Angelus News | March 22, 2024 | Vol. 9 No. 6

On the cover: To cap off a nearly five-decades-long career working in Church communications, Francis X. Maier had an ambitious book idea: a ‘snapshot’ of the Church in America at this time in history that captured both its strengths and its sicknesses. On Page 10, Maier shares what he took away from hearing more than 100 “confessions”’ with American Catholic leaders for the project. On Page 20, John L. Allen Jr. offers his own diagnosis of the uneasy relationship between U.S. Catholics and Rome during the Pope Francis pontificate.

On the cover: To cap off a nearly five-decades-long career working in Church communications, Francis X. Maier had an ambitious book idea: a ‘snapshot’ of the Church in America at this time in history that captured both its strengths and its sicknesses. On Page 10, Maier shares what he took away from hearing more than 100 “confessions”’ with American Catholic leaders for the project. On Page 20, John L. Allen Jr. offers his own diagnosis of the uneasy relationship between U.S. Catholics and Rome during the Pope Francis pontificate.


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LET’S TALK,<br />


A look at the state of<br />

U.S. Catholicism in <strong>2024</strong><br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>. 9 <strong>No</strong>. 6

<strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong><br />

<strong>Vol</strong>. 9 • <strong>No</strong>. 6<br />

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To cap off a nearly five-decades-long career working in<br />

Church communications, Francis X. Maier had an ambitious<br />

book idea: a ‘snapshot’ of the Church in America<br />

at this time in history that captured both its strengths<br />

and its sicknesses. On Page 10, Maier shares what he<br />

took away from hearing more than 100 “confessions”’<br />

with American Catholic leaders for the project. On<br />

Page 20, John L. Allen Jr. offers his own diagnosis of the<br />

uneasy relationship between U.S. Catholics and Rome<br />

during the Pope Francis pontificate.<br />




Haitians fleeing violence gather to receive meals at<br />

a school being used for shelter in Port-au-Prince on<br />

<strong>March</strong> 4. The day before, Haitian officials declared<br />

a 72-hour state of emergency following the mass<br />

jailbreak of more than 5,000 inmates freed by gangs<br />

attacking a number of state institutions. Leaders<br />

there fear that the most recent cycle of kidnappings,<br />

rapes, killings, and civil unrest could result in<br />

a full-blown civil war.


Pope Watch............................................... 2<br />

Archbishop Gomez................................. 3<br />

World, Nation, and Local <strong>News</strong>...... 4-6<br />

In Other Words........................................ 7<br />

Father Rolheiser....................................... 8<br />

Scott Hahn.............................................. 32<br />

Events Calendar..................................... 33<br />

14<br />

18<br />

20<br />

<strong>22</strong><br />

26<br />

28<br />

30<br />

In local Passion plays, performance is more than mere theater<br />

Auxiliary Bishop O’Connell ‘still looking out for us’ one year later, friends say<br />

John Allen on why Pope Francis may foresee a less American church<br />

Can Catholics step up to face the pro-life battle no one’s talking about?<br />

Greg Erlandson on polarization, Catholics, and loving our enemy<br />

A sci-fi writer priest on the new ‘Dune’ film’s religion problem<br />

Heather King: Thoughts on virtue signaling from Flannery O’Connor<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 1


Time to talk to the kids<br />

The following is adapted from the<br />

Holy Father’s <strong>March</strong> 2 message for<br />

the first World Children’s Day, to take<br />

place in Rome on May 25-26, <strong>2024</strong>.<br />

I<br />

want to speak to each of you, dear<br />

children, because, as the Bible<br />

teaches us, and as Jesus showed so<br />

often, “you are precious” in God’s eyes<br />

(Isaiah 43:4).<br />

I encourage you to pay attention to<br />

the stories of grown-ups: your moms<br />

and dads, your grandparents and<br />

great-grandparents. And not to forget<br />

all those other children and young<br />

people who are already battling illness<br />

and hardship, in the hospital or at<br />

home, and those who even now are<br />

being cruelly robbed of their childhood.<br />

We need to hear those voices,<br />

too, for amid their sufferings they<br />

remind us of reality, with their tearful<br />

eyes and with that tenacious yearning<br />

for goodness that endures in the hearts<br />

of those who have truly seen the<br />

horror of evil.<br />

In order for us and our world to grow<br />

and flourish, it is not enough to be<br />

united with one another; we need,<br />

above all else, to be united with Jesus.<br />

From him we receive a great deal of<br />

courage. He is always close to us, his<br />

Spirit goes before us and accompanies<br />

us on all the world’s pathways.<br />

With Jesus, we can dream of the renewal<br />

of our human family and work<br />

for a more fraternal society that cares<br />

for our common home. This starts<br />

with little things, like saying hello to<br />

others, asking permission, begging<br />

pardon, and saying thank you. Our<br />

world will be changed if we all begin<br />

with these little things, without being<br />

ashamed to take small steps, one at<br />

a time. The fact that we are small<br />

reminds us that we are also frail and<br />

need one another as members of one<br />

body.<br />

That is not all. We cannot be happy<br />

all by ourselves, because our joy<br />

increases to the extent that we share<br />

it. When we keep the blessings we<br />

have received to ourselves, or throw<br />

tantrums to get this or that gift, we<br />

forget that the greatest gift that we<br />

possess is ourselves, one another: all of<br />

us, together, are “God’s gift.”<br />

Other gifts are nice, but only if they<br />

help us to be together. If we don’t use<br />

them for that purpose, we will always<br />

end up being unhappy; they will never<br />

be enough.<br />

Instead, when we are all together,<br />

everything is different! Think of your<br />

friends, and how great it is to spend<br />

time with them: at home, at school,<br />

in the parish, and the playground,<br />

everywhere. Friendship is wonderful<br />

and it grows only in this way: through<br />

sharing and forgiving, with patience,<br />

courage, creativity, and imagination,<br />

without fear and without prejudice.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w, I am going to share a special<br />

secret with you. If we really want to<br />

be happy, we need to pray, to pray a<br />

lot, to pray every day, because prayer<br />

connects us directly to God. Prayer<br />

fills our hearts with light and warmth;<br />

it helps us to do everything with<br />

confidence and peace of mind. Jesus<br />

constantly prayed to the Father. Do<br />

you know what Jesus called him? In<br />

his language, he simply called him<br />

“Abba,” which means “Daddy.” Let’s<br />

do the same thing! We will always feel<br />

that Jesus is close to us.<br />

Papal Prayer Intention for <strong>March</strong>: We pray that those who<br />

risk their lives for the Gospel in various parts of the world<br />

inflame the Church with their courage and missionary<br />

enthusiasm.<br />

2 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>



The Eucharist commits us to the poor<br />

On <strong>March</strong> 12, Archbishop Gomez addressed<br />

One LA–IAF, a coalition of area<br />

religious and nonprofit organizations<br />

promoting social justice. The following is<br />

adapted from his talk.<br />

One day, St. Mother Teresa<br />

found an old woman lying on<br />

the streets of Calcutta. She was<br />

homeless, mentally ill, and in a lot of<br />

pain.<br />

Mother Teresa took her in, but all<br />

the while the woman was yelling and<br />

cursing. At one point she asked: “Why<br />

are you doing this? Who taught you?”<br />

Mother Teresa replied: “My God<br />

taught me.”<br />

This calmed the woman down a little,<br />

and she asked: “Who is this God?”<br />

Mother Teresa responded: “You know<br />

my God. My God is called Love.”<br />

This story teaches us a beautiful lesson<br />

about compassion for the poor.<br />

It also tells us about the heart of God,<br />

about the Eucharist, and about our<br />

commitments as believers.<br />

Our God is called love.<br />

And our God so loved the world that<br />

he sent his only Son to share in our<br />

humanity, and in the reality of our<br />

everyday lives.<br />

And out of love, Jesus laid down his<br />

life on the cross for you and me, and for<br />

every person who was ever born or ever<br />

will be born.<br />

The Eucharist is the sacrament of his<br />

great love.<br />

Jesus left us the Eucharist so that we<br />

would never forget what he has done<br />

for us and how much he loves us. And<br />

he left us the Eucharist so that we<br />

would never forget his new commandment:<br />

that we love one another, as he<br />

has loved us.<br />

And from the time of the apostles,<br />

there has always been a close connection<br />

between the Eucharist and<br />

Jesus’ command to love our neighbor,<br />

especially the poor.<br />

One of the oldest Church documents<br />

outside the New Testament is called<br />

“The Teaching of the Apostles.” It dates<br />

to the early third century, and it contains<br />

this line: “Widows and orphans<br />

are to be revered like the altar.”<br />

Our Eucharistic faith is summed up<br />

in this beautiful line.<br />

Jesus taught us that he would be<br />

present in the bread and wine at the<br />

altar, but also in the flesh and blood of<br />

our neighbors, especially the poor and<br />

suffering. “As you did it to one of the<br />

least of these my brethren, you did it to<br />

me,” he told us.<br />

This is how we are called to live:<br />

loving and revering Jesus in the Eucharist,<br />

and putting our love into living<br />

action in reverent service of the poor.<br />

The Servant of God Dorothy Day<br />

lived for nearly 50 years serving the<br />

poorest of the poor in New York City.<br />

In her writings, she describes serving<br />

the most difficult of the homeless, men<br />

and women broken in body and spirit:<br />

the mentally ill, those addicted to drugs<br />

and alcohol.<br />

Dorothy Day shared in their poverty,<br />

lived with them under the cruelest of<br />

conditions.<br />

She once wrote: “If we hadn’t got<br />

Christ’s own words for it, it would seem<br />

raving lunacy to believe that if I offer a<br />

bed and food and hospitality to some<br />

man or woman or child … that my<br />

guest is Christ. … There are no halos<br />

already glowing around their heads —<br />

at least none that human eyes can see.”<br />

Day lived from the Eucharist, which<br />

she received every day.<br />

And the Eucharist gave her new eyes<br />

to see. <strong>No</strong>t human eyes, but Christ’s<br />

eyes. As she found Jesus Christ in the<br />

bread and wine at the altar, she was<br />

able to see him in everyone she served.<br />

The Catechism says, “The Eucharist<br />

commits us to the poor.”<br />

Jesus calls us to follow him ever more<br />

deeply into the mystery of human suffering<br />

and pain, the mystery of poverty<br />

and injustice.<br />

He calls us to feed and clothe him in<br />

the hungry, the thirsty, and the naked.<br />

He calls us to visit him in the sick and<br />

the prisoner, and to welcome him in<br />

the migrant and the refugee.<br />

He calls us to work for a world that<br />

is more merciful, and where everyone<br />

is able to lead a life worthy of human<br />

dignity.<br />

Mother Teresa was right: Our God is<br />

called love. And our God calls us to be<br />

the servants of his love in the world.<br />

She used to say, “Our lives are woven<br />

with Jesus in the Eucharist. In holy<br />

Communion we have Christ under the<br />

appearance of bread; in our work we<br />

find him under the appearance of flesh<br />

Jesus taught us that he would be present in the<br />

bread and wine at the altar, but also in the flesh<br />

and blood of the poor and suffering.<br />

and blood. It is the same Christ. ‘I was<br />

hungry, I was naked, I was sick, I was<br />

homeless.’ ”<br />

In this time of the national Eucharistic<br />

Revival, let us weave our lives with<br />

Jesus in the Eucharist.<br />

Let us revere him at the altar and in<br />

the poor and the orphan, and in every<br />

one of our neighbors, especially those<br />

most in need.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 3

WORLD<br />

■ Do conclaves need to slow down?<br />

A Church historian has proposed slowing down the conclave<br />

process for electing future popes to protect against the<br />

perils of the Information Age.<br />

In a February <strong>2024</strong> essay in the Italian periodical Il Mulino,<br />

Alberto Melloni makes the case that papal elections should<br />

cut the number of daily votes from four to one. If no person<br />

receives the mandatory two-thirds vote to elect a new pontiff,<br />

the cardinals would then recess for a day for conversation<br />

and prayer before casting another vote.<br />

Melloni claims that modern developments like artificial<br />

intelligence, mass computing power, and social media make<br />

it easier for accusations against public figures to emerge<br />

on a mass scale. A slower conclave, he argues, would allow<br />

for greater time to protect against the election of a prelate<br />

connected to clerical abuse scandals by guaranteeing “time<br />

for conversation and discussion” among cardinals and giving<br />

candidates more freedom to withdraw from consideration.<br />

■ France enshrines constitutional<br />

right to abortion<br />

France’s Catholic bishops called for prayer and fasting after<br />

it became the first country to enshrine a right to abortion<br />

into its constitution.<br />

Passed in a 780 to 72 vote by both houses of Parliament<br />

<strong>March</strong> 4, the amendment states that women have “guaranteed<br />

freedom” to abort. The change does not expand current<br />

abortion regulations in France, where it is free of charge and<br />

allowed up to 14 weeks of pregnancy.<br />

Pro-life leaders have warned that the constitutional language<br />

protecting abortion could lead to legal clashes with<br />

other rights.<br />

Lucie Pacherie, a lawyer for the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation,<br />

told OSV <strong>News</strong> that the amendment elevated the right<br />

to abortion “to a higher level than other freedoms, such as<br />

freedom of conscience or freedom of expression” recognized<br />

by the country’s judiciary.<br />

Women attend a demonstration against abortion and euthanasia in Versailles, France,<br />

on <strong>March</strong> 4. | GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES<br />

