Angelus News | October 2-9, 2020 | Vol. 5 No. 25

A statue of the Virgin Mary in the cemetery area of St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo stands as the Bobcat Fire burns in the nearby San Gabriel Mountains Sept. 16. Starting on Page 10, local Catholics — including the monks at St. Andrew’s — share how the same fires that threatened their homes have helped strengthen their faith.

A statue of the Virgin Mary in the cemetery area of St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo stands as the Bobcat Fire burns in the nearby San Gabriel Mountains Sept. 16. Starting on Page 10, local Catholics — including the monks at St. Andrew’s — share how the same fires that threatened their homes have helped strengthen their faith.


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TRIED BY<br />

FIRE<br />

<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>. 5 <strong>No</strong>. <strong>25</strong>

Contents<br />

Pope Watch 2<br />

Archbishop Gomez 3<br />

World, Nation, and Local <strong>News</strong> 4-7<br />

Scott Hahn on Scripture 8<br />

Father Rolheiser 9<br />

The extraordinary ‘second life’ of Father Adrian San Juan 14<br />

What’s next after the fall of a powerful Vatican cardinal? 18<br />

Mike Aquilina on the importance of coming back to the Eucharist 20<br />

A Catholic (and historical) defense of Christopher Columbus 24<br />

Dr. Grazie Christie: A tale of Chinese adoption and God’s providence 26<br />

How a journalist uncovered a dangerous piece of biblical fraud 30<br />

Heather King on Catholicism and conformism 32<br />


A statue of the Virgin Mary in the cemetery area of St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo<br />

stands as the Bobcat Fire burns in the nearby San Gabriel Mountains Sept. 16. Starting<br />

on Page 10, local Catholics — including the monks at St. Andrew’s — share how the<br />

same fires that threatened their homes have helped strengthen their faith.<br />


IMAGE:<br />

“Don Antonio” is usually one of several pilgrims who make a 60-mile walking<br />

pilgrimage from Orange County to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels ahead<br />

of the annual Mass in Recognition of All Immigrants. Due to the coronavirus<br />

(COVID-19) pandemic, he did it alone this year, and was welcomed into the<br />

cathedral by Archbishop José H. Gomez before the start of this year’s livestreamed<br />

Mass Sept. 20.<br />




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<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong><br />

<strong>Vol</strong>. 5 • <strong>No</strong>. <strong>25</strong><br />

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2 • ANGELUS • <strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong><br />

Love and clarity<br />

With the legalization of assisted suicide<br />

and euthanasia in many countries,<br />

and questions concerning what is<br />

morally permissible regarding end-oflife<br />

care, the Vatican’s doctrinal office<br />

released a <strong>25</strong>-page letter offering “a<br />

moral and practical clarification” on<br />

the care of vulnerable patients.<br />

“The Church is convinced of the necessity<br />

to reaffirm as definitive teaching<br />

that euthanasia is a crime against<br />

human life because, in this act, one<br />

chooses directly to cause the death of<br />

another innocent human being,” the<br />

document said.<br />

Titled, “ ‘Samaritanus bonus,’ on the<br />

Care of Persons in the Critical and<br />

Terminal Phases of Life,” the letter<br />

by the Congregation for the Doctrine<br />

of the Faith was approved by Pope<br />

Francis in June, and released to the<br />

public Sept. 22.<br />

A new “systematic pronouncement<br />

by the Holy See” was deemed necessary<br />

given a growing global trend<br />

in legalizing euthanasia and assisted<br />

suicide, and changing attitudes and<br />

rules that harm the dignity of vulnerable<br />

patients, Cardinal Luis Ladaria,<br />

congregation prefect, said at a Vatican<br />

news conference Sept. 22.<br />

It was also necessary to reaffirm<br />

Church teaching regarding the administration<br />

of the sacraments to and<br />

pastoral care of patients who expressly<br />

request a medical end to their life, he<br />

said.<br />

“In order to receive absolution in<br />

the sacrament of penance, as well as<br />

with the anointing of the sick and the<br />

viaticum,” he said, the patients must<br />

demonstrate their intention to reverse<br />

their decision to end their lives and<br />

to cancel their registration with any<br />

group appointed to grant their desire<br />

for euthanasia or assisted suicide.<br />

In the letter’s section on “Pastoral<br />

discernment toward those who request<br />

euthanasia or assisted suicide,” it said<br />

a “priest could administer the sacraments<br />

to an unconscious person ‘sub<br />

condicione’ [‘conditionally’] if, on<br />

the basis of some signal given by the<br />

patient beforehand, he can presume<br />

his or her repentance.”<br />

The Church’s ministers can still<br />

accompany patients who have made<br />

these end-of-life directives, it added,<br />

by showing “a willingness to listen and<br />

to help, together with a deeper explanation<br />

of the nature of the sacrament,<br />

in order to provide the opportunity to<br />

desire and choose the sacrament up to<br />

the last moment.”<br />

The letter reaffirmed that euthanasia<br />

is “an act of homicide that no end can<br />

justify and that does not tolerate any<br />

form of complicity or active or passive<br />

collaboration.”<br />

For that reason, “those who approve<br />

laws of euthanasia and assisted suicide,<br />

therefore, become accomplices<br />

of a grave sin that others will execute.<br />

They are also guilty of scandal because<br />

by such laws they contribute to the<br />

distortion of conscience, even among<br />

the faithful.”<br />

The letter also underlined a patient’s<br />

right to decline aggressive medical<br />

treatment and “die with the greatest<br />

possible serenity and with one’s proper<br />

human and Christian dignity intact”<br />

when approaching the natural end of<br />

life. <br />

Reporting courtesy of Catholic <strong>News</strong><br />

Service Rome correspondent Carol<br />

Glatz.<br />

Papal Prayer Intention for <strong>October</strong>: We pray that by the virtue of baptism, the laity,<br />

especially women, may participate more in areas of responsibility in the Church.


OF FAITH<br />


A rosary for America<br />

At the cathedral where I live, often I<br />

stop to pray at the outdoor chapel to<br />

Our Lady of Guadalupe, which overlooks<br />

the US 101 freeway.<br />

As I pray to Our Lady and look out<br />

on the cars moving by below, my mind<br />

goes to St. Junípero Serra and the<br />

missionaries. Three centuries ago they<br />

walked this same path, devoted to Our<br />

Lady, and bringing the faith to people<br />

up and down the California coast.<br />

These days, I’ve been praying and<br />

thinking a lot about Our Lady of<br />

Guadalupe.<br />

She was sent by God to the people of<br />

Mexico at a time of great uncertainty<br />

and political unrest. Plague and earthquakes<br />

were devastating the population,<br />

and there was violence and racial<br />

conflict, and widespread suffering and<br />

injustice.<br />

Into this historical and cultural<br />

moment, Our Lady came as a mother<br />

bearing a message of hope. “Let not<br />

your heart be disturbed,” she told St.<br />

Juan Diego.<br />

This has been Mary’s role in history,<br />

beginning in the first days of the<br />

Church when the mother of Jesus was<br />

at the center of the apostles’ community<br />

in Jerusalem.<br />

In a fine new book, “History’s<br />

Queen” (Ave Maria Press, $17),<br />

historian and <strong>Angelus</strong> contributing<br />

editor Mike Aquilina writes: “In every<br />

age, she is present, leaving her mark<br />

on the great events of the time. She is<br />

there because she is our mother — a<br />

mother to all Christians, and a mother<br />

to all humanity.”<br />

We are living in a moment in our<br />

culture when current events are delivered<br />

to our little screens immediately<br />

and without context. We are tempted<br />

in this moment to think that history<br />

is only a human project and to see it<br />

only through the lens of present-day<br />

values and priorities.<br />

To be a believer in this climate, we<br />

need to step back, see things in the<br />

light of our faith. God made heaven<br />

and earth and he is the ruler of<br />

nations and the Lord of history. There<br />

are not two “histories” that run side by<br />

side — the one the history of nations<br />

and the other the history of salvation.<br />

History is one because God is one.<br />

And history is a love story, the story<br />

of God calling his children to him<br />

through the cross and resurrection of<br />

Jesus Christ. We are promised that<br />

this world will be redeemed, that<br />

history is leading to what St. Peter<br />

called “new heavens and a new earth<br />

in which righteousness dwells.”<br />

As believers, we need to see beyond<br />

the chaos of current events and seek<br />

to find the will of God in the present<br />

moment. For this, Mary holds the key<br />

because it is through her that Jesus<br />

Christ entered into human history.<br />

And he is still at work, shaping the<br />

world’s course and direction.<br />

So, we need to keep getting closer to<br />

Mary, we need to enter more deeply<br />

into her way of seeing and her way of<br />

living. This is the secret of the saints.<br />

Everything that Mary does points us to<br />

her Son — to his commandments, to<br />

the mysteries of his life, to giving up<br />

our own will to follow him and share<br />

in his mission.<br />

In every age, Mary’s maternal care<br />

is an expression of God’s providence,<br />

his plan of love for history and for<br />

every soul. And in the troubles of this<br />

present moment, we need to entrust<br />

ourselves even more to her care.<br />

Earlier this year, I led my brother<br />

bishops in the United States Conference<br />

of Catholic Bishops in reconsecrating<br />

our great country to the<br />

Immaculate Heart of Mary.<br />

Next week, on Oct. 7, my brother<br />

bishops and I will again join in asking<br />

for Our Lady’s help, praying a virtual<br />

Rosary for America.<br />

There will be bishops participating<br />

from every part of the country, from<br />

north to south and east to west and<br />

places in between. Our hope is to<br />

unite Catholic people from across the<br />

country in a moment of prayer for<br />

our nation, at a time when there is so<br />

much unrest and uncertainty. For details<br />

on the event, please visit our website:<br />

lacatholics.org/rosary-for-america.<br />

As we seek our Blessed Mother’s<br />

intercession for our nation, I hope<br />

that we will also make this a moment<br />

to deepen our own commitments to<br />

Mary — to dedicate ourselves to her<br />

and to let her teach us how to offer<br />

our hearts to serve Christ and his<br />

beautiful plan of salvation history. Let<br />

us live all for Jesus through the heart<br />

of Mary!<br />

Pray for me this week, and I will<br />

pray for you. And please tell everyone<br />

you know to join us in this Rosary for<br />

America!<br />

May our Blessed Mother intercede<br />

and guide us to see our lives and our<br />

world always through her loving gaze<br />

and the mysteries of her Son, Jesus<br />

Christ. <br />

To read more columns by Archbishop José H. Gomez or to subscribe, visit www.angelusnews.com.<br />

<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong> • ANGELUS • 3

WORLD<br />

St. Pope John Paul II’s former secretary<br />

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz gave the reliquary<br />

to Archbishop Renato Boccardo in 2016.<br />

Italy: Churches<br />

burglarized and<br />

desecrated<br />

September was not a good month for<br />

church security in Italy.<br />

On Sept. 22, a reliquary containing<br />

the blood of St. Pope John Paul II was<br />

stolen from Spoleto Cathedral, just<br />

weeks before it was set to be moved to<br />

another church in time for the saint’s<br />

Oct. 22 feast day.<br />

“It’s a serious act,” Archbishop<br />

Renato Boccardo of Spoleto stated<br />

Sept. 24. “Serious, naturally, because<br />

it wounds the sentiments and the<br />

devotion of many people.”<br />

Two days earlier, unidentified<br />

suspects broke into a church in<br />

Sicily, leaving statues damaged and<br />

eucharistic hosts strewn on the floor.<br />

Police have arrested two men and are<br />

pursuing another male and a female<br />

suspect.<br />

In the wake of the crimes, Archbishop<br />

Boccardo encouraged the faithful<br />

to pray to the revered pope.<br />

“I exhort the many devotees of St.<br />

John Paul II to continue to entrust<br />

themselves to him,” he said, “who is<br />

a powerful intercessor before the<br />

Lord.” <br />


The flags of the United States, Israel, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are projected on a section of the<br />

walls surrounding Jerusalem’s Old City Sept. 15.<br />

A patriarchal promise of peace for the Middle East?<br />

The patriarch Abraham is known as the father of the three major monotheistic<br />

faiths — Judaism, Islam, and Christianity — so it seemed fitting to make him the<br />

namesake of the recent Middle Eastern peace accord.<br />

Known as the “Abraham Accords,” the pact was signed Sept. 15 at the White<br />

House, where the president, vice president, and first lady welcomed Israel Prime<br />

Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah<br />

bin Zayed, and Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani.<br />

The accord formalizes relations between Israel and the UAE and confirms Bahrain’s<br />

formal recognition of the Jewish state.<br />

Bishop David Malloy, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International<br />

