Saturday, October 30, 2010

Today is the 275th birthday of President John Adams

President Lyndon B. Johnson issued a declaration that all deceased presidents be honored on their birthday with a wreath laid on their tomb. A ceremony commemorating John Adams' 275th birthday was held at the Church of the Presidents on Friday, Oct. 29.

Happy 275th birthday to the nation's 2nd president of these United States and the father of the nation's 6th president, John Quincy Adams! May you still granted us guidance for this nation!

John Adams (October 30, 1735 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States (1797–1801). A New England Yankee, he was deeply read and represented Enlightenment values promoting republicanism. A conservative Federalist, he was one of the most influential Founding Fathers of the United States.

Adams came to prominence in the early stages of the American Revolution. As a delegate from Massachusetts to the Continental Congress, he played a leading role in persuading Congress to declare independence, and assisted Thomas Jefferson in drafting the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776. As a representative of Congress in Europe, he was a major negotiator of the eventual peace treaty with Great Britain, and chiefly responsible for obtaining important loans from Amsterdam bankers. A political theorist and historian, Adams largely wrote the Massachusetts state constitution in 1780, but was in Europe when the federal Constitution was drafted on similar principles later in the decade. One of his greatest roles was as a judge of character: in 1775, he nominated George Washington to be commander-in-chief, and 25 years later nominated John Marshall to be Chief Justice of the United States.

Adams' revolutionary credentials secured him two terms as George Washington's vice president and his own election in 1796 as the second president. During his one term, he encountered ferocious attacks by the Jeffersonian Republicans, as well as the dominant faction in his own Federalist Party led by his bitter enemy Alexander Hamilton. Adams signed the controversial Alien and Sedition Acts, and built up the army and navy especially in the face of an undeclared naval war (called the "Quasi War") with France, 1798-1800. The major accomplishment of his presidency was his peaceful resolution of the conflict in the face of Hamilton's opposition.

In 1800 Adams was defeated for reelection by Thomas Jefferson and retired to Massachusetts. He later resumed his friendship with Jefferson. He and his wife, Abigail Adams, founded an accomplished family line of politicians, diplomats, and historians now referred to as the Adams political family. Adams was the father of John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States. His achievements have received greater recognition in modern times, though his contributions were not initially as celebrated as those of other Founders!

Quincy celebrates John Adams' 275th birthday
QUINCY — Mayor Thomas Koch, U.S. Rep. William Delahunt and a seventh generation descendant of John Adams were present for the annual wreath-laying ceremony commemorating the second president’s 275th birthday.

The noontime ceremony at Quincy’s Church of the Presidents is one in a weekend of events centered around Adams’ birthday, which is Saturday, Oct. 30.

The descendant, also named John Adams, quoted from the Massachusetts Constitution and other writings by his ancestor. Rep. Delahunt, in what he said would be one of his last appearances before retiring as a congressman, spoke to the ideal of freedom that the president championed when helping to shape a new nation. Shannon Galvin, a senior at the Woodward School for Girls and the granddaughter of city historian Tom Galvin, also spoke at the ceremony.

The wreath, ordered by the White House, was made by Clifford Flowers’ in Quincy Center, and was laid on Adams’ tomb by Navy officers, Delahunt, Koch, John Adams, Galvin and Arthur Ducharme, the church’s visitors program director.

The landmark church was filled with spectators and students from several area high schools and colleges. The annual event is part of President Lyndon B. Johnson declaration that every deceased president’s birthday would be recognized with a wreath on his tomb.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy 152nd Birthday to Theodore Roosevelt!

Theodore Roosevelt: to one of my favorite presidents throughout the history of the Presidency, TR are truly a unqiue guy! Also helping out with the National Park Service also, Remembering you today, happy 152nd birthday!

Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt: October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919) was the 26th President of the United States. He is noted for his energetic personality, range of interests and achievements, leadership of the Progressive Movement, and his "cowboy" image and robust masculinity.

He was a leader of the Republican Party and founder of the short-lived Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party of 1912. Before becoming President (1901–1909) he held offices at the municipal, state, and federal level of government. Roosevelt's achievements as a naturalist, explorer, hunter, author, and soldier are as much a part of his fame as any office he held as a politician.

Born to a wealthy family, Roosevelt was an unhealthy child suffering from asthma who stayed at home studying natural history. In response to his physical weakness, he embraced a strenuous life. He was home schooled and became a passionate student of nature. He attended Harvard, where he boxed and developed an interest in naval affairs. In 1881, one year out of Harvard, he was elected to the state legislature as its youngest member. Roosevelt's first historical book, The Naval War of 1812, published in 1882, established his professional reputation as a serious historian. After a few years of living in the Badlands, Roosevelt returned to New York City, where he gained fame for fighting police corruption.

While effectively running the Department of the Navy, Spanish American War broke out from which he resigned and led a small regiment in Cuba known as the Rough Riders, earning himself a nomination for the Medal of Honor (which was received posthumously on his behalf on January 16, 2001). After the war, he returned to New York and was elected governor in a close fought election. Within two years later he was elected Vice President of the United States.

In 1901, President William McKinley was assassinated, and Roosevelt became president at the age of 42, taking office at the youngest age of any U.S. President in history. Roosevelt attempted to move the Republican Party in the direction of Progressivism, including trust busting and increased regulation of businesses. Roosevelt coined the phrase "Square Deal" to describe his domestic agenda, emphasizing that the average citizen would get a fair shake under his policies. As an outdoorsman and naturalist, he promoted the conservation movement. On the world stage, Roosevelt's policies were characterized by his slogan, "Speak softly and carry a big stick".

Roosevelt was the force behind the completion of the Panama Canal; he sent out the Great White Fleet to display American power, and he negotiated an end to the Russo-Japanese War, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Roosevelt was the first American to win the Nobel Prize in any field.

Roosevelt declined to run for re-election in 1908. After leaving office, he embarked on a safari to Africa and a tour of Europe. On his return to the US, a bitter rift developed between Roosevelt and his anointed successor as President, William Howard Taft. Roosevelt attempted in 1912 to wrest the Republican nomination from Taft, and when he failed, he launched the Bull Moose Party. In the election, Roosevelt became the only third party candidate to come in second place, beating Taft but losing to Woodrow Wilson. After the election, Roosevelt embarked on a major expedition to South America; the river on which he traveled now bears his name. He contracted malaria on the trip, which damaged his health, and he died a few years later, at the age of 60. Roosevelt has consistently been ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.

Monday, October 25, 2010

40 years ago today Servant of God Pope Paul VI canonized The 40 Martyrs of England and Wales

the great image of the 40 martyrs of England and Wales

Servant of God Pope Paul VI

The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

They were a group of men and women who were executed for treason and related offences in the Kingdom of England between 1535 and 1679. They are considered by the Catholic Church to be Christian martyrs and were canonized on 25 October 1970 by Servant of God Pope Paul VI.


Paolo Molinari, S.J.


In the Consistory of May 18th, 1970 the Holy Father announced the forthcoming canonization of 40 new saints, the 40 blessed Martyrs of England and Wales. After asking—in accordance with one of the most ancient forms of the exercise of collegiality—the opinion of the Cardinals, Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops and Abbots Nullius present, and receiving their unanimous answer in favour of the Canonization, Paul VI said:
"We greatly rejoice that unanimously you have asked that these blessed Martyrs of England and Wales be canonized; this is also our desire. It is our intention to enroll them among the saints and to declare them worthy of the honours that the Church attributes to those holy persons who have obtained their heavenly reward. With God's help, we will do this on the twenty-fifth day of October of this year in the Vatican Basilica".

This announcement marked the end of the preparatory phase of the Canonization of these Martyrs. For long years research and study had been necessary to throw light on a large number of varied and complex problems in the spiritual, theological historical ecumenical and pastoral fields. The voluminous collection of documents and studies, carried out in Rome and in England, is considered by many an essential contribution to knowledge of the stormy history of England and Wales in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is also an extremely interesting and convincing documentation of the authenticity of the martyrdom of the 40 new saints and the opportuneness of their Canonization. It is not surprising, therefore, that those who had had the opportunity to study these volumes thoroughly—and among them over forty Cardinals of the Roman Curia and from other countries who took part in the Consistory—did not hesitate to judge the Cause favourably.


Who the Forty Martyrs are

The forty Martyrs are among the best known of the many Catholics who gave their lives in England and Wales during the 16th and 17th centuries owing to the fact that their religious convictions clashed with the laws of the State at that time.

As is known, King Henry VIII had proclaimed himself supreme head of the Church in England and Wales, claiming for himself and his successors power over his subjects also in spiritual questions. According to our Catholic faith, this spiritual supremacy is due only to the Vicar of Christ, the Roman Pontiff. The Blessed Martyrs, and with them many other Catholics, though they wished to be, and actually were, loyal subjects of the Crown in everything belonging to it legitimately according to the ideas of that time, refused for reasons of conscience to recognize the "spiritual supremacy" of the King and to obey the laws issued by the political power on purely spiritual questions such as Holy Mass, Eucharistic Communion and similar matters. This was what led many people to face and meet death courageously rather than act against their conscience and deny their Catholic faith as regards the spiritual Primacy of the Vicar of Christ and the dogma of the Blessed Sacrament. From the ecumenical point of view, it is extremely important to realize the fact, proved historical, that the Martyrs were not put to death as a result of internal struggles between Catholics and Anglicans, but precisely because they were not willing to submit to a claim of the State which is commonly recognized today as being illegitimate and unacceptable.

