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
ON THE COVER
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 AngelusNews.com/
July 19-26, 2019 | Vol.4 • No.26
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(213) 637-7360 • FAX (213) 637-6360 — Published
by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles
by The Tidings (a corporation), established 1895.
ARCHBISHOP JOSÉ H. GOMEZ
Vice Chancellor for Communications
RICHARD G. BEEMER
ANGELUS is published weekly except at
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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 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
“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
2 • ANGELUS • July 19-26, 2019
BY ARCHBISHOP JOSÉ H. GOMEZ
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
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 www.angelusnews.com.
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
the University of
Basel in Switzerland
believe a papyrus
in their collection
since 1899 is the
existing letter by a
able to date the
piece of Egyptian
papyrus back to
A.D. 230. The
letter is from
a man named
to his brother,
on family matters
and asking for the
best fish sauce as a
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.
UNIVERSITY OF BASEL
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
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
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
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE/JENNIFER WILLEMS, THE CATHOLIC POST
The Engstroms with Peoria Bishop Daniel
R. Jenky in 2011.
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
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.”
‘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
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
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
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
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE/GREGORY SHEMITZ
July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 5
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, 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
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.
ARCHDIOCESE OF SAN FRANCISCO
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
firstname.lastname@example.org; 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 email@example.com.
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 cathedralgiftshop.com,
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org,
or visit scrc.org.
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 email@example.com.
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
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 opusangelorum.org.
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 https://materdolorosa.org/anevening-with-aine-minogue/,
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 https://materdolorosa.org/anevening-with-marty-brounstein/,
call Jeanne Warlick
at 626-355-7188, ext. 103, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Week at AngelusNews.com
Visit AngelusNews.com 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
BY SCOTT HAHN
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
guests once visited
Abraham’s tent, as
Jesus once entered
the home of Mary
By his hospitality
in today’s First
shows us how we
are to welcome the
Lord into our lives.
His selfless service
of his divine
guests (see Hebrews
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
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
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
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, stpaulcenter.com.
8 • ANGELUS • July 19-26, 2019
BY FATHER RONALD ROLHEISER, OMI
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
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
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, www.ronrolheiser.com.
July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 9
Christianity’s healthiest idea
The untold story of how
the Church invented
the hospital — and
care in the process
BY MIKE AQUILINA / ANGELUS
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
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.
METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
BY R.W. DELLINGER / ANGELUS
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
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,
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
A grassroots victory
How ordinary Catholics defeated State Bill 360
BY PABLO KAY / ANGELUS
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
“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
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, KeepTheSeal.com, 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
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
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
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
CALIFORNIA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE
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
BY JOHN L. ALLEN JR. / ANGELUS
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
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
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
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.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 21
pray for us
The patron of
impossible causes is
a reminder that God
is always near
BY GARY JANSEN / ANGELUS
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
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
BY DR. GRAZIE POZO CHRISTIE
A quiver of gladness
Dr. Christie with her adopted
daughter Luli, then 4 years old.
DR. GRAZIE CHRISTIE
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
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
HBO’s new miniseries takes an intense look at the
human side of a catastrophic nuclear disaster
BY SOPHIA BUONO / ANGELUS
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.
© HOME BOX OFFICE, INC.
July 19-26, 2019 • ANGELUS • 27
BY HEATHER KING
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
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
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
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,
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