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Dominicans open hospital in Peru to serve the poor

February 22, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

Lima, Peru, Feb 22, 2020 / 06:01 am (CNA).- A Dominican province in Peru has converted its formation house for aspirants in Lima into a hospital.

The Hospital of the Charity of Saint Martin de Porres was blessed at a dedication ceremony Jan. 23.

The hospital is headed by Fr. Luis Enrique Ramírez Camacho and Fr. Rómulo Vásquez Gavidia, the current prior provincial.

Speaking to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language news partner, Ramírez explained the inspiration for the hospital came from the charitable example of both their founder St. Dominic and St. Martin de Porres.

The Dominicans did not want “just to devote ourselves to academic and intellectual affairs but also to dedicate ourselves to serving those most in need.”

Ramirez said that for years they have been conducting free healthcare campaigns but that they wanted  to do something “more concrete and developed,” which led to the idea of the new hospital.

“Everything the Church does in general and that we Dominicans do in particular is done on a non-profit basis (…)  Charity is ultimately the guide that all we, in general, Catholic Christians, are called to. And St. Martin de Porres set a particularly great example that we are invited to follow,” said Ramírez. “I think he understood perfectly what our father St. Dominic did,” he added.

Ramirez encouraged the hospital’s staff  always to bear in mind the humanity of the people they are serving, that “this is a human being who is suffering, who came to where you are to get relief.”

“Let us hope that here in our small hospital of the Charity of Saint Martin De Porres that people really experience that, just as St. Martin recognized in the suffering and needy person the face of our Lord Jesus who needs us,” he said.

The hospital’s director, Dr.  Valiery Cersso Vergara, recalled that St. Martin de Porres “didn’t hesitate to transform the Saint Dominic convent where he worked into an infirmary,” and that the saint “had a deep sense of charity. And that is what charity is, to look after other people, for their health and well-being … That’s what struck me when they called on me to set up the hospital.”

“Specialists will be coming here who are going to give their time to care for people in complete charity and it’s that sense of charity that leads us to the quality of the healthcare services,” Cersso said.

The hospital operates on a management model that allows it to cover the cost of caring for low income people. Some of the staff will work for less than what they normally receive, while others are able to work pro bono.  

“That is the meaning of the Hospital of the Charity of St. Martin de Porres,”  Ramirez explained, adding that added that “the charges are very moderate, but if the social worker determines that someone really can’t pay, then there’s a way to be treated for free.”


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Fr. Emil Kapaun’s path to sainthood to face Vatican milestone in March

February 22, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

Wichita, Kan., Feb 22, 2020 / 05:00 am (CNA).- A Kansas priest recalls the holy deeds of Servant of God Emil Kapaun, a POW and chaplain during the Korean War, whose path to sainthood will meet a major milestone next month.

Bishops and cardinals from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints will vote March 10 to on whether the process to declare Kapaun a saint should progress to the next stage of advancement.

Kapaun was named in 1993 a “Servant of God,” the first designation on the way to being declared a saint. To be declared “venerable” is the second step in the canonization process; which Kapaun could reach next month.

Father John Hotze, the postulator for Kapaun’s cause, said the priest, whom he described as  an average man from Kansas, is an example of stewardship and selflessness.

If Kapaun does become a saint, “then there’s hope for each and every one of us to be a saint, also,” Hotze said.

“He was just an average guy. He was just a poor Kansas farm boy. He had nothing, and he was able to use what little he had in service to others,” he said.

“He used all of his time and talent and treasure in service to God and in service to others.”

Kapaun, who was born during the Great Depression in Pilsen, Kansas; he was ordained a priest in 1940 and began ministry as a parish priest in his hometown.

During World War II, Kapaun would offer the sacraments at the nearby Harrington Army Air Field, until he became a full-time army chaplain in 1944.  He was stationed in India and Burma for the duration of the war. There, he offered soldiers the sacraments, and, Hotz said, served his unit with a selfless attitude.

“I was speaking to his brother Eugene once, and his brother said that he thought [Emil] always had that missionary spirit in his heart.”

“He said that he thought one of the reasons why [Emil] asked to become a chaplain was because he knew that that would be part of this missionary life,” he said. 
Hotze described Kapaun as a “soldier’s chaplain” who would do anything for his men.

Because the priest’s jeep had been damaged, Kapaun would often ride his bicycle, meeting men even at battlefield front lines, and following the sound of gunshots to find out if he was 

“[The soldiers] would all look up to see where Father Kapaun was at because, they said, as soon as they heard the gunfire, … they knew that he would be on his bicycle …  [Kapaun] knew that’s where he would be needed,” he said.

After World War II ended, Kapaun used his GI bill study history and education at the Catholic University of America. He returned home as pastor of his boyhood parish briefly, and served at a few other parishes, until the army had need of him.

In 1948, the United States issued a call for military chaplains to return to service. Kapaun jumped at the chance. He was then sent to Texas, Washington, and Japan, before being deployed to Korea.

Hotze said that many of the men serving in the same unit viewed him as a saint. He said Tibor Rubun, a Jewish soldier, was once worried during an attack when Kapaun comforted him and began praying with him using the Hebrew Scriptures.

During the Battle of Unsan in November of 1950, Kapaun worked tirelessly to comfort the suffering and retrieve the wounded from the battlefield. One of the soldiers he retrieved was a wounded Chinese soldier, who helped him negotiate a surrender after he was surrounded by enemy troops. Kapaun was taken as a prisoner of war.