Justice and Peace, welcomed the agreement.<br />

“The [USCCB has] long held that both morally and as a basis for lasting peace,<br />

the two parties must negotiate directly and arrive at a fair compromise that respects<br />

the aspirations and needs of both peoples,” he stated Aug. 20. “As Catholic<br />

bishops, we join in this aspiration and know much work remains in the pursuit of<br />

peace in this region.” <br />


PUSHED TO THE BRINK — A displaced child from the Moria refugee camp looks over a<br />

fence inside a new temporary camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sept. 23. The Moria<br />

camp, which was mostly destroyed in fires Sept. 9, was home to at least 12,000 people, six<br />

times its maximum capacity of more than 2,000 asylum-seekers. <br />


4 • ANGELUS • <strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong>

NATION<br />

President Donald Trump arrives at the White House Rose Garden with Judge Amy Coney Barrett and<br />

her family Sept. 26.<br />

Trump taps Catholic mom of 7 for Supreme Court seat<br />

The daughter of a Catholic deacon and mother of seven children is President<br />

Donald Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee following the death of Justice<br />

Ruth Bader Ginsberg Sept. 18.<br />

At the Sept. 26 White House event announcing the pick, Trump hailed federal<br />

appeals judge and <strong>No</strong>tre Dame law professor Amy Coney Barrett as one of the<br />

country’s “most brilliant and gifted legal minds” and “a woman of unparalleled<br />

achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials, and unyielding loyalty to the<br />

Constitution.”<br />

The 48-year-old Catholic native of<br />

Louisiana is a popular jurist in social<br />

conservative circles, and Trump had<br />

considered naming her to the Supreme<br />

Court earlier in his term. She has<br />

already faced scrutiny and criticism<br />

in the media for her Catholic faith,<br />

pro-life views on abortion, and her<br />

membership in “People of Praise,” an<br />

ecumenical prayer movement associated<br />

with the Charismatic Renewal.<br />

Barrett paid tribute to Ruth Bader<br />

Ginsburg in her remarks at the event,<br />

noting that the justice “began her<br />

career at a time when women were<br />

not welcome in the legal profession,”<br />

and “shattered glass ceilings” to lead<br />

a life of “enormous talent and consequence.”<br />

She is expected to face a tough<br />

confirmation battle in the Senate, with<br />

opponents of Trump arguing that the<br />

seat should not be filled until after<br />

the <strong>No</strong>v. 3 presidential election. <br />


Feds investigating<br />

alleged hysterectomies<br />

on migrant women<br />

Recent reports indicate that at least<br />

six Mexican women in U.S. immigration<br />

custody were subjected to<br />

hysterectomies without consent.<br />

Several advocacy organizations<br />

filed a complaint on behalf of Dawn<br />

Wooten, a nurse at a U.S. Immigrations<br />

and Customs Enforcement<br />

(ICE) detention center in Georgia.<br />

Wooten claimed that several women<br />

were sent to a doctor she called “the<br />

uterus collector.”<br />

“I’ve had several inmates tell me<br />

that they’ve been to see the doctor,<br />

and they’ve had hysterectomies, and<br />

they don’t know why they went or<br />

why they’re going,” Wooten stated in<br />

the complaint.<br />

According to Dr. Ada Rivera, ICE<br />

health services director, only two<br />

women have been referred for hysterectomies<br />

at the detention center<br />

since 2018. Mark Koumans, acting<br />

U.S. immigration services director,<br />

has ordered an expedited investigation<br />

into the complaint. <br />

KISSING ALLOWED — Couples renew their marriage vows after 50 years of marriage at St.<br />

Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, Illinois, Sept. 13. At the ceremony, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky called<br />

the couples “our heroes” for their daily witness to love and the Catholic faith. <br />


<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong> • ANGELUS • 5

NATION<br />

Illinois bishop: Shutdowns<br />

are not the answer<br />

Sister <strong>No</strong>rma Pimentel speaks with a young<br />

resident of a tent camp in Matamoros, Mexico.<br />

‘Sister <strong>No</strong>rma’ makes Time magazine’s Top 100 list<br />

After years providing humanitarian aid to migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border,<br />

Sister <strong>No</strong>rma Pimental has received national recognition.<br />

In this year’s “100 Most Influential People” series, Time magazine included the<br />

Catholic nun on its list.<br />

“Sister Pimentel has been on the front lines of mercy for three decades,” stated the<br />

Sept. 22 Time article. Sister Pimentel, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, also<br />

directs Catholic Charities of Rio Grande Valley in Texas.<br />

“Thank you, Sister,” tweeted Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, the diocese<br />

where “Sister <strong>No</strong>rma” is based, on Sept. 22. “You help us all come together in the<br />

Valley to face our challenges, you help us learn how to help each other, how to protect<br />

the vulnerable, to not lose hope … and to be a sign of Christ in the world.” <br />

Born-Alive Act signed<br />

into law by president<br />

After several failed congressional<br />

attempts to pass a bill requiring<br />

medical care to infants born alive after<br />

attempted abortions, President Donald<br />

Trump has mandated the practice via<br />

executive order.<br />

“The Born-Alive Executive Order<br />

[will] ensure that all precious babies<br />

born alive, no matter their circumstances,<br />

receive the medical care that<br />

they deserve,” the president stated in<br />

a prerecorded video shown during the<br />

livestreamed National Catholic Prayer<br />

Breakfast Sept. 23.<br />

“This is our sacrosanct moral duty.”<br />

The president added that his administration<br />

will also raise federal funding<br />

for neonatal research, “to ensure that<br />

every child has the very best chance to<br />

thrive and to grow.” <br />


The bishop of Springfield, Illinois, is<br />

speaking out on the negative consequences<br />

of “social shutdowns” aimed<br />

at slowing the spread of the coronavirus<br />

(COVID-19) pandemic.<br />

“In the face of a pandemic, do we<br />

have a moral obligation to shut down<br />

our society, require people to stay at<br />

home … impair the food supply chain,<br />

and prevent worshippers from going to<br />

church?” questioned Bishop Thomas<br />

Paprocki in the September edition of<br />

the journal Ethics & Media. “I would<br />

say no.”<br />

Bishop Paprocki distinguished<br />

between “ordinary and extraordinary<br />

means of preserving life.” With<br />

extraordinary means, he asserted, “the<br />

burdens outweigh the benefits,” and<br />

public authorities should not impose<br />

them.<br />

Bishop Paprocki noted the importance<br />

of caring for others’ physical<br />

health but also the greater importance<br />

of spiritual well-being.<br />

“Life, health, all temporal activities<br />

are in fact subordinated to spiritual<br />

ends … [which] is eternal life.” <br />

NOT ENOUGH — Demonstrators in Louisville, Kentucky, march for Breonna Taylor Sept.<br />

<strong>25</strong>. A grand jury handed down an indictment Sept. 23 for one of three police officers<br />

involved in the fatal shooting of Taylor earlier this year. The police officer was indicted<br />

on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree. In a statement, Louisville<br />

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz affirmed objectors’ right to protest, but urged nonviolence and<br />

unity in working toward racial justice. <br />


6 • ANGELUS • <strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong>

LOCAL<br />

People in San Francisco march during a “Free the Mass” demonstration Sept. 20.<br />

Feds call San Francisco Mass restrictions ‘draconian’<br />

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has warned that San Francisco’s current restrictions<br />

on public worship may be unconstitutional and called on the city to<br />

treat churches as it has other venues, like gyms, tattoo parlors, and hair salons.<br />

In a Sept. <strong>25</strong> letter to Mayor London Breed, the DOJ warned that the city’s<br />

rule allowing only “one worshipper” in churches regardless of their size, while<br />

allowing multiple patrons in other indoor buildings, is “draconian” and “contrary<br />

to the Constitution and the nation’s best tradition of religious freedom.”<br />

San Francisco’s restrictions are among the strictest in the country.<br />

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone praised the letter.<br />

“Catholics in San Francisco have been patiently suffering injustice for<br />

months. At last, a competent legal authority is challenging the city’s absurd<br />

rules, which have no basis in science, but are grounded in hostility to religion<br />

and especially the Catholic Church,” Archbishop Cordileone said.<br />

The letter came days after Catholics in San Francisco marched in eucharistic<br />

processions across the city Sept. 20 to protest the city’s continued restrictions<br />

on public worship. <br />

San Diego: Chaldean cathedral defaced<br />


COVID-19 numbers<br />

stay down in LA County<br />

The steady drop in the number of<br />

new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases,<br />

deaths, and hospitalizations in Los<br />

Angeles County means that churches<br />

could be allowed to reopen soon,<br />

statistics suggest.<br />

As of press time, LA County was<br />

averaging around 1,000 new cases<br />

a day, while hospitalizations and<br />

deaths were at levels seen before this<br />

summer’s surge of cases and deaths.<br />

Ventura and Santa Barbara counties,<br />

which also form part of the Archdiocese<br />

of Los Angeles, reported similar<br />

trends.<br />

The decline in numbers means that<br />

the county could be on the verge of<br />

moving from the state’s “purple tier”<br />

to the less-restrictive “red” tier, which<br />

would allow more businesses to reopen,<br />

as well as churches, albeit with a<br />

100-person limit.<br />

Because of Orange County’s move<br />

into that tier, churches there were<br />

allowed to reopen in early September,<br />

although some parishes have<br />

continued holding outdoor Masses<br />

to accommodate the 100-plus crowds<br />

coming to weekend Masses. <br />

A Catholic cathedral in San Diego County was defaced overnight with swastikas,<br />

an upside-down cross, and “BLM” and “white power” messages spray-painted on<br />

doors and entryways.<br />

“Pray for the criminals who did this,” St. Peter’s Chaldean Catholic Cathedral in<br />

El Cajon posted on Facebook Sept. 26, the morning after the attack.<br />

Some symbols were indecipherable, while others were seemingly opposing<br />

slogans, raising questions about a possible motive.<br />

The Chaldean Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church of more than<br />

600,000 people. The cathedral is the seat of the Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle of<br />

San Diego, an Eastern Catholic diocese of roughly 70,000 Catholics.<br />

The vandalism came amid a wave of similar attacks on Catholic churches that<br />

have been ongoing for months. Most recently, a man burned pews in a Florida<br />

Catholic church, and a man with a baseball bat damaged a crucifix and doors at a<br />

seminary in Texas. <br />

EXTRA FINAL BLESSING — Archbishop<br />

José H. Gomez blesses parishioners<br />

in their cars with holy water on their<br />

way out of an outdoor drive-in Sunday<br />

Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Church<br />

near downtown on Sept. 27. Archbishop<br />

Gomez visited the parish on the occasion<br />

of its patron saint’s feast day. <br />


<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong> • ANGELUS • 7

SUNDAY<br />



Is. 5:1–7 / Ps. 80:9, 12–16, 19–20 / Phil. 4:6–9 / Mt. 21:33–43<br />

In this week’s Gospel, Jesus returns<br />

to the Old Testament symbol of the<br />

vineyard to teach about Israel, the<br />

Church, and the kingdom of God. And<br />

the symbolism of the First Reading and<br />

Psalm is also readily understood.<br />

God is the owner and the house<br />

of Israel is the<br />

vineyard. A<br />

cherished vine,<br />

Israel was plucked<br />

from Egypt and<br />

transplanted in a<br />

fertile land specially<br />

spaded and<br />

prepared by God,<br />

hedged about by<br />

the city walls of Jerusalem,<br />

watched<br />

over by the towering<br />

Temple.<br />

But the vineyard<br />

produced no good<br />

grapes for the<br />

wine, a symbol for<br />

the holy lives God<br />

wanted for his<br />

people. So God<br />

allowed his vineyard to be overrun by<br />

foreign invaders, as Isaiah foresees in<br />

the First Reading.<br />

Jesus picks up the story where Isaiah<br />

leaves off, even using Isaiah’s words<br />

to describe the vineyard’s wine press,<br />

hedge, and watchtower. Israel’s<br />

religious leaders, the tenants in his parable,<br />

have learned nothing from Isaiah<br />

or Israel’s past. Instead of producing<br />

good fruits, they’ve killed the owner’s<br />

servants, the prophets sent to gather the<br />

harvest of faithful souls.<br />

In a dark foreshadowing of his own<br />

crucifixion outside Jerusalem, Jesus<br />

says the tenants’ final outrage will be to<br />

seize the owner’s son, and to kill him<br />

outside the vineyard walls.<br />

For this, the vineyard, which Jesus<br />

calls the kingdom of God, will be<br />

taken away and given to new tenants:<br />

the leaders of the Church, who will<br />

“The Parable of the Vineyard,” by Ambrosius Francken I, 1544-1618,<br />

Flemish.<br />

produce its fruit.<br />

We are each a vine in the Lord’s<br />

vineyard, grafted onto the true vine of<br />

Christ (see John 15:1–8), called to bear<br />

fruits of the righteousness in him (see<br />

Philippians 1:11), and to be the “first<br />

fruits” of a new creation (see James<br />

1:18).<br />

We need to take care that we don’t let<br />

ourselves be overgrown with the thorns<br />

and briers of worldly anxiety. As today’s<br />

Epistle advises, we need to fill our<br />

hearts and minds with noble intentions<br />

and virtuous deeds, rejoicing always<br />

that the Lord is near. <br />

Scott Scott Hahn Hahn is is founder of of the the St. St. Paul Paul Center for for Biblical Theology, stpaulcenter.com.<br />


