IMAGE: CNS photo/Laura Elizabeth Pohl, By Rhina GuidosBALTIMORE (CNS) -- Many mornings Carolyn Y. Woo has arrived
to the relative solitude of a chapel at the Baltimore headquarters of Catholic
Relief Services, and as the bustling city comes to life, she has looked inside
the serene space for a particular quiet spot, the place where she arms herself
"That plant is my coffee table," she said inside the chapel,
pointing to a leafy pot nearby where she hides papers, coffee or whatever she
might be holding on her way in.
"I do my readings for the day," she said, explaining her
morning routine during an October interview with Catholic News Service, one of
the last she'll do as CEO of the agency. "I sit with the Blessed Mother.
There's one chair there ... that's where I do my prayer and then I start the day."
Prayer is something she's needed while managing one of the
largest charities in the country. The days have meant little sleep and lots of
meetings, lots of visitors, lots of travel and challenges, joy and sadness,
some which she never expected she'd see at the official international humanitarian
agency of the country's Catholic community.
The end of 2016 will mark the end of her five-year stint with
CRS but also more than four decades of a demanding professional life largely
rooted in the halls of business academia and board rooms, and one which led her to the halls of
Vatican, as well to the world's poorest communities.
Soon, she'll be trading that in for drawing classes, piano
lessons, line dancing, flower arrangement and trying to learn to speak Spanish so she
can sing with others at Mass.
"Everybody tells me that I'm going to be bored," she said speaking
of her upcoming retirement. "But I'm so excited. They say women look forward to
their retirement while men dread it. I think of it as 'refirement,' not retirement."
The way Woo, 62, sees it, some of the best parts of her life are
about to start.
"My life always had a set of professional identities: professor,
administrator, dean, and so on. ... I'm now going to that phase of my life where
I'm going to let go of those titles for my most important roles: mother, wife,
sister, aunt, friend and a servant of God," she said.
However, when you're the kind of person the pope has invited
to help present one of his most important encyclicals -- which Woo did when she helped present "Laudato Si'" in 2015 -- it's
hard to just ride off, or line dance, into the sunset.
"I'll continue to serve on several boards. I write a column
for CNS, that will continue. There are speeches, but more important, I want to
experience and do things that I'm not good at," she said.
For now, she's busy wrapping up the past five years of her
life, reviewing the challenges, successes but also the opportunities of
managing the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency. She's been
witness to the work of her colleagues in the 100 or so countries where CRS
serves the poorest and most marginalized communities on the planet.
She said that while she didn't know as much as her
colleagues about international relief and development when she took over in 2012, she knew
about business, especially about strategy, which could help CRS position itself
for the future. She comes alive when talking about the intricacies of strategy,
how she got students to explore it at the University of Notre Dame when she was
the dean of the top-rated Mendoza Business School. She gave up tenure there after
CRS tapped her to become its CEO in 2011.
"I actually don't know of any other Chinese immigrant who
has given up tenure," she said. "I've worked for stability. Security and
stability were my brass rings. Everything else just happened to come along
because I tend to over-prepare."
At CRS, she has aimed to make the agency a more effective
organization, she said, one that develops its leadership from within, one that
looks at the short-term and long-term benefits for those it serves, and one
that communicates its Catholic identity to the world.
"The most important thing to me is that we represent the
church well, and that we understand the privilege of being able to serve the
people that God sends to us, the people we serve," she said.
That means having enough resources to help alleviate
poverty, to respond to increasing natural disasters such as the recent
hurricane that swept through Haiti or to the historic displacement of people
around the world who are forced to flee their homelands.
Her tenure has seen one of the largest displacements of
people in history: 65.3 million at the end of 2015, according to figures from
the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. It surpasses the number of
those displaced after two world wars, one which led to the founding of CRS in 1943,
as the Catholic bishops of the United States established the agency to help
war-torn Europe and its refugees recover. As it did in the past, CRS has helped
the present wave of displaced people with basic necessities, as well education
"The magnitude of the problems exceeds the resources in the
world, but it does not exceed our ingenuity and our ability to solve problems,
if we can work together," she said.
