Peace vigil held at St. John's Seminary

Cardinal O'Malley celebrates Mass in the chapel of St. John's Seminary to conclude the five-hour prayer vigil for peace in Syria and the Middle East, Sept. 7. Pilot photo/Christopher S. Pineo

BRIGHTON -- Faithful from the Archdiocese of Boston gathered Sept. 7 in solidarity with Pope Francis at the chapel at St. John's Seminary in Brighton for a five-hour prayer vigil for peace in Syria and the region.

The vigil was held simultaneously with a vigil led by the Holy Father in St. Peter's Square. The previous week, the pope had called for Sept. 7 to be a world-wide day of fasting and prayer for peace.

Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley celebrated the Mass to conclude the vigil at St. John's.

"We cannot continue to be indifferent to what is happening in Syria and in the Middle East," he said in remarks delivered before the final blessing.

"We don't just object to the terrible weapons being used, but to the slaughter of innocent people, and not just those people, but the thousands and millions of people who are being affected by war in that part of the world. They share this planet with us. They are our brothers and sisters," the cardinal said.

The cardinal said people cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering in Syria and that part of the world, or forget the pain caused by war even after it is no longer in the media spotlight.

"We cannot allow the globalization of indifference to continue. We cannot allow our attention span to be 15 minutes, and then we turn to some other thing," the cardinal said.

The cardinal also read a letter sent to President Barack Obama by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"We affirm your decision to invite public dialogue and congressional review of any possible military action, and want to contribute to that discussion from our perspective as Catholic pastors and teachers," the letter said.

Msgr. James P. Moroney delivered the homily at the Mass. In it, he related the turmoil in Syria with the struggles of St. Paul and St. Francis at the time of the Fifth Crusade.

He said St. Paul likely made good time on his way through what is now Syria, walking four days, with haste and vigor to execute his mission. But, rather than conquering the local spirit of Christianity by felling the community there, instead he fell, Msgr. Moroney recalled from the Acts of the Apostles.

"As you know, he got knocked off his high horse, and blinded and helpless met Ananias, who conquered him with kindness and turned his wrath to peace, baptizing him into the dying and rising of Christ Jesus, his Lord and his Light," Msgr. Moroney said.

Msgr. Moroney noted that the baptism of St. Paul took place in the lands where bloodshed continues today.

"Only a few city blocks from the site of that baptism, now marked by a church constructed of the stones from an ancient city gate, is the Sarin-soaked soil where 426 children were gassed and more than a thousand adults were killed two weeks ago, a small portion of the more than 80,000 people who have died in that bloody civil war," he said.

This, he said, is the very reason Pope Francis called Catholics to pray for peace.

"For we whose Lord walks through the locked doors of our defenses and says 'Peace be with you,' what does it mean to pray for peace?" Msgr. Moroney asked.

He considered a journey made by St. Francis for a possible answer.

"Nine hundred and ninety-four years ago, the 37 year old father of a well-established reform of religious life and of the Church as a whole, walked to Damietta, Egypt to see the Sultan of that land at the very moment that the great king was engaged in mortal combat with the Fifth Christian Crusade," he said.

Msgr. Moroney said St. Francis likely journeyed for about a year between Assisi and Damietta as he witnessed "a ferocity of war no less evident than in our own time," before meeting the Sultan of Egypt, Malik-al-Kamil, the nephew of Saladin the Great -- the rival of Richard the Lionheart.

"Here was this medieval Goliath of a Sultan with an army so powerful he and his brother had conquered the whole Middle East, but he was conquered by the simplicity of the little poor one, the 'Poverello,' saying 'pace e bene -- God sent me to love you, to save your soul,'" he said.

Msgr. Moroney said the saint saw the sultan in human terms, and peace in that light.

"In other words, Francis saw peace not as the prize at the conclusion of an effective political negotiation, but as the opportunity to love the one who had been mistakenly cast as his enemy, to humanize him and recognize him as his brother," Msgr. Moroney said.

"Peace, as the Poverello teaches us, begins and ends with dying to all my self-serving power grabs, and loving the one who is right in front of me, who has been cast as my enemy," he said.

He asked that people pray that "God might give President Al-Assad the grace to love his countrymen enough to end this bloody slaughter," that God "might give President Obama the grace to love the young Syrian soldier who sits in the bunker of the communications hub he is targeting," that God "might give the opposition leaders the grace to love those whom they oppose, whether they live in Syria or Washington D.C."

After the Mass, some of those in attendance reacted to the homily and the cardinal's remarks.

Born in Bosnia in the former Yugoslavia, in 1987, Seminarian Sinisa Ubiparipovic related his experience growing up in the Balkans to the current conflict in Syria. Having lived in a war-torn nation, he said he saw the call to peace made by the cardinal and the rector not as idealistic, but achievable through prayer.

"It is very hard to put a contract onto a piece of paper and create peace. Peace has to come from men's hearts, and that peace can only come from God. It is our obligation as Christians to take these days of fasting seriously, and pray seriously," he said.

Brian Prunier, 42, a father of two who drove in from Wayland with his family for the vigil, said he felt a strong drive to be at the vigil to pray for the region and the world.