8 • ANGELUS • <strong>October</strong> August 16-23-30, 2-9, <strong>2020</strong>2019

IN EXILE<br />


Moving beyond weakness and betrayal<br />

“The excusable doesn’t need to be<br />

excused and the inexcusable cannot be<br />

excused.”<br />

Michael Buckley wrote those words<br />

and they contain an important challenge.<br />

We’re forever trying to make<br />

excuses for things we need not make<br />

excuses for and are forever trying to<br />

excuse the inexcusable. Neither is<br />

necessary. Or helpful.<br />

We can learn a lesson from how Jesus<br />

dealt with those who betrayed him.<br />

A prime example is the apostle Peter,<br />

specially chosen and named the very<br />

rock of the apostolic community. Peter<br />

was an honest man with a childlike<br />

sincerity, a deep faith, and he, more<br />

than most others, grasped the deeper<br />

meaning of who Jesus was and what his<br />

teaching meant.<br />

Indeed, it was he who in response<br />

to Jesus’ question (“Who do you say I<br />

am?”) replied, “You are the Christ, the<br />

son of the Living God.” Yet minutes after<br />

that confession, Jesus had to correct<br />

Peter’s false conception of what that<br />

meant and then rebuke him for trying<br />

to deflect him from his very mission.<br />

More seriously, it was Peter who,<br />

within hours of an arrogant boast<br />

that though all others would betray<br />

Jesus, he alone would remain faithful,<br />

betrayed Jesus three times, and this in<br />

Jesus’ most needy hour.<br />

Later we are privy to the conversation<br />

Jesus has with Peter vis-à-vis those<br />

betrayals. What’s significant is that he<br />

doesn’t ask Peter to explain himself,<br />

doesn’t excuse Peter, and doesn’t<br />

say things like, “You weren’t really<br />

yourself! I can understand how anyone<br />

might be very frightened in that situation!<br />

I can empathize, I know what fear<br />

can do to you!” <strong>No</strong>ne of that.<br />

The excusable doesn’t need to be<br />

excused and the inexcusable cannot be<br />

excused. In Peter’s betrayal, as in our<br />

own, there’s invariably some of both,<br />

the excusable and the inexcusable.<br />

So what does Jesus do with Peter? He<br />

doesn’t ask for an explanation, doesn’t<br />

ask for an apology, doesn’t tell Peter<br />

that it is OK, doesn’t offer excuses for<br />

Peter, and doesn’t tell Peter that he<br />

loves him. Instead he asks Peter, “Do<br />

you love me?” Peter answers yes — and<br />

everything moves forward from there.<br />

Everything moves forward from there.<br />

Everything can move forward following<br />

a confession of love, not least an<br />

honest confession of love in the wake<br />

of a betrayal. Apologies are necessary<br />

(because that’s taking ownership of the<br />

fault and the weakness so as to lift it off<br />

the soul of the one who was betrayed)<br />

but excuses are not helpful.<br />

If the action was not a betrayal, no<br />

excuse is necessary; if it was, no excuse<br />

absolves it. An excuse or an attempt<br />

at one serves two purposes, neither of<br />

them good. First, it serves to rationalize<br />

and justify, none of which is helpful to<br />

the betrayed or the betrayer.<br />

Second, it weakens the apology and<br />

makes it less than clean and full, thus<br />

not lifting the betrayal completely<br />

off the soul of the one who has been<br />

betrayed; and, because of that, is not<br />

as helpful an expression of love as is a<br />

clear, honest acknowledgement of our<br />

betrayal and an apology that attempts<br />

no excuse for its weakness and betrayal.<br />

What love asks of us when we are<br />

weak is an honest, nonrationalized<br />

admission of our weakness along with a<br />

statement from the heart: “I love you!”<br />

Things can move forward from there.<br />

The past and our betrayal are not expunged,<br />

nor excused; but, in love, we<br />

can live beyond them.<br />

To expunge, excuse, or rationalize is<br />

to not live in the truth; it is unfair to<br />

the one betrayed since he or she bears<br />

the consequences and scars.<br />

Only love can move us beyond<br />

weakness and betrayal, and this is an<br />

important principle not just for those<br />

instances in life when we betray and<br />

hurt a loved one, but for our understanding<br />

of life in general.<br />

We’re human, not divine, and as such<br />

are beset, congenitally, body and mind,<br />

with weaknesses and inadequacies<br />

of every sort. <strong>No</strong>ne of us, as St. Paul<br />

graphically says in his Epistle to the<br />

Romans, ever quite measure up. The<br />

good we want to do, we end up not<br />

doing, and the evil we want to avoid,<br />

we habitually end up doing.<br />

Some of this, of course, is understandable,<br />

excusable, just as some of<br />

it is inexcusable, save for the fact that<br />

we’re humans and partially a mystery<br />

to ourselves. Either way, at the end of<br />

the day, no justification or excuses are<br />

asked for (or helpful).<br />

We don’t move forward in relationship<br />

by telling either God or someone<br />

we have hurt: “You have to understand!<br />

In that situation, what else was I to do<br />

too? I didn’t mean to hurt you, I was<br />

just too weak to resist!” That’s neither<br />

helpful, nor called for. Things move<br />

forward when we, without excuses,<br />

admit weakness, and apologize. Like<br />

Peter when asked three times by Jesus,<br />

“Do you love me?” from our hearts we<br />

need to say, “You know everything, you<br />

know that I love you.” <br />

Father Ron Rolheiser is a theologian, teacher, award-winning author, and president of the Oblate School of Theology<br />

in San Antonio, Texas. Find him online at www.ronrolheiser.com and www.facebook.com/ronrolheiser.<br />

<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong> • ANGELUS • 9

Abbot Damien Toiloro and<br />

the Benedictine monks of St.<br />

Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo<br />

smelled smoke for a week before the<br />

Bobcat Fire coiled over the San Gabriel<br />

Mountains toward their monastery at<br />

the edge of the desert floor.<br />

“Some guys were getting sick because<br />

of the smoke,” he said. The owner of a<br />

hospice agency offered to take a dying<br />

monk into her own home if evacuation<br />

became necessary.<br />

The fire, which ignited on Sept. 6,<br />

had already threatened but spared<br />

Immaculate Conception Church in<br />

Monrovia.<br />

On Sept. 11, “We could actually see<br />

the flames,” said Maricruz Avila, the<br />

parish business manager.<br />

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19),<br />

all Masses are held in the Immaculate<br />

Conception parking lot, which offers<br />

no protection from smoke. Father Joachim<br />

Lepta canceled public Mass from<br />

Sept. 11 to Sept. 18.<br />

“It was because the quality of the air<br />

was very terrible. The smoke was heavy.<br />

Holding<br />

the line<br />

Local Catholics are left with gratitude — and<br />

a stronger sense of community — after close<br />

calls with the Bobcat and El Dorado Fires<br />


A statue of the Virgin Mary in the cemetery area of St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo stands as the Bobcat Fire burns in the nearby San Gabriel Mountains Sept. 16.<br />


10 • ANGELUS • <strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong>

Sept. 16.<br />


The Bobcat Fire burns near St. Andrew’s Abbey in mid-September.<br />

The falling of the ashes was very heavy.<br />

You couldn’t be standing out there for<br />

10 minutes without feeling short of<br />

breath,” Avila said.<br />

During livestream Mass, “Father said<br />

that material stuff is just material stuff<br />

and life is more important.”<br />

The Benedictine community has lived<br />

that lesson for decades.<br />

St. Andrew’s was founded in 1955 by<br />

Benedictines who had been arrested,<br />

imprisoned, and exiled from communist<br />

China. The primary ministry of<br />

its current 20 monks is hosting retreats<br />

and spiritual direction, which has been<br />

on hold since the pandemic began in<br />

March. Then came the fire.<br />

The monks prayed for neighboring<br />

homes, for firefighters, and especially<br />

for the Benedictine sisters in Glendora<br />

and Carmelite sisters in Duarte. The<br />

sisters were on standby to evacuate, but<br />

the fire spared them.<br />

“That’s why, when we received a warning<br />

that we might have to evacuate, I<br />

said, ‘OK, it will probably be here in a<br />

week.’ The very next day, evacuation<br />

was mandated,” Abbot Damien said.<br />

Most of the monks became guests of<br />

American Martyrs Church in Manhattan<br />

Beach, which had hosted them<br />

during a voluntary evacuation from the<br />

Station Fire in 2009. Parishioners and<br />

friends have brought food.<br />

“American Martyrs Parish has been<br />

very generous,” Abbot Damien said.<br />

Father Francis Benedict, a spiritual<br />

director, sees their experience as an<br />

opening for greater trust in God.<br />

“If you have a prayer life, you are<br />

spiritually prepared for anything,” he<br />

said. “I was praying to be abandoned to<br />

the Father’s will. We didn’t know God’s<br />

will. Would we have nothing when we<br />

came back and have to build a new<br />

monastery? The fire is aggressive. Bad<br />

things have happened to good communities.<br />

It’s not like we are exempt.<br />

We are entitled to the whole paschal<br />

mystery, not just to the Resurrection.”<br />

On Sept. 18, the day after the evacuation,<br />

the maintenance man called<br />

to say that the fire had reached the<br />

grounds.<br />


“My heart sank,” Abbot Damien said.<br />

“In my mind there was the vision of the<br />

founders, all of the work, the energy,<br />

the blood, sweat, and tears. It is a beautiful<br />

piece of property.”<br />

He saw the flames on a security camera<br />

app. Other monks began to call.<br />

“There was a lot of sadness,” he said. “I<br />

shed a few tears. And then I said, ‘God<br />

knows all things. He knows the fire is at<br />

the abbey. Therefore, if the abbey burns<br />

down or doesn’t burn down — and we<br />

all thought it was going to burn — we<br />

are in his hands.’ ”<br />

The next day at 5 a.m., a firefighter<br />

called.<br />

“The word he used was ‘unscathed,’ ”<br />

Abbot Damien said.<br />

“Spiritually, it reminded me of the<br />

Resurrection. The abbey is gone, then<br />

it’s alive. I didn’t believe it.”<br />

He realized he was repeating the experience<br />

of Doubting Thomas.<br />

“I always said that I would never be<br />

a ‘Doubting Thomas.’ Yet, when the<br />

photos came, I was still saying, ‘I have<br />

to see it for myself.’ ”<br />

Days later, fire officials confirmed to<br />

<strong>Angelus</strong> that during the firefight to protect<br />

the property, a strike team was able<br />

to “hold the line” using water hoses<br />

right on the edge of the abbey grounds,<br />

and just feet away from the first gravestones<br />

of St. Andrew’s cemetery.<br />

“It is 100 percent evident when you<br />

get there that the firefighters saved that<br />

monastery,” said Sky Cornell, public<br />

information officer for the LA County<br />

Fire Department. “You can see the line<br />

right in the dirt where everything’s black<br />

from being burnt, and then it’s not.”<br />

The blackened dirt to the left shows where fire<br />

crews stopped the Bobcat Fire’s advance, just feet<br />

away from the cemetery at St. Andrew’s Abbey.<br />


<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong> • ANGELUS • 11

More than 500 firefighters battled the El Dorado Fire east of San Bernardino, which started Sept. 5, triggered by a firework at a gender-reveal party.<br />

