Angelus News | July 19-26, 2019 | Vol. 4 No. 26


A 12th-century Byzantine mosaic depicts the Gospel story of Jairus asking Jesus to heal his dying 12-year-old daughter. For two millennia, the Catholic Church has been in the business of treating spiritual ailments — but that doesn’t mean it’s ignored people’s physical ailments. In fact, the world has Christianity and its founder to thank for some of the foundational principles of modern medicine. On Page 10, contributing editor Mike Aquilina tells the story of how the countercultural beliefs of early Christians led to one of society’s greatest inventions, the hospital. On Page 14, Angelus’ R.W. Dellinger tells the story of how a home hospice nurse is living out Jesus’ healing imperative by accompanying patients in their final moments.



How Catholics

invented health care

July 19-26, 2019 Vol. 4 No. 26


Archbishop Gomez 3

World, Nation and Local News 4-6

LA Catholic Events 7

Scott Hahn on Scripture 8

Father Rolheiser 9

How ordinary Catholics defeated State Bill 360 18

John Allen breaks down the growing slate of retiring U.S. bishops 20

Gary Jansen on the saint who’s close when God seems far away 22

Grazie Christie on God’s answer to our ache for happiness 24

Sophia Buono reviews ‘Chernobyl’ 26

Heather King gets a Dominican welcome in D.C. 28


A 12th-century Byzantine mosaic depicts the Gospel story of Jairus asking Jesus to

heal his dying 12-year-old daughter. For two millennia, the Catholic Church has been

in the business of treating spiritual ailments — but that doesn’t mean it’s ignored

people’s physical ailments. In fact, the world has Christianity and its founder to thank

for some of the foundational principles of modern medicine. On Page 10, contributing

editor Mike Aquilina tells the story of how the countercultural beliefs of early Christians

led to one of society’s greatest inventions, the hospital. On Page 14, Angelus

R.W. Dellinger tells the story of how a home hospice nurse is living out Jesus’ healing

imperative by accompanying patients in their final moments.

IMAGE: Pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles pose for a

photo after Mass with Archbishop José H. Gomez at the

Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City on Friday, July 12.

The next day, the group visited the Basilica of Our Lady of

Guadalupe, celebrating Mass there with Archbishop Gomez

and presenting Our Lady with hundreds of signed prayer

intentions from faithful of the archdiocese. For more photos

and video from the pilgrimage, visit





July 19-26, 2019 | Vol.4 • No.26

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Persons, not issues

Papal Prayer Intentions for July: That those who administer justice may work with

integrity, and that the injustice which prevails in the world may not have the last word.





Celebrating a Mass for migrants

and refugees, Pope Francis called on

Christians to follow the spirit of the

beatitudes by comforting the poor and

the oppressed.

The least ones, “who have been

thrown away, marginalized, oppressed,

discriminated against, abused, exploited,

abandoned, poor and suffering”

cry out to God, the pope said in his

homily July 8 during a Mass commemorating

the sixth anniversary of

his visit to the southern Mediterranean

island of Lampedusa.

“They are persons; these are not

mere social or migrant issues. This is

not just about migrants, in the twofold

sense that migrants are, first of all,

human persons and that they are the

symbol of all those rejected by today’s

globalized society,” he said.

According to the Vatican, an estimated

250 migrants, refugees, and rescue

volunteers attended the Mass inside

St. Peter’s Basilica. Francis greeted

each person present after the Mass


In his homily, the pope reflected

on the first reading from Genesis, in

which Jacob dreamed of a stairway

leading to heaven “and God’s messengers

were going up and down on it.”

Unlike the Tower of Babel, which

was humankind’s attempt to reach

heaven and become gods, the ladder

in Jacob’s dream was the means

by which the Lord comes down to

humankind and “reveals himself; it is

God who saves,” the pope explained.

“The Lord is a refuge for the faithful,

who call on him in times of tribulation,”

he said. “For it is indeed at

such moments that our prayer is made

purer, when we realize that the security

the world offers has little worth

and only God remains. God alone

opens up heaven for those who live on


The Gospel reading from St. Matthew,

which recalled Jesus curing a

sick woman and raising a girl from

the dead, also reveals “the need for a

preferential option for the least, those

who must be given the front row in

the exercise of charity.”

That same care, he added, must

extend to the vulnerable fleeing suffering

and violence.

“These least ones are abandoned and

cheated into dying in the desert; these

least ones are tortured, abused, and

violated in detention camps; these

least ones face the waves of an unforgiving

sea; these least ones are left in

reception camps too long for them to

be called temporary,” the pope said.

Francis said the image of Jacob’s

ladder represents the connection

between heaven and earth that is

“guaranteed and accessible to all.”

However, to climb those steps

requires “commitment, effort, and


“I like to think that we could be

those angels, ascending and descending,

taking under our wings the little

ones, the lame, the sick, those excluded,”

the pope said.

Reporting courtesy of Catholic News

Service Rome correspondent Junno

Arocho Esteves.





2 • ANGELUS • July 19-26, 2019




To bring the joy of Jesus

(Archbishop Gomez led more than

140 Catholics from Los Angeles on the

annual Archdiocesan Pilgrimage to the

Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in

Mexico City July 13. The following is

adapted from his homily at the basilica

and was delivered in Spanish and


As we come before the sacred tilma,

and as we lift our eyes to gaze into

her eyes — we hear the echo of Our

Lady’s tender words to St. Juan Diego:

“Am I not your mother? Are you not

under my shadow and my gaze? Am

I not the source of your joy? Are you

not sheltered underneath my mantle,

under the embrace of my arms?”

Mary is our mother.

This is the beautiful truth revealed in

her apparition at Tepeyac. She is our

mother, the mother of all who find

new life in her Son, Jesus Christ.

In the Gospel today, we hear those

powerful words from St. Elizabeth:

“And how does this happen to me,

that the mother of my Lord should

come to me?”

Here at Tepeyac, the mother of our

Lord is with us! She enters into our

lives, just as once she came to Elizabeth

in the hill country of Judah.

Mary comes to bring Jesus to us. He

is there, in the womb of his mother.

The heart of Jesus Christ, our Lord

and Redeemer, beats beneath her

heart, the same heart that was in the

holy Child at Bethlehem; the same

heart that was pierced on the cross at


In the presence of Our Lady, Elizabeth

felt awe and wonder. We need to

feel that same sense of wonder. How

does it happen that the mother of our

Jesus does not ask

us for great gestures

or big displays. We

bring Jesus into the

world by simply

being faithful to him,

by loving him and

serving our brothers

and sisters in love.

Lord should come to us? Truly, it is

nothing we deserve, nothing we could

ever earn. It is a pure gift of God’s

beautiful love for us.

So, we stand before Mary today in

love, with our hearts open.

Today, we ask Mary of Guadalupe

to continue to be a mother to us, to

show us the way to be good sons and

good daughters of God. We ask her to

protect our families, our children, and

especially the vulnerable: those who

are living on the streets, the child in

the womb, the sick and elderly, the

refugees fleeing violence and terror.

Jesus was born of Mary so that we

might be born as children of God!

This is the truth about who we are,

my brothers and sisters. We are God’s

children now! We are children of

Mary, brothers and sisters of her Son,


This is why we feel such joy today.

It is the joy of renewing our faith in

this truth. It is the joy of remembering

that God has poured his Spirit into

our hearts, so that we can share in his

divine life.

And Jesus calls us now to follow him

and to walk with him and spread his

love and joy to the ends of the earth.

My dear brothers and sisters, the joy

that we feel today, this joy of knowing

that we are children of God,

this is not something we can keep to


Love and joy are meant to be shared!

These are gifts from God that he

wants us to bring to others.

Jesus is calling all of us to bring his

love to the world, just as our Blessed

Mother carried him to Elizabeth.

Each of us here today has that same

duty — to bring Jesus into our homes,

into our work, into our conversations,

into every aspect of our ordinary daily

life in society.

Jesus does not ask us for great gestures

or big displays. We bring Jesus

into the world by simply being faithful

to him, by loving him and serving our

brothers and sisters in love.

So, brothers and sisters, as we stand

today at the feet of the Virgin of Guadalupe,

let us consecrate ourselves to


Let us say, “All for you, Mary,” as

we try to bring the joy of Jesus into

everything we do.

Let us ask our Blessed Mother of

Guadalupe to intercede for us, to continue

being our mother and to always

cover us with her mantle, so that we

may be good sons and daughters of

God and, like Diego, missionaries of

her Son’s message of love.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

Be our mother, and bring Jesus to us,

so we might bring Jesus to others!

To read more columns by Archbishop José H. Gomez or to subscribe, visit

July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 3


Sistine Chapel Choir

director steps down

The director of the famous Sistine Chapel Choir has

stepped down amid a yearlong investigation into the

choir’s financial and administrative operations.

The resignation of Msgr. Massimo Palombella, who

had led the choir since 2010, was announced July 10

by the Vatican without further details.

The Sistine Chapel Choir had been scheduled to

tour the United States, including Los Angeles, in the

summer of 2018, but was abruptly canceled with little


The earliest Christian letter

Researchers at

the University of

Basel in Switzerland

believe a papyrus

that’s been

in their collection

since 1899 is the

earliest known

existing letter by a


Prof. Sabine

Huebner was

able to date the

piece of Egyptian

papyrus back to

A.D. 230. The

letter is from

a man named

Arrianus written

to his brother,

Paulus, reporting

on family matters

and asking for the

best fish sauce as a


One giveaway

The papyrus letter dates back to A.D. 230.

that Arrianus was

a Christian, according to Huebner, was his use of the

abbreviated form of the Christian phrase “I pray that

you fare well in the Lord.” Another was the recipient’s


“Paulus was an extremely rare name at that time,

and we may deduce that the parents mentioned in the

letter were Christians and had named their son after

the apostle as early as A.D. 200,” said Huebner.


