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40 Days for Life in Spain announces guidelines amid government harassment of pro-lifers

null / Image credit: 40 days for life

Denver Newsroom, Sep 28, 2022 / 13:30 pm (CNA).

The first 40 Days for Life campaign in Spain since the government criminalized what is deemed harassment at abortion businesses by pro-lifers begins today and ends Nov. 6. 

In response to the new legislation, which amended the Penal Code and went into effect in April, the campaign of prayer and fasting announced on its website a series of guidelines to avoid being arrested.

The amended code establishes “a prison sentence of three months to one year or community service from 31 to 80 days” for whoever undermines the freedom of women at an abortion center.

The law penalizes anyone who “in order to hinder the exercise of the right to voluntary interruption of pregnancy harasses a woman through annoying, offensive, intimidating, or coercive acts that undermine her freedom.”

40 Days for Life reminded its volunteers that “prayer saves lives” and that their mission is to “pray peacefully, so that at no time can there be an act of harassment.”

The prayer movement advises participants to exclusively use a sign reading “You are not alone, we can help you,” and if possible to identify themselves with the 40 Days for Life official wear.

Participants are cautioned about the presence of people not part of 40 Days for Life: “Make sure your fellow time slot members have signed up for the vigil. If you don’t know someone in your time slot, try to focus on prayer and limit your conversation.”

The organization stressed that “now more than ever” it is necessary to maintain “exemplary behavior” in such a way that in case of verbal aggression to not respond and to continue praying.

If the situation persists, the participant should notify the “captain” responsible for the time slot and call the police. If possible, a video of the situation should be taken with a mobile phone “but not forwarded.”

In case of physical aggression, the police should be called.

It’s not uncommon for abortion center owners to notify the police of the presence of pro-lifers near their businesses, so in this case, it is recommended that everyone interact with the police in such a way that “there is no leading voice.”

If the police ask for identification, it’s recommended to ask the reason in a polite way and to show the National Identity Document.

40 Days for Life also foresees that a police officer may state that either someone can’t be at that place praying or that “praying is a crime.” In that case, participants are urged to be polite but to question such a statement and ask why he or she can’t be there, for example: “What am I doing wrong?” or “How should I act?”

In the event that the police insist that the volunteer must leave the place, 40 Days for Life is blunt: “Obey, never confront the police,” and “remember, they’re only doing their job.”

All these guidelines have been given despite the fact that 40 Days for Life considers that the change to the Penal Code criminalizing the actions of pro-lifers “doesn’t affect us” because “this law does not apply to us.”

“40 Days for Life is limited to praying at a fixed spot in a peaceful and silent way. Don’t engage anyone; don’t go over to speak with women who want to abort or with health care workers. Therefore, it’s IMPOSSIBLE for there to be harassment,” they stressed.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Florida Catholic schools prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Ian with action and prayer

A vehicle drives through the winds and rain from Hurricane Ian on Sept. 28, 2022, in Sarasota, Florida. Ian is hitting the area as a likely Category 4 hurricane. / Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

St. Louis, Mo., Sep 28, 2022 / 12:15 pm (CNA).

Catholic schools of all levels are taking measures to keep their students safe amid the imminent arrival of Hurricane Ian, which strengthened into a Category 4 storm overnight and is expected to hit Florida’s Gulf Coast starting on Wednesday.

Ave Maria University, a Catholic college located about an hour northeast of Naples, Florida, has canceled classes through Sept. 30. Though the school is not in the direct path of the hurricane, heavy rainfall and wind are expected. 

As of midday on Sept. 28, Hurricane Ian had reached Category 4 strength with winds of 155 mph, barely shy of a Category 5 rating. Naples, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and Port Charlotte are expected to be hit with major storm surges.

Matthew Dionisi, a freshman business major at Ave Maria, told CNA that most of his friends are remaining in their dorms, but they haven’t yet received a mandate from the school to do so. As of Wednesday, all classes at the university have been moved online, and the school says it will ask students to shelter in place if they receive a tornado warning.

In addition to switching to online learning, Ave Maria has canceled virtually all extracurricular activities. The school is running shuttles from the dorms to the dining hall to allow students to eat.