Meanwhile in San Bernardino<br />

County, the El Dorado Fire<br />

had one Catholic parish<br />

racing against the clock. St. Frances<br />

Xavier Cabrini Church in Yucaipa<br />

had only 35 minutes to get ready to<br />

take in dozens of evacuees trying to<br />

escape the blaze. On Sept. 5, flames<br />

erupted in El Dorado Ranch Park,<br />

and by the next day the fire was threatening<br />

a youth shelter. The facility<br />

director reached out to her father’s<br />

parish when no one else could take<br />

them in.<br />

“They had exhausted all their options,”<br />

said Joseph Scarite, St. Frances<br />

Xavier Cabrini Church emergency<br />

preparedness coordinator. “They had<br />

nowhere else to go … so we made it<br />

happen.”<br />

The emergency preparedness team,<br />

along with members of the Knights of<br />

Columbus and Columbiettes, sprung<br />

into action, transforming the parish<br />

center into an evacuation center. The<br />

volunteers said after setting up basic<br />

accommodations, 31 teens and eight<br />

counselors arrived in a caravan, looking<br />

taxed and tired.<br />

“This was an emotional time for<br />

them,” said Scarite. “The smoke levels<br />

were very intense. They didn’t get any<br />

sleep that first night of the fire.”<br />

While the volunteers did their best<br />

to make the evacuees feel welcome,<br />

the Red Cross delivered cots, blankets,<br />

and toiletries. Local restaurants<br />

provided pizza and the school district<br />

allowed use of their showers.<br />

“Those were their immediate needs<br />

and then they felt more comfortable,”<br />

said Scarite. “Initially there was a lot<br />

of apprehension.”<br />

Bishop Alberto Rojas, coadjutor<br />

of the Diocese of San Bernardino,<br />

who came to Southern California<br />

from Chicago early this year, said the<br />

vast devastation of the wildfires was<br />

shocking.<br />

“It is very hard for me to believe the<br />

number of fires that take place in<br />

California. I am so sorry how many<br />

people are affected,” said Bishop Rojas.<br />

“I am glad that our parish was able<br />

12 • ANGELUS • <strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong>


to open as a shelter for those people.”<br />

The evacuees came from Trinity<br />

Youth Services, a residential facility<br />

for abandoned and abused teens.<br />

Counselors help residents emotionally<br />

recover then find them a safe place to<br />

live. Scarite said these teens were the<br />

last people to deserve such upheaval.<br />

“They didn’t need this,” said Scarite.<br />

“They didn’t need to be uprooted and<br />

go to a separate facility.”<br />

Due to COVID-19, this was the first<br />

time the residents had left the shelter<br />

in months. Scarite noted that the<br />

teens had gone from being trapped by<br />

a virus to being trapped by a fire.<br />

“The smoke was so bad they couldn’t<br />

even go outside. They did a lot of puzzles<br />

and Monopoly games and things<br />

like that,” said Scarite. “Plus, they had<br />

their cellphones and laptops. One of<br />

the first things they asked was, ‘What’s<br />

the (Wi-Fi) password, Joe?’ ”<br />

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church<br />

has been a designated Red Cross<br />

Neighborhood Shelter for 10 years.<br />

While the parish served as a gathering<br />

point during past fires, it’s never been<br />

used as an overnight shelter. Scarite, a<br />

retired firefighter, said he works with<br />

experts to keep up on the latest safety<br />

practices and that his parish may be<br />

more prepared than most.<br />

At left is St. Frances X. Cabrini Church in Yucaipa Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Joseph<br />

Scarite, together with volunteer couples Don and Carol Averill (standing) and Bill and Marcy Daily<br />

(sitting).<br />


“There’s a lot of retired cops and<br />

firefighters in Yucaipa, so if I need<br />

something, I know they are available,”<br />

said Scarite. “You gotta know your<br />

parish, right?”<br />

What makes those retired professionals<br />

so helpful is also what makes it so<br />

personal when they learn, as they did<br />

here, that a firefighter had died. U.S.<br />

Forest Service officials announced<br />

that 39-year-old Charles Morton was<br />

killed while battling the blaze. The<br />

volunteers made a point of praying for<br />

him, as did Bishop Rojas.<br />

“I have been praying for all the<br />

people affected, and also for the (deceased)<br />

firefighter and rescue crews<br />

who risk their lives by saving lives,”<br />

said Bishop Rojas. “I am very grateful<br />

to them, may God bless them.”<br />

The flames got as close as 10 minutes<br />

to the church’s doors but never forced<br />

them to close. Surprising, Scarite said,<br />

since the fire, which started after a<br />

pyrotechnic device was lit at a genderreveal<br />

party, burned “so hot and fast.”<br />

After five days of living in the parish<br />

center, it was safe for the evacuees to<br />

return to Trinity Youth Services.<br />

“They were grateful for everything,”<br />

said Scarite. “We gave them some<br />

nice prayers to take back with them.<br />

Hopefully they’ll be able to reflect on<br />

that.”<br />

The volunteers have had time to<br />

reflect as well.<br />

“We got through the week. It was<br />

pretty tough, pretty tiring for everybody,”<br />

said Scarite. “Though once I<br />

got there [parish center], I didn’t think<br />

about anything. I just felt like we were<br />

doing something good.” <br />

Natalie Romano is a freelance writer<br />

for <strong>Angelus</strong> and the Inland Catholic<br />

Byte, the newspaper of the Diocese of<br />

San Bernardino.<br />

Ann Rodgers is a longtime religion<br />

reporter and freelance writer whose<br />

awards include the William A. Reed<br />

Lifetime Achievement Award from the<br />

Religion <strong>News</strong> Association.<br />

Editor-in-chief Pablo Kay contributed<br />

to this story.<br />

<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong> • ANGELUS • 13

A second life<br />

well-lived<br />

Father Adrian San Juan<br />

fulfilled an important<br />

mission before his sudden<br />

death last month at 43,<br />

his loved ones say<br />


Father Adrian San Juan<br />


After being brought into this world<br />

against the odds, losing his father<br />

at 8 years old, and surviving a<br />

battle with cancer, Father Adrian M.<br />

San Juan knew one thing for certain:<br />

that he would “rather be with the<br />

Lord.”<br />

That attitude — and memories of the<br />

young priest’s zeal for Christ — are<br />

what is left to console grieving parishioners,<br />

relatives, and fellow priests<br />

stunned by the news of the 43-yearold’s<br />

sudden death Saturday, Sept. 19,<br />

after collapsing at the start of a wedding<br />

at St. Linus Church in <strong>No</strong>rwalk, where<br />

he served as administrator.<br />

“He passed away doing what he loved:<br />

celebrating the Eucharist,” said Rafael<br />

Alvarez, a St. Linus parishioner and<br />

seminarian at the Queen of Angels<br />

Center for Priestly Formation. “That<br />

was one of his most joyful moments.”<br />

Alvarez was there assisting Father<br />

San Juan as he entered the parish’s<br />

canopied “outdoor church,” kissed the<br />

altar, and waited for the wedding party<br />

to process toward the altar. But a few<br />

moments later, something “didn’t feel<br />

right”: to Alvarez’s surprise, Father San<br />

Juan went to sit in the presider’s chair<br />

before falling to the ground.<br />

Paramedics were called and attempted<br />

CPR on Father San Juan, who<br />

had suffered an apparent heart attack,<br />

before taking him to PIH Whittier<br />

Hospital while another priest at St.<br />

Linus, Father Marco Reyes, stepped in<br />

to continue the wedding.<br />

Father San Juan was pronounced<br />

dead a short while later. A small group<br />

of family members were briefly allowed<br />

into the hospital, and a priest was able<br />

to give him the last rites.<br />

As of Thursday, Sept. 24, funeral<br />

plans were still pending while the<br />

priest’s family awaited word from the<br />

county medical examiner on his official<br />

cause of death.<br />

Despite the shock over the apparently<br />

healthy priest’s death, though, those<br />

who knew “Father Adrian” told <strong>Angelus</strong><br />

they were comforted that his death<br />

came before the altar, after a “second<br />

life” in which he lived his vocation to<br />

the fullest.<br />

Father San Juan was born the last of<br />

six children in 1976 in Valenzuela,<br />

Philippines, outside the capital city of<br />

Manila. His birth was welcomed as a<br />

miraculous surprise, coming 11 years<br />

after the family’s next oldest child.<br />

“Because of my mom’s advanced<br />

age, she had a very critical pregnancy<br />

[with Father San Juan],” said Victoria<br />

Siongco, the late priest’s sister. “She<br />

almost lost him.”<br />

His mother, Gloria, spent the final<br />

months of the pregnancy confined to<br />

bed rest, begging God for her son’s life.<br />

“We would see her every day praying<br />

with her arms outstretched, like a<br />

manifestation of a sacrifice, praying not<br />

to lose him,” recalled Siongco.<br />

Both Father San Juan and his mother<br />

survived what his family says was a<br />

14 • ANGELUS • <strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong>


complicated childbirth. Eight years<br />

later, hard times struck the family again<br />

when his father, Carlos, succumbed to<br />

lung cancer.<br />

As Siongco remembers it, her little<br />

brother showed signs of a vocation<br />

even before starting elementary school.<br />

He was fascinated by religious processions<br />

and was already singing in<br />

church by age 3.<br />

“He loved the saints, he loved<br />

praying, he loved singing, he loved<br />

everything about the Church,” said<br />

Siongco.<br />

By the time he had finished high<br />

school in 1994, he had broken up<br />

with his girlfriend at the time with the<br />

intention of entering the seminary.<br />

Those closest to Father San Juan say<br />

his life was marked above all else by a<br />

life-and-death experience during that<br />

time: a testicular cancer diagnosis in<br />

2002 a few months before his ordination<br />

to the diaconate.<br />

Chemotherapy left him hairless,<br />

pale, and thin, but he vowed to follow<br />

through with his ordination to the<br />

diaconate. Family, friends, fellow seminarians,<br />

and even professors rallied<br />

behind him in prayer, and the cancer<br />

went into remission in 2003. He was<br />

ordained to the priesthood the following<br />

year.<br />

“This is my second life, no doubt,”<br />

Father San Juan told Manilla’s Phillipine<br />

Sunday Inquirer Magazine in an<br />

interview after his ordination in 2004.<br />

“I see myself in the hands of a loving<br />

Father. A second life is his revelation to<br />

me that I have a mission to do in His<br />

Name.”<br />

In the same interview, the new priest<br />

shared that the cancer battle had given<br />

him more joy and a stronger faith.<br />

“Life will not always be a journey of<br />

certainty, of controlling it the way we<br />

plan it,” he continued. “Doubts and socalled<br />

trials will come. But if we seek<br />

God in all things, then we learn that<br />

God’s love is everywhere.”<br />

The priest credited his “second life”<br />

in particular to Divine Mercy, the<br />

Virgin Mary, and the miraculous<br />

intercession of St. Thérèse of Lisieux,<br />

to whom he had a fervent devotion for<br />

the rest of his life.<br />

After spending six years ministering<br />

in parishes and schools in Manilla,<br />

Father San Juan transferred to the<br />

Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2010<br />

to be closer to his family. He served in<br />

several parishes, including St. John the<br />

Baptist Church in Baldwin Park, St.<br />

Madeleine Church in Pomona, and<br />

St. Peter Claver Church in Simi Valley<br />

before coming to St. Linus in 2019. He<br />

was officially incardinated as a priest of<br />

the archdiocese in 2015.<br />

Among his brother priests, Father<br />

San Juan was known as a “holy priest<br />

Father Adrian San Juan with parishioner “Aubrey” at her first Communion this summer.<br />


Rafael Alvarez (second from right) with Father<br />

San Juan and the St. Linus “livestream team”<br />

during the COVID-19 shutdown earlier this year.<br />

who had a wonderful sense of humor,<br />

and always had a smile on his face,”<br />

according to Vicar for Clergy for the<br />

Archdiocese of Los Angeles Msgr. Jim<br />

Halley.<br />

Auxiliary Bishop Alex Aclan remembered<br />

how shortly after arriving in the<br />

archdiocese, then-Msgr. Aclan relied<br />

on Father San Juan twice to write the<br />

music for two fundraiser musical plays<br />

benefitting the Filipino Priests Association<br />

of Los Angeles.<br />

And during the annual Christmastime<br />

Simbang Gabi Mass at the Cathedral<br />

of Our Lady of the Angels, it was<br />

Father San Juan who was charged with<br />

leading his brother Filipino priests in<br />

singing in Tagalog after Communion.<br />

“That’s how he endeared himself to<br />

the Filipino priests here,” recounted<br />

Bishop Aclan. “He was an excellent<br />

composer, pianist, and vocalist.”<br />

One of those priests, Father Rizalino<br />

“Riz” Carranza, spent four years with<br />

him at St. Peter Claver Church in Simi<br />

Valley, where Father Carranza is pastor<br />

and Father San Juan served as associate<br />

pastor from 2015 to 2019. He said Father<br />

San Juan was the ultimate “people<br />

priest,” a gifted preacher whose enthusiasm<br />

while celebrating the Eucharist<br />

was infectious.<br />

“He really appealed to a lot of people<br />

of different ages, from the older to the<br />

younger,” recalled Father Carranza.<br />

In private, his former pastor says<br />

Father San Juan was a man of deep<br />

prayer. Walking past the door to his<br />


<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong> • ANGELUS • 15

What Legacy will YOU<br />

leave?<br />

It’s easy to include a gift<br />

for your favorite<br />

Parish, School or Ministry<br />

in your will or trust.<br />

Father Adrian San Juan sings with St. Linus School teacher Issa Santos at the parish’s “Hope in<br />