If—as has always been clearly recognized in the case of St. Thomas More—it would be a serious error to consider him a leading figure in the opposition between Catholics and Anglicans, whereas he must be considered a person who rose in defence of the rights of conscience against State usurpation, the same can be said of the 40 Martyrs, who died for exactly the same reasons.

And this is just what the Church intends to stress with their Canonization. It was and is her intention to hold up to the admiration not only of Catholics, but of all men, the example of persons unconditionally loyal to Christ and to their conscience to the extent of being ready to shed their blood for that reason. Owing to their living faith in Christ, their personal attachment to Him, their deep sharing of His life and principles, these persons gave a clear demonstration of their authentically Christian charity for men, also when—on the scaffold—they prayed not only for those who shared their religious convictions, but also for all their fellow-countrymen it; and in particular for the Head of the State and even for their executioners.

This firm attitude in defence of their own freedom of conscience and of their faith in the truth of the Primacy of Christ and of the Holy Eucharist is identical in all the 40 Martyrs. In every other respect, however, they are different as for example in their state in life, social position, education, culture, age, character and temperament, and in fact in everything that makes up the most typically personal qualities of such a large group of men and women. The group is composed, in fact, of 13 priests of the secular clergy, 3 Benedictines, 3 Carthusians, 1 Brigittine, 2 Franciscans, 1 Augustinian, 10 Jesuits and 7 members of the laity, including 3 mothers.

The history of their martyrdom makes varied and stimulating reading as the different characters are revealed, not without a touch of typically English humour.

The torments they underwent give an idea of their fortitude. The priests—for example—were hanged, and shortly after the noose had tightened round their neck they were drawn and quartered. In most cases the second operation took place when they were still alive, for they were not left hanging long enough to bring about their death, sometimes only for a very few seconds.

For the others—that is, those who were not priests—death by hanging was the normal procedure. But before their execution the Martyrs were usually cruelly tortured, to make them reveal the names of any accomplices in their "crime", which was having celebrated Holy Mass, having attended it or having given shelter to priests. In the course of the trial, and during the tortures, they were offered their life and freedom on condition they recognized the king (or the queen, according to the period), as head of the Church of England.

And here are some particular features that drive home to us the spirituality of these Martyrs and how they faced death.

Cuthbert Mayne, a secular priest, replied to a gaoler who came to tell him he would be executed three days later: "I wish I had something valuable to give you, for the good news you bring me...". Edmund Campion, a Jesuit, was so pleased when taken to the place of execution that the people said about him and his companions: "But they're laughing! He doesn't care at all about dying...'.

Ralph Sherwin, the first of the martyrs from the English College in Rome had heavy chains round his ankles that rattled at every step he took. "I have on my feet—he wrote wittily to a friend of his—some bells that remind me, when I walk, who I am and to whom I belong. I have never heard sweeter music than this..." He was executed immediately after Campion; he piously kissed the executioner's hands, still stained with the blood of his fellow martyr.

Alexander Briant—the diocesan priest who entered the Society of Jesus shortly before his death—had made himself a little wooden cross during his imprisonment, and held it clasped tightly between his hands all the time, even during the trial. It was then, however that they snatched it away from him But he replied to the judge: "You can take it out of my hands, but not out of my heart". The cross was later bought by some Catholics and is now in the English College in Rome.

John Paine (a secular priest, whose death was long mourned in the whole of Chelmsford) kissed the gallows before dying; and Richard Gwyn, a layman helped the hangman, overcome with emotion, to put the rope round his neck Some strange and extremely revealing episodes are told about Gwyn. Once for example, when he was in prison he was taken in chains to a chapel and obliged to stand right under the pulpit where an Anglican preacher was giving a sermon. The prisoner then began to rattle his chains, making such a din that no one could hear a word of what was being said. Taken back again to his cell, he was approached by various Protestant ministers. One of them, who had a purple nose, wanted to dispute about the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and asserted that God had given them also to him, not just to St. Peter. "There is a difference", Richard Gwyn retorted "St. Peter was entrusted with the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, while the keys entrusted to you are obviously those of the beer cellar".

Cultured Elizabethan society has its representatives among the martyrs Swithun Wells was one of them. He had travelled a great deal; he had also been in Rome, and knew Italian well. He was a sportsman, particularly fond of hunting. On his way to the gallows, he caught sight of an old friend among the crowd and said to him: 'Farewell, my dear! And farewell too, to our fine hunting-parties. Now I've something far better to do...". It was December 10th, 1591, and bitterly cold. When they stripped him, he turned to his main persecutor, Topcliffe, and said in a joking tone: "Hurry up, please Mr. Topcliffe. Are you not ashamed to make a poor old man suffer in his shirt in this cold?"

Catholic priests managed to exercise the ministry thanks to the precious collaboration of the faithful. who welcomed them and kept them hidden in their homes and facilitated the celebration of Holy Mass. As can well be understood, now and again some one would betray them. The Jesuit laybrother, Nicholas Owen, was famous for the many hiding-places he built in numerous houses all over England. Arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London, he died while being brutally tortured.

Of the forty Martyrs, the one who underwent the most torture was Henry Walpole, a Jesuit priest. His exceptional physique resisted the most atrocious forms of torture for as many as 14 times, until the gallows put an end to his sufferings.

The following inscription can still be read in the Tower of London, in one of the cells in which the Martyrs were detained: "Quanto plus afflictionis pro Christo in hoc saeculo, tanto plus gloriae in futuro" (the more suffering for Christ in this life, the more glory in heaven). The words were carved by Philip Howard, Earl of Arundell. He was the queen's favourite when he made his appearance at court, at the age of 18, leading a dissolute life. At the age of 24, he happened to be present at a discussion between Campion and some Protestant ministers. The holy Jesuit's words made a deep impression on him; as a result he was converted to Catholicism. As he was about to flee to the continent. he was captured and thrown into prison. He spent eleven long years there, reading, praying and meditating. He was condemned to death, but the sentence was postponed by the Queen's intervention. He fell seriously ill and died in prison.

A curious fact happened to the Franciscan John Jones. At the time of his execution, the hangman found he had forgotten the rope. The martyr took advantage of the hour's wait to speak to the crowd and to pray.

What is most striking is the serenity with which they all met death. Some of them even made witty, humorous remarks.

Thus, for example the Benedictine; John Roberts, seeing that a fire was being lit to burn his entrails—after hanging and quartering—made the sally: "I see you are preparing us a hot breakfast!".

When someone shouted at the Jesuit Edmund Arrowsmith: "You've got to die, do you realize?", he replied calmly: "So have you, so have you, my good man...". It is testified that Alban Roe a Benedictine religious, was a very entertaining fellow. In spite of the torture that was inflicted on him in prison he found the courage to invite the wardens to play cards with him, telling funny stories. He gave all the money he had to the executioner to drink to his health, warning him not to get drunk, however.

Philip Evans, having found a particularly kind judge, was treated somewhat indulgently in prison, so much so that he could even play tennis. Well, it was just during a game that the news of his condemnation to death arrived. He continued to play, as if nothing had happened. Then he picked up his harp and began to play.

John Kemple, a secular priest, was the only one who always refused to go into biding. "I'm too old now—he would say—and it is better for me to spend the rest of my life suffering for my religion". Of course he was caught and arrested. Before he was hanged, he asked to be allowed to smoke his inseparable pipe. The executioner, who happened to be an old friend of his, was overcome with emotion when the moment came to carry out his task and showed his hesitation. Then it was the martyr who urged him on, saying: "My good Anthony, do what you have to do. I forgive you with all my heart...".

The martyrdom of Margaret Clitherow is particularly moving. She was accused "of having sheltered the Jesuits and priests of the secular clergy, traitors to Her Majesty the Queen"; but she retorted: "I have only helped the Queen's friends". Margaret knew that the court had decided to condemn her to death and, not wanting to make the jury accomplices in her condemnation, she refused the trial. The alternative was to be crushed to death. When the terrible sentence was passed, Margaret said: "I will accept willingly everything that God wills".

On Friday March 25th, 1588, at eight o'clock in the morning, Margaret, just thirty-three years old, left Ouse Bridge prison, barefooted, bound for Toll Booth, accompanied by two police superintendents, four executioners and four women friends; she carried on her arm a white linen garment. When she arrived at the dungeon, she knelt in front of the officials, begging that she should not be stripped, but her prayer was not granted. While the men looked away, the four pious women gathered round her and before Margaret lay down on the ground they spread over her body the white garment that the prisoner had brought with her for that purpose. Then her martyrdom began.

Her arms were stretched out in the shape of a cross, and her hands tightly bound to two stakes in the ground. The executioners put a sharp stone the size of a fist under her back and placed on her body a large slab onto which weights were gradually loaded up to over 800 pounds. Margaret whispered: "Jesus, have mercy on me". Her death agony lasted for fifteen minutes, then the moaning ceased, and all was quiet.

These brief remarks on some outstanding episodes of the martyrdom of the 40 Martyrs, and the quoting of some of the words they uttered at the gallows, are sufficient to show what was the ultimate reasons for their death and, at the same time, the sublimely Christian state of mind of these heroes of the faith.


The history of the Cause

The history of the Beatification and Canonization Cause of our forty blessed Martyrs is part of. the wider history of a host of Martyrs who shed their blood in defence of the Catholic religion in England, from the schism that began in the reign of Henry VIII down to the end of the 17th century.

