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U.S. cardinals react to Benedict XVI’s death

January 1, 2023 Catholic News Agency 3
New cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan (L), Archbishop of New York, receives the biretta cap from Pope Benedict XVI in Saint Peter’s Basilica on February 18, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican. / Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 1, 2023 / 11:33 am (CNA).

Since the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, members of the College of Cardinals from the United States have offered tributes to the late pope who they remember as a “scholar” and “true disciple.”

Here is a round-up of statements from the U.S. cardinals:

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archdiocese of New York

Cardinal Timothy Dolan called Benedict XVI “a good shepherd and Holy Father.” In an interview with Newsmax Dolan shared that he met Benedict XVI “innumerable times” and was “always impressed with his ability to listen,” adding that “he knew the biblical, that before you can be a teacher you’ve got to be a listener.”  

Dolan compared Benedict’s passing to losing a grandparent or elderly parent, saying “we knew it was coming,” but that “it’s still a shock when it comes.” 

In a statement, Dolan said, “The human family grieves the passing of this erudite, wise, and holy man, who spoke the truth with love.”

Dolan called to mind Benedict XVI’s pastoral visit to the Archdiocese of New York in 2008 and shared his personal sense of loss at the former pope’s death, saying, “he was so encouraging, and appointed me Archbishop of New York and nominated me a Cardinal.”

Dolan said Benedict’s legacy will be that of “faith and reason” and called for every parish in his archdiocese to offer a Mass for Benedict’s soul, concluding, “may the angels lead him into paradise!” 

Read Dolan’s full statement here.

Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archdiocese of Chicago

Cardinal Blase Cupich stated that “Pope Benedict XVI taught us that belief in God means completely placing our trust in Divine Providence.”

“Throughout his life as a scholar and as a churchman, he showed us what it means to fulfill the ancient command to love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind,” said Cupich.

“I think he will be remembered as a man who was single-focused on serving others and serving God,” Cupich told ABC 7.

Read Cupich’s full statement here

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said that “it is with deep sadness and hope in the Resurrection that we mourn the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.” 

DiNardo called Benedict a “true pastor of souls and son of the Church,” saying the former pope “shepherded the Church with great love.” 

“His keen intellect invigorated the New Evangelization,” said DiNardo, and inspired “countless men and women to spread the Gospel by the example of their lives.” 

“May the Lord now welcome this faithful servant into the heavenly liturgy of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb,” DiNardo said. 

Read DiNardo’s full statement here

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archdiocese of Boston

“Today, a loving God called Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI home to his eternal reward for a lifetime of dedicated service to the Church,” said Cardinal Sean O’Malley. 

“Perhaps the most moving experience for me was accompanying survivors of clergy sexual abuse to a meeting with the Holy Father in Washington, D.C. during his 2008 pastoral visit to the United States,” O’Malley said. “Pope Benedict XVI recognized the pain experienced by survivors and all persons impacted by the abuse crisis.”

“I will miss Pope Benedict,” said O’Malley. “His fidelity to maintaining the truth and clarity of the Catholic faith, cultivating ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and reaching out to inspire the next generation of Catholics have been great gifts to us all.”

Read O’Malley’s full statement here.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archdiocese of Newark

Cardinal Joseph Tobin shared his prayer for the former pope, saying, “May the Angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs greet you at your arrival and lead you into the holy city, Jerusalem. May the choir of Angels greet you and like Lazarus, who once was poor, may you have eternal rest” (In Paradism). May he rest in the peace of Christ.” 

Cardinal Robert McElroy, Diocese of San Diego

“The death of Pope Benedict is a moment of both sadness and gratitude,” said Cardinal Robert McElroy, who was appointed a cardinal just this May.

McElroy called Benedict a “theologian of immense depth” as well as a “caring pastor” and a “prayerful servant who unswervingly sought to follow the pathway to which God was calling him.”

“In faith we know that he goes to the loving embrace of the God whom he had served with sacrifice and courage, brilliance and wisdom, humility and kindness for his entire life,” said McElroy.

Read the full statement here

Cardinal Raymond Burke

“It was my honor to serve him as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura,” said Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura and archbishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. “In my meetings with him, while he was still Roman Pontiff and after his abdication, I was always impressed by his extraordinary intelligence and knowledge, coupled with Christ-like meekness.”