Harmony Concert” last year.<br />

room, Father Carranza would sometimes<br />

catch a glimpse of Father San<br />

Juan on his knees with a lit candle<br />

burning. “He always expressed that he<br />

would rather be with God,” said Father<br />

Carranza.<br />

At St. Linus, where Father San Juan<br />

spent the last year of his life, parish<br />

business manager Ana Engquist said<br />

the impact from his short time there<br />

will be felt for a long time.<br />

“He brought a strong spirituality to<br />

the parish,” said Engquist, including<br />

starting a Divine Mercy prayer group<br />

as he did at St. Peter Claver. “When he<br />

came on board he made it very clear<br />

we’re going to be a family, and that was<br />

kind of a strange concept to me. I was<br />

used to just having a working relationship<br />

with my pastors.”<br />

Instead, Father San Juan told parish<br />

staff that they would be eating, praying,<br />

and even fighting together, as long as it<br />

was followed, of course, by forgiveness.<br />

“His goal was to get us to heaven<br />

and to really live our faith, not just on<br />

Sundays, but day-to-day, to do the little<br />

things to get to heaven,” said Engquist.<br />

Engquist and Alvarez agreed that the<br />

new administrator was a unifying presence<br />

for the parish over the last year.<br />

“He was able to bring healing to the<br />

parish staff, and restored the ministries<br />

that were broken,” said Alvarez,<br />

whom Father San Juan guided and<br />

encouraged in his decision to enter the<br />

seminary this year.<br />

During the recent months of the<br />

coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,<br />

Father San Juan took a “hands-on”<br />

16 • ANGELUS • <strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong><br />

approach in bringing the sacraments<br />

to his parishioners, whether through<br />

organizing a team to livestream Masses<br />

or building a dignified “outdoor<br />

church” in the parish parking lot with<br />

a stage and canopy when COVID-19<br />

restrictions forced religious services to<br />

be held outdoors this summer.<br />

“He died doing what he loved to do,<br />

and I think that he came to our parish<br />

to heal us in a lot of ways. And he fulfilled<br />

that mission,” said Engquist.<br />

Part of that mission was accompanying<br />

young people like Alvarez and<br />

the couple that he had prepared for<br />

marriage on that fateful day to embrace<br />

their vocations. Among them also was<br />

his own niece, whom Father San Juan<br />

was also helping prepare for marriage<br />

with her fiancé.<br />

Siongco told <strong>Angelus</strong> that she and<br />

her sister “Fely” (both of whom live in<br />

nearby Walnut) will miss her brother’s<br />

visits on his days off to eat together,<br />

plan vacations, and take 6,000-step<br />

walks to help them stay in shape.<br />

Even in the face of losing their little<br />

brother, family chaplain, and travel<br />

companion, Siongco said her family is<br />

consoled by the outpouring on social<br />

media about the lives Father San Juan<br />

touched, evidence of the good fruit<br />

that his vocation bore.<br />

“It’s an honor for Father Adrian to be<br />

summoned by the Lord,” said Siongco.<br />

“When our heavenly boss calls us, who<br />

should say no?” <br />

Pablo Kay is the editor-in-chief of<br />

<strong>Angelus</strong>.<br />


To leave a lasting legacy,<br />

contact us today.<br />

Kimberly Jetton<br />

Director of Planned Giving<br />

(213) 637-7504<br />

KJetton@la-archdiocese.org<br />

www.ADLALegacy.org<br />

GREAT<br />




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<strong>Angelus</strong>? Order a subscription<br />

as a gift for a loved one.<br />

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<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong> • ANGELUS • 17

Cleaning<br />

the stables<br />

Why the story of<br />

Italian Cardinal<br />

Angelo Becciu’s<br />

dramatic fall from<br />

grace is far from over<br />



Cardinal Angelo Becciu speaks with journalists during a media conference in Rome Sept. <strong>25</strong>.<br />


It was an announcement as shocking<br />

as it was short: On the evening of<br />

Sept. 24, Italian Cardinal Angelo<br />

Becciu, formerly the pope’s chief of<br />

staff, resigned not only as the prefect<br />

of the Vatican’s saint-making body,<br />

but also from “the rights connected to<br />

being a cardinal.”<br />

This formulation — renunciation<br />

of the “right connected to being a<br />

cardinal” — had only been used once<br />

before, when Scottish Cardinal Keith<br />

O’Brien resigned following a sex<br />

scandal involving adult seminarians.<br />

O’Brien spent the rest of his life in quiet<br />

“prayer and penance” just over the<br />

Scottish border in Newcastle, England.<br />

(American Cardinal Theodore<br />

McCarrick resigned completely from<br />

the College of Cardinals in 2018 after<br />

credible accusations were made against<br />

him involving the abuse of minors. He<br />

was removed from the priesthood the<br />

following year.)<br />

The Becciu case is different from<br />

O’Brien in two important ways: 1)<br />

Becciu has not been accused of sexual<br />

misconduct; and 2) he also has no<br />

plans to slip quietly into obscurity.<br />

Although when the announcement<br />

was made on Thursday many assumed<br />

the dismissal was connected to a<br />

notorious $2<strong>25</strong> million property deal<br />

in London, where Becciu was accused<br />

of juggling the books while serving as<br />

“sostituto” (“substitute”) at the Vatican’s<br />

Secretary of State, things became<br />

clearer on Friday when it was revealed<br />

the cardinal was being punished for<br />

allegedly funneling business to companies<br />

owned by his brothers.<br />

The cardinal defended himself on<br />

Friday, telling Italian news publication<br />

Domani that he committed no crimes,<br />

and “hasn’t stolen a penny.”<br />

Becciu admitted to favoring his brothers’<br />

construction companies, but said,<br />

“What’s wrong with that?”<br />

As of press time, the Vatican hasn’t<br />

commented on the affair, although<br />

Australian Cardinal George Pell, the<br />

former head of the Secretariat for the<br />

Economy who often complained about<br />

corruption at the Vatican, issued a<br />

statement congratulating Pope Francis<br />

for the “recent developments” and<br />

offering his hopes that the “cleaning of<br />

the stables” continues at the Vatican.<br />

The question remains: Why now?<br />

It is obvious the case against Becciu<br />

had been growing for some time. This<br />

summer, Pope Francis issued a new<br />

procurement law for the Vatican meant<br />

to increase transparency, and it specifically<br />

bans officials assessing bids from<br />

companies owned by close relatives.<br />

The ongoing saga of the former<br />

Harrods warehouse in the London<br />

neighborhood of Chelsea was also<br />

showing no signs of quieting down.<br />

The 2014 deal involved transforming<br />

the building into luxury apartments,<br />

but questionable financing from<br />

the Vatican’s Peter’s Pence fund and<br />

extravagant fees paid to the person who<br />

brokered the deal drew the attention of<br />

the Vatican’s financial watchdog.<br />

This led to a series of raids in the<br />

Vatican, and the dismissal of several<br />

employees.<br />

However, it is still surprising to see<br />

Becciu’s head on the block. In previous<br />

Vatican financial scandals, lower-ranking<br />

figures usually took the fall and<br />

any cardinal implicated was left in the<br />

clear.<br />

A cynic might say this is a typical<br />

Vatican power play. As far back as<br />

1859, French writer Edmond About<br />

noted that if “occasionally officials of a<br />

18 • ANGELUS • <strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong>

Jubílese Hoy!<br />


certain rank are punished, if even the<br />

law is put in force against them with<br />

unusual vigor, rest assured the public<br />

interest has no part in the business.<br />

The real springs of action are to be<br />

sought elsewhere.”<br />

At first glance, the Becciu affair<br />

seems to fit this narrative. Handing<br />

out contracts to friends and family has<br />

a long tradition in the Vatican and is<br />

hardly frowned upon in Italian society.<br />

For a cardinal to pay the consequences<br />

for such actions is certainly raising<br />

eyebrows, and not just Becciu’s.<br />

In addition, at least by Becciu’s account,<br />

the pope was punishing him for<br />

the hundreds of thousands of dollars<br />

that ended up in the bank accounts<br />

of his relatives, not the hundreds of<br />

millions of dollars currently swirling<br />

down the drain of the toxic London<br />

deal, a scandal that likely has more<br />

than Becciu’s fingerprints on it.<br />

However, Occam’s Razor may suggest<br />

otherwise. There’s an old adage that<br />

sometimes you have to shoot a general<br />

to change an army, and Pope Francis<br />

might have noticed that Becciu had<br />

nicely lined himself up in the crosshairs.<br />

Add the fact that some of the money<br />

diverted by the cardinal was meant<br />

for helping migrants — an issue close<br />

to the pope’s heart — and it seems<br />

that the pope might have just figured<br />

he was the right person to serve as an<br />

example.<br />

But before hailing a new era in Vatican<br />

justice, some questions are still up<br />

in the air.<br />

Becciu himself noted that he wasn’t<br />

ever put on trial and claims that a<br />

court would find him innocent. His<br />

case shows that high-ranking Church<br />

officials are still above official scrutiny,<br />

even if they can be punished for their<br />

alleged crimes. Amid calls for greater<br />

transparency, one-sentence late-night<br />

press statements leave a lot to be<br />

desired.<br />

The cardinal is also still a cardinal.<br />

There is no real definition of what<br />

“rights” he has lost, although presumably<br />

he won’t be allowed to vote in the<br />

next conclave.<br />

However, he will still be allowed to<br />

wear the cardinalate red and be called<br />

“Your Eminence” in the finest restaurants<br />

in Rome, which for many prelates<br />

is what being a cardinal is all about.<br />

And don’t count the 72-year-old cardinal<br />

out of the Vatican game entirely.<br />

Becciu still has friends in the highest<br />

echelons of the Church, and knows<br />

where many of the bodies — and bank<br />

accounts — are buried. If after the next<br />

conclave it emerges that all is forgiven,<br />

don’t be surprised: It’s not like he’s<br />

been found guilty of a crime. <br />

Charles Collins is an American<br />

journalist currently living in the United<br />

Kingdom, and is Crux’s managing<br />

editor.<br />

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Pope Francis in a file<br />

photo at the Vatican<br />

greeting Cardinal Angelo<br />

Becciu. The Vatican<br />

announced Sept. 24 that<br />

Pope Francis accepted<br />

Becciu’s resignation as<br />

prefect of the Congregation<br />

for Saints’ Causes<br />

and his renunciation of<br />

the rights associated<br />

with being a cardinal.<br />



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<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong> • ANGELUS • 19<br />

0708<strong>2020</strong>_24-Hr Insurance_<strong>Angelus</strong>_Rect.indd 15/28/20 3:27 PM

Going HOME again<br />

Our move back to<br />

Mass started before<br />

the lockdown. It<br />

started at creation<br />


Archbishop José H. Gomez celebrates<br />

his first Mass with faithful present at<br />

the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels<br />

June 7. Public Masses throughout<br />

the Archdiocese of Los Angeles had<br />

been suspended since March 16 amid<br />

the coronavirus pandemic.<br />


20 • ANGELUS • <strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong>

Father Moises Agudo leads a eucharistic procession through San Francisco during a “Free the Mass” demonstration Sept. 20, organized by Archbishop<br />

Salvatore Cordileone against the city’s harsh restrictions on public worship during the coronavirus pandemic.<br />