Workers open the tomb of Duchess Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin,

who died in 1840.

Vatican tomb mystery deepens

Investigators looking for a missing set of human

remains opened the Vatican tombs of two German

noblewomen. Now, they’re looking for three.

The tombs of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and

Duchess Charlotte Frederica, located in the Vatican’s

Teutonic cemetery, were opened July 11 as part of an

ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Emanuela

Orlandi. No remains were found, either of the

Orlandi or the German royalty.

The subject of one of Rome’s most famous cold cases,

Orlandi disappeared in the summer of 1983 when she

was just 15 years old. She was a citizen of Vatican City

due to her father’s role as an envoy to the Prefecture of

the Pontifical House. Rumors about her disappearance

have led to multiple searches for Orlandi’s remains on

Vatican property.

Two days later, however, Vatican spokesman Alessandro

Gisotti confirmed that two ossuaries, or sets

of bones, were found under a stone slab inside the

Teutonic College directly adjacent to the tombs.

The area was immediately sealed off and the slab was

scheduled to be formally reopened for testing on July


Vincent Lambert dies

The quadriplegic man at the center of an end-of-life

court battle in France died nine days after doctors

began denying him food and water.

Ever since a 2008 traffic accident left Lambert quadriplegic

and severely disabled, family members have

fought over his right to treatment.

Lambert’s wife and six of eight siblings fought for him

to be removed from food and water, while his parents

defended the life-sustaining treatment. The family was

notified July 2 that food and water would be removed

after a French court ruling decided in favor of the wife

and siblings.

In the days before his eventual death, Paris Archbishop

Michel Aupetit had called on his priests to offer

Masses for Lambert.


4 • ANGELUS • July 19-26, 2019



The Engstroms with Peoria Bishop Daniel

R. Jenky in 2011.

Prophetic trespassing?

A group of Catholic peace activists accused of trespassing on a nuclear

naval base don’t seem to have many regrets.

“There’s never been a single case in which I’ve been arrested that I’m not

proud of what I’ve done or would not defend to this day,” said Carmen Trotta

in a July 11 interview with Religion News Service (RNS). Trotta is one

of the “Kings Bay Plowshares 7” who were detained after entering Naval

Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia to protest nuclear weapons April 4 of

last year.

Each of them face a possible 25-year prison sentence and are scheduled to

appear in court Aug. 7 for a pretrial hearing.

“If what we have done is prophetic witness, then it’s of God,” one of the

activists, Patrick O’Neill, told RNS. “But if it’s a matter of pride, then this

whole act was fraudulent.

“I spent a year and a half with these people prayerfully preparing for this

action, and I believe our intention was to serve God.”

Sheen’s miracle

‘for the Church’

The mother of the child

believed to have been cured

through Archbishop Fulton

Sheen’s intercession says the miracle

wasn’t just a gift for her son.

“I really don’t think it was

given to us, for us,” said Bonnie

Engstrom of the miracle that was

recently recognized by the Vatican,

paving the way for Sheen’s


In a recent interview with The

Catholic Post, newspaper of the

Diocese of Peoria, Engstrom said

she thinks the miracle “was given

to the Church, for the Church.”

James Fulton Engstrom was

born without a pulse and without

taking a breath. The doctors were

about to declare the child dead

as his mother began to ask for

Sheen’s intercession.

Now 8 years old, Engstrom

has made a full recovery, and

Sheen is one step closer to being

declared a saint.

News that the healing of the

Washington, Illinois, boy had

been approved as a miracle attributed

to Sheen by the Vatican

came shortly after a legal battle

over whether Sheen’s remains

would stay in New York City or

Peoria, Illinois.

A HERO’S FAREWELL — The casket of retired New York Police Department detective and

9/11 victims advocate Luis Alvarez is carried from Immaculate Conception Church in Astoria,

New York, following his funeral Mass July 3. Alvarez, a 9/11 first responder and advocate

for 9/11 victims, died June 29 from cancer linked to his work at Ground Zero. Shortly before

his death, Alvarez, 53, pleaded with Congress to extend health benefits for first responders

involved in 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts.

Former Vatican ambassador gets a new job

A new commission to advise the secretary of state on human rights issues

will be headed by the former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Mary Ann


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced creation of the Commission

on Unalienable Rights July 8. The 10-person commission will offer advice

on human rights issues “grounded in our nation’s founding principles and

the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human rights,” according

to Pompeo.

Glendon served as ambassador to the Vatican under President George W.

Bush and is the author of a 2001 history of the Universal Declaration of

Human Rights, widely considered to be one of the definitive histories of the



July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 5



Stefano Riboli

LA says goodbye

to ‘Papa Steve’

Stefano Riboli, the patriarch of

Los Angeles’ San Antonio Winery,

passed away at his home on

July 3. He was 97.

Known as “Papa Steve,” Riboli

took over the small neighborhood

winery from his uncle and

watched it become what was recently

named “American Winery

of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast

magazine in 2018.

The parishioner of St. Peter’s

Italian Church near downtown

LA is survived by three children,

10 grandchildren, and 17


During Prohibition, San Antonio

Winery produced sacramental

wine for the Archdiocese of

Los Angeles, allowing the new

business to prosper during a

severely difficult time for wine


Since then, Riboli’s winery has

continued to produce altar wine

for Catholic churches and produced

the “Cathedral” wine label

sold since 2002 at the Cathedral

of Our Lady of the Angels gift


Short term, eternal rest for SF auxiliary bishop

Catholics in San Francisco are mourning the

unexpected death of Auxiliary Bishop Robert

Christian, OP.

Christian, 70 years old, died in his sleep July 11

at his residence at St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo

Park, where he served as rector. He had been

an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of San

Francisco for only a year, and had been appointed

rector of St. Patrick’s in January of this year.

“The archdiocese was greatly blessed to have his

wisdom and leadership even if for so brief a time as

auxiliary bishop and even briefer time as rector of

the seminary,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of Bishop Robert F. Christian

San Francisco said July 11.

Christian was born in San Francisco in 1948, and graduated from Santa

Clara University before entering the Dominican order. His funeral is scheduled

for July 22.

Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit sisters accept their grant from board member

John Coleman.

Aging sisters get a helping hand

Six communities of women religious in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are

among the beneficiaries of recently announced grants from SOAR! (Support

Our Aging Religious).

A total of more than $1.3 million in grant money was approved by

SOAR!’s board of directors to help more than 9,000 aging Catholic sisters,

brothers, and priests in religious orders around the country.

The local beneficiaries include the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy

Spirit, who received a $16,000 grant to install a stairlift in their retirement

home. The Lovers of Holy Cross of Los Angeles in Gardena received a

$25,000 grant for renovations to make their bathrooms safer for older sisters.

The Daughters of Mary and Joseph in Ranchos Palos Verdes, the Sisters of

Notre Dame in Thousand Oaks, the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred

Heart of Los Angeles in Alhambra, and the Society Devoted to the Sacred

Heart in Northridge also received grants.



6 • ANGELUS • July 19-26, 2019

LA Catholic Events

Items for LA Catholic Events are due two weeks prior to the date of the event. They may be mailed to Angelus News (Attn: LA Catholic Events), 3424 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90010-2241; emailed to; or faxed to 213-637-6360. All items must include the name, date, time, and address of the event, plus a phone number for additional information.

Fri., July 19

72nd Annual Mary Star of the Sea Parish Fiesta.

870 W. 8th St., San Pedro. Fiesta runs July 19, 5 p.m.-

12 a.m., July 20, 12 p.m.-12 a.m., July 21, 12-10

p.m. Grand prize: $20,000 cash or 2019 Chevy Cruze

or Malibu. Free parking and free admission. More information


Sat., July 20

Foster Care and Adoption Information Meeting. Andrew’s

Plaza, 11335 West Magnolia Blvd., Suite 2C,

North Hollywood, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Discover if you

have the willingness, ability, and resources to take

on the challenge of helping a child in need. RSVP

or learn more by calling 213-342-0162, toll free at

800-730-3933, or email RFrecruitment@all4kids.


Experiencing God’s Mercy Retreat. Pauline Books

& Media, 3908 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, 1-4:30

p.m. Led by Sister Patricia Shaules, FSP, the retreat

considers God’s merciful love and seeks to discover

and accept God’s mercy. Retreatants will also learn

the power and method of praying the Examen as an

opportunity to discern and accept God’s loving mercy.

Donation: $15/person. For more information or to

RSVP, call 310-397-8676, or email

Sun., July 21

Dawn Eden Goldstein Book Signing. Cathedral of

Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles.

Dawn will sign her newly released book “Sunday

Will Never Be the Same: A Rock and Roll Journalist

Opens Her Ears to God” after the 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Masses. To pre-order a signed copy, visit,

or call 213-680-5277.

Mon., July 22

Healing Mass. St. Cornelius Church, 5500 E. Wardlow

Rd., Long Beach, 7:30 p.m. Celebrant: Father

Stephen Viblanc.

Wed., July 24

An Evening with Father Greg Boyle. Church of the

Good Shepherd, 504 N. Roxbury Dr., Beverly Hills, 7-9

p.m. Call 310-285-5425.

Thur., July 25

Mass and Healing Service. Our Lady of Grace

Church, 5011 White Oak Ave., Encino, 6:30 p.m. Topic:

Spiritual warfare. Celebrant: Father George Reynolds.

Call Claudia at 818-342-6626.

Fri., July 26

Youth Retreat: Encounter 28. Cursillos Center, 1233

Kingsley Ave., Pomona. Retreat by PJP Youth Missionaries

for boys and girls aged 13-17 runs July 26-July

29. Contact Saida Rojas at 562-319-3015, or Anely

Medina at 562-712-8667.