As early as the end of 1642 the first steps were taken to initiate the canonical process, but owing to the persecutions that were still rife, this initiative had soon to be suspended Nevertheless the victims of the persecution continued to be considered and venerated as martyrs. The Cause to prove their martyrdom and the existence of their cult was presented in Rome only in the second half of the last century, that is, following upon the reconstitution of the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales, which took place in 1850.

The Cause of 254 martyrs was introduced on December 9th, 1886, by Leo XIII. Shortly afterwards, on December 29th 1886, the cult of 54 martyrs was confirmed by special decree, then on May 13th, 1895, 9 others. Finally, with the Apostolic Letter Atrocissima tormenta passi on December 15th, 1929, Pius XI beatified 136 victims of this persecution, and on May 19th 1935 he solemnly canonized Cardinal John Fisher and Chancellor Thomas More.

In still more recent times, the Hierarchy of England and Wales, conscious of the deep devotion to the martyrs who on different occasions had been declared blessed by the apostolic See, and aware that this devotion was addressed especially to some of the most popular of them was induced by the requests of the faithful and the multiplicity of favours obtained, to promote the canonization not of the whole host of these martyrs, but of a limited group of them. Right from the beginning of the negotiations, the Canonization Cause of these Martyrs was entrusted by the Hierarchy of England and Wales to Fr. Paolo Molinari, Postulator General of the Society of Jesus and President of the College of Postulators. He in turn nominated as Assistant Postulators Father Philip Caraman and James Walsh of the English Province of the Society. When the former was put for some years at the disposal of the Bishop of Oslo for certain important tasks, Father Clement Tigar, S.J. took his place.

After patient and laborious work, the list of the 40 martyrs chosen was presented by Fr. Molinari to the Holy See on December 1st, 1960. After the usual practices the latter proceeded, on May 24th 1961, with the so-called re-opening of the Cause by means of the Decree , issued by order of Pope John XXIII.

Eleven of these forty martyrs had been included among the blessed solely by a decree confirming their cult. It was now necessary, in view of the hoped-for canonization, to make a thorough historical re-examination of their martyrdom, which had not been done ex professo when the Positio super introductione causue was prepared last century. As is customary, this task was entrusted to the Historical Section of the Sacred Congregation of Rites. Availing itself essentially of the studies carried out under its direction by the General Postulation of the Society of Jesus and by the office of the English Vice-Postulation, it made a very favourable pronouncement on the material and formal martyrdom of the eleven Blessed in question. The other studies prescribed by law having been completed, His Holiness Paul VI signed the special Decree of the Declaratio Martyrii of these eleven Blessed Martyrs, on May 4th 1970. In preparing for this Decree, two volumes were published in English and in Italian respectively of the Positio super Martyrii et cultu ex officio concinnata (Official Presentation of Documents on Martyrdom and Cult) (Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1968, pp. XLIV, 375 in folio) which in the judgment of international critics is a real model of scientific editing of old texts.


Miracles attributed to the Forty Blessed Martyrs

Even before the rehearing of the Cause, many reports of favours and apparently miraculous cures attributed to the intercession of our Blessed Martyrs, had come to the knowledge of the Catholic Hierarchy of England and Wales, which hastened to inform the competent Roman Authorities.

From the time when the Cause of the 40 Blessed Martyrs was reopened, the ecclesiastical Hierarchy called for a prayer campaign in all English dioceses. Its most outstanding manifestations were various pilgrimages to the shrines of the Martyrs, diocesan and interdiocesan rallies, and particularly "", the yearly celebration of the memory of these Martyrs by all dioceses and parishes.

As a result of the intensification of the devotion of the faithful and their prayers, a good many events took place which looked like miracles. Sufficient data were collected about them to induce the Archbishop of Westminster, then Cardinal William Godfrey, to send a description of 24 seemingly miraculous cases to the Sacred Congregation.

The most striking of these and of the others that continued to be notified to the Postulation were first examined with special care by doctors of high repute. On the basis of their answers, two cases were chosen and the usual Apostolic Proceedings were instituted, and the acts were sent to the Sacred Congregation of Rites in Rome.

In the meantime requests and pleas continued to arrive for the canonization of the 40 blessed Martyrs of England and Wales as soon as possible. His Holiness Paul VI, duly informed about the extremely favourable outcome of the discussion of the Medical Council regarding one of the two above-mentioned cases, and keeping in mind the fact that the blessed Thomas More and John Fisher, belonging to the same group of Martyrs, had been canonized with a dispensation from miracles, considered that it was possible to proceed with the Canonization on the basis of this one miracle, after further discussions at the S. Congregation for the Causes of Saints had taken place.

The same S. Congregation, having issued the special Decree on July 30th, 1969, proceeded with the examination of the miracle, that is, the cure of a young mother affected with a malignant tumour (fibrosarcoma) in the left scapula, a cure which the Medical Council had judged gradual, perfect, constant and unaccountable on the natural plane.

After due assessment of the case and the usual discussions within the S. Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which concluded with an extremely favourable result on May 4th, 1970, his Holiness Paul VI confirmed the preternatural character of this cure brought about by God at the intercession of the 40 blessed Martyrs of England and Wales.

From the point of view of canonical procedure, the way was now open for solemn Canonization if the Sovereign Pontiff so decided.

There still remained another problem, however, which had been carefully taken into account by the Postulation right from the beginning, but which now had to be solved on the basis of another thorough study, that is, the problem of the opportuneness of this Canonization. While in fact the vast majority of English Catholics—Bishops, clergy and laity—thorough study, that is, the problem of faith to be raised to the honours of the altar, some voices had been raised in repeated circumstances to say that canonization of these Martyrs might be inopportune for ecumenical reasons.


Opportuneness of the Canonization

In more recent times—November 1969—the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Ramsey, had expressed his apprehension that this Canonization might rekindle animosity and polemics detriment to the ecumenical spirit that has characterized the efforts of the Churches recently. But the reaction of the press, lay, Anglican and Catholic, showed clearly that this concern—though shared by some Anglicans and Catholics—did not correspond to the view of the vast majority. Many people, in fact, both Anglicans and Catholics, were aware of the fact that, right from the beginning of the re-opening of the Cause, the policy of its Promoters had been characterized by an extremely serene and ecumenical note; what is more, they realized the positive repercussions it offers just in this field if it is presented in this very spirit.

Right from the first announcement of the Re-opening of the Cause of the 40 Martyrs, decreed by Pope John XXIII on 24 May 1961, the Hierarchy of England and Wales let it be clearly under stood that nothing was further from the intentions of the Bishops than to stir up bad feelings and quarrels of the past.

The aim of the Postulator General Paolo Molinari S.J. and his collaborators, James Walsh S.J., Philip Caraman S.J. and Clement Tigar S.J., while they were carrying out the historical research and investigation, was to ensure that the Cause would be presented in an authentically ecumenical way.

For this reason the Postulator General, always working in close contact with the authorities of the S. Congregation that deals with the Causes of Saints and in agreement with the Hierarchy of England and Wales, asked Cardinal Agostino Bea, then President of the Secretariat for the Union of Christians, to act as the Cardinal Ponens of the Cause Aware of its ecumenical significance, he sustained, promoted and encouraged its course until he died. After his death the Secretariat itself continued to follow attentively the individual phases of the Cause and not only did not find any contrary motive but collaborated skillfully to ensure that the approach would benefit the ecumenical cause, instead of hampering it. (See in this connection the address that the present President of the Secretariat, Card. Willebrands, delivered in the Anglican cathedral in Liverpool during his recent visit to England).

The vast majority of people understood all this. The most authoritative voice in this sense was that of the British Council of Churches, which made a public declaration on the matter on December 17th, 1969. Not only does it recognize the importance for the Catholic Church to venerate its Martyrs, to whom the survival of the Catholic Church in England and Wales is essentially due, but it also expressed satisfaction that the various Christian denominations are united today in recognizing the tradition of the Martyrs as a common element from which we must all draw strength disregarding denominational frontiers.

Quite a few authoritative persons—including several Anglican Bishops—keeping in mind and appreciating the actions of considerable ecumenical value of Pope Paul VI on various occasion—expressed the view and the hope that the Canonization of the 40 Martyrs might be an opportunity for the members of other Christian denominations to make a positive gesture that would funkier the cause of union, by joining in the admiration of Catholics for these Martyrs.


Ecumenical exchanges

Some months before the Consistory the General Postulation, as well as the Vice-Postulation, had charged specialized agencies with following the whole national and provincial press of England and Wales, together with the European and American press, and sending it constantly everything that was published in connection with the Cause. At the same time it redoubled its efforts to obtain the widest and most accurate information not only on the attitude of English and Welsh Catholics, but above all on that of the Anglicans, with many of whose best qualified representatives there had long existed relations marked by sincere and brotherly frankness and a genuine spirit of mutual understanding and collaboration. The Hierarchy of England and Wales, in its turn, and in the first place Card. Godfrey's successor, His Eminence Card. Heenan, Vice-President of the Secretariat for the Union of Christians, made a point of establishing and maintaining exchanges of views with the competent authorities of the various Christian denominations in their country.

On the basis of this huge mass of material, it was established beyond al] shadow of doubt that at least 85 per cent of what had been printed in England and Wales, both on the Catholic and the non-Catholic side, far from being unfavourable to the Cause, was clearly in favour of it or at least showed great understanding for the opportuneness of the canonization. This applies to publications such as "Church Times", or the "Church of England Newspaper." and the most widely read English national papers such as "The Times", "The Guardian", "The Economist", "The Spectator" "The Daily Telegraph", "The Sunday Times" and many others.