■ A priest and his phone<br />

bring peace to Mexican city<br />

A Catholic priest helped end nearly 10 days of gang terror<br />

in Chilpancingo, Mexico, with a phone call.<br />

The city in the state of Guerrero had been living in fear<br />

after rival gangs attacked and killed seven bus drivers. Then,<br />

in early February, Father José Filiberto Velázquez, leader of<br />

the nearby Human Rights Center Minerva Bello, got the<br />

gang leaders together on the phone.<br />

“I saw a possibility<br />

to put them in<br />

contact to solve<br />

their dispute and I<br />

did it,” Velázquez<br />

said. “Both parties<br />

were willing to<br />

talk and both of<br />

them trusted in<br />

the process.”<br />

Velázquez is<br />

part of a national<br />

program, National<br />

Dialogue for<br />

Peace, that was<br />

launched following<br />

the murder of<br />

two Jesuit priests<br />

in 20<strong>22</strong>. The<br />

movement looks to<br />

leverage Christian<br />

and nongovernmental<br />

networks<br />

to reduce violence<br />

in the country.<br />

Father José Filiberto Velázquez. | FACEBOOK<br />

■ Finland study: Gender transition<br />

doesn’t lead to less suicide<br />

Transgender drugs or surgeries do not appear to remedy<br />

mental health problems in youth, a study from Finland<br />

found.<br />

“[The research] does not support the claims that [gender<br />

reassignment] is necessary in order to prevent suicide,” the<br />

researchers wrote in the study, published by peer-reviewed<br />

journal BMJ Mental Health. “[Gender reassignment] has<br />

also not been shown to reduce even suicidal ideation, and<br />

suicidal ideation is not equal to actual suicide risk.”<br />

The study argued that, though the suicide rates of adolescents<br />

with gender identity struggles are higher than<br />

the general population, they commonly suffer from other<br />

underlying psychological problems. The researchers also<br />

found that suicide remained “rare” among adolescents who<br />

sought psychiatric help, regardless of whether they received<br />

such drugs or surgeries.<br />

4 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

NATION<br />

■ Catholic Chiefs kicker reaches out<br />

to parade shooting victim’s family<br />

Kansas City Chiefs kicker and outspoken Catholic Harrison Butker sent one<br />

of his jerseys to the family of one of the 23 victims of the Feb. 14 Super Bowl<br />

championship parade.<br />

Lisa Lopez-Galvan, a Catholic mother of two, was attending the event in a<br />

Butker jersey. According to her family, Lopez-Galvan was a fan of the player’s<br />

public witness to his own faith.<br />

“Hearing that she was a fan of my outspokenness for our shared Catholic<br />

faith makes this even more personal. I am honored to provide a jersey to the<br />

family for her to wear,” Butker said in an accompanying message to the family.<br />

“My wife, Isabelle, and I are heartbroken by the murder of Lisa due to degenerate<br />

violence.<br />

Murder is a sin that<br />

cries out to God<br />

for vengeance, and<br />

I pray the men<br />

involved in this<br />

tragedy will be<br />

brought to justice,”<br />

he said.<br />

Two men were<br />

arrested in connection<br />

to the killing<br />

spree, which left<br />

Lopez-Galvan dead<br />

and <strong>22</strong> children<br />

and adults wounded.<br />

Lisa Lopez-Galvan, second from right, stands with her family outside of a church<br />

in 20<strong>22</strong>. | OSV NEWS/FACEBOOK<br />

■ Church Militant to<br />

shutter after $500,000<br />

judgment<br />

Controversial right-wing Catholic website<br />

Church Militant is shutting down<br />

after being ordered to pay $500,000 in a<br />

defamation lawsuit.<br />

Father Georges de Laire, a priest of the<br />

Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire,<br />

had sued the site for defamation<br />

for reporting in 2019 that de Laire<br />

had “botched” cases in his role as the<br />

diocese’s judicial vicar. The article was<br />

published anonymously and cited anonymous<br />

sources to support its claims.<br />

Church Militant eventually acknowledged<br />

they could not substantiate the<br />

claims or produce the sources, and the<br />

article was later revealed to have been<br />

written by a canon lawyer involved in a<br />

dispute overseen by de Laire.<br />

The site has long faced criticism for<br />

its conspiratorial, thinly sourced news<br />

stories and provocatory headlines. Its<br />

founder, Michael Voris, was removed<br />

from its board of directors last year after<br />

reports of misconduct from former<br />

employees.<br />

■ Man charged with<br />

vandalism, attacking priest<br />

at Oregon monastery<br />

A suspect was arrested in connection<br />

to the Feb. 28 vandalism of a 54-acre<br />

Marian shrine in Portland, Oregon.<br />

Police arrived at “The Grotto,” also<br />

known as the National Sanctuary of<br />

Our Sorrowful Mother, after shattered<br />

security cameras triggered an<br />

automated call. But 57-year-old Paul<br />

Joseph Yauger, who was reported to<br />

be “yelling and confrontational,” was<br />

able to vandalize several rooms and a<br />

chapel before police could arrest him.<br />

During the attack, Yauger pushed<br />

into the room of Father Leo Hambur,<br />

a member of the Order of Friar<br />

Servants of Mary who runs the grotto.<br />

Hambur fled the room after Yauger<br />

picked up a pair of scissors.<br />

“The real damage is to the sanctity of<br />

this place,” Chris Blanchard, executive<br />

director of the shrine, told media.<br />

Relics? We got ’em. — Visitors look at a display of 200 relics at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Oratory in Montclair,<br />

New Jersey, Feb. 24. Nearly 3,500 people from as far as Maine and Maryland waited more than two hours<br />

to view the relics of Jesus, the Holy Family, various saints, martyrs, and blesseds on exhibit at the oratory. The exhibit<br />

was organized by the Order of the International Crusade for Holy Relics, which works to rescue and protect<br />

holy relics from profanation and neglect. | OSV NEWS/SEAN QUINN, COURTESY ARCHDIOCESE OF NEWARK<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 5

LOCAL<br />

The newly arrived statue of St. Junípero Serra in<br />

the Mission Basilica San Buenaventura garden. |<br />


■ Padre Serra<br />

reappears in<br />

Ventura on<br />

Leap Day<br />

A larger-than-life<br />

bronze statue of<br />

St. Junípero Serra<br />

that once stood in<br />

front of Ventura’s<br />

City Hall arrived<br />

at Mission Basilica<br />

San Buenaventura<br />

Feb. 29.<br />

The statue was<br />

installed atop a<br />

concrete base in the<br />

mission’s garden<br />

area with the help of<br />

a crane. As previously<br />

reported in<br />

the <strong>March</strong> 8 issue<br />

of <strong>Angelus</strong>, the statue’s successful return to the public view<br />

after being removed from Ventura’s City Hall in 2020 amid<br />

protests was the result of intense talks between Catholic,<br />

Native American, and civic leaders.<br />

“Moving the St. Junípero Serra statue to [the mission]<br />

underscores our dedication to preserving our community’s<br />

rich history and honoring the legacy of our earliest residents,”<br />

said Ventura Mayor Joe Schroeder.<br />

■ Pope Francis appoints UCLA<br />

professor to Vatican academy<br />

Pope Francis has appointed a UCLA astrophysicist to the<br />

Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences.<br />

Andrea Mia Ghez, professor of physics and astronomy and<br />

Astrophysics chair at UCLA, is one of the world’s leading<br />

experts in observational astrophysics and leads the university’s<br />

Galactic Center Group. She won a <strong>No</strong>bel Prize in<br />

2020 for her work in helping discover the likely presence<br />

of a supermassive black hole in the Milky Way’s galactic<br />

center.<br />

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences says its mission is<br />

to honor “pure<br />

science wherever<br />

it may be<br />

found, ensure<br />

its freedom,<br />

and encourage<br />

research for<br />

the progress of<br />

science.” Academy<br />

members<br />

representing<br />

countries all<br />

around the<br />

world participate<br />

in study groups<br />

and meetings to<br />

examine specific<br />

scientific issues.<br />



■ Camarillo churches help<br />

raise money to fight hunger<br />

Hundreds of parishioners from Padre Serra<br />

Church and St. Mary Magdalen Church in<br />

Camarillo participated in the <strong>2024</strong> Crop Hunger<br />

Walk, which raises money and awareness<br />

for local and global hunger-fighting efforts.<br />

The two Catholic parishes, along with nearby<br />

St. Columba’s Episcopal Church, Trinity<br />

Presbyterian Church, Mount Cross Lutheran<br />

Church, and St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox<br />

Church, took part in the 2.8-mile walk at Pitts<br />

Ranch Park on <strong>March</strong> 10.<br />

The walk has raised more than $28,000 so far<br />

and funds will support local programs — St.<br />

Mary Magdalen Christian Service Program,<br />

St. Columba’s food pantry, Christians Acting<br />

Together thrift store, and RAIN Transitional<br />

Living Center — as well as internationally.<br />

Last year, organizers said they raised a<br />

record-breaking $27,000. Supporters can still<br />

donate at crophungerwalk.org.<br />

A shared spirit of peace — The Ecumenical & Interreligious Officer for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles,<br />

Rt. Rev. Alexei Smith, right, was joined by Rabbi Lana Zilberman Soloway of Congregation Or<br />

Ami in Calabasas, Ghadir Haney, a Muslim social activist from Israel, Father Saba Haj, a Palestinian<br />

Greek Orthodox priest from Israel, and Rabbi Or Sohar, a reform rabbi from Israel, for a “Spirit of<br />

the Galilee” panel discussion at St. Mel Church in Woodland Hills Feb. 27. | SUBMITTED PHOTO<br />

Y<br />

6 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

V<br />


Letters to the Editor<br />

Gratitude for a beloved saint’s return<br />

Reading “Standing Up for Serra” in the <strong>March</strong> 8 issue brought me back<br />

to August 2020, when I watched the statue of our beloved St. Junípero<br />

Serra removed from in front of the Ventura City Hall under the cloak of darkness.<br />

I fell to my knees and wept for the tragic events that led to this, for the lies that were<br />

told about him, for the threatened violence by a small number of activists willing to<br />

vandalize and desecrate public property to advance their beliefs, and for the rising<br />

wave of anti-Christian rhetoric that was beginning to sweep our country. It felt so<br />

much like being present at the crucifixion and witnessing the suffering of an innocent<br />

and holy man.<br />

But I was blessed to be there when the statue returned, in the light of day, to Ventura<br />

on Feb. 29 and was installed in the garden of Mission Basilica San Buenaventura.<br />

As God can bring good out of the evil he permits, more people are aware of who<br />

Serra is. Today we can honor him and follow in his footsteps, continuing his mission<br />

to bring the good news to the people of California. Last year 300 people walked 35<br />

miles over two days in the annual St. Junípero Serra Walking Pilgrimage, covering<br />

the Santa Barbara to Ventura Mission portion of the California Camino mission<br />

trail. Siempre Adelante!<br />

— Greg Wood is the coordinator of the St. Serra Pilgrimage (stserrapilgrimage.org)<br />

Serra statue is where it should be<br />

Thank you for your story on the return of the Father Serra statue in the <strong>March</strong> 8<br />

issue.<br />

It was with great joy that I saw the Father Serra statue returned and now in a fitting<br />

place at Mission Basilica San Buenaventura. There were many who worked for a<br />

peaceful resolution to the placement of this statue, and I’m glad he is at the last mission<br />

he personally founded. As a mission docent, I can use this statue and its return<br />

for enhancing our discussion of the California mission era and Father Serra’s vision<br />

for the missions and his great love for the people here.<br />

— Mary Mellein, Ventura<br />

Y<br />

Continue the conversation! To submit a letter to the editor, visit <strong>Angelus</strong><strong>News</strong>.com/Letters-To-The-Editor<br />

and use our online form or send an email to editorial@angelusnews.com. Please limit to 300 words. Letters<br />

may be edited for style, brevity, and clarity.<br />

Moving memories of ‘Bishop Dave’<br />

A miter belonging to late<br />

Auxiliary Bishop David G.<br />

O’Connell is brought forward<br />

at the start of a Feb. 24<br />

memorial Mass at Mission<br />

San Gabriel marking a year<br />

since his death. | VICTOR<br />

ALEMÁN<br />

View more photos<br />

from this gallery at<br />

<strong>Angelus</strong><strong>News</strong>.com/photos-videos<br />

Do you have photos or a story from your parish that you’d<br />

like to share? Please send to editorial @angelusnews.com.<br />

“What will artificial<br />

intelligence make of the<br />

notion of hell? Will the<br />

robots laugh?”<br />

~ Lance Morrow, in a <strong>March</strong> 7 Wall Street Journal<br />

commentary on how we think about hell.<br />

“My revenge is called love,<br />

my shield forgiveness, my<br />

armor mercy. I will not dwell<br />

on obstacles, nor will I be<br />

frightened by the darkness.”<br />

~ Father Felice Palamara, a priest in Cessaniti, Italy,<br />

who discovered bleach in his Communion chalice<br />

while celebrating Mass last month. A local mafia<br />

upset at the priest’s opposition to organized crime<br />

is believed to be behind the poisoning attempt.<br />

“<strong>No</strong> political party can<br />

adequately answer to the<br />

radical demands of the<br />

Gospel.”<br />

~ Jennifer <strong>News</strong>ome Martin, new director of <strong>No</strong>tre<br />

Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture, in a <strong>March</strong> 4<br />

OSV <strong>News</strong> article on her becoming the first woman<br />

to lead the center.<br />

“It’s possible that we have<br />

hit peak almond.”<br />

~ Caity Peterson, associate director of the Public<br />

Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center,<br />

in a <strong>March</strong> 4 LA Times article on California’s<br />

almond industry struggles.<br />

“I learned gratitude as if it<br />

were a math formula.”<br />

~ Devin Kelly, in a <strong>March</strong> 7 Longreads commentary<br />

on him learning how to ride a bike and how to drive<br />

a car at age 32.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 7

IN EXILE<br />


Oblate of Mary Immaculate Father<br />

Ronald Rolheiser is a spiritual<br />

writer; ronrolheiser.com<br />

Aging as a natural monastery<br />

What is a monastery? How do<br />

monasteries work? St. Benedict<br />

(A.D. 480-547), who<br />

is considered the founder of Western<br />

monasticism, offered this counsel as<br />

an essential rule for his monks: “Stay<br />

in your cell and it will teach all you<br />

need to know.” Properly understood,<br />

this is a rich metaphor, not a literal<br />

counsel. When he is telling a monk<br />

to stay in his cell and let it teach him<br />

what he needs to know, he is not<br />

referring to a literal monk’s cell in a<br />

monastery. He is referring to the state<br />

of life in which a monk or anyone<br />

else finds himself or herself.<br />

Sometimes this has been expressed<br />

in Christian spirituality as being<br />

faithful to your duties of state. The<br />

idea here being that if you are faithful<br />

in love and in good heart to the<br />

situation in life in which you find<br />

yourself, life itself will bring you to<br />

maturity and virtue.<br />

For example, a mother who gives<br />

herself over in selflessness and<br />

fidelity to raising her children will<br />

be brought to maturity and altruism<br />

through that process. Her home will<br />

be her monk’s cell and she will be<br />

metaphorically the abbess of the<br />

monastery (with some very young<br />

monks) and staying inside that<br />

monastery, her home, will teach her<br />

all she needs to know. She will be<br />

raising children, but they will also be<br />

raising her. Motherhood will teach<br />

her what she needs to know and will<br />

turn her into a wise elder, a biblical<br />

and archetypal Sophia.<br />

The process of aging is a natural<br />

monastery. If we live long enough,<br />

eventually the aging process turns<br />

everyone into a monk. Monks take<br />

four vows: poverty, chastity, obedience,<br />

and perseverance. The process<br />

of aging which moves us (seemingly<br />

without mercy) toward marginalization,<br />

dependence on others, and<br />

into a living situation from which<br />

there will be no escape, in a manner<br />

of speaking, imposes those four vows<br />

on us.<br />

But, as St. Benedict counsels, this<br />

can teach us all we need to know,<br />

and has a unique power to mature<br />

us in a very deep way. Monks have<br />

secrets worth knowing. So does the<br />

aging process.<br />

This can be particularly instructive<br />

vis-à-vis how we can make our final<br />

days and our death a more radical<br />

gift to others. In the first centuries of<br />

Christianity, martyrdom was seen as<br />

the ideal way for a Christian to end<br />

his or her days here on earth. It was<br />

seen as a radical way of imitating<br />

Christ and giving your death away as<br />

a gift.<br />

Of course, this had to be rethought<br />

after Christianity became the state<br />

religion and emperors no longer<br />

martyred Christians. What followed<br />

then were various attempts at doing<br />

this, metaphorically martyrdom. One<br />

fairly popular way of doing it was<br />

that, after raising their children and<br />

reaching retirement, a couple would<br />

leave each other, and each would<br />

go off to a separate monastery and<br />

live out the rest of his or her life as a<br />

monk or a nun.<br />

Classical Christian mystics speak<br />

about how in the last phase of our<br />

lives we should enter something they<br />

call the dark night of the spirit, namely,<br />

that we proactively make a radical<br />

decision grounded in faith to move<br />

into a situation in life where we can<br />

no longer take care of ourselves but<br />

must trust, in raw faith, that God will<br />

provide for us. This parallels Hindu<br />

spirituality which suggests that in<br />

the last, fully mature stage of life we<br />

should become a sannyasin, a holy<br />

old beggar.<br />

I suspect that most of us will never<br />

proactively cut off all our former<br />

securities and, on purpose, place ourselves<br />

in a situation within which we<br />

are helpless to provide for and take<br />

care of ourselves. But this is where<br />

nature steps in. The aging process<br />

will do it for us. It will turn us into<br />

a sannyasin and put us into the dark<br />

night of the spirit.<br />

How? As we age and our health<br />

declines and we find ourselves more<br />

marginalized in terms of having a<br />

vital place within society, we will<br />

progressively lose our capacity to take<br />

care of ourselves. Eventually, if we<br />

live long enough, for many of us it<br />

will mean moving into an assisted<br />

facility, which is in effect a natural<br />

monastery.<br />

This metaphor is also apropos for<br />

what it means to (by conscription)<br />

enter the dark night of the spirit and<br />

what it means to be a holy old beggar,<br />

a sannyasin. In essence it means<br />

this: When someone is in an assisted<br />

living facility, irrespective of whether<br />

he or she is a millionaire or a pauper,<br />

the rules are the same for everyone.<br />

Since you can no longer take care of<br />

yourself (and indeed you don’t have<br />

to) you live a monastic life of obedience<br />

and dependence.<br />

In assisted living, you live by the<br />

monastic bell and you die as a holy<br />

old beggar.<br />

8 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>



A veteran Church communicator interviewed more than 100 people to<br />

get a ‘snapshot’ of the Church in the U.S. today. Here’s what he heard.<br />


What’s really going on in the<br />

Catholic Church in the United<br />

States right now?<br />

In many parts of the country, the hard<br />

numbers reflect a sobering reality:<br />

declines in baptisms, marriages, and<br />

ordinations to the priesthood; closing<br />

parishes and shrinking dioceses. In others,<br />

signs of growth where immigrants<br />

seem to be counteracting those trends.<br />

What’s harder to pin down is the<br />

overall “mood” of Catholics in the U.S.<br />

Lately, they’ve witnessed a reawakening<br />

of the clergy sexual abuse crisis,<br />

endured the effects of a pandemic, and<br />

been largely indifferent to an ongoing<br />

synod styled as a listening exercise that<br />

sought out their input on the state of<br />

Father Liam McDonald, pastor of St. Therese of<br />

Lisieux Church in Montauk, New York, holds a monstrance<br />

containing the Blessed Sacrament as he leads<br />

a Eucharistic procession in Montauk in observance of<br />

Religious Freedom Day Jan. 16, 20<strong>22</strong>. | OSV NEWS/<br />


the Church.<br />

At the same time, words like “vibrant”<br />

and “robust” are frequently used by<br />

10 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

leaders — particularly bishops — to<br />

describe thriving ministries and success<br />

stories. Enthusiasm is building toward<br />

the National Eucharistic Revival<br />

planned by the country’s bishops, set to<br />

culminate with a large-scale pilgrimage<br />

to Indianapolis this summer.<br />

But rather than try to break down the<br />

numbers and figures, veteran Church<br />

communicator Francis X. Maier had<br />

a different idea: Talk to Americans<br />

serving the Church — bishops, priests,<br />

and laypeople — give them the option<br />

of remaining anonymous (in order to<br />

be able to speak more freely) and gather<br />

their thoughts in a book.<br />

The result, titled “True Confessions”<br />

(Ignatius Press, $24.95) represents a<br />

doctor’s checkup of sorts on the state of<br />

the U.S. church, offering<br />

a snapshot of its hopes and<br />

fears, as well as its strengths<br />

and its sicknesses. After<br />

reading it, I asked Maier,<br />

who’s had a storied career<br />

as a screenwriter, journalist,<br />

and senior adviser to<br />

retired Archbishop Charles<br />

Chaput (in both Denver<br />

and Philadelphia) about<br />

his experience with the<br />

project and what he took<br />

away from it.<br />

You frame this book as<br />

a big undertaking: an<br />

attempt to take a “snapshot”<br />

of the Church in<br />

the United States at this<br />

moment in history. What<br />

prompted you to take<br />

something like this on?<br />

I had the kind of experiences<br />

that allowed me to do it: I<br />

worked in and around the Church for<br />

nearly five decades, first as a journalist,<br />

then as a diocesan staffer, and then 23<br />

years as senior aide to a metropolitan<br />

archbishop. The clergy and laypeople<br />

I worked with were overwhelmingly<br />

good people. I loved the Church when<br />

I started, and over the years I saw both<br />

the best and the worst in the Church<br />

in an intimate way; a way laypeople<br />

rarely do. At the end of it all, I love her<br />

even more now than when I began. So<br />

when you approach the end of a good<br />

career, you want to take stock and sum<br />

up what you’ve learned and seen as a<br />

record to be shared with others.<br />

“True Confessions” is based on 103<br />

interviews I did over a 17-month period<br />

with bishops — 30 of them from 25<br />

different states and one overseas diocese<br />

— other clergy and religious, and<br />

laypeople. I avoided the extremes in the<br />

Church. I focused on faithful people<br />

sincerely trying to live what the Church<br />

believes and teaches. And I think what<br />

emerges is an honest portrait of American<br />

Catholic life in the third decade<br />

of the 21st century: There’s a lot of<br />

very sobering candor. There’s nothing<br />

Pollyannaish about any of the content;<br />

but there’s also a deep well of fidelity,<br />

energy, and hope that rarely gets mass<br />

media attention.<br />

I’ve been disappointed with foreign,<br />

including Roman, criticism of the U.S.<br />

church over the past decade. It hasn’t<br />

been fair, and the people I worked<br />

alongside deserve better. I was struck<br />

some years ago by a piece in La Civilta<br />

Cattolica, which was remarkably<br />

ill-informed. I could have done a better<br />

and more accurate job of naming the<br />

problems in U.S. Catholic life myself.<br />

The article was a disservice to the many<br />

people in this country who actually<br />

live and do the work of the Gospel.<br />

It operated out of an ignorance and<br />

questionable spirit that left a permanent<br />

bad taste. And it hasn’t been an isolated<br />

example.<br />

In the book’s introduction, you write:<br />

“The Church is the soul of the world<br />

and the leaven of a just society. To live<br />

that mandate, she needs to recover<br />

her health and mission. But an illness<br />

can be addressed and healed only<br />

when it’s named.” So, after all the<br />

work you put into this book, what is<br />

the illness?<br />

In the process<br />

of assimilating,<br />

we tend to<br />

absorb the flaws<br />

of American culture<br />

along with<br />

its positives. We<br />

forget our history<br />

and therefore<br />

our identity<br />

President Donald Trump<br />

and Democratic presidential<br />

nominee Joe Biden<br />

participate in their final<br />

2020 U.S. presidential<br />

campaign debate at<br />

Belmont University in<br />

Nashville, Tennessee,<br />

Oct. <strong>22</strong>, 2020. | CNS/<br />


and missionary mandate as a believing<br />

community. We become unmoored<br />

from our foundations. As a result, a lot<br />

of Catholics live their faith as a good<br />

ethical code that more or less guides<br />

their sense of right and wrong. But the<br />

supernatural stakes at the heart of the<br />

faith are forgotten, and that eventually<br />

kills belief. You can see it in a variety of<br />

ways: the urgency to conform ourselves<br />

to popular opinion on sexuality issues,<br />

for example. There’s a great desire not<br />

to be different; not to be cut out of the<br />

herd.<br />

Tocqueville noted 200 years ago that<br />

Americans, for all our talk about de-<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 11

