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Attending the Steubenville East Conference

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Hello and welcome,

We learned with great sadness yesterday that, William Cardinal Baum, the former Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Washington had passed away. In addition to his ministry in Washington, he had been the former Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and the former Grand Penitentiary.

U.S. Cardinal William W. Baum, who died July 23 at age 88 after a long illness, is pictured in a 2008. He was archbishop of Washington from 1973 to 1980 and a cardinal for 39 years, the longest such tenure in U.S. church history. (CNS photo/Paul Fetters, courtesy Archdiocese of Washington) See OBIT-BAUM July 24, 2015.
Cardinal Baum came to Washington in the 1970s, at a time when there was great conflict in the archdiocese and chose for his motto Ministerium reconciliationis, “The ministry of reconciliation”. His motto reflected his gentle and kind pastoral approach, which was a very important means of healing many divisions in the archdiocese.

At the time I was at the Centro Catolico and he was very supportive of Hispanic ministry, allowing us to organize and expand pastoral services to the newly arriving immigrants throughout the archdiocese. He was also very supportive of the Hispanic newspaper “El Pregonero,” the Hispanic diaconate program and many other initiatives that responded to what was really the beginning of an enormous wave of Catholic immigration into the Archdiocese of Washington.

For the last few years he had been living at the house of the Little Sisters of the Poor on Harewood Road in Washington, very near Catholic University. He was a very dear friend and I was always happy to see him.

In the last couple of years he’s been more limited in his mobility, but I would occasionally be able to visit him and he was always very engaged and interested in everything that was happening in the Church. He was a very cultured gentleman who was very much committed to the intellectual life of the Church and very much involved in ecumenical outreach to other churches.

Though there have been three archbishops in Washington since the time he left, he is still fondly remembered. His long years of ministry were characterized by his gentleness, kindliness, gentlemanliness and his concern for people. He will be sorely missed.

– – –

Earlier this week, in my role as the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Pro-Life Affairs, I issued a statement together with Archbishop Wenski, the chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, calling for an end to the death penalty in our country.USCCB-Logo

Since the time of St. John Paul II, the death penalty has been seen as one of the issues that needs to be addressed in our modern world, as part of our commitment to the Gospel of Life and to show how precious life is. The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the papal magisterium reflect this important idea.

There are very few countries in the modern world that still apply the death penalty. The only justification for the death penalty is self-defense and the inability of the country to provide any other type of solution. Here, in the wealthiest and most technologically advanced country in the history of the world, we have alternatives to capital punishment. Therefore, we have an obligation to abolish the death penalty and initiate alternatives.

I’d like to share the text of that statement with you here:

Ten years ago, the Catholic bishops of the United States initiated the Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty. Speaking as pastors and teachers, we issued a statement at that time, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death, in which we considered the reality of capital punishment in the United States. We urged a prudential examination of the use of the death penalty, with the aim of helping to build “a culture of life in which our nation will no longer try to teach that killing is wrong by killing those who kill. This cycle of violence diminishes all of us.”

Since that time, significant gains have been made. Several states, including New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland and most recently Nebraska, have ended the use of the death penalty, and other states have enacted moratoria. Death sentences are at their lowest level since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. However, there is still a great deal of work to be done, and we must recommit ourselves to end this practice in our country.

We join our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in anticipation of the forthcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, and renew our efforts in calling for the end of the use of the death penalty:

“Today the death penalty is inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed. It is an offense against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person, one which contradicts God’s plan for man and society and his merciful justice, and impedes the penalty from fulfilling any just objective. It does not render justice to the victims, but rather fosters vengeance.”

– Pope Francis, March 20, 2015

Our faith tradition offers a unique perspective on crime and punishment, one grounded in mercy and healing, not punishment for its own sake. No matter how heinous the crime, if society can protect itself without ending a human life, it should do so. Today, we have this capability.

We are all sinners, but through the Father’s loving mercy and Jesus’ redeeming sacrifice upon the Cross, we have been offered the gift of life everlasting. The Lord never ceases his loving pursuit of us in our sin and brokenness, offering us the choice of life over death. The use of the death penalty cuts short any prospect for transforming the condemned person’s soul in this life. Catholic opposition to the death penalty, then, is rooted in mercy. It is also eminently pro-life, as it affords every opportunity for conversion, even of the hardened sinner. As followers of Jesus, we have the “inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life” (Evangelium Vitae, # 20).

Our Catholic faith affirms our solidarity with and support for victims of crime and their families. We commit ourselves to walk with them and assure them of the Church’s compassion and care, ministering to their spiritual, physical and emotional needs in the midst of deep pain and loss. We also acknowledge the inherent human dignity of those who have committed grave harm, affirming that, even as they repay a debt to society, they too should receive compassion and mercy. As we seek to tend to the eternal needs of those who commit serious crimes we must build up a culture of life in matters of justice and punishment.