On the other hand some foreign publications—including some well-known papers of protest—raised difficulties. It was at once clear, however, that these were based on insufficient knowledge of the complicated historical situation in which the Martyrs sacrificed their lives, and, to an even greater degree, of the present ecumenical situation in England. The latter calls for at least a minimum of concrete knowledge and cannot easily be understood by those who do not take the trouble to study it thoroughly Of course, everything possible has been done, by means of press conferences and other opportune methods, to eliminate this type of misunderstanding, generally most successfully.

A serious, serene and objective study of the whole situation led to the conclusion, therefore, that besides the numerous reasons clearly in favour of the canonization of the 40 blessed Martyrs, there were no real ecumenical objections to it, on the contrary the canonization offered considerable advantages also from the genuinely ecumenical point of view.

It was precisely these ideas that His Holiness Paul VI expressed and explained in a masterly fashion in the address he delivered on the occasion of the Consistory on May 18th, 1970, in which he announced his intention to proceed with the solemn canonization of the 40 blessed Martyrs of England and Wales on October 25th, 1970. In this address the Holy Father, besides pointing out, with serene frankness and great charity, the ecumenical value of this Cause, also laid particular stress on the fact that we need the example of these Martyrs particularly today not only because the Christian religion is still exposed to violent persecution in various parts of the world, but also because at a time when the theories of materialism and naturalism are constantly gaining ground and threatening to destroy the spiritual heritage of our civilization, the forty Martyrs—men and women from all walks of life—who did not hesitate to sacrifice their lives in obedience to the dictates of conscience and the divine will, stand out as noble witnesses to human dignity and freedom.

This declaration of the Sovereign Pontiff was received with practically unanimous approval, which showed how right the decision had been to proceed with the canonization. His address was given a great deal of attention and certainly contributed effectively to dispelling any doubts that may still have existed in certain quarters.

At the same time the Pope's words drive home to us unmistakably why the Church continues to propose new Saints. The formal recognition of the holiness of some of her members has the aim of presenting to the faithful and to all men the unshaken loyalty with which they followed Christ and his law. It aims at letting us have, in a living and existential way, the message that God addressed to us in his Son, who came on earth to make us share his life and his love. It aims at making us understand that, by welcoming his teaching and receiving Christ our Lord with sincere hearts we already become participants in that life that will be granted to us in its fullness when, having finished the course of our earthly existence after being faithful to Him, we are admitted to his presence (cfr. Lumen Gentium, 48).

Through these Saints it is God himself who is speaking to us and helping us to understand how, in the shifting circumstances of life, we must live our union with Him more and more intensely and thus grow in holiness:

"For when we look at the lives of those who have faithfully followed Christ, we are inspired with a new reason for seeking the city which is to come (Heb. 13:14; 11:10). At the same time we are shown a most safe path by which among the vicissitudes of this world and in keeping with the state in life and condition proper to each of us, we will be able to arrive at perfect union with Christ, that is, holiness. In the lives of those who shared in our humanity and yet were transformed into especially successful images of Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18), God vividly manifests to men His presence and His face. He speaks to us in them, and gives us a sign of His kingdom, to which we are powerfully drawn, surrounded as we are by so many witnesses (cf. Heb. 12:1), and having such an argument for the truth of the gospel" (Lumen Gentium, No. 50).

The situations in which we live may vary, but in the last analysis they have a deep element in common which transcends time and circumstances. At the root of our existence there is God's invitation, his offer to open our hearts to his love and respond in our lives with authentic responsibility and consistency, to the claims of the love of Him who gave his life for us.

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
29 October 1970

Servant of God Pope Paul VI (Latin: Paulus PP. VI; Italian: Paolo VI), born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini (26 September 1897 – 6 August 1978), reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 1963 to 1978. Succeeding Blessed Pope John XXIII, who had convened the Second Vatican Council, he decided to continue it. He fostered improved ecumenical relations with Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants, which resulted in many historic meetings and agreements.

Prayer: Almight God, You grant to all of us the virtue of love for country in addition to love for You. Through the example of the 40 Holy Martyrs, may we love You above all things and pray that our country and its rulers will remain ever faithful to your teaching. Amen!

Remembering my Great Aunt Rita Lazzarro

O Holy Patroness of those in need, St. Rita, whose pleadings before thy Divine Lord are almost irresistible, who for thy lavishness in granting favors hast been called the Advocate of the Hopeless and even of the Impossible; St. Rita, so humble, so pure, so mortified, so patient and of such compassionate love for thy Crucified Jesus that thou couldst obtain from Him whatsoever thou askest, on account of which all confidently have recourse to thee, expecting, if not alwavs relief, at least comfort; be propitious to our petition, showing thy power with God on behalf of thy suppliant; be lavish to us, as thou hast been in so many wonderful cases, for the greater glory of God, for the spreading of thine own devotion, and for the consolation of those who trust in thee. We promise, if our petition is granted, to glorify, thee by making known thy favor, to bless and sing thy praises forever. Relying then upon thy merits and power before the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we pray: (my Great Aunt Rita Lazzaro).
Obtain for us our request
By the singular merits of thy childhood,
Bv thy perfect union with the Divine Will,
By thy heroic sufferings during thy married life,
By the consolation thou didst experience at the conversion of thy husband,
By the sacrifice of thy children rather than see them grievously offend God,
By thy miraculous entrance into the convent,
By thy severe penances and thrice daily bloody scourgings,
By the suffering caused by the wound thou didst receive from the thorn of thy Crucified Savior,
By the divine love which consumed thy heart,
By that remarkable devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, on which alone thou didst exist for 4 years,
By the happiness with which thou didst part from thy trials to join thy Divine Spouse,
By the perfect example thou gavest to people of every state of life.
Pray for us, 0 holy St. Rita,
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: O God, Who in Thine infinite tenderness hast vouchsafed to regard the prayer of Thy servant, Blessed Rita, and dost grant to her supplication that which is impossible to human foresight, skill and efforts, in reward of her compassionate love and firm reliance on Thy promise, have pity on our adversity and succor us in our calamities, that the unbeliever may know Thou art the recompense of the humble, the defense of the helpless, and the strength of those who trust in Thee, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

This is the last photo on which my Great Aunt Rita and myself took together, it was at my dad's 60th birthday celebration, I will treasure those memories of her for the rest of my life, I miss you Aunt Rita!

This past weekend on October 23, 2010 to today, October 25, 2010, is the one year anniversary of the passing of my Great Aunt Rita Lazzarro. She was a second grandmother to me because my dad's mother who was my actually grandma passed away when I was a child. Whenever I see friends of mine or random people who still have their grandparents alive, I can get abit jealous but I can say I still have my Great Aunts and Uncles still alive and to me they were my 2nd grandparents. Rita Lazzarro was a special lady in my heart cause she was always pleased with my all of my achievements and accomplishments. She and I talk about alot of things about the family or other things on whom I trusted! When I remember the day when I heard that change my life but I decided to pray the hardest. It was the day when Aunt Rita was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. I didn't know much about the disease until I heard that former President Ronald Wilson Reagan had also. So I decided to look up the information about this disease.

Alzheimer's disease (AD)—also called Alzheimer disease, senile dementia of the Alzheimer type (SDAT), primary degenerative dementia of the Alzheimer's type (PDDAT), or Alzheimer's—is the most common form of dementia. This incurable, degenerative, and terminal disease was first described by German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer in 1906 and was named after him. Most often, it is diagnosed in people over 65 years of age, although the less-prevalent early-onset Alzheimer's can occur much earlier. In 2006, there were 26.6 million sufferers worldwide. Alzheimer's is predicted to affect 1 in 85 people globally by 2050.

Although the course of Alzheimer's disease is unique for every individual, there are many common symptoms. The earliest observable symptoms are often mistakenly thought to be 'age-related' concerns, or manifestations of stress.[5] In the early stages, the most commonly recognised symptom is inability to acquire new memories, such as difficulty in recalling recently observed facts. When AD is suspected, the diagnosis is usually confirmed with behavioural assessments and cognitive tests, often followed by a brain scan if available.

As the disease advances, symptoms include confusion, irritability and aggression, mood swings, language breakdown, long-term memory loss, and the general withdrawal of the sufferer as their senses decline. Gradually, bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death.

Individual prognosis is difficult to assess, as the duration of the disease varies. AD develops for an indeterminate period of time before becoming fully apparent, and it can progress undiagnosed for years. The mean life expectancy following diagnosis is approximately seven years. Fewer than three percent of individuals live more than fourteen years after diagnosis.

The cause and progression of Alzheimer's disease are not well understood. Research indicates that the disease is associated with plaques and tangles in the brain. Currently used treatments offer a small symptomatic benefit; no treatments to delay or halt the progression of the disease are as yet available. As of 2008, more than 500 clinical trials have been conducted for identification of a possible treatment for AD, but it is unknown if any of the tested intervention strategies will show promising results.

A number of non-invasive, life-style habits have been suggested for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease, but there is a lack of adequate evidence for a link between these recommendations and reduced degeneration. Mental stimulation, exercise, and a balanced diet are suggested, as both a possible prevention and a sensible way of managing the disease.