Sat., July 27

Day of Healing. Our Lady of the Assumption Church,

3175 Telegraph Rd., Ventura. Led by Father Patrick

Crowley, SSCC, Dr. Elizabeth Kim, and Dominic Berardino,

topics include: “God’s Healing Power at

Work Today” and “Jesus, Our Divine Physician.” Day

includes Mass. Cost: $20/person by July 24, $25/person

at door. Bring snacks, no lunch break included.

Call SCRC at 818-771-1361, email,

or visit

Foster Care and Adoption Information Meeting.

Children’s Bureau’s Magnolia Place, 1910 Magnolia

Ave., Los Angeles, or Children’s Bureau, 27200 Tourney

Rd., Ste. 175, Valencia, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Discover

if you have the willingness, ability, and resources to

take on the challenge of helping a child in need. RSVP

or learn more by calling 213-342-0162, toll free at

800-730-3933, or email RFrecruitment@all4kids.


Sat., Aug. 3

Understanding Through Native Eyes: The Legacy

of California Missions. San Gabriel Mission, 428 S.

Mission Dr., San Gabriel, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Doors open

for registration at 10 a.m. Opening remarks: Bishop

David O’Connell. Free summit, snacks, and drinks

provided. Sponsored by Native American Concerns

ADLA. RSVP to Sylvia Mendivil Salazar, coordinator,

at 626-755-9175, or email

Sun., Aug. 4

Eight-Day Silent, Guided Directed Retreat: Jesus,

the Face of God’s Mercy. Mary & Joseph Retreat

Center, 5300 Crest Rd., Rancho Palos Verdes. Retreat

runs from Sun., Aug. 4 at 6:30 p.m. to Sun., Aug. 11

at 1:30 p.m. Retreat directors: Father John Galvan,

SJ; Sister Jeanne Fallon, CSJ; Sue Ballotti; Father

Charles Jackson, SJ; Carlos Obando; Sister Pascazia

Kinkuhaire, DMJ. Annual silent retreat based on the

spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius will offer spiritual

reflection and direction, solitude, and prayer. Cost:

$820/person, shared ($845 after July 19), $925/

person, single ($950 after July 19). Call Marlene

Velazquez at 310-377-4867, ext. 234 for reservations

or information.

Thur., Aug. 8

Retreat on the Angels. Prince of Peace Abbey, 650

Benet Hill Rd., Oceanside. Retreat will be led by Father

Matthew Hincks and Father John Brohl. Offered

three times: Aug. 8-11, 15-18, and 22-25, from 4

p.m., Thur. to 1 p.m., Sun. Cost: $330/single, $300/

double per person and includes room and three

meals per day. For more information, call Opus Angelorum

office at 330-969-9900. Register at

An Evening at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat

Center with Áine Minogue. 700 N. Sunnyside Ave.,

Sierra Madre, 6:30 p.m. World-famous Irish harpist,

singer, and contemplative Áine Minogue will perform

in the outdoor amphitheater. Cost: $35/person and

includes a light supper. For more information or to

purchase tickets, visit,

call Marta Salgado-Nino

at 626-355-7188, ext. 134, or email msnino@

Tues., Aug. 13

An Evening of Exploration for Members of Alcoholic

& Addictive Families with Peter McGoey, MA, LMFT.

Mary & Joseph Retreat Center, 5300 Crest Rd., Rancho

Palos Verdes, 7-8:30 p.m. Evening of discussion

on how family dynamics are formed and harmed by

addiction, alcoholism, and codependency. The role of

contemplative prayer will be described and experienced

as a method of healing from troubled family

history. Cost: $10/person. Call Marlene Velazquez at

310-377-4867, ext. 234 for reservations or information.

Wed., Aug. 14

Office of Life, Justice and Peace Bi-Annual Regional

Meeting: San Pedro. St. Philomena Church, 21900

Main St., Carson, parish hall B, 7-9 p.m. Special

guest: Bishop Marc Trudeau.

Thur., Aug. 15

An Evening at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat

Center with Marty Brounstein. 700 N. Sunnyside

Ave., Sierra Madre, 6:30 p.m. Interfaith evening with

speaker, storyteller, and author Marty Brounstein on

his book “Two Among the Righteous Few: A Story of

Courage in the Holocaust.” Cost: $35/person and

includes a light supper. For more information or to

purchase tickets, visit,

call Jeanne Warlick

at 626-355-7188, ext. 103, or email

This Week at

Visit for these stories

and more. Your source for complete,

up-to-the-minute coverage of local news,

sports and events in Catholic L.A.

• Robert Brennan on sending and receiving the right “codes” in today’s society.

• A look at the question of preservation in Craig Beaven’s poetry.

• Stefano Riboli, patriarch of Los Angeles’ San Antonio Winery, dies at 97.

July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 7




Gen.18:1–10 / Ps. 15:2–5 / Col. 1:24–28 / Lk. 10:38–42

“Jesus at the House of Mary,” by Jacob Jordaens, 1593-1678, Flemish.

God wants to

dwell with each

of us personally,

intimately — as

the mysterious

guests once visited

Abraham’s tent, as

Jesus once entered

the home of Mary

and Martha.

By his hospitality

in today’s First

Reading, Abraham

shows us how we

are to welcome the

Lord into our lives.

His selfless service

of his divine

guests (see Hebrews

13:1) stands

in contrast to the

portrait of Martha

drawn in today’s


Where Abraham is concerned

only for the well-being of his guests,

Martha speaks only of herself —

“Do you not care that my sister has

left me by myself. … Tell her to

help me.”

Jesus’ gentle rebuke reminds us that

we risk missing the divine in the mundane,

that we can fall into the trap of

believing that God somehow needs to

be served by human hands (see Acts


Our Lord comes to us, not to be

served but to serve (see Matthew

20:28). He gave his life that we might

know the one thing we need, the “better

part,” which is life in the fellowship

of God.

Jesus is the true Son promised today

by Abraham’s visitors (see Matthew

1:1). In him, God has made an everlasting

covenant for all time, made

us blessed descendants of Abraham

(see Genesis 17:19, 21; Romans

4:16–17, 19–21).

The Church now offers us this covenant,

bringing to completion the word

of God, the promise of his plan of

salvation, what Paul calls “the mystery

hidden for ages.”

As once he came to Abraham, Mary,

and Martha, Christ now comes to

each of us in word and sacrament. As

we sing in today’s Psalm, he will make

his dwelling with those who keep his

word and practice justice (see John


If we do these things we will not be

anxious or disturbed, will not have

our Lord taken from us. We will wait

on the Lord, who told Abraham and

tells each of us: “I will surely return to


Scott Hahn is founder of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology,


8 • ANGELUS • July 19-26, 2019



Needed: particular kinds of saints

French philosopher Simone Weil

once said that it’s not enough today

to be merely a saint; rather, “we must

have the saintliness demanded by the

present moment.” She’s right on that

second premise; we need saints whose

virtues speak to the times.

What kind of saint is needed today?

Someone who can show us how we

can forgive an enemy? Someone who

can help us come together across the

bitter divide within our communities

and churches?

Someone who can show us how to

reach out to the poor? Someone who

can teach us how to actually pray?

Someone who can show us how to

find “Sabbath” inside the bombardment

of 10,000 television channels, a

million blogs, and a billion tweets?

Someone who can show us how to

sustain our childhood faith amidst the

complexity and agnosticism of our

adult lives? Someone who radiates humanity,

even as he or she is, by faith,

set apart? Someone who’s a mystic,

but with a robust sense of humor?

Someone who can be both chaste and

healthily sexual at the same time?

The list could go on. We’re in pioneer

territory. The saints of old didn’t

face our issues. They had their own

demons to conquer.

They know the struggle, know that

ours is new territory with new demons

to conquer and new virtues asked for.

The saints of old remain, of course,

as essential templates of Christian

discipleship, living gospels, but they

walked in different times. So what

kind of saints do we need today?

We need saints who can honor the

goodness of the world, even as they

honor God. We need women and

men who can show us how to walk

with a living faith inside a culture that

believes that the world here is enough

and that the issues of God and the

next life are peripheral.

We need saints who can walk with

a steady, adult faith in the face of the

world’s sophistication, its pathological

restlessness, its overstimulated grandiosity,

its numbing distractions, and its

overpowering temptations.

We need saints who can empathize

with those who have drifted away from

the Church, even as they themselves

hold their own moral and religious

ground. We need young saints who

can romantically re-enflame the religious

imagination of the world.

And we need old saints, who have

walked the gamut and can show us

how to meet all the challenges of today

and yet retain our childhood faith.

As well, we need what British philosopher

Sarah Coakley calls “erotic

saints,” women and men who can

bring chastity and eros together in a

way that speaks of the importance of

both. We need saints who can model

for us the goodness of sexuality, who

can delight in its human joys and

honor its God-given place within

the spiritual journey, even as they

never denigrate it by setting it against

spirituality or cheapen it by making it

simply another form of recreation.

Then, too, we need saints today who

can, with compassion, help us to see

our blind complicity with systems of

all kinds that victimize the vulnerable

in order to safeguard our own comfort,

security, and historical privilege.

We need saints who can speak for

the poor, for the environment, for

women, for refugees, for those with

inadequate access to medical care and

education, and for all who are stigmatized

because of race, color, or creed.

We need saints who can stand as

unanimity-minus one, who can wage

peace and point our eyes to a reality

beyond our own shortsightedness.

And they need not be canonized;

they need simply be lamps for our

eyes and leaven for our lives. I don’t

know who your present-day saints are,

but I have found mine among a wide

range of persons, old, young, Catholic,

Protestant, Evangelical, liberal,

conservative, religious, lay, clerical,

secular, faith-filled, and agnostic.

Full disclosure, the names I mention

here are not persons whose lives

I know in any detail. Mostly, I know

what they’ve written, but their writings

are a lamp which lights my path.