The Church’s opposition to the death penalty should not be seen as indifference to the sinfulness of crime and attacks on human life, but as an affirmation of the sacredness of all life even for those who have committed the most heinous of crimes. As Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, whose own father was murdered, recently said: “Our refusal to resort to the death penalty is not because we fail to appreciate the horror of the crime committed, but because we refuse to imitate violent criminals.”

Through our recommitment to work to end the use of the death penalty, we also renew the call for all people of good will to:

1. Pray for victims of crime, those facing execution, and those working in the criminal justice system;

2. Reach out to the families of those affected by violent crime by bringing Christ’s love and compassion;

3. Learn about the Church’s teaching on capital punishment and educate others in this vital area of concern;

4. Advocate for better public policies to protect society and end the use of the death penalty.

The Scriptures remind us: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Lk 5:7). As Christians, we are called to oppose the culture of death by witnessing to something greater and more perfect: a gospel of life, hope, and mercy. To help build a culture of life, capital punishment should be abolished.


Faithfully In Christ,

Most Reverend Thomas G. Wenski

Archbishop of Miami

Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development


Seán Cardinal O’Malley

Archbishop of Boston

Chairman, Committee on Pro-Life Activities

There are so many aspects of the criminal justice system that are broken and require reform. Nearly a quarter of all incarcerated people in the world are in U.S prisons or jails, and the percentage of those prisoners who are minorities is astonishing. African-American men comprise a mere 6 percent of the American population, but according to the Department of Justice, they make up nearly half of the 2 million inmates in this country. The Huntington Post recently reported: “there are more African-American men incarcerated in the United States than the total prison populations in India, Argentina, Canada, Lebanon, Japan, Germany, Finland, Israel and England combined.”

These are moral issues that have a great impact in our country. Indeed, I would not be surprised if the Holy Father addresses some of these issues when he makes his visit to the U.S. later this year.

– – –

Also this week, a conference was held at the Vatican with mayors and local government officials from throughout the world on the problems of climate change and human trafficking.

The conference, “Modern Slavery and Climate Change: The Commitment of the Cities,” was held by the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences. On this Academy they have established experts — Catholics and non-Catholics alike — who study different themes that have an ethical and social dimension. LAUDATO-MAYORS

We are very happy that Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston was able to represent us at this gathering.

It is ironic that some people see faith as being in contrast to reason and science. Instead, throughout history, the Church has always been a leader in trying to promote scientific knowledge and discovery. This Vatican Academy continues in that same tradition, trying to promote science and ensure that scientific genius serves the common good and is not used for selfish or violent ends.

As we have commented before when the Holy Father’s encyclical Laudato Si’ came out, the Holy Father makes a very clear connection between the situation of the poor in the world and the fragility of the environment. The conference held this week in Rome reflects those themes that are so well delineated in that encyclical.

Within the Holy See, there is a very strong awareness that the population of the world is very quickly moving from rural areas into large metropolitan cities. There have been many conferences on the issue, including when I was invited to address in Milan on evangelizing the cities. So, we shouldn’t be surprised that the Holy See, particularly this type of Academy, would reach out to mayors of major cities to invite them to be part of this reflection on these themes.

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Saturday, I went to Pittsburgh for the profession of four Capuchin novices.IMG_4371IMG_4378

The profession was held in the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis of Millvale. The motherhouse is very close to our provincial headquarters.IMG_4372

This is a community of sisters who were originally of German origin, so they had a very close connection with the Capuchins when we were running German parishes in the area.

These were also the sisters who worked in the missions with us. One of them was Sister Jane Schmidt, who worked with me in the Virgin Islands many years ago. She helped set the Third Order community on St. Croix and she is now living at the motherhouse.IMG_4379

On a wall in the motherhouse is a map of all the mission countries where the sisters work.IMG_4373

This is a picture of the newly professed with some of the other Friars. In the photo is Bishop Bill Fey, who is the Bishop of Kimbe in New Guinea, who was also there for the profession.


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On Sunday, I went to Lowell for the closing Mass of the Steubenville East Catholic Youth Conference that was held at the Tsongas Center there. It was a wonderful event, attended by nearly 3000 young people.SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-21

SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-03SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-01SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-05SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-04In my homily, I spoke to them about the gospel reading from Mark 6.

