Boston, Mass., Oct 31, 2014 / 04:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The last person hanged for witchcraft in Boston could be considered a Catholic martyr.

In the 1650s, Ann Glover and her family, along with some 50,000 other native Irish people, were enslaved by Englishman Oliver Cromwell during the occupation of Ireland and shipped to the island of Barbados, where they were sold as indentured servants.

What is known of her history is sporadic at best, though she was definitely Irish and definitely Catholic. According to an article in the Boston Globe, even Ann's real name remains a mystery, as indentured servants were often forced to take the names of their masters.

While in Barbados, Ann's husband was reportedly killed for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith. By 1680, Ann and her daughter had moved to Boston where Ann worked as a “goodwife” (a housekeeper and nanny) for the John Goodwin family.

Father Robert O'Grady, director of the Boston Catholic Directory for the Archdiocese of Boston, said that after working for the Goodwins for a few years, Ann Glover became sick, and the illness spread to four of the five Goodwin children.

“She was, unsurprisingly, not well-educated, and in working with the family, apparently she got sick at some point and the kids for whom she was primarily responsible caught whatever it was,” Fr. O'Grady told CNA.

A doctor allegedly concluded that “nothing but a hellish Witchcraft could be the origin of these maladies,” and one of the daughters confirmed the claim, saying she fell ill after an argument with Ann.  

The infamous Reverend Cotton Mather, a Harvard graduate and one of the main perpetrators of witch trial hysteria at the time, insisted Ann Glover was a witch and brought her to what would be the last witch trial in Boston in 1688.

In the courtroom, Ann refused to speak English and instead answered questions in her native Irish Gaelic. In order to prove she was not a witch, Mather asked Ann to recite the Our Father, which she did, in a mix of Irish Gaelic and Latin because of her lack of education.

“Cotton Mather would have recognized some of it, because of course that would have been part of your studies in those days, you studied classical languages when you were preparing to be a minister, especially Latin and Greek,” Father O'Grady said.

“But because it was kind of mixed in with Irish Gaelic, it was then considered proof that she was possessed because she was mangling the Latin.”

Allegedly, Boston merchant Robert Calef, who knew Ann when she was alive, said she “was a despised, crazy, poor old woman, an Irish Catholic who was tried for afflicting the Goodwin children. Her behavior at her trial was like that of one distracted. They did her cruel. The proof against her was wholly deficient. The jury brought her guilty. She was hung. She died a Catholic."

Mather convicted Ann of being an “idolatrous Roman Catholick” and a witch, and she hung on Boston Common on November 16, 1688. Today, just a 15 minute walk away, the parish of Our Lady of Victories holds a plaque commemorating her martyrdom, which reads:

“Not far from here on 16 November 1688, Goodwife Ann Glover an elderly Irish widow, was hanged as a witch because she had refused to renounce her Catholic faith. Having been deported from her native Ireland to the Barbados with her husband, who died there because of his own loyalty to the Catholic faith, she came to Boston where she was living for at least six years before she was unjustly condemned to death. This memorial is erected to commemorate “Goody” Glover as the first Catholic martyr in Massachusetts.”

The plaque was placed at the Church on the tercentennial anniversary of her death in 1988 by the Order of Alhambra, a Catholic fraternity whose mission includes commemorating Catholic historical persons, places and events. The Boston City Council also declared November 16 as “Goody Glover Day”, in order to condemn the injustice brought against her.  

Ann Glover has not yet been officially declared a martyr by a pope, nor has her cause for canonization been opened to date, partly because her story has faded into obscurity over time, Fr. O’Grady said.

“Part of the dilemma here (too) is that when she was hanged, Catholics were a tiny, minuscule, minority in Boston, so picking up her ‘cause’ was not easy or ‘on top of the list,’” he said.

Ann Glover's trial also set the tone for the infamous Salem Witch Trials in 1692, during which 19 men and women were hanged for witchcraft, and in which Reverend Cotton Mather and his anti-Catholic prejudices played a major role.

Washington D.C., Oct 31, 2014 / 02:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Church must work to strengthen the family by helping couples practice Christian concepts of virtues if it wishes to “open wide the doors to Christ” in the vision of St. John Paul II, the head of the Knights of Columbus said on Wednesday.

“We have often heard that the family is at the center of the New Evangelization. This means that there must be greater pastoral care and formation of families at the parish level. We must pray that this will be one of the fruits of the recent Synod on the Family and of the upcoming World Meeting of Families to be held in Philadelphia,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said Oct. 29 at the Catholic Information Center’s New Evangelization Award Dinner in Washington, D.C.

Anderson and his wife Dorian were recipients of the Saint John Paul II Award for the New Evangelization, given to “those who have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to proclaiming Christ to all peoples.”  

The Andersons were appointed by Benedict XVI to the Pontifical Council for the Family in 2007, and they are both members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

The family is at the heart of the New Evangelization, but many Catholic marriages are ending in divorce, Anderson noted.

“There are many, many families today that will end in divorce because they will not survive the pressures of contemporary society unless they receive help,” he insisted.

Anderson explained to CNA after the dinner that the Church should emphasize the sacrificial, Christ-like nature of marriage since the institution has been secularized.

