Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ahoy, Eminence

Welcome to Day Two of full coverage of Red Dawn: Consistory '07.

Starting close to home, still impishly humbled at the formal announcement of his elevation, native son Cardinal-designate John Foley told the Daily News what his surname means in Gaelic... and its significance to his new post:

In typical Foley fashion, he took the news humbly - and gave a shout-out to Sister Elizabeth Gorvin, his eighth-grade teacher at Holy Spirit School, in Sharon Hill.

The promotion, he said, is "more a reflection of Philadelphia and the religious formation and motivation it gives."

Maybe so, but Eileen Guest, Foley's cousin in Lancaster County, couldn't hold back. "I'm basking in the glory," she said.

Foley got the word Tuesday, when he was summoned by the church's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, just after Foley had cataract surgery.

"I figured it was important if they were sending a car for me," Foley said. "When I got to his office, I was wearing an eye patch, so I looked like a pirate, which is appropriate because my name in Irish means pirate!"...

"If there was ever a person who deserved it, it's him," said Mary Doran, whose late husband, Dick Doran, was among Foley's closest friends. "I have to assume that Dick is going to be there in spirit."

Tom Massaro met Foley when Massaro was former Mayor Bill Green's housing director and Foley was the editor of the Catholic Standard & Times. Foley would prove to be a good person to know when times are tough.

In 2003, while working on church-restoration projects in Rome, Massaro became seriously ill and spent several months in a hospital's intensive-care unit. He had no phone, no computer and no contact with his family - except through Foley. The archbishop would visit him weekly. He would write or call Massaro's children to update them on their father's condition.

"He broke hospital rules a couple times and snuck me in a snack," Massaro said. "Everybody in the hospital would get such a lift when he came because he is so deeply respected in Rome."

While Foley has lived in Rome for nearly 25 years, he has kept close ties to Philadelphia and city issues - schools, racial harmony, economic opportunities in North Philadelphia....

"He's a remarkable human being," Mary Doran said, "and the Church is lucky to have him."
Meanwhile, the Emerald Isle's newest prince of the church (shown above after yesterday's announcement) sought to play up one of the reigning pontificate's main themes:

The idea that Catholicism was merely a "collection of prohibitions" must be corrected, the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All-Ireland, Dr Seán Brady said yesterday after the Vatican announced he is to be made a cardinal next month.

The 68-year-old native of Laragh, Co Cavan will be elevated to the Consistory of Cardinals in Rome on November 24th, joining fellow Irish cardinals Cahal Daly and Desmond Connell.

The archbishop, quoting Benedict XVI, said his constant mission must be to "be bold in speaking of the joy that comes from following Christ". The "life giving and life enhancing" message of the Gospel must be emphasised, while any negative views of Catholicism must be corrected, he added.

At a press conference beside St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh, he called for prayers that Ireland would be renewed in its faith. He rejected any suggestion that such a renewal was a "lost cause".

"I never regarded [a renewal of faith] as a lost cause because it does not depend on me; it depends on the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit does not back losers," the archbishop said. While Ireland now has three cardinals for the first time, the archbishop will be the only one who is young enough to be entitled to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope. This was one of three additional responsibilities he would have as cardinal and "one I hope I will not have for a long time and one I may not have at all".

...and in Kenya, where Cardinal-designate John Njue hasn't even been installed as archbishop of Nairobi yet, the second-ever porporato from the East African country burst into song when the news became public:
The appointment was unexpected and came as a surprise to him, [Njue] said in Nyeri, where he was officiating the launch of a strategic plan for Caritas, a Catholic charity.

"My soul praises the Lord because He has lifted His humble one," he sang moments after Nyeri Archbishop Nichodemus Kirima announced the appointment to the gathering.

Njue said he humbly accepts the position, which the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, bestowed on him to be among the Church Prince (Cardinal).

"For me it was a great shock. It is something I did not expect. But I humbly accept the appointment and will dutifully serve the Church, since God has had a mission in me since I walked out of my mother's house and became a priest in 1973," Njue said.

He added: "It was like a bombshell and in the spirit of obedience, I am ready to carry the cross and I know my Lord Jesus Christ will help me through"

The news of his appointment came as he was gracing the launch of the Caritas-Nyeri five-year strategic plan at Mathari Development Centre.

He was among the 23 new cardinals appointed by the Pope.

And for a while the priests who had been invited for the function could not hold their tears of joy as they broke into song and dance.

Over 100 priests who had come for the launch, sung out loud Salve Regina!...

In an interview with The Standard, Njue said his mother had a lot to do with his calling and was his mentor.

"My mother who passed away last year, was the pillar of my vocation and I thank her for bringing me up in a godly way. That is why, when she died, it really affected me and I thank God for her life," he said.

Shown above left at yesterday's luncheon, the 63 year-old prelate's quick elevation was foreseen here not long after his appointment to Nairobi was announced late last month.

Lacking a UK cardinal to crow -- or, for that matter, express "surprise" -- about, the London Daily Telegraph chose to lead its summary not with the elevation of Brady, but that of the president of the Italian episcopal conference, Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa. Reflecting continuing tremors in Italy over a March speech made by the cardinal-designate, the headline blared: "Anti-gay archbishop among 23 new cardinals."

Notably, for all the statements that were made yesterday praising his elevation, none came from Bagnasco. The shared protege of Ruini and Bertone was en route to Cuba, where he was visiting a mission sponsored by the Genovese church.

Eric Luke/The Irish Times