million in tuition assistance.
One of the cardinal's last major efforts was the $32 million
campaign to restore the basilica. After more than two years of construction,
the building was rededicated Nov. 4, 2006 -- 200 years after the basilica's
cornerstone was laid. More than 240 bishops from across the nation were there for
the celebration, marking the first time all the country's bishops gathered in
the basilica since 1989 when the archdiocese marked its bicentennial.
Father Michael White, pastor of the Church of the Nativity in
Timonium and Cardinal Keeler's first priest-secretary in Baltimore, said
Cardinal Keeler "put Baltimore on the map in the Catholic Church."
Father White noted that in addition to the papal visit, Cardinal
Keeler hosted spiritual gatherings in Baltimore in the late 1990s with St.
Teresa of Kolkata and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
Leaders within the Catholic Church and from other faith traditions regularly
visited him in Baltimore and "not a day went by" when bishops from other parts
of the country didn't call for the cardinal's advice, Father White said.
Cardinal Keeler suffered serious health problems in
the latter years of his ministry. He underwent knee replacement surgery in 2005
and had to have brain surgery in 2006 following a car accident in Italy that
resulted in the death of a friend, Father Bernard Quinn of Harrisburg.
In the early part of his retirement, Cardinal
Keeler remained focused on many of the same priorities he had always held:
promoting better relations between the Catholic and Jewish communities,
celebrating Mass every day and staying in touch with friends.
In his final years, one of the U.S. church's
great communicators was frustrated by finding it difficult to find the words to
final years of illness were lived in silent, Christ-like dignity and acceptance
to the will of God," said Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien, Cardinal Keeler's
immediate successor in Baltimore, who is grand master of the Equestrian Order
of the Holy Sepulchre.
Referring to Cardinal Keeler's accomplishments as
"monumental," Cardinal O'Brien added that he prays that the cardinal "enjoy a
joyful, eternal rest in the Lord he served so generously."
- - -
Matysek is assistant
managing editor of the Catholic Review, the news website and magazine of the
Archdiocese of Baltimore.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler OrsburnBy Barb FrazeWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The railroad runs more than 550 miles
through 27 communities in the Brazilian Amazon. It runs so close to people's
homes that the houses have cracked, and some people have hearing loss.
The trains carry minerals out of the rainforest to the
coast. But the tracks separate families from their schools, health centers and
fields and, sometimes, the trains stop on the tracks.
Sister Jakelyn Vasquez, a member of the Oblate Sisters of
the Sacred Heart of Jesus who works with communities along the tracks in
Maranhao and Para states, said the trains often sit for hours, sometimes an entire day.
In early March, a 336-car train stopped on the tracks in one
of the villages. Sister Vasquez told Catholic News Service that the closest ramp to
cross over the tracks was more than four miles away. So, as local residents
sometimes do, a mother and her baby climbed under the train to cross -- and the
train began to move.
The mother lost her fingers; the baby lost an arm. It was not
the first such accident, said Sister Vasquez. Many people have been run over by
the train, she said, and they receive no financial compensation from the
multinational company than runs the trains and mines -- "just the
Sister Vasquez was one of about a dozen members of the
Pan-Amazonian Church Network that visited Washington in March. The group, which
included indigenous leaders who testified before the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights, also met with church and government leaders and the public to
help spread the word about what members describe as injustices and human rights
Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, president of the
Pan-Amazonian Church Network, or REPAM, as it is known by its Spanish acronym,
told CNS that the Amazon "is at the center of the many ecological issues that
are debated in our time, and climate change is one of them."
The cardinal said that Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical,
"Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," made it clear that the
church "must participate in the defense of the Amazon."
"It is the poor who are going to be the most affected
by climate and environmental problems," he added.
The cardinal told an audience at The Catholic University of
America March 23 that when Pope Francis met with the Brazilian bishops in 2013,
the pope emphasized that the Amazon was at "a decisive moment for the
"And that's why the church can't get it wrong in the
Amazon," Cardinal Hummes said. Although some people are looking to exploit
the Amazon, others are looking to protect it.
"It's one of the great lungs of the planet," he
said, noting that indigenous people and small-scale farmers who have been
living in the region have the wisdom to help keep the planet breathing.
The church in the Amazon must "be very prophetic and
very brave," which means denouncing bad projects and finding ways for
sustainable development, he said.
Part of that means teaching communities to stand for
themselves. Mauricio Lopez, executive secretary of the Pan-Amazonian Church
Network, said the organization has had workshops and seminars in which
"Laudato Si'" was presented. He emphasized that the church is not
looking to solve the problems for local communities, but to accompany them.
At one public meeting in Washington, indigenous community
leaders from Colombia and Peru cited constitutions, peace agreements and
international documents to illustrate government violations of their rights.
Rosildo da Silva, Chauwandawa leader from Brazil, said the
government is always changing the laws and promising small-scale farmers that
things will get better.
