February 22, 2023 // National

News Briefs: February 26, 2023

Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine’s Historic Dedication Honors Martyr’s Mission to Share Jesus’ Love

OKLAHOMA CITY (OSV News) — More than 2,000 Catholic faithful from Oklahoma, other parts of the United States, and Guatemala, where Blessed Stanley Rother served in a mission before being martyred during a violent civil war in 1981, arrived for the Feb. 17 dedication of the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine in Oklahoma City. “He’s the first American-born martyr — a blessed. It’s a beautiful occasion,” Theresa Hohenberger told Sooner Catholic, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. Once the main doors were opened, the procession began and included more than 300 participants: 37 bishops, 147 priests, 93 deacons, and 12 seminarians. Present were Archbishop Emeritus Eusebius Beltran, who launched the Rother Cause, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Pope Francis’ Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., as well as members of the Rother family with other invited leaders and dignitaries. “We gather here to honor the God who created all of this and the God who is glorified in His saints,” said Archbishop Paul S. Coakley in his homily. “We honor Blessed Stanley because we are giving glory to God.” Sister Raphael Marie of the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ Sisters from the Diocese of Amarillo told Sooner Catholic she was “moved to tears” by the dedication. “(Blessed Stanley’s) a saint of the people, a saint for modern day. It’s so important to bring people into a personal relationship with Jesus and through the gifts of the Holy Spirit and that’s what Blessed Stanley Rother did: he brought people the love of Jesus.”

Ukrainian Catholics Hail Biden’s Surprise Visit to Kyiv for Bravery, ‘Amazing Boost of Hope’

KYIV, Ukraine (OSV News) — U.S. President Joe Biden’s unexpected Feb. 20 visit to Kyiv, calmly walking alongside Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as raid sirens wailed in the capital, is being hailed as a surprise and a signal to the world, Ukrainian Catholic leaders told OSV News. “We wouldn’t expect that President Biden would come to the capital. Maybe Lviv, as it’s safer, but Kyiv? It’s really an amazing boost of hope and strength for us,” Auxiliary Bishop Jan Sobilo of Kharkiv-Zaporizhzhia told OSV News. “People were shocked … somehow we all got the positive feeling that maybe war is finally coming to an end.” Biden, who is the U.S.’s second Catholic president, and Zelenskyy laid wreaths at Kyiv’s Wall of Remembrance. “One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you,” Biden said in an address, according to reporters present. With a renewed Russian offensive expected soon, Bishop Sobilo said Biden’s visit was “like a movie scene — and we’re hoping for a happy ending.”

Panama Bus Deaths Offer Tragic Reminder of Perils Migrants Face Traveling Toward U.S. Border

DAVID, Panama (OSV News) — Pope Francis has expressed sorrow for the victims of a bus crash in Panama, which claimed the lives of 39 migrants transiting the Central American country. In a Feb. 16 telegram to Cardinal José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán of David, Panama — whose diocese includes the site of the crash — Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said: “The Holy Father has received with deep sadness the news of the bus accident … in which several migrants have lost their lives and others were injured.” The tragedy occurred in the early morning hours of Feb. 15 in the western Panama province of Chiriquí. Panama Immigration Director Samira Gozaine told reporters the bus had entered a camp for migrants and the driver was turning the vehicle around when it slid down an embankment. The driver was among the victims, Gozaine said. The deaths were a tragic reminder of the perils faced by migrants traveling through Central America and Mexico on their journey toward the U.S. border.

‘Please Pray for Us’: Compassion, Communion Resonate in Syria Among Christians Affected by Earthquake

BEIRUT (OSV News) — After a devastating earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria on Feb. 6, many families, displaced from the Syrian city of Aleppo, have sought refuge in Homs, some two hours away from their destroyed homes, despite transportation difficulties amid already-existing fuel shortages. “I am so touched by the generosity of the people of Homs, considered one of the poorest, most damaged” from the war, Jesuit Father Tony Homsy said. He added that the whole generation of young Syrians is now going through yet another catastrophe after 12 years of war. But this, he says, doesn’t stop them from being united in brotherhood. Christians show themselves outpouring support, sharing whatever they have left, and no one has much in this war-torn country.