“For the rest of the day today, please do not ride your bikes, scooters, or skateboards around campus. If you would like to go to the Dining Hall, please take one of the three van shuttles from the residence halls to the Dining Hall that are running continuously today,” reads a Sept. 28 noon announcement from the school.

“It is likely that we will continue to experience heavy rainfall and wind throughout the day. Avoid nonessential travel. Updates will continue throughout the day.”

Dionisi said the mood is generally good among most fellow students he’s encountered, mainly because they know that the buildings on campus are designed to withstand a hurricane. The school, in its Sept. 28 message, noted that the campus was built to withstand a direct hit of a Category 4 hurricane — 130–155 mph sustained winds.

Dionisi said he also is confident that if an evacuation becomes necessary, the school will be able to provide that. He said despite being disappointed that he is no longer able to sing in the choir at an upcoming Mass — which had been scheduled for Wednesday evening — most of the people he has encountered are in good spirits and relaxed.

The Tampa Bay area, two and a half hours north of Naples, is expected to suffer hurricane-force winds and heavy rain likely to cause flash flooding and power outages, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Though the hurricane will likely hit just south of the bay area, mandatory evacuations have been ordered for coastal and low-lying areas, and Tampa officials warned residents on Tuesday to take the hurricane seriously, as first responders are not sent out if winds are higher than 40 mph.

Jesuit High School in Tampa, an all-boys school, has canceled all classes and extracurricular activities through Sept. 30.

Jimmy Mitchell, director of campus ministry, told CNA that the school itself is not at particular risk of storm surge and that it has storm-proof windows and other safety features. Still, he said, many of the school’s families have evacuated north, but others have decided to ride out the hurricane.

“I know the Jesuits are staying in their residence and offering Mass and many prayers for our greater school community each day,” Mitchell told CNA by text.

“Lots of students [are] connecting in small groups to pray rosaries over Zoom and things like that as well,” he said.

St. Leo University, a Benedictine college located 40 minutes northeast of Tampa, also issued a weather advisory on Tuesday canceling classes. While the university is closed for normal business operations, only essential personnel and students who are being sheltered may be on campus, the school says.

In the nearby Diocese of St. Petersburg, Bishop Gregory Parkes on Tuesday asked for prayers for “protection during the storm.”

“Loving God, maker of heaven and earth, protect us in your love and mercy. Send the spirit of Jesus to be with us to still our fears and to give us confidence in the stormy waters. Jesus reassured his disciples by his presence, calmed the storm, and strengthened their faith,” Parkes prayed in a message emailed to each parish in his diocese and posted on the diocese’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

“Guard us from harm during the storm and renew our faith to serve you faithfully. Give us the courage to face all difficulties and the wisdom to see the ways your Spirit binds us together in mutual assistance,” Parkes prayed. “With confidence, we make our prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”

Pope Francis to visit Kingdom of Bahrain in November

Pope Francis boards his flight to Geneva June 21, 2018. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Rome Newsroom, Sep 28, 2022 / 04:57 am (CNA).

The Vatican confirmed Wednesday that Pope Francis will travel to the Kingdom of Bahrain, a Muslim island nation in the Persian Gulf, from Nov. 3–6.

The possibility of a papal trip to the Islamic monarchy was mentioned on the pope’s return flight from Kazakhstan on Sept. 15.

The director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, confirmed on Sept. 28 that Pope Francis will visit Awali and the capital city of Manama for the “Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence.”

Further details and the full trip schedule will be published at a later date.

Bahrain, located to the east of Saudi Arabia and west of Qatar, has a population of 1.7 million people. The population is nearly 70% Muslim, with the majority belonging to the Shiite branch of Islam, the country’s state religion.

Christians, at approximately 210,000 people, make up 14% of the overall population, followed by Hindus at 10%. 

There are an estimated 80,000 Catholics in Bahrain, many of whom are migrants from Asia, particularly the Philippines and India. 

Awali, a small municipality about 12 miles south of Manama, is the location of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia, which was consecrated on Dec. 10, 2021.

The ark-shaped Catholic cathedral seats 2,300 people and was built as part of a 95,000-square-foot complex. The church was the idea of Bishop Camillo Ballin, the vicar apostolic of Northern Arabia, who died in 2020, shortly before he could see his project completed.