In the gospel reading for the previous Sunday, Jesus sends the apostles out two-by-two. This, I said, was Jesus’s training program for the apostles, the formation of leaders and that’s what I said Steubenville East is about. Then, in the gospel reading we had that day, we see those novice apostles coming back, all excited and sharing their experiences.SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-06

I said that the Sunday gospel of the apostles coming back shows the two modes of Christian life: one is gathering in a secret place with Jesus to be renewed and the other is being out “running the field hospital” and preaching the gospel. That pericope of the gospel is sandwiched between two banquet scenes. The first is Herod’s birthday party where they killed John the Baptist, which puts in context the sense of urgency — as well as the dangers and difficulties — of the ministry to which these twelve apostles are being sent out. They are taking up where John the Baptist is ending.

Then, after the passage of the Sunday gospel, is where Jesus performs the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. So I told the young people, we have to choose, do you want be part of Herod’s banquet or do you want to be part of Jesus’s banquet?


At the end, we had an altar call for those considering a vocation to priesthood or consecrated life. Before making the call, I spoke to them about having a sense of vocation, saying that their happiness and happiness of many other people, will depend on their making the right vocation decision. If you don’t have that sense of vocation, you can make the wrong choice and that will introduce chaos and sadness into your life.SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-20SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-15SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-17

I mentioned the story of the rich young man who, when Jesus told him to leave everything he owns and follow him, went away sad. Hearing that story, you almost want to chase him down the street saying, “Come back, you dummy! Your decision is making you sad, but don’t you see it is also depriving all those people you would have affected had you followed your vocation?”

– – –

Having just had the gospel that morning about the apostles coming back two-by-two and telling Jesus their experience, later that day I had a living experience of much the same thing.IMG_6984

Over the previous ten days or so, following the example of the apostles in the gospel, 800 members of the Neocatechumenal Way had fanned out two-by-two throughout the United States to announce the Good News wherever they went. They came without money or possessions, just depending on upon God’s providence, as the gospel the previous Sunday had said.

Groups came to all four dioceses of Massachusetts and we had seven pairs of men visit the archdiocese of Boston. As their journey was coming to an end, I met with several of them at the Cathedral to hear how it went.IMG_3626IMG_3633

It was interesting to hear their experience, even in some cases an experience of homelessness and living with homeless people. I was impressed that some reported back how kind the homeless people were to them, and that there was a charity among the very poor they had not been aware of before.

Several of them were priests, but there were also several laymen one of whom was John Leonard, the brother of Dorothea Leonard, who was a very close and dear friend of mine.DorotheaLeonard_1 I taught her at university, she was involved in the Third Order of St. Francis and the Neocatechumenal way, and was a teacher in a Catholic school — just a very holy woman. Meeting her brother was a nice treat!

– – –

Finally, also this week I met with two young men sent by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the nuncio in Poland, to visit us here to talk about World Youth Day preparations and some of the communication issues involved. They came for lunch and met with Father Matt Williams and myself.IMG_6989

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

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Reflections of a newly ordained priest: Fr. Andrea Filippucci

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Hello and welcome!

As I mentioned in my post of last week, each year at the beginning of July I like to invite one or two of our newly ordained priests to share their experiences with you.

This week, I like to share with you the reflection of Father Andrea Filippucci who is now serving his first assignment at St Patrick’s in Lawrence.

– Cardinal Seán

– – – 2015Seminarians_gm_0005

Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Andrea Filippucci and I was born in Rome, Italy, on June 1st 1986. I am the sixth of eleven children: six brothers and five sisters!


My parents, Piergiorgio and Lucia Stefania, were very faithful Catholics, and missionaries for the Catholic Church. Before I was even born, they had already been sent by Saint John Paul II to announce the Good News in Umbria, a central region of Italy.clip_image004

My father was a nuclear engineer who left his job, his career and his family, in order to follow Christ through this particular call for his family. This fact clearly influenced me in my life. From an early age, I saw how God truly provides, and how money and career gain their proper importance when we put the love of God first.

My childhood was fantastic. I loved having a big family, praying with them, going to Church together…having great Sunday meals! Sunday was always a special day! I was very close to my father, I would follow him wherever he went. Thinking about it, I don’t know what the reason was! But I truly loved being with him.

All of this came to a sudden end when, on February 13, 1997, my father died suddenly as he was praying. He was 45 and my mother was pregnant with their eleventh child. He had always been a healthy person and had never had any health issues. That morning, he dropped us off at school and nobody would have ever imagined something like this. It was a true shock.

When I saw that a friend of the family had come to pick us up at school, I knew that something had happened. I came home and everybody was silent. My mother called us, one by one, in a room, and she told us the news. Then, she opened the bible. I have no recollection of what happened after that. I just remember telling God in my heart that I hated Him and that I would never forgive Him. I was only 10 years old, and my father was gone forever.

