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Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Gal 3:7-14

Brothers and sisters:
Realize that it is those who have faith
who are children of Abraham.
Scripture, which saw in advance that God
would justify the Gentiles by faith,
foretold the good news to Abraham, saying,
Through you shall all the nations be blessed.
Consequently, those who have faith are blessed
along with Abraham who had faith.
For all who depend on works of the law are under a curse;
for it is written, Cursed be everyone
who does not persevere in doing all the things
written in the book of the law.

And that no one is justified before God by the law is clear,
for the one who is righteous by faith will live.
But the law does not depend on faith;
rather, the one who does these things will live by them.
Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us,
for it is written, Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree,
that the blessing of Abraham might be extended
to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus,
so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 111:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6

R. (5) The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
exquisite in all their delights.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
Majesty and glory are his work,
and his justice endures forever.
He has won renown for his wondrous deeds;
gracious and merciful is the LORD.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
He has given food to those who fear him;
he will forever be mindful of his covenant.
He has made known to his people the power of his works,
giving them the inheritance of the nations.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.

Alleluia Jn 12:31b-32

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The prince of this world will now be cast out,
and when I am lifted up from the earth
I will draw all to myself, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 11:15-26

When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said:
"By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons,
he drives out demons."
Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.
But he knew their thoughts and said to them,
"Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste
and house will fall against house.
And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?
For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.
If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul,
by whom do your own people drive them out?
Therefore they will be your judges.
But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.
When a strong man fully armed guards his palace,
his possessions are safe.
But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him,
he takes away the armor on which he relied
and distributes the spoils.
Whoever is not with me is against me,
and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

"When an unclean spirit goes out of someone,
it roams through arid regions searching for rest
but, finding none, it says,
'I shall return to my home from which I came.'
But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order.
Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits
more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there,
and the last condition of that man is worse than the first."
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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Washington.

The resignation was publicized in Washington, DC, October 12, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Cardinal Wuerl had presented his resignation almost three years ago, when he reached the retirement age for bishops of 75.

In April,2008, Cardinal Wuerl hosted in Washington, Pope Benedict XVI and in September, 2015, Pope Francis for their first pastoral visits to the United States. He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to help direct the October 2012 Synod of Bishops on The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. Cardinal Wuerl was also appointed by Pope Francis as a member of both the 2014 and the 2015 Synods on the Family.

The Cardinal was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and received graduate degrees from The Catholic University of America, the Gregorian University in Rome and a doctorate in theology from the University of Saint Thomas in Rome. He was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II on January 6, 1986, in Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome. He served as Auxiliary Bishop in Seattle until 1987 and then as Bishop of Pittsburgh for 18 years until his appointment to Washington. His titular church in Rome is Saint Peter in Chains.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl was born November 12, 1940, in Pittsburgh, PA. He attended the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., earning a bachelor's degree (1962) and master's degree (1963) in philosophy. He continued his studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and earned a master's degree in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1967, also in Rome.

He was ordained a priest on December 17, 1966.

From 1981 to 1985, he was rector of Saint Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh. On November 30, 1985 he was appointed titular Bishop of Rosemarkie and Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle. Pope John Paul ordained him a bishop on January 6, 1986. On February 12, 1988, he was installed as Bishop of Pittsburgh. He was appointed Archbishop of Washington on May 16, 2006.

He holds honorary degrees from eleven universities and is a Knight of Malta, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, and a fourth degree Knight of Columbus.

Cardinal Wuerl served previously as Chairman of the Doctrine Committee for the USCCB and has served on other various USCCB committees.

The Archdiocese of Washington is comprised of 2,104 square miles and has a total population of 2,867,377 million of which 630,823 or 22 percent, are Catholic.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archdiocese of Washington, DC.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

With Romero, the church gains a model Salvadorans have long venerated

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A few years ago, I asked a Salvadoran priest whether he believed Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the best known of the martyrs of El Salvador, would ever be recognized by the Catholic Church as a saint.

He didn't hesitate in answering and said he believed it would happen but it might take "a long, long time," perhaps until Archbishop Romero was "decaffeinated," meaning that what he stood for during a turbulent time in the history of El Salvador had been stripped away.

For years, outright lies -- that he was political, that he was a "guerillero," a guerilla fighter and an instigator -- were promulgated in El Salvador and crossed the oceans to the halls of the Vatican, where church officials received "kilos of letters against him," as Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of Blessed Romero's cause for sainthood, said in 2015.