Because AD cannot be cured and is degenerative, management of patients is essential. The role of the main caregiver is often taken by the spouse or a close relative.[14] Alzheimer's disease is known for placing a great burden on caregivers; the pressures can be wide-ranging, involving social, psychological, physical, and economic elements of the caregiver's life. In developed countries, AD is one of the most costly diseases to society.

I couldn't believe myself that there is a disease like this that rob your memories in a instance! So I decided to pray so hard that my Great Aunt can be cured of this dreadful disease. I prayed to Jesus, the Almighty Father and even to Saint Rita of Cascia, her namesake saint! Saint Rita of Cascia is the patron saint of Lost and impossible causes, interline travel, sickness, wounds, marital problems, abuse, mothers. Whenever I went to a church, I would have the prayer card of Saint Rita of Cascia with me to ask her for helping my great Aunt. These 2 prayers on I recited to Saint Rita: Dear Rita, model Wife and Widow, you yourself suffered in a long illness showing patience out of love for God. Teach us to pray as you did. Many invoke you for help, full of confidence in your intercession. Deign to come now to our aid for the relief and cure of {my great Aunt Rita}. To God, all things are possible; may this healing give glory to the Lord. Amen and Holy Patroness of those in need, Saint Rita, you were humble, pure and patient. Your pleadings with your divine Spouse are irresistible, so please obtain for me from our risen Jesus the request I make of you: {my great Aunt Rita Lazzaro}. Be kind ot me for the greater glory of God, and I shall honour you and sing your praises forever. Glorious Saint Rita, you miraculously participated in the sorrowful passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Obtain for me now the grace to suffer with resignation the troubles of this life, and protect me in all my needs. Amen.

It was until the day before she passed, when I was sleeping,I got a small vision of Saint Rita telling me that she is bring your great Aunt up to heaven tomorrow and I didn't know what she meant by that but I woke up and went to work the next day and my dad came to picked me up and told me the sad news, I knew then what Saint Rita told me about she is going to heaven. I was truly upset and sadden to lose a wonderful lady in my life and I will treasure those memories with her forever in my heart. I am pleased that I went to the wake and funeral for my great Aunt. At the wake, I met alot of people on whom my Great Aunt made a impact in their lives that it made me shed some tears of both joy and sorrow that she is nomore on Earth but I know now she is watching me in heaven with the rest of my family. It was abit odd not see her at Christmas but I know she was happy to see the family celebrating her life then the oddest thing was recently I have not told anyone this until now, on the day that I was celebrating my Aunt and Uncle's 40th wedding anniversary, while her husband, my Great Uncle Frank Lazzaro, was sitting in a sit alone and looking at my newest baby cousin, Samantha Grace Soto, I believe I saw my great Aunt looking at me and the new cousin and showing gratitude and grace by kissing her on the head and nodding to me on take good care of the new cousin. To me that moment was truly a blessing to see my great Aunt Rita, one more time before she asscends to heaven to be at eternal peace without anymore suffering and fearing death.

In conclusion, I will do my best to take good care of my new cousin and try to help out with The national Alzheimer's Association to help fight a cure for this dreadful disease and allow other people feel the same fate as I had with my Great Aunt Rita Lazzaro. Requesting Prayers for my Aunt who died one year ago this past weekend at the age of 83 years. May she rest in peace and may perpetual light shine upon her.

Every member of the family has a unique role to play in the family unit. In every family these roles are different. A role that an Great aunt may play is that of helping parents getting along with their children. Much like grandparents, an aunt is not subjectively involved in what happens in the family. She is often able to see things in a more objective way. She also may be able to build relationships with her nieces and nephews and give them a place to get away from the family for a while. An aunt that is committed to her great nieces and great nephews can play an invaluable part in their lives.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Remembering Rosa Parks after 5 years ago today!

Here she is with Venerable Pope John Paul 2 in 1999!

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, You are a remarkable woman in the Civil Rights Movement Era, you are a courageous woman also,I believe you truly a inspirational and heroic woman for the Civil Rights movement. Remembering you after 5 years, may you rest in peace!
On September 9, 1996, President Bill Clinton presented Parks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given by the U.S. executive branch

Here is Rosa Parks with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr: 2 key figures in the Civil Rights Movement!

The most iconic photograph of Ms. Rosa Parks in 1956!

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was an African American civil rights activist, whom the U.S. Congress later called "the first lady of civil rights", and "the mother of the freedom movement".

On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks, age 42, refused to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Her action was not the first of its kind. Irene Morgan in 1946, and Sarah Louise Keys in 1955, had won rulings before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Interstate Commerce Commission, respectively, in the area of interstate bus travel. Nine months before Parks refused to give up her seat, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to move from her seat on the same bus system. But unlike these previous individual actions of civil disobedience, Parks' action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Parks' act of defiance became an important symbol of the modern Civil Rights Movement and Parks became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including boycott leader Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to launch him to national prominence in the civil rights movement.

At the time of her action, Parks was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for workers' rights and racial equality. Nonetheless, she took her action as a private citizen "tired of giving in". Although widely honored in later years for her action, she suffered for it, losing her job as a seamstress in a local department store. Eventually, she moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she found similar work. From 1965 to 1988 she served as secretary and receptionist to African-American U.S. Representative John Conyers. After retirement from this position, she wrote an autobiography and lived a largely private life in Detroit. In her final years she suffered from dementia and became embroiled in a lawsuit filed on her behalf against American hip-hop duo OutKast.

Parks eventually received many honors ranging from the 1979 Spingarn Medal to the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall. Her death in 2005 was a major story in the United States' leading newspapers. She was granted the posthumous honor of lying in state at the Capitol Rotunda.

After her arrest, Parks became an icon of the Civil Rights Movement but suffered hardships as a result. She lost her job at the department store, and her husband quit his job after his boss forbade him to talk about his wife or the legal case. Parks traveled and spoke extensively. In 1957, Raymond and Rosa Parks left Montgomery for Hampton, Virginia; mostly because she was unable to find work, but also because of disagreements with King and other leaders of Montgomery's struggling civil rights movement. In Hampton, she found a job as a hostess in an inn at the historically black Hampton Institute. Later that year, after the urging of her brother and sister-in-law, Sylvester & Daisy McCauley, Rosa Parks, her husband Raymond, and her mother Leona McCauley, moved to Detroit, Michigan.

Parks worked as a seamstress until 1965 when African-American U.S. Representative John Conyers hired her as a secretary and receptionist for his congressional office in Detroit. She held this position until she retired in 1988. In a telephone interview with CNN on October 24, 2005, Conyers recalled, "You treated her with deference because she was so quiet, so serene — just a very special person ... There was only one Rosa Parks". Later in life, Parks served as a member of the Board of Advocates of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

The 1970s was a decade of loss and suffering for Parks, though more due to personal problems than racism or other social issues. Her family was plagued with illness; she and her husband had suffered stomach ulcers for years due probably to the stress of the harassment and fear they had lived in following the Bus Boycott, and both required hospitalization. More serious was when her brother Sylvester, her husband Raymond, and her mother Leona all were diagnosed with cancer within a relatively short period of time, causing Parks to sometimes have to visit three hospitals in the same day. In spite of her fame and constant speaking engagements (most of the money for which, above expenses, she donated to civil rights causes) Parks was not a wealthy woman- she lived on her salary and her husband's pension- and medical bills and time missed from work caused financial strain that required her to gratefully accept assistance from church groups and admirers.

Her husband died of throat cancer on August 19, 1977 and her brother, her only sibling and to whom she was very close, died of cancer the following November. Personal ordeals caused her to become increasingly removed from the civil rights movement; in her memoir she writes that it was a major blow to her when she learned from a newspaper that Fannie Lou Hamer, once a close friend, had died several months before.

An injury from an accidental fall while walking on an icy sidewalk briefly hospitalized Parks with two broken bones, causing her considerable and recurring pain thereafter and convincing her to move into an apartment for senior citizens. There she nursed her mother, Leona Edwards McCauley, through the final stages of her own illness (cancer and geriatric dementia) until she died in 1979 at the age of 92.

In 1980 Parks, now widowed and without immediate family, rededicated herself to founding and fund raising for civil rights and educational organizations. She co-founded the Rosa L. Parks Scholarship Foundation for college-bound high school seniors, to which she donated most of her speaker fees. In February 1987 she co-founded, with Elaine Eason Steele, the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, an institute that runs the "Pathways to Freedom" bus tours which introduce young people to important civil rights and Underground Railroad sites throughout the country. Though her health declined as she entered her seventies, she continued to make as many appearances and devote as much energy as possible to these endeavors.

In 1992, Parks published Rosa Parks: My Story, an autobiography aimed at younger readers which details her life leading up to her decision not to give up her seat. In 1995, she published her memoirs, titled Quiet Strength, which focuses on the role that her faith had played in her life.

On August 30, 1994, Joseph Skipper, an African-American drug addict, attacked 81-year-old Parks in her home. The incident sparked outrage throughout the United States. After his arrest, Skipper said that he had not known he was in Parks' home but recognized her after entering. Skipper asked, "Hey, aren't you Rosa Parks?" to which she replied, "Yes." She handed him $3 when he demanded money, and an additional $50 when he demanded more. Before fleeing, Skipper struck Parks in the face. Skipper was arrested and charged with various breaking and entering offenses against Parks and other neighborhood victims. He admitted guilt and, on August 8, 1995, was sentenced to eight to 15 years in prison.

Suffering anxiety upon returning to her too small central Detroit house following the ordeal, she moved into Riverfront Towers, a secure high rise apartment building where she lived for the rest of her life.

