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Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Journey

Pope Benedict XVI made news on his first apostolic trip to the United States, from April 15 to 20, especially in his ecumenical outreach, his visit to a Manhattan synagogue on the eve of Passover, his comments on the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the church, and for his meeting with victims of abuse.

“It has overshadowed the trip,” Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, told The New York Times, referring to Pope’s comments on abuse. “None of us expected it, but everyone is grateful that he did. What he realized is that this is a pastoral visit and he must be pastor to those who are hurt most — and that is the victims.”

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio (GSS ’80), of Brooklyn, at left, with Rev. Robert Aufieri, head of ecumenical affairs for the Archdiocese of New York, and Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, at St. Joseph Church in Manhattan.

Not as widely reported was the Pope’s meeting with Avery Cardinal Dulles during the Pontiff’s visit to St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie), in Yonkers, New York, on Saturday. Cardinal Dulles presented the Pope with a copy of his book, Church and Society: The Laurence J. McGinley Lectures, 1988-2007 (Fordham University Press, 2008). Cardinal Dulles was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope John Paul II in 2001. Cardinal Dulles was one of three Americans elevated that day, and the only one of the three who was not a diocesan bishop, a signal honor in recognition of his lifelong work as a Jesuit, a theologian and a writer.

Father McShane attended a luncheon with William Joseph Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, sponsored by Time magazine. Father McShane was emissary for the Orthodox Christian hierarchs attending an ecumenical gathering marking Pope Benedict XVI’s first visit to St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, an historic German parish in Manhattan, on Saturday. Father McShane also attended the meeting of Catholic university presidents and school superintendents at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

Other Fordham faculty, staff and students took part in a number of activities during the Pope’s visit, including Masses at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Yankee Stadium, his meetings with Catholic youth, and the departure ceremony at John F. Kennedy Airport. Amy Uelmen, director of Fordham Law’s Institute on Religion, Law & Lawyer’s Work, gave a reading at the ecumenical gathering at St. Joseph’s.

“I was deeply touched by the reading that had been selected, from Ephesians 4:1-6, which urges us to ‘live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the spirit of unity through the bond of peace,’” Uelman said. “The Pope’s own presence at this event and at all of the events in our city, was for me a living example of this gentleness, love, and capacity to reach out to build promising bridges across so many of our differences.  The atmosphere in the church and at the reception that followed was filled with a joyful serenity, and hope that the event would mark a significant step ahead in the work for unity.”

Uelman was chosen to give the reading because of her involvement with the Focolare Movement, an organization actively involved in ecumenical dialogue since the early 1960s, and working toward the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer “that all may be one.”

The Pope’s visit naturally occasioned a reckoning of the state of the American Catholic Church in the media. Responding to a poll that said Long Island youth “place a lower priority on religious practice than any other age group,” Patrick Ryan, S.J., vice president for University mission and ministry, told Newsday, “They don’t cease to be Christians or Catholics, but they are put off or alienated from the ordinary practice of their family. It takes them a while to come back, if they come back. They may affiliate with some other denomination … I don’t think there is that much loss of faith in the deeper sense.”

Members of the Jesuit community at Fordham attended Solemn Pontifical Mass for Priests, Deacons and Religious at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick in Manhattan on Saturday. Also on Saturday, 75 Fordham student volunteers assisted at the Pope’s meetings with disabled children and youth seminarians at Dunwoodie. On Sunday, 35 Fordham student volunteers  assisted outside Yankee Stadium at the Solemn Pontifical Mass.

Other faculty and administrators who have been quoted in the media on the Pope’s visit include: Rev. Anthony Ciorra, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education; George Demacopoulos, Ph.D., assistant professor of theology; Joseph Koterski, S.J., associate professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy; Joseph T. Lienhard, S.J., professor of theology; Mark Massa, S.J., professor of theology and co-director of the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies; Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., president emeritus of Fordham; Msgr. Thomas J. Shelley, Ph.D., professor of theology;Margaret Steinfels and Peter Steinfels, co-directors of the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture;Lance Strate, Ph.D., professor and associate chair of communication and media studies; and Maureen Tilley, Ph.D., professor of theology.


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