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Cardinal stats: Pope makes college more international, not much younger

Top Stories - 2 hours 25 min ago

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Although it is not unusual for a pope to set aside temporarily the limit of 120 cardinals under the age of 80, Pope Francis has done so in a way that could last for more than a year.

The pope announced May 20 that he would create 14 news cardinals June 29; 11 of them are under the age of 80 and would be eligible to enter a conclave to elect a new pope.

In early June, Cardinal Angelo Amato will celebrate his 80th birthday, which will drop the number of electors to 114. Three weeks later, the batch of new cardinals will raise the number of potential electors to 125.

Cardinal Amato is the last cardinal to turn 80 in 2018. And it will take until July 31, 2019, for another five cardinals to age out.

Confirming the limit of 120 electors set by Blessed Paul VI, St. John Paul II wrote in "Universi Dominici Gregis," his rules for a conclave, that "the maximum number of cardinal electors must not exceed 120."

That led one major news agency to report, "If a conclave has to be called before any other cardinal turns 80, the electors would have to draw lots to see which five men would be barred from the gathering."

Conclaves don't happen that often and none in recent history took place when there were more than 120 eligible electors. But the idea of a lottery for entrance into the Sistine Chapel, where the voting would take place, led many people to scratch their heads.

After all, "Universi Dominici Gregis" and the changes made to it by Pope Benedict XVI in 2013 both strongly state: "No cardinal elector can be excluded from active or passive voice in the election of the supreme pontiff."

A pope, as the supreme legislator of the Catholic Church, can set aside the limit of 120 potential electors. But doing so does not change the no-exclusion clause.

And while a year may be a long time to exceed the 120 limit, exceeding it by five cardinals is minor compared to what St. John Paul II did in February 2001. Creating 44 new cardinals -- the biggest batch ever at one consistory -- the pope raised the number of cardinal electors to 135.

St. John Paul created another 30 cardinals in 2003, bringing the number of electors back up to 135 once again. But, by the time he died in 2005, only 117 were under 80, and two of those were too ill to participate in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict.

The Polish pope's mega-consistories broadly expanded the international -- in other words, the catholic -- identity of the College of Cardinals. It is a process that continues.

Pope Francis' latest cardinals-designate include churchmen from five countries not currently represented in the College of Cardinals. But each of those countries -- Bolivia, Pakistan, Japan, Madagascar and Iraq -- has had a cardinal in the recent past.

With the edition of the new cardinals, the group of electors will represent 67 nations. The cardinals who elected Pope Francis in 2013 came from 48 countries.

The number of Italians with a red biretta, the cardinal's three-cornered hat, still far exceeds those of any other nation, and Pope Francis is about to add three more to their number.

The day before the consistory, 18 Italians would be eligible to enter a conclave -- 19 if you count Cardinal Mario Zenari, the Italy-born nuncio to Syria, who Pope Francis made clear was chosen to represent Syria. Still, in the 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis, 28 were Italian.

The country with the next-highest number of cardinal electors is the United States, which has 10 cardinals under the age of 80.

At a Mass with the College of Cardinals in 2017, a Mass marking his 25th anniversary as a bishop, Pope Francis said that the Catholic Church is not a "gerontocracy" ruled by old men; "we aren't old men, we are grandfathers."

But his choices for the June consistory do very little to lower the average age of the group of electors. Only one, Cardinal-designate Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, is still in his 50s. He is 54. Cardinal Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, Central African Republic, is 51 years old and still will be the youngest cardinal once the consistory is over.

On June 28, there will be 114 electors with an average age of 71 years, 11 months and one day. After the consistory the next day, there will be 125 electors with an average age of 71 years, eight months and 20 days.

The cardinals who elected 58-year-old Cardinal Karol Wojtyla -- St. John Paul II -- in 1978 had an average age of 67.

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Accompanying families, reaching out to youth recurring encuentro themes

Top Stories - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 1:30pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann, Catholic Standard

By Norma Montenegro Flynn

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Catholic Church needs to walk with and accompany Hispanic and immigrant families, reach out to youth and young adults, and strengthen faith and leadership formation.

These were the recurring themes voiced by participants of the episcopal Region IV encuentro held May 19, at The Catholic University of America in Washington.

As part of the National Fifth Encuentro process, nearly 100 regional participants -- lay and religious leaders from seven dioceses -- from Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia and West Virginia, gathered for the day to "encounter," as the word "encuentro" suggests, each other and listen to the voices from parish communities and organizations within the region.

They discerned priorities and strategies on Hispanic ministry and how to better answer Pope Francis' call to become missionary disciples reaching out to those on the peripheries.

"It's important for us to get to know the drama, the anxieties of our people to bring the peaceful presence of Jesus Christ into their lives," said Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington and lead bishop for the Region IV encuentro.

"We have to be able to speak the same language from soul to soul in order to be able to connect them," he said in an interview with Catholic News Service, noting that such accompaniment doesn't change through the years.

Participants sharing in small groups and at-large, widely spoke about the ways Hispanic families need the Catholic church community to accompany them in their struggles, their desire for a better and more accessible faith formation, on outreach to youth and young adults, on family values and on keeping families together.

