IMAGE: CNS photo/Orbis BooksBy ALTAMONT,
N.Y. (CNS) -- Father Joseph Girzone, who became far more prominent in retirement
than during active ministry because of his "Joshua" series of novels,
died Nov. 29 at St. Peter's Hospice Inn in in Altamont. He was 85.A funeral Mass will be celebrated Dec. 12 at St. John the Evangelist Church in Schenectady with Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany as principal celebrant.
Girzone, a priest of the Diocese of Albany, retired from active ministry in
1981 because of a heart ailment.
retiring, he picked up his pen and wrote "Joshua," which was
published in 1983. It was a success, selling tens of thousands of copies in
hardcover before a paperback edition was issued.
premise of "Joshua" and several novels that followed in the series
is that Jesus comes back to earth disguised as itinerant carpenter Joshua, distilling
simple wisdom and challenging the prevailing order on a variety of issues so
that the books' characters can get closer to God. He told Catholic News Service in a long-ago interview that he wrote "Joshua" to heighten awareness that the church will "lose more of our people if we don't show more gentleness." "Christ was the good shepherd -- he used to bring people home, not drive them away," he said.Some objected to the character Joshua's questioning of church policies, he told CNS, but those who read his books carefully find they are "not attacking the church but the way it's run," he added.
books in the series included "Joshua and the Children," "The Shepherd,"
"Joshua's Family," "Joshua and the City," "The
Parables of Joshua," "Joshua in a Troubled World," "Joshua
in the Holy Land" and "Joshua: A Homecoming."Father
Girzone did not restrict himself to fiction. He also wrote "Jesus, His Life and
Teachings: As Recorded by His Friends Mathew, Mark, Luke and John," "Joey"
and "My Struggle With Faith."
before the 20th century was over, his books had sold more than a million
copies. One estimate of the total books sold under Father Girzone's name has been put at 3 million.
the royalties from his books to establish Joshua Mountain Ministries in
Altamont in an effort to get people to learn more about Jesus.
talks around the country to promote his books, Father Girzone regularly said
most people fail to remember that Jesus also was fully human. In one such talk
in 1998 in Washington, he said he wanted people to know that the son of God
"didn't come off as someone who was self-righteous but as a person who was
free and joyful and happy and had tremendous love and compassion for
even made a movie based on the novels. The G-rated "Joshua" bowed in
2002 starring Tony Goldwyn, currently featured as the U.S. president in the ABC
drama "Scandal," as Joshua, with F. Murray Abraham, Kurt Fuller and
Colleen Camp co-starring.
Girzone, who agreed to take no pension or health care from the Albany Diocese as
a condition of his early retirement, started his own publishing company because
no book publisher liked his concept of Jesus returning in today's society and
making an impact. After the initial success of "Joshua," Doubleday signed him
to a contract and gave him million-dollar advances, he told the Albany
Times-Union in a 2011 interview.
the publishing industry changed, Father Girzone became one of its casualties.
Doubleday dropped him after 2007's "Joshua's Family." He donated the 21-room house
he had been living in, with its 100-acre spread and $26,000 annual heating
bill, to his foundation and moved to an apartment above the manor's garage.
Girzone then wrote for Orbis Books, a Catholic publishing house in Maryknoll.
The last book published during his life was "Stories of Jesus: 40 Days of Prayer and
Reflection," which was released in late 2013.- - -Copyright © 2015 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/Edgardo AyalaBy Edgardo AyalaSAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (CNS)
-- Representatives of U.S. religious and human rights organizations called for the
Salvadoran government to reopen the investigation of the 1980 killing of three U.S.
nuns and a lay missionary.
It is important to "ask the
Salvadoran government and prosecutors to open this case, so that the
masterminds of this crime do not walk free, with impunity," said Claire White,
who came on behalf of her father, former Ambassador Robert White, who died in January.
White told Catholic News Service
the U.S. government should pressure the Salvadoran authorities to do a proper
investigation and not let the intellectual authors go unpunished.
On Dec. 2, 1980, Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clark and
Ita Ford, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel and lay missionary Jean Donovan were
abducted, raped and murdered by members of the National Guard, when the North
Americans traveled by car from the airport. Civil war in El Salvador had
erupted earlier that year. The churchwomen were in El Salvador to work with
refugees of that conflict, but were regarded as leftist by the government.