"This is a joke," he said at a March 21 forum.
"We cannot trust them," because with one hand they offer something,
but the other hand does something different.
Marco Martinez Quintana, who works with family farmers in
southeastern Colombia, said one day a man showed up with papers from the
National Agency of Land and claimed he had permission to use about 20 families'
land to produce palm oil. Already, he said, thousands of hectares in the region
have been committed to palm oil.
These small farmers, on the edge of the Amazon, use a
process he described as "the edible forest."
"It's kind of a supermarket in the jungle," he
said. The farmers plant diverse crops that produce food. Once they have fed
their cattle, they trade with farmers who do not have room to grow animal feed.
The process builds community, he said.
He also spoke of a Colombian government decree signed with
the U.S. government that says the local farmers cannot use their own seeds, but
must purchase genetically modified seeds -- and all the chemicals that go along
"Sovereignty is when we are able to sow our own seeds
and grow our own food," he said.
Cardinal Hummes said he understands the need for the country
to grow economically, but he added that agribusiness has had a serious impact on
the environment. For instance, new highways allow for goods to be moved and
sold, but if they are overused, they can lead to destruction of the forest.
He also said there is a public perception that the
rainforest does not produce anything, that "in order to produce and be
productive, you need to remove the forest."
The challenge "is to demonstrate that the forest as it
is, the trees as they are -- the forest, the water, the biodiversity, can offer
more ... wealth than the forest that is taken out," or mined and farmed on
a large scale, he said.- - -Follow Fraze on Twitter: @BFraze.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at email@example.com.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob RollerBy Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The chairman of the U.S. bishops'
Committee on International Justice and Peace met with the country's top
diplomat, Rex Tillerson, March 23, for a policy-packed 35-minute conversation about immigration,
the Middle East, Africa and the role of the Catholic Church's efforts toward
building "the common good."
"After some small talk about Texas," the two spoke about the
Middle East, about Iraq and Syria, reaching out to Central America and Mexico,
and the situation in Africa, said Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las
Cruces, New Mexico, explaining his initial meeting in Washington with
Tillerson, the U.S. secretary of state, who, like Bishop Cantu, hails from
Bishop Cantu said the meeting was about letting Tillerson
know "that our only motive is to help build the common good, that we don't have
ulterior motives," and explaining the bishops' peace and justice committee's
work in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Far East.
Bishop Cantu, as the chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, has spoken for a two-state solution in the Israel-Palestine conflict,
against the construction of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, for
reducing the United States' nuclear arsenal, and raised concerns about an
executive order that targets refugees from some countries with predominantly
Muslim populations, which are at odds with stances taken early by the Donald Trump
"I have concerns," he said in an interview with Catholic
News Service, but said the meeting with Tillerson was about establishing a relationship
that can help the church advocate for policy issues to help the common good.
"We bring a unique perspective," said Bishop Cantu. "One of
our principles in Catholic social teaching is the common good and that goes
beyond our own church needs."
Bishop Cantu said he talked about the church's efforts in
Congo and South Sudan and the need for stability in such places. U.N. agencies
said in February that famine and war in the area are threatening up to 5.5
million lives in the region.
Because of the church's humanitarian agencies, its
solidarity visits, and long-term contact with local governments and populations
around the world, the church lends a credible voice, Bishop Cantu said.
"He expressed that he was eager to have open lines of
communication with us and to listen to our perspective on things," Bishop Cantu
"The two areas we especially touched on were the Middle East
and how to rebuild in Iraq and Syria. And the second topic that he wanted to
hear our perspective on is the immigration issue, particularly how to reach out
to Central America and Mexico," said Bishop Cantu.
He said he emphasized to Tillerson the importance of having
countries where religious minorities have a say in the government and of
investing in rebuilding countries. The proposed Trump administration budget has
been criticized for its plans to slash funding for the State Department up to
28 percent, or $10.9 billion. The cuts would greatly affect the department's Food for Peace
Program, which reduces hunger and malnutrition in poor countries, while proposing
a $54 billion, or 10 percent, increase in military spending.
Bishop Cantu said he left information with Tillerson about the church's concerns
with the proposed budget.
"We're concerned about the very steep increase in the
military budget, the cutting back on foreign aid, we're very concerned about
that. I did want to emphasize how important development is in regions that need
to be stabilized," he said, "that those are wise investments of time and funds."
The meeting also included a discussion about Christians in
the Middle East, Bishop Cantu said, "and that Christians don't want to live in
a ghetto. ' They believe it's important that they live in an integrated society
that is safe and secure," to have a voice in local, regional as well federal
government. He said he also emphasized "the fact that the (Catholic) church in the
Middle East can act as a voice between the Sunnis and the Shia" and the
importance of the church remaining in places such as Iraq and Syria.