But the kilos of lies did not outweigh the truth and a history that has overwhelmingly shown that Blessed Romero was a man of peace, a friend of the marginalized, and lived and died like many of his people, a victim of forces that for centuries have enslaved El Salvador's poor.

His name is one in a sea of more than 70,000 innocent Salvadoran brothers and sisters, children, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles violently killed during 12 years of conflict, and he lost his life simply by living like the unprotected masses.

The way he lived, not his death, is what endeared him to thousands of Salvadorans and other Latin Americans who long have called him "St. Romero of the Americas." He sought no special protection from the daily violence that the majority of the country lived under and chose not to shield himself and his conscience from the country's struggles. Instead, he fed the poor who picked the coffee crops for miserly wages and strolled through impoverished neighborhoods with a comforting smile while calling on the country's oppressors to a path of justice, equality and peace.

For many of us Salvadorans who were too young to make sense of his killing when it took place on March 24, 1980, his Oct. 14 declaration of sainthood is an official confirmation by the church of the holiness our elders, priests, men and women religious, and lay people who knew him in life, told us about over the years. There's no shortage of lies that the peddlers of injustice still try to promote, but they have failed to eclipse Romero's true message of love and closeness with the poor that many in the church in El Salvador have followed and transmitted.

With his canonization, his example transcends the borders of tiny and still troubled El Salvador,

To mark his sainthood, the Jesuit-run Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart in Edinburgh, Scotland, is set to dedicate a shrine to him. He is being remembered at Masses throughout the United States, from Washington to San Francisco, in Australia, Cuba and much, if not all, of Latin America, a region that has long thought of him as a saint.

Officials from the Archdiocese of San Salvador say they have registered 10,000 Salvadorans to attend the ceremony at the Vatican that will declare him and six others, including his friend and mentor Blessed Paul VI, models for the church. Of those, 3,000 will attend from El Salvador, 2,000 from various parts of the world, and 5,000 Salvadorans living in Italy.

Witnessing that brief moment in time, for many of us, is about sharing one of our own, and one of our best, with the world.

He showed us that our mission is following a Gospel that calls us to peace, toward happiness and fulfillment by sharing and caring and talking and writing to make life better for the most afflicted of our brothers and sisters in society -- no matter what the cost. It's no small legacy and one that many Salvadorans, inside and outside the country, take seriously.

"Each of you who believe must become a microphone, a radio station, a loudspeaker, not to talk, but to call for faith," he said in a homily on Oct. 29, 1978.

Almost 40 years after he said those words, the prophetic voice many of us grew up hearing is no longer just ours, and best of all, it has not been "decaffeinated." The declaration of Blessed Romero's sainthood shows us that truth doesn't merely survive the most vicious and violent attacks by forces such as money and power, but ultimately triumphs.

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Copyright © 2018 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Supreme Court examines dementia, health issues in death penalty cases

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. Supreme Court, no stranger to death penalty cases, is looking very narrowly at two aspects of capital punishment this term: if an inmate with dementia should be executed if he has no memory of the crime he committed three decades ago and if a death-row prisoner with a specific health problem can be executed by a less painful manner because of his condition.

These two cases "put the unworkability and inhumanity of capital punishment on full display," said Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network, a group that champions restorative justice and an end to the death penalty.

She said state prison systems are increasingly "faced with the question of how to execute people with severe mental and physical health problems" particularly since America's death-row populations are getting older and the average death-row inmate spends 15 years awaiting execution.

"Harsh living conditions, including solitary confinement, only further exacerbate physical and mental illness," she added.

The court heard oral arguments Oct. 2, the second day of its new term, about the pending execution of Vernon Madison, an Alabama man who killed a police officer 30 years ago. He has suffered strokes in recent years that left him blind and with vascular dementia and significant memory loss. He cannot tell what season or day it is, nor does he remember committing the crime.

This case, Madison v. Alabama, was argued before eight judges while Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation was on hold. The court has already held that states may not execute the mentally ill or the intellectually disabled but has not ruled on those with dementia. This case also examines whether someone can be executed if they were mentally capable when they committed the crime but later developed cognitive impairments.

During arguments, the judges appeared to lean in Madison's favor, but this also is a new bench without Justice Anthony Kennedy, who in recent years played a key role in the court's opposition to the death penalty. He wrote the majority opinion in the court's 2007 decision saying people who cannot understand their punishments cannot be executed and in its 2005 ruling that juvenile offenders could not be executed. Both decisions had 5-4 votes.