In a region with high numbers of recent immigrants, Central Americans who were Temporary Protected Status recipients and others covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, many voiced fears of deportation that breaks families apart.

TPS was recently terminated by the Department of Homeland Security leaving over 300,000 Salvadorans, Hondurans, Nicaraguans and Haitians facing possible deportations. About 690,000 DACA recipients are in a similar immigration limbo.

"Over and over, we saw that specially youth are feeling overwhelmed with the many stresses that they have, stresses because of immigration issues that affect them directly, especially those with DACA, those under TPS, and those whose parents, relatives or friends are undocumented," said Lia Salinas, director of Hispanic ministry for the Archdiocese of Baltimore and Region VI encuentro co-chair. "That is a voice that needs to be heard and that needs to be addressed."

Proposed strategies to accompany families include: nurturing families through each stage, helping families integrate into their communities and following up with pastoral care. They also proposed to provide support for families who suffer separation and be involved in advocacy.

As part of advocacy efforts, many participants signed letters to their senators seeking a legislative solution for TPS recipients. The letters are part of the Catholics Confront Global Poverty initiative led by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services.

Throughout the day, participants shared priorities and strategies in the ministerial areas of evangelization and mission; vocations and leadership development; youth and young adult ministry; family ministry; immigration and social justice; faith formation and catechesis; intercultural competencies, stewardship and development; and Hispanics and public and professional life.

Priorities across the different areas of work included: the need to prepare catechists, priests, deacons and lay leaders to be multilingual and multicultural to reflect the universal church, placing greater emphasis on cultural integration and competencies.

"We have to develop the competencies, they're very important, but I just want to stress the importance of developing an open heart," noted Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore to participants. He noted that although more needs to be done in the different areas, the church is headed down the right path.

Other priorities addressed were: finding ways to strengthen Hispanic ministry by strengthening the formation of Hispanic leaders; making available training in Spanish and scholarships to assist those who want to further their formation but lack the resources to do it; supporting and build up leaders, particularly among youth and young adults; access to Catholic education for youth, and providing a greater support for families, single parents and women.

In the afternoon, a group of bishops or their representatives joined the small group conversations and later exchanged views and answered questions with the participants.

We're called to proclaim and live the joy of the Gospel, we come here today very much aware of the real struggles that so many immigrants, people, families experience in their lives, and struggles are difficult," said Father Thomas Ferguson, vicar general of the Diocese of Arlington, who represented Bishop Michael Burbidge. "But even in the midst of carrying the cross or embracing the struggle and the sorrow and the suffering, it is radiated in this room joy, because we've been called by Jesus to carry out his work."

Other panel participants were: Archbishop Lori; Bishop Dorsonville, Baltimore Auxiliary Bishop Mark E. Brennan and Msgr. John J.M. Foster, vicar general for the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, representing Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio.

Episcopal Region IV includes the dioceses of Arlington and Richmond, Virginia; Wilmington, Delaware; Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia; and the Washington and Baltimore archdioceses; and the U.S. military archdiocese.

Participants came from all walks of life including immigrants and nonimmigrants; ministry leaders from city, suburbs and rural communities; and leaders of Catholic ecclesial movements, organizations and institutions.

"We want to in some way continue the encuentro process in the parishes and the diocesan teams to prepare and ignite that fire that it's still there," said Gabriel Garza, a delegate in the Archdiocese of Washington, voicing the desire of many to continue being engaged in the process of leadership, consultation and discernment that the Fifth Encuentro has begun.

Military spouses and active duty members stationed in Japan, Italy, Hawaii and the eastern and western U.S., also participated in the meeting as part of the delegation representing the U.S. military archdiocese, which is based in Washington.

The military archdiocese facilitated access to the encuentro process for Catholics in the military services who wished to participate.

Zack Mackeller is a senior airman in the Air Force and became involved after attending a Catholic conference in Chicago. He represents the voices of young Catholics in the military and embraces the call to be a missionary disciple.

"I try to engage people as they are, where they're at. Just that very basic, person to person connection, that's really all you can do. Then the Holy Spirit will unite people in its own way," he said.

Recommendations will be included in a final report, which will form part of the working document for the National Fifth Encuentro, or V Encuentro, to be held in Grapevine, Texas, Sept. 20-24.

The Region IV participants will be part of over 3,000 delegates from across the country who are expected to convene during those four days to discern priorities and develop strategies for the "Pastoral Hispana," or Hispanic ministry, in the United States, including seeking ways to better respond to the call to be missionary disciples.

"Evangelizacion y alegria," or evangelization and joy, were the two words of encouragement that captured what Archbishop Lori wished for the delegates who will attend the National Fifth Encuentro.

The day concluded with a sending-off Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, with Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl presiding and Bishop Burbidge, Archbishop Lori and Bishop Dorsonville concelebrating.

 

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Pope will create 14 new cardinals in June

Top Stories - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 9:01am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis announced he would make 14 new cardinals June 29, giving the red cardinal's hat to the papal almoner, the Iraq-based patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church and the archbishop of Karachi, Pakistan, among others.