The U.N. Truth Commission, established
in 1992 to investigate cases of political violence during the civil war,
concluded that then-Col.
Eugenio Vides Casanova, director of the National Guard, knew that a unit
from his command had carried out the assassinations and facilitated the
concealment of the facts, which hampered the investigation. In 1984, four
guardsmen were found guilty of the killings and convicted to 30 years in
prison, but those who planned the murders and gave the orders have never been
brought to justice, said some of the more than 100 North Americans who traveled
to El Salvador to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the murders.
"There may be justice if we
North American women go back and do what we need to do in terms of strategizing
to make that happen," Ursuline
Sister Janet Marie Peterworth of Louisville, Kentucky, told CNS during a
Nov. 30 memorial service held in San Salvador's Parque Cuscatlan.
She recalled the last letters
she received from Donovan from El Salvador and added, "It's cold and rainy
in December in the States, and I can't stop thinking of Jean Donovan and what
she said in one of her last correspondence: 'I would come home, but where else
can you find roses in December?'"
"She did not come home, she
decided to stay," she added, with tears rolling down her cheek.
Sister Peterworth said Donovan
used to say that the Salvadoran military would not killed "an American
"But they did," Sister
Isabel Hernandez, El Salvador office director of the
SHARE Foundation, said: "We don't want revenge, because we are Christians,
but we do want justice, the truth, we want to know who gave the order." She
said the 1992 Salvadoran amnesty law must be repealed because it protects those
responsible for the murders of the churchwomen and many other victims.
In 2002, Vides Casanova and former Defense Minister Jose
Guillermo Garcia, who were both granted residence in the United States,
were found responsible by a Florida jury in a federal civil case for the
torture of three Salvadorans. In April 2015, Vides Casanova was deported to El
Salvador for participating and assisting the torture and assassination of
thousands of victims, including the four churchwomen.
The four guardsmen were
convicted because they were not eligible for amnesty, as their case was
regarded as nonpolitical.
During the current visit, U.S. delegates
visited the tomb of Archbishop Oscar Romero, assassinated in March 1980. They
also went to Central American University, where six Jesuit priests and two
women were killed in November 1989 by a military unit.
On Dec. 2, they were to travel to
Santiago Nonualco, a
small town in La Paz department, to attend a memorial service at the very spot
where the three nuns and the lay missionary were shot dead.- - -Copyright © 2015 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/ReutersBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Heads of state discussing carbon
emission limits must create a global and "transformative" agreement
built on justice, solidarity and fairness, a papal representative told the
U.N. climate conference in Paris.
Pope Francis has said "it would be tragic" if special
interests "manipulated information" and won out over the common good,
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said Nov. 30.
The cardinal delivered a speech on behalf of the pope
during the Nov. 30-Dec. 11 Conference of Parties, or COP21, in Paris. The
Vatican released a copy of the speech Dec. 1.
A global agreement must have three interrelated goals in
mind: "alleviate the impact of climate change, fight poverty and let the
dignity of the human person flourish," the cardinal said in a speech
delivered in French.
A meaningful global pact must be guided by a clear
ethical vision that sees all of humanity as belonging to one human family, and
has "no room for the so-called globalization of indifference," he
"Given the urgency of a situation that requires the
broadest collaboration possible in order to reach a common plan," it is
important the agreement recognize everyone's responsibility to help others and
according to one's abilities and means.
An agreement must send "clear signals" to governments,
businesses, the scientific community and local communities ton how to adjust or
change their behavior and policies in ways that leads to a low carbon economy
and integral human development, he said.
Finally, the cardinal said, the COP21 endeavor must be
part of an ever-evolving commitment to future generations with constant updates,
follow-up and enforcement.
"It's necessary to take into serious consideration
the realization of models of sustainable production and consumption and new
behaviors and lifestyles," he said.
"Technical solutions are necessary but not
enough," he said, adding that teaching and supporting sustainable
lifestyles are critical. People must become more aware of their responsibility
and that today's lifestyles based on an unsustainable "culture of waste"
have no place in new models of education and development.- - -Copyright © 2015 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/Paul HaringBy Cindy WoodenABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM
AFRICA (CNS) -- Pope Francis told reporters he is well aware that God is a god
of surprises, but he had not been prepared for what a surprise his first visit
to Africa would be.