Kavanaugh will not vote on the Madison case, but the court could decide to have it retried if it reaches a split vote.

During arguments, Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization for prisoners' rights based in Montgomery, Alabama, told the court that it is simply not humane to execute someone who is disabled, confused or fragile. He also put it this way: "No penological justification or retributive value can be found in executing a severely impaired and incompetent prisoner."

But the state saw it differently.

Alabama Deputy Attorney General Thomas Govan said the state still deserves to win "retribution for a heinous crime," and described Madison's claim as "unprecedented."

Justice Stephen Breyer, who has been the court's leading death penalty opponent, said Madison's numerous impairments are not unusual since death-row prisoners are older on average than they used to be and have been awaiting execution for 20 to 40 years.

"This will become a more common problem," Breyer said, adding that a narrow ruling in Madison's favor might prevent similar cases from flooding the courts.

The other death penalty case before the court is Bucklew v. Precythe. Russell Bucklew is on Missouri's death row for a 1986 murder. He suffers from a rare medical condition that causes blood-filled tumors in his head, neck and throat, which can easily rupture. His attorneys have argued that the state's lethal injection protocol would be more gruesome and cause more suffering than if he were put to death by lethal gas, which the state does not have the protocol to use.

Kavanaugh will hear the oral arguments in this case before the court Nov. 6, but how he will vote on a death penalty case is still pretty much unknown since, as a federal appeals court judge, he rarely heard capital punishment cases.

Garrett Epps, a law professor at the University of Baltimore, wrote in the Sept. 18 issue of The Atlantic that however the Bucklew case is resolved, it shows "how fully the court has become enmeshed in the sordid details of official killing. As the population of death row ages, issues of age-related disease and dementia will become more important in assessing individual death warrants, and the court will be the last stop for those challenged."

Vaillancourt Murphy said it is not likely that many Catholics are paying attention to either of these cases before the court, but she said there has been an increased interest among Catholics to understand what capital punishment means in modern society particularly since the catechism was revised in early August calling the use of the death penalty "inadmissible."

"This added clarity in Catholic teaching is a welcome validation of the church's pro-life stance. We are called to uphold the sacred dignity of every human person, no matter the harm someone has caused," she said in an Oct. 9 email to Catholic News Service.

She said Catholics "should pay attention to these cases because they serve as important measures of how the highest court in the land is working to defend or disregard human life."

"As believers and as U.S. citizens, we should be prepared for more cases resembling these to go before the court in coming years," she added. "The conundrum of America's aging death rows is not going to go away."

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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Copyright © 2018 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Some married men would answer a call to priesthood, bishop says

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Speaking to the Synod of Bishops on behalf of Belgium's bishops' conference, a bishop said he was sure some young married men would become priests if they were asked.

The vocations of Christian marriage and "celibacy for the kingdom" of God "deserve to be equally promoted by the church," Auxiliary Bishop Jean Kockerols of Mechelen-Brussels said in his presentation Oct. 10.

Just as Christians are expected to pursue another vocation out of their baptismal vocation in a way that gives "flesh" or substance to the sacrament of baptism, certain people, whether they are married or not, may hear a call to serve and be ministers of their communities, he said.

"I am convinced that some young people," who, out of their baptismal vocation, answered a call to commit themselves to "the bonds of marriage would readily answer 'here I am' if the church were to call them to priestly ministry," said the bishop who was elected by the Belgian bishops to represent them at the synod on young people, faith and vocational discernment.

The bishop's full text was published Oct. 10 on www.cathobel.be, the official French-language site of the Belgian bishops' conference.

Jesuit Father Tommy Scholtes, spokesman of the conference, said Bishop Kockerols had submitted his text to the Belgian bishops before it was delivered to the synod and, as such, the text was presented on behalf of the whole bishops' conference.

The bishop's brief talk focused on a deeper understanding of the term, "vocation," which begins with answering the call to life -- choosing life and choosing to listen to and love the Lord.

"For the Christian," he said, "this call to life is an invitation to be and to become a disciple of Christ, 'Come and follow me.'"

The baptismal vocation is "the source and summit" of all other vocations, he said, and people's answer to each call prepares them for the important choices to be made in life.

The church must accompany young people so that they can become disciples of Christ "each at their own pace," he said, and if the church does not become better committed to this task, "the church will continue to lose credibility."

Father Schotes told catholbel.be that allowing for the priestly ordination of married men could be one way to address dwindling vocations, but that it was not the only solution.