In 1994 the Ku Klux Klan applied to sponsor a portion of United States Interstate 55 in Saint Louis County and Jefferson County, near St. Louis, Missouri for clean up (which allowed them to have signs stating that this section of highway was maintained by the organization). Since the state could not refuse the KKK's sponsorship, the Missouri legislature voted to name the highway section the "Rosa Parks Highway". When asked how she felt about this honor, she is reported to have commented, "It is always nice to be thought of."

In 1999 Parks filmed a cameo appearance for the television series Touched by an Angel. It was to be her last appearance on film as health problems made her increasingly an invalid.

In March 1999, a lawsuit (Rosa Parks v. LaFace Records) was filed on Parks' behalf against American hip-hop duo OutKast and LaFace Records, claiming that the group had illegally used Rosa Parks' name without her permission for the song "Rosa Parks", the most successful radio single of OutKast's 1998 album Aquemini. The lawsuit was settled April 15, 2005.

In the settlement agreement, OutKast and their producer and recorded labels paid Parks an undisclosed cash settlement and agreed to work with the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development in creating educational programs about the life of Rosa Parks. The record labels and OutKast admitted to no wrongdoing. It is not known whether Parks' legal fees were paid for from her settlement money or by the record companies.

A comedic scene in the 2002 film Barbershop featured a cantankerous barber, played by Cedric the Entertainer, arguing with co-workers and shop patrons that other African Americans before Parks had resisted giving up their seats in defiance of Jim Crow laws, and that she had received undeserved fame because of her status as an NAACP secretary.

Activists Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton launched a boycott against the film, contending it was "disrespectful", but NAACP president Kweisi Mfume stated he thought the controversy was "overblown." The scene offended Parks, who boycotted the NAACP 2003 Image Awards ceremony, which Cedric hosted. Barbershop received nominations in four awards categories that, including a "Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture" nomination for Cedric.

In 2002 Parks received an eviction notice from her $1800 per month apartment due to non-payment of rent. Parks herself was incapable of managing her own financial affairs by this time due to age related physical and mental decline, and her rent was paid from a collection taken by Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit. When her rent again became delinquent and her impending eviction was highly publicized in 2004, executives of the company that owned her apartment building announced that they had forgiven the back rent and that Parks, by then 91 and in extremely poor health, was welcome to live rent free in the building for the remainder of her life. Allegations that her financial affairs had been mismanaged began during the eviction proceedings and continued after her death among her heirs and various organizations.

Death and funeral
Parks resided in Detroit until she died of natural causes at the age of 92 on October 24, 2005, about 7:00PM EDT, in her apartment on the east side of the city. She and her husband had never had children and she had outlived her only sibling, but she was outlived by her sister-in-law, 13 nieces and nephews and their families, and several cousins, most of them residents of Michigan or Alabama.

City officials in Montgomery and Detroit announced on October 27, 2005 that the front seats of their city buses would be reserved with black ribbons in honor of Parks until her funeral. Parks' coffin was flown to Montgomery and taken in a horse-drawn hearse to the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, where she lay in repose at the altar, dressed in the uniform of a church deaconess, on October 29, 2005.

A memorial service was held there the following morning, and one of the speakers, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said that if it had not been for Parks, she would probably have never become the Secretary of State. In the evening the casket was transported to Washington, D.C., and taken, aboard a bus similar to the one in which she made her protest, to lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, making her the first woman and second African American ever to receive this honor.

An estimated 50,000 people viewed the casket there, and the event was broadcast on television on October 31, 2005. This was followed by another memorial service at a different St. Paul AME church in Washington on the afternoon of October 31, 2005. For two days, she lay in repose at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.

Parks' funeral service, seven hours long, was held on Wednesday, November 2, 2005, at the Greater Grace Temple Church. After the funeral service, an honor guard from the Michigan National Guard laid the U.S. flag over the casket and carried it to a horse-drawn hearse, which had been intended to carry it, in daylight, to the cemetery. As the hearse passed the thousands of people who had turned out to view the procession, many clapped and cheered loudly and released white balloons. Rosa was interred between her husband and mother at Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery in the chapel's mausoleum. The chapel was renamed the Rosa L. Parks Freedom Chapel just after her death. Parks had previously prepared and placed a headstone on the selected location with the inscription "Rosa L. Parks, wife, 1913–."

Awards and honors

Parks with the NAACP's highest award, the Spingarn Medal, in 1979
The Rosa Parks Congressional Gold Medal bears the legend "Mother of the Modern Day Civil Rights Movement".Parks received most of her national accolades very late in life, with relatively few awards and honors being given to her until many decades after the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In 1979, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People awarded Parks the Spingarn Medal, its highest honor,and she received the Martin Luther King Jr. Award the next year. She was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 1983 for her achievements in civil rights.

In 1990, she was called at the last moment to be part of the group welcoming Nelson Mandela, who had just been released from his imprisonment in South Africa. Upon spotting her in the reception line, Mandela called out her name and, hugging her, said, "You sustained me while I was in prison all those years."
In 1992, she received the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award along with Dr. Benjamin Spock and others at the Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.

On September 9, 1996, President Bill Clinton presented Parks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given by the U.S. executive branch. In 1998, she became the first recipient of the International Freedom Conductor Award given by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The next year, Parks was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award given by the U.S. legislative branch and received the Detroit-Windsor International Freedom Festival Freedom Award. Parks was a guest of President Bill Clinton during his 1999 State of the Union Address. That year, Time magazine named Parks one of the 20 most influential and iconic figures of the twentieth century. In 2000, her home state awarded her the Alabama Academy of Honor, as well as the first Governor's Medal of Honor for Extraordinary Courage. She was awarded two dozen honorary doctorates from universities worldwide, and was made an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

The Rosa Parks Library and Museum on the campus of Troy University in Montgomery, was dedicated to her on December 1, 2000. It is located on the corner where Parks boarded the famed bus. The most popular items in the museum are the interactive bus arrest of Mrs. Parks and a sculpture of Parks sitting on a bus bench. The documentary Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks received a 2002 nomination for Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject. She collaborated that year in a TV movie of her life starring Angela Bassett.

In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Parks on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.

On October 30, 2005, President George W. Bush issued a proclamation ordering that all flags on U.S. public areas both within the country and abroad be flown at half-staff on the day of Parks' funeral.

Metro Transit in King County, Washington placed posters and stickers dedicating the first forward-facing seat of all its buses in Parks' memory shortly after her death, and the American Public Transportation Association declared December 1, 2005, the 50th anniversary of her arrest, to be a "National Transit Tribute to Rosa Parks Day".

On that anniversary, President George W. Bush signed Pub.L. 109-116 , directing that a statue of Parks be placed in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall. In signing the resolution directing the Joint Commission on the Library to do so, the President stated:

“ By placing her statue in the heart of the nation's Capitol, we commemorate her work for a more perfect union, and we commit ourselves to continue to struggle for justice for every American. ”

Interior of the No. 2857 bus on which Parks was ridingOn February 5, 2006, at Super Bowl XL, played at Detroit's Ford Field, Coretta Scott King and Parks, who had been a long-time resident of "The Motor City", were remembered and honored by a moment of silence. It was noted that the honor was to show respect for two women who had "helped make the nation as a whole great." The Super Bowl was dedicated to their memory.

As part of an effort to shed the image left after the disastrous 1967 riot, in 1976 Detroit renamed 12th Street "Rosa Parks Boulevard."

In the Los Angeles County MetroRail system, the Imperial Highway/Wilmington station, where the Blue Line connects with the Green Line, has been officially named the "Rosa Parks Station".

Nashville, Tennessee renamed MetroCenter Boulevard (8th Avenue North) (US 41A and TN 12) in September 2007 as Rosa L. Parks Boulevard. In Grand Rapids, Michigan a plaza in the heart of the city is named Rosa Parks Circle. On July 14, 2009, the Rosa Parks Transit Center opened in Detroit at the corner of Michigan and Cass Avenues.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Remembering Bob Sheppard on his 100th birthday!

Bob Sheppard: Sir, its been a honor and privelege to hear your voice whenever I went to Yankee Stadium, you will be remembered as the public address announcer at Yankee Stadium for more than six decades and being dubbed the "Voice of God" by legendary Yankees outfielder Reggie Jackson, and began announcing Yankee games in 1951, thanks for the great memories, happy 100th birthday!

Birth: Oct. 20, 1910
Queens County
New York, USA
Death: Jul. 11, 2010
Baldwin (Nassau County)
Nassau County
New York, USA

Announcer. For over five decades 1951 to 2007, he was the public address announcer of Yankee Stadium in New York City, New York. He was a speech teacher in the New York City school system and at St. John's University when Yankee officials offered him the announcing job. On April 17, 1951, he debuted as the announcer with the Yankees' home opener, a win over the Boston Red Sox. The first Yankee lineup Sheppard announced contained eight future Hall of Famers. Five on the New York squad being Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Mize, Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto and the Red Sox squad featured Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr and Lou Boudreau. His old school clear and concise speaking style has been heard on over 4,500 Major League Baseball games for a record 52 baseball seasons, 21 World Series and two All Star Games. He was also the voice of the National Football League New York Giants, 1956 to 2006. He has been honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York and him on his 50th Anniversary, the Yankees honored him with a bronze plaque in the stadium's center field Monument Park.

Robert Leo "Bob" Sheppard (October 20, 19 – July 11, 2010) was the long-time public address announcer for numerous New York area college and professional sports teams, in particular the MLB New York Yankees (1951-2007), and the NFL New York Giants (1956-2006).