Burke said that Benedict’s teaching regarding the sacred liturgy will remain “a lasting and living heritage.” 

“He was an especially gifted teacher of the Catholic Faith with a particular appreciation of the highest and most perfect expression of the Faith: Sacred Worship,” said Burke. 

Burke called the former pope’s passing “sad,” saying that Benedict had “continued to be a source of many graces for the Church, especially by the offering of his prayers and sufferings for so many needs of the Church in our time.”

Read Burke’s full statement here

Cardinal Justin Rigali

“I had the privilege of knowing Pope Benedict for many years, going back to his time as a cardinal of the Church — Cardinal Ratzinger,” said Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia. 

Rigali recalled his participation in the election of Benedict XVI, saying, “it was a privilege to participate in the election of Pope Benedict. I can remember when I went up to the pope and knelt before him to show my respect and offer to him my pledge to be faithful and obedient, the first thing that Pope Benedict said to me was, ‘Happy Birthday, your eminence.’ It was my 70th birthday. Pope Benedict remembered that, and that is a memory I will always carry with me.”

Read more of Rigali’s statements here

Cardinal James Stafford

Cardinal James Stafford, who participated in the former pope’s election, called Benedict XVI “a true disciple,” Denver Catholic reported.

“Pope Benedict XVI was dedicated to the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth,” said Stafford, archbishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of Denver. 

Stafford shared, “In afternoon walks in the Vatican Gardens I sometimes encountered Pope Benedict. I thought that here was a true disciple ‘who walks with Jesus and is thus caught up with Him into communion with God.’” Concluding, “May he rest in peace!” 

Read more of Stafford’s statement here


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Cardinal O’Malley: ‘Padre Pio shows us the power of the cross’

September 23, 2022 Catholic News Agency 2
Cardinal Seán O’Malley celebrates Mass in San Giovanni Rotondo for the feast of Padre Pio Sept. 23, 2022 / Screenshot of Youtube livestream from Padre Pio TV.

Rome Newsroom, Sep 23, 2022 / 04:20 am (CNA).

Padre Pio shows the world the power of bearing physical suffering with patience and love, Cardinal Seán O’Malley said at Mass for the Italian saint’s feast day on Friday.

O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, celebrated Mass on Sept. 23 in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, in the Church of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina.

“Padre Pio carried the burden of the stigmata for five decades, this and so many other physical sufferings were borne with love and patience. In a world where pain is seen as the greatest evil, Padre Pio shows us the power of the cross,” O’Malley said.

“He shows us that the greatest evil is not pain, but sin and selfishness,” the cardinal continued. “Pain can be a two-edged sword that turns us in on ourselves, leads to self-pity, anger or despair. When the cross is born with love and in union with Jesus it is life-giving and leads to resurrection.”

O’Malley, 78, has been a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin since 1965. Padre Pio, one of the 20th century’s most beloved saints, was also a Capuchin friar.

Pio, born Francesco Forgione in 1887, made solemn vows with the Capuchins at the age of 19. His life was marked by illness and physical suffering, including receiving the visible stigmata — bleeding wounds corresponding to the five wounds Christ received at his crucifixion — in 1918.

A statue of Padre Pio in the Church of Saint Pio of Pietrelicina in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. Screenshot from Youtube livestream by Padre Pio TV.
A statue of Padre Pio in the Church of Saint Pio of Pietrelicina in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. Screenshot from Youtube livestream by Padre Pio TV.

His desire to create a hospital founded on the principle of caring for both the body and soul of the sick and suffering also led him to establish Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, or Home for the Relief of the Suffering, today a state-of-the-art private hospital and research center.

Padre Pio’s mission, Cardinal O’Malley said, “was a mission of mercy, to those who were sick physically or spiritually and, in that context, he announced the good news of the gospel.”

“The confessional and the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza are just two of the ways Padre Pio manifested the loving mercy of God in the world convulsed by pain and suffering and sin,” he noted.

The cardinal quoted a line from the book “Padre Pio: The True Story.” The author, Bernard Ruffin, wrote that “Padre Pio made God real.”

“In a world of unbelief, the presence of holiness brings light and peace into a world of darkness and chaos,” O’Malley said in his homily. “The Saints next door, and the saints that God magnifies with his graces are a gift to increase in us a nostalgia for homeland yet unseen, for which we were created.”

