Film director switches formats, writes book on grandpa’s WWII heroism

Jon Erwin, a film director who has now written a book titled “Beyond Valor” with William Doyle, is seen in a file photo. (CNS photo/Xavier Collin, Image Press Agency/Sipa USA via Reuters)

By Mark Pattison 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Jon Erwin, in tandem with older brother Andrew, has directed movies with Christian themes over the past decade, including “October Baby” “I Can Only Imagine” and “I Still Believe.”

But between movies, Erwin collaborated with William Doyle to write the book of his grandfather’s service in World War II: “Beyond Valor: A World War II Story of Extraordinary Heroism, Sacrificial Love and a Race Against Time,” which will be published Aug. 18.

Erwin’s grandfather, Henry “Red” Erwin, received the Medal of Honor for his efforts in picking up a burning phosphorous bomb that had ignited prematurely and heaving it out of the B-29 “superfortress” aircraft. The bomb would have not only wiped out his aircraft and its crew, but wreaked havoc on a formation of B-29s headed to a mission over Japan.

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Posted in U.S.

John Hume, who helped bring peace to Northern Ireland, dies at 83

Northern Ireland political leader John Hume, pictured in a file photo, died at age 83 Aug. 3, 2020. (CNS photo/Paul McErlane, Reuters)

Updated Aug. 6

By Michael Kelly
Catholic News Service

DUBLIN (CNS) — Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, has hailed political leader John Hume as a “paragon of peace” for his key role in bringing an end to the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Hume, 83, died early Aug. 3, his family said in a statement.

As a young man Hume trained for the priesthood, before becoming a community activist and later a politician highlighting the plight of the Catholic community in Northern Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s, when discrimination in employment and housing was rife.

Pope Francis also expressed his condolences in a message read at Hume’s funeral Aug. 5.

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Conversion has personal, social dimensions, Franciscan leader says

Father Michael A. Perry, minister general of the Franciscans, preaches at a Mass opening the annual celebration of the Pardon of Assisi Aug. 1, 2020, in the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels in Assisi, Italy. (CNS photo courtesy of the Franciscans of Assisi)

By Cindy Wooden 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Faith in the reconciling power of the cross and in God’s great desire to forgive human sin is a call to set aside fear and make a commitment to conversion — on a personal and societal level, said Father Michael A. Perry, minister general of the Franciscans.

Opening the annual celebration Aug. 1 of the “Pardon of Assisi,” a special indulgence granted since 1216, Father Perry insisted reconciliation with God means reconciling with one’s brothers and sisters and with all of creation.

The U.S.-born head of the worldwide Franciscan order used the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died at the hands of white police officers in Minnesota, as one example of “social and institutional sin” believers must confront if they are serious about conversion and reconciliation.

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German author says retired Pope Benedict is ‘extremely frail’

Retired Pope Benedict XVI is pictured during a visit to see his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, in Regensburg, Germany, June 19, 2020. (CNS photo/Daniel Karmann, DPA, Reuters)

Updated 11:50 a.m.

By Cindy Wooden 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — An author with a long and close relationship to retired Pope Benedict XVI told a German newspaper that the 93-year-old retired pope is “extremely frail.”

Peter Seewald, the author who has published four wide-ranging book-length interviews with the retired pope, was quoted in the Aug. 3 edition of the Bavarian newspaper Passauer Neue Presse.

Seewald said he visited with Pope Benedict Aug. 1 to present him with a copy of the authorized biography, “Benedict XVI: A Life.”

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Posted in Vatican

Japanese archbishop urges U.S. to witness the Gospel of peace

Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki, Japan, who is president of the Japan bishops’ conference, is seen during Mass at Holy Family Church in New York City in 2010. (CNS photo/courtesy Gregory A. Shemitz)

By Dennis Sadowski 
Catholic News Service

CLEVELAND (CNS) — As the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of two Japanese cities approaches, the president of the county’s Catholic bishops’ conference called on the United States “as a Christian nation” to witness the Gospel of peace as lived by Jesus.

Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki, Japan, said in a July 8 email to Catholic News Service that “Americans need to understand and practice the truth of peace that Christ teaches.”

“I have the impression that most Americans believe that arms are necessary to protect oneself, one’s families and the nation. The history, however, demonstrates how arms brought about tragedies. I want the Americans to work for peace without the possession and use of weapons,” the archbishop said.