Announcing his choices May 20, the pope said that coming from 11 nations, the new cardinals "express the universality of the church, which continues to proclaim the merciful love of God to all people of the earth."

Pope Francis' list included three men over the age of 80 "who have distinguished themselves for their service to the church."

When the pope made the announcement, the College of Cardinals had 213 members, 115 of whom were under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope. Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, was to celebrate his 80th birthday June 8.

Under Pope Francis, the idea that some church posts and large archdioceses always are led by a cardinal is fading, but is not altogether gone. His latest choices included the papal vicar of Rome, Cardinal-designate Angelo De Donatis, and the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal-designate Luis F. Ladaria. But other traditional cardinal sees like Venice and Milan in Italy or Baltimore and Philadelphia in the United States were not included in the pope's latest picks.

With the new nominations, the number of cardinal-electors -- those under 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave -- will exceed by five the limit of 120 set by Pope Paul VI. But previous popes also set the limit aside without formally changing the limit.

After the consistory June 29, Pope Francis will have created almost half of the voting cardinals. Nineteen of those under 80 in late June will be cardinals given red hats by St. John Paul II; 47 will have been created by retired Pope Benedict XVI; and 59 will have been welcomed into the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis.

The new cardinals hail from: Iraq, Spain, Italy, Poland, Pakistan, Portugal, Peru, Madagascar, Japan, Mexico and Bolivia.

The new cardinals, listed in the order Pope Francis announced them, are:

-- Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, 69, Iraq.

-- Spanish Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria, 74, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

-- Italian Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, 64, papal vicar for the Diocese of Rome.

-- Italian Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, 69, substitute secretary of state.

-- Polish Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, 54, papal almoner.

-- Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, Pakistan, 72.

-- Bishop Antonio dos Santos Marto of Leiria-Fatima, Portugal, 71.

-- Archbishop Pedro Barreto of Huancayo, Peru, 74.

-- Archbishop Desire Tsarahazana of Toamasina, Madagascar, 63.

-- Archbishop Giuseppe Petrocchi of L'Aquila, Italy, 69.

-- Archbishop Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda of Osaka, Japan, 69.

-- Archbishop Sergio Obeso Rivera, retired archbishop of Xalapa, Mexico, 86.

-- Bishop Toribio Ticona Porco, retired prelate of Corocoro, Bolivia, 81.

-- Spanish Claretian Father Aquilino Bocos Merino, 80.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Pope to canonize Blesseds Paul VI, Oscar Romero in Rome Oct. 14

Top Stories - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 5:52am

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will declare Blesseds Oscar Romero, Paul VI and four others saints Oct. 14 at the Vatican during the meeting of the world Synod of Bishops, an institution Blessed Paul revived.

The date was announced May 19 during an "ordinary public consistory," a meeting of the pope, cardinals and promoters of sainthood causes that formally ends the sainthood process.

During the consistory, Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, formally petitioned the pope "to enroll in due course among the saints" six candidates for canonization "for the glory of God and the good of the whole church."

Each of the candidates, the cardinal told the pope, gave "a convinced and coherent witness to the Lord Jesus. Their example continues to enlighten the church and the world in accordance with the perspective of mercy that your Holiness never ceases to indicate and propose."

Briefly giving a biographical sketch of the candidates, Cardinal Amato said that during El Salvador's civil war, Archbishop Romero, "outraged at seeing the violence against the weak and the killing of priests and catechists, felt the need to assume an attitude of fortitude. On March 24, 1980, he was killed while celebrating the Mass."

Reviewing the facts of Blessed Paul's life, Cardinal Amato highlighted how, as a high-level official in the Vatican Secretariat of State during World War II, the future pope "organized charitable assistance and hospitality for those persecuted by Nazism and Fascism, particularly the Jews."

Pope Francis then certified that he had solicited the opinion of the cardinals, who agreed that "these same blesseds should be proposed to the whole church as examples of Christian life and holiness."

Blessed Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, was assassinated one day after calling on the government to end its violation of the human rights of El Salvador's people.

While Catholics inside and outside El Salvador recognized him as a martyr immediately, his sainthood cause was stalled for years as some church leaders debated whether he was killed for his faith or for his politics.

As Pope Francis told a group of Salvadoran pilgrims in 2015, even after his death Blessed Romero "was defamed, slandered, his memory tarnished, and his martyrdom continued, including by his brothers in the priesthood and in the episcopate."

In February 2015 Pope Francis signed the formal decree recognizing Blessed Romero's martyrdom; the Salvadoran archbishop was beatified three months later in San Salvador.

The Salvadoran bishops' conference and many Salvadorans had hoped Pope Francis would preside over the canonization in San Salvador, particularly because of the difficulty and expense of traveling to Rome. Others, however, argued that holding the ceremony at the Vatican makes it clear that Blessed Romero is a saint for the entire church, not just for the church in El Salvador.

Salvadoran Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez told TV2000, the Italian bishops' television station, that he hoped Pope Francis would make a brief trip to San Salvador in January to pray at the tomb of by-then St. Oscar Romero. The pope will be in Central America for World Youth Day in Panama.

