Introducing…St. Thurgood Marshall

Speaking of Supreme Court justices…

The Episcopal Church will on Sunday add Thurgood Marshall to its roster of “Holy Women and Holy Men,” which is “akin to being granted sainthood,” according to the church.

A special service will be held at 4 p.m. at St. Philip’s Church in Harlem, where Marshall was a longtime parishioner.

Several choirs will participate and Bishop of New York Mark Sisk will celebrate the Holy Eucharist.

The preacher will be the Rev. George W. Brandt, Jr., rector of St. Michael’s Church on West 99th Street.

The Episcopal Church is also moving toward setting May 17 — the day of Marshall’s victory in the Brown vs. Board of Education case — as his feast day. It could happen by 2015, but the Episcopal Church is encouraging people to mark the feast day now.

(Hey, Zach.)

Bad new for Muslims

The arrest of a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan in connection with the attempted bombing of Times Square must have a lot of American Muslims nervous about possible repercussions.

By repercussions, I don’t mean threats of violence (although things do happen from time to time).

I’m talking about everything from nervous glances from neighbors and fellow shoppers at the supermarket to further difficulties with travel.

I know that suburban Muslims are super tired of having to apologize for the actions of violent strangers. Most just want to live their lives.

I would bet that many Muslim groups are right now trying to decide whether to put out statements condemning the attempted bombing. On the one hand, many people demand that Muslims condemn terrorism at every turn. On the other, even to condemn the bomber is to somehow acknowledge his connection to the faith, however distorted.

The guy says he acted alone. But who knows. The picture is of his home, apparently.

Bottom line: When a guy from Bridgeport who just returned from a five-month trip to Pakistan allegedly tries to kill large numbers of New Yorkers and tourists, things won’t get easier for followers of Islam.

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

No nukes

Back in the Cold War days, one of the most high-profile items on the Catholic agenda — on many agendas — was nuclear disarmament.

We haven’t heard as much about it since the wall came down.

646a42253eb221903e312bf2271bf522But with meetings at the U.N. next month to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Obama rewriting America’s “nuclear strategy”  and growing concerns about nukes getting into the hands of terrorists, disarmament is back in the headlines.

Want proof? Maryknoll is hosting a forum entitled “For Peace and Human Needs—Disarm Now!” on Sunday  (April 11) at 2:30 p.m. at the Maryknoll HQ in  Ossining.

According to a release: “Panel discussion topics will include: Arms Control and National Security, Nuclear Disarmament, and Seizing this Moment.  Presenters will be members of the United Nations NGO community.”

Coincidentally, I got a release from the Two Futures Project, an evangelical movement pushing for the abolition of nuclear weaspons.

“The use of even one nuclear weapon would cause indiscriminate death and destruction and threaten uncontrollable escalation, both of which are anathema in the just war tradition,” says the Rev. Tyler Wigg-Stevenson,  Director of the Two Futures Project. “The moral imperative is to do everything possible to ensure that no nuclear weapon is ever used, whether in war, terrorism, or by accident—which requires taking concrete, threat-reducing steps toward their multi-lateral, verifiable, and complete elimination.”

Obama yesterday officially said that nuclear terrorism is a greater threat than whatever nukes Russia has left.

“The greatest threat to U.S. and global security is no longer a nuclear exchange between nations, but nuclear terrorism by violent extremists and nuclear proliferation to an increasing number of states,” he said.

Just about anyone should be able to agree on this point, I guess. Not counting Iran.

One year and counting for Archbishop Tim

One year ago today, the rumor became fact: Tim Dolan was the next Archbishop of New York.

He had been talked about as a leading contender for the job for at least several years. His name came up in every conversation I had with a priest or church “insider” about who might replace Cardinal Egan.

I always heard the same thing: He was funny, engaging, insightful and “just what New York needs.” I had met Dolan briefly a few years before — but even a quick chat was enough for me to know it was all true.

tjndc5-5otbe1et0us110m2skcb_layoutFrom the day the Vatican made it official, Dolan lived up to his rep. And he received about as much Good Press as any public person in New York could possibly expect.

The media gushed over him for a solid two or three months. Breathless stuff. We had a larger-than-life guy.