Among those of my own generation,

I’m indebted to Raymond E. Brown,

Charles Taylor, Daniel Berrigan, Jean

Vanier, Mary Jo Leddy, Henri Nouwen,

Thomas Keating, Jim Wallis,

Richard Rohr, Elizabeth Johnson,

Parker Palmer, Barbara Brown Taylor,

Wendy Wright, Gerhard Lohfink,

Kathleen Dowling Singh, Jim Forest,

John Shea, James Hillman, Thomas

Moore, and Marilynne Robinson.

Among the younger voices whose

lives and writings speak as well to

a generation younger than mine, I

would mention Shane Claiborne, Rachel

Held Evans, James Martin, Kerry

Weber, Trevor Herriot, Macy Halford,

Robert Barron, Bryan Stevenson, Robert

Ellsberg, Bieke Vandekerckhove,

and Annie Riggs.

Maybe these aren’t your saints, fair

enough. So lean on those who help

light your path.

Oblate of Mary Immaculate Father Ronald Rolheiser is a spiritual writer,

July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 9

Christianity’s healthiest idea

The untold story of how

the Church invented

the hospital — and

redefined health

care in the process



The hospital arose as a Christian

institution utterly dependent

upon Christian principles.

The foremost expert on the early history

of hospitals, Gary Ferngren, Ph.D.,

made the point most emphatically in

his recent historical survey published

by Johns Hopkins University. He wrote:

“The hospital was, in origin and conception,

a distinctively Christian institution,

rooted in Christian concepts of

charity and philanthropy. There were

no pre-Christian institutions in the

ancient world that served the purpose

that Christian hospitals were created

to serve. … None of the provisions for

health care in classical times … resembled

hospitals as they developed in the

late fourth century.”

It’s not that there was no one practicing

medicine. What passed for

the medical profession was a riot of

different types of practitioner. Many

took up some strain of the Hippocratic

tradition, but others were herbalists,

soothsayers, magicians, or folk healers.

There was no board to certify anyone.

There were no medical schools to

grant diplomas. Most professional healers

simply underwent an apprenticeship

with someone more experienced.

Many practitioners made their living

by wandering from town to town, perhaps

outrunning the public response to

their latest failures. Some made their

way across continents this way.

From the wisecracks we find in the

Bible and other ancient literature, it

seems that sick people understood

that it was a risky proposition to seek

healing. Medicine in the first centuries

A.D. was an uncertain and unstable


Why? Well, the wandering “medici”

(“doctors”) had no roots, no local loyalties,

no lasting accountability. They

had no institutional form because there

was no institutional form available to


The Greeks and Romans had temples

of Asclepius, where sick people went

to pray and offer sacrifice in hope of

a cure. Treatment in such places was

usually based on the interpretation of

dreams dreamt by the sick during a

time of incubation in the sanctuary.

While the Asclepian temples may

have provided some occasional relief,

they were not hospitals. They kept no

long-term patients. They offered no

extended program of treatment on site.

The nearest approximation of a

hospital in classical antiquity was the

“valetudinarium” (“hospital”), which

was essentially a repair shop for soldiers

or slaves.

Both soldiers and slaves represented

huge investments for their overseers.

Their value was expected to last years

and even decades. And so the ancients

established places where their human

property could be restored to productivity.

As far as we know, the Romans never

entertained the idea of providing “valetudinaria”

for the wider population.

It’s difficult to see how they could have

made one profitable or even sustainable.

And yet there was great demand

for medical care. Pain, sickness, and

10 • ANGELUS • July 19-26, 2019


discomfort are characteristic of the human

condition since the fall of Adam

and Eve. And those who suffered went

looking, sometimes desperately, for


Such was the world into which the

Christ was born. And it was to

heal that world that he came.

When asked to verify his own mission,

Jesus presented physical cures as evidence:

“The blind receive their sight

and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed

and the deaf hear, and the dead are

raised up, and the poor have good

news preached to them” (Matthew


Healing, then, was an essential part

of Jesus’ ministry. It wasn’t something

ornamental. In addition to the ailments

he mentioned, Jesus also cured dropsy,

paralysis, palsy, and hemorrhage.

He cured not only Jews, but also Samaritans,

pagan Syro-Phoenicians, and

even the occupying Romans.

His cures were unmistakably physical.

But John the Evangelist tells us they

were “signs” — that is, they stood for

something else, something greater.

They were signs of a deeper healing —

the healing of a wound in the fabric of


Yet they were nonetheless real and

true. The blind really did receive their

sight. The lame really did walk. And

lepers really were cleansed. Neither Jesus

nor his disciples would have offered

these cures as evidence if they could be

easily dismissed and denied.

These cures were, moreover, performed

not only by Jesus, but also by

his followers, his disciples. In fact, Jesus

commanded his disciples to share in

his healing ministry. He issued what

I like to call “the healing imperative.”

As he sent the 72 out on their first

mission, Jesus instructed them to

“heal the sick … and say to them,

‘The kingdom of God has come

near to you’ ” (Luke 10:9).

Note well that the command to heal

precedes the command to proclaim the

kingdom. It’s as if physical healing is

a necessary step of pre-evangelization.

Or perhaps Jesus intended that the

kingdom should manifest itself first

through deeds of healing, and then

simply be confirmed by the disciples’

words of proclamation.

The disciples were faithful to Jesus’

command. They marveled at their

success as they returned from that first

mission. And that was only the beginning.

The book following the Gospels,

the Acts of the Apostles — the first history

of the early Church — begins by

recounting miraculous cures effected

by Peter and John.

Paul, in turn, takes up the healing

mission of Jesus. On the island of

Malta, he heals a man who “lay sick

with fever and dysentery.” And then,

predictably, “the rest of the people on

the island who had diseases also came

and were cured” (Acts 28:8–9).

The apostles, like Jesus before them,

were known for their healing as much

as their preaching. They were faithful

to the command of Jesus — and the

model of Jesus.

Throughout the writings of the

early Christians, there is an

emphasis on Jesus as a healer.

St. Ignatius of Antioch, writing in A.D.

107, spoke of the Lord as a physician.

The early historian Eusebius de-

“Christ Healing the Blind,” by El Greco, 1570, Greek.


July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 11

scribed Jesus’ ministry with lines taken

directly from the pagan physician

Hippocrates. He wrote: “A devoted

physician, to save the lives of the sick,

sees the horrible danger yet touches

the infected place, and in treating

another man’s troubles brings suffering

on himself.”

Christians instinctively responded to

Jesus’ healing imperative by dedicating

themselves to the practice of medicine.

St. Justin Martyr in the second century

and Origen in the third both testify

that many of their co-religionists were

medical doctors.

The historian Ferngren, citing archeology

and documentary evidence,

concludes that “no other professional

group comes close to the number of

physicians” in the early Church.

From this we might conclude that

doctors were, more than any other

professional group, drawn to Christianity.

Or perhaps Christians were drawn

to medical practice more than to any

other kind of work. In any case, the statistics

suggest much about the compatibility

and similarity between the life of

grace and a doctor’s life of service.

There was, however, no distinctively

Christian way of doing medicine.

Christian practice reflected the variety

of methods and theories available at

the time. Christians tended to favor the

Hippocratic and empirical traditions,

which kept the believing doctors at a

safe distance from pagan superstitions.

Christians in medicine were distinguished

only by what they refused to

do. The early Christian doctors — like

their modern counterparts — took no

part in abortion, assisted suicide, cosmetic

castration, and infanticide. Nor

did they prescribe contraceptive drugs.

They also refused to turn patients

away. Because Christian physicians,

like Christians generally, believed

themselves to be bound by a second

imperative. They found in the New

Testament a command — and a corresponding

duty — to practice unrestricted


St. Peter urged his flock: “Practice

hospitality ungrudgingly” (1 Peter 4:9).

But the most famous formula is this:

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to

strangers, for thereby some have entertained

angels unawares” (Hebrews


This second imperative inspired

Christian physicians to care not

only for their own tribe, but also for

“strangers” — and even for their persecutors.

It was, in fact, during the first largescale

Roman persecution that the earliest

ancestor of the hospital emerged.

Smallpox devastated the major cities

of the empire in the year A.D.

250. At its most deadly phase, it

killed thousands of people per day in

Rome alone. And it raged intermittently

for at least 20 years, claiming the

lives of emperors as well as nameless


Today we know this pandemic as

the Plague of Cyprian, because of the

African bishop whose letters describe it

most extensively for us.

St. Cyprian of Carthage

The disease was a matter of great concern

for Cyprian. It was important not

only because it was killing Christians,

but also because the Roman authorities

were blaming the Christians for the

spread of the disease. The pagan rulers

believed the plague had come because

the Christians were refusing to offer

sacrifice to the old gods.

So the Romans decided to force the

issue. They began to demand sacrifice

from everyone, and execute those who


Yet, amid this simultaneous epidemic

and persecution, the Church inaugurated

the first “broad extension” of its


medical mission.

Cyprian exhorted his congregation:

“There is nothing remarkable in

cherishing merely our own people,” he

said. “… [We] should love our enemies

as well … the good [should be] done

to all, not merely to the household of


So, in the midst of the plague, the

Christians served even their neighbors

who were most un-neighborly.

Christian doctors treated not only their

co-religionists, but also their pagan


This was not a local phenomenon.

We possess similar testimonies from

Alexandria, Egypt, and elsewhere. The

sociologist Rodney Stark noted that

the Catholic Church grew at a steady

rate of 40 percent per decade during

this period, and he believes it was at

least partly due to this unprecedented

public witness of charity.

The pattern emerged still more

clearly in the following century during

the epidemic of A.D. 312. By then,

the Christians were numerous in every

major city, so their efforts were more

effective, extensive, and visible.

Eusebius, who was an eyewitness,

reports that Christians “rounded up the

huge numbers who had been reduced

to scarecrows all over the city and

distributed loaves to them all.”

Ferngren states most emphatically

that, “The only care of the sick and

dying during the epidemic of 312-13

was provided by Christian churches.”

