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Harrisburg's Msgr. Vincent Topper Is Oldest and Longest-Serving Priest in U.S. (7241)

Just shy of his 104th birthday, Msgr. Vincent Topper says of his 80-year vocation, ‘I tried to be a good priest and to bring others to Christ.’

07/19/2016 Comments (11)
Chris Heisey / The Catholic Witness

Above, Msgr. Vincent Topper, 103, receives congratulations from Father Andrew Stahmer, a priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., prior to the Mass of thanksgiving on May 24 at St. Catherine Labouré Church in Harrisburg in celebration of the jubilarian’s 80th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. Msgr. Topper, who turns 104 on July 28, is also shown on the occasion of his ordination. In addition, Sister Mary Anne Sweeney and some of the eighth-grade students from St. Catherine Labouré visit and pray the Rosary with Msg. Topper.

– Chris Heisey / The Catholic Witness

“If you had come a year or two sooner, I could’ve given you enough stories to fill the whole newspaper,” said Msgr. Vincent Topper.

The longest-serving priest in the country, Msgr. Topper will be 104 years old on July 28. (For the record, the Archbishop Emeritus Peter Leo Gerety of Newark, N.J., born July 19, 1912, is the oldest bishop in the world. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1939, three years after Msgr. Topper.)

“But I forget all these things,” the monsignor said matter-of-factly.

The elderly priest’s voice is strong and untouched by melancholy. The cares of old age don’t weigh upon him. To Msgr. Topper, there is little difference between the earthly life and life eternal,...READ MORE

Filed under celeste behe, msgr. vincent topper, priesthood, vocations

Remember the Copts ISIS Beheaded in Libya? This Priest Does (3572)

The Coptic Orthodox Church proclaimed the 21 men to be martyrs.

07/19/2016 Comments (7)
CNA/courtesy of Tony Rezk, via tonyrezk.blogspot.com

Icon of the ‘21 Martyrs of Libya’

– CNA/courtesy of Tony Rezk, via tonyrezk.blogspot.com

MINYA, Egypt — For Christians in Egypt, the possibility of martyrdom is not a remote one.

“It is something they concretely feel, it is part of their Christian life,” Father Paolo Asolan, an Italian priest who recently visited Egypt, told CNA. “And for a mother and a father, the fact that one of their sons can become a martyr is always a great gift.”

The Islamic State’s beheading of 20 Coptic Christians and another man shocked the world in February 2015 when video of the murders on a Mediterranean beach became public. The other man was a non-Christian who reportedly professed belief in the Christian God before his death.

During a recent trip to Egypt, Father Asolan met the family of one...READ MORE

Filed under andrea gagliarducci, coptic orthodox church, isis, islamic state group, martyrdom, sharia

Only Christ Offers Answers in Our Violent World, Baton Rouge Bishop Says (1311)

'In Jesus, hope ultimately triumphs over despair; love ultimately triumphs over hate; and resurrection ultimately triumphs over death,' Bishop Robert Muench of Baton Rouge said Sunday.

07/19/2016 Comments (3)
CNA/Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Memorial for the three police officers who were shot and killed in an ambush on July 18 in Baton Rouge, La.

– CNA/Sean Gardner/Getty Images

BATON ROUGE, La. — Jesus Christ’s triumph over death, despair and hate should move us forward after a deadly attack on law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge, the diocese’s bishop said Sunday.

“Words cannot express the emotions we feel for those who have lost loved ones in the tragic events of this day. Their entire lives have been unexpectedly and terribly turned upside down,” Bishop Robert Muench of Baton Rouge said.

On July 17, a gunman identified as Gavin Long of Kansas City, Mo. ambushed and killed two police officers and a deputy, while wounding three more, CNN reported. The officers were responded to reports of shots fired. Long, a former Marine sergeant, was killed in a gun...READ MORE

Filed under baton rouge, bishop robert muench, police

World Youth Day '16: Popes, Poland and Powerful PR (4608)

COMMENTARY: This year's festival in Krakow is expected to draw 2 million pilgrims.

07/18/2016 Comments (6)
L'Osservatore Romano

John Paul II in 1979

– L'Osservatore Romano

KRAKÓW, Poland — Time is at a premium during Pope Francis’ visit for World Youth Day. The Holy Father desired a brief trip limited only to the principal WYD events, originally planning only private visits to the Black Madonna of Czestochowa and to Auschwitz. But the Polish bishops pressed for a public Mass at Czestochowa to mark the 1,050th anniversary of the “baptism of Poland,” and the Holy Father agreed.