That's not an easy task when you consider that most people haven't
come in contact with the displaced, whether refugees or migrants, making it
hard to understand what they face, said Woo.
"They just watch this on television. There are different
stories. There are stories about migrants. There are stories about terrorism. They're
all kind of put together," she said. "I think when we run across situations, where
people don't see things the way we do, when they don't agree. I think the key
is not to label them, it's not to get frustrated, but it's to say, 'Would you
like to meet some of these people?'"
Fighting, attacking, labeling, none of it helps to carry out
the work of the Gospel, she said, and she's certainly seen her share of it at
the helm of the agency.
She remembers a particularly difficult day that began with an
email about a blog post accusing CRS of storing and distributing condoms in
Madagascar, saying that the bishops there were angry at the agency because Catholic Church teaching prohibits artificial birth control and the agency was
violating that teaching.
"This was so far from the truth," she said. "You can imagine
the type of sadness, to be accused of something that is completely false."
Meetings with the Madagascar bishops, New York Cardinal
Timothy M. Dolan, then president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, had
to be arranged, translators had to be hired, schedules across several time
zones had be arranged, all just to clean up a baseless attack, she said.
"The day when I got that email was a very bad day," she
recalled. "In addition to addressing these particular issues, it's sort of a
loss of idealism to recognize that there a bodies within the church that would
do that ' not only is it false, not only is it malicious, but actually it
prevented us from spending our energies serving the people who needed help."
The Madagascar bishops refuted the reports and publicly
supported CRS in 2013 but the attacks continued.
"I could not imagine this type of malice to be in the
church," she said. "I think that was the part that I was unprepared for."
While attacks may come and go, the mission of CRS remains, she
said, and it's one that began with Christ and will continue when Sean Callahan,
the present chief operating officer, takes over the top spot at the start of 2017.
"The mission of CRS comes from the Gospel, which is where Jesus
told us to go out serve, particularly raising up those who are without power,
those who are without wealth, those at the margins of society," Woo said.
It's a mission she hopes to continue but on a different path, and one kept in focus by the fleeting images of those she's met on her
CRS journey, of families like hers, selling everything they own to help a
son or daughter escape toward a safer or better future, of a young man who
reminded her of one of her two sons but lives with shrapnel embedded in his
"We can pat ourselves on the back and say, 'We served 100
million people,' or we could ask the question 'what about the (others who aren't
receiving help)," she says. "I hope that's one thing I've done, to say have
courage ' step up. ' I'd like to have our colleagues not be afraid to hold
ourselves accountable because we do all this to serve (people) and to serve
God. And if we trust in the Lord, the Lord will take us there."- - -Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina.- - -Copyright © 2016 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 Carol GlatzVATICAN
CITY (CNS) -- An unrelenting, coordinated commitment is needed to prevent people
from falling prey to traffickers and to help victims caught in their snares,
Pope Francis told representatives of law enforcement agencies and church
growing number of people being trafficked and exploited are "the most
vulnerable" people in society; they are stripped of their dignity,
physical and mental integrity and sometimes even their life, the pope said Oct.
27 during an audience with the Santa Marta Group.
and encouraging the group members for their fight against this "social
evil," Pope Francis reiterated that "what is needed is a coordinated,
effective and constant commitment, both to eliminate the causes of this complex
phenomenon and to reach, assist and accompany the people who fall into the
snares of trafficking."
Santa Marta Group is an international coalition of senior law enforcement
chiefs and members of the Catholic Church -- including bishops' conferences and
religious orders -- working together to end human trafficking. The group was founded
in 2014 as part of an initiative begun by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of
England and Wales. The name "Santa Marta" refers to the Vatican guest
house, where Pope Francis lives, and where police chiefs and Catholic bishops held
their first meeting.
group, which now has members in more than 30 countries, met at the Vatican Oct.
