At the same altar in St. Peter’s Basilica where they were ordained priests exactly 50 years ago, Cardinal WILLIAM J. LEVADA and 17 of his classmates celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving “for the great gift of the priesthood” on December 20.

The cardinal, a student at Rome’s Pontifical North American College at the time, was ordained with 53 other men at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s in 1961. Four of the cardinal’s classmates are U.S. bishops and concelebrated at the anniversary Mass, including retired Archbishop John C. Favalora of Miami, Florida, and Archbishop John G. Vlazny of Portland, Oregon, who were ordained priests with Levada. The other concelebrating classmates were Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco, who was ordained a priest four months later, and Bishop Tod D. Brown of Orange, California, who was ordained in 1963.

Speaking at the end of the Mass, Cardinal Levada led the 17 in giving thanks to the Lord “for the priesthood we received 50 years ago as a great gift of our loving God.”

The homily was delivered by U.S. Archbishop J. Augustine

DiNoia, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The principal concelebrants at the Mass were Cardinal Angelo Sodano, retired Vatican secretary of state, and Cardinal Justin Rigali, retired archbishop of Philadelphia.



Gunmen shooting at guards keeping watch over Archbishop LOUIS SAKO’s residence in Kirkuk in northern Iraq triggered a firefight, leaving two of the gunmen dead and five policemen wounded on January 11.

Archbishop Sako said he believes the gunmen had the wrong target. Police suspect the attackers were targeting a member of the Iraqi parliament who lives next to the archbishop’s house and whose home was also attacked January 8, according to the Rome-based AsiaNews. Archbishop Sako said the gunmen were from Baghdad “and, therefore, were not sure where to go. They found themselves facing our security guards and fired, without knowing who they were shooting at.”



On January 5, 2012, Archbishop MANUEL MONTEIRO DE CASTRO was appointed major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary by Benedict XVI, replacing Cardinal Baldelli who had reached the retirement age of 75 in 2010.

It was announced on January 6, 2012, that Archbishop Monteiro de Castro would be created a cardinal on February 18 by Pope Benedict XVI.

He was born in Portugal in 1938 and was ordained a priest in 1963. He had previously served as secretary of the Congregation for Bishops.

At the same time, Benedict XVI named Msgr. LORENZO BALDISSERI secretary of the Congregation for Bishops. He had been serving as the apostolic nuncio in Brazil. He was born in Italy in 1940. He was ordained a priest on June 29, 1963, for the diocese of Pisa. After studying at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy he entered the Holy See’s diplomatic service. On January 12, 1992, John Paul II named him nuncio to Haiti and he was ordained a bishop on March 7 and elevated to the rank of archbishop. After serving as nuncio in Paraguay beginning in 1995, he moved to Nepal in 1999 and then in 2002 was named nuncio in Brazil.


At least 26 CATHOLIC PASTORAL WORKERS were KILLED in mission lands or among society’s most disadvantaged communities, although they were more often the victims of violent crimes than of persecution for their faith, said a Vatican news agency.

Each year, Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, publishes a list of pastoral workers who died violently.

The list of those killed included:

— A nun identified only as Sister Angelina, who was killed by militants of the Ugandan guerilla movement, the Lord’s Resistance Army, while she was taking medical assistance to refugees in South Sudan.

— Maria Elizabeth Macias Castro, a member of the Scalabrinian Lay Movement in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, who assisted migrants and was kidnapped and murdered by drug dealers.

— Sister Valsha John of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary was killed in her home in northern India. She helped protect indigenous communities from being driven from their lands by coal mining companies. She had been repeatedly threatened by criminals who had warned her not to interfere, but government authorities reportedly ignored her requests for help and left her without protection, said Fides.

Fides said its provisional list only includes pastoral care workers, not the many other Catholics who died for their faith this year such as the late Pakistani minister of minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, and those killed in the bombings of Christian churches in Nigeria on Christmas Day.

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