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Posted in U.S., World

Nuclear era that began in 1945 poses moral questions for the 21st century

A Dongfeng-41 intercontinental strategic nuclear missiles group formation is seen Oct. 1, 2019, in Beijing. (CNS photo/Weng Qiyu, Reuters)

By Dennis Sadowski 
Catholic News Service

CLEVELAND (CNS) — The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by atomic bomb explosions 75 years ago this August, hastening the end of World War II.

And while a nuclear arms race emerged during the 1960s before arms control agreements took hold in the 1970s and 1980s, such weapons have not been deployed in warfare since.

Nuclear disarmament advocates want to keep it that way. But they are becoming increasingly concerned that despite significant reductions in nuclear arsenals by the United States and Russia, a new arms race threatens to upend the progress made over the last half-century.

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Posted in Vatican

In planning Jan. 29 March for Life, officials mindful of health safeguards

A pro-life sign is displayed during the annual March for Life rally in Washington Jan. 24, 2020. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

By Kurt Jensen 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In the midst of the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers of the annual March for Life rally on the National Mall and march to the Supreme Court are still scheduled for Jan. 29.

Beyond that, the details are in flux.

“We will continue to discern throughout this year what steps should be taken for the 2021 March for Life, and will share subsequent updates on our website and social media,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, in a statement provided to Catholic News Service July 30. No other information was provided.

The day before, Mancini had announced the march would move forward, “unafraid and ever encouraged in our mission to defend the unborn.”

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Posted in Vatican

Sunday Scripture reading, Aug. 2, 2020: Hope

The Catholic News Service column, “Speak to Me Lord,” offers reflections on the Sunday Scripture readings. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Aug. 2,
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle A
1) Is 55:1-3
Psalm 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18
2) Rom 8:35, 37-39
Gospel: Mt 14:13-21

By Kevin Perrotta 
Catholic News Service

St. Paul makes a sweeping claim in today’s second reading. Nothing can separate us from God’s love, he says. Neither “present things” nor “future things.” Nothing, nothing at all, can cut us off from God’s love for us. Continue reading

Posted in "Speak to Me Lord"

‘It spreads so fast,’ says Iowa Catholic; COVID-19 hits 15 family members

Alicia Nava looks at family photographs at her home in Davenport, Iowa, July 25, 2020. Nava and 14 of her family members have tested positive for COVID-19 and three continued to be hospitalized in late July. (CNS photo/Lindsay Steele, The Catholic Messenger)

By Lindsay Steele 
Catholic News Service

DAVENPORT, Iowa (CNS) — As Alicia Nava flipped through family photographs the morning of July 25, she said solemnly from behind a floral print mask, “We were taking precautions.”

Three weeks before, she was in the hospital battling COVID-19, as were five of her relatives. Three remain hospitalized for the virus, including her father, Adolfo, who has been on life support for nearly a month. In total, 15 members of the Nava family across five households have tested positive for COVID-19.

“It just happened. It spreads so fast,” she told The Catholic Messenger, newspaper of the Diocese of Davenport.

The adults in the family decided early on in the pandemic to take precautions outside the home such as mask-wearing, hand-washing and sanitizing. They also refrained from gathering as an extended family, something they did often before the pandemic. They encouraged their teen-age and young adult children to do the same. “Young people don’t always listen,” Nava said.

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Posted in U.S.

Is 2020 the year that gets young people to polls in bigger numbers?

A volunteer poll site worker at the Edmondson Westside High School polling site in Baltimore sanitizes a write-in ballot station after it was used during a special election in Maryland April 28, 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS photo/Tom Brenner, Reuters)

By Betty Araya 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Steven Millies, a scholar who explores the Catholic Church’s relationship to politics, feels more optimistic today than he has in a long time about young people in this country voting in a national election.

The reason for his optimism? The young people who continue to protest the May 25 death of George Floyd, an African American, at the hands of white police officers, and demand racial justice. Millies predicts this activism will motivate young people to go to the polls Nov. 3.

“I’m frankly more encouraged than I have been in a long time by what we’ve seen on the streets in the last six weeks or so, because it’s a lot of different kinds of people who have taken to the streets since George Floyd,” said Millies, an associate professor of public theology and director of The Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union.

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Posted in U.S.