26-27 to detail progress being made, share best practices and update the pope
on their efforts. Nearly 21 million people, including minors, are believed to
be victims of human trafficking, according to the International Labor
Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, the group's president, told reporters
that while human trafficking is still not a top priority in many parts of the
world, much has been done to finally expose "this great evil."
that were once completely hidden are now being heard and misery that was once
unacknowledged is now being acknowledged," he said at a Vatican news
conference Oct. 27.
survivors of trafficking -- Al Bangura and Princess Inyang -- also spoke at the
conference and detailed how they were tricked by traffickers with promises of
legitimate job offers and opportunities.
a talented soccer player in Sierra Leone, was lured to Paris then London as a
teenager by a man claiming to be an agent signing him up to play for a European
soccer team; instead he was trapped in a hotel "where older men began to
turn up" and rape him.
worked as a cook in Nigeria and headed to Europe to pursue a job offer there.
Instead she was forced into prostitution in Italy and coerced into paying the "madam"
45,000 euro (more than $49,000) in fees and even more in rent.
managed eventually to escape their captors, rebuild their lives, and now they help
raise awareness to prevent others from being tricked.
prevention also entails giving young people real opportunities by setting up more
educational scholarships and skills-building projects in countries of origin,
Inyang told reporters.
enforcement also needs to do more to investigate, prosecute and arrest
traffickers, not the victims, she said. "Reception" or protection
shelters should be set up for suspected victims of trafficking instead of
housing them in detention centers while their cases are investigated, she added.
not always easy for police responding to an incident to clearly identify whether
a person breaking the law has been coerced into it by traffickers, said Kevin
Hyland, the former detective inspector of Scotland Yard's trafficking and
organized crime unit.
often delegate riskier crimes, for example, petty theft or tending illegal
cannabis farms, to their victims, he told Catholic News Service.
often victims are found in situations that make them "look the same as an offender"
to an untrained officer or to one "unwilling to explore further," he
an effort to improve law enforcement's response, the United Kingdom passed the
Modern Slavery Act, giving officers new mandates meant to increase protection
for victims and increase convictions and tougher sentencing on criminals.
said the 2015 act created his new role as Independent Anti-Slavery
Commissioner, a role designed to better identify and support victims, improve
the legal and justice systems' response to trafficking and build diverse and
example, the close collaboration between law enforcement and the church with
the Santa Marta Group "is actually quite a natural fit because the church
reaches out to the vulnerable, offers that extended arm and support, and the
police are there then to actually remove the threat of those committing these
officers, too, have become more sensitive and cooperative with other agencies over
the years, he said.
example, three decades ago, an officer responding to domestic violence would
not have understood the psychological coercion at play preventing a battered
spouse from pressing charges or getting help, he said.
the approach has changed" and "policing does know how to deal with
vulnerability," which might include looking for other ways to deal with
the situation and requesting "other interventions" from different
kinds of agencies. "Also taking away the offender and putting in protection
for the victim is essential," he added.
within law enforcement there is that ability to show compassion, to work in a
way that deals with the victim's needs and also pursues the perpetrators,"
he said.- - -Copyright © 2016 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/Populus Summorum PontificumBy Junno Arocho EstevesROME (CNS) --
U.S. Archbishop Alexander K. Sample was preparing to celebrate Mass Oct. 26
with Benedictine monks in Norcia when the first of two powerful earthquakes
no sooner finished (the vesting) prayer to be protected from the assaults of
Satan when bang: It just hit and it hit with a vengeance. It didn't last very
long, but it really shook the building we were in," Archbishop Sample of
Portland, Oregon, told Catholic News Service in Rome the next morning.
No casualties were reported
from the quakes. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, an earthquake
measuring 5.5 struck shortly after 7 p.m. local time and a 6.1 magnitude quake
followed two hours later. Both were centered in Italy's Marche region, not far
Sample and other Portland pilgrims were visiting Norcia, the birthplace of St.