The problem with vocations "is also a question of the credibility of faith in the world today," he said, noting how Orthodox churches and Protestant communities, which allow married men to become priests, are also seeing a lack of men wishing to pursue ministry.

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Copyright © 2018 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Florida dioceses offer prayers for those in hurricane’s path

With EMS service suspended in some parts of Florida as Hurricane Michael made landfall Oct. 10 in the state's panhandle area with sustained winds clocked at 155 mph, at least least two dioceses offered prayers for those in the Category 4 storm's path.

The post Florida dioceses offer prayers for those in hurricane’s path appeared first on Superior Catholic Herald.

Thursday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Gal 3:1-5

O stupid Galatians!
Who has bewitched you,
before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
I want to learn only this from you:
did you receive the Spirit from works of the law,
or from faith in what you heard?
Are you so stupid?
After beginning with the Spirit,
are you now ending with the flesh?
Did you experience so many things in vain?–
if indeed it was in vain.
Does, then, the one who supplies the Spirit to you
and works mighty deeds among you
do so from works of the law
or from faith in what you heard?

Responsorial Psalm Luke 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75

R. (68) Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
R. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
R. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
R. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
R. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; He has come to his people.

Alleluia See Acts 16:14b

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our hearts, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 11:5-13

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Suppose one of you has a friend
to whom he goes at midnight and says,
'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey
and I have nothing to offer him,'
and he says in reply from within,
'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children and I are already in bed.
I cannot get up to give you anything.'
I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves
because of their friendship,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.

"And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit
to those who ask him?"
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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Brewers chaplain finds joy in connecting his love of priesthood, sports

IMAGE: CNS photo/Allen Fredrickson for The Compass

By Maryangela Roman

MILWAUKEE (CNS) -- Champagne corks popped in the visiting clubhouse Oct. 7 as the Milwaukee Brewers celebrated their sweep of the Colorado Rockies, advancing to the National League Championship Series.

Back home in Wisconsin, an extended member of the Brewers' family was celebrating, too. Father Jerry Herda was popping a champagne cork in his backyard after watching the game on television with his family.

Father Herda, the Milwaukee Archdiocese's vicar for ordained and lay ecclesial ministry, has been a lifelong Brewers fan, but he also has a special connection to the team, having served as its Catholic chaplain for 12 seasons.

"The family was all together and we were screaming and yelling and even broke open a bottle of champagne in the backyard," admitted Father Herda, following the Brewers' 6-0 shutout of the Rockies to win the National League Division Series.

Father Herda's role with the Brewers began shortly after pitcher Jeff Suppan signed with the team in 2006.

A devout Catholic, Suppan asked if a Mass could be celebrated at Miller Park for players and staff prior to weekend games. As Father Herda explained, Suppan's previous team, the St. Louis Cardinals, had arranged for a Mass at the ballpark on weekends and Suppan hoped that could be replicated in Milwaukee.

Then-Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, now New York's cardinal-archbishop, appointed Father Herda to the role and, for the last 12 seasons, Father Herda has celebrated Mass in the press room of Miller Park prior to games Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning.

"It's open to any employee of Miller Park and there are a variety of people who come," said Father Herda, noting that players, coaches, ushers, security personnel and members of visiting teams are among his "parishioners" at the ballpark Masses.

The concept of ballpark Masses has been promoted by a national organization to which Father Herda belongs, Catholic Athletes for Christ, and to date, he said Masses are celebrated in 28 of 30 major league ballparks.

For Father Herda, as a baseball fan, the opportunity was a dream come true.

"I've been a lifelong fan. I grew up in this area and have always been a fan, so I was excited at the opportunity to be this close to the inner workings of a baseball team. It was nerve-wracking and fun all at the same time," he told The Compass, newspaper of the neighboring Diocese of Green Bay.

Father Herda estimated that he celebrates about 10 ballpark Masses a year and attendance at each Mass averages about 25 to 30 people.

"For some of these people, it's the only opportunity to go to Mass. The security guards, for example, have to be there so early on Saturday and then have to be back Sunday, so there's no other opportunity for Mass," he explained.

Players and coaches are among the attendees, he said, noting that this season, he had a repeat worshipper from the Pittsburgh Pirates, since the team was in town for more than one weekend.

"It's been my experience over the years that some guys are very faith-filled and really take their faith seriously, trying to live out their faith by attending Mass and wanting to participate in the sacraments. It's nice to see that happening and I wish it would expand more," said Father Herda.