Blessed Paul VI, who was born Giovanni Battista Montini, was pope from 1963 to 1978. He presided over the final sessions of the Second Vatican Council and its initial implementation. He also wrote "Humanae Vitae," a 1968 encyclical on married love, the 1975 apostolic exhortation "Evangelii Nuntiandi" on evangelization and "Populorum Progressio," a 1967 encyclical on social development and the economy.

Speaking in 2013 to a group of pilgrims from Brescia, Italy, Pope Paul's home diocese, Pope Francis said his predecessor had "experienced to the full the church's travail after the Second Vatican Council: the lights, the hopes, the tensions. He loved the church and expended himself for her, holding nothing back."

And, beatifying Pope Paul in 2014, Pope Francis noted that even in the face of "a secularized and hostile society," Pope Paul "could hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom -- and at times alone -- to the helm of the barque of Peter while never losing his joy and his trust in the Lord."

Pope Francis referred to him as "this great pope, this courageous Christian, this tireless apostle," who demonstrated a "humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his church."

The other men and women to be canonized include: Father Francesco Spinelli of Italy, founder of the Sisters Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament; Father Vincenzo Romano, who worked with the poor of Naples, Italy, until his death in 1831; Mother Catherine Kasper, the German founder of the religious congregation, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ; and Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, the Spanish founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Crusaders of the Church.

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Update: Texas archdiocese, bishops offer healing, support after shooting

Top Stories - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 4:57pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/HCSO, handout via Reuters

By

HOUSTON (CNS) -- In response to the May 18 school shooting at a Houston-area high school, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said the archdiocesan community would "unite to support and offer healing to those affected."

"As a society, we must strive for a way to end such acts of senseless gun violence in our schools and communities," he added in a May 18 statement.

The cardinal said he was "deeply saddened" and that his prayer and the prayers of Catholics in the archdiocese are with the "victims and families of those killed and injured in this horrific tragedy."

In a separate statement as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal DiNardo said: "Our community and our local church joins an ever-growing list of those impacted by the evil of gun violence. I extend my heartfelt prayers, along with my brother bishops, for all of those who have died, their families and friends, those who were injured, and for our local community."

The school shooting, occurring just three months after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, took place when a male shooter opened fire at a Santa Fe High School the morning of May 18 killing 10 people, most of them students. Another 10 were reported injured.

A suspect taken into custody was identified as 17-year old Dimitrios Pagourtzis and another person of interest also was detained and questioned. Explosive devices also were found at the school and off campus. 

The shooting was the deadliest in Texas since a gunman attacked a rural church late last year, killing more than two dozen people.

"Sadly, I must yet again point out the obvious brokenness in our culture and society, such that children who went to school this morning to learn and teachers who went to inspire them will not come home," Cardinal DiNardo said in his statement at USCCB president. "We as a nation must, here and now, say definitively: no more death!"

He prayed that "the Lord of life" would be "with us in our sorrow and show us how to honor the precious gift of life and live in peace."

"We experienced an unthinkable tragedy at our high school this morning," Santa Fe Superintendent Leigh Wall said in a message posted to Facebook.

"As soon as the alarms went off, everybody just started running outside," 10th-grader Dakota Shrader told reporters, "and next thing you know everybody looks, and you hear boom, boom, boom, and I just ran as fast as I could to the nearest floor so I could hide, and I called my mom."

Another student told CBS News he ran behind some trees, heard more shots, jumped a fence and ran to a car wash. He said he saw firefighters treat a girl who had a bandage around her knee and may have been shot.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, said in a May 18 tweet: "Please keep the victims of the Houston-area school shooting in your prayers. Pray also for their family members and friends who now begin a tragic grieving process. For those killed, grant eternal rest unto them, O Lord, and bestow grace and strength to all in their community."

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

All of Chile's bishops offer resignations after meeting pope on abuse

Top Stories - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 10:22am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Every bishop in Chile offered his resignation to Pope Francis after a three-day meeting at the Vatican to discuss the clerical sexual abuse scandal.

"We want to announce that all bishops present in Rome, in writing, have placed our positions in the Holy Father's hands so that he may freely decide regarding each one of us," Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez Errazuriz of San Bernardo said May 18 in a statement on behalf of the country's bishops.

The unprecedented decision was made on the final day of their meeting May 15-17 with Pope Francis.

Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos Perez of Santiago, secretary-general of the Chilean bishops' conference, said the pope had read to the 34 bishops a document in which he "expressed his conclusions and reflections" on the 2,300-page report compiled by Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta and his aide, Father Jordi Bertomeu, during a visit to Chile to investigate the scandal.

"The pope's text clearly showed a series of absolutely reprehensible acts that have occurred in the Chilean church in relation to those unacceptable abuses of power, of conscience and sexual abuse that have resulted in the lessening of the prophetic vigor that characterized her," Bishop Ramos said.

After reflecting on the pope's assessment, he added, the bishops decided to hand in their resignations "to be in greater harmony with the will of the Holy Father."

"In this way, we could make a collegial gesture in solidarity to assume responsibility -- not without pain -- for the serious acts that have occurred and so that the Holy Father can, freely, have us at his disposal," Bishop Ramos said.