“We cannot live without the<br />

Mass!”<br />

That was the response<br />

of the Christians of Abitinae, in 304,<br />

when their interrogators asked why<br />

they exposed themselves to danger by<br />

meeting together on a Sunday.<br />

Christianity was illegal in the Roman<br />

Empire: a capital crime, punishable<br />

by horrific torture and death. It had<br />

been proscribed by law since the time<br />

of the Emperor Nero, 2 1/2 centuries<br />

before.<br />

The risks were great. Yet Christians<br />

were willing to take those risks. They<br />

were, in fact, impatient to take them,<br />

because life without the Mass was not<br />

life for them.<br />

More than 17 centuries later, the story<br />

of the Martyrs of Abitinae has been<br />

told again, this time as the centerpiece<br />

of a letter from the Vatican’s Congregation<br />

for Divine Worship. Titled “Let<br />

Us Return to the Eucharist with Joy!”<br />

and written by the congregation’s prefect,<br />

Cardinal Robert Sarah, the letter<br />

received the approval of Pope Francis<br />

and was released to the bishops of the<br />

world on Sept. 11.<br />

In its pages, Cardinal Sarah considers<br />

current events in light of the ancient<br />

story. He acknowledges the risks<br />

of attending Mass during a pandemic.<br />

But he ends by urging “a rapid and<br />

safe return to the celebration of the<br />

Eucharist.”<br />

Soon after his letter appeared,<br />

bishops from throughout the United<br />

States and Europe echoed his plea.<br />

Pope Francis had been among the<br />

first to raise the matter. When the<br />

churches in Rome reopened for Mass<br />

on May 22, he immediately stopped<br />

televising his daily liturgy. Through<br />

his spokesman he said he hoped<br />

people would “be able to return to<br />

communal familiarity with the Lord<br />

in the sacraments, participating in the<br />

Sunday liturgy and resuming, also in<br />

churches, the daily attendance of the<br />

Lord and his word.”<br />

While all these members of the hierarchy<br />

pressed for a return to congregational<br />

gathering, they acknowledged<br />

that continued isolation might be<br />

necessary for people with a high level<br />

of vulnerability to the virus. Even in<br />

ordinary circumstances, people who<br />

have a contagious illness — and people<br />

who have severely compromised<br />

immune systems — are permitted and<br />

even encouraged to stay home.<br />

The goal for all, however, should be<br />

the full return to the sacraments.<br />

These events made the news. They’re<br />

recent, and they’re relevant. They<br />

mark an outward movement that’s<br />

observable in far-flung churches and<br />

people.<br />

But they’re driven by an interior<br />

movement that was evident in the<br />

martyrs of Abitinae. It’s what drove<br />

them to say they could not live without<br />

the Mass. And it’s a longing as old<br />

as the world.<br />

<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong> • ANGELUS • 21

“The Last Supper,” by Juan de Juanes, 1562.<br />

• • •<br />

Adam and Eve were created for<br />

intimacy with God, but they lost the<br />

possibility when they disobeyed him<br />

and committed the original sin. They<br />

were banished from God’s presence.<br />

By means of the ancient Law, God<br />

sought to give humanity a new means<br />

of approach. He gave Israel the gift of<br />

his special presence, first in the tabernacle<br />

in the wilderness and then in<br />

the Jerusalem Temple. He also taught<br />

his Chosen People how to worship,<br />

sacrificially, as a community.<br />

Sacrifice is a practice common to all<br />

ancient religions, but modern Christians<br />

find it remote from their experience<br />

and difficult to understand.<br />

The modern Jewish scholar Baruch<br />

Levine put it in simple terms. He described<br />

the Bible’s Book of Leviticus —<br />

which contains the laws for sacrificial<br />

worship — as etiquette for meals eaten<br />

in the presence of God.<br />

Through the Law God guided his<br />

people back to intimacy, inviting them<br />

to eat meals with him. This is what<br />

families do.<br />

When Moses presented the Law to<br />

Israel, he sprinkled the people with<br />

the blood of sacrificed animals, saying,<br />

“Behold the blood of the covenant<br />

which the LORD has made with you<br />

in accordance with all these words”<br />

(Exodus 24:8).<br />

That blood sealed the covenant, the<br />

divine decree by which God created<br />

a family bond between himself and<br />

Israel.<br />


And then, the Book of Exodus tells<br />

us, the leaders of Israel “beheld God,<br />

and ate and drank” (Exodus 24:11).<br />

Because, again, this is what families do<br />

together: they eat and drink; they share<br />

meals.<br />

These meals were very important.<br />

They were acts of worship that gathered<br />

and defined the community. To<br />

share at the table was to be within the<br />

covenant. To sin was to forfeit one’s<br />

place at the table, one’s place in the<br />

community and the covenant with<br />

God.<br />

Great as these meals were, the people<br />

knew, however, that they were signs<br />

of something far greater. In Psalm 23,<br />

King David spoke of the Lord preparing<br />

a table for him, a place where his<br />

“cup overflows.”<br />

In the Book of Proverbs, King<br />

Solomon wrote mysteriously about<br />

Wisdom’s banquet: “She has mixed<br />

her wine, she has also set her table.<br />

She has sent out her maids to call …<br />

‘Come, eat of my bread and drink of<br />

the wine I have mixed’ ” (Proverbs<br />

9:2–3,5).<br />

The prophet Isaiah foretold a great<br />

banquet that would take place when<br />

the Messiah, the Christ, came to<br />

restore the fortunes of Israel: “On this<br />

mountain the LORD of hosts will make<br />

for all peoples a feast … a feast of wine<br />

on the lees … of wine on the lees well<br />

refined” (Isaiah <strong>25</strong>:6).<br />

And when the Messiah came, that<br />

anticipated banquet was his deepest desire.<br />

On the night of the Last Supper,<br />

Jesus told his disciples: “I have earnestly<br />

desired to eat this passover with you<br />

before I suffer” (Luke 22:15).<br />

He said this immediately before he<br />

blessed bread and declared it to be his<br />

body, before he blessed a chalice of<br />

wine and declared it to be his blood.<br />

He broke the bread and gave it to the<br />

men who shared his table; and then he<br />

shared the chalice with them.<br />

Echoing Moses, he called his chalice<br />

the “blood of the covenant” (Matthew<br />

26:28). In a way Moses could not have<br />

imagined, Jesus’ disciples “beheld<br />

God, and they ate and drank.” And<br />

he commanded them to “Do this in<br />

remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).<br />

Three days later, again he showed<br />

his earnestness to share that meal. Just<br />

hours after he had risen from the dead,<br />

Father Matt Elshoff, OFM Cap., celebrates Mass<br />

for the feast day of St. Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre<br />

Pio) at St. Lawrence Brindisi Church in Watts on<br />

Sept. 23.<br />


22 • ANGELUS • <strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong>



SINCE 1924<br />

Father Alexis Ibarra distributes Communion<br />

during Mass Sept. 20 at St. Anthony of Padua<br />

Church in Los Angeles.<br />


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Prep Course<br />

he found himself “at table” with two<br />

disciples. There “he took the bread<br />

and blessed, and broke it, and gave<br />

it to them,” and “was known to them<br />

in the breaking of the bread” (Luke<br />

24:30,35).<br />

His disciples were faithful to his<br />

command to “do this,” to re-present<br />

his sacrificial, covenantal meal. Their<br />

fidelity is evident in the Acts of the<br />

Apostles (Acts 2:42,46; 20:7). It is evident<br />

in the Letter to the Hebrews, with<br />

its description of community worship<br />

that involves an altar and the blood of<br />

the covenant (Hebrews 12:24; 13:10).<br />

And it is everywhere in the documents<br />

of the early Church Fathers.<br />

Christians, like their master, earnestly<br />

desired to eat that meal that God had<br />

foretold, and to eat it with God and the<br />

family of the Church.<br />

There has always been risk involved.<br />

For the first <strong>25</strong>0 years of its existence,<br />

the Church was an outlaw organization.<br />

Underground Masses have been<br />

celebrated in every age somewhere on<br />

earth.<br />

There are risks involved in every activity.<br />

But Christians have always seen<br />

the Mass as an essential activity, worth<br />

great risks. Americans are venturing<br />

out now, after many months, for the<br />

most important things. The first among<br />

those things should be the worship that<br />

God established from the foundation<br />

of the world. <br />

Mike Aquilina is a contributing editor<br />

to <strong>Angelus</strong> and the author of many<br />

books, including “How Christianity<br />

Saved Civilization … And Must Do So<br />

Again” (Sophia Institute Press, $18.95).<br />

<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong> • ANGELUS • 23<br />

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9/<strong>25</strong>/20 10:46 AM<br />

0409<strong>2020</strong>_OfficeOfLife_<strong>Angelus</strong>_1-3pgHoriz.indd 1<br />