mocracy, equality, free will, and individualism,<br />

tend to be creatures of public<br />

opinion. If public opinion is running<br />

against the Church, then many of us<br />

will lean in that direction. So that’s a<br />

huge problem now: this desire to not be<br />

embarrassed by Church teachings that<br />

are inconvenient for secular society.<br />

There’s a lot of talk these days about<br />

polarization and political ideology<br />

in the Church. But is there a deeper<br />

“illness” you think might be afflicting<br />

Catholics, regardless of whether<br />

they’re so-called liberals or conservatives?<br />

Look, I want to get to heaven, and a<br />

Christian life lived well is the way to do<br />

it. But that gets obscured, particularly<br />

in an election year, by whether you’re<br />

voting for Biden because of this, or for<br />

Trump because of that. I think both<br />

men are embarrassments to our system<br />

of government, and a further sign of the<br />

turmoil in our culture.<br />

Politics is about getting and using<br />

power, and power is our favorite golden<br />

calf, no matter how we dress it up with<br />

moralizing language. That’s especially<br />

true in a time of rapid social change,<br />

which is where we are right now. Confusion<br />

feeds anxiety, which feeds our<br />

Ben Lash receives Communion during an Oct. 28, 2018,<br />

Mass for people with special needs at Jesus the Divine<br />

Word Church in Huntingtown, Maryland. | CNS/BOB<br />

ROLLER<br />

appetite for control, which makes us<br />

unhinged in some of our most important<br />

choices.<br />

We’re living through a kind of new<br />

Reformation. I mean a literal re-formation<br />

or restructuring of the way we look<br />

at the world and ourselves. And it can<br />

get very painful and very dangerous.<br />

In a technologically dominant society,<br />

the supernatural can seem implausible.<br />

The political environment will reflect<br />

that. So if we really believe there’s<br />

something more than this world and<br />

this life, then we can’t be purely political<br />

animals. We have to see beyond<br />

politics, because it always has a dark<br />

side. But that’s very hard to do when<br />

you’re wrapped in a 24/7 media cocoon<br />

that’s often toxic and misleading.<br />

The question of whether Trump<br />

or Biden is “better” from a Catholic<br />

perspective is almost irrelevant to the<br />

real issues of the moment. Both men<br />

are expressions, more than the cause,<br />

of our culture’s deeper contradictions.<br />

You can’t build a healthy society on the<br />

worship of more and better stuff, faster.<br />

But that’s what American life now tries<br />

to do. I want a world where my kids and<br />

grandkids can feed their souls as well as<br />

their stomachs; where they can deepen<br />

their faith in a loving and just God and<br />

practice their religious convictions in a<br />

way that makes the world better. I just<br />

don’t see that happening this year or<br />

next, no matter who gets elected.<br />

It doesn’t absolve us as Catholics from<br />

political involvement, but we need<br />

a cold shower in reality about what<br />

politics can accomplish, what it can’t,<br />

where it’s leading us, and where it<br />

stands in our priorities.<br />

The concerns that people voice in<br />

“True Confessions” track pretty closely<br />

with what I’ve just said. They know<br />

there’s something more than all this turmoil,<br />

and they want something deeper<br />

and more life-giving than a culture of<br />

relentless conflict and name-calling,<br />

both of which invade even the Church.<br />

One of the bishops you interviewed<br />

said: “I think we all need to realize,<br />

not just bishops but all of us, that<br />

we’ll face a much less friendly climate<br />

in this country going forward.” After<br />

your work on this book, what do you<br />

think the Church can do to equip<br />

my generation to have kids and raise<br />

families in this less-friendly future?<br />

We can start by helping our people be<br />

more uncomfortable with this country.<br />

Patriotism, properly understood, is an<br />

important Christian virtue. It’s a form<br />

of filial love for the best ideals of our<br />

nation. But real love is always anchored<br />

in truth, and the truth is — I heard<br />

versions of this again and again while<br />

working on “True Confessions” — we<br />

Francis X. Maier |<br />


now have a culture that turns mature<br />

citizens into self-absorbed consumers<br />

led by even more self-absorbed and<br />

self-flattering leaders. That doesn’t end<br />

well.<br />

My generation, the Baby Boomer<br />

Catholics, were educated to be good<br />

Americans, to assimilate, to be part of<br />

the program. And we can be proud of<br />

some of the things we’ve contributed<br />

and achieved. But we don’t really<br />

“fit” here on some fundamental level.<br />

Again, that doesn’t give us the right to<br />

abandon our public engagement —<br />

quite the opposite. But this world, this<br />

country, isn’t our home, and we’ve lost<br />

that knowledge, which is biblical. The<br />

New Testament says that here “we have<br />

no lasting city, but we seek the city<br />

which is to come.” We need to recover<br />

that wisdom.<br />

Unless we develop a more reserved<br />

and critical relationship with our current<br />

culture, we’re not doing our job as<br />

Christians.<br />

Two of the biggest “disruptor” moments<br />

for priests in the last couple of<br />

decades have been the sexual abuse<br />

crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.<br />

Based on your interviews with priests<br />

12 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

for this book, which of the two left a<br />

bigger mark?<br />

The abuse crisis. Quite apart from the<br />

damage done to victims by a minority<br />

of bad clergy, the other lingering<br />

wound — innocent priests not fully<br />

trusting their bishops — comes from<br />

the worry that they could be thrown<br />

overboard to protect the institution<br />

based on a false allegation. It’s not<br />

a universal feeling. But as that 20<strong>22</strong><br />

survey of priests from the Catholic<br />

University of America suggested, it’s a<br />

significant issue with a lot of priests.<br />

Somebody might read this book and<br />

dismiss it as kind of a dark assessment<br />

of things. How would you respond? Is<br />

there hope out there?<br />

“True Confessions” is only “dark” if<br />

you over-focus on the words of criticism.<br />

But there’s much more than that<br />

to the text.<br />

Every good Christian marriage has a<br />

framework of love and a spirit of trust;<br />

it also has a boatload of candor that can<br />

sometimes get pretty blunt. A faithful<br />

life in the Church is very much the<br />

same. People don’t invest their lives<br />

and waste their time on things they<br />

don’t love. And the voices in “True<br />

Confessions” are passionate about their<br />

love for the Church: their confidence<br />

and hope and joy in the Church. They<br />

prove it with their lives. In the end,<br />

we’re defined by what we do; that’s why<br />

it’s called the Acts of the Apostles, and<br />

not their big ideas or frustrated complaints.<br />

Every person interviewed in “True<br />

Confessions” confesses Jesus Christ<br />

by the witness of his or her life. I’ve<br />

read the interviews in Chapter 6,<br />

with parents of children with special<br />

needs, more than a hundred times. I’m<br />

moved every time. I don’t know where<br />

that kind of unselfconscious love and<br />

heroism comes from, but I’ve found it<br />

again and again throughout my life in<br />

the Church.<br />

It’s impossible to come away from<br />

such people afraid or discouraged. So<br />

I believe very strongly that if you read<br />

“True Confessions,” you’re going to<br />

finish it with a spirit of hope. Because<br />

people really do believe. They really do<br />

have joy. And they’re committed to the<br />

future of the Church.<br />


Francis X. Maier is currently a Senior<br />

Fellow in the Catholic Studies Program<br />

at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.<br />

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

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

U.S. Catholics anonymous<br />

Here is a sampling of some noteworthy quotes given anonymously from “True Confessions.”<br />

We can no longer count on the culture to support a<br />

Christian life. What we’ve got now in our country is, at best,<br />

a tolerance of religion as a personal hobby for superstitious<br />

weak people who cling to their childhood dreams. At worst,<br />

more and more, we’re dealing with a real hatred, an outright<br />

bigotry, toward religious faith.<br />

— Bishop, urban diocese<br />

Clericalism has two faces. It’s both the laity sitting back and<br />

expecting the clergy to do everything. And then, obviously,<br />

there’s the clerical hierarchy, which assumes and sometimes<br />

misuses its authority.<br />

— Married laywoman, theologian, and ministry executive<br />

The Church in the United States is much less corrupt with<br />

much more freedom and many more resources than in many<br />

other places. And there are many more opportunities for lay<br />

leadership, including women’s leadership, in the American<br />

Church. We need to acknowledge and take pride in that.<br />

— Single laywoman and ministry leader<br />

Whenever I get down or angry, I compare the good that’s<br />

happening here with the state of the Church in A.D. 1000.<br />

It was a debacle, a disaster beyond belief, and yet we came<br />

through. So, I have a lot of hope.<br />

— Bishop, urban diocese<br />

The political environment in the United States today is<br />

forcing all of us to wake up to the new realities. Men who<br />

were wishy-washy and could hide from some of the hot issues<br />

before . . . well, nobody can hide anymore.<br />

— Bishop, urban/rural diocese<br />

We’re no longer arguing about how to get to a commonly<br />

shared goal. <strong>No</strong>w we have warring goals.<br />

— Bishop, urban/rural diocese, on the spike in anger and<br />

anxiety in the country since 2020<br />

If Christ doesn’t come back and end the whole thing tomorrow,<br />

it’s worth continuing to fight for the ultimate victory.<br />

— Veteran priest in a letter<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 13


Passion plays are popular among Spanish-language parishes,<br />

but their appeal goes beyond a simple production.<br />


Members of Comunidad<br />

Primera Corintios 13 at Christ<br />

the King Church practice on a<br />

recent Sunday for their annual<br />

Passion play. | MIKE CISNEROS<br />

Christian Escobar has been involved,<br />

in one form or another,<br />

with the annual Passion play at<br />

Christ the King Church in Hollywood<br />

since he was 4.<br />

From watching his father sew the<br />

group’s first costumes, to playing the<br />

role of a centurion this year, Escobar<br />

has deep ties to the production, now<br />

in its 37th year.<br />

For Escobar, the play is about more<br />

than just acting. It’s a way for him to<br />

mature in his faith, bond with the<br />

church community, and evangelize.<br />

“Ever since I can remember I’ve<br />

enjoyed being a part of this,” said<br />

Escobar, now 42. “It’s something that<br />

I have grown to love and appreciate.”<br />

Escobar is among scores of Catholics<br />

across the Archdiocese of Los Angeles<br />

who will appear in Spanish-language<br />

14 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

Christ the King’s passion play has been<br />

performed at more than 50 locations over<br />

the past 37 years. | COMUNIDAD PRIMERA<br />

CORINTIOS 13<br />

Passion plays reenacting Christ’s final<br />

hours during Holy Week.<br />

Passion plays emerged as a popular<br />

evangelization tool in medieval<br />

Europe, and were later brought to the<br />

Americas by missionaries, said Father<br />

Juan Ochoa, pastor of Christ the<br />

King and director of the archdiocese’s<br />

Office for Divine Worship.<br />

The plays found fertile ground in<br />

Mexico, he said, where Spanish missionaries<br />

used them to teach indigenous<br />

tribes that human sacrifices were<br />

unnecessary because God had already<br />

sacrificed his only Son for them.<br />

Today, Passion plays remain popular<br />

largely with the archdiocese’s Mexican<br />

community, he said, especially<br />

among those who can relate to a<br />

suffering Jesus.<br />

“It’s one thing to read in the Bible<br />

about the passion of Jesus,” he said.<br />

“But when you’re there watching,<br />

it completely comes alive in a very<br />

different way.”<br />

At Christ the King, Comunidad Primera<br />

Corintios 13 — an organization<br />

that began as a youth group and now<br />

engages multiple generations — will<br />

present a Passion play depicting the<br />

Last Supper through Jesus’ crucifixion.<br />

The production — which will be<br />

shown at the parish and at St. Ferdinand<br />

Church in San Fernando this<br />

year — has been performed at more<br />

than 50 locations over the years, said<br />

Maria Elena Burgos, who’s been with<br />

the group since its infancy.<br />

At St. Emydius Church in Lynwood,<br />

about 60 people have been gearing up<br />

since December to perform for about<br />

2,500 spectators, said organizer Efrain<br />

Alvarez.<br />

The group has performed for 19<br />

consecutive years, Alvarez said, and<br />

actors are poised to reenact various<br />

Gospels from Holy Thursday through<br />

Easter Sunday.<br />

And at St. Marcellinus Church in<br />

Commerce, parishioners are getting<br />

ready to stage a series of dramatizations<br />

on Good Friday just as they’ve<br />

done for the last 10 years, said director<br />

Luis Carlos Betancourt.<br />

Services will begin with a Via Crucis<br />

St. Marcellinus Church parishioners stage a series<br />

of dramatizations every Good Friday depicting<br />

Christ’s final hours. | ST. MARCELLINUS<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 15

— or Stations of the Cross — procession<br />

in the streets, followed by a<br />

rosary, readings, Gospel dramatizations,<br />

and veneration of the cross at<br />

the church, he said.<br />

Many of those who help stage these<br />

annual productions say they’ve seen<br />

the theatrical works change the lives<br />

— and hearts — of both the actors<br />

and the audience.<br />

Miguel Angel Huerta, for example,<br />

has played Jesus in Christ the King’s<br />

Passion play numerous times since<br />

joining the cast in 2017. To prepare<br />

for the role, he ensures he’s in a state<br />

of grace and prays before the Blessed<br />

Sacrament, improving his personal<br />

and family life in the process.<br />

“My life completely changed,” he<br />

said. “I never thought that I’d be<br />

where I am spiritually.”<br />

Guadalupe Ramirez has served as a<br />

coordinator for St. Emydius’ Passion<br />

play for more than 10 years and said<br />

that doing so has deepened her faith,<br />

introduced her to new ministries, and<br />

brought her a renewed appreciation<br />

for Christ’s death and resurrection.<br />

“I have learned so much by being<br />

part of this,” she said. “We have a tendency<br />

of going to Mass and leaving,<br />

but we don’t know what the Church<br />

offers after that. It’s not only Mass that<br />

the Church is capable of offering us.<br />

There’s so much behind that.”<br />

Escobar said he sees the church’s<br />

annual play as a way to transmit the<br />

Gospel, by showing spectators that<br />

Christ is there to love them and save<br />

them.<br />

“A lot of times people are crying,<br />

they’re relating, the message hits<br />

them,” he said. “And that’s one of the<br />

best feelings, just knowing that we<br />

spread the message.”<br />

For Betancourt, the Via Crucis is also<br />

a form of evangelization. Rather than<br />

performing Stations of the Cross at<br />

the parish, the group stops at various<br />

homes, where families read pre-written<br />

reflections aloud. Many times,<br />

however, they scrap the script when<br />

an actor playing a beleaguered Jesus<br />

arrives at their doorstep.<br />

“The beautiful part about this,” he<br />

said, “is that often when Christ arrives<br />

and falls to his feet at their station, it<br />

touches their heart. Often, what they<br />

had planned to say in their reflection<br />

completely changes because they are<br />

opening their conscience and their<br />

heart. And that is the work of God.”<br />

Many of those involved in bringing<br />

the acts to life say they hope to continue<br />

to do so for years to come.<br />

Burgos said that although many<br />

in her group are now parents or<br />

grandparents, they still feel called to<br />

perform and encourage their families<br />

to join the cast as well. Participating<br />

alongside their offspring has helped<br />

strengthen their faith and give them<br />

the ability to spread the Gospel to a<br />

new generation, she said.<br />

“We realize that God wants us to<br />

continue,” she said. “And as long as<br />

God allows us, we’ll be there.”<br />

Theresa Cisneros is a freelance journalist<br />

with 24 years of experience in<br />

the news industry. She is a fourth-generation<br />

Southern California resident<br />

and lives in Orange County with her<br />

husband and four children.<br />

16 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

<strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 17

Staff from the<br />

archdiocese’s San<br />

Gabriel regional office<br />

processed in with a<br />

portrait of Auxiliary<br />

Bishop David G.<br />

O’Connell at the start<br />

of a Feb. 24 memorial<br />

Mass marking a year<br />

since his death.<br />

LA’s ‘man of the heavens’<br />

One year after his death, friends say the spiritual legacy of<br />

Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell is becoming more apparent.<br />


