Shriver remembered for her ‘ardent faith and generous public service’

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy, poses with an athlete at the 2007 Special Olympics World Games in Shanghai, China. Shriver, who founded the Special Olympics and was a member of one of the most prominent American Catholic political families of the 20th century, died Aug. 11 at age 88 at Cape Cod Hospital. CNS photo/courtesy Special Olympics

BARNSTABLE -- Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who died Aug. 11, was “a woman of ardent faith and generous public service” in her work with the developmentally and physically disabled, said Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

In a letter to Shriver’s family released to the press and posted on the Special Olympics Web site, the archbishop conveyed the condolences of Pope Benedict XVI.

He said the pope “unites himself spiritually with each of you at this difficult time, holding close to his heart Eunice as she is called home to eternal life and trusting in the words of sacred Scripture: ‘What will separate us from the love of Christ?’”

The 88-year-old Shriver, sister of the late President John F. Kennedy, died at Cape Cod Hospital in Barnstable. The media reported that her husband, R. Sargent Shriver, the couple’s five children and their spouses, and the Shrivers’ 19 grandchildren were at her side. She had been in failing health after suffering strokes in recent years and was hospitalized several days before her death.

Upon learning of her death, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley issued a statement of condolence and prayer for the Shriver and Kennedy families Aug. 11 and called her passing “a great loss to the Catholic community.”

“I have known Eunice and Sargent for many years, and have many fond memories of celebrating Mass in their home, especially as a young priest with Cesar Chavez and the farm workers,” the cardinal said in his statement.

Cardinal O’Malley praised Shriver for her dedication to “the social Gospel, the Gospel of Life,” adding that this commitment was evidenced by her work with the Special Olympics.

“Her efforts provided opportunities for young people across the global community to see the value and dignity of every human person, and she taught those valuable life lessons through competitive sports. She was a champion for all Americans and we give thanks for her commitment, care and love for all people,” he said.

As of press time, Cardinal O’Malley was scheduled to attend the public wake for Shriver Aug. 13 at Our Lady of Victory Church in Centerville.

A private funeral Mass was to be celebrated Aug. 14 at St. Francis Xavier Church in Hyannis.

According to the Shriver family, areas where people could pay tribute to her were being set up at the Special Olympics headquarters in Washington, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, and the Kennedy museum in Hyannis.

A statement from the family said she was the light of their lives as mother, wife, grandmother, sister and aunt “who taught us by example and with passion what it means to live a faith-driven life of love and service to others.”

It noted her deep devotion to Mary. “May she be welcomed now by Mary to the joy and love of life everlasting in the certain truth that her love and spirit will live forever,” it said.

President Barack Obama called Shriver “an extraordinary woman who, as much as anyone, taught our nation -- and our world -- that no physical or mental barrier can restrain the power of the human spirit.”

Special Olympics president and chief operating officer Brady Lum thanked the public for such an “extreme outpouring of support and prayer” for Shriver, whom he praised for having “the vision to create our movement.” Her death is “an enormous loss” but “her legacy will live on,” he added.

In a letter to the Shrivers’ daughter, Maria, who is the wife of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Los Angeles Cardinal Roger L. Mahony said her mother’s “extraordinary commitment to living out the Gospel values was an inspiration and source of strength for all whose lives she touched.”

“Her faith and generous spirit motivated her to reach out in love to make our society more aware of the dignity and gifts of all people, especially the mentally handicapped, the poor and the marginalized,” he wrote.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a member of one of the most prominent American Catholic political families of the 20th century. Born in Brookline, July 10, 1921, she was the fifth of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy.

She and her husband had been married since 1953. R. Sargent Shriver was the first director of the Peace Corps, an initiative established during the Kennedy administration that still sends thousands of Americans each year to underdeveloped nations to help lift people out of disease and poverty.

In 1968 she organized the first Special Olympics. She was inspired to help the developmentally disabled achieve in life by what her older sister, Rosemary, endured. She was born with a mild form of developmental disability, but a frontal lobotomy when she was 23 years old further reduced her mental capacity. She died in 2005.

In 1976 Eunice Kennedy Shriver, in an essay written for a Catholic magazine, called for a comprehensive “bill of rights” for developmentally disabled Americans because those rights “are under attack all over the nation.”

Shriver was a catalyst in getting a religious education program for developmentally disabled adults launched in the mid-1990s. When catechists met with Shriver and told her of their years of wishing that they had such a curriculum, she helped them secure the grant funds and told them, “Now make it a reality.”

In 1990 she shepherded the development of a values education curriculum, “Growing Up Caring,” with lessons to help adolescents learn to care about themselves and others, and to say no to sex, drugs and other pressures.

In 1972, a year before Supreme Court rulings legalized abortion throughout the United States, she told a Birthright convention in New Jersey that if women opposed to abortion took in unwanted infants for three years until foster homes could be found, there would be fewer abortions. Later that year, she proposed a campaign called “One Million for Life” to recruit one million people willing to adopt unwanted children.

In 1975 she called for the establishment of “life support centers” offering comprehensive services to those who want to save life, encourage motherhood and support the family.

In a 1977 statement written for Catholic News Service’s predecessor, NC News Service, as Congress debated a ban on federal funding of abortion, she asked: “How do you equate the life of an unborn infant with the social well-being of a mother, a father or a family? If it is thought that the social well-being of the mother outweighs the rights of fetuses with congenital abnormalities, we do well to remember that more than 99 percent of abortions are done on normal fetuses.”

Her pro-life stances earned her an award from Feminists for Life in 2000, just one of many honors and awards she received over the years. In 1989 she received the James Cardinal Gibbons Award from The Catholic University of America in Washington. She won the James Keller Award from the Christophers, given to individuals for their work with young people, in 1990, as well as the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago’s Distinguished Service Award.

She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Ronald Reagan in 1984. In 1988 she received the Laetare Medal, the highest honor given by the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

In 2006, Pope Benedict bestowed upon her the title of dame of the papal order of St. Gregory the Great.

Shriver, who had a bachelor of arts degree from Stanford University in California, received numerous honorary degrees over the years, including ones from Boston College in 1990, St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., in 1987 and Loyola College in Baltimore in 1994.

She was one of the early major contributors to Support Our Aging Religious, which has aimed to reduce the unfunded retirement liability of U.S. religious orders.

Contributing to this story were Mark Pattison and Julie Asher in Washington and Gregory L. Tracy in Boston.

Nation
Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Nation
Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

World
Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Local
Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Local
Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Local
Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Local
Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Local
Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

Nation
N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

Nation
U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Nation
Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

World
Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

World
Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

World
In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Nation
Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Nation
Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

World
Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

World
Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Nation
Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Nation
Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...

Nation
Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Nation
Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Nation
Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

World
Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

World
Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

World
Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Nation
Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

World
Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Nation
Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

World
Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

World
What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

World
Catholic workers say U.S. aid cuts to Palestinians could be disastrous

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- The U.S. budgetary cuts to humanitarian aid institutions helping Palestinians could lead to long-term disastrous consequences, said ...