Dolan told reporters that he would spend his first year getting a sense of things and listening to people. True enough, he’s gone from parish to parish and talked with many priests and lay Catholics — often in his now-famous spot phone calls.

I’ve heard a few grumblings — not many — that it’s time for Dolan to act.

He faces many of the same issues that Egan and Cardinal O’Connor before him faced. There aren’t enough priests. Many pastors are up there in age. Northern parishes are growing and many city parishes are not. Many Catholics schools are struggling. The archdiocese is becoming increasingly Hispanic, even as many Hispanic Catholics attend separate Spanish-language Masses or worship at largely Hispanic parishes. There are certainly a large number of illegal immigrants going to Mass in New York — who the church stands up for, even if many white Catholics will not.

Then there’s the economy. Demands on the church are greater. Resources are fewer.

As Dolan said in Poughkeepsie the other day: “Number one, more people come to us because you usually come to people you know, and most people know and feel comfortable with their church. If they’re short on rent, their kid’s tuition or grocery money, guess where they are going to go? Their parish.”

Dolan will mark his first anniversary in New York (he was actually installed on April 15) by spreading some more good cheer.

He told ABC News: “The number of people who have come to me, from the mayor’s office on down, and said, ‘Archbishop, we kind of like having you around. We’re worried about you. You better work on your weight.” They’re right, and I really, really have to watch the intake because I love to eat. I love being with people.”

Last night, Dolan held court at a “Theology on Tap” program at a NYC bar.

Whispers in the Loggia’s Rocco Palmo was there and typed a blow-by-blow account that you can read today.

There were about 900 people, Palmo wrote, and it took Dolan 20 minutes just to get across the room.

The boss had plenty of jokes, like “assure me I’m not picking up the tab tonight.”

He talked primarily about the “Petrine ministry” — the papacy.

He said “all we believe is Jesus Christ — alone — is the center and source of unity and authority in his church… he designated Peter as his vicar.”And “we believe Jesus gave Peter the privilege of being his earthly representative…”

And this: “Jesus is the head of his church… but — in case you haven’t noticed — Jesus just so happens to be invisible, alright?”

That’s Dolan.

My guess is that Dolan will soon begin making his mark in the Archdiocese of New York. It will be keenly interesting to see what he really thinks about what needs to be done.

If you want to know more about him, I came across an Oct. 19 release date for a new book from John Allen, Catholic journalist extraordinaire. It is to be called “American Pope: A Biography of New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan.”

American pope, huh? He’ll have a lot to live up to…

Reflections on one life lost

I wrote yesterday about the death of Methodist missionary Clinton Rabb of Hawthorne, who was initially thought to be a survivor of the earthquake after being pulled from the rubble.

bildeMy colleague Dwight Worley visited the home of Rabb’s family yesterday to talk about their loss and the man that Rabb was.

You should read what he wrote.

Rabb’s daughter, Claire Payne, told Dwight: “Instead of just trying to live a comfortable life, he would see suffering and try to fix it. All of us have tried to live by his example.”

Rabb spent 14 years serving the poor around the world with mission volunteers of the United Methodist Church.

Otherwise, Father Mike Mendl, spokesman for the Eastern Province of the Salesians of Don Bosco, which has a large presence in Haiti, sent me some reports about what’s going on there. The Eastern Province is based in New Rochelle.

Here’s one:


Sr. Mathile Piard is a temporary professed sister in the community at Pétion-Ville, Haiti.  In a letter addressed to Mother General, in addition to thanking her for her closeness to all of the sisters of the Institute, she tells what she lived through last January 12:  “I was in the house when the earth began to quake.  I ran but I could not immediately get out.  My leg was wounded, as was an ear, and I fractured a finger.  I thank the Lord, who left me my life.  I thought I was going to die as I saw the ceiling falling on me while I way trying to run outside.  I was saved, thanks to two men who came to get me.  I ask the Lord to bless them.  The house of  Pétion-Ville collapsed; a part of the house dedicated to Mary Help of Christians saw the fall of the chapel and the school.  Now we are gathering the people in the parts that remained standing in all the houses.  There are many wounded and dead.  The country has nothing left…we lack everything.”