The title of Our Lady of Arabia was approved in 1948. A small chapel in Ahmadi, Kuwait, was dedicated in her honor on Dec. 8 that year.

In 1957, Pius XII issued a decree proclaiming Our Lady of Arabia the main patron saint of the territory and of the Apostolic Vicariate of Kuwait.

In 2011, the Vatican officially proclaimed Our Lady of Arabia the patron saint of the vicariates of Kuwait and Arabia.

Later that year, the Holy See reorganized the Vicariate of Kuwait, giving it the new name of the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia, and including the territories of Qatar, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.

Cardinal Zen’s second day in court: Magistrate rules there is sufficient evidence

Cardinal Joseph Zen. / Yung Chi Wai Derek/Shutterstock.

Rome Newsroom, Sep 28, 2022 / 04:48 am (CNA).

On Tuesday, Cardinal Joseph Zen’s second day in court in Hong Kong, five witnesses were cross-examined and the magistrate ruled that there was sufficient evidence to justify a trial.

The 90-year-old cardinal appeared on Sept. 27 for the second consecutive day in the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts. The prosecution called four police officers and one other witness to testify in the preliminary hearing. 

Principal Magistrate Ada Yim ruled that the prosecution has sufficient evidence to make a prima facie case against the cardinal and five others for failing to properly register a fund to provide legal aid to pro-democracy protesters, according to the Hong Kong Free Press.

Zen’s next trial date is set for Oct. 26. He was arrested in May along with other democracy activists under Hong Kong’s strict national security law. Under the current less serious charge, he could face a fine of about $1,200 but no jail time.

In addition to Zen, who has been free on bail since early May, several others have been charged for failing to apply for local society registration for the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund between 2019 and 2021. 

Those accused with Zen are lawyer Margaret Ng, singer-activist Denise Ho, cultural studies scholar Hui Po-keung, activist Sze Ching-wee, and ex-legislator Cyd Ho.

All the defendants have pleaded not guilty. Cyd Ho is already jailed for a different charge. The fund helped pro-democracy protesters pay their legal fees until it dissolved itself in October 2021.

The legal representatives for the six defendants said that they will not testify in court or call any witnesses, but they will submit legal arguments on the interpretation of Hong Kong’s Societies Ordinance, according to the Hong Kong Free Press. 

The defendants’ lawyers have previously said they had the right to associate under Hong Kong’s Basic Law — the legal framework created when Great Britain handed over Hong Kong to China in 1997.

Zen’s trial has received international attention this week, with several Catholic leaders and human rights activists expressing solidarity for the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong.

Paul Marshall, the director of the Religious Freedom Institute’s South and Southeast Asia Action Team, told CNA that Zen’s trial “further undercuts China’s 1997 promise of ‘one country, two systems’ when Hong Kong was returned to its rule and shows the government cannot be trusted to keep its agreements.”

“The prosecution and trial of 90-year-old Cardinal Zen for peacefully raising funds shows the extreme lengths to which the Chinese government will go to crush any vestiges of dissent and free religion in Hong Kong or the mainland,” he said.

Pope Francis: The first element of discernment is prayer

Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square, Sept. 28, 2022 / Pablo Esparza / CNA

Rome Newsroom, Sep 28, 2022 / 03:41 am (CNA).

Prayer is the first element of discernment, Pope Francis said in his general audience message on Wednesday.

“To discern we need to be in an environment, in a state of prayer,” he said Sept. 28 in St. Peter’s Square.

“We resume our catecheses on the theme of discernment,” the pope said, “because the theme of discernment is very important to know what is going on inside of us — feelings and ideas — we have to discern where they come from, where they lead me, to what decision.”

Francis emphasized that discernment does not lead to absolute certainty, because “life is not always logical” and humans are not machines, but “prayer is an indispensable aid.”

“It is not enough to be given instructions to carry out,” he said. “We would like to know precisely what should be done, yet even when it happens, we do not always act accordingly. How many times have we, too, had the experience described by the apostle Paul: ‘For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want.’”

He pointed out that the first miracle Jesus performs in the Gospel of Mark is an exorcism. In the synagogue in Capernaum, Jesus delivers a man from the devil, “freeing him from the false image of God that Satan has been suggesting since the beginning: that of a God who does not want our happiness.”