Shortly after the announcement, Juan Carlos Cruz, one of three survivors who met privately with Pope Francis in April, tweeted, "All Chilean bishops have resigned. Unprecedented and good. This will change things forever."

The bishops will continue in office unless or until the pope accepts their resignations.

The document in which Pope Francis gave his evaluation of the situation of the church in Chile was leaked May 17 by Chilean news channel Tele 13. The Associated Press reported that the Vatican confirmed the document's authenticity.

The pope wrote in the document that removing some church leaders from office "must be done," but that "it is not enough; we must go further. It would be irresponsible of us not to go deep in looking for the roots and structures that allowed these concrete events to happen and carry on."

In it, the pope said that "the painful situations that have happened are indications that something is wrong with the ecclesial body."

The wound of sexual abuse, he said, "has been treated until recently with a medicine that, far from healing, seems to have worsened its depth and pain."

Reminding the bishops that "the disciple is not greater than his master," Pope Francis warned them of a "psychology of the elite" that ignores the suffering of the faithful.

He also said he was concerned by reports regarding "the attitude with which some of you bishops have reacted in the face of present and past events."

This attitude, the pope said, was guided by the belief that instead of addressing the issue of sexual abuse, bishops thought that "just the removal of people would solve the problem."

In an accompanying footnote, the pope said the bishops' behavior could be labeled as "the Caiphas syndrome," referring to the high priest who condemned Jesus saying, "Better for one man to die for the people than that the whole nation perish."

The act of covering up cases of abuse, he added, was akin to the Latin American saying, "Muerto el perro se acabo la rabia" ("Dead dogs don't bite").

The document's footnotes included several details from the investigation made by Archbishop Scicluna, who is president of a board of review within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; the board handles appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse or other serious crimes.

The pope said the report confirmed that, in some instances, the bishops deemed accusations of abuse as "implausible."

But Pope Francis said he was "perplexed and ashamed" after he received confirmation that undue pressure by church officials was placed on "those who carry out criminal proceedings" and that church officials had destroyed compromising documents.

Those actions, he said, "give evidence to an absolute lack of respect for the canonical procedure and, even more so, are reprehensible practices that must be avoided in the future."

Following the document's release, Cruz applauded the pope's evaluation of the abuse crisis and of the bishops' behavior toward survivors of sexual abuse.

"This is the pope that I met during my conversations in the Vatican," Cruz told Chilean news site, Emol, May 17. "I hope all (the bishops) resign and that the church in Chile begins to rebuild with true shepherds and not with these corrupt bishops who commit and cover up crimes, as the document states."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Meghan Markle's Catholic school celebrates royal wedding

Top Stories - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 3:00pm

IMAGE: REUTERS

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Royal wedding fever has caught on in many places, but it has a particular soft spot at Immaculate Heart Middle School and High School outside Los Angeles, the school Meghan Markle attended from seventh to 12th grade.

The school is located more than 5,000 miles from St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in England, where Markle and Prince Harry's May 19 wedding is taking place, but the California school bridged this gap during an outdoor pre-wedding celebration May 15.

Students waved British and American flags, toasted their famous alumna with glasses of lemonade, listened to student speeches and did a group dance all while local and international TV and print reporters mingled among them.

The students at the all-girls school were thrilled for the 1999 graduate's big day but they were also proud of the humanitarian and activist work the actress has already done.

"I know that I'm not going to marry a prince ... but it makes me feel like, as a woman, I can do anything, and I can be empowered by Meghan," seventh-grader Amina Brenlini told Reuters during the event, adding that Markle is her "biggest inspiration."

In a speech during the celebration, Mia Speier, the high school student body president, praised Markle for her dedication to service.

"The idea that someone like her, who has had an upbringing so similar to ours, will now be able to voice her concerns on a global platform as an internationally recognized figure is a story that impacts so many young women, especially the young women at our school," said Speier.

Stella Lissak, middle school student body president said Markle's humanitarian work showed that "we at Immaculate Heart truly are women of great heart." Highlights of the speeches were posted on the school's website.

The school, founded in 1906 by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, has mission-style terra cotta roofs and is located just a few miles from the landmark Hollywood sign.

Many of the 674 students have been pretty excited to say the least about the royal wedding since the engagement was announced last November. At the time, the communication director for the school, Callie Webb, told Catholic News Service that some of the students had never heard of Markle and others knew every detail about her 15-month romance with Prince Harry, her engagement, her TV career, activism and now- discontinued lifestyle blog, The Tig.

Early on, the school tried to put the engagement news in perspective, announcing when the news first broke in a Nov. 27 tweet: "Over 10,000 women of great heart and right conscience have graduated from Immaculate Heart, and we are proud to count actress and humanitarian" Markle among them.

It posted a similar message that day on its Facebook account but added that as a global ambassador for World Vision Canada, Markle campaigned for clean, safe drinking water. And as a U.N. Women's Advocate, she has spoken up for women's rights and gender equality.

In other words, the school had already been proud of its graduate for a long time.

But they also are fully embracing Markle's upcoming role as Duchess of Sussex.To demonstrate their dedication, and also witness history, some students, alumnae and families will attend a wedding viewing party May 19 at the school that will start at the wee hour of 3 a.m. (PDT).