He recalled that Suppan, who was released by the Brewers in 2010 and retired from baseball in 2014, was not only a regular attendee, but an evangelist of sorts, as he encouraged teammates to attend. According to Father Herda, Suppan's devotion to the Eucharist was evident in his humorous comment about a similar nondenominational service also held at the ballpark on weekends.

"He'd say to (teammates), 'Why go for the appetizer when you can come for the real meal?'" Father Herda relayed with a smile.

Because of time constraints, Father Herda said he has to limit the Masses to 30 minutes, but even in the shortened time frame, he makes sure to leave the worshippers with a message they can carry with them.

While his role primarily involves celebrating Mass at the ballpark, Father Herda said he has performed a few baptisms, heard confessions and recently celebrated a funeral Mass for a longtime usher at the request of his family.

Father Herda's connection to the Brewers has left him with a lifetime of memories and shelves and walls filled with memorabilia.

In his office, for example, a framed photo of himself with Pope Benedict XVI hangs next to his prized, framed 2011 cover of Sports Illustrated featuring a story on the National League Central Division champion Brewers and signed by Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and T Plush (Nyjer Morgan).

Brewers bobbleheads and balls signed by Rollie Fingers and Henry Aaron grace his shelves, along with a wooden carving of the Holy Family, altar bells and an ornate golden cross.

With the Brewers poised to make a run for the World Series championship, Father Herda is grateful for the opportunity he's had to impact athletes' faith lives.

"It's hard to believe it's been as long as it's been, but it's given me a chance to meet people I never would have and has given me access to part of baseball that I never would have had," he said, adding he's gotten to meet the likes of Joe Torre and Bob Uecker.

"It gives me some joy in the sense there is a connection to something I love. I love being a priest and I love sports, so it is nice to connect them together," he said.

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Roman is a contributor to The Compass, newspaper of the Diocese of Green Bay.

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Copyright © 2018 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

New saints shared a close friendship, professor says

IMAGE: CNS phot0/Equipo Maiz, courtesy CAFOD, Just one World

By Junno Arocho Esteves

ROME (CNS) -- Blesseds Paul VI and Oscar Romero crossed paths on their road to sainthood and formed a personal friendship that strengthened each other's resolve in the face of growing challenges, an Italian professor said.

According to Roberto Morozzo della Rocca, a professor of contemporary history at Roma Tre University and author of a biography of Blessed Romero, said that Blessed Paul had a deep appreciation and affection for Blessed Romero, despite the rumors and gossip that floated around the Vatican corridors.

"We can say that Paul VI protected Romero. In Rome, there was a flood of negative information regarding the archbishop of San Salvador. They accused him of being political, of being a communist, of being heretical," Morozzo said Oct. 9 at a conference at Palazzo San Calisto in Rome.

The event, sponsored by the Salvadoran Embassy to the Holy See, reflected on the friendship between the pope and the Salvadoran archbishop who were scheduled to be declared saints by Pope Francis Oct. 14.

Manuel Roberto Lopez, El Salvador's ambassador to the Holy See, said the canonization of Blessed Romero "seemed like an impossible dream for us Salvadorans," and his being declared a saint alongside Pope Paul was the culmination of "a history of friendship."

Pope Paul "saw (Archbishop) Romero as an oasis in the desert, amid so much misunderstanding. And through (Paul VI's) support, Romero found the strength to remain in the country and continue his pastoral service despite the dangerous circumstances," Lopez said.

Although the archbishop of San Salvador enjoyed the trust of Blessed Paul VI, many within the Roman Curia viewed him in a negative light after he became more vocal against the right-wing paramilitary government following the assassination in 1977 of his friend, Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande.

Father Grande was known as a champion of the poor and the oppressed at a time when El Salvador was on the threshold of a civil war, one that eventually killed over 70,000 people.

His death at the hands of El Salvador's notorious death squads is believed to have been the inspiration for Archbishop Romero -- known for being less outspoken -- to take up the mantle of defending the poor as Father Grande did.

One of the first meetings between Blesseds Paul VI and Romero, Morozzo said, occurred shortly after he was named archbishop of San Salvador.

His appointment had come as a surprise to many of the local clergy who perceived their new archbishop to be too conservative. The apostolic nuncio at the time, Archbishop Emanuele Gerada, had lobbied heavily for Archbishop Romero's nomination, hoping that it would uphold the increasingly fragile relations with the government.