Sheppard announced more than 4,500 Yankees baseball games over a period of 56 years, including 22 pennant-winning seasons and 13 World Series championships; he called 121 consecutive postseason contests, 62 games in 22 World Series, and six no-hitters, including three perfect games. He was also the in-house voice for a half-century of Giants football games, encompassing 9 conference championships, 3 NFL championships (1956, 1986, 1990), and the game often called "the greatest ever played", the classic 1958 championship loss to Baltimore.

His smooth, distinctive baritone and precise, consistent elocution became iconic aural symbols of both the old Yankee Stadium and Giants Stadium. Reggie Jackson famously nicknamed him "The Voice of God", while Carl Yastrzemski once said, "You're not in the big leagues until Bob Sheppard announces your name."

Sheppard first worked as a public address announcer for St. John's football and basketball games after World War II, a job he kept well into the 1990s. In the late '40s he also became the announcer for the Brooklyn Dodgers of the All-America Football Conference, at Ebbets Field. He came to the attention of the Yankees when a front-office official heard him deliver a tribute to Babe Ruth at a Dodgers football game in 1948. He was offered the Yankees announcing job, but did not accept it until three years later when the Yankees agreed to hire an understudy, so his duties with the team would not interfere with his teaching responsibilities. He debuted at Yankee Stadium on April 17, 1951 with the Yankees' home opener, a 5-0 win over the Boston Red Sox. In 1956, when the New York Giants football team moved from the Polo Grounds to Yankee Stadium, he began announcing their games as well, and remained with them when they moved to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey in 1976.

Sheppard's first year as the Yankees' announcer was the only one in which Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle shared the outfield. His first game featured eight future Hall of Famers: DiMaggio, Mantle, Johnny Mize, Yogi Berra, and Phil Rizzuto for the Yankees, and Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Lou Boudreau for the Red Sox. The first player he introduced was the Yankee Clipper's brother, Dominic DiMaggio. His 1951 salary was $15 per game, $17 for a doubleheader.

Sheppard's distinctive announcing style became an integral component of the Yankee Stadium experience. For more than half a century each game began with his trademark cadence - "Good afternoon (evening)...ladies and gentlemen...and Yankee Stadium" - his words reverberating around the massive structure. Each in-game announcement evoked a bygone era: "Your attention please, ladies and gentlemen." He introduced every player, Yankee or visitor, rookie or immortal (as described on his Monument Park plaque), "with equal divine reverence." He communicated all essential information; no more, no less: the first at-bat: position, uniform number, name, and number again; each succeeding at-bat: position and name. "A public-address announcer should be clear, concise, correct," he said. "He should not be colorful, cute or comic."

So in Yankee Stadium, Dennis Boyd was never introduced as "Oil Can", nor Jim Hunter as "Catfish." He once listed (in order) his favorite names to announce: Mickey Mantle, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Salome Barojas, Jose Valdivielso and Alvaro Espinoza; and he expressed his special affection for the natural resonance of many Latino players' names. "Anglo-Saxon names are not very euphonious," he said. "What can I do with Steve Sax? What can I do with Mickey Klutts?" But Mickey Mantle remained his favorite; Sheppard said Mantle once told him, "'Everytime Bob Sheppard introduced me at Yankee Stadium, I got shivers up my spine.' And I said to him, 'So did I.'"

He took great pride in pronouncing every name correctly, and made certain to check directly with a visiting player if he had any doubt on the correct or preferred pronunciation. Minnie Miñoso, for example, preferred a precise Spanish pronunciation of his name, complete with tilde and Sheppard, unlike many announcers, obliged.

He admitted that early in his career, whenever the Senators were in town he particularly feared tripping over Wayne Terwilliger's name. “I worried that I would say ‘Ter-wigg-ler’," he recalled, "but I never did." He did stumble on at least one rookie's name: Jorge Posada was called up from Columbus late in the 1995 season, and made his first appearance as a Yankee in Game 2 of the 1995 American League Division Series against Seattle, as a pinch runner for Wade Boggs.[17] Sheppard, who had not yet met Posada, announced the substitution, Posada's major league debut, in extra innings of one of the greatest games in Division Series history, with an "o" at the end of his last name. Posada's friend Derek Jeter noticed immediately, with amusement, and has called him "Sado" ever since.

Sheppard made another rare professional error in October 1976 at the Giants' first home game in New Jersey, against the Cowboys, which he commenced with the startling announcement, "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Yankee Stadium."

His other famous faux pas occurred in 1982 at Yankee Stadium, when he inadvertently left his microphone on as Shane Rawley gave up a double on his first pitch in relief, instantly turning a 3-2 lead into a 4-3 deficit. Over the stadium speakers came Sheppard's familiar voice: "Boy, what relief pitchinginginging!" Sheppard, ever the gentleman, went to the locker room after the game and apologized to Rawley.

Throughout his career, Sheppard famously refused to reveal his age, once abruptly ending an interview when Jim Bouton asked the question a second time.[19] He readily disclosed his birth month and day, October 20 (possibly because he shared it with Mickey Mantle[20]), but never publicly acknowledged the year. For years, there was conjecture that his compulsive secretiveness stemmed from a fear that Yankees owner George Steinbrenner would think him too old and replace him, but Sheppard denied it. "[Steinbrenner] never questioned how old I was," he said. "He knew I was there every day for 57 years or so." In fact, it has been said that Sheppard may have been the only Yankees employee never criticized by Steinbrenner, who called him "the gold standard."

Over the years, Sheppard also served as announcer for multiple other teams and venues, among them Adelphi College (predecessor of Adelphi University); the AFL New York Titans (later the Jets) and the International Soccer League, both at the Polo Grounds; the WFL New York Stars at Downing Stadium on Randall's Island; the All-American Football Conference's New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium; the NASL New York Cosmos at Yankee Stadium, Downing Stadium, and Giants Stadium; Army Black Knights football games at Michie Stadium and Giants Stadium; and multiple Army-Navy games at the Polo Grounds, Giants Stadium, and Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.[23] "You name it, I did it," he said.

In later years, the many baseball honors bestowed on him overshadowed his work in other sports. Phil Rizzuto once asked him to name the greatest Yankee Stadium game he had ever announced, probably expecting to hear a good baseball story. "The day Pat Summerall kicked the field goal in the snow in 1958," Sheppard replied, referring to the legendary December 14 Giants victory over Cleveland.

Sheppard retired from his position with the Giants, a fifty-year handshake agreement with Giants owner Wellington Mara, at the end of the 2005 season, when the commute from his home on Long Island to East Rutherford, New Jersey became too strenuous.

His final game was the Giants' playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers on January 8, 2006. He was succeeded by his long-time understudy, former debate student, and colleague in the Speech Department at St. John's University, Jim Hall.

At age 95, health issues began to take their toll: In 2006 Sheppard missed his first Yankees home opener since 1951 after injuring his hip. He was back in time for the next homestand, but it marked the beginning of a slow but inexorable deterioration of his health over the next two seasons. He called what turned out to be his final game, a 10-2 win over Seattle, on Sept. 5, 2007. The following week he was hospitalized with a bronchial infection, forcing him to miss the final homestand and the AL Division Series against Cleveland, thus ending his streak of 121 consecutive postseason games at Yankee Stadium.

Although he signed a new two-year contract with the Yankees in March 2008, and he particularly looked forward to announcing the 2008 All-Star Game, which was played at Yankee Stadium, he missed the entire 2008 season.

He also reluctantly admitted he lacked sufficient strength to call the final game at the original ballpark on September 21, 2008. "I don't have my best stuff," he said. Sheppard's recorded voice, however, did announce the starting lineups for that final game, a 7-3 victory over the Orioles. Jim Hall replaced him for the 2008 season, and Paul Olden took over when the Yankees moved to the new ballpark in 2009.

At the conclusion of the 2009 season, Sheppard officially announced his retirement as the Yankees' public address announcer. "I have no plans of coming back," he told "Time has passed me by, I think. I had a good run for it. I enjoyed doing what I did. I don't think, at my age, I'm going to suddenly regain the stamina that is really needed if you do the job and do it well."

He died at his home in Baldwin, New York on July 11, 2010, three months shy of his 100th birthday, and two days before George Steinbrenner's death. In announcing his father's passing, Sheppard's son Paul said, “I know St. Peter will now recruit him. If you’re lucky enough to go to Heaven, you’ll be greeted by a voice, saying: ‘Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Heaven!’”


Sheppard's plaque at Monument ParkSheppard was elected to the St. John’s University Sports Hall of Fame, the Long Island Sports Hall of Fame, and the New York Sports Hall of Fame. He was awarded honorary doctorates from St. John’s University (Pedagogy) and Fordham University (Rhetoric), and in 2007, received St. John’s’ Medal of Honor, the highest award that the university can confer on a graduate.

St. John's University annually awards the Sheppard Trophy, one of its highest awards, to the most outstanding student-athlete.

In 2008, the Yankees' captain and 11-time All-Star Derek Jeter asked Sheppard to record his at-bat introductions. The recordings have been used to introduce each of Jeter's home at-bats since the beginning of the 2008 season, and will continue to do so for the rest of his Yankee career.[35] Sheppard was flattered: "It has been one of the greatest compliments I have received in my career of announcing. The fact that he wanted my voice every time he came to bat is a credit to his good judgment and my humility."