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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All economic activity has moral dimension, doctrinal congregation says

Top Stories - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 6:00am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Financial and economic decisions -- everything from where a family chooses to invest its savings to where a multinational corporation declares its tax residence -- are ethical decisions that can be virtuous or sinful, a new Vatican document said.

"There can be no area of human action that legitimately claims to be either outside of or impermeable to ethical principles based on liberty, truth, justice and solidarity," said the document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The text, "Considerations for an Ethical Discernment Regarding Some Aspects of the Present Economic-Financial System," was approved by Pope Francis and released May 17 at a Vatican news conference with Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria, congregation prefect, and Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the dicastery.

Based on principles long part of Catholic social teaching and referring frequently to the teaching of St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, the document insisted that every economic activity has a moral and ethical dimension.

Responding to questions, Archbishop Ladaria said it is true that Catholic moral theology has focused more on questions of sexual ethics than business ethics, but that does not mean that the economy and finance are outside the scope of Catholic moral teaching. For example, he said, over the centuries the church and the popes repeatedly have intervened to condemn usury.

Pope Francis, he said, supported the development of the document, but the idea of writing it and examining the ethical and moral implications of the current economic scene came from "the grassroots."

"At stake is the authentic well-being of a majority of the men and women of our planet who are at risk of being 'excluded and marginalized' from development and true well-being while a minority, indifferent to the condition of the majority, exploits and reserves for itself substantial resources and wealth," the document said.

The size and complexity of the global economy, it said, may lead most people to think there is nothing they can do to promote an economy of solidarity and contribute to the well-being of everyone in the world, but every financial choice a person makes -- especially if they act with others -- can make a difference, it said.

"For instance, the markets live thanks to the supply and demand of goods," it said. "It becomes therefore quite evident how important a critical and responsible exercise of consumption and savings actually is."

Even something as simple as shopping can be important, the document said. Consumers should avoid products manufactured in conditions "in which the violation of the most elementary human rights is normal." They can avoid doing business with companies "whose ethics in fact do not know any interest other than that of the profit of their shareholders at any cost."

Being ethical, it said, also can mean preferring to put one's savings in investments that have been certified as socially responsible and they can join others in shareholder actions meant to promote more ethical behavior by the companies in which they invest.

In a statement distributed at the news conference, Archbishop Ladaria said that "the origin of the spread of dishonest and predatory financial practices" is a misunderstanding of who the human person is. "No longer knowing who he is and why he is in the world, he no longer knows how to act for the good" and ends up doing what seems convenient at the moment.

"The strongest economic subjects have become 'superstars' who hoard enormous quantities of resources, resources that are distributed less than before and are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people," he said. "It's incredible to think that 10 people can possess almost half of the world's wealth, but today that is a reality!"

Cardinal Turkson told reporters, "a healthy economic system is vital to forge flourishing human relationships."

"To help generate such healthy system, this joint document reminds us that the resources of the world are destined to serve the dignity of the human person and must be commonly available for the common good," the cardinal said.

The document takes aim at greed, not capitalism. In fact, it praises economic systems and markets that respect human dignity and promote human freedom, creativity, production, responsibility, work and solidarity.

A healthy economy, it said, promotes all of those goods and realizes that the measure of progress is not how much money people have in the bank, but how many people are helped to live better lives.

One key to judging how well the economy works is how many decent jobs are created, the document said. But too often selfishness gets the upper hand, the rich speculate and gamble, accumulating more money but not creating more jobs.

"No profit is in fact legitimate when it falls short of the objective of the integral promotion of the human person, the universal destination of goods and the preferential option for the poor," the document said.

"It is especially necessary to provide an ethical reflection on certain aspects of financial transactions which, when operating without the necessary anthropological and moral foundations, have not only produced manifest abuses and injustice, but also demonstrated a capacity to create systemic and worldwide economic crisis," the document said.

The global financial crisis that began in 2007, it said, created an opportunity to review mechanisms of the economy and finance and come up with corrective regulations, but very little has been done.

In addition to the immorality of usury and tax evasion, the document signaled out other ethically problematic practices or practices that require more regulation to ensure ethical behavior: for example, executive bonus incentives based only on short-term profit; the operation of "offshore" financial bases that can facilitate tax evasion and the outflow of capital from developing countries; "the creation of stocks of credit," like subprime mortgages, and credit default swaps; and the growth of the "shadow banking system."

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College diploma: source of pride and uncertainty for graduating Dreamers

Top Stories - Wed, 05/16/2018 - 4:30pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Chaz Muth

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A group of current Washington Trinity University graduates are proud of what they've accomplished but also very anxious about the future.

These emotions could ring true for almost any graduate, but for this group of 21 graduating Dreamers -- among the hundreds of thousands in the U.S. protected, for now, by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA -- these feelings are even more intense.

That's because many of these students who came to the United States as children when their parents immigrated here without documentation, never imagined they would be able to afford to go to college or graduate in four years. And now, like other graduates across the country, they worry about financing grad school or getting good jobs all while fearing the worst: possible deportation for themselves or their family members as immigration laws remain in flux.