Cardinal Seán O'Mally celebrates Mass for the feast of Padre Pio Sept. 23, 2022 in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. Screenshot from Youtube livestream by Padre Pio TV.
Cardinal Seán O’Mally celebrates Mass for the feast of Padre Pio Sept. 23, 2022 in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. Screenshot from Youtube livestream by Padre Pio TV.

He recalled when Pope Francis said that the two paths to holiness are prayer and community.

“Padre Pio,” he said, “is an outstanding example of this in a society that has largely abandoned prayer and the Sabbath observance, but this holy man teaches us that prayer brings the power of the cross into our lives and allows us to enter into the mystery of the Eucharist.”

Many people no longer attend Mass on Sundays because they do not know how to pray, Cardinal O’Malley said: “Today we stand in this holy place to ask Padre Pio to pray for us and teach us how to pray, to love and to heal.”

“May he lend us that ladder that will allow us to climb the cross and lovingly pull out the nails from the hands of our brothers and sisters who are, as Mother Teresa used to say: ‘Christ in a distressing disguise.’”

“Today we stand before this great saint and say thank you for showing the world that God is real and that the only real success in life is holiness,” he said.


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Cardinal O’Malley urges Italian Catholic bishops to ‘make things right’ for abuse survivors

May 26, 2022 Catholic News Agency 1
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Rome, Italy, May 26, 2022 / 10:54 am (CNA).

Cardinal Seán O’Malley urged Italian Catholic bishops on Wednesday to work for a “pastoral conversion” in their approach to survivors of sexual abuse by clergy.

The head of the Vatican’s abuse commission made the appeal in a video message played on the third day of the bishops’ plenary assembly in Rome, taking place on May 23-27.

“We have nothing to fear by telling the truth. The truth will set us free. Acknowledging people’s stories of abuse, listening to survivors, and committing to working together is not easy, but I can tell you after 40 years that it is the only way,” the archbishop of Boston said.

He went on: “Sometimes, and perhaps rightly so, it seems there are no adequate steps we can take to make things right for those who have been abused.”

“It is perhaps the most difficult part of being a pastor: knowing that our listening and our efforts at healing and justice will likely fall short of what survivors are looking for. It’s a sober reminder that ultimately only God’s grace can make whole what sin has broken.”

O’Malley’s message came as the Italian bishops discussed whether to hold a national inquiry into abuse.

Italian associations joined together in February to coordinate a movement against abuse in the Catholic Church in Italy. The network, which calls itself #ItalyChurchToo, is pushing the bishops to carry out an independent investigation into clerical sexual abuse in Italy over the last 70 years.

The consortium sent a letter to the Italian bishops’ conference on May 23 at the start of its general assembly.

“We demand truth, justice, and prevention,” it said, calling for an investigation into abuse, the opening of Church archives, compensation for victims, and a strict application of Pope Francis’ norms on the handling of abuse cases by bishops.

In his message, Cardinal O’Malley said that “the reality is that we will be judged on our response to the abuse.”

He proposed seven areas where pastoral conversion was needed: “1. An effective pastoral care of victims; 2. Clear guidance (and vigilance) on training courses for staff in the diocese; 3. Adequate and accurate screening; 4. Removal of perpetrators of abuse; 5. Cooperation with civil authorities; 6. Careful assessment of the risks existing for priests guilty of abuse (for themselves and the community) once they have been reduced to the lay state; 7. Public verification of the protocols in place so that people know the policies are working. An audit and report on the implementation of the policies is very useful.”

“The good news,” he said, “is that where effective policies are adopted and effectively implemented, the number of cases is dramatically reduced.”

“Sexual abuse has always been wrong, for sure,” O’Malley continued. “But the response of leaders in the Church and in civil society has also been wrong. We have learned a great deal over these past 40 years. We have come to see and understand how it has ruined lives, led to substance addictions, and even the tragedy of known and hidden suicides.”

“There is a sea of suffering that we are called to face up to,” he said.

The cardinal told bishops that the “work of listening, healing, and justice is being asked of us since it belongs to the fundamental ministry of a priest and pastor: to welcome people and to be instruments of God’s grace for those who have been hurt by life, even when that hurt comes from within our own ranks.”

“One of the strongest desires of the human heart is to feel safe. Our people want to feel safe in our Church and that means they want to be strengthened in their faith by their pastors,” he said.