Pope Francis blessed a child at the general audience on St. Peter's Square, Sept. 28, 2022. Pablo Esparza / CNA
Pope Francis blessed a child at the general audience on St. Peter's Square, Sept. 28, 2022. Pablo Esparza / CNA

Pope Francis noted that this is a trap many people, even Christians, can fall into: they may believe that Jesus is the Son of God, “but they doubt that he wants our happiness.”

“Indeed, some fear that taking his proposal seriously means ruining our lives, mortifying our desires, our strongest aspirations. These thoughts sometimes creep up inside us: that God asks too much of us, or wants to take away what we hold most dear. In short, that he doesn’t really love us,” Francis said.

But, he explained, meeting the Lord in prayer should produce joy, not fear or sadness, which are signs of distance from him.

He encouraged people to pray to God with simplicity. Just like they would greet a friend, they can say “hello” to God throughout the day.

Prayer “is knowing how to go beyond thoughts, to enter into intimacy with the Lord, with an affectionate spontaneity,” he said, adding that “true prayer is familiarity and confidence with God. It is not reciting prayers like a parrot, blah blah blah, no.”

“To be in prayer,” he said, “is not to say words, words, no; to be in prayer is to open my heart to Jesus, to draw closer to Jesus, to let Jesus come into my heart and let us feel his presence.”

This, the pope continued, is how we can discern when it is Jesus speaking to us and when it is just our own thoughts. 

Francis said familiarity with the Lord also helps us to overcome the fear or doubt that God’s will is not for our good, “a temptation that sometimes runs through our thoughts and makes the heart restless and uncertain.”

“Discerning is not easy, for appearances are deceptive, but familiarity with God can melt doubts and fears in a gentle way, making our lives increasingly receptive to his ‘gentle light,’ according to the beautiful expression of St. John Henry Newman,” he said.

“It is a grace we must ask for each other: to see Jesus as our friend, our greatest friend, our faithful friend, who does not extort us, who, above all, never abandons us, even when we turn away from him,” he said. “He remains at the door of the heart.”

Pope Francis speaking at the general audience on St. Peter's Square, Sept. 28, 2022. Pablo Esparza / CNA
Pope Francis speaking at the general audience on St. Peter's Square, Sept. 28, 2022. Pablo Esparza / CNA

In his final greeting at the end of the audience, Pope Francis recalled that Thursday, Sept. 29, the Church celebrates the feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

These saints “arouse in each one of us a sincere adherence to the divine plans. Know how to recognize and follow the voice of the inner Master, who speaks in the secret of our consciousness,” he said.

Legislators raise concerns about FBI raid at pro-life family’s home

Mark and Ryan-Marie Houck with their seven children, ages 2 to 13. / Courtesy of the Houck family

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 27, 2022 / 19:00 pm (CNA).

Twenty-two members of Congress are demanding an explanation from the Department of Justice after the arrest of a Catholic pro-life leader in front of his wife and children at the family’s home in Pennsylvania last week. 

Mark Houck, 48, was charged with two counts of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or the FACE Act, and entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

The FACE act “prohibits violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain or provide reproductive health services,” according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). 

“The FBI’s treatment of pro-life leader Mark Houck is chilling,” Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines said in a press release that accompanied the Sept. 27 letter. “Instead of allowing for a local resolution of the dispute, the FBI nationalized the matter by using excessive force with an early morning raid at gunpoint in front of young children. The American people deserve answers.” 

The letter requests, by Sept. 30, “an explanation for the excessive level of force used by the FBI in this case, and why the power of federal law enforcement was once again used against an American citizen in what should be a state and local matter.”

“Attorney General Merrick Garland oversees an increasingly politicized FBI that seems hell-bent on making examples of average American citizens who don’t align politically with the administration,” Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said in the press release. 

“Given what we know about it thus far that is what the case of the raid on Mark Houck’s home appears to be,” Roy added. “And the FBI should immediately answer for its apparent use of a 25- to 30-person SWAT team with guns drawn to target Mark Houck, a pro-life father of seven, for allegedly shoving a guy in front of an abortion clinic (while he maintains he was defending his 12-year-old son).”

Houck’s arrest gained national attention after his wife publicly offered her account about details of the resources and tactics used by the FBI to arrest the pro-life leader and family man.