One year since the death of Auxiliary Bishop David G.<br />

O’Connell, the shock over his murder has largely<br />

worn off, the tributes have died down, and the<br />

billboards that briefly lit up Los Angeles freeways flashing his<br />

smiling face are gone.<br />

While a grieving city may have begun moving on, a portrait<br />

of “Bishop Dave,” as a priest and a man, has come more<br />

sharply into focus.<br />

“He was a mystic in the sense of his love affair with Christ,”<br />

his friend Msgr. Timothy Dyer, pastor of St. Patrick Church<br />

and St. Stephen Church in South LA, said in his homily at<br />

a Feb. 24 memorial Mass marking a year since O’Connell’s<br />

death. “All that he did in the streets and people’s homes, all<br />

the places he went to when he was bishop, he was conscious<br />

of this love in Christ in his own life.”<br />

His purpose in life, Dyer said, was “to bring that love to<br />

others.”<br />

But rather than memorialize the bishop, the Saturday<br />

morning Mass at Mission San Gabriel Árcangel’s Chapel<br />

of the Annunciation was mostly a chance to reflect on what<br />

O’Connell left behind, and what he was still doing.<br />

“He’s still looking out for us,” said his longtime friend,<br />

former LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, who attended<br />

the Mass with his wife, Kathy. “We continue to move forward<br />

with his guidance and more so, his inspiration.”<br />

McDonnell first met the future bishop when he was a<br />

young LAPD officer and O’Connell was a young priest working<br />

the same tough streets of South LA. Their friendship was<br />

forged from a common concern for the people they served —<br />

and their shared Irish heritage.<br />

“He was kind of a man of the heavens, but a man of the<br />

streets,” said McDonnell, whose friendship with O’Connell<br />

continued from those early days.<br />

At the service, both Dyer and Msgr. Jarlath Cunnane,<br />

O’Connell’s closest friend and compatriot, highlighted a<br />

little-known episode of O’Connell’s life: the interior crisis he<br />

experienced after being named a bishop.<br />

“It was terribly traumatic for him, and he went into this<br />

darkness,” said Dyer of O’Connell’s struggle to accept leaving<br />

South LA. “He knew he was going to have to leave the life<br />

he’d been living for nearly 40 years.”<br />

Later, Cunnane said that in overcoming that crisis, O’Con-<br />

18 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

nell broke through to “a new<br />

The late bishop’s close friend<br />

dependence on God.”<br />

Msgr. Jarlath Cunnane, pastor<br />

of St. Cornelius Church in<br />

“His prayer became more mystical,”<br />

said Cunnane. “He became<br />

Long Beach, speaks at the end<br />

of the Feb. 24 memorial Mass.<br />

more uninhibited in his faith, in his<br />

love for Jesus and for the Blessed<br />

Mother.”<br />

He also recalled how O’Connell jokingly questioned his<br />

appointment by quipping that while there was a shortage of<br />

vocations of young men for the priesthood, “there was no<br />

shortage of vocations among young priests wanting to be<br />

bishops.”<br />

“His comment, not mine,” said Cunnane to waves of laughter<br />

in the church.<br />

O’Connell’s mark was felt throughout the liturgy celebrated<br />

by Archbishop José H. Gomez, together with four LA<br />

auxiliary bishops and more than 30 priests. During holy<br />

Communion the choir sang the Irish prayer known as “St.<br />

Patrick’s Breastplate”: “Christ beside me, Christ before me,<br />

Christ behind me,” and after, the words of a prayer meditation<br />

O’Connell used to teach: “Welcome to my heart, Lord<br />

Jesus.”<br />

After the Mass, Archbishop Gomez led a procession of<br />

people next door to the sacristy of the recently remodeled<br />

Mission San Gabriel, where he blessed an exhibit with<br />

mementos from the slain bishop’s life, including vestments,<br />

pictures, and his Jerusalem Bible.<br />

Many of the more than 700 people at the service hailed<br />

from parishes where they’d met O’Connell as a priest.<br />

Esperanza Navarro came from St. Frances X. Cabrini<br />

Church in South LA, where O’Connell served for more than<br />

15 years. She has an image of O’Connell on her prayer altar<br />

at home, where she makes time to ask for his intercession in<br />

prayer.<br />

“He loved our community, and all of us — people of all ages<br />

— loved him,” said Navarro. “He had that gift of knowing<br />

how to be with people.”<br />

Others noted how they still benefit from the practical prayer<br />

techniques he’d taught them, like making time during the<br />

day to tell Jesus “I love you” or reciting the “prayer of the<br />

heart” regularly.<br />

“He was a part of my very early faith formation, and just<br />

planted a seed that has grown ever since,” said Juliette Cacigas,<br />

who was a student at St. Hilary Catholic School in Pico<br />

Rivera when O’Connell was assigned to the parish in the<br />

mid-’80s.<br />

Decades later, just a few months before his death last February,<br />

O’Connell helped lead a first-year retreat for couples in<br />

the archdiocese’s diaconate formation program. She and her<br />

husband, Rafael, were among them.<br />

“It feels like it<br />

After the Mass,<br />

Archbishop José H.<br />

Gomez and more<br />

than 30 priests<br />

blessed a special<br />

exhibit with some<br />

of O’Connell’s<br />

belongings in the<br />

sacristy of Mission<br />

San Gabriel.<br />

came full circle,<br />

and it’s been a<br />

tragedy and heartbreak<br />

this year,”<br />

said Cacigas, who<br />

now attends St.<br />

Bruno Church in<br />

Whittier.<br />

During his<br />

homily, Dyer said<br />

that rather than<br />

let O’Connell “rest in peace,” it<br />

was time to turn to his intercession<br />

in helping address the continued<br />

violence, homelessness, and crime<br />

plaguing society, especially in LA.<br />

“I say we shouldn’t let Dave rest at<br />

all,” said Dyer, fighting back tears.<br />

“We should call on him all the<br />

time. I think he’d like that.”<br />

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

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

<strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 19


The changing relationship between the U.S. Church<br />

and Rome isn’t just about Pope Francis.<br />


Pope Francis arrives to<br />

give a talk at St. Patrick<br />

in the City Church in<br />

Washington, D.C., Sept.<br />

24 during his visit to the<br />

United States in 2015. |<br />


ROME — There’s a tendency in<br />

journalism to over-interpret virtually<br />

every development or trend<br />

that comes down the pike, in order to<br />

lend our stories sex appeal. “<strong>No</strong>thing<br />

really to see here” might well be the<br />

truth of many situations, but it’s hardly<br />

a prescription for drawing eyeballs or<br />

selling papers.<br />

So it is that over the past 11 years, reporters<br />

and commentators on the Pope<br />

Francis papacy have tended to play up<br />

perceptions of a rift between the liberal<br />

pope and a more conservative Church<br />

in the United States, particularly as it<br />

concerns the American bishops — and,<br />

of course, there have been just enough<br />

outspokenly dissident prelates in the<br />

country to keep that narrative alive.<br />

Reality, however, is a bit less dramatic<br />

than these perceptions of fractures and<br />

schisms would suggest.<br />

The most recent Gallup survey,<br />

released in mid-January, found that<br />

Francis enjoys a 58% approval rating<br />

among Americans generally. When you<br />

consider that the two major party candidates<br />

for president, Donald Trump and<br />

Joe Biden, currently have approval ratings<br />

of 42 and 38 percent respectively,<br />

the pope’s comparatively robust support<br />

can’t help but seem fairly impressive.<br />

More remarkable still, Francis is seen<br />

positively by 77% of American Catholics.<br />

Given the notoriously fissiparous<br />

state of American Catholic opinion on<br />

most matters — let’s face it, it probably<br />

would be tough to get 77% of American<br />

Catholics to agree on what day of<br />

the week it is today — that too seems<br />

striking.<br />

Granted, Gallup also found that<br />

Francis’ negatives are now at all-time<br />

highs, both among the general population<br />

and with Catholics specifically.<br />

Yet after 11 contentious years in office,<br />

and in an extremely polarized era, the<br />

fact that the pope still has such strong<br />

overall backing probably should be the<br />

biggest takeaway.<br />

With that caveat, however, there’s<br />

equally no denying the fact that the<br />

Francis era has been a turbulent period<br />

for the Church in the U.S. In both<br />

substance and style, history’s first pope<br />

from the developing world has sometimes<br />

proven disorienting for many<br />

American Catholics.<br />

Ad extra, meaning in terms of the<br />

Church’s engagement with the wider<br />

world, Francis is reorienting Catholicism,<br />

and the Vatican specifically, away<br />

from being a predominantly Western<br />

institution to a truly global one. His<br />

policies on China, for instance, or on<br />

Ukraine, or on Gaza, align far more<br />

20 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

closely with those of the “BRICS<br />

nations” (Brazil, Russia, India, China,<br />

and South Africa among them, as the<br />

acronym suggests) than they do with<br />

the White House, even under a liberal<br />

administration led by a Catholic and<br />

self-professed Francis admirer.<br />

Ad intra, with regard to the internal<br />

life of the Church, Francis is pursuing<br />

a program of “synodality,” a difficult<br />

term to define with precision but<br />

which, in broad strokes refers to a more<br />

participatory and inclusive ecclesial<br />

approach, rooted in compassion and<br />

dialogue, and with less emphasis on<br />

some of the traditional moral battles<br />

which have defined Catholic identity<br />

in America in recent decades, especially<br />

with regard to “life issues” such as<br />

abortion.<br />

Both of those transitions have been<br />

trying for some sectors of American<br />

Catholic opinion. To some extent, the<br />

tensions overlap with the usual left/<br />

right divides, though not exclusively so.<br />

Many American liberals, for instance,<br />

may find Francis’ refusal to forthrightly<br />

condemn Vladimir Putin, for example,<br />

even more frustrating than conservatives,<br />

some of whom feel a certain<br />

grudging admiration for the Russian<br />

leader.<br />

Standing back from the particulars<br />

of any given issue, what seems clear<br />

about American reaction to Francis<br />

that it cannot properly be understood<br />

in isolation, but rather as part of a more<br />

epochal shift in Catholicism — to wit,<br />

the rise of a global Church, one in<br />

which the United States simply is not<br />

the pivot point.<br />

A bit of math makes the point: There<br />

are 1.3 billion Roman Catholics in the<br />

world today and just over 60 million in<br />

the United States, which means that<br />

Americans account for slightly under<br />

5% of the global Catholic population.<br />

Put another way, 95% of the Catholics<br />

on the planet today are not Americans,<br />

and do not necessarily see the world<br />

through the lens of American experiences,<br />

interests, and priorities.<br />

Two-thirds of the world’s Catholics<br />

today live outside the boundaries of the<br />

West, in Africa, Asia, Latin America,<br />

the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and<br />

points beyond. By 2050, that non-Western<br />

share will be three-quarters.<br />

In such a far-flung global community<br />

of faith, Catholics in the U.S. increasingly<br />

will be pressured to make their<br />

peace with the reality that the Church,<br />

and its leadership, will not always react<br />

from within American categories or<br />

according to American logic. Right<br />

now, the tensions unleashed by this<br />

transition are focused on Francis, but<br />

they just as easily could be aroused by<br />

a pontiff from Congo, or Sri Lanka, or<br />

Myanmar — all, by the way, at least<br />

remotely plausible candidate nations to<br />

give the Church its next leader.<br />

To be clear, American Catholicism<br />

is hardly sliding toward irrelevance in<br />

global Catholic affairs. The Church in<br />

the U.S. wields mammoth resources,<br />

both human and financial, including<br />

by far the world’s leading network of<br />

Catholic institutions. They include<br />

schools and universities, hospitals<br />

and clinics, social service centers and<br />

humanitarian organizations, and on<br />

and on.<br />

Nevertheless, American Catholics<br />

need to be clear that the turbulence<br />

of the Francis era is not a one-off affair<br />

triggered by the idiosyncrasies of a gaucho,<br />

or cowboy, pontiff. It is, instead,<br />

a harbinger of things to come — perhaps<br />

not always in service to the same<br />

agenda, but unlikely to be predictably<br />

“American” in tone or content either.<br />

To put the point differently, the<br />

Francis papacy will pass, as all papacies<br />

eventually do. Yet the new and more<br />

complicated era in the global Church<br />

he embodies, with both its promise and<br />

its frustrations for Americans, appears<br />

here to stay.<br />

John L. Allen Jr. is the editor of Crux.<br />

Pilgrims take part in the annual Cirio de Nazaré procession in Belem, Brazil, Oct. 9, 20<strong>22</strong>. More than a million pilgrims<br />

take part in the procession, which takes place on the second Sunday of October and honors Our Lady of Nazareth. |<br />


<strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 21

OUR<br />

FINAL<br />

TEST<br />

Smaller families,<br />

longer lives:<br />

Will Catholics step<br />

up to face the ‘new<br />

normal’ awaiting<br />

tomorrow’s seniors?<br />


when your hair is gray, I<br />

will carry you,” the prophet<br />

“Even<br />

Isaiah tells us — no small<br />

comfort to the ever-growing slice of<br />

America that is in or nearing their silver<br />

years. With birthrates declining and life<br />

expectancy rising, our nation is the oldest<br />

it’s ever been. But are we ready for<br />

the challenges that are bound to come?<br />

Many Catholics — and indeed,<br />

Christians of various stripes — pray<br />

that the “life of every human person, from conception to<br />

natural death, might be enshrined and protected in our laws.”<br />

Decades and dollars have sustained the advocacy around<br />

protecting the unborn child, a mission even more critical in<br />

these tumultuous years after the Dobbs decision. Yet save for<br />

a few high-profile cases — Terri Schiavo in the mid-2000s,<br />

or headlines about abuses in Canada’s euthanasia program<br />

— there has been less concerted effort around building up<br />

respect for the elderly facing their final years.<br />

That will need to change.<br />

The Baby Boomer generation — those born between<br />

1946 and 1964 who for so long have directed the course of<br />

American culture and society — are now in their 60s and<br />

70s. The way they face the end of life, and the choices we opt<br />

to prioritize or make available, will set the script for how we<br />

treat death, the labor of caretaking, and the value of human<br />

dignity into the future.<br />

Advances in medicine and personal health means that<br />

Americans are living longer. This is a good thing. But as more<br />

and more seniors reach the age of needing a little assistance<br />

A volunteer holds the hand<br />

of a dying 98-year-old<br />

woman at a senior living<br />

center. | CNS/COURTESY<br />


to handle the responsibilities of daily living, our nation could<br />

run into a problem of simple math: more seniors needing<br />

care than there are bodies to care for them.<br />

To put this into context, at the turn of the millennium, those<br />

in the 60s and 70s made up 12.9% of the U.S. population.<br />

Today, they represent nearly one-fifth (19.4%) of all Americans,<br />

and declining birthrates means this shift will continue.<br />

The future of aging in America — with fewer younger<br />

workers providing for a growing number of seniors — will put<br />

increasing strain on our care infrastructure, and the programs<br />

and resources available to those needing to care for a loved<br />

one as they slow down.<br />

Many seniors live healthy and active lives through much of<br />

their retirement years. But Father Time remains unbeaten.<br />

Eventually, our bodies and minds start to break down as we<br />

age — and with more seniors living longer, the need to compensate<br />

for those frailties becomes more acute. The blessing<br />

of having Grandma or Papa for more years is accompanied<br />

by an obligation to care for them in their less-active, less-agile<br />

years. While old age itself is not an illness, visiting an elderly<br />

<strong>22</strong> • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

elative — even just to spend time with them — can be<br />

considered a corporal work of mercy.<br />

And an aging society will provide plenty of opportunities to<br />

engage in that kind of charity. The federal Administration<br />

on Aging estimates that 70% of adults 65 and over will need<br />

some kind of long-term care assistance, services, or support in<br />

their remaining years. This isn’t intensive medical treatment;<br />

just a helping hand with daily activities like preparing food,<br />

bathing, or using the bathroom. On average, seniors need this<br />

type of care for about three years, though for some the need<br />

can stretch out much longer.<br />

For many, family is the first and primary caretaker. Many<br />

seniors know they can rely on one or more of their children<br />

to attend to some of their more basic needs. But those needs<br />

often require more constant time and attention than adults<br />

with their own children to care for can devote. A report from<br />

the Pew Research Center found that more than half of adults<br />

in their 40s are members of the so-called “Sandwich Generation”<br />

— those who have an elderly parent while also raising<br />

at least one child at home.<br />

And for other seniors, family isn’t a viable option. Broken<br />

relationships, alienated children, divorce; all can mean a<br />

fracturing of the safety net that family is meant to provide.<br />

And with more Americans opting out of parenthood altogether,<br />

an increasing share of adults will enter their senior years<br />

with thinner family trees, and fewer people to visit them in<br />

retirement, an assisted-living facility, or hospice care.<br />

Family members from different generations attend an encounter and Mass for the elderly led by Pope Francis in<br />

St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican in this 2014 file photo. | CNS/PAUL HARING<br />

These trends will put increasing pressure on a social system<br />

that has not adjusted to the new realities of smaller families<br />

and longer lives. Caring for the elderly is inherently labor-intensive<br />

— it’s a one-to-one service that often requires some<br />

level of trust, even intimacy. Like child care, it’s a job that<br />

can’t become more “efficient” or “productive” without losing<br />

quality. A recent research paper found that when private<br />

equity firms took over a nursing facility, profits went up and<br />

patient outcomes — including mortality — took a turn for<br />

the worse.<br />

In Japan, they are seeking to supplement their senior care<br />

with robots trained to change bedpans, remotely monitor vital<br />

signs, and — more speculatively — engage in conversation<br />

to provide a simulacrum of social engagement. According to<br />

the MIT Technology Review, the Japanese government has<br />

spent more than $300 million on research and development<br />

for these new devices, though they remain niche, rather than<br />

mainstream, devices so far.<br />

One does not need to be a smartphone-avoiding Luddite<br />

to be skeptical of the idea of innovating our way out of the<br />

increasing demand for elder care. Technology could be used<br />

in some cases — like monitoring a senior’s apartment for<br />

falls — but can never be expected, or desired, to replace the<br />

human connection of a relationship with a caregiver. If anything,<br />

these advances mean our seniors need more in-person<br />

relationships and interactions, not fewer.<br />

Medicaid, for example, won’t pay for personal care for<br />

seniors. So for many Americans, the primary vehicle for most<br />

Americans to access care in their senior years is through<br />

long-term care insurance. Yet the market for such services has<br />

real problems: The number of options available to individuals<br />

fell from 125 two decades ago to under 15 more recently,<br />

according to the American Action Forum. Washington state<br />

recently rolled out a new state tax aimed at providing longterm<br />

care to residents, but it has been plagued with difficulties<br />

and it is unclear whether it will<br />

collect enough revenue to solve the<br />

looming problem.<br />

The looming crisis of senior care will<br />

likely require touching some political<br />

third rails. Allowing Medicaid to pay<br />

for long-term care, for example, will<br />

dramatically increase its expenditures<br />

and worsen our nation’s fiscal picture,<br />

especially if we seek to raise wages<br />

for home health aides. As the whole<br />

economy has recently experienced, a<br />

world with declining birthrates means<br />

fewer workers and increased labor<br />

shortages — especially in labor-intensive<br />

jobs like child and elder care.<br />

It may be the case that the need for<br />

home health care aides and nursing<br />

home staff spurs America to revisit its<br />

immigration policy before too long.<br />

And any step toward broader public<br />

funding will almost certainly require<br />

higher taxes.<br />

Solving these problems may sound<br />

like drudgery. Yet if we don’t tackle the financial side that<br />

makes aging a difficult problem to solve with compassion,<br />

less salutary “solutions” may present themselves. While<br />

none of the activists who push for access to physician-assisted<br />

suicide like to focus on the financial benefits, governments<br />

facing entitlement spending challenges may see a certain<br />

allure in being able to terminate an elderly citizen’s claims on<br />

medical spending under the false flag of “compassion.”<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 23