FBI Faces Scrutiny about Memo on ‘Radical Traditionalist Catholics’

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) — The FBI is facing scrutiny after a leaked memo suggested some “radical traditionalist” Catholics pose threats of racial or ethnically motivated violence. In a leaked memo dated Jan. 23, an analyst at the FBI’s Richmond Division said “Radical Traditionalist Catholics” are “typically characterized by the rejection of the Second Vatican Council.” The memo said the ideology can amount to an “adherence to antisemitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, and white supremacist ideology.” The memo also names far-right personality Nick Fuentes, who publicly self-identifies as Catholic and whom the memo says has ties to “white Christian nationalism.” However, the memo distinguishes radical traditional Catholics as “separate and distinct” from “traditionalist Catholics” who “simply prefer the Traditional Latin Mass and pre-Vatican II teachings.” Nevertheless, the leaked FBI memo generated a range of concerns from unease over its contents to outrage from some quarters alleging the FBI was labeling all Catholics a threat. The memo has since been retracted by the FBI, a bureau spokesperson told OSV News.

French-Trained Chef Turned Catholic Priest Raises Funds, Builds Community with Memphis King Cakes

MEMPHIS (OSV News) — Father Ben Bradshaw of Memphis really knows how to make the dough. The Catholic priest takes the concept of feeding his flock seriously, and is passionate about pastry, having been a chef trained in France. As this Lent approaches, Father Bradshaw spends a week, sacrificing some sleep, and heading over to the kitchen at St. Michael Church in Memphis, where he is pastor, to prepare nearly 700 king cakes. King cakes are a Mardi Gras tradition, where a baby figurine is hidden in the cake. That person who finds it is said to have good luck in the coming year, and that person must also bring a king cake to the Mardi Gras party the next year. The money raised from the sale of king cakes will go directly to fund the many ministries at the Tennessee parish.

In the end, the priest says warmly, “it’s not really about the king cakes. Food is a vehicle to build community and to connect with each other. We need other people — even more than we think we need them.”

Cardinal Thanks Portuguese Abuse Survivors for Speaking Out

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — An independent commission’s report on the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church in Portugal “points to the urgent need to combat whatever fosters silence from those who have been impacted by abuse,” said Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston. Silence “impedes effective prevention and the administration of justice,” said the cardinal, who is President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. In a statement released at the Vatican on Feb. 17, Cardinal O’Malley thanked the commission members and the Portuguese bishops who launched the study, but mostly the victims and survivors who came forward, many telling their stories for the first time. “Our concern should first and foremost be with the victims, whose right to justice and to adequate care needs to be a common priority,” the cardinal said. The commission’s report, released on Feb. 13, examined the period of 1950 to 2022; all dioceses and religious orders were asked to carry out a survey of abuse cases in their archives, then commission members visited those archives. But they also relied on interviews with victims and family members who phoned a dedicated line for reporting abuse. Based on interviews with 512 victims whose statements were “validated,” the report estimated there were at least 4,300 victims of child sexual abuse by church workers, mostly priests, during the 72 years covered by the study. And, it said, 48.2 percent of the 512 interviewed said it was the first time they were telling anyone about their experience of abuse.

Quad Cities Night to Shine guest Selah Bucciferro, left, takes a walk on the red carpet with her sister, Amy, at The Bend XPO events center in East Moline, Ill., Feb. 10, 2023. Night to Shine, a free prom for persons with special needs ages 14 and older, drew more than 500 guests to the church-hosted event in the Quad Cities region of Iowa and Illinois. The event is held around the world the Friday before Valentine’s Day. (OSV News photo/Barb Arland-Fye, The Catholic Messenger)

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.