Two of these Dreamer graduates who spoke to Catholic News Service May 10 -- in between finishing final exams and awaiting their May 19 graduation ceremony -- asked that their last names or the states where they came from not be used to protect their families. 

They are among the 20 DACA recipients who started at Trinity four years ago and the first group of Dreamers to graduate from the school. The term "Dreamer" is coined from the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act. One student from the initial group left Trinity and two others joined later as transfer students. The students were among 100 Dreamers who attended the university this year.

All of these students are recipients of scholarships from TheDream.US, a scholarship program for DACA students that partners with colleges. Trinity was the first Catholic college to partner with the program when it started in 2014 and two other Catholic colleges have since joined: Dominican University, just outside Chicago, and Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago.

Brenda, who came to the United States from Mexico with her family when she was 6, said she will probably cry when she gets her diploma mainly because when she was a senior in high school, she didn't think she'd be able to even go to college, let alone finish in four years.

She said her mom found out about scholarship program and urged her to apply, but Brenda was skeptical because as she put it: "No one even knew about Dreamers" or DACA four years ago. Which means they didn't know immigrants without documentation don't have access to Pell grants, federal education loans or work-study programs and that many of them have to pay out-of-state tuition to go to college in their home states.

Brenda, who is graduating with a double major in business and international affairs, said she wants to get her master's and doctorate degrees, but she knows it won't be easy.

"It will be a challenge. I might have to work even harder to get financial support to figure out how I'm going to get there, but I will," she said with the confidence of someone who has already worked pretty hard.

Brenda disputes a misconception that DACA students are just looking for handouts, noting that everything she and fellow Dreamer students have attained is through hard work. The scholarship program, for example, is only for top academic students.

"We're competing for a spot and what we do has to be two, three, four and five times better than everyone else," she said. "We have to earn it."

Yarely, a graduating senior majoring in biochemistry with a minor in math, similarly stressed the pressure to work hard and the weight of not knowing what the future holds.

The 22-year-old who came to the United States from Mexico with her mother and sister when she was 8, said: "Sometimes I feel like there really is no choice for me, no path, but then I stop and think about my family, my friends and I just keep going because that's the only thing I can do."

In the days before graduating, she kept her eyes on the ceremony itself. "I feel that is a win -- no matter what -- that is definitely a win," she said.

She doesn't focus on the fact that her mom won't be able to attend her graduation. Yarely is used to having to face challenges on her own. Like Brenda, she didn't do college tours nor did family members help her move in. She simply came to Trinity on her first airplane ride, moved on campus and got to work, literally, holding down two jobs as a student, often tutoring both college and high school students.

A big unknown for her now is the future of DACA, saying she needs it to work and to keep going to school, which she hopes will eventually be medical school. "Not knowing if I am going to even be able to finance that it is definitely something that makes me really scared; it makes me terrified," she said.

Senior year for these students has been a particular roller coaster starting last September when the Trump administration announced the government was terminating DACA. Multiple lawsuits have since challenged that decision and a recent court ruling issued an order to strike down the end to DACA and reinstate the original program while still giving the government 90 days to explain its decision. In early May, seven states filed a lawsuit to try to end DACA.

Yarely and Brenda have seen both sides of the immigration battle. Neither of them are immune to anti-immigrant rhetoric, but they also are grateful for support from their families, teachers and administrators at Trinity, the scholarship program and the Catholic Church at large.

Yarely said she has had nightmares of "being out on the streets and people yelling to me and to my family, just yelling things that I know aren't true," but she also said there are "so many great people out there. ... I know people who yell or say incredibly hurtful things are the minority so I feel like that helps me get into perspective that America is not that way; America is not place of hate and ugliness."

Brenda said she is thankful "for all those who have seen there's a gap, there's injustice leaving us out of opportunities just because of our status." She has hope from those who advocate on behalf of immigrants, especially the Catholic Church, which she saw firsthand during an internship with U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"Knowing that the church is involved and wants to be involved does give me hope," she said, adding that church leaders "won't be quiet about it and are willing to stand up for us and with us."

Brenda, who has spent most of her life in this country, considers herself to be American and said she is thankful for the opportunities here that she knows she would not have had in Mexico.

"I love this country," she said, adding: "I do want to stay here and I have all the faith in God that that will be the case."

Pat McGuire, president of Trinity, compared the first class of Dreamers to graduate from the university to Trinity's first graduating class in 1900 because both had "vision for how a great college education can change the fortunes of their children and families."

In an email to CNS, she said the Dreamer graduates were a "force for solidarity" as students of all backgrounds, faculty, staff and alumnae offered personal support and did advocacy work. She said the immigrant students were role models for other students coping with discrimination and setbacks.

The Dreamers' presence also helped the entire school community to sharpen its "sense of mission and commitment to challenge injustice," she said.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Sex trafficking is 'rooted in structure of society,' says speaker

Top Stories - Wed, 05/16/2018 - 1:22pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Kurt Jensen

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The fight against human trafficking and sexual exploitation may need its own #MeToo moment, according to a leading trafficking opponent.

Good Shepherd Sister Winifred Doherty, who is her religious congregation's representative to the United Nations, observed that sex trafficking, "a debasement of the human person," is "rooted in the structure of society, and more so today."