A woman sits at the bedside of her mother<br />

in 2016 at de Greeff Hospice House in<br />

St. Louis. | OSV NEWS/CNS FILE, LISA<br />


Even if an assisted suicide program could be implemented<br />

with perfect safeguards against abuse — an outlandish<br />

hypothetical, as examples from Canada and the Netherlands<br />

illustrate — it would quickly establish a social expectation<br />

that the elderly should choose the path of euthanasia rather<br />

than “be a burden” to their loved ones or society at large.<br />

The work of accompanying the elderly through their years<br />

of decreasing mobility, increasing dependence, and their<br />

final journey home is an opportunity to teach us all about the<br />

fragility and interconnectedness of human life. Those lessons<br />

can’t be learned if we seek to automate them away through<br />

“care robots” or render them illegible via euthanasia.<br />

We can’t expect families to take care of aging relatives on<br />

their own; and many of our elderly community members<br />

don’t have family available to care for them. There are no<br />

easy answers. A world in which an increasingly large share of<br />

our population requires some long-term assistance requires<br />

us to evaluate tradeoffs and commitments.<br />

But just as in our fight to protect the unborn, protecting<br />

the elderly in their frailty and old age means that any policy<br />

solution — and the cultural change of mentality that must<br />

accompany it — has to remember the importance of human<br />

relationships before anything else.<br />

<strong>No</strong> social safety net program or pregnancy resource center<br />

alone is enough to help the mom contemplating abortion<br />

— we need a web of support and a cultural recognition of<br />

the value of that growing fetus. Similarly, our politics needs<br />

a greater recognition of the challenges our aging population<br />

lays ahead of us, and a commitment to treating our elders<br />

with respect.<br />

Even if this means uncomfortable political choices in the<br />

short run, such as increasing immigration or raising taxes, the<br />

alternatives are “solutions” that threaten to make us all a little<br />

less human.<br />

Patrick T. Brown is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy<br />

Center, where he works to advance pro-family economic policies.<br />

He formerly served on the United States Joint Economic<br />

Committee.<br />

24 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>



Poles apart<br />

Palestinians inspect a mosque<br />

destroyed in Israeli strikes in Khan<br />

Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip,<br />

Oct. 8, 2023, a day after an attack<br />

on Israel by more than 1,300 Hamas<br />

terrorists that left more than 1,200<br />

Israelis and other nationals dead.<br />

More than 30,000 Gaza Palestinians<br />

have been killed since the beginning<br />

of the Israel-Hamas war, Gaza’s<br />

Health Ministry said. | OSV/IBRA-<br />


While the increasing polarization<br />

in our country is nothing<br />

new, we seem to be heading<br />

into a category 5 hurricane of hostility<br />

this year. <strong>No</strong>t only is it an election year,<br />

but it’s a reprise of 2020. In addition, we<br />

are divided over the Israel-Hamas war<br />

and the Ukraine-Russia war. We have<br />

dueling apocalyptic visions, whether it’s<br />

the death of democracy or the unwashed<br />

hordes invading our southern<br />

border.<br />

Our Church has its own share of divisions<br />

as well, where even the pope has<br />

become a catalyst of polarization.<br />

And while our communities, our parishes,<br />

our states are becoming increasingly<br />

ideologically homogeneous, the<br />

breadth and depth of our polarization<br />

is touching us even if we seek solace<br />

among people who resemble us in our<br />

beliefs and biases.<br />

The personal risks and costs of our<br />

divide has come home to me recently.<br />

A close friend of mine is Jewish. We<br />

bonded over my interest in Judaism, his<br />

interest in Catholicism, and our resulting<br />

comfort with each other’s “tribe.”<br />

That is until Oct. 7 and its aftermath.<br />

The horror we both felt over the<br />

Hamas massacre and hostage taking<br />

was shared, if not equal. After all, for<br />

him it was much more personal, one<br />

of a chain of massacres extending back<br />

through history and up to and including<br />

the Nazis’ “Final Solution.”<br />

It was not the reaction to the massacre<br />

that was troubling us, but the reaction<br />

to Israel’s reaction. Over the weeks<br />

and months, the images and reports of<br />

Gaza’s destruction troubled me more.<br />

Our conversations became perhaps a<br />

bit more guarded. At one point, he said<br />

he hoped that our disagreement would<br />

not hurt our friendship, and I assured<br />

him it would not.<br />

And it will not.<br />

But not a lot of people share my<br />

certitude when it comes to such disagreement,<br />

which is why we are seeing<br />

a cottage industry of books aimed<br />

at addressing ways to diagnose and<br />

overcome polarization. Titles like “I<br />

think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening),”<br />

“Why We’re Polarized,” “Uncivil<br />

Agreement,” “Steps to Positive Political<br />

Dialogue,” and more.<br />

One that seeks to challenge us as<br />

Catholics is Father Aaron Wessman’s<br />

“The Church’s Mission in a Polarized<br />

World” (New City Press, $14.99).<br />

Wessman looks at the data around<br />

polarization, and what he finds is<br />

alarming. By nearly every metric, things<br />

have gone from bad to worse in recent<br />

years. <strong>No</strong>t only do we not like the people<br />

we disagree with, we increasingly<br />

view them as a mortal threat. Indeed,<br />

Wessman explores how our language<br />

of war and violence is used to describe<br />

our opponents. We don’t need to just<br />

defeat them at the ballot box. We need<br />

26 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

Greg Erlandson is the former president and<br />

editor-in-chief of Catholic <strong>News</strong> Service.<br />

to crush them. We apply labels like<br />

MAGA, Communist, and even vermin,<br />

all ways to degrade and dehumanize.<br />

Wessman and others have reported<br />

that Catholics increasingly identify<br />

more with their party than their<br />

Church. In fact, religious belief is less<br />

and less seen as a source of guidance.<br />

Fewer Christians are going to church<br />

regularly or reading Scripture.<br />

The question Wessman asks is this:<br />

“Does my relationship with Jesus, and<br />

the tradition given to me through the<br />

Scriptures, along with the teachings of<br />

the Church, inform my life more than<br />

the political party to which I belong?”<br />

The fact that many Americans today<br />

would be more bothered if their child<br />

married someone from the opposite<br />

political party than a different church<br />

may tell us the answer.<br />

For Wessman, our challenge as<br />

Catholics is to rediscover the person on<br />

the other side of the divide. Because<br />

we are called to love our enemy, not<br />

to mention our fellow citizens and our<br />

fellow parishioners, the solution is not<br />

war, nor avoidance, but to “cross over,”<br />

to engage “the other.”<br />

“When one chooses to encounter<br />

the other, the likelihood of seeing the<br />

person who espouses the idea, and not<br />

just the idea that one disagrees with,<br />

becomes more likely,” Wessman writes.<br />

“For Christians, crossing over is not<br />

really an option: It is essential to a life<br />

of missionary discipleship,” he adds.<br />

This is hard stuff. It can end badly,<br />

both because the “other side” may<br />

not respond well to our efforts, and<br />

because our own “side” may not either.<br />

Our faith does call us at this time to be<br />

“strangers in a strange land.”<br />

But when I think of my Jewish friend,<br />

I realize that two essential ingredients<br />

are trust and time. Getting to know<br />

each other in small conversations and<br />

big, over meals or shared projects, the<br />

person becomes more essential than<br />

the position.<br />

All those books about polarization<br />

give me hope. Organizations that are<br />

working to connect us one by one do<br />

as well. This fever of mutual fear and<br />

loathing will surely break. But that<br />

calm after the storm can only happen<br />

when we make the first move.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 27



The box office hit has plenty to get excited about,<br />

but makes a lazy, weak argument against religion.<br />

Timothée Chalamet as Paul<br />

Atreides in “Dune: Part II.”<br />

| IMDB<br />


What’s not to like about<br />

“Dune: Part II”?<br />

The sequel to Denis Villeneuve’s<br />

2021 box office hit features<br />

special effects that would have amazed<br />

us only a few years ago, set in a complicated,<br />

not-so-brave world created by<br />

the visionary late science fiction writer<br />

Frank Herbert, author of the “Dune”<br />

novels. The story weaves a tapestry<br />

of themes and references to history,<br />

religion, technology, political intrigue,<br />

ecology, and even, ironically, mystical<br />

powers.<br />

It is sometimes alleged that popular<br />

culture has a tendency toward the<br />

simplest and away from the complicated,<br />

but “Dune,” with its generations of<br />

fans, is a counterexample.<br />

Herbert himself admitted allusions to<br />

Arthurian tales in his personal “Dune”<br />

universe. But others include the<br />

feudal civilization of the Holy Roman<br />

Empire, colonialism as it played out in<br />

Islamic countries (think Lawrence of<br />

Arabia), a world economy dependent<br />

on unevenly distributed energy sources,<br />

a religious caste of women with<br />

unusual powers who represent a kind<br />

of deep state power behind the thrones<br />

of the great families that, in unceasing<br />

rivalry, play games with the balance of<br />

cosmic power.<br />

Like the first installment, this year’s<br />

sequel is mostly set in Arrakis, a desert<br />

planet rich with a precious natural<br />

resource: “Spice” not only powers<br />

space travel but can also open human<br />

consciousness to knowledge of the past<br />

and future. The planet’s indigenous<br />

have taken refuge from their colonizing<br />

oppressors in its cliffs and caves,<br />

while finding ways to survive without<br />

virtually any water.<br />

The movie plays down some of the<br />

Islamic references (the book talked<br />

about jihad and mujahidin, but moviegoers<br />

probably have enough uncomfortable<br />

memories of Afghanistan) but<br />

Paul Atreides (played by Timothée<br />

Chalamet) is still recognized as the<br />

“Mahdi,” the same word for the messianic<br />

savior traditionally awaited by<br />

Shiite Muslims.<br />

28 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

Just before the sequel starts, the<br />

dukedom of Arrakis has been taken<br />

away from the vicious House Harkonnen<br />

by the galactic emperor and given<br />

to Paul’s father, Leto Atreides. The<br />

move is revealed as a trap set by the<br />

emperor for the Atreides family, whom<br />

he fears as rivals. When the empire<br />

attacks Arrakis with troops disguised<br />

as Harkonnen soldiers, Leto is killed<br />

while his wife, Jessica, and their son,<br />

Paul, barely escape.<br />

Jessica, who belongs to a secretive<br />

caste of women with secret powers<br />

known as the Bene Gesserit, and Paul<br />

hide among the Fremen, the Bedouins<br />

of Arrakis, who live in the desert and<br />

who even manage, to a degree, the<br />

enormous sandworms that are the<br />

source of the precious spice.<br />

There are signs that Paul is the<br />

Fremen’s long-awaited messiah figure,<br />

and when they realize it, set out to<br />

train him in all things Fremen. Along<br />

the way, Paul gets to know Chani, a<br />

Fremen woman warrior (played by<br />

singer-actress Zendaya), who gradually<br />

falls in love with him.<br />

A guerrilla war develops between the<br />

Fremen and the Harkonnen forces.<br />

Paul’s abilities grow while his mother<br />

moves to another part of the planet to<br />

exercise some spiritual leadership and<br />

encourage Paul to accept his fate as the<br />

messiah.<br />

But Villeneuve made some telling adjustments<br />

to the original “Dune” story,<br />

like giving Chani a greater role. In the<br />

book she is devoted to Paul and is the<br />

mother of his son, but in the movie is<br />

a Fremen leader who opposes some of<br />

the ideas of Paul and his mother. She<br />

detests Paul’s veneration as Mahdi by<br />

some of her fellow Fremen, whom she<br />

dismisses as “fundamentalists,” and<br />

considers religious hope as a form of<br />

enslavement.<br />

Herbert was against the exaltation and<br />

divinization of leaders, which he said<br />

was “painful,” but the metamorphosis<br />

that happens to Paul in the series of<br />

books is a much more complex and<br />

grotesque process than the stereotypical<br />

distrust of religion expressed in<br />

“Dune: Part II.”<br />

With increasing boldness, many<br />

“influencers” on social media have<br />

accepted as axiomatic that religion is<br />

not a part of the solution to the world’s<br />

problems. “Fundamentalism” is the<br />

new enemy of human progress. While<br />

Chani doesn’t say so explicitly, her<br />

attitude resembles the old canard that<br />

religion is the opiate of the people.<br />

“Hope” should not be based on<br />

something that transcends our individual<br />

experience, and we should save<br />

ourselves and not wait for a savior. All<br />

the altruism that religion can inspire is<br />

discounted because it is manipulation.<br />

Herbert said that any comparison to<br />

Christ and Christian beliefs was out of<br />

bounds in “Dune.” Nevertheless, his<br />

depictions of Alia, Paul’s weird sister,<br />

and of the Bene Gesserit sisters illustrate<br />

the cynical use of faith to political<br />

ends.<br />

If religion is just about power<br />

relationships, however, it is not about<br />

redemption. “Dune II” lightly mocks<br />

the sensibility of the Fremen warriors,<br />

their gullibility, and their straining to<br />

believe. Villeneuve has said that he<br />

did not think anyone could watch this<br />

installment and still have admiration<br />

for Paul Atreides or see him as a hero.<br />

Perhaps he is contemplating moving<br />

Zendaya in “Dune:<br />

Part II.” | IMDB<br />

on with the story, and has read the ugly<br />

transformations ahead for Paul, but he<br />

seems to forget that there is really no<br />

alternative to Paul’s “Mahdi-fication.”<br />

The empire is corrupt, the Harkonnens<br />

are barbaric, and the possibility<br />

of the Fremen’s “greening” of Arrakis<br />

without achieving power is negligible.<br />

In other words, the “Dune” films<br />

don’t seem to want to acknowledge<br />

the obvious: that in (most likely)<br />

naming the titular family after a clan<br />

in Greek mythology, Herbert probably<br />

conceived of his saga as a tragedy. The<br />

House of Atreus was no city on a hill,<br />

but rather a family whose members<br />

committed fratricide, adultery, and<br />

child sacrifice.<br />

Fate is an inexorable nemesis for the<br />

Atreides. <strong>No</strong> Brady Bunch, barrel of<br />

laughs kind of story. Perhaps Herbert<br />

was signaling that to us with the classical<br />

name.<br />

Msgr. Richard Antall is pastor of<br />

Holy Name Church in Cleveland,<br />

Ohio, and the author of several books,<br />

including the novel “The X-mas Files”<br />

(Atmosphere Press, $17.99). He served<br />

as a missionary priest in El Salvador for<br />

more than 20 years.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 29



Virtue signaling with Flannery O’Connor<br />

Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor in a Sept. <strong>22</strong>,<br />