"Any wise government official wants to listen to the voice
of people who have a stake in different areas and to listen to the wisdom of
experience," Bishop Cantu said. "We have our brothers and sisters there, the
church, who do live there. The fact is that ' we bring a trusted voice."We
bring some wisdom to the conversation," he added. "Our vision is to build a society that's
stable, that's just, that's peaceful, and ultimately, that's the goal of the
state department ... and so I think that's why our voice is valuable to them."- - -Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina.
- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Junno Arocho EstevesBy Junno Arocho EstevesROME (CNS)
-- While documentation regarding an alleged miracle attributed to the
intercession of Blessed Oscar Romero is being studied at the Vatican, there is
no date scheduled for his canonization, the archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, said.
must say, in all sincerity, that there is no date. And we understand it well
because it involves a process. Blessed Romero's cause is at a decisive phase
that is necessary for his canonization," Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas
said March 23 during a memorial Mass for Blessed Romero in Rome.
Escobar, along with the other bishops of El Salvador were making their "ad limina" visits to Rome and the
Vatican and anticipated
the 37th anniversary of Blessed Romero's death with Mass at Rome's Basilica of
Santa Maria in Trastevere.
Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, was assassinated in 1980 while
celebrating Mass in the chapel of a local hospital one day after calling on the
government to end its violation of human rights against the population.
During the nearly
two hours Pope Francis spent with the bishops of El Salvador March 20, the
pontiff expressed "his warmth and affection" for Blessed Romero,
Archbishop Escobar told Catholic News Service after the Mass.
told us that it would be very good if the places associated with Romero -- his
relics, the place where he was killed and where he was born -- would become
places of pilgrimage," the archbishop said.
homily, Archbishop Escobar thanked Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the
Pontifical Academy for Life and the official promoter of Blessed Romero's sainthood
cause, for his work throughout canonical process.
miracle involves a pregnant woman in El Salvador who was in in danger of dying,
Archbishop Paglia told CNS. "Several friends of this family prayed to
Blessed Oscar Romero. And in a short time, the baby was born and the mother is
Paglia also told CNS that officials at the Congregation for Saints' Causes had
opened the documentation concerning the alleged miracle and would begin
studying it March 24.
congregation's work, he added, is a delicate process, which involves looking at
the alleged miracle from both a "medical and theological
hope that as soon as possible the results can be given. We cannot say how long
it will take," he said. "If the results are positive, it will be
presented to the pope and he will decide on the canonization and the
date." - - -Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at email@example.com.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Toby Melville, ReutersBy LONDON (CNS) -- Cardinal Vincent
Nichols of Westminster, whose cathedral is just a short walk from the scene of
the London terrorist attack, called for prayers for the dead and wounded.
"Yesterday's attacks in
Westminster have shocked us all," he said in a March 23 statement. "The
kind of violence we have seen all too often in other places has again brought
horror and killing to this city."
The five fatalities included
Aysha Frade, a 43-year-old Catholic mother mowed down by a car driven by the assailant as he sped over Westminster Bridge toward the British
Parliament. Frade was on her way to pick up her children from school when she
After crashing the vehicle into
railings, the British-born Muslim ran into New Palace Yard, near Parliament,
where he fatally stabbed a police officer before he was killed by police. About
40 people were injured in the attack.
"Pray for Aysha Frade,
killed by the car on Westminster Bridge," Cardinal Nichols said, adding
that her two children attended St. Mary of the Angels Primary School, a
Catholic school in West London.
"Pray for them and for
their father. And please remember the young French students who have been
"We remember, too, all who
have been injured, and those who care for them," the cardinal continued. "We
pray in particular as well for Keith Palmer, the police officer who died, and
for his family, thanking God that so many show such brave dedication to keeping
our society safe."
The cardinal urged people to
make their voices become "one of prayer, of compassionate solidarity, and
of calm," he said. "All who believe in God, creator and father of
every person, will echo this voice, for faith in God is not a problem to be
solved, but a strength and a foundation on which depend."
Pope Francis sent a message to
Cardinal Nichols March 23, assuring the president of the Bishops' Conference of
England and Wales of his prayer for the nation.
Communicated via Cardinal Pietro
Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, the message said: "Deeply saddened to
learn of the loss of life and of the injuries caused by the attack in central
London, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his prayerful solidarity with all
those affected by this tragedy.
"Commending those who have
died to the loving mercy of almighty God, His Holiness invokes divine strength
and peace upon their grieving families, and he assures the nation of his
prayers at this time," it said.
According to reports in the
British media, the "lone wolf" assailant was not on a security
services list of about 3,000 people thought capable of mounting an attack, but
was described by Prime Minister Theresa May as a "peripheral figure." He was named as Khalid Masood, 52, a petty
criminal from the Birmingham area of the English Midlands.
The Islamic State group issued a
statement March 23 describing the attacker as a "soldier" who had
answered its call to attack "coalition countries."- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.