“A SWAT team of about 25 came to my house with about 15 vehicles and started pounding on our door,” Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie Houck, told CNA the day of the arrest.

“They said they were going to break in if he didn’t open it. And then they had about five guns pointed at my husband, myself, and basically at my kids,” she added.

The FBI disputed Ryan-Marie Houck’s account of the arrest in a statement on Monday, calling the claims “inaccurate.”

“No SWAT Team or SWAT operators were involved. FBI agents knocked on Mr. Houck’s front door, identified themselves as FBI agents, and asked him to exit the residence. He did so and was taken into custody without incident pursuant to an indictment,” the statement said.

“Extensive planning takes place prior to the service of any federal warrant. The FBI then employs the personnel and tactics deemed necessary to effect a safe arrest or search,” the statement said.

“While it’s the FBI’s standard practice not to discuss such operational specifics, we can say that the number of personnel and vehicles widely reported as being on scene Friday is an overstatement, and the tactics used by FBI personnel were professional, in line with standard practices, and intended to ensure the safety of everyone present in and outside the residence,” the statement concluded.

An FBI spokesman declined to answer CNA’s questions about the number of law enforcement personnel at the scene and whether any drew their weapons and pointed them at the family.

The charges

Houck was indicted by a federal grand jury Sept. 22 after a Planned Parenthood clinic escort alleged that Houck pushed him twice, causing him to fall to the ground both times.

The federal indictment says that Houck twice assaulted the 72-year-old man, identified in the indictment by the initials B.L., who was at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia on Oct. 13, 2021.

According to the indictment, Houck shoved the man to the ground as he was attempting to escort two patients. The indictment also says that Houck “verbally confronted” and “forcefully shoved” him to the ground in front of Planned Parenthood the same day. The indictment says the man was injured and needed medical attention.

Houck regularly prays the rosary, hands out literature, and “does some sidewalk counseling” outside the clinic, his wife told CNA the day of the arrest.

Brian Middleton, who acted as Houck’s family spokesperson, told CNA Monday that Mark Houck maintains that he pushed the clinic escort in an effort to protect his then 12-year-old son from the man’s verbal harassment of the boy.

Middleton said that the man fell down but was not seriously hurt and required only “a Band-Aid on his finger.”

Houck faces the possibility of 11 years in prison if convicted under the new federal charges. 

The congressional letter addressed the dropped state charges.

“There is much to learn about the extent of the FBI’s operations in this case, especially since state-level assault charges were apparently dismissed by local authorities in Philadelphia,” the congressional letter says.

“Surely, the FBI must have an extraordinary reason for showing up at the home of an American family, allegedly with roughly 25 heavily armed federal agents, and arresting a father in front of his seven children. At the moment, it appears to be an extraordinary overreach for political ends.”

What’s behind the ‘woman priest’ Facebook post from the Synod of Bishops?

A screenshot of the image at the Synod of Bishops' Facebook page / null

Denver Newsroom, Sep 27, 2022 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

A social media stir has greeted the image of a “woman priest,” among several other artistic images, posted to the Synod of Bishops’ Facebook page. Though it is unclear whether the Facebook page noticed the figure, the artwork does come from a Philadelphia gathering of college students that said Holy Orders should be open to women.

“In #Frascati22 our experts are working on the syntheses produced during the local consultation phase,” the Synod of Bishops’ Facebook page said in a Sept. 24 post, referring to the Italian town of Frascati. These gatherings for the Synod of Synodality included “pages and pages full of stories, insights, but also in some cases real works of art. Look at that!”

The Facebook post includes several cropped artworks with the Latin-language watermark of the Synod of Bishops in the upper-left corner.

One image shows five young people holding hands in front of a church, including a woman in the vestments of a priest. She is next to a person holding a microphone and wearing a yellow shirt that says “pride” in rainbow-colored letters. The person with a microphone appears to say “we are the young people of the future and the future is now.” The uncropped image is subtitled “Chain of Discipleship.”

Comments on the Synod of Bishops’ Facebook page zeroed in on the woman in clerical vestments.

“Why is there a woman in a chasuble?” asks one commentator.

“This is epic cringe. Uggh,” says another.

