News In Brief

Priest Morale Strong, Survey Reflects

WASHINGTON — The morale of U.S. priests is high despite the hurt and anger they feel over the crisis of clergy sexual abuse of minors, a prominent priest-psychotherapist said at a seminar at The Catholic University of America.

Father Stephen Rossetti, president of St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Md., and author of the recent book The Joy of Priesthood, led the April 24 seminar at the university’s Life Cycle Institute.

He reported on a survey of nearly 1,300 priests in 16 dioceses that he conducted between September 2003 and April 2005 to assess the effects of the abuse crisis on priestly morale.

One of the main findings of his survey, Father Rossetti said, is that 80% of priests say their own morale is good, but only 38% think the morale of their fellow priests is good.

He said the large discrepancy seems to stem from the fact that a large majority of priests are committed to their priesthood and happy with it, but “when priests look at other priests, they’re seeing the hurt and anger and think morale is bad.”

He said he asked priests if they were committed to their ministry and 95.6% expressed agreement and only 1.4% said no. In social research “that’s an unbelievable number,” he said. “These guys are committed to their work.”


Archbishop and Nun Campaign Against Death Penalty

WASHINGTON — Retired Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston is hardly growing inactive in his retirement.

Instead, he’s been going on the road to speak out against capital punishment along with one of the more well-known advocates of abolishing the death penalty: Sister Helen Prejean, the Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille who wrote the books Dead Man Walking and The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions.

“She’s an expert at it,” said Archbishop Fiorenza, who retired in February. “She gives a very powerful presentation, working with death-row prisoners — and the whole penal system.”

The archbishop and the nun gave their most recent joint appearance April 20 during the National Catholic Educational Association’s 103rd annual convention in Atlanta.

One positive sign Archbishop Fiorenza sees in the ongoing debate is “our young people in Catholic colleges. They are very, very much against the death penalty. That’s a sign of great hope.”


Kids Win Family Rosary Prizes

EASTON, Mass. — Family Rosary, a prayer ministry based in Easton that was founded in 1942 by Father Patrick Peyton, has named 13 first-place winners in kindergarten through 12th grade in its annual “Try Prayer! It Works!” art contest.

This year the contest theme was “How Receiving Jesus in Holy Communion Changes Us.”

“The contest enables children of all ages to express creatively the importance of this holy sacrament in their daily lives,” said Holy Cross Father John Phalen, president of Holy Cross Family Ministries, of which Family Rosary is a part.

In all, 40 young artists were selected as winners from among 2,800 entries from the United States, Puerto Rico and Guam. (Separate competitions were held in Mexico, East Africa, West Africa, Bangladesh, Brazil, Peru, Icelandregion>, Chile, Haiti and the Philippines.)

Each first-place winner received $100, as well as $200 for his or her sponsoring organization.