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PMS National Director Reports from Zambia

‘Tracing New Paths in the Wake of the Mission’

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Testimony of Father Francois-Marie Lethel, OCD, Patient Recovered from COVID-19

Sunday, June 28, Day of the Lord’s Resurrection

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A Priest Describes his Experience with COVID-19 Patients

ACN Profiles a Special Mission in Ukraine

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Cardinal Pell Supports Newly Launched Global Institute of Church Management

Announces Start of Global Institute of Church Management

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Prisoners Most Exposed Population to Covic-19 in Bolivia

Commentary of Caritas Leader in Country

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Corona and the Message of Love

Maria Voce and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

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Cardinal Parolin Asserts Need for Israel and Palestine to Live in Peace

Meets with Ambassadors of United States and Israel

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Father Val Peter, Boys Town's leader for 20 years, dies

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Boys Town

By

BOYS TOWN, Neb. (CNS) -- Father Val Peter, who was executive director of Boys Town from 1985 to 2005, died June 30 at age 85. No cause of death was given.

During his 20-year tenure leading Boys Town, Father Peter renovated much of the Boys Town campus, installed Boys Town campuses in major cities throughout the United States and increased the number of girls served by Boys Town.

He also utilized the latest research in child development to give the children under his care a better chance at a more productive future.

By 1994, Boys Town was caring for 20,000 boys and girls in 16 metropolitan areas. "We combine scientific technologies with enormous compassion," Father Peter said at the time. Rather than the dormitories and mess halls of old, for instance, Boys Town's children all lived with families.

A decade later, that number had more than doubled to 43,654 children at 19 sites in 15 states and in the District of Columbia. More than 500,000 children and families were helped through Boys Town's national hotline and nearly 1 million more were served through outreach and professional programs.

In a 1993 interview with the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Father Peter said the nature of youth problems had changed since Boys Town's founding in 1917.

"The toughest children to help get better are Americans," he said. ''The evils are far more subtle, the drugs are far more seductive. There's too much of everything material and not enough of anything spiritual."

In the interview, Father Peter presaged Pope Francis by two decades when he said, "We're involved in a great war, and Boys Town is a field hospital in that struggle."

In 2002, he became an early clergy advocate for the defrocking of priests who abused minors and the resignation of superiors who covered up the abuse.

"Perpetrators must lose their license to practice. Negligent supervisors must remove themselves or be removed," he said. When children have been abused "the children come first," he added. "Not sometimes," he said, "not in some places, but always and everywhere."

In a 1992 column in the Catholic Voice, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Omaha, Father Peter said safe sex was "the same thing" as "safe promiscuity." "What man, if his son asks him for bread, would give him a stone?" he asked, borrowing the biblical allegory. "The adults of America are being asked by their children for something that is nourishing and lasting and we are giving them condoms."

Civilization, Father Peter said, is "a very fragile and precious achievement" and democracy "even ... more fragile and precious." He added, "The rule or law 'sex belongs in marriage' is one of the building blocks of civilization. It is just as important, if not more so, than the rule 'thou shalt not steal.' Both rules make living together possible and worthwhile."

At a 1991 conference in Boys Town, Father Peter told participants that compassion is important but by itself isn't adequate.

"The world is filled with people who want to help our kids," Father Peter said, "and the kids get worse. What we need is competence. We need people who know what they're about. That takes discipline, sacrifice and learning. Compassion without this is sheer sentimentality."

A decade later, after a White House meeting with President George W. Bush about the administration's impending initiative to give faith-based organizations a better shot at federal funding, Father Peter said he felt his concerns about faith-based initiatives were heard and understood by the administration.

He added he went into the meeting wanting to be sure the initiative required quality programs, with good, demonstrable outcomes and accountability. "Otherwise, it's just a bunch of pious do-gooders," he said.

Born Valentine Peter in Omaha in 1934, he was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha in 1959. Last year, he marked 60 years as a priest.

Father Peter's brother was Father Carl Peter, one of the leading U.S. post-Vatican II theologians, who spent 27 years teaching at The Catholic University of America, Washington, and died in 1991 at age 59. Father Carl Peter wrote some 125 scholarly monographs, articles and books.

In 2004, a year before Father Val Peter turned 70, the typical retirement age for priests in the archdiocese, Archbishop Elden F. Curtiss, then Omaha's archbishop, resigned as chairman of Boys Town's board of directors in an apparent dispute over bylaws changes governing the Boys Town board and executive director. The archbishop said he could not guarantee he would supply future priests to Boys Town. The executive director of Boys Town had always been an Omaha archdiocesan priest, including its founder, Father Edward Flanagan.

The dispute was resolved in 2005, when Father Peter retired and succeeded by another archdiocesan priest, Father Steven E. Boes, who continues to run Boys Town today. In retirement, Father Peter remained as pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish on the Boys Town campus.

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Copyright © 2020 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

Chaz Muth, CNS multimedia editor, wins Cardinal John P. Foley Award

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy of Chaz Muth

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Chaz Muth, multimedia editor for Catholic News Service, received the 2020 Cardinal John P. Foley Award from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada.

The award, named after the media savvy Philadelphia cardinal who died in 2011, recognizes excellence and innovation in Catholic storytelling in various media platforms such as video, podcasts, photo spreads, blogs or a combination of multimedia platforms. It is one of the top awards given by the CPA.

The winner was announced July 1 in a pre-recorded video released on social media during the 2020 Catholic Media Conference held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Anything with Cardinal Foley's name on it is more than an honor and it's incredibly humbling," said Muth in accepting the award. "He was a giant in the Catholic press, and wow, what an incredible innovator in everything that he touched."

Cardinal Foley, a longtime journalist, was head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications from 1984 to 2007. Before that, he served as assistant editor and editor of Philadelphia's archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Standard and Times, and he hosted and produced a radio program called "Philadelphia Catholic Hour." The cardinal also was known to many as the Vatican's "Voice of Christmas" in his role as English-language commentator for the pope's midnight Mass for 25 years.

Greg Erlandson, director and editor-in-chief of Catholic News Service -- who nominated Muth for the award -- described Cardinal Foley as an "indefatigable supporter of the Catholic press" who always "remained a journalist at heart" while believing strongly in the importance of this vocation for the life of the church.

In his nomination submission, Erlandson said there are many examples of Muth's 2019 work in photography, videography, animation and multimedia storytelling. He also pointed out that Muth developed several important series in the past year that combined solid news reporting with strong visual storytelling, including a comprehensive look at the seal of the confessional and a series on how the film industry was shaped by the Catholic Church, with corresponding documentary films that aired on Catholic television stations.

Finalists for the 2020 award were Dan Allen with FaithND; Amber Cerveny with the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts; Cassie Magnotta of Glenmary Challenge; David Naglieri with the Knights of Columbus; and Michael O'Loughlin from America Media.

Previous Cardinal Foley Award recipients were David Carollo from World Apostolate of Fatima /Soul Magazine in 2018 and Lisa Johnston from the St. Louis Review in 2017. The award was not presented last year.

J.D. Long-Garcia, senior editor of America magazine and CPA president, who presented Muth with the award, said: "Congratulations my friend, you set a high bar for all of us."

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

 

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Copyright © 2020 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]