Obviously tired, but equally
content, Pope Francis told reporters he prayed in a mosque in Bangui, Central
African Republic, and rode around a Muslim neighborhood with the imam seated
with him in the popemobile. Both were spontaneous initiatives of the pope Nov.
30, his last day in Africa.
Returning to Rome from Bangui
later that day, the pope spent more than 60 minutes with reporters in the back
of his plane, responding to their questions.
"The crowds, the joy, the
ability to celebrate even with an empty stomach" were impressions the pope
said he would take home with him after his six-day trip to Kenya, Uganda and
the Central African Republic.
After two years of civil war,
the pope told reporters, the people of the Central African Republic want "peace,
reconciliation and forgiveness."
"For years, they lived as
brothers and sisters," the pope said, and local Catholic, Muslim and
evangelical Christian leaders are doing their best to help their people return
to that situation of peace, coexistence and mutual respect.
Leaders of every religion must
teach values, and that is what is happening in Central African Republic, Pope
"One of the most-rare
values today is that of brotherhood," a value essential for peace, he said.
"Fundamentalism is a
disease that is found in all religions. We Catholics have some," he said. "I
can say this because it is my church."
"Religious fundamentalism isn't
religion, it's idolatry," he told the press. Ideas and false certainties
take the place of faith, love of God and love of others.
"You cannot cancel a whole
religion because there is a group or many groups of fundamentalists at certain
moments of history," the pope said.
As the pope ended his trip,
global representatives were beginning the U.N. climate conference in Paris to
discuss the possibility of forging a binding international agreement to reduce
Pope Francis said he was not
sure what would happen at the conference, "but I can say this, it's now or
never." Too little has been done over the past 10-15 years, he said, and "every
year the situation gets worse."
"We are on the verge of
suicide, to put it strongly," he said.
Given his visits to Uganda and
Kenya, where new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths continue, Pope Francis
was asked if he thought the church "should change its teaching" about
the use of condoms.
Pope Francis responded that an
ongoing question for Catholic moral theology is whether condoms in that case
are an instrument to prevent death or a contraceptive -- in which case they
would violate church teaching on openness to life.
But, he said, the question is
too narrow. People are dying because of a lack of clean water and adequate
food. Once the world takes serious steps to solve those problems, then it would
be "legitimate to ask whether it is licit" to use condoms to prevent
the spread of HIV and AIDS.
Pope Francis said that at various
moments of his trip, he visited the very poor, people who lack everything and
have suffered tremendously. He said he knew that a small percentage of people
-- "maybe 17 percent" -- of the world's population controls the vast
majority of the world's wealth -- "and I think, 'How can these people not
be aware?' It's such suffering."
To say the world's economy has
put profits and not people at the center and to denounce "the idolatry of
the god money," he said, "is not communism. It's the truth."
The pope also was asked about
the Vatican trial underway in connection with the leak and publication of
confidential documents related to Vatican finances.
"I haven't lost any sleep"
over the leaks and the arrest of a monsignor, his assistant, a woman who served
on a former Vatican commission and the two authors who wrote books allegedly
based on the material, Pope Francis said.
However, he said, he had hoped
the trial would be over before the opening Dec. 8 of the Year of Mercy, but he
does not think that will be possible because the defendants' lawyers need
adequate time to defend their clients properly.
As for future trips, Pope
Francis was not full of surprises. He said he plans to go to Mexico and visit
cities where St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI never went. The trip is
expected in late February.
Pope Francis said he has to go
to Mexico City, "but if it wasn't for Our Lady I wouldn't." So he
will visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, then go to
Chiapas, Morelia and, "almost for sure, on the way back to Rome, I will
spend a day or part of a day in Ciudad Juarez," on the Mexican-U.S.
- - -
Follow Wooden on Twitter:
@Cindy_Wooden.- - -Copyright © 2015 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/Simone OrendainBy PARIS (CNS) -- Hundreds of
thousands of people in at least 150 countries around the world demanded action
on climate change on the eve of a U.N. conference that aimed to find agreement
on greenhouse gas emissions.
Heads of state traveled to Paris
for the Nov. 30-Dec. 11 Conference of Parties, or COP21, in the Paris suburb of
Le Bourget. Catholic organizations advocating to protect the world and its
people from the impact of climate change said the terror attacks in Paris had
not dissuaded them from attending a major U.N. summit there.