9/<strong>25</strong>/20 4:04 PM

The redemption of<br />

Christopher Columbus<br />

Christopher Columbus<br />

landing in the<br />

New World, 1492.<br />

History’s most famous explorer<br />

was a man of sincere Christian faith. How did he<br />

become a symbol of everything that is wrong with Western Civilization?<br />



I<br />

have hardly seen many family<br />

members due to COVID-19, so I<br />

was pleased when my sister and her<br />

family recently came to join me for<br />

dinner at my parish.<br />

I asked my niece Maeve how school<br />

was going, and she offered a review of<br />

her classes. Maeve is not someone you<br />

have to draw out for conversation, but<br />

she made my jaw drop while talking<br />

about her history class. She was learning<br />

a lot, she told me with the insouciance<br />

of a teacher’s pet. That included<br />

— and she admitted that it was news to<br />

her — that Christopher Columbus was<br />

a bad man.<br />

“A bad man!” I exclaimed. “What do<br />

you mean?”<br />

“Well, because of slavery and all that.”<br />

As a Fourth Degree Knight of<br />

Columbus, I felt it incumbent on me<br />

to disagree. I told her that Columbus<br />

was a valiant man who had proceeded<br />

against all odds in his voyage and mission.<br />

I said while he was a man of his<br />

time, he was also a man of deep faith.<br />

Her response was not to pursue the line<br />

of argument. She didn’t say it, but I<br />

saw “Whatever!” in the thought cloud<br />

above her head.<br />

I was left frustrated, realizing that<br />

some of the most incomplete and<br />

erroneous ideas have become common<br />

cultural assumptions. If a student in a<br />

Catholic school can condemn Columbus<br />

as a “bad man,” then some influential<br />

cultural warriors have gained a<br />

victory.<br />

Columbus is now thought and taught<br />

to be a “bad man” because his voyage<br />

of discovery led to a dramatic expansion<br />

of European civilization on the world.<br />

Columbus has become a symbol of all<br />

that is wrong with Western Civilization,<br />

and it has become the consensus that<br />

24 • ANGELUS • <strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong>

Columin<br />

the<br />

1492.<br />


everything would be better if Europeans<br />

had not arrived in the New World.<br />

This idea is even embraced by some<br />

ecclesiastics, who propose that the<br />

evangelization that took place was not<br />

justified since the means by which<br />

it was conducted were not always<br />

upright.<br />

I remember standing on a Mayan<br />

pyramid in Tikal with some Spaniards<br />

who sighed with guilt because their<br />

ancestors had “destroyed” the civilization<br />

whose ruins lay before us. Tikal<br />

was destroyed before the conquistadors<br />

arrived, of course, but that did not matter<br />

to the romantic hankerings of these<br />

modern, post-Franco Spaniards (who<br />

enjoy all the perks and luxuries of the<br />

culture they profess to hate).<br />

“You don’t think that the Spanish<br />

were not at least better than the people<br />

who built this place for human sacrifice?”<br />

I asked. “Didn’t you hear the<br />

guide say they rolled the victims’ heads<br />

down these steep steps?” They rolled<br />

their eyes at my reply.<br />

How do such ideas gain currency and<br />

why are they being passed down to the<br />

next generation?<br />

Several books about Columbus have<br />

been very instructive in teaching me<br />

how people choose to think of him.<br />

One is the 1996 science-fiction novel<br />

“Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher<br />

Columbus” (Tor Books, $8.99),<br />

by Orson Scott Card.<br />

The author imagines an alternative<br />

history in which Columbus is stranded<br />

in America with people from the<br />

future. The planet has been catastrophically<br />

depopulated and ecologically<br />

damaged.<br />

Columbus is given credit in the novel<br />

for his sincere Christianity. But an<br />

African woman named Diko comes<br />

from the future to marry him and<br />

change the course of human history,<br />

supposedly to save the human race<br />

from extinction. In my opinion, Diko’s<br />

purpose is to power-wash Columbus<br />

with political correctness.<br />

Alternative-history fiction involves<br />

reimagining the past to reshape it.<br />

“Pastwatch” is an attempt in fiction to<br />

do what cultural commentators are<br />

trying to achieve by history writing:<br />

change our understanding of the past<br />

by adapting it to the prejudices of the<br />

present. Ambiguity, thy name is alternative<br />

history.<br />

Card may have written a historical<br />

novel that veered off into fantasy, but<br />

he did teach me something important.<br />

I knew that Christopher Columbus<br />

wanted to find a trade route to the<br />

Orient of Cathay and Cipango, as he<br />

called China and Japan.<br />

I assumed that he was motivated by<br />

what a German book about him captured<br />

in a title, “Um Gott und Gold,”<br />

or “About God and Gold.” I learned<br />

that the gold the discoverer wanted was<br />

supposed to pay for the liberation of<br />

Constantinople and the reconquest of<br />

Jerusalem.<br />

I also read a book about Columbus’<br />

laborious study of the Fathers and the<br />

Bible to defend his route to the East by<br />

way of the West, as well as his prediction<br />

of the end of the world if his plan<br />

was achieved. It is called “Christopher<br />

Columbus’s Book of Prophecies,” and<br />

shows how much Columbus worked<br />

out of a medieval theological mindset.<br />

In other words, Columbus was a<br />

brilliant sailor, a kind of entrepreneur<br />

of discovery, and a Christian mystic.<br />

He was concerned about conquest<br />

but as a means of evangelization. This<br />

seems on the face of it to be a contradiction,<br />

but he lived in the shadow of<br />

the Islam’s conquest of almost half of<br />

the world the Europeans knew and its<br />

ambition to conquer the other half.<br />

He saw himself marching toward the<br />

apocalypse, premised on the preaching<br />

of Christ to all the nations as predicted<br />

by Scripture.<br />

Much of the rejection of Columbus<br />

has to do with the imposition of<br />

European values and the exploitation<br />

of indigenous peoples that happened<br />

long after the explorer died. Still others<br />

argue that it would have been better<br />

for the Incas and the Aztecs to keep<br />

their violent empires and gold (until<br />

the French or the Portuguese or the<br />

English got to them) than to discover<br />

Jesus. That is a philosophical position<br />

that really is a decision about faith.<br />

The intellectuals who reject Columbus<br />

must rely on a hypothetical,<br />

alternative history in which Columbus<br />

did not discover America. But the real<br />

choice is between seeing the value of<br />

the past, with its light and shadows, or<br />

deciding to completely erase it.<br />

Pulling down the statues of Columbus<br />

doesn’t help people see reality in<br />

its complicated ambiguity — it makes<br />

people ignore the past, and thus fail to<br />

learn from it. Calling Columbus a “bad<br />

man” because of ideas that are antithetical<br />

or politically incorrect to some<br />

now, doesn’t make you more aware of<br />

history, but less so.<br />

History should give us a more complicated<br />

and nuanced view of human<br />

affairs, not a narrower one. <br />

Protesters topple a statue of Christopher Columbus in front of the Minnesota State Capitol in St.<br />

Paul, Minnesota, on June 10.<br />


Msgr. Richard Antall is pastor of Holy<br />

Name Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and<br />

author of “The Wedding” (Lambing<br />

Press, $16.95). He spent 20 years as a<br />

missionary in El Salvador.<br />

<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong> • ANGELUS • <strong>25</strong>



Surprise on Shamian Island<br />

The process of adopting a baby girl in China was full of worry,<br />

fear, and anxiety. Then God stepped in<br />

The author with her newly adopted daughter at the Chongqing Zoo in China.<br />


26 • ANGELUS • <strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong>

Chinese toddlers awaiting adoption at the social welfare institute in Chongqing.<br />


It is an incontrovertible fact to<br />

me that if we are but clear-eyed<br />

enough to see it, we can watch<br />

the hand of God at work everywhere<br />

along the course of our lives. Tenderly<br />

caressing, ceaselessly guiding, carefully<br />

shielding, gently pulling — he has<br />

not left us unattended for a moment.<br />

He does much more than watch and<br />

accompany. To think of his role in our<br />

lives as that of a loving spectator is to<br />

say that a good mother only yearns<br />

over her infant crying in his crib, and<br />

doesn’t fly to clasp him in her arms.<br />

When I was a girl with a child’s shining<br />

faith, I saw God’s hand in mine<br />

as plainly as I did my pretty mother’s.<br />

Later, as the scales of life grew over<br />

my eyes, this clarity of vision mostly<br />

left me. But (and how thankful I am<br />

for this!) there have been three occasions<br />

when a light broke upon me and<br />

I was granted a brief reprieve from my<br />

tragic blindness of spirit. The most<br />

beautiful one happened a few days<br />

after I met my youngest daughter.<br />

I went to China to adopt a little<br />

toddler girl after almost two years of<br />

anxious waiting. Two years is a long<br />

time, especially when they are filled<br />

with great uncertainty. Are we doing<br />

the right thing? Are we going to find<br />

challenges that we can’t easily overcome?<br />

Are there better parents out<br />

there for this child than us?<br />

These questions rolled around and<br />

around in my head for all the long<br />

months I spent waiting to hear from<br />

the agency. Finally the call came and<br />

off I went to China, without my husband,<br />

as he had to stay home to work<br />

and to care for our other children.<br />

I met our daughter on my third day<br />

in China when I, along with 12 couples<br />

in our adoption group, went to a<br />

social welfare institute in Chongqing.<br />

We joined a milling confusion of<br />

perhaps 50 foreign couples waiting to<br />

collect their long-hoped-for children.<br />

There was a room with a glass wall<br />

along the back and we all pressed our<br />

faces against it. That room had plastic<br />

gym mats on the floor and on the mats<br />

were dozens of babies and toddlers, all<br />

in either pink or green rompers. Our<br />

daughters and sons, on the other side<br />

of the glass. Imagine our exultation!<br />

One by one they called our names<br />

and a child was handed out to a weeping<br />

mother and a proud father, or in<br />

my case, just a joyful woman.<br />

At first my new daughter was calm<br />

and quiet. She seemed puzzled by me<br />

and looked at me thoughtfully when I<br />

tried to make her smile. She endured<br />

a warm bath, perhaps her first, with<br />

patience. She put up with my bumbling<br />

attempts to warm her bottle to<br />

just under boiling but not scalding, as<br />

I’d been told she was used to.<br />

She calmly let me hold her and hug<br />

her and caress her and hand her toys,<br />

which she promptly dropped, not<br />

knowing what a toy was. She suffered<br />

me to dangle her in front of my laptop<br />

computer so her father could exult<br />

over her chubby cheeks and rosebud<br />

mouth.<br />

Finally, it was all too much for a<br />

little girl who had spent all her short<br />

life lying virtually unattended in a<br />

hard wooden crib. On our second day<br />

together, she started to cry.<br />

She cried endlessly, disconsolately.<br />

She woefully but decidedly rejected<br />

all my timid advances and sobbed<br />

through her bottle. She wept and<br />

shook and rocked, and cried even in<br />

her sleep. All that night I heard her<br />

little hiccups of leaden despair and<br />

watched tiny teardrops gather at the<br />

corner of her tightly shut eyes.<br />

This went on the next day, all day.<br />

By nightfall I was as grief-stricken as<br />

she was. Me, a mother many times<br />

over, who had delighted in all my<br />

babies with a cheerfulness that had<br />

never faltered, and whose babies had<br />

delighted in her. Me, a woman who<br />

could change an infant with one hand<br />

while shoveling food into a squirming<br />

toddler with another, and all three of<br />

<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong> • ANGELUS • 27

The author and her daughter at the Catholic church on Shamian Island in Guangzhou where she<br />

attended a Mass that would change her life — and her daughter’s name.<br />

us laughing uproariously.<br />

I could not console her. What if she<br />

couldn’t love me? What if I couldn’t<br />

love her? That night I tasted perfect<br />

misery.<br />

Sometime during that long night I<br />

began to pray. Mentally I threw myself<br />

at the feet of Our Lady and begged<br />

her to help me. She, the best of<br />

mothers, the acme of tenderness, had<br />

to help me be a proper mother to my<br />

new little one, to teach me to love her<br />

patiently, calmly, at a distance, for as<br />

long as it took.<br />

I begged her to take away my fears<br />

that my daughter would not learn to<br />

love me. With every hour I felt more<br />

hopeless, and it was just past dawn<br />

when I gave up. I rose and dressed,<br />

and put my sad daughter in the stroller<br />

for a long walk.<br />

We were then in Shamian Island, in<br />

Guangzhou, near the American consulate.<br />

Shamian is a former foreign<br />

concession, an oasis of elaborate Western<br />

style buildings and wide streets;<br />

safe and quiet, even at dawn.<br />

Just a couple of blocks from the hotel<br />


I turned the corner and to my shocked<br />

surprise found myself facing a lovely<br />

little church. The sign proclaimed:<br />

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic<br />

Church. And the 6 a.m. Mass was just<br />

beginning.<br />

I had not been able to find a church<br />

the whole time I had been in China. I<br />

ached for the Mass. And there it was,<br />

impossibly, magically, after my long<br />

dark night.<br />

The little church was almost full of<br />

elderly Chinese men and women. I<br />

entered a pew with my little girl and<br />

every face turned to us. Shining faces,<br />

beaming, loving. The priest bowed<br />

to me, welcomed me. He began the<br />

familiar-in-any-language Mass, which<br />

I could follow perfectly and my heart,<br />

which only a few minutes before was<br />

heavy with gloom, started to dance<br />

within me.<br />

When the priest lifted the host it was<br />

as though he was pulling every black<br />

thought and hopeless feeling out of<br />

me and flinging it to the skies, to be<br />

swallowed by Love himself.<br />

After Mass the elderly men and<br />

women gathered around me, saying<br />

sweet things I couldn’t understand,<br />

patting me and the baby with soft<br />

hands, bowing and bobbing. The<br />

priest blessed my daughter elaborately,<br />

with wide movements and incomprehensible<br />

words. He blessed me, too. I<br />

cried again, this time with gladness.<br />

I remembered then what my priest<br />

at home told me when I went to him<br />

with my fears and doubts during the<br />

long wait for my daughter. He said,<br />

“You will bring her home and you will<br />

baptize her. You will give her to him.<br />

He will take care of everything. His<br />

hand will be upon you and you will<br />

not be afraid.”<br />

He was right. If God had whispered<br />

in my heart, and in my husband’s<br />

heart, the fervent desire to adopt this<br />

pretty baby, then God would provide<br />

the grace we needed to be her good<br />

and patient parents. And when I was<br />

overcome with worry and doubt, his<br />

saving hand would lead me out of<br />

myself and to him, as he had led me<br />

from the dark and despairing night to<br />

the bright dawn of the Mass.<br />

28 • ANGELUS • <strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong>

From that moment on I was filled<br />

with calm certainty and optimism. I<br />

was the daughter of God, and no mere<br />

spectator God but a Father who runs<br />

to the rescue of his stumbling child.<br />

My heart was buoyant with hope<br />

and I knew I could wait calmly for<br />

as long as it took for my little girl to<br />

learn to love me. When I brought her<br />

home we christened her Lourdes, in<br />

thanksgiving for that miracle of a little<br />

church, and of a Mass at dawn, just<br />

when it was most needed.<br />

It was only a few months later that<br />

God granted my husband and I a perfect<br />

moment with her. She was lying<br />

between us in bed, almost asleep. She<br />

reached out to me and patted my arm.<br />

“Mama” she said softly and confidently.<br />

Then she patted her father’s arm.<br />

“Papa.” She smiled contentedly and<br />

drifted off to sleep, secure, loved, loving.<br />

She was ours, and we were hers,<br />

and all three of us were his.<br />

I wonder sometimes how many<br />

instances of God’s loving providence<br />

pass unnoticed in the course of our<br />

lives? How many times have I chalked<br />

up some splendid gift from my Father<br />

as coincidence, or the work of my own<br />

cleverness, or sheer dumb luck?<br />

I suppose that is one of the things<br />

that will amaze us when and if we go<br />

to heaven. We will see how he saved<br />

us here by sending us a friend to give<br />

us good advice, or there by making<br />

incontrovertibly clear to us that our<br />

enemy was just a bumbling human<br />

being like ourselves.<br />

And we will know, finally, how the<br />

graces that flowed and gushed from<br />

the altar at each and every Mass that<br />

he called us to attend bore us up, and<br />

carried us along in a glad torrent, right<br />

to his very throne. <br />

626.795.8333<br />

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for USA TODAY, National Review,<br />

The Washington Post, The New York<br />

Times, and has appeared on CNN,<br />

Telemundo, Fox <strong>News</strong>, and EWTN.<br />

She practices radiology in the Miami<br />

area, where she lives with her husband<br />

and five children.<br />

<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong> • ANGELUS • 29<br />

Hours: Monday-Friday: 9am - 4:45pm — Saturday: 9am - 4pm<br />

Sisters Disciples of the Divine Master<br />

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“The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” papyrus fragment.<br />