1959, photo, sitting on the steps of her home in<br />

Milledgeville, Georgia. | CNS/FLOYD JILLSON,<br />


“If other ages felt less, they saw more,<br />

even though they saw with the blind,<br />

prophetical, unsentimental eye of<br />

acceptance, which is to say, of faith. In<br />

the absence of this faith now, we govern<br />

by tenderness. It is a tenderness which,<br />

long cut off from the person of Christ, is<br />

wrapped in theory. When tenderness is<br />

detached from the source of tenderness,<br />

its logical outcome is terror. It ends in<br />

forced-labor camps and in the fumes of<br />

the gas chamber.”<br />

— Catholic novelist and short story<br />

writer Flannery O’Connor<br />

Way back in the 1950s and ’60s,<br />

Flannery O’Connor foresaw<br />

the doleful effects of contemporary<br />

identity politics.<br />

“On the subject of this feminist business,”<br />

she once wrote to a friend, “I just<br />

never … think of qualities which are<br />

specifically feminine or masculine. I<br />

suppose I [divide] people into two classes:<br />

the Irksome and the <strong>No</strong>n-Irksome<br />

without regard to sex.”<br />

That’s shorthand for saying I judge<br />

people — I like people — according to<br />

their character, not their labels.<br />

O’Connor was born, raised, and lived<br />

most of her adult life in rural Georgia.<br />

She also attended the Iowa Writers<br />

Workshop, lived in New York City for a<br />

time, and liked to read a few paragraphs<br />

of Aquinas’ “Summa Theologica”<br />

before going to bed.<br />

Struck down with lupus in her 20s,<br />

she returned to Milledgeville to live out<br />

the rest of her life — she died at 39 —<br />

with her mother, Regina, a widow who<br />

capably ran a dairy farm.<br />

Contemporary academics, perhaps<br />

a touch too gleefully, have “exposed”<br />

O’Connor’s racism: she famously<br />

turned down an opportunity, for example,<br />

to join Regina in hosting James<br />

Baldwin at their home.<br />

In mid-century rural Georgia, a social<br />

code had been worked out by which to<br />

her mind both blacks and whites could<br />

operate while retaining their privacy<br />

and dignity. That’s not to say the code<br />

was ideal, or right.<br />

But she would not try to make herself<br />

look virtuous or tolerant by participating<br />

in an insincere charade.<br />

She would not throw Regina — who<br />

30 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

Heather King is an award-winning<br />

author, speaker, and workshop leader.<br />

supported and loved her — under the<br />

bus. “In New York, it would be nice<br />

to meet [Baldwin]; here it would not,”<br />

she wrote to a friend. “I observe the<br />

traditions of the society I feed on — it’s<br />

only fair.”<br />

In fact, she was “an integrationist on<br />

principle and a segregationist by taste”:<br />

“About the Negroes, the kind I don’t<br />

like is the philosophizing prophesying<br />

pontificating kind” (among whom she<br />

counted Baldwin, while also applauding<br />

some of his work).<br />

Change should and would come. But<br />

to divide humankind into victims and<br />

oppressors with the oppressors all bad<br />

and the victims all good, O’Connor<br />

well knew, is a lie at least as dangerous<br />

as the lie undergirding racial prejudice.<br />

Some of her favorite protagonists are<br />

nihilistic college grads who try to shame<br />

their elders into socio-political enlightenment,<br />

with deliciously tragicomic<br />

results.<br />

They seldom have jobs, these young<br />

intellectuals. They’re disabled (Hulga<br />

in “Good Country People” has a wooden<br />

leg), or neurasthenic (Asbury in<br />

“The Enduring Chill”), or suffer from<br />

a heart condition (Wesley in “Greenleaf”).<br />

Though adults, they’re supported by<br />

their hard-working, hopelessly backward<br />

mothers. Julian in “Everything<br />

That Rises Must Converge” almost dies<br />

of embarrassment when his mother —<br />

condescendingly to his mind, kindly<br />

to hers — offers a penny to a young<br />

black boy. In “Revelation,” a sullen girl<br />

reading a book called “Human Development”<br />

hurls it at Mrs. Turpin’s head,<br />

whispering “Go back to hell where you<br />

came from, you old warthog.”<br />

We must be “nice,” such clear-eyed<br />

activists insist. We must not offend.<br />

We must enlarge our horizons. <strong>No</strong><br />

one must feel “unwelcome.” We must<br />

exercise compassion — though not, of<br />

course, toward the unenlightened.<br />

Based on the criteria of this godless,<br />

self-appointed moral elite, the unenlightened<br />

must instead be forced to be<br />

“good.”<br />

As O’Connor recognized, without<br />

faith such “compassion” eventually requires<br />

us to ignore what is right in front<br />

of our faces, to spout absurd untruths,<br />

to contort every event to fit a templated<br />

narrative, and to be stripped of our right<br />

to like who we like based on Irksome vs.<br />

<strong>No</strong>n-Irksome or whatever criterion we<br />

darn well please.<br />

Such “tenderness” would destroy a<br />

child in the womb rather than let him<br />

or her be born into poverty. Such tenderness<br />

eventually invites the addicted,<br />

the elderly, and the diminished to kill<br />

themselves. “Let us think for them!” exclaim<br />

the tender. “Surely they wouldn’t<br />

want to be a burden.”<br />

O’Connor was a daily Mass-goer and,<br />

by all accounts, a lifelong celibate.<br />

“I went to St. Mary’s as it was right<br />

around the corner,” she wrote of her<br />

neighborhood church, “and I could<br />

get there practically every morning. I<br />

went there three years and never knew<br />

a soul in that congregation or any of the<br />

priests, but it was not necessary. As soon<br />

as I went in the door I was at home.”<br />

That probably describes the situation<br />

for many of us at our “neighborhood”<br />

church. The Church doesn’t much<br />

welcome anyone, in the way of the social-club<br />

welcome demanded by today’s<br />

aggrieved. It welcomes us as members<br />

of the soul-sick, as those ravenous with<br />

hunger and need of the Eucharist.<br />

Lent is a good time to remember that<br />

Judas, keeper of the purse, was the über<br />

virtue-signaler, primly suggesting giving<br />

money to the poor rather than wasting<br />

it on nard to anoint Jesus. Then he sold<br />

his friend for 40 pieces of silver.<br />

Or as O’Connor once observed: “The<br />

operation of the Church is entirely set<br />

up for the sinner, which creates much<br />

misunderstanding among the smug.”<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 31



Scott Hahn is founder of the<br />

St. Paul Center for Biblical<br />

Theology; stpaulcenter.com.<br />

Palms and circumstance<br />

Holy Week begins on a triumphal note. We the disciples<br />

shout our hosannas, and we watch as the world<br />

praises our beloved Messiah. Everyone is at last giving<br />

him — and his followers — the right kind of attention.<br />

This is probably the way most of us would have planned<br />

the culmination of Jesus’ ministry, if we’d been given the<br />

chance.<br />

It is, however, only the beginning of Holy Week; and we<br />

know what’s soon to follow: betrayal, suffering, and death.<br />

Where we would have called for a reprise — a Palm Friday<br />

— God willed something far better. We call it Good Friday,<br />

and it is the only way to the glories of Easter Sunday.<br />

We may recognize a pattern here. I think, for example, of<br />

the Church’s triumphs in the secular sphere. I recall the<br />

triumphal moment when St. Pope John Paul II lay dying.<br />

The world poured out its love. Young people filled the<br />

streets of Rome. All the media trained their cameras on the<br />

Vatican.<br />

I also remember standing with a vast crowd on the White<br />

House lawn to sing “Happy Birthday” to John Paul’s successor.<br />

Our song leader<br />

was the president of the<br />

United States.<br />

Lately, though, the<br />

newscasters and pundits<br />

have been less inclined<br />

to praise the Catholic<br />

Church. And some world<br />

leaders are eager to make<br />

us feel the edge of our<br />

Good Friday, calling us<br />

Neanderthal for refusing<br />

to accept gender ideology<br />

and scoffing at the<br />

Church for defending<br />

the humanity of stored<br />

embryos.<br />

Which is our moment?<br />

When the culture gives<br />

us palms? Or when it<br />

gives us the back of its<br />

hand?<br />

The answer lies in Holy<br />

Week. You and I must<br />

truly give ourselves to the<br />

“The Last Supper,” by Ugolino di Nerio, 1280-1330, Italian. | WIKIMEDIA COMMONS<br />

season this year. We must live it deeply, meditating on the<br />

Word, praying the liturgy with body and soul.<br />

Use Holy Thursday as the key. What, after all, made calvary<br />

a sacrifice? The event did not meet any of the sacrificial<br />

requirements of the Jerusalem Temple. It seemed to be an<br />

ordinary execution.<br />

But it was indeed a sacrifice. All Christians agree on that<br />

point.<br />

At the Last Supper Jesus gave his body to be broken, his<br />

blood to be poured out, as if on an altar. The Eucharist is<br />

ordered to the cross. But the Eucharist is also ordered to the<br />

Resurrection — a glory we could not have experienced if<br />

we had lingered forever in Palm Sunday.<br />

It’s the resurrected humanity of Jesus that we consume in<br />

our holy Communion, in the Eucharist. We come to it by<br />

way of triumphs, but they are fleeting. We come to it by<br />

way of pain, but that, too, will pass. We receive the Host as<br />

a pledge of lasting glory, and we have the grace to endure<br />

the rest. Here we have no lasting city. But we have hope,<br />

because we know Holy Week.<br />

32 • ANGELUS • <strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

■ FRIDAY, MARCH 15<br />

Fish Fry. St. Clare Church, 19606 Calla Way, Canyon<br />

Country, 4:30-8 p.m. Runs every Friday in Lent. Includes 2-3<br />

pieces of beer-battered cod, coleslaw, choice of side, or fish<br />

tacos with rice and beans. Dine in or take out. Cost: $15,<br />

2-piece dinner or 2 tacos, $16, 3-piece dinner. Family pack<br />

available for $55. Call 661-252-3353 or visit st-clare.org.<br />

Fish Fry — Knights of Columbus #4919. Nativity Church,<br />

1415 Engracia Ave., Torrance, 5-7 p.m. Runs every Friday in<br />

Lent. Baked or deep fried fish, baked potato or French fries,<br />

coleslaw, roll, and cake. Cost: $12/adults, $10/seniors, $7/<br />

children under 12. Indoor seating and takeout available.<br />

50/50 raffles as time permits.<br />

Fish Fry. St. Margaret Mary Church, 25511 Eshelman Ave.,<br />

Lomita, 5 p.m. Baked or beer-battered fried fish, baked<br />

potato, corn on the cob, and desserts. Spirits available for<br />

purchase. Discounts available for seniors and children.<br />

■ SATURDAY, MARCH 16<br />

Bereavement Retreat. St. Brigid Church, 5214 S. Western<br />

Ave., Los Angeles, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Includes Mass. Everything<br />

will be provided. Cost: $60/person. RSVP to Cathy at<br />

bereavement.ministry@yahoo.com.<br />

■ SUNDAY, MARCH 17<br />

Mass Honoring St. Óscar Romero. Cathedral of Our Lady<br />

of the Angels, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 10 a.m.<br />

Presided by Archbishop José H. Gomez and concelebrated<br />

by Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez, retired auxiliary bishop<br />

of San Salvador and a close collaborator of Romero’s. Mass<br />

will be celebrated in honor of the martyred Salvadoran<br />

archbishop ahead of the 44th anniversary of his death<br />

<strong>March</strong> 24.<br />

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration: Irish Folklore, Prayer, and<br />

Song. Holy Spirit Retreat Center, 4316 Lanai Rd., Encino,<br />

5-7:30 p.m. Night includes traditional Irish dinner with<br />

music, silent auction, and evening concert fundraiser. Cost:<br />

$75/person. Concert only: $50/person. Call Sister Marie at<br />

818-815-4496.<br />

■ MONDAY, MARCH 18<br />

Virtual Listening Session for the Synod on Synodality.<br />

7-8:30 p.m. Meeting ID: 846 69<strong>22</strong> 5712. Passcode: 009547.<br />

■ TUESDAY, MARCH 19<br />

Lenten Penance Service. St. Barnabas Church, 3955<br />

Orange Ave., Long Beach, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Several priests will<br />

be available to hear confessions.<br />


Record Clearing Virtual Clinic for Veterans. 5-8 p.m. Legal<br />

team will help with traffic tickets, quality of life citations,<br />

and expungement of criminal convictions. Free clinic is<br />

open to all Southern California veterans who have eligible<br />

cases in a California State Superior Court. Participants can<br />

call in or join online via Zoom. Registration required. Call<br />

213-896-6537 or email inquiries-veterans@lacba.org. For<br />

more information, visit lacba.org/veterans.<br />

Changing Seasons: Triduum through Easter. Zoom, 7-8:30<br />

p.m. Class led by Father Parker Sandoval will explore Bible<br />

readings for Triduum through Easter. Visit lacatholics.org/<br />

events.<br />

■ THURSDAY, MARCH 21<br />

Eviction Response Clinic. LA Law Library, 301 W. 1st<br />

St., Los Angeles, 12-3 p.m. Provides legal assistance with<br />

eviction court cases. Open to LA County tenants with<br />

disabilities and limited income. Spanish assistance available.<br />

Registration required. RSVP by calling 213-896-6536 or<br />

email inquiries-veterans@lacba.org.<br />

■ SATURDAY, MARCH 23<br />

Living Art Experience Inspired by the Life of Christ.<br />

Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan<br />

Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach, 1 p.m. <strong>March</strong> 23, 2 and 5 p.m.<br />

<strong>March</strong> 24. Witness “The Last Supper” come to life before<br />

your eyes as live models pose in re-creations of famous,<br />

sacred works of art. Tickets at livingartexperience.com. Call<br />

310-521-2520.<br />

Bilingual Mass for San Óscar Romero: Pastor, Prophet,<br />

and Saint. St. Mary Church, 1600 East Ave. R-4, Palmdale,<br />

2:30 p.m. Celebrants: Father John Greely and Father Joseph<br />

Brennan. Cultural reception and photo exhibition to follow.<br />

■ SUNDAY, MARCH 24<br />

Palm Sunday Mass. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels,<br />

555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 7:30 a.m., 10 a.m., and<br />

12:30 p.m. Masses will begin on the Cathedral Plaza with<br />

the blessing of the palms before proceeding inside.<br />

The Crimson Cloak. Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, 700<br />

N. Sunnyside Ave., Sierra Madre, 3 p.m. Theatrical music<br />

and dance-filled event portrays the passion of Christ<br />

through the eyes of Mary Magdalene. Soloist Erica Jones<br />

Deato and Sean Murtha will be featured, along with a cast<br />

of church, community, and retreat center members. Written,<br />

produced, and directed by St. Rita parishioner Mimi<br />

Mycroft. Free event. Email rramirez@materdolorosa.org.<br />

■ MONDAY, MARCH 25<br />

Chrism Mass. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W.<br />

Temple St., Los Angeles, 7 p.m. Liturgical procession begins<br />

at 6:45 p.m. Mass celebrated by Archbishop José H. Gomez<br />

will be livestreamed at youtube.com/olacathedral.<br />

■ THURSDAY, MARCH 28<br />

Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Cathedral of Our Lady of the<br />

Angels, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 7 p.m.<br />

■ FRIDAY, MARCH 29<br />

Passion of Our Lord. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels,<br />

555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.<br />

■ SATURDAY, MARCH 30<br />

Easter Vigil Mass. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels,<br />

555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 8 p.m. Vigil will be bilingual<br />

(English/Spanish), beginning with the blessing of the fire on<br />

the Easter Fire Hearth on the Cathedral Plaza.<br />

■ SUNDAY, MARCH 31<br />

Easter Sunday Mass. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels,<br />

555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles. English Masses: 7:30 and<br />

10 a.m., Spanish Mass: 12:30 p.m.<br />

Easter Sunday Breakfast. Mary & Joseph Retreat Center,<br />

5300 Crest Rd., Rancho Palos Verdes, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.<br />

Reservations required by <strong>March</strong> 25. Cost: $35/person, $15/<br />

children 4-12, children under 4 free. Visit maryjoseph.org/<br />

event.<br />

■ TUESDAY, APRIL 9<br />

Memorial Mass. San Fernando Mission, 15151 San Fernando<br />

Mission Blvd., Mission Hills, 11 a.m. Mass is virtual and<br />

not open to the public. Livestream available at CatholicCM.<br />

org or Facebook.com/lacatholics.<br />

Items for the calendar of events are due four weeks prior to the date of the event. They may be emailed to calendar@angelusnews.com.<br />

All calendar items must include the name, date, time, address of the event, and a phone number for additional information.<br />

<strong>March</strong> <strong>22</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 33

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