Though the images are unsourced, CNA determined they originate with the Philadelphia Catholic Higher Education Synod. The artwork is included, uncropped, in this synod’s May 16 summary report. The images “reflect and precede each of the organizing themes included here,” the report says.

Despite authoritative Catholic teaching that the Church cannot ordain women, the report’s authors recommend that the Church “open doors to women in leadership and Holy Orders.”

In the 1994 document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, St. John Paul II definitively excluded the possibility of the ordination of women to the priesthood. In 2016 remarks, Pope Francis characterized this as “the final word.”

The Philadelphia Catholic Higher Education Synod drew about 400 participants from 11 Catholic colleges or universities and three non-Catholic universities’ Catholic centers. Archbishop Nelson Perez of Philadelphia attended the final plenary session with more than 50 college students and an almost equal number of campus administrators and officers, the report said.

Becky McIntyre, a northwest Philadelphia artist and alumna of St. Joseph’s University, created the images. On her professional website, she said she had been “commissioned as a visual notetaker to facilitate an interactive art installation and create digital synthesized notes of the Philadelphia Catholic Higher Education Synod cross-campus listening session event.”

Thierry Bonaventura, a spokesperson of the Synod of Bishops, confirmed to CNA he had seen the reaction to the Facebook post. "This was an example of the contributions we received. Not only [the] texts but also some designs," Bonaventura wrote. "It was an example of what the listening consultation over the world has produced."

CNA also sought comment from McIntyre and the Philadelphia Catholic Higher Education Synod.

One of McIntyre’s images summarizes the synod and pictures students against the backdrop of the Philadelphia skyline. One element of local color is included: a small image of Gritty, the mascot of the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers.

It appears to be a visual summary of this synod: 48 listening sessions at 14 universities, 28 interracial sessions, and 27 interreligious meetings. Six young people sit in folding chairs. They are labeled as “Muslim,” “first-year education student,” “physics major,” “CLC leader,” “grad student,” and “Queer.”

The image records several statements, though it is unclear if they are direct quotations from synod participants. “Being Catholic is a crucial part of my identity,” says one. “It’s all about encounter with Christ,” reads another comment.

Other comments seem more critical. “I fear labeling myself Catholic because I don’t want to be thought of as ignorant,” says one. “The only woman leader in my church was in the choir,” said another. “I don’t want my future family to be excluded because I’m gay,” one comment says.

Another synod comment suggests more “coffee dates” with priests, religious, and campus ministers.

In another image, McIntyre appears to depict the Church as a refuge from all the tensions, divisions, and broken bonds of life. Yet another image depicts the threads of various identities, including racial, ethnic, and sexual identities, being woven into a single garment by hands captioned “God is Love.”

The synod’s summary report includes various views in tension or conflict.

Some students found joy in “a strong affiliation with a tradition with deep history in the midst of so much change provides comfort and clarity.” Others cited an “inability to be who you truly are in the church, being unhealthy, hurtful, wrong.” There was consensus on some matters like the need to “be animated by a God who loves recklessly and a Church defined by hospitality.”

Last updated on Sept 28. to include the reaction by the spokesperson of the Synod of Bishops.

Catholic University raises replica of Notre-Dame de Paris truss

A group of volunteers stand in front of a Notre-Dame Cathedral truss replica at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26, 2022. / Patrick G. Ryan

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 27, 2022 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

A full-scale replica of a Notre-Dame de Paris truss creaked gently in the morning sun as dozens of students and volunteers pulled on ropes to raise it above the lawn of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

The truss — a roof support — went up just hours before Philippe Villeneuve and Rémi Fromont, chief architects leading the restoration of the historic cathedral, visited the U.S. for the first time since a fire engulfed the medieval church in 2019. 

The architects’ first stop, the university said, would be to see the truss.

The raising was no small feat: the 45-foot-wide by 35-foot-high white oak structure weighs 8,100 pounds. Its creation, the university noted, is also remarkable. Produced using traditional, 800-year-old methods, the hand-hewn truss was created using blueprints of the original.

Together with the educational nonprofit Handshouse Studio and other groups, the university’s School of Architecture and Planning crafted the truss during a 10-day workshop last year as part of the Notre-Dame de Paris Truss Project. A team of timber framers, carpenters, faculty, and students followed French protocol from the Middle Ages in everything from timber harvesting and tools to assembly.