Benedict, during a trip to Italy for the fifth annual Populus Summorum
Pontificum pilgrimage, an international gathering for Catholics devoted to the
extraordinary form of the Mass.
Speaking by telephone from
Norcia, the archbishop said that despite feeling aftershocks during the Mass,
he finished celebrating and was already in his hotel room when the second
Although things seem to calm
down, "there were a number of aftershocks" throughout the night, he
"I think about three times
during the night, I was halfway out of bed to get to the door," he said.
"I confess, I'm a bit of a chicken and I slept in my clothes last night in
case I had to run outside; I wanted to be properly attired. It was not the most
While Archbishop Sample was
with the Benedictine monks, he said another group from Portland, led by Father
John Boyle, also had "a harrowing experience" during the earthquake
while celebrating Mass in the crypt of the Basilica of St. Benedict in Norcia.
"Father Boyle was just
beginning the preparatory prayers for holy Communion when it hit and he took
shelter underneath the altar and instructed the other pilgrims to take cover
under the pews," the archbishop told CNS.
When the earthquake ended,
Archbishop Sample said, the pilgrims went outside the church and Father Boyle
brought them Communion.
The archbishop said that Father
Boyle found it "very moving to see the people kneeling on the ground to
receive holy Communion; it was beautiful." After Mass, several monks
helped retrieve the pilgrim's personal items from the church before they
returned to their hotel.
Francis took to social media to express his solidarity with those affected,
tweeting: "I am close in prayer to the people struck by the new earthquake
in central Italy."
earthquakes, which came two months after a powerful quake devastated several
towns in the region, left several churches with major damage.
Avvenire, the newspaper of the
Italian bishops' conference, reported that one of the destroyed buildings was
the 13th-century church of San Salvatore in Campi," just outside the
center of Norcia.
The church "no longer
exists," Archbishop Renato Boccardo of Spoleto-Norcia told Avvenire. "I'm
trying to contact the pastor but communications are interrupted at this
The rose window of Sant' Eutizio Abbey, one of Italy's
oldest monasteries dating back to the 5th century, also collapsed following the
quake Oct. 26, the U.S. Geological Survey said, "is currently the largest
aftershock" of the Aug. 24 quake that struck central Italy. The epicenter of the August earthquake was close
to Norcia; with a magnitude of 6.2, it caused the deaths of close to 300
- - -
Follow Arocho on Twitter:
@arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2016 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 WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The extension of Pope Francis' trip to
Sweden by one day to accommodate a papal Mass for the nations' Catholics does
not detract from the ecumenical power of the trip, but actually highlights the
need for Christian unity, said the general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation.
Initially, Pope Francis had planned to make a day trip to
Sweden Oct. 31 to take part in two ecumenical events launching a year of
commemorations of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. But at
the urging of local Catholics, the pope decided to spend the night and
celebrate Mass Nov. 1 before returning to Rome.
Martin Junge, general secretary of the LWF, told reporters at the Vatican Oct. 26 that the
Lutherans fully understand the desire of Catholics in Sweden to have Mass with
the pope and the pastoral responsibility of the pope to fulfill that request.
"Of course," he said, "it is also going to
reveal that we are not yet united; it is going to reveal a wound that remains
there" since the divisions between Catholics and Lutherans mean that in
general Eucharist sharing still is not possible.
While Rev. Junge and other Lutheran leaders have accepted an
invitation to attend the Mass, the fact that they will not receive Communion
"is going to be a strong encouragement to continue working toward unity,"
Both Rev. Junge and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said the biggest breakthrough
in Lutheran-Catholic relations was the signing in 1999 of a joint declaration
on justification, or how people are made righteous in the eyes of God and
saved. But before eucharistic sharing and full unity are possible, they said,
further agreement must be found on Catholic and Lutheran understandings about
the church, the Eucharist and ministry.