It was in the fourth century — as

Christians assumed a clear majority in

the urban areas — that the institution

of the hospital took on a more concrete


During a famine in Syria, St. Ephrem

the Deacon commandeered public

porticoes to set up a 300-bed facility

for the treatment of the ill. In A.D.

324, in Egypt, Pachomius established

an infirmary in the vast monastery he

had founded. In the vicinity of Rome,

facilities were founded by Fabiola and


It is interesting to note that many of

the hospitals established in the fourth

and fifth centuries were founded by

women. You will search in vain to find

women making similar contributions

to the advancement of pagan societies.

Roman and Greek religion offered

12 • ANGELUS • July 19-26, 2019

Walter Murray Gibson (left) with Mother Marianne Cope and other sisters at Kapiolani Home in Kakaako for daughters of Hansen’s disease patients in 1886.


women no analogous opportunities,

no comparable sense of vocational freedom,

philanthropic charity, or basic

human equality.

With the legalization of Christianity

in A.D. 313, hospitals emerged almost

immediately as standard features of any

city worthy of the title.

The greatest of all was certainly the

complex built by St. Basil in Pontian

Caesarea. It was so vast that the locals

referred to it as “The New City,” and

one contemporary observer compared

it to the Seven Wonders of the World.

Basil’s Catholic charities included not

only a hospital, but also a soup kitchen,

poorhouses, a trade school, a hostel for

needy travelers, personal care for the

elderly, and a hospice for the dying.

The staff dispensed food and medical

care to all who approached, regardless

of their religious affiliation.

What Basil established as something

unusual soon became common and

essential throughout the Roman world.

It was the most visible and concrete

manifestation of Christian hospitality,

and so, in time, it came to be called a


Because of their stability, these places

became de facto research institutions.

For the first time in history, a group of

medical professionals were working

together, observing various treatments

applied to a large number of patients,

and then judging their effectiveness.

This was a necessary precondition of

medical progress.

By the end of the fourth century,

most hospitals included some forms of

ambulance, paramedic, and pharmaceutical

services as well.

How did the hospital happen? No emperor

mandated it. No law required it.

Pagan antiquity previously had all

the material ingredients for such an

institution. The Greeks and Romans

had doctors. They had “valetudinaria,”

the repair shops for slaves and soldiers.

There was ample demand for medical


And yet neither the Greeks nor the

Romans — nor the Chaldeans, nor

the Egyptians, nor the Babylonians,

nor the Assyrians — ever produced a


They had the material resources, but

they lacked the spiritual resources.

They lacked a belief in charity —

self-giving love — as a share in the

life of God. They lacked the belief in

human dignity and universal brotherhood.

They were ignorant of the divine

command to heal and show hospitality

to friends and strangers alike, and even

to enemies.

The hospital did not happen in a

pre-Christian world. We should wonder,

then, whether it can survive long

in a post-Christian world.

Mike Aquilina is a contributing editor

to Angelus and author of “The Healing

Imperative: The Early Church and the

Invention of Medicine as We Know It”

(Emmaus Road Publishing, $18.95).

July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 13

Compassion with confidence

A Catholic hospital network of specially trained nurses brings more than

medical care to patients who choose to spend their final moments at home



Standing in a closet-sized room in an Encino apartment

on a recent Thursday morning, Tom Doyle

was bent over his 72-year-old dying patient trying to

get a blood pressure reading.

The hospice nurse wasn’t having much luck. Ronald

Lavery was unconscious, eyes closed, and head turned to

the left, lying under a green sheet that only covered half

his chest. Standing nearby was Lavery’s wife of 42 years,

Gwendolyn, or “Gwen,” donning a khaki floppy hat pulled

down over her forehead.

Doyle was wearing a short-sleeve medical top over matching

pants. His glasses slid down a bit as he worked. His hair was

short and gray, but he still looked younger than his 59 years.

The cramped, stuffy room was filled with noise coming

from the oxygen concentration machine, which sounded

like an old lawnmower. A tube connected it to the tracheotomy

in the patient’s neck.

Gwen showed Doyle a notebook filled with meticulous

notes full of written-down times, numbers, and comments.

“So this is what happened, Tom, overnight,” she said.

14 • ANGELUS • July 19-26, 2019

“These are all the stats right here.”

“Blood pressure kind of low,” muttered the nurse as he

studied the pages.

Gwen nodded: “His pulse is getting weak, right?”

“It’s still kind of bad, but not as bad as it has been, because

the blood pressure is getting low.”

Then the 71-year-old woman ticked off the medications

she had been giving her husband overnight and early this


“That’s fine,” he answered.

Thirteen years ago, Ronald had a massive stroke, leaving

his left side paralyzed. The episode was followed by a

number of medical problems. Lately, he had been in the

hospital, where he was on a ventilator with a feeding tube

up his nose. But he yanked out the feeding tube, telling

his wife he didn’t want any more extraordinary measures to

prolong his life.

When no facility would take him after his stay in the

cases like the Lavery’s, the patient’s own home.

In his past life, Doyle was a geologist, working on

environmental investigations of soil and groundwater

contamination. While working in Wyoming, he broke

a leg from slipping on ice, which resulted in a hiatus

from his on-the-go lifestyle as he recovered at his home in


During that time, he recalled mostly thinking about one

thing: Was he really making a difference in others’ lives or

mostly just focusing on himself and his family?

That period marked a turning point in his life.

One day while reading the “Denver Catholic,” the local

archdiocesan newspaper, the then-38-year-old came across

a call for volunteers for a local hospice run by the Archdiocese

of Denver. “The moment I saw it, I was like ‘That’s

it! That’s what I’m going to do,’ ” he remembered. “I just

had this feeling, even though I didn’t really know hospice

Opposite and above: Providence TrinityCare case manager Tom Doyle and a nurse attend to Javier Ricardo Uribe at his Calabasas home.

hospital because of his tracheostomy, Gwen reluctantly

brought her husband home to die. But she didn’t really

know how to provide the intense medical care he needed.

And she remembered the doctors at the hospital saying

something about hospice care.

“I had no idea,” she told Angelus News during an interview

at her home. “I thought hospice was a place to go

to, because they said to me he refused all treatment, and

he won’t allow them to put another feeding tube in his

stomach. But he’d had enough. He’s in pain. So I thought,

‘How am I going to take care of him?’ ”

Enter Providence TrinityCare Hospice, a service of the

Catholic not-for-profit Providence health care network.

Founded in 1977, the program offers end-of-life hospice

care for patients and their families or other caretakers.

Today it’s grown to five clinical teams with a staff of more

than 180 professionals in Southern California working in

hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities — and in


at that point.”

Doyle began as a volunteer, but grew so concerned by

the way some older persons in nursing homes were treated

that he became an ombudsman on behalf of residents.

Later, he went back to college, becoming a registered

nurse thanks to an accelerated program at California State

University Northridge.

Today, the 59-year-old has seven years of hospice work

under his belt, including the last 5 1/2 at Providence

TrinityCare doing outreach with a team that includes a

social worker, a chaplain, other nurses, and on-call doctors

working mainly in the San Fernando Valley.

“Everything that we do is focused on the comfort of the

patient,” explained Doyle.

“Usually, you can’t totally eliminate pain. That would require

total sedation, giving the patient enough medication

that the person is sleeping all the time. And most patients

don’t want that. They want the pain managed, and they get


July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 15

to decide what level of pain is acceptable to them.”

Doyle said an important part of his job is working with relatives

on determining how much pain medication a patient

actually needs. Too much medication can make it hard to

communicate with their loved ones.

“Sometimes we have to coach family members on not

making the patient suffer for their own wishes,” he explained,

adding, “This is hard for everybody: for patients,

for families.”

Doyle said that anxiety or agitation can accompany physical

pain of dying persons. And just being short of breath

can trigger anxiety, which can then lead to a “feedback

loop,” making the shortness of breath even worse. Constipation

and nausea are among the symptoms brought on by

painkillers that hospice nurses look for.

When they see a home situation that’s not balanced

and under control, hospice nurses at

Providence TrinityCare can contact on-call

doctors to get their advice on increasing the

dose of a medication or ordering new ones.

Nurse case managers like Doyle only need to see patients

once a week if their condition is pretty stable. But twice

a week is more common, and daily visits are made when

symptoms are changing rapidly or the patient — like Ronald

in Encino — is getting closer to death.

It’s called “continuous care,” with LVNs (licensed vocational

nurses) staying with the dying patient all day and night.

But how does a case manager or nurse determine if an unconscious

patient or one who can’t speak is really suffering?

“We look for things like a furrowed brow, a grimace on

the face as an indicator of pain,” said Doyle.

“The same for restless movements. And the respiration

rate. If somebody’s breathing more than 20 times a minute,

that’s our trigger to think, ‘Is this due to pain?’ So even if

somebody is not responsive and not really conscious, there

are signs that we watch for as indicators of pain.”

When the former geologist was asked why he hasn’t

burned out working with the dying and their families on a

daily basis, he took a moment before responding.

“Again, we just see such amazing displays of love of people

taking care of their family members,” he said finally.

“If I can help be a guide through a really rough time

and answer questions and just provide support, it’s a great

feeling. And, yeah, it’s a difficult time and sometimes we’re

there at the time that our patients die. But just to provide

the support for the family members is very rewarding.”

Hours after Gwen told Angelus News she was “leaving it

in God’s hands,” Ronald passed away at home, his wife of

more than four decades by his side. Though she knew the

end was near, she had nothing but gratitude for the hospice


“They are like guardian angels,” she said. “Without them,

this would be unbearable.”

R.W. Dellinger is the features editor of Angelus.

16 • ANGELUS • July 19-26, 2019

July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 17

Knights of Columbus coordinate the letter-signing campaign at Holy Angels Church in Arcadia on Sunday, June 16. Parishioners signed more than

700 letters.