And here’s another:


The most tragic news is the death of the Salesian pupils. After a first estimate which was of over 200 youngsters buried under the ruins with some of their teachers, the latest figure has now been out at about 500. The crisis committee of the UN has confirmed a report from the National Police in Port-au-Prince and from the Central Headquarters of OCHA, who in spite of everything are continuing the search to try to find some survivors still alive.


And, finally, this note from a Salesian priest:


No more buildings in OPEPB, or in ENAM.  We lost all. We have to turn back to drawing board. We have to burry those students which died under the ruins and whose parents did not take the corpse away as well we have to care for those students and teachers who are injured; most of them need a surgery intervention. Many hospitals broke down too. The few that remained are full and have no room for receiving people. It is really a terrible and unimaginable situation. Somewhere, here, gangs and unconscious people are operating, somewhere, there, innocent persons are suffering waiting and asking for help.

Dear Jaime, thank you very much for thinking on us, and thanks to the Staff of Salesian Mission for every help they will give us. We are so depressed that we are not able to prepare some proposals in the moment. The most important help is medical assistance for injured students and teachers, food assistance for some employees and families of victims. We have to think carefully about how we can do it.

Oral Roberts dead at 91

Here’s the AP story:


Associated Press Writer

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Oral Roberts, the evangelist who rose from humble tent revivals to found a multimillion-dollar ministry and a university bearing his name, died Tuesday. He was 91.

Roberts died of complications from pneumonia in Newport Beach, Calif., according to his spokesman, A. Larry Ross. The evangelist was hospitalized after a fall on Saturday. He had survived two heart attacks in the 1990s and a broken hip in 2006.

Obit Oral RobertsRoberts was a pioneer on two fronts — he helped bring spirit-filled charismatic Christianity into the mainstream and took his trademark revivals to television, a new frontier for religion.

Roberts overcame tuberculosis at age 17, and credited that triumph with leading him to become one of the country’s most famous ministers.

He gave up a local pastorate in Enid in 1947 to enter an evangelistic ministry in Tulsa to pray for the healing of the whole person — the body, mind and spirit. The philosophy led many to call him a “faith healer,” a label he rejected with the comment: “God heals — I don’t.”

By the 1960s and ’70s, he was reaching millions around the world through radio, television, publications and personal appearances. He remained on TV into the new century, co-hosting the program, “Miracles Now,” with son Richard. He published dozens of books and conducted hundreds of crusades. A famous photograph showed him working at a desk with a sign on it reading, “Make no little plans here.”

He credited his oratorical skills to his faith, saying, “I become anointed with God’s word, and the spirit of the Lord builds up in me like a coiled spring. By the time I’m ready to go on, my mind is razor-sharp. I know exactly what I’m going to say and I’m feeling like a lion.”

Unity of body, mind and spirit became the theme of Oral Roberts University. The campus is a Tulsa landmark, with its space-age buildings laden with gold paint, including a 200-foot prayer tower and a 60-foot bronze statue of praying hands.

His ministry hit upon rocky times in the 1980s. There was controversy over his City of Faith medical center, a $250 million investment that eventually folded, and Roberts’ widely ridiculed proclamation that God would “call me home” if he failed to meet a fundraising goal of $8 million. A law school he founded also was shuttered.

Semiretired in recent years and living in California, he returned to Tulsa, Okla., in October 2007 as scandal roiled Oral Roberts University. His son, Richard Roberts, who succeeded him as ORU president, faced allegations of spending university money on shopping sprees and other luxuries at a time the institution was more than $50 million in debt.

Richard Roberts resigned as president in November 2007, marking the first time since Oral Roberts University was chartered in 1963 that a member of the Roberts family would not be at its helm. The rocky period for the evangelical school was eased by billionaire Oklahoma City businessman Mart Green donated $70 million and helped run the school in the interim, pledging to restore the public’s trust. By the fall of 2009, things were looking up, with officials saying tens of millions of dollars worth of debt had been paid off and enrollment was up slightly.

That September, a frail-looking Oral Roberts attended the ceremony when the school’s new president, Mark Rutland, was formally inaugurated.