“We’re in such a secularized society and culture that we really need greater formation of what it means to be a disciple of Christ in marriage. And how, if in marriage, we’re called to sort of testify to God’s love – how do we do that every day with our spouse?”

He continued, “I think again it goes back to the pervasiveness of secularism, where many concepts have become secularized. So our concept of freedom, our concept of faithfulness, our concept of love … we have to say wait a minute, take a step back. What is the Gospel understanding of fidelity of love? Of mutuality? Of self-gift?”

“If marriage is to be a reflection of Christ’s love for the Church, sacrificial love, then what does that mean in terms of forgiveness, reconciliation? Those are big issues. And I’m not sure that it’s thought through enough,” he said.

Formation in the virtues should begin earlier in a child’s life, he continued, as a remote preparation for their vocation, be that marriage or priesthood or religious or consecrated life.

“I think we need to admit – or realize maybe is the better word – that our formation needs to begin much earlier. That given what’s happened with the internet culture, by the time our children get to be 12, 14 years of age, they’re much more experienced, sadly, in a lot of these problems, than maybe 30, 40, 50 years ago,” Anderson said.

“I think there’s so many young saints, they had vocations at a very young age. And so we shouldn’t begin waiting until 20, 22, 24, to begin speaking of your vocation. Maybe we should speak to 10 year-olds about their vocation,” he concluded.

Denver, Colo., Oct 30, 2014 / 05:10 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As a 29 year-old woman with terminal brain cancer reconsiders her resolve to end her life, one scholar says the change of heart indicates a more mature level of thinking.

“That’s advanced thinking, that’s higher order thinking – when you can let go of the trappings of this world and realize there is something else,” reflected Dr. Julie Masters, chairman of the Department of Gerontology at the University of Nebraska.

She told CNA Oct. 30 that Brittany Maynard’s reconsideration is an “interesting development.”

“I think reading some of the things she has said about this idea that she is there with her family and seeing the value of that offers people another perspective on end-of-life care, and what that means,” Masters said.

After being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, Maynard announced earlier this month that was planning to end her life Nov. 1. She and her husband moved to Oregon, one of just a few states that allows physician-assisted suicide.

But in a new video, posted Oct. 29, Maynard said she is reconsidering.

“I still feel good enough and I still have enough joy and I still laugh and smile with my family and friends enough that it doesn’t seem like the right time right now,” she stated, adding that the time to take her life will likely come eventually.

Although Maynard did say that her health has been declining, she also stated in the video that “the worst thing that could happen to me is I wait too long because I am trying to seize each day and I lose my autonomy.”

Dr. Masters, who teaches a class on “Death and Dying,” reflected on this vantage point of choice and autonomy, saying it is a common factor when considering end-of-life choices.

“The number one reason why people choose physician-assisted suicide is because of autonomy. They want to maintain their autonomy, their right to choose,” Masters stated.

However, she questioned whether physician-assisted suicide is truly a choice or an expectation.

“We look at physician assisted suicide, and it is a choice in the sense that it is available in five states, that’s reality,” she said. “But the question becomes then, is that an option for people, or does it become an expectation?”

She suggested that the increasing number of physician-assisted suicides can impose an expectation to end one’s life when it is no longer seen to have value.

While noting that she does not know Maynard and cannot speak for her exclusively, Masters said she suspects that the young woman has been given a reason to pause and think about her life.

“That’s important,” Masters said. “It sure sounds like to be able to take a trip with her family and to be surrounded by her family, she is getting a glimpse of a quality of life she hadn’t anticipated.”

Referring to a Fox News piece on the situation, Masters suggested that Maynard is acknowledging the important things in life, adding to the joy that she is still experiencing amidst the suffering in her daily life. This indicates more advanced thinking, she said.

Acknowledging that it is hard to watch someone suffer and die, Masters believes that “we could give a little more attention to relieving suffering.”

While firmly stating a belief that there can be value in suffering, she also noted the importance of comforting and relieving suffering, which can also help alleviate the fear that can accompany the thought of death.

“It’s about fear,” she said, explaining that “people are afraid because they have examples in their mind of other people who have died a hard death.”

Reacting to end-of-life choices out of fear is common, Masters noted, stressing that the pain and symptoms of a terminal illness should not be controlled by this fear, but met with support, care, and comfort.

“That’s where we could do such a better job of communicating options to people. Brittany has not only advanced the movement of Compassion & Choices, but she has also advanced the movement of questioning the value of hospice and palliative care, and the value of life.”

“Death can be a gift, and it can be approached in a comforting way,” Masters said, noting the critical importance of hospice and palliative care for people near death.

When people lose sight, she continued, “they get this tunnel vision, and they only see one option, and that’s suicide.”

“For Brittany, it seemed for awhile as if she thought there was only one option, but now she sees there are other options and maybe she is being open and considering the other options,” Masters suggested.

Acknowledging that Maynard’s story is prompting people to talk about end-of-life issues, Masters said she hopes this will be an opportunity for people to reflect on life and engage in dialogue in order to process what end-of-life decisions really mean.

“This is an opportunity for people to think,” she explained.