Therein lies a tale that explains the contemporary history of the Church in Poland and two of St. John Paul’s signature initiatives — World Youth Day itself and the Great Jubilee of 2000.

The Polish Church’s celebration of the 1,050th anniversary of its Christian identity — dated from...READ MORE

Filed under catholic, father raymond j. de souza, poland, polish bishops, polish history, st. john paul ii, world youth day

Pope Francis Leads Prayers for Victims of Massacre in France (1902)

The July 14 attack in Nice left 80 people dead and scores wounded.

07/18/2016 Comments (5)
CNA file photo

– CNA file photo

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis led the crowds on Sunday in St. Peter’s Square in prayers for the victims of Thursday’s attack in Nice, France, which left more than 80 people dead, including 10 children.

“The pain of the massacre is alive in our hearts,” the Pope said during his post-Angelus address for July 17, during which he lamented the loss of “many innocent lives, even children,” who were “mowed down” during the attack.  

The Holy Father expressed his closeness to “every family, and to the entire French nation, which is in mourning.”

“May God, the good Father, welcome all the victims in his peace, sustain the wounded, and comfort their families,” he said.

Francis also prayed that...READ MORE

Filed under angelus, ann schneible, france, nice, pope francis, terrorism

New Religious Laws in Russia Not Expected to Affect Catholic Church (4429)

The new anti-evangelism law carries fines up to $780 for an individual and $15,500 for an organization. Foreign visitors who violate the law face deportation.

07/18/2016 Comments (10)
CNA/Dorli Photography via Flickr CC BY NC ND 2.0

Russian Orthodox Church of the Resurrection in Moscow.

– CNA/Dorli Photography via Flickr CC BY NC ND 2.0

MOSCOW — Despite protests from religious leaders and human rights groups, Russian president Vladimir Putin last week approved a new set of laws that would restrict evangelization and missionary activity to officially registered Church buildings and worship areas.

The laws fall under the umbrella of new anti-terrorism legislation, and prohibit sharing faith in private homes, online, or anywhere but recognized church buildings.

A missionary Catholic priest serving in Russia, who asked to be kept anonymous to protect his identity and his parish, told CNA that he expects the laws will have a much bigger impact on small groups of Evangelicals than they will on the Catholic Church in Russia.


Filed under jehovah's witnesses, mary rezac, mormons, proselytization, russian orthodox church, vladimir putin

John Quincy Adams: A Model for 21st-Century US Politicians (2092)

COMMENTARY: The last Puritan statesman and the 2016 conventions

07/18/2016 Comments (3)
Wikipedia/public domain

George P.A. Healy (1813-1894) portrait of John Quincy Adams

– Wikipedia/public domain

Had I the resources, the one new book I’d give every delegate to the national political conventions meeting this month is James Traub’s masterful biography of the sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit (Basic Books).

Traub grabs your attention quickly, seven sentences in: “[Adams] did not aim to please, and he largely succeeded.” Why? Because “he lived according to principles he considered self-evident. Others of his contemporaries did so as well, of course; what set Adams apart was that his principles were so inviolable that he eagerly sacrificed his self-interest to them. As president he accomplished very little of his ambitious agenda, in part because...READ MORE

Filed under american history, george weigel, john quincy adams, morality, politics, u.s. politics, u.s. presidents, virtue

Bishop Robert Barron Brings Beauty of Catholicism to a World in Need (8678)

Bishop Barron reflects on his new ministry as a bishop in the Golden State, his friendship with the late Cardinal George of Chicago, new plans for his global apostolate and the timely subject of his latest book.

07/17/2016 Comments (18)
File photo/CNA

– File photo/CNA

As the episcopal vicar of Santa Barbara, Calif., Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron is in charge of one of the five pastoral regions in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest archdiocese in the United States.

A leading exponent of the New Evangelization, Bishop Barron’s use of social media, television, commentary, and best-selling books shares the truths and beauty of the Catholic faith all over the world.

The native Chicagoan, 56, took up his post in Santa Barbara in 2015, leaving his high-profile position as rector and president of Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Illinois.

During a July 8 interview at the Napa Institute in California, Bishop Barron met...READ MORE

Filed under bishop robert barron, catholic, catholicism, joan frawley desmond, new evangelization

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