“It’s my understanding that we’re enacting the building and the utilization of a truss that was made with authentic materials and in an authentic construction fashion when the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was raised in the 12th century,” the university’s president, Peter Kilpatrick, told CNA.

While the creators originally dreamed of gifting the truss to the cathedral, now they are hoping to donate their talents instead — and travel to Paris.

“We’ll be sending American students and craftsmen over there to work with their materials and their supplies,” Sam Merklein, a graduate student studying architecture who is involved with the truss project, told CNA.

Architecture students Juan Soto, Andrew Masison, and Sam Merklein helped build a Notre-Dame de Paris truss replica that was raised at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Architecture students Juan Soto, Andrew Masison, and Sam Merklein helped build a Notre-Dame de Paris truss replica that was raised at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA

In the meantime, the truss has stood on the National Mall — between the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol — as well as inside the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Millennium Gate Museum in Atlanta.

Monday marked its fifth exhibition.

Merklein, a 23-year-old from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, called the effort a “symbol of solidarity, from the U.S. to offer to the French their condolences.”

Opening the day with prayer, Bishop John O. Barres of Rockville Centre, New York, a university trustee, called on the intercession of French saints for the rebuilding of not only the cathedral but also the Catholic Church in France.

“This morning we pray in solidarity with Parisians and people around the world who treasure Notre Dame Cathedral’s beautiful expression of the Catholic faith and the Catholic soul in art, architecture, liturgy, and history,” Barres said.

Kilpatrick, together with Andre Finot, the chief communications officer for the cathedral, attended the raising. Afterward, following an ancient tradition, one of the builders scaled the truss to fix a whetting bush, or evergreen, to the top in celebration.

A builder scales the Notre-Dame de Paris truss replica to fix a whetting bush, or evergreen, to the top in celebration at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26, 2022. Patrick G. Ryan
A builder scales the Notre-Dame de Paris truss replica to fix a whetting bush, or evergreen, to the top in celebration at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26, 2022. Patrick G. Ryan

Juan Soto, 24, from Ashburn, Virginia, called the truss’ placement on the university lawn, next to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a “beautiful sight.”

“We all worked on this hands-on, we got to hew the logs as they came in last summer,” said Soto, an architecture student who graduated earlier this year. 

With this project, Kilpatrick said that he hopes that these students come away with a new curiosity. He revealed that he attended Mass at the cathedral in Paris as a young assistant professor during his first trip to France in 1984. 

He explained, today, why he is excited about the truss project.

Catholic University of America President Peter Kilpatrick attends the raising of a Notre-Dame de Paris truss replica at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Catholic University of America President Peter Kilpatrick attends the raising of a Notre-Dame de Paris truss replica at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA

“It represents one of the most important elements of our university education, and that is that we believe in the integration of the disciplines,” he told CNA. “So knowledge is not isolated in a discipline, it’s not isolated in a time or chronology. Knowledge is part of human understanding of God’s truth for the world and so when you integrate something like history and architecture and our faith and human culture — when you integrate all those things — you’re helping our students and our community understand the continuity of knowledge and the relationship between the disciplines.”

Attorney Trevor O. Resurreccion, 43, traveled from Santa Ana, California, to attend the raising. A donor to the project, he attended the university’s architecture school as an undergraduate.

“I jumped at the opportunity and I thought, what a great way to not only support the school and the students here but also a project that is important — not just for Catholic University, but also for people around the world and, of course, Paris,” he told CNA. 

Attorney Trevor O. Resurreccion, 43, traveled from Santa Ana, California, to attend the raising of a Notre-Dame de Paris truss replica at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26, 2022. A donor of the project, he formerly attended the university’s architecture school as an undergraduate. Katie Yoder/CNA
Attorney Trevor O. Resurreccion, 43, traveled from Santa Ana, California, to attend the raising of a Notre-Dame de Paris truss replica at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26, 2022. A donor of the project, he formerly attended the university’s architecture school as an undergraduate. Katie Yoder/CNA

Afterward, the cathedral’s Finot, representatives from Handshouse Studio, and Catholic University faculty participated in a panel discussion. The group identified two carpenters present who will help with the efforts to help rebuild Notre-Dame de Paris — after making connections through the truss project.