In 1998, Sheppard was presented with the prestigious William J. Slocum “Long and Meritorious Service” Award by the Baseball Writers Association of America, and the “Pride of the Yankees” award by the Yankees organization.

Sheppard is one of only two people - both announcers - ever awarded both a World Series ring and a Super Bowl ring. The other was Bill King, the long-time radio play-by-play voice of the Oakland Raiders and Oakland Athletics - another man famously secretive about his age.

In 2000, during his 50th year with the Yankees, Sheppard donated the microphone he used for a half-century of Yankee Stadium announcements to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.[9] On May 7 of that 50th year, he was honored with a plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. At the pre-game ceremony Walter Cronkite read the inscription, which states in part that his voice was " synonymous with Yankee Stadium as its copper facade and monument park.”

The media dining room in the new Yankee Stadium was named “Sheppard’s Place” prior to the 2009 season.

On July 14, 2010, the Yankees announced that players and coaches would wear a Bob Sheppard commemorative patch on the left sleeve of their home and road jerseys for the remainder of the 2010 season.

The Yankees' July 16, 2010 home game against the Tampa Bay Rays, the first after Sheppard's death and the first with the new Sheppard uniform patches, was played, in his memory, with an empty PA booth and no public address announcements.

Private life
Sheppard was married twice. He had two sons, Paul and Chris; and two daughters, Barbara and Mary; four grandchildren (all girls); and (as of 2008) nine great-grandchildren. His first wife, Margaret, the mother of all four of his children, died in 1959 of a brain tumor. He and his second wife, Mary, were married from 1961 until his death.

Sheppard was deeply religious, " strong in his Roman Catholic faith as anybody I knew," wrote his longtime friend, George Vecsey. "[In old age] he hated to admit he could no longer serve as a lector. His faith never wavered in the trying days. His daughter [Mary] is a nun. He referred to [his wife] Mary as 'my archangel,' meaning she saved his life, day by day."

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Vatican remembers the 800th anniversary of Pope Innocent III

Holy Emperor Otto IV shakes hands of Pope Innocent III

Pope Innocent III (1160 or 1161 – 16 July 1216) was Pope from 8 January 1198 until his death. His birth name was Lotario dei Conti di Segni, sometimes anglicised to Lothar of Segni.

Today is the 800th anniversary of when Pope Innocent III excommunicates German leader Otto IV.
Otto IV of Brunswick (1175 – May 19, 1218) was one of two rival kings of the Holy Roman Empire from 1198 on, sole king from 1208 on, and emperor from 1209 on. The only king of the Welf dynasty, he was deposed in 1215.

Otto's election pulled the empire into the conflict between England and France, since Philip allied himself with France, and Otto was being supported by England. In 1200-01, Innocent announced that he recognized Otto as the only legitimate king. In return, Otto promised to support the pope's interests in Italy. In the following years, Otto's situation worsened because after England's defeat by France he lost England's financial support. Many of his allies changed sides to Philip, including his brother Henry. Otto was defeated and wounded in battle by Philip on July 27, 1206, near Wassenberg, and as a consequence also lost the support of the pope. Otto was forced to retire to his possessions near Braunschweig.

However, Philip was murdered two years later, on June 8, 1208. After Philip's death, Otto made amends with the Staufen party and became engaged to Philip's daughter Beatrix. In an election in Frankfurt on November 11, 1208, he gained the support of all the electoral princes. He was crowned emperor by Pope Innocent on October 4, 1209.

Contradicting his earlier promises, Otto worked to restore imperial power in Italy and was excommunicated by the pope for this in 1210.

When Innocent III became Pope in 1198, he succeeded his uncle Pope Celestine III. Like his predecessors, Innocent demonstrated an immediate desire to regain the Holy Land and worked for the launching of another crusade during the first year of his reign. His efforts ultimately proved successful when a crusader army began to assemble in Venice in 1202. They intended to set out for the Holy Land on ships, by way of Egypt, on what would become known as the Fourth Crusade. Although Innocent initially hoped to maintain control over the crusaders, his hopes were quickly dashed.

Financial problems led the crusaders astray from their original goal of Egypt and resulted in the notorious conquest of the Catholic city of Zara in 1203 and the even more shocking conquest of the Orthodox Christian city of Constantinople in 1204. The crusader never made it to Egypt nor did battle with Muslims, only other Christians. Innocent III was furious upon hearing of the conquest of both cities, and at one point excommunicated the crusaders, but he then made the best of the situation and worked to strengthen Latin rule in Constantinople.

Throughout his reign Innocent III also paid careful attention to events in the south of France, mainly in the region of Languedoc. Since at least the middle of the twelfth-century, preachers, including the reknown St. Bernard of Clairvaux, had been going there to combat the Cathar heresy. In 1208, after the murder of the Papal Legate Pierre of Castelnau, Innocent III proclaimed what became known as the Albigensian crusade. The goal of the crusade was to take control of the region from rebellious Catholic nobility and to enforce Catholic orthodoxy on their Cathar subjects. Ultimately, from Innocent's point of view, the crusade must be deemed a success as most of the region was brought under the control of the King of France over the next twenty years. A few Cathar outposts remained as late as 1255 when Queribus, the last of the Cathar castles, fell to French knights.

As the Fourth Crusade never reached its goal of reconquering Jerusalem in 1204, this issue continued to linger as a major concern for Innocent throughout his papacy. As a result, in 1215 at the Fourth Lateran Council, he called for another crusade, later known as the Fifth Crusade, to win back the Holy City and other areas lost to the forces of Islam. Innocent did not live long enough to see the successful launching of the Fifth Crusade, as he died in 1216 and the first expeditions of the crusaders did not embark until 1217. Pope Honorius III continued Innocent's prepatory efforts and the crusaders had some success in the conquest of Damietta under forces led by Cardinal Pelagius, but nothing else of significance was accomplished.

Pope Innocent III also took a keen interest in crusading efforts in Spain and lived to hear of the decisive victory of Christians over Muslims at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212.

Throughout his long and influencial career Innocent never hesitated to use Christian force, but only when he believed diplomacy had been exhausted. Innocent's abilities as a diplomat were second to none as was often demonstrated by his ability to accomplish his goals through forceful negotiation with various rulers in Christendom. He often effectively resorted to excommunication, or the threat of excommication, as a means of adding force to his demands of secular rulers. When such threats were uneffective, the Pope demonstrated an excellent ability for alliance building, whether politically or militarily, to thwart the various efforts of his enemies. As might seem fitting in light of his efforts while he lived, Pope Innocent III died on June 16, 1216 at Perugia while traveling through Italy promoting the Fifth Crusade. Thus he both began and ended his eighteen year papacy seeking crusades to the Holy Land.

Feudal power over Europe
During the reign of Pope Innocent III, the papacy was at the height of its powers. He was considered to be the most powerful person in Europe at the time.[7] His papacy asserted the absolute spiritual authority of his office, while still respecting the temporal authority of Kings.

Philip II became Innocent III's ally in the struggle over Otto IV. Innocent stated that he had no intention of encroaching upon the rights of the princes, but insisted upon the rights of the Church in this matter. He emphasized especially that the conferring of the imperial crown belonged to the pope alone. In 1201 the pope openly espoused the side of Otto IV. On 3 July 1201, the papal legate, Cardinal-Bishop Guido of Palestrina, announced to the people, in the cathedral of Cologne, that Otto IV had been approved by the pope as Roman king and threatened with excommunication all those who refused to acknowledge him. Innocent III made clear to the German princes by the Decree "Venerabilem" which he addressed to the Duke of Zähringen in May 1202, in what relation he considered the empire to stand to the papacy. This decree, which has become famous, was afterwards embodied in the "Corpus Juris Canonici".

Here are some highlighted points from the decree: The German princes have the right to elect the king, who is afterwards to become emperor.

This right was given them by the Apostolic See when it transferred the imperial dignity from the Greeks to the Germans in the person of Charlemagne.
The right to investigate and decide whether a king thus elected is worthy of the imperial dignity belongs to the pope, whose office it is to anoint, consecrate, and crown him; otherwise it might happen that the pope would be obliged to anoint, consecrate, and Crown a king who was excommunicated, a heretic, or a pagan.
If the pope finds that the king who has been elected by the princes is unworthy of the imperial dignity, the princes must elect a new king or, if they refuse, the pope will confer the imperial dignity upon another king; for the Church stands in need of a patron and defender.

In case of a double election the pope must exhort the princes to come to an agreement. If after a due interval they have not reached an agreement they must ask the pope to arbitrate, failing which, he must of his own accord and by virtue of his office decide in favour of one of the claimants. The pope's decision need not be based on the greater or less legality of either election, but on the qualifications of the claimants.

Otto allied himself with England (he was the nephew of King John) to fight Philip II Augustus, but he was defeated in the Battle of Bouvines in what is now Belgium, on July 27, 1214. Thereafter Otto IV lost all influence and died on May 19, 1218, leaving Frederick II the undisputed emperor. King John was forced to acknowledge the Pope as his feudal lord and accept Stephan Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Innocent III played further roles in the politics of France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Spain, and especially England.

Innocent called the Fourth Crusade, which was diverted to Constantinople. The pope excommunicated the Crusaders who attacked Christian cities, but he made no move to halt or overturn their actions because he felt, erroneously, that the Latin presence would bring about a reconciliation between the Eastern and Western Churches. Innocent also ordered a crusade against the Albigenses, which successfully subdued the Cathar heresy in France but at a great cost in life and blood.