A grassroots victory

How ordinary Catholics defeated State Bill 360


In a last-minute twist, a California

bill that would have required

priests to break the sacramental

seal of confession was shelved by

its sponsor amid a remarkable grassroots

campaign mounted by the state’s

Catholics, members of other faith

groups, and religious liberty advocates

from across the country.

Senate Bill 360 was withdrawn the

day before a scheduled July 9 hearing

in the California Assembly Public

Safety Committee, effectively removing

it from any further consideration

this year.

“SB 360 was a dangerous piece of

legislation,” said Los Angeles Archbishop

José H. Gomez, who had led

the California bishops in opposing the


“If any legislature can force believers

to reveal their innermost thoughts

and feelings shared with God in

confession, then truly there is no area

of human life that is free or safe from

government,” he added.

The bill’s author, Sen. Jerry Hill

(D-San Mateo), decided to shelve

his bill after learning that it did not

have enough votes to pass out of the


Hill’s decision came on the same day

that the committee released a staff

18 • ANGELUS • July 19-26, 2019

eport raising serious First Amendment

and enforceability concerns

about the proposed law, while noting

that no other state had taken such an

approach to the sacrament.

In its original form, SB 360 would

have ordered priests to disclose any

information they might hear in confession

concerning the sexual abuse of


An amended version of the

bill — which would deny confidential

confessions to priests

and Church personnel who

work with priests — passed the

California Senate in a 30-2

vote on May 24.

Archbishop Gomez had

previously called the proposed

legislation “a mortal threat to

the religious freedom of every

Catholic” in a May 17 column

for Angelus, and was joined by

the rest of the state’s Catholic

bishops in asking faithful to

urge their state representatives

to oppose the bill.

The committee analysis

noted that more than 125,000

people had expressed their

opposition to the bill to lawmakers.

But Catholic analysts

called that number low. The

#KeepTheSeal campaign

launched in the Archdiocese

of Los Angeles resulted in the

delivery of more than 140,000

letters to the State Capitol

building in Sacramento as

of July 8, the day before the

committee vote. Another

16,700 emails were sent to representatives

from concerned Catholics in Los


Archbishop Gomez had asked that a

letter be read in all parishes at every

Mass over the June 15-16 weekend.

“We cannot allow the government to

enter into our confessionals to dictate

the terms of our personal relationship

with Jesus,” the archbishop said in his

letter, calling on Catholics to speak

out against the bill.

The archdiocese also set up a

website,, as a hub

for faithful to write to their representatives

and learn more about the

sacrament of reconciliation.

Critics pointed out that no evidence

was presented in the legislature that

would suggest confession is being

used to conceal the sexual abuse of

minors. At the same time, growing

concerns about the legislation were

voiced by many Catholics around the

country, and by other faith leaders.

The steady drumroll of coverage

from national and Catholic media on

Thousands of signed #KeepTheSeal letters arrived in Sacramento

July 2. Volunteers personally delivered the letters to the offices of

Assembly members.

the debate prompted reactions from

Catholic voices ranging from veteran

Vatican journalist John L. Allen

Jr. (president of Crux, a partner of

Angelus) to the Catholic League’s Bill


Catholic radio got involved, too, with

Relevant Radio issuing local messages

about the #KeepTheSeal movement

on its California stations.

The publicity culminated July 1,

when the Vatican weighed in by issuing

a document from the head of the

Holy See’s highest court reaffirming

the importance and inviolability of

the confessional seal.

In the days leading up to the com-

mittee vote, opposition to the bill

intensified as hundreds of Catholics

around the state made plans to travel

to Sacramento to attend the July 9

committee hearing.

On July 2, James Sonne, director of

Stanford University’s Religious Liberty

Clinic, wrote to committee Chairman

Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer in

opposition to the bill, which he called

“constitutionally problematic

because it singles out religious

exercise for disfavorable treatment.”

“While I applaud its professed

goal of protecting children and

weep in anger at any violence

by those in authority, SB 360

violates the core commitment

of our state and nation to free

religious exercise — particularly

for minority or unpopular

faiths at times of crisis,” Sonne


“I ask the committee to heed

the adage that ‘bad facts make

bad law,’ despite how justified

a law might seem at the time.”

On July 8, a statement signed

by Muslim, Orthodox, Lutheran,

Anglican, and Baptist faith


leaders, as well as representatives

from Eastern Catholic

Rites and historic Black

churches was delivered to

committee members declaring

that “we are all one with

American Roman Catholics in

condemning the attack on religious

freedom that the current

version of California Senate

Bill 360 represents.”

“Destroying the inviolability of

confession would cause grave damage

to the American system of religious

freedom,” the faith leaders wrote in a

strongly worded letter.

“When the government attempts

to interfere with the millennia old

teachings of a church, all of us are

greatly concerned. Such a disregard

for the beliefs of one community of

faith puts all of us at risk. Today it is

the Catholics. Tomorrow it could be

another Christian community, Jews,

or Muslims whose beliefs are targeted.”

Pablo Kay is the editor of Angelus.

July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 19

From left: Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia all turn 75 this

year, the official retirement age for Catholic bishops.

A chance to shuffle

the episcopal deck

The flurry of US bishops reaching retirement age

this year adds to Pope Francis’ long 2019 to-do list


ROME — Although nobody

much noted it, last month

marked the 53rd anniversary

of one of the most consequential

papal edicts of the past

century: the apostolic letter “Ecclesiae

Sanctae” ([“Governing] of the Holy

Church”), issued by St. Pope Paul VI

in June 1966, which, among other

things, established a retirement age

of 75 for Catholic bishops around the


Despite the mythology that Catholicism

is a tightly controlled and rigidly

centralized monolith, the truth is that

the Church is actually one of the most

decentralized institutions on earth,

leaving the vast majority of decisions

about how to apply and enforce

Catholic teaching in the hands of its

middle managers, meaning diocesan


As a result, nothing any pope ever

does is as critical to shaping culture

in the Church as the bishops he


With a mandatory retirement age,

Paul VI ensured that he and future

popes would have regular opportunities

to shuffle the deck. Popes don’t

have to accept a bishop’s resignation

at 75, but Paul VI’s decision and

subsequent amendments to canon

law have ensured that the choice is

entirely in the pontiff’s hands.

That episcopal deck may be in for

a new shuffle in coming months, as

several tone-setting prelates will either

hit 75 or continue to sit uncertainly

beyond it.

In the U.S., this June alone saw four

bishops hit the magic age: Cardinal

Sean O’Malley of Boston, Archbishop

Robert Carlson of St. Louis, Bishop

Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, and

Edward Braxton of Belleville, Illinois.

In O’Malley’s case, at least, the fact

that the calendar has turned will likely

have little immediate impact, since

he’s both the head of the Vatican’s

Pontifical Commission for the Protec-

20 • ANGELUS • July 19-26, 2019

tion of Minors and a member of the

pope’s council of cardinal advisers.

The commission is helping oversee

implementation of Francis’ new rules

on clerical abuse, while the council is

nearing the finish line on an overhaul

of the Roman curia.

Until the pope is satisfied that both

of those projects are more or less

nailed down, it’s probable O’Malley

will remain in the saddle.

The four Americans who just turned

75 join 11 brother U.S. bishops still

in office despite being beyond the age

limit, a list headed by Cardinal Edwin

O’Brien, serving as the grand master

of the Equestrian Order of the Holy

Sepulchre despite finding himself at

the age of 80.

After that, the next-oldest active

American prelates are Bishop Richard

Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, and Archbishop

Gus Di Noia in the Vatican’s

Congregation for the Doctrine of the

Faith, both of whom are 76.

In September, another notable

American prelate will hit 75 and

dispatch his resignation letter to

Francis: Archbishop Charles Chaput

of Philadelphia, who, since his first

appointment to Rapid City, South

Dakota, in 1988, has loomed as a key

point of reference for the Church’s

conservative wing.

Elsewhere, the situation is similar.

In Italy, for instance, the current

president of the ultra-powerful Italian

bishops’ conference, Cardinal Gualtiero

Bassetti of Perugia, is already 77.

His predecessor in that job, Cardinal

Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, is 76,

and in October, Archbishop Cesare

Nosiglia of Turin will also turn 75.

In the Vatican, there are seven heads

of departments over 75, meaning

their resignations are on Francis’

desk: Cardinal Marc Ouellet at the

Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal

Luis Ladaria at the Congregation for

the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal

Giuseppe Versaldi at the Congregation

for Catholic Education, Cardinal

Beniamino Stella at the Congregation

for Clergy, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri

at the Congregation for Eastern

Churches, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri

at the Synod of Bishops, and

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi at the

Pontifical Council for Culture.

In addition, the Secretariat for the

Economy is vacant as Australian

Cardinal George Pell is over 75 and

currently in jail awaiting the results of

his appeal following a criminal conviction

for “historic sexual offenses.”

Collectively, what all this means is

that the second half of 2019 could

prove to be a turning point in Francis’

efforts to translate his vision for the

Church, usually expressed in soundbite

fashion as a drive for “pastoral

conversion,” into day-to-day reality,

both in Rome and in the pastoral

trenches around the world.

In the U.S., the man in charge of

helping the pope fill bishops’ slots

is French Archbishop Christophe

Pierre, the nuncio, or papal ambassador.

At least in theory, the nuncio

is the key figure in making bishops’

appointments, surveying dioceses,

and proposing what’s known as a

“terna,” or a list of three names, to the

Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops,

which in turn submits its own “terna”

to the pope.

In reality, Francis occasionally

ignores those “terna” when it comes

to the most important spots, as he did

in the U.S. in 2014 when he named

Blase Cupich as the new archbishop

of Chicago.

In the little over two years he’s been

on the job, however, Pierre has carved

out a reputation as very much Francis’

man, and in the upcoming American

moves, perhaps beginning in Philadelphia,

Pierre’s counsel may well prove


If nothing else, that ought to make

Tuesdays at 6 a.m. Eastern Standard

Time more interesting this

fall, because by tradition American

appointments are often announced on

Tuesdays, and 6 a.m. (noon in Rome)

is when the Vatican news bulletin

containing those announcements is

released each day.