Marie Brown, executive director of Handshouse Studio, highlighted the beauty of building something the way it was originally fashioned, whether with the truss replica or with the cathedral itself.

“By remaking something in the method it was originally made, the process of that maker, the experience of that maker, is actually embodied,” she said. “The person now picks up the tool — they might not even be familiar with it if they’re a beginner, they might be next to a person who is an expert and get to watch and learn. But then their actual embodiment of that action gets you into the mind of the maker.”

She added: “It suddenly brings out this whole understanding of history in a way that’s so personal.”

A group of students and volunteers pose in front of a Notre-Dame de Paris truss replica at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26, 2022. Patrick G. Ryan
A group of students and volunteers pose in front of a Notre-Dame de Paris truss replica at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26, 2022. Patrick G. Ryan

Colorado Springs Diocese mourns death of emeritus Bishop Sheridan

Bishop Emeritus Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, who died Sept. 27, 2022. / Diocese of Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs, Colo., Sep 27, 2022 / 16:17 pm (CNA).

Bishop Michael Sheridan, who led the Diocese of Colorado Springs from 2003 to 2021, died Tuesday. He was 77.

The diocese announced his death at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs Sept. 27.

Bishop James Golka, Sheridan’s successor, wrote on Twitter: “Please join me in praying for the repose of his soul. He was a faithful servant until the end.”

Sheridan was born in St. Louis in 1945. He attended Rockhurst College for a year and then Cardinal Glennon College Seminary and Kenrick Seminary. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis in 1971. 

He continued his studies at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, earning a licentiate, and returned to teach at Kenrick. He was active in the theater group there.

In 1997 Sheridan was consecrated a bishop and appointed an auxiliary of the St. Louis Archdiocese.

In 2001 he was appointed coadjutor bishop of Colorado Springs, and he succeeded as ordinary on Jan. 30, 2003. He retired in 2021 at age 76.

“Among his many achievements during his tenure as bishop of Colorado Springs were the development of a robust vocations program that resulted in the ordination of many new priests for the diocese and the construction of the St. John Henry Newman Chapel and Catholic Student Center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs,” the diocese said.

Sheridan also hosted a weekly radio show from 2008 to 2020.

A vigil for Sheridan will be held Oct. 6 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Colorado Springs, and his funeral Mass will be said the following day at the city’s Holy Apostles Church.

Florida bishop calls for prayers ahead of Hurricane Ian

United States Naval Research Laboratory's infrared-gray satellite image of Hurricane Ian. / Public Domain

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 27, 2022 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

As Hurricane Ian bears down on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Bishop Gregory L. Parkes of St. Petersburg asked for prayers for “protection during the storm.”

In a message emailed to each parish in his diocese and posted on the diocese’s Facebook page and YouTube channel, Parkes offered a prayer of his own.

“Loving God, maker of heaven and earth, protect us in your love and mercy. Send the spirit of Jesus to be with us to still our fears and to give us confidence in the stormy waters. Jesus reassured his disciples by his presence, calmed the storm, and strengthened their faith,” he said.

“Guard us from harm during the storm and renew our faith to serve you faithfully. Give us the courage to face all difficulties and the wisdom to see the ways your Spirit binds us together in mutual assistance,” Parkes prayed. “With confidence, we make our prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”

On Tuesday afternoon the Category 3 storm struck western Cuba and headed into the Gulf of Mexico. While the exact path of the hurricane is not yet known, forecasters have issued warnings for the entire Gulf Coast. Current projections are for the storm to hit between Tampa and Ft. Myers on Wednesday.

The Diocese of St. Petersburg is, for now, to the north of the hurricane’s expected path, but dangerous flooding and damaging winds are expected for all of Florida's west coast. Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for coastal and low-lying areas.

Tampa officials warned residents on Tuesday to take the hurricane seriously, as first responders are not sent out if winds are higher than 40 mph.

With sustained winds expected to reach 115 mph, and gusts up to 145 mph, the National Hurricane Center warned that “locations may be uninhabitable for weeks or months.”

National Hurricane Center's track of Hurricane Ian, expected to make landfall onWednesday. Public Domain
National Hurricane Center's track of Hurricane Ian, expected to make landfall onWednesday. Public Domain