News In Brief

Nurse Who Killed Priest, 28 Others, Gets Life

SOMERVILLE, N.J. — A nurse who pleaded guilty to murdering 29 patients, including Father Florian Gall, received 11 consecutive life sentences from Superior Court Judge Paul Armstrong in Somerville March 2.

Wayne Forrest, Somerset County prosecutor, told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Diocese of Metuchen, that Charles Cullen was sentenced to two life sentences for the 13 patients he murdered in Somerset Medical Center in Somerville; five life sentences for five victims in Hunterdon Medical Center in Raritan Township; three life sentences for his victims in Warren Hospital in Phillipsburg; and one life sentence for a patient he murdered in St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston.

Father Gall, who had served nearly 20 years at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Whitehouse Station, died June 28, 2003, at Somerset Medical Center. Cullen, a native of West Orange, admitted that he intentionally administered lethal doses of the heart medication digoxin to the 68-year-old priest.


Bishop Expands Use of Female Altar Servers

ARLINGTON, Va. — New policies announced by Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington allow for greater use of female altar servers and expand the availability of the 1962 version of the Latin Mass in the diocese. The decisions were announced in separate letters to Catholics in the diocese.

“Recognizing the riches which the 1962 Latin Mass offers, I pray that the spiritual needs and aspirations of those drawn to this liturgy will be met,” Bishop Loverde said.

Bishop Loverde said he reached the decision on female altar servers after months of reflection and consultation during the Year of the Eucharist, which concluded in October 2005. “Since 1994, our diocese has permitted girls and women to serve at the altar in several settings: university campuses, convents, nursing homes, retreat houses, hospitals, and home Masses,” he wrote March 21. “In desiring to make available those legitimate options endorsed by our Church, I am expanding our previous permission to include our parish and high school communities.”

The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., is the only U.S. diocese to restrict service at the altar to males. The diocese issued a statement March 22 saying it “has chosen to follow the centuries old liturgical custom of having men and boys serve at the altar.”


Father Ciszek’s Cause for Canonization Advances

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — More than 20 years after the death of Jesuit Father Walter Ciszek, a Pennsylvania-born priest who was a missionary and a prisoner in the Soviet Union, officials in the Diocese of Allentown have completed the preliminary phase of their quest to see him declared a saint. Materials and documentation supporting the canonization cause were sent to Jesuit Father Paolo Molinari, postulator general for the Society of Jesus, in Rome Feb. 27. This closes the first phase of the process of canonization — the diocesan inquiry into the priest’s reputation for sanctity.

Father Ciszek, who was of Polish descent, was born in 1904, and entered the Jesuits in 1928. In response to an appeal from Pope Pius XI to the Jesuit order, he volunteered to work in the Soviet Union and was ordained in 1937. In 1940, he entered the Soviet Union. He was arrested by secret police the following year and sentenced to 15 years hard labor.