As my anger built up inside, I began to look for a release valve, but I know that I was inexorably on a downward spiral. By the time I was 15 or 16, I was in open rebellion against God and my family. I could not accept that they still believed in a God whom I thought was either powerless or cruel. My two older brothers tried to “save the ship” and they tried to help me best as they could. Needless to say, there were many fights in the family. I was not alone after all; one of my brothers felt like me, even though he had never said that, and we formed a sort of alliance in order to “bring down the government”!clip_image005

At that time, I decided I had left the Church for good and I started hanging out with my friends more and more. I would go out almost every day or every night to be with my friends or my girlfriend. To show my independence, I even pierced my ear three times!

Clearly, my mother wasn’t happy but at this point I had convinced myself that I didn’t care. Nonetheless, I was like a man desperately looking for a well to draw water, except that the more I drank, the thirstier I became. It’s as if the waters had been poisoned: I looked for happiness, but I could not find it.

In 2004, when I was 18, everything changed. That must have been the worst year of my life. I was literarily going crazy, searching for something real in this life. I had excluded God a priori, but nothing was ever enough. I always needed more: more money, more friends, more girls, more everything. I was never satisfied. I guess that’s what moved me toward a change, my inconsolable and deep dissatisfaction and, at the darkest hour of my adult life, the light of Christ began to appear in the horizon.

That summer, after a series of reckless events, my mother gave me an ultimatum: I either accepted to spend the summer working at a Catholic center in Israel or I was on my own. That’s when I decided to take up her offer and ended up going to the Domus Galilaeae. clip_image009

clip_image011However, I went with an agenda of my own. First, I felt that I could use a break from my life, and second, I went to prove to all these people that God truly does not exist. As it turned out, the opposite is what really happened. clip_image017

My time in Israel was fantastic. I don’t really know how it happened but, little by little, I began to listen to the Word of God and to the words of the priest in charge, Father Rino Rossi. He gained my trust and I began talking to him.

Among the many things we discussed, I remember only two: First, God loved me as I was. I didn’t need to be perfect, He made me, He loved me. Second, God is behind every event of our life. He is God after all. And this point really caught my interest because, even if I would never admit it, I was still scandalized by my father’s death. Yet, these two things really resonated within me and, little by little, I began to be more open to the idea that maybe God really loved me. clip_image013

clip_image015After that summer my life changed. I went back to Italy and began to seriously think about my life and my vocation. Even though I had abandoned the Church, I found out that she was there, waiting for me to come back in the form of my Neocatechumenal Way community. It is exactly through this tool of rediscovery of baptism that God won me back. I began to attend church and participate in the Neocatechumenal Way faithfully and little by little God began to heal my many wounds. To make a long story short, after a time of discernment and another year in Israel, I realized that God was the only one who could make me happy. As I said, I had looked for happiness everywhere, without finding it. Now happiness was coming to me and I knew where to find it! That’s why for my diaconate card, I chose the verse from the Song of Songs: “I have searched for the love of my life, I searched but I did not find it. I have found the love of my life, I have embraced him and I’ll not let him go” (4, 8ff).

As I further explored my vocation, I found myself entering the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of Rome, which was the first of many such international seminaries inspired by Saint Pope John Paul II to prepare clergy to be sent anywhere in the world there was a need. Here I spent a year discerning my vocation and, the following year in 2007, I was sent by lottery to the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of Boston in 2007. I can say today, that I really won that lottery!


In Boston I had a wonderful formation and I am eternally grateful to my formators and to Cardinal Sean, for his support and inspiration. clip_image021

As part of my formation, I spent three years in mission, living and working in Colorado, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. This time of mission was pivotal in my vocation. I was able to touch with my own hands the need for priests and for God in people’s lives.


The 40-plus people that came from Italy, together with the 20 people that came from Utah for my ordination to the Priesthood on May 23rd, came to witness what God had done with me and remind me of where the I Lord had rescued me from. I was very happy and am extremely grateful for a new life, a second chance in life better than I could have ever imagined.





As for my first assignment, I was assigned by the Cardinal as Parochial Vicar at St. Patrick Parish in Lawrence, a great parish with many challenges and lots of work. In the short time that I have spent here, I have already seen the action and the power of the Holy Spirit and I am sure that God sent me here to learn how not to live for myself.


I pray that God will keep me always faithful to what I have received and that He may give me the strength and the wisdom to be a faithful shepherd, “a shepherd after his own heart” (Jer 3: 15). Please remember me in your prayers, especially you, the faithful readers of Cardinal Sean’s blog. Please keep me and the other four men ordained with me in your prayers.

May the class of 2015 give glory to God and be forever remembered for its love of God and of His people.

God bless you.


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