Cardinal Koch said marriages between a Protestant and a
Catholic are a pastoral concern for both churches, particularly in finding ways
to encourage continued church participation and in dealing with the question of
going to Communion together.
As a pastor in Switzerland, where about half the population
is Catholic and half is Protestant, Cardinal Koch said he began studying
ecumenical theology specifically to understand how to best minister to such
couples. "It's a most pastoral concern and, I think, very close to the
heart of Pope Francis."
A year ago, during a visit to a Lutheran church in Rome, a
Lutheran woman married to a Catholic man asked Pope Francis what she and her
husband could do to receive Communion together; the pope said he could not
issue a general rule on shared Communion, but the couple should pray, study and
then act according to their consciences.
"We sense that our ability to come with relevant
responses and answers to the very complex questions around sharing the
Eucharist table has an urgency in the life of the people," Rev. Junge told
reporters at the Vatican. "I really hope the joint commemoration (of the
500th anniversary of the Reformation) gives us a strong encouragement to be faster,
to be bolder, to be more creative" in addressing remaining differences,
"with a very strong focus on where people feel the lack of unity the
heaviest: around the table."
Asked if there were any plans for Pope Francis to lift the
excommunication of Martin Luther, Cardinal Koch said no because
"excommunication ends with the death of a person." It is a penalty
imposed by the church during a person's lifetime with the hope of getting the
person to return to full communion with the church.
Briefing reporters on the logistics of the trip to Sweden,
Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, said that because the trip does not include
Stockholm where the nuncio and the only Catholic bishop live, Pope Francis
would be staying at Igelosa,
a medical research company near Lund where the Scandinavian bishops have stayed
during their annual meetings.- - -Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.- - -Copyright © 2016 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.
(CNS) -- Seventy Catholic women, including the presidents of two leading
Catholic organizations, expressed concern for the "toxic politics of
fear" that has dominated this year's presidential campaign.
that "elections should be a national examination of conscience," the
signers of the statement called for civil debate in the final weeks of the
campaign leading to Election Day Nov. 8.
Signers included Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president
of Catholic Charities USA, and Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity, who is president
and CEO of Catholic Health Association.
Others signing the letter were Helen Alvare, professor
of law at George Mason University; Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi
International; Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University; Helen
Osman, former secretary of communications at the U.S. Conference of Catholic
Bishops; and Dolores Leckey, founding executive director of the Secretariat for
Family, Women, Laity and Youth at the USCCB.
"Catholic Women and Mothers for the Common Good," the statement noted
that democracy remains healthy through civic debate and that "neither party
has a monopoly on wisdom or effective policies."
a time when nearly one in five children grows up poor, thousands of migrant
children are torn from their parents, and when so many families are excluded
from economic opportunity, the urgency of our collective task is bigger than
our partisan preferences or personal ideologies," the Oct. 24 statement
signers maintain in the statement that Catholic social teaching "does not
fit neatly into partisan boxes."
faith calls us to affirm the sacred dignity of all life. This is why our church
defends life in the womb, the undocumented immigrant and the inmate on death
row. As Pope Francis reminds us, we must also say no to an 'economy of exclusion
and inequality' that 'kills,' and act to address environmental devastation that
is disproportionately hurting the poor."
statement also urged the presidential candidates as well as others seeking
public office nationwide "to recognize that 'family values' isn't simply a
buzzword on the campaign trail." It pointed to the importance of upholding
the dignity of families, which "requires rejecting a consumer culture where
sex is viewed as a commodity; a commitment to ensuring mothers and fathers have
access to paid parental leave; quality, affordable child care; jobs that pay
living wages; and a human immigration system that keeps families
statement was to be published as advertisements in three Catholic publications,
including Our Sunday Visitor Oct. 30, National Catholic Reporter Nov. 4 and
America magazine Nov. 7.
- - -
Note: The full text of the statement can be found online at
www.catholicwomencare.org.- - -Copyright © 2016 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.