Interfaith leaders gathered in
Saint-Denis, France, Nov. 28 to hand over a petition with more than 1.8 million
signatures -- 800,000 collected by Catholic organizations -- calling for action
on climate change. At the event, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, president
of the Pan-Amazonian Church Network, referred to Pope Francis' encyclical "Laudato
Si', on Care for Our Common Home," and to an October appeal by Catholic
bishops worldwide that called "for a fair, binding and truly
transformational climate agreement in Paris."
"We ask for drastic cuts of
carbon emissions to keep the global temperature rise below the dangerous
threshold of 1.5°C," the cardinal said. "As the bishops' appeal
states, we need to 'put an end to the fossil fuel era' and 'set a goal for
complete decarbonization by 2050.'
"And we ask wealthier
countries to aid the world's poorest to cope with climate change impacts, by
providing robust climate finance," he added.
Originally, hundreds of
thousands were expected to march in Paris Nov. 29, but the march was canceled
after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks. Instead, Parisians and others from around
the world donated shoes and set them up at Place de la Republique. The display
was disrupted as Paris police used tear gas to break up an unauthorized
Jesuit Father Michael Czerny,
who works at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, confirmed Pope
Francis donated a signed pair of shoes to the display. Cardinal Hummes and
Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and
Peace, also signed and donated shoes.
From Seoul, South Korea, to Ottawa, Ontario; New York to
Sao Paulo, people marched to demand climate change. Some, like those in
Oakland, California, marched more than a week ahead. Most advocates gathered
Nov. 28-29, such as in Nairobi, Kenya, where people planted trees in Uhuru
Washington, about 500 people, including members of parishes in Washington,
Maryland and northern Virginia, came out for a march around the White House Nov.
29. One couple, members of a parish in Los Altos, California, joined them after
learning about the march from the Global Catholic Climate Movement. Many
participants carried signs referring to "Laudato Si'."
In Ottawa, Ontario, and Vancouver, British Columbia,
church leaders joined environmentalists and First Nations members in marches
Nov. 29. In London, hundreds of supporters of CAFOD, the overseas development
agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, braved wind and rain to
join more than 50,000 marchers. CAFOD said the march included an interfaith
service at Westminster Synagogue involving about 200 campaigners from
Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist traditions, who reflected on the issues that
united them and "recommitted themselves to caring for creation, for our neighbors
and to tackling climate change."
In Manila, Philippines, dozens
of religious added their voices to the cry of mostly Catholic activists during
a climate march on a humid, overcast morning.
In the plaza across the street
from Our Lady of Remedies Church, Sacred Heart Missionaries seminarian Reynon
Ajero held up colorful signs that said "Resist the plunder of our
environment" and a reference to the pope's "Laudato Si'."
Ajero said he grew up in a
mountainous village in the southern province of Zamboanga del Norte populated
with "plenty of diversity" in animals, trees and wild flowers. On
Nov. 29, he lamented the significant loss of trees to mining and the
disappearance of the animals from his childhood.
"I want to ask all the
people to be awake," he told Catholic News Service. "I want make the
people know that we are suffering for what is our mistake to our mother earth.
So whatever we do to ourselves, we do to the mother earth, it will return to
This message in the plaza was
played out over and over in singing, dance numbers and dramatizations of the
impacts of the earth's rising temperatures.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop
Broderick Pabillo opened an outdoor Mass with a prayer of hope during the
lighting of the first candle on an Advent wreath.
"Hope for the enlightenment
of all peoples, that we are just a strand in the web of life, that what we do
to the environment, we do to ourselves," said Bishop Pabillo.
Lou Arsenio, head of the Manila
Archdiocese Ecology Ministry and one of the originators of the Global Catholic
Climate Movement, since the movement started about a year ago, she has seen
greater awareness among Catholics, but she told Catholic News Service there is
more work to do.
In Melbourne, Australia, Nov.
27, more than 40,000 people marched in the city's central business district to
call for action on climate change. A statement on the website of the
Archdiocese of Melbourne said Catholics were at the forefront of the march.
Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, former president of Caritas
Internationalis, told the crowd: "We were given a garden. We may not
deliver back a desert."
- - -
Contributing to this story were
Simone Orendain in Manila and Simon Caldwell in Manchester, England.
- - -Copyright © 2015 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.