In other words, Tuesdays in 2019 will

be “must-see TV” … so, as the saying

goes, stay tuned.

John L. Allen Jr. is the editor of Crux.

Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Christophe Pierre (left) plays a key role in the process of replacing retired bishops in the U.S. Two of the highest ranking

Vatican officials, Cardinal Marc Ouellet (center) and Cardinal Luis Ladaria (right), are both already 75.


July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 21

St. Jude,

pray for us

The patron of

impossible causes is

a reminder that God

is always near



St. Jude, the patron of lost causes.

When I was growing up,

my maternal grandmother

was one of my

best friends. Nana and

I were close, not just in spirit, but in

proximity. I lived for most of my early

life just a few doors away, and I visited

her almost every day, sometimes for

breakfast and sometimes for a snack of

soda and pretzels after school.

Back in those days, my parents didn’t

always get along, so I would often do

my homework at Nana’s house. It

was a respite from all the arguing that

often punctuated the days and nights

at my own home.

As I sat in my grandmother’s tiny

kitchen working through my math,

I’d take breaks and listen to her tell

stories about growing up in Brooklyn

during the Depression. Her family was

poor, but they had fun with the little

they had, she would always say. Once

in a while, she would help me forget

my troubles by dancing a bar or two of

an Irish jig.

I continued making my daily

pilgrimage to Nana’s house as I grew

older, throughout high school and

college, and even after I started my

New York City career in publishing. I

22 • ANGELUS • July 19-26, 2019

stayed local, and while I never really

thought about it until just now, I may

have never gone too far from home

because I always wanted to be near


One evening after work, I was walking

from the train station to Nana’s. As

I crossed the street, I heard her calling

out to me in a panic. She was leaning

out her living room window, her face

contorted in grief. “Grace has been

calling you. Her father had a heart

attack and died. Go to her, Gary. Go

to her!”

Grace was my girlfriend at the

time (and would become my wife a

couple of years later). I was in shock.

I reached into my pocket and pulled

out my cellphone. Earlier, I had

switched the ringer to silent mode

and had forgotten to turn it back on

(this was back in the day, before we

had become addicted to checking our

phones every few minutes).

Ten messages flashed on the screen.

I raced to my car, and as I did, I could

hear my grandmother calling out to

me, “Go to Grace! Pray for Grace!”

Fumbling with my keys, I cranked

the ignition and pulled away. My

heart seemed to dislodge from my

chest — broke in two — and began

pounding in my temple. I sped toward

Grace’s home, blowing through traffic

lights, flipping through my phone and

listening to her messages.

She was crying, and it was often

difficult to understand her. But I was

able to make out how her father had

felt ill at work, how her mom and

brother took him to the hospital, how

Grace stayed behind to make soup for

when he got home, and how he had

died in the hospital as doctors tried to

resuscitate him. She never got to say

goodbye to him.

As I drove, I remembered that

Grace’s father’s favorite saint was Jude.

I started praying to the patron saint of

lost causes for help. “St. Jude, please

make this all a big mistake. Please

save him. Please, St. Jude. Help.”

When I arrived at Grace’s house,

Prayer to St. Jude

Most holy apostle, St. Jude, faithful

servant and friend of Jesus,

the Church honors and invokes

you universally as the patron of

hope. Please intercede on my

behalf. Make use of that particular

privilege given to you to bring

hope, comfort, and help where

they are needed most. Come to

my assistance in this great need

that I may receive the consolation

and help of heaven as I work with

my challenges, particularly [here,

make your request]. I praise God

with you and all the saints forever.

I promise, blessed St. Jude,

to be ever mindful of this great

favor, to always honor you as my

special and powerful patron, and

to gratefully encourage devotion

to you. Amen.

I was still holding out hope that

the news was wrong. But when she

opened the door, I stepped into the

living room and saw everyone in her

immediate family in tableau, a living

portrait of shock and grief.

In a split second, it became evident

that my prayer to Jude had not been


Jude, also known as Thaddeus,

was one of the 12 original apostles.

He doesn’t get much face time in

the New Testament (he asks Jesus a

question in the Gospel of John: “Lord,

how is it that you will reveal yourself

to us, and not to the world?” and there

is a letter attributed to him known as

the Epistle of Jude).

Nonetheless, he has become the

patron saint of desperate situations.

Jude is often depicted with a flame,

signifying the sacred fire of the Holy

Spirit, over his head. He carries an image

of Jesus over his heart, and in his

left hand he carries a staff as a symbol

of his martyrdom.

What happened to Grace’s father,

Bert, was way beyond a hopeless

cause. There was seemingly no

possibility for a miracle, but we were

all still hoping for one, praying this

was all a big joke and he would walk

through the door and shout, “Surprise!”

That never happened, but the

anticipation was so very real. Though

we didn’t know it at the time, Grace’s

family and I were experiencing the

first and second stages of grief: denial

mixed with anger. This can’t be happening.

How could God allow this?

Where was Jesus in all of this?

Of course, I have no answers to

those questions. But in the days that

followed, while God often seemed

far away, Jude seemed to be close at

hand, watching over Grace’s family,

offering all of us not miracles, but

consolation and strength precisely

when we were at our lowest.

This came through random acts of

kindness from strangers, flashes of

peace, inspiration from Jude prayer

cards given to the family by neighbors,

and certain odd occurrences. One

possible moment that seemed to be

divinely inspired happened on the day

of the funeral.

The family had been sitting around

the dinner table, talking about the

church service earlier in the day. At

one point, the conversation invariably

turned to Jude. Grace’s father’s beeper

— more common than cellphones in

1997 — went off.

Grace’s brother checked the pager to

see who was calling, and the number

on the device indicated the call was

coming from their house. Eerily, no

one there was near a phone.

To this day none of us know what

happened, but we like to think

Grace’s father and Jude were reaching

out to remind us: “Even in hopeless

cases, do not fear, for I am always with


Gary Jansen is the author of “Micro-

Shifts: Transform Your Life One Step

at a Time” (Loyola Press, $12).

July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 23



A quiver of gladness

Dr. Christie with her adopted

daughter Luli, then 4 years old.


When I traveled to China

to adopt our fifth child,

I was part of a group

of a dozen families, all

adopting from the same orphanage.

We spent almost three weeks together,

sharing what may be the most moving

experience of a lifetime.

I was the odd one in the group, as I

was adding a fifth child to our family.

The other families were all very small

— just couples, in fact — who were

going to China to become parents

after biology had failed them.

If receiving my fat-cheeked little

one was bliss for me, I can’t begin to

understand what it was like for these

good people who had been aching for

a child for many years.

I learned many things on that adoption

trip, but one thing that has stayed

with me vividly is the pain of infertility.

Some of the couples had been

married and “trying” to have a baby

for 10 years, some even more.

The women described to me the disappointment

they experienced every

single month, recurrent grief surpassed

only when short pregnancies ended in

miscarriage. They told me about their

sense of failure, and how they felt set

apart from “normal” couples whose

families seemed to grow effortlessly

around them through the magic of


One new friend spoke to me about

her great hunger for a child, a

spiritual longing which was so strong

that it felt physical, like the need for

food after a long fast.

Of course, all of them talked about

prayer, and how this adoption was

clear proof that there was a God and

that he loved them.

It made me think that, unlike the

craving for material goods, the desire

for children has a sacred quality about

it, and drives the infertile straight to

the mercy of God. The one who prays

for a child is the creature longing for

the best of gifts from the Creator, a

gift that is at the same time an everyday

occurrence and a miracle.

Its miraculous character is best revealed

when it is inexplicably absent,

the same way we would quickly stop

taking the sun for granted if it failed to

rise after a long night.

The Bible, the best chronicler of the

human condition, is full of the pathos of

24 • ANGELUS • July 19-26, 2019

infertility and decades of prayers finally

answered: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac

and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, and

Elisabeth and Zachariah, to name a few.

Those biblical stories of near despair

are set in a culture that revels in life

and rejoices when it is abundant.

“Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by

the sides of thine house; thy children

like olive plants round about thy table”

(Psalm 128:3), the psalmist sings.

The image is that of a garden so lovingly

guarded, so gently treated, that

the vines and trees are heavy with the

fruits that bring joy.

Or, if you prefer a more martial and

vigorous metaphor: “Like arrows in

the hand of a warrior, so are the children

of one’s youth. How blessed is

the man whose quiver is full of them”

(Psalm 127:4). The image is that of

sons and daughters as defense for their

families against the hard realities of

this world — against loneliness and

illness, displacement and violence.

Human nature remains the same,

thousands of years later. Deep inside

each of us is a built-in desire for the

happiness and safety children bring,

for the way they connect us intimately

to the human family, and for the

satisfaction of knowing the future will

be enlivened by our descendants.

But modern culture drives a deep

wedge between each of us and

the possibility of a “quiver-full” of

children. For those who marry while

young and fertile, a large family can

be a practical near impossibility.

There is little societal allowance for

more than two children, what with

the costs of housing and education,

and what is felt as the absolute need

for two incomes.

Another wedge is the way marriage,

defined as the permanent and faithful

union of one man and one woman, is

disappearing in the rearview mirror.

People are marrying later and later, if

at all, and demographic trends show

childbearing in free-fall, as infertility

(both biological and social) rises


And behind each point in the statistical

analysis are people living with the

ache for more children, or even just

one child.

During my time in China I was fortunate

to watch years of wanting and

hoping come to glorious conclusion

for my travel companions.

At the social welfare institute where

the toddlers were handed to their

new mothers and fathers, decades of

prayers were answered in the shape of

daughters, mostly, who held in their

little hands whole futures of happiness

for their weeping parents.