Following the money<br />

A journalist uncovers the true-crime tale of a phony piece of<br />

parchment with an anti-Christian agenda<br />


When a Harvard professor<br />

needed fast cash to test<br />

the date of a controversial<br />

document that made a startling claim<br />

about Jesus, she knew where to go:<br />

“Funding for the carbon-14 testing<br />

was generously provided by a gift from<br />

Tricia Nichols,” noted Karen King<br />

of Harvard Divinity School in her<br />

2014 article for Harvard Theological<br />

Review.<br />

But who was Tricia Nichols? The<br />

journalist Ariel Sabar wanted to find<br />

out. He’d been covering King even<br />

before she had announced in 2012<br />

the discovery of a piece of papyrus that<br />

quoted Jesus as referring to “my wife.”<br />

Written in Coptic, an ancient Egyptian<br />

language that uses Greek letters,<br />

the fragment is smaller than a business<br />

card and contains eight lines of broken<br />

text. It was supposedly part of a much<br />

larger manuscript, now lost. King gave<br />

the scrap a provocative title: “The<br />

Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.” If nothing<br />

else, the name was a brilliant bit of<br />

branding: She made front-page news<br />

around the world.<br />

Yet it was also a fragment of her imagination.<br />

The once-celebrated document<br />

is a forgery, as many scholars<br />

suspected from the start and as Sabar<br />

shows conclusively in his outstanding<br />

book of investigative journalism,<br />

“Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con<br />

Man, and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife”<br />

(Penguin Random House, $29.95).<br />

Sabar has written a true-crime tale<br />

that reads like a reverse “Da Vinci<br />

Code”: Whereas Dan Brown’s notorious<br />

novel described the fictional<br />

exploits of a Harvard professor who<br />

battles Catholic reactionaries and<br />

learns that Jesus and Mary Magdalene<br />

were husband and wife, Sabar’s work<br />

of nonfiction tells how a Harvard<br />

scholar was duped into believing the<br />

false claims of a phony document because<br />

they appealed to her professional<br />

ambitions and ideological fantasies.<br />

(I podcasted with Sabar here.)<br />

Tricia Nichols played a minor but<br />

revealing role in the drama. She<br />

donated $5,000 to Harvard Divinity<br />

School to pay for the radiocarbon test<br />

of King’s so-called gospel. Although<br />

King cited Nichols in her academic<br />

article, the Harvard scholar refused<br />

to answer any of Sabar’s questions<br />

about her patron. A determined Sabar<br />

searched for Nichols on his own: “It<br />

was a common enough name, but<br />

after some false starts I found her.”<br />

So who is the person who underwrote<br />

a key study of a bogus text that makes<br />

explosive claims about Jesus? “The<br />

Sen<br />

Nam<br />

Add<br />

City<br />

30 • ANGELUS • <strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong>

widow of a medical testing magnate,<br />

Nichols is a Southern California philanthropist<br />

and abortion-rights activist<br />

with no record of having ever before<br />

donated to Harvard Divinity School.”<br />

Moreover, notes Sabar, the gift to<br />

Harvard via Nichols’ Cirila Fund “coincided<br />

with Nichols’ public criticism<br />

of a hospital that banned elective abortions<br />

after affiliating with a Catholic<br />

health system.” Sabar found a letter to<br />

the editor written by Nichols and published<br />

in the Daily Pilot, an Orange<br />

County newspaper: “The Catholic<br />

Church’s historical position, based on<br />

the likes of St. Augustine and Thomas<br />

Aquinas, is that women were created<br />

to live under the subjugation of men,”<br />

wrote Nichols in 2013.<br />

“This assumption is surpassed only<br />

by the sanctimony of the Covenant<br />

Health Network. Central to its doctrine<br />

is that women are to be denied<br />

self-determination in their healthcare<br />

decisions, and male administrators are<br />

granted the audacious right to select<br />

which legal reproductive procedures<br />

they’ll make available.”<br />

After quoting these passages, Sabar<br />

observes dryly: “That the generous<br />

funder of a key test had a contemporaneous<br />

political stake in a specific<br />

test result — one that challenged ‘the<br />

Catholic Church’s historical position’<br />

— was never publicly disclosed.”<br />

The dating test, by the way, showed<br />

that the papyrus that enamored King<br />

is indeed old. The forged text it bears,<br />

however, is the product of modern<br />

chicanery. Although King and other<br />

scholars fell for it, several experts in<br />

Coptic regarded the script as sloppy<br />

and spotted grammatical problems.<br />

Some of them were distinguished<br />

professors, but in an interesting and<br />

even inspiring detail, a couple of<br />

influential skeptics were self-trained<br />

scholars who worked from their homes<br />

and lacked institutional support.<br />

By following the money, Sabar<br />

uncovers a small episode in what is a<br />

much bigger story about a fraud that<br />

involves everything from the priestabuse<br />

scandal and online pornography<br />

to academic self-dealing and the perils<br />

of postmodern relativism.<br />

At its heart, though, Sabar’s excellent<br />

book is about<br />

the quest for<br />

truth. That’s<br />

why he<br />

called it “Veritas,”<br />

which<br />

also happens<br />

to be the<br />

Latin word<br />

that appears<br />

on the seal<br />

of Harvard<br />

University. <br />

John J. Miller is director of the Dow<br />

Journalism Program at Hillsdale<br />

College, a national correspondent for<br />

National Review, and the author of<br />

“Reading Around: Journalism on Authors,<br />

Artists, and Ideas” (Woodbridge<br />

Press, $12.99).<br />


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<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong> • ANGELUS • 31

THE CRUX<br />



What makes a<br />

truly independent<br />

Catholic thinker?<br />

Software developer Paul Graham<br />

recently posted a piece called<br />

“The Four Quadrants of Conformism.”<br />

An individual’s conformist tendencies<br />

reveal themselves in childhood, says<br />

Graham, and he asks us to imagine a<br />

Cartesian grid.<br />

“The kids in the upper left quadrant,<br />

the aggressively conventional-minded<br />

ones, are the tattletales. They believe<br />

not only that rules must be obeyed,<br />

but that those who disobey them must<br />

be punished.<br />

32 • ANGELUS • <strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong>


“The kids in the lower left quadrant,<br />

the passively conventional-minded, are<br />

the sheep. They’re careful to obey the<br />

rules, but when other kids break them,<br />

their impulse is to worry that those kids<br />

will be punished, not to ensure that<br />

they will.<br />

“The kids in the lower right quadrant,<br />

the passively independent-minded,<br />

are the dreamy ones. They don’t care<br />

much about rules and probably aren’t<br />

100 percent sure what the rules even<br />

are.<br />

“And the kids in the upper right<br />

quadrant, the aggressively independent-minded,<br />

are the naughty ones.<br />

When they see a rule, their first<br />

impulse is to question it. Merely being<br />

told what to do makes them inclined to<br />

do the opposite.”<br />

In adulthood, he continues, the<br />

aggressively conventional-minded cry,<br />

“Crush !” The passively<br />

conventional-minded fear, “What will<br />

the neighbors think?” The passively<br />

independent-minded shrug, “To each<br />

his own.” And the call of the aggressively<br />

independent-minded is, “Eppur<br />

si muove” — “And yet, it moves” —<br />

Galileo’s dogged insistence, apropos of<br />

the earth, in the face of the Inquisition.<br />

Graham’s thesis is that passively<br />

conventionally minded are the largest<br />

group and the aggressively independent-minded<br />

(among whom he clearly<br />

counts himself) are the smallest.<br />

We would probably all like to count<br />

ourselves among the independent-minded.<br />

But how deeply have the<br />

purportedly independent-minded in<br />

our culture truly thought?<br />

I’m with Graham completely in<br />

bemoaning the decline in the spirit of<br />

free inquiry within universities. On the<br />

other hand, he believes the independent-minded<br />

need to be protected<br />

because they have “all the new ideas,”<br />

and gives as an example the successful<br />

startup CEO.<br />

It’s accepted without further exploration,<br />

in other words, that the goal<br />

for all four groups is the acquisition<br />

of power, property, and prestige.<br />

Thus, the aggressively independent<br />

in Graham’s scheme are really simply<br />

the smartest, most driven, most secure,<br />

with the most to gain — and the least<br />

to lose — from the attempt to bend the<br />

world to their will.<br />

Where does the saint fit into such a<br />

scheme? In which of the four quadrants<br />

do you place, say, a virgin martyr,<br />

or Archbishop Oscar Romero?<br />

The truly independently thinking<br />

individual has in fact recognized his<br />

profound limitations, weaknesses, and<br />

propensity for sin, and is therefore<br />

entirely dependent on Christ.<br />

The independent thinker ponders the<br />

mystery of suffering, for example, and<br />

at some point realizes that every minute<br />

by rights, we should be lamenting<br />

before the doors of every prison, every<br />

refugee and forced labor camp, every<br />

abortion clinic, every execution chamber,<br />

every tree where a human being<br />

was lynched, the site of every Nazi gas<br />

chamber, every home where a woman<br />

was beaten, every sacristy where a child<br />

was abused, every convalescent home<br />

where the aged languish, forgotten and<br />

alone.<br />

At some point, the independent<br />

thinker thus orders his life, inner and<br />

outer, in a way that acknowledges and<br />

addresses all of those evils. You order<br />

your prayer, actions, and habits to the<br />

promotion of peace, to some rough<br />

form of poverty, to some rudimentary<br />

willingness to forego security, power,<br />

property, and prestige. You’re chaste<br />

in the full Catholic sense of the word,<br />

in or out of marriage, because you<br />

support the human family literally<br />

with your own body. You constantly<br />

examine your conscience, constantly<br />

fall short, constantly pick yourself up<br />

and start over again.<br />

Such an individual doesn’t ignore<br />

the world, or set himself against the<br />

world. Like Christ, such a person slips<br />

through the crowd unnoticed.<br />

The truly independent thinker was<br />

thus aware of racial injustice, to cite<br />

a current cultural example, decades<br />

before the death of George Floyd.<br />

The response to such a death is not<br />

therefore to set fire to a courthouse and<br />

call for the abolition of the police. The<br />

response is to ask oneself: What was I<br />

doing in solidarity with George Floyd<br />

before he was killed? What have I been<br />

doing all along to promote a responsible,<br />

competent, and compassionate<br />

police force?<br />

Perhaps you’ve been helping those in<br />

recovery from addiction, praying that<br />

George Floyd, and perhaps the police<br />

officer, showed up before putting<br />

themselves and others in danger.<br />

Perhaps you’ve been raising a family,<br />

remaining faithful to your spouse while<br />

silently suffering raging lust for your<br />

neighbor. Perhaps you’ve been in prison<br />

for protesting at a nuclear weapons<br />

site, silently praying for world peace.<br />

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, St.<br />

Maximilian Kolbe, and Father Alfred<br />

Delp, martyrs under the Nazi regime,<br />

were aggressively nonconformist only<br />

to the extent that a follower of Christ<br />

is aggressively nonconformist simply<br />

by virtue of the fact that he believes<br />

and acts from that belief by obeying<br />

the laws of supernatural love. They<br />

couldn’t have cared less about, in any<br />

worldly sense, succeeding.<br />

While the number of such people<br />

is far smaller than that of successful<br />

startup CEOs, their influence is of<br />

infinitely further reach — and eternal.<br />

“I urge you therefore, brothers, by the<br />

mercies of God, to offer your bodies<br />

as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing<br />

to God, your spiritual worship. Do not<br />

conform yourselves to this age but be<br />

transformed by the renewal of your<br />

mind, that you may discern what is the<br />

will of God, what is good and pleasing<br />

and perfect” (Romans 12:1–2).<br />

Or as Cardinal Emmanuel Célestin<br />

Suhard, archbishop of Paris from 1940<br />

to 1949, observed: “To be a witness<br />

does not consist in engaging in propaganda<br />

or even in stirring people up,<br />

but in being a living mystery; it means<br />

to live in such a way that one’s life<br />

would not make sense if God did not<br />

exist.” <br />

Heather King is an award-winning author, speaker, and workshop leader. For more, visit heather-king.com.<br />

<strong>October</strong> 2-9, <strong>2020</strong> • ANGELUS • 33

Join us at<br />



A Virtual Event!<br />

Celebrating religious life and honoring<br />

Father Greg Boyle, S.J.<br />

Founder/Director<br />

Homeboy Industries<br />

Los Angeles, CA<br />

-<br />

Friday, <strong>No</strong>vember 6, <strong>2020</strong> (5:00 PM EST)<br />

To support the gala or register to attend, please visit<br />

www.soar-usa.org/<strong>2020</strong>dc<br />

(There is no cost to attend the gala.)<br />

Genevieve L. Murphy<br />

Former SOAR!<br />

Board Member<br />

Boca Raton, FL – Washington, D.C.<br />

For more information, please contact Kevin Callahan<br />

at (202) 529-7627 or events@soar-usa.org<br />

All proceeds from this event will support<br />

the care of aging Catholic Sisters, Brothers and Priests.<br />

0309<strong>2020</strong>_SOAR_34thAnnualAwards_<strong>Angelus</strong>_backpage_10-2-20.indd 1<br />

9/<strong>25</strong>/20 12:05 PM

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