Hotze said Kapaun also saved Herbert Miller’s life, a man who had been shot and then wounded by a grenade, which broke his ankle and shredded his legs with shrapnel. Korean soldiers would kill any U.S. prisoners who could not walk to the camp, so Kapaun carried Miller 30 miles on a prisoners’ march.

Kapaun was then taken to prison camp number five in Pyoktong, a bombed out village used as a detainment center. The soldiers at the camp were severely mistreated, facing malnourishment, dysentery, and a lack of warm clothing to counter an extremely cold winter. Kapaun would do all he could for the soldiers, washing their soiled clothes, retrieving fresh water, and attending to their wounds

When he developed pneumonia and a blood clot in his leg, the chaplain was denied medical treatment. He died in 1951.

“[He was] taken away to the hospital. The men called it the death house because you didn’t come out of it alive. When they took you there, they didn’t give you any water or they didn’t give you any food or anything,” Hotze said.

“He wound up dying there and…the men talked about how there was not a dry eye in the camp.”

For his bravery at Unsan, Kapaun was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama in 2013. The medal is the United States’ highest military award for bravery.

Hotze said Catholics today are still influenced and inspired by Kapaun. He said every June pilgrims march from Wichita to Kapaun’s hometown of Pilsen. He said the 60 mile walk is in commemoration of the priest and his march to the prison camps. The pilgrimage last summer gathered about 200 people.

Hotze emphasized two points of Kapaun’s spirituality. He said Kapaun dedicated himself to the service of others and he did so joyfully.

“I think his willingness to serve is probably one of the most appealing things, and, another thing was that this willingness to serve, that he did it with joy.”

“He had every right … to resent the situation that he was in, in his life or the difficulties that he was facing but he never did. He never was angry. He was never resentful or hateful.”



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Santa Fe archbishop weighs in on papal discussion of Fr. James Martin

February 21, 2020 CNA Daily News 3

Vatican City, Feb 21, 2020 / 04:06 pm (CNA).- Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe has offered his recollections of a meeting between Pope Francis and the American Southwest, especially as regards a discussion during the meeting of Fr. James Martin, SJ.

CNA reported Feb. 20 that Martin was discussed during a Feb. 10 meeting between the pope and bishops of the USCCB’s Region XIII, who were with the pope as part of their ad limina visit.

Martin, an American Jesuit, is well known for his writing and speaking on LGBT issues and the Church. His work has been a subject of controversy; it is criticized by some bishops and praised by others.

Wester confirmed that Martin and his Sept. 30 visit to the pope had been discussed in the meeting, in a Feb. 21 commentary published by the National Catholic Reporter.

The Santa Fe archbishop, who was appointed to his post in 2015, is one of seven U.S. bishops to have endorsed “Building a Bridge,” Martin’s 2017 book on the Church and homosexuality.

“This courageous work is necessary reading for all who wish to build up the Christian community and to give witness to the Gospel message of inclusion,” Wester wrote of Martin’s book.

In his Feb. 21 commentary, the archbishop indicated that a broader discussion of Martin had taken place than was previously reported. Wester said bishops raised to the pope questions about a recent speech Martin delivered to the presidents of Catholic universities, “and his work in general with the LGBT community.”

The pope’s visit with Martin “was only mentioned in passing and was not the main point of the questions” bishops raised to the pope about Martin, Wester wrote.

The archbishop did not indicate what he saw as the “main point” of the bishops’ questions, nor did he indicate the response of Pope Francis to questions raised about the issues he mentioned.

While it would be “difficult for anyone to remember with precision anything that was said” in such a lengthy meeting, Wester said that he did not recall “the pope saying or implying that he was unhappy with Father Martin or his ministry.”

Regarding the pope’s visit with Martin, one bishop told CNA Feb. 20 that Pope Francis “made his displeasure clear” about the way the meeting was interpreted, and framed by some journalists.

Wester’s commentary confirmed that report. The archbishop added that from his viewpoint, “it was not Father Martin the Pope was talking about, but the way others tried to use that encounter, one way or the other.”

The Archbishop of Santa Fe did take issue with a bishop who told CNA that “the Holy Father’s disposition was very clear, he was most displeased about the whole subject of Fr. Martin and how their encounter had been used. He was very expressive, both his words and his face –  his anger was very clear, he felt he’d been used.”

Speaking of that bishop’s description, Wester said “the language subtlety, yet incorrectly, leads the reader to believe that Father Martin was the issue while in fact, it was how others used their meeting that was in play.” Wester said he did not think the pope had been “angry, upset or annoyed.”

In his commentary, Wester disagreed with reports from other bishops that the pope said Martin had received some correction about the way the Sept. 30 visit was framed.

According to Wester, the pope did not say that Martin was given a correction.

“I vaguely remember some mention of people in leadership trying to clarify any misunderstandings about his ministry,” the archbishop wrote, but said he thought that reference had to do with an article written by Martin in America Magazine that, the archbishop said, “detailed the ways in which his ministry was not contrary to Church teaching but in keeping with the Church’s mission and Gospel mandate.”

Martin himself, after Wester’s commentary was published, tweeted that he has “never heard anything negative from Jesuit superiors, nor was I ever given a ‘talking to.’”

The archbishop said he could not recall other aspects of reports about the meeting.

“I believe that I have an obligation to offer my perspective on those matters contained in the CNA article about Father James Martin, SJ, since my understanding of the facts differs from what was reported anonymously,” Wester concluded.

The bishops who spoke with CNA reported that Martin’s work in regards to the LGBT community was also discussed with the heads of numerous Vatican congregations, and that some officials expressed concern about aspects of the priest’s work. Wester did not comment on those reports.