I was almost as happy, I think,

because God was putting another

straight and shining arrow in my

quiver, and I knew just how much

gladness was in store for me.

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie grew up in

Guadalajara, Mexico, coming to the

U.S. at the age of 11. She has written

for USA TODAY, National Review,

The Washington Post, and The New

York Times, and has appeared on

CNN, Telemundo, Fox News, and

EWTN. She practices radiology in the

Miami area, where she lives with her

husband and five children.

July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 25

Pain and hope

in ‘Chernobyl’

HBO’s new miniseries takes an intense look at the

human side of a catastrophic nuclear disaster


Imagine a power plant with revolutionary

technology, run by an

oppressive government hoping to

leverage its energy to strengthen

its power. But one day, something

goes wrong: A mysterious explosion

shakes the entire facility and surrounding

town, a poisonous substance

fills the air, and those contaminated

endure burns that eat away at their


It’s a plotline straight out of a science

fiction tale, but unfortunately describes

a historical event from not so

long ago. The story of Chernobyl, the

Soviet nuclear power plant where a

reactor exploded on April 26, 1986,

has fascinated HBO audiences since

its release in early May.

The five-episode miniseries, written

by Craig Mazin and directed by

Johan Renck, has all the elements of

a gripping drama: disaster, tragedy,

power-hungry rulers, and underdogs

fighting for justice.

Of course, many fictional narratives

could produce the same elements, but

what makes “Chernobyl” all the more

chilling is that its story is true. At least

for U.S. audiences, the series sheds

A view of the destroyed Chernobyl nuclear power plant.


26 • ANGELUS • July 19-26, 2019

light on the underreported gravity of

this disaster, which released at least 40

times more radiation than the atomic

bomb on Hiroshima.

Ultimately, the film series succeeds

not just because of its shock factor,

its historical accuracy, or its ability

to present nuclear physical realities

in a straightforward way. Rather, the

appeal of “Chernobyl” rests upon the

fact that, extraterrestrial as it might

seem, it is an intensely human story.

The scientific intricacies, political

corruption, and societal effects of the

Chernobyl incident would be enough

to make for a fascinating documentary.

But this miniseries offers far more

than a history lesson by crafting characters

whose lives and struggles create

a compelling story.

We follow a firefighter (Adam

Nagaitis) who rushes to the scene the

night of the explosion, unaware of

the deadly radiation that has imbued

the air and debris. We accompany his

wife (Jessie Buckley), who frantically

searches for him in the hospital and

pushes past nurses to be at his bedside,

defying all safety warnings.

We encounter Valery Legasov (Jared

Harris), the chemist who recognizes

the lethal and immense damage

brought on by the explosion, and we

sense his desperation in the shadow of

the KGB (the former Russian secret

police and intelligence agency), and

Soviet officials, who try to downplay

the seriousness of the event.

Thanks to stellar acting performances

across the board, these characters

sustain the personal nature of the

story throughout the series, from the

frightening first episode that plunges

audiences into the power plant on that

fateful night, to the sobering testimonies

at the trial in the final episode.

“Chernobyl” compels viewers to accompany

these characters, to feel their

fear, uncertainty, loss, and eagerness

to set things right. It is this sense of

accompaniment which demonstrates

that even through film, a dramatic

and painful event can bind humans


There are many moments in the series

that are gruesome and disturbing,

but the unfiltered depictions never

cross over to the perverted obsession

with pain and suffering seen in other

A scene from HBO’s “Chernobyl.”


The characters suffer intensely, but do

so with particular dispositions, relationships,

and aspirations. Their complicated

stories make their suffering more

personal and more real, and therefore

compel the viewer to ponder it.

As we all know, suffering is hard to

experience and to witness, especially

when it is fueled by injustice, and

“Chernobyl” does not imply otherwise.

But somehow, suffering leaves

an indelible mark on the human personality

that, even if remedied, cannot

(and perhaps should not) be forgotten.

After all, human communities often

make it a point to recall painful events

of the past. Jews celebrate Passover,

Christians honor Good Friday, and

governments build museums commemorating

events like the Holocaust.

We inherit and pass on these memorials

as a resolution to never repeat

the evils that caused the suffering, but

also as a way to revere the people who

suffered. And sometimes, strangely

enough, the best way to revere them

is to share in their experience to the

extent that we can.

We tell the stories, we contemplate

poignant images of them, and we

write poems and plays to express how

they have touched us. Through our

attempts to taste that pain with those

who have gone before us, our tributes

become a participation and an intimate


That’s why watching a historical

drama like “Chernobyl” can be both

an intensely difficult and profoundly

contemplative experience. Viewers

come face-to-face with human weaknesses

not unfamiliar to many (fear,

pride, cowardice, deceit) but taken to

extremes, and witness the terrible consequences.

That experience provokes

pity and eagerness to make amends.

Offering a snapshot of suffering that

finds ways to point to hope, “Chernobyl”

delivers an unsettling but necessary

message. It might not be enjoyable

to watch, but it allows audiences

to not just observe human pain but to

ponder it, absorb it, and hopefully,

combat the evils that inflict it.

Sophia Buono is a Catholic writer

living in Arlington, Virginia.


July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 27



The Capitol letter of the law

Why the power of prayer

— and Dominican

hospitality — are a

welcome relief in a city

built on the trappings

of politics

Because I travel so often for

work, I rarely if ever take a

“vacation.” But recently I

spent a week in Washington,

D.C. — first-time visit — and loved it.

It helped that I had enough United

Airline miles for a free ticket, and a

cheapish place to stay: St. Dominic’s

Priory (not to be confused with the

Dominican House of Studies, which


The Friars’ Chapel at St. Dominic’s Priory in Washington D.C.

28 • ANGELUS • July 19-26, 2019

is across from the National Shrine).

Generally, in order to score a room

there you have to be a priest, or the

mother of a priest, or to occupy some

similarly exalted position. My in was

that I write for Magnificat magazine,

thereby proving that even the lowly

job of Catholic writer does have its

perks. Not only that, the good fathers

gave me the bishops suite!

I don’t care about any of the government

stuff, I’d told myself in advance.

Probably be a bunch of stuffed-shirt

functionaries in black SUVS.

Similarly, I’d heard the phrase

“Washington Mall,” and without even

bothering to, say, look at a photo,

figured a mall of any kind was a place

to avoid.

My first night I strolled in that

direction and, looking down Independence

Avenue, caught a glimpse

of the Smithsonian Castle. After going

over to investigate, I was struck dumb

not only by the building but by the

gorgeous surrounding gardens where

I spent every spare moment for the

remainder of my stay.

The next day I discovered, like

millions before me, that the mall is

a splendidly landscaped, miles-long

public space featuring memorial

parks, gardens, ponds, stately old

buildings, and a Tidal Basin.

I even found my heart swelling

with fellow feeling at the sight of the

Washington Monument, the Lincoln

Memorial, and the famous Reflecting


I went from contempt prior to investigation

to being overwhelmed by the

beauty, the scale, and the abundance

of free museums.

Saturday night my friend Laura,

a D.C. native, offered to drive me

back from dinner in her Pennsylvania

suburb. “Do you want to see Capitol

Hill?” she asked. “It’s really kind of

nice.” “Um — OK,” I thought, thinking

to humor her.

Well, Capitol Hill, in case you don’t

know, is beyond charming! Dear old

row houses, cobblestoned streets,

pocket parks. Also, and this was

citywide, there were tons of Catholic

churches. Laura pointed out St. Peter’s,

where she sings in the choir.

She even took me by the back of

the White House, which from that

angle and at that hour — late dusk —

looked like a prison.

Over the course of the week I visited

the National Museum of African Art,

the Sackler Gallery, the Hirshhorn,

and the U.S. Botanical Gardens. I

made a field trip to Tudor Place and

Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, and

all I can say is that if anyone has a

spare “pied-à-terre” (second home) in

that neck of the woods, please do let

me know.

But as the days flew by, what really

anchored me to D.C. were the

Dominicans. What with the attached

graceful parish church, the surrounding

lawn, and the hydrangea borders,

it took me a while to realize that the

priory is bordered by a freeway, the

HUD Building, and the Constitution


Here, smack in the midst of “the

world” lies another world: men who

gather in the chapel each morning at

7:30 to sing Morning Prayer, followed

by Mass, who say the Office of Readings

and Evening Prayer at 5 p.m.,

then assemble outside the refectory

before dinner to pray the “De Profundis”

for their brothers, by name, who

have died on that day through the


Priests who study, give spiritual

direction, offer parish missions, go

out each morning as chaplains to area


These men could not have been

more unobtrusively welcoming, hospitable,

and warm.

One morning, an umbrella was

anonymously left hanging on my

doorknob. The next, a priest whose

name I didn’t catch dropped off a flyer

for the DC Circulator, a local bus. Father

Jacob Restrick, the prior, took the

better part of a day off from his myriad

duties and personally squired me to

the Basilica of the National Shrine

of the Immaculate Conception, the

Dominican House of Studies, and the

Saint John Paul II National Shrine.

And back home in LA, with all the

splendor of D.C., it’s a Mass offered

the night I arrived by Father Leo in

one of the side chapels that lingers

in memory. A priest, with a hundred

other things to do and a thousand

other people to serve, offered this

precious gift to a visitor, a stranger.

Me, bedraggled after a day of flying,

awkwardly genuflecting before the

altar: a congregation of one.

A mile away lay the code to weapons

powerful enough to destroy entire

cities, a Congress whose decisions

reverberate globally, and the Supreme

Court of the richest and mightiest

nation the world has ever known.

Here in a tucked-away chapel, unseen,

unremarked upon, two gathered

in his name and knelt before all truth,

all love, all power.

“Amen, I say to you,” the Gospel ran

that day, “until heaven and earth pass

away, not the smallest letter or the

smallest part of a letter will pass from

the law, until all things have taken


Heather King is a blogger, speaker and the author of several books.

July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 29

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