"We are strong believers of peace, and very concerned about the escalation and the use of potential additional force, which we think could be devastating to the stability of the region and even beyond. So, we thought the best thing to do at this point is to pray," Prunier said.

He said he felt fasting enhanced his prayer and created a profound sense of connection for him when he received the Eucharist.

His wife, Lucy Prunier, added, "We wanted to come together as the pope asked us to do. We really felt moved to do that. We thought it was such a beautiful act, and we saw him doing that with the 70,000-plus people in Rome. It just felt like this was where we needed to be on a Saturday as a family putting all of our hearts in prayer."

World
Cardinal beatifies 22-year-old Romanian as 'martyr to chastity'

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- A 22-year-old Romanian peasant has taken a step closer to sainthood as a "martyr to chastity," six decades after she was murdered ...

Nation
Maryland attorney general will review church records on child sex abuse

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- In a Sept. 24 letter to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop William E. Lori informed priests and deacons that the ...

Nation
People helping people is what attracted actor to 'God Friended Me'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Television audiences may recall seeing actor Joe Morton as Eli Rowan Pope, the father of professional Washington fixer Olivia Pope, ...

Nation
Pa. bishops support creating fund to compensate survivors of sex abuse

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- The bishops of Pennsylvania's eight Roman Catholic dioceses are supporting creation of an independent fund to compensate survivors ...

Nation
CRS sells fair trade coffee, supporting Mexican farmers and land

Baltimore, Md., Sep 24, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Catholic Relief Services is now offering fair trade coffee beans that will benefit local farming communities ...

World
The Jesuit who survived the KGB

Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 24, 2018 CNA.- When Pope Francis visited a former KGB building in Vilnius, Lithuania Sept. 23, Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius ...

World
Next step toward artificial reproduction violates human fundamentals, ethicist warns

Washington D.C., Sep 25, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Artificial human reproduction appears to be on the horizon with Japanese scientists’ claim to ...

World
Update: Scandals create outrage, but there is time for conversion, pope says

TALLINN, Estonia (CNS) -- In what is probably the least religious country in Europe, Pope Francis said he is surprised by how many people hold firm to ...

Nation
Catholic leaders oppose administration's plan to limit green cards

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic leaders are speaking out against a Trump administration proposed rule announced Sept. 22 that would deny green cards to legal ...

Nation
Head of Georgetown Prep urges renewed commitment to being 'men for others'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a letter to the school community, the president of an all-boys Jesuit high school in suburban Washington emphasized the schools' ...

Nation
Today is 'hour of the laity,' Archbishop Gomez tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Hispanic Catholic leaders are living an important moment in the history of the Catholic church in the U.S. and are called to ...

World
Stay close to the suffering, forgive one another, pope tells Latvians

AGLONA, Latvia (CNS) -- What would Mary do? was the question Pope Francis, in effect, asked Latvian Catholics gathered at their nation's popular Marian ...

Nation
Joy, hope contagious for Encuentro participants as they discern priorities

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Joy, hope, energy and a spirit of continued collaboration are contagious among the participants of the Fifth National Encuentro, ...

World
Update: Pope in Lithuania: Don't let anti-Semitism, hatred resurge

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Outside the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Pope Francis ended a day of paying homage to victims of totalitarianism and ...

World
God is patient, even with failures, pope tells young Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Meeting young Lithuanians in Vilnius, Pope Francis said he wanted a relaxed conversation, like they were sitting in a pub ...

World
Update: Vatican signs provisional agreement with China on naming bishops

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Pope ...

World
Find strength in tolerance, solidarity, pope tells Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- In Lithuania, a nation that experienced invasions, atrocities and persecution, Pope Francis began his visit with a plea to ...

Nation
Ospino: Encuentro reflects 'energy, maturity' of a church 'here to stay'

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- The thousands of Hispanic Catholic ministry leaders gathered in Texas for the Fifth National Encuentro shared views on the maturity ...

Nation
N.J. cardinal won't attend synod, asks to remain home at 'time of crisis'

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he ...

Nation
Detroit Archdiocese welcomes investigation into Michigan dioceses

DETROIT (CNS) -- Michigan's attorney general has opened an investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by clergy in all of Michigan's seven Catholic ...

Nation
Catholics believe in God but 'don't believe in us,' Miami archbishop says

MIAMI (CNS) -- The crisis the Catholic Church is facing is not "a crisis of faith" or "mainly about a crisis of sexual abuse by clergy," but is "a crisis ...

Nation
Update: Disney animator says grounding in Catholic schools led to success

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the blockbuster ...

Nation
#WhyImCatholic movement aims to share hope at difficult time for church

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Catholic Extension has launched a new social media campaign called #WhyImCatholic to offer "hope and unity" for Catholics by inviting ...

Nation
Continue to be an evangelizing church, nuncio tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Archbishop Christophe Pierre encouraged Hispanic Catholic ...

Nation
Encuentro opens with procession, papal message, prayers for abuse victims

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- A video message from Pope Francis and a procession of Encuentro crosses representing all of the participating episcopal regions ...

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 ...