However, after the death of Father Grande, Archbishop Romero became more outspoken, which often drew warnings from the apostolic nuncio to exercise prudence. This prompted Archbishop Romero to travel to Rome and meet with the pope on March 26, 1977.

Pope Paul "told him fraternally a phrase that was the encouragement that Romero needed: 'Animo! Tu eres el que manda!' ('Courage! You're the one in charge!')," the Italian author said.

Blessed Romero's diary, Morozzo added, offered a glimpse into the mutual respect and affection between the two future saints during their next meeting in June 1978.

According to the archbishop, Pope Paul said, "I understand your difficult work. It is a work that perhaps may not be understood; you need to have a lot of patience and strength. I know that not everyone thinks like you; it is difficult in the circumstances of your country to find that unanimity of thought. Nevertheless, proceed with courage, with patience, with strength and with hope."

After returning from Rome, Blessed Romero also delivered the pope's words of encouragement to the people of El Salvador while celebrating Mass July 2, 1978.

"'They are a people,' the pope told me, 'who fights for recognition, they look for a more just environment. And you must love the people, you must help them. Be patient, be strong and help them. And tell them the pope loves them, he loves them and is following their difficulties; but to never look for solutions through irrational violence, that they never let themselves be led by the currents of hate," Blessed Romero said.

As he did until his martyrdom in 1980, Blessed Romero continued "to dream of a new heaven and a new earth" for the people of El Salvador, a country that, still today, suffers the scourge of violence, Morozzo said.

"I hope," he said, "that (Blessed) Romero -- along with Paul VI -- will help to achieve this dream."

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Contempt for life is the source of all evil, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Procuring an abortion is wrong, inhumane and like hiring a hit man "to fix a problem," Pope Francis said.

It is a contradiction to allow for killing a human life in a mother's womb "in the name of protecting other rights," he said during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square Oct. 10.

"How can an act that suppresses the innocent and defenseless budding life be therapeutic, civilized or simply humane?" he asked the more than 26,000 people present.

"Is it right to snuff out a human life to solve a problem?" he asked, until the crowd shouted loudly, "No."

"Is it right to hire a hit man to solve a problem? No, you can't. It's not right to take out a human being, a small one, too, in order to fix a problem. It is like hiring a professional killer," he said.

The pope took a brief break from the Oct. 3-28 Synod of Bishops on young people to attend the morning general audience and continue his series of talks on the Ten Commandments.

He reflected on the Fifth Commandment, "You shall not kill," as being like a wall of defense, protecting the most fundamental value in human relationships -- the value of life.

"One can say that all the evil done in the world can be boiled down to this: contempt for life," the pope said.

"Life is attacked by wars, by organizations that exploit people" and creation, by "the throwaway culture," by systems that subjugate human lives to the calculated advantage of others, all while a "scandalous" number of people live in disgraceful conditions.

"This is contempt for life, that is, to kill in some way," he added.

Violence and refusing life are rooted in fear, he said.

Welcoming another challenges one's own selfish individualism, he said, pointing to the example of when a mother and father discover their unborn child will be born with disabilities.

These parents "need true closeness, true solidarity to face reality and overcome understandable fears. Instead, they often receive hasty advice to terminate the pregnancy," he said, adding that the phrase, "'terminate the pregnancy' means to directly take someone out."

"A sick child is like every person in need on earth," like the elderly who need care, like the poor who can barely make a living, he said.

They are all treated as if they were a problem, he said, but in fact, they are "a gift of God that can pull me out of my egocentricity and help me grow in love."

"Vulnerable lives show us the exit, the road to save us" from a selfish existence and to discover "the joy of love," he said, adding a word of thanks to Italian volunteers, saying they had the strongest dedication he has ever seen.

The idols of the world that lead people to refuse life are power, success and money, such as when decisions to end someone's life are based on the costs involved if that life were to continue.

"The only authentic measure of life" is love, he said; God loves every single human life.

"In every sick child, in every weak elderly person, in every desperate migrant, in every fragile and threatened life, Christ is looking for us, he is seeking our heart in order to open it up to the joy of love."

"It is worth welcoming every life because every person is worth the blood of Christ himself. You cannot scorn what God has loved so much," he said.

"Do not scorn life," not the lives of others or one's own, he said, particularly with addictions that ruin lives and can lead to death.

So many young people, the pope said, need to hear the call to not devalue or refuse their lives, which are "a work of God, you are a work of God!"

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Copyright © 2018 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 cns@catholicnews.com.