The "social acceptance of the prostitution of women and girls" includes the benign label of sex worker. "Prostitution is neither sex nor work," Sister Doherty told the inaugural Shine the Light conference at the U.S. Capitol May 15. If gender equality can be put into laws, traffickers could "no longer buy and sell people," she said.

Conference speakers addressed both sexual and forced-labor exploitation in the United States. According to a recent report from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, 79 percent of human trafficking worldwide involves sexual exploitation. It said 18 percent involves forced labor -- promising desperate people steady high-paying jobs that don't exist while forcing them into debt bondage and low-paying jobs.

That, Sister Doherty emphasized, can be going on in one's neighborhood, and not be something far away. The next time women walk by a hair and nail salon using what appears to be immigrant labor, she said, it's right to ask, "What's happening in there? Who's working in there?"

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 was the first comprehensive federal law to address trafficking in persons, but more needs to be done, Sister Doherty said. She also is advocating for the decriminalization of women forced into prostitution.

The conference was co-hosted by the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd with the District of Columbia Baptist Convention. Participants later met with congressional representatives to advocate for two pieces of legislation.

H.R. 4485, also known as Savanna's Act, would standardize investigation procedures and build databases to strengthen the federal response to the growing number of missing and murdered Native American and Alaskan Native women. It is named for Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a 22-year old pregnant member of the Spirit Lake Tribe who was murdered last August.

In the Senate, the Protecting Girls' Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act has been sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, to ensure children overseas who are displaced due to ongoing conflicts receive an education.

Two former prostitutes, now both outreach workers helped by Dawn's Place, a residential rehabilitation center in Villanova, Pennsylvania, and operated by several Catholic religious orders, and at Covenant House Pennsylvania, a facility serving homeless people and refugees in the Philadelphia area, said therapy was key to rebuilding their shattered lives, but it requires a great deal time.

"For me, being in that program," said the Dawn's Place graduate, "basically they were teaching me to love me first. It took a whole year of trauma therapy to feel like a new person."

In the United States, according to statistics provided by the conference, 17,000 children are trafficked for sex annually. That works out to 46 every day.

"Traffickers can sense (past sexual abuse)," said Angela Aufdemberge, president of Vista Maria, a social services organization in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. "The biggest need is to address maltreatment in homes, and regulating who our kids are communicating with on the internet."

Luring girls, she observed, can be as simple as enticing them to send a nude photo via Snapchat, where photos disappear after being received. With a trafficker, of course, the photos always remain.

Her facility learned of one man "who had been contacting 100 children a day to entice them into sexual exploitation."

Hilary Chester, associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' anti-trafficking program, said labor traffickers also prey on low self-esteem. Labor trafficking in the United States is heavily involved in the meat and seafood-processing industries.

"Survivors need a soft landing, where they can gather themselves," Chester added.

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Update: Pope expresses concern about 'spiral of violence' in Holy Land

Top Stories - Wed, 05/16/2018 - 10:32am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Mohammed Salem, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Warning that violence will never bring peace, Pope Francis urged all sides to do all they can to foster dialogue in the Middle East.

"I am very worried about the intensifying tensions in the Holy Land and the Middle East and about the spiral of violence that increasingly leads away from the path of peace, dialogue and negotiations," he said in an appeal May 16 during his general audience in St. Peter's Square.

The Associated Press reported that May 14, the same day the United States was inaugurating its embassy in Jerusalem, Israeli forces shot and killed 57 Palestinians and injured more than 2,700 people during mass protests along the Gaza border. In addition, a baby died from tear gas inhalation, the Gaza Health Ministry said, bringing the death toll to 58.

Expressing his sadness for those killed and injured, and prayers for all who are suffering, the pope underlined that violence is never of any use for bringing peace.

"War is called war, violence is called violence," he said.

"I invite all those involved and the international community to renew their commitment so that dialogue, justice and peace may prevail," he said, before leading the thousands of people gathered in the square in praying the "Hail Mary."

The pope then sent his good wishes to all Muslims at the start of the month of Ramadan. "May this special time of prayer and fasting help in walking the path of God, which is the path of peace," he said.

Earlier, the head of Jerusalem's Latin Patriarchate called for prayers for peace as the world witnesses "another outburst of hatred and violence, which is once again bleeding all over the Holy Land."

"We need to pray more for peace and our conversion and for all," said Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the patriarchate, or diocese.

"The lives of so many young people have once again been shut down and hundreds of families are mourning their loved ones, dead or wounded," said the statement May 15 from Archbishop Pizzaballa. "As in a kind of vicious circle, we must condemn all forms of violence, any cynical use of human lives and disproportionate violence. Once again we are forced by circumstances to plead and cry out for justice and peace!"

He announced that May 19, the eve of Pentecost, the church would hold a prayer vigil at the Church of St. Stephen at L'Ecole Biblique. He asked the entire diocese to dedicate a day of prayer and fasting for the peace of Jerusalem and that the liturgy on Pentecost be dedicated to prayer for peace.

"We must truly pray to the Spirit to change our hearts to better understand his will and to give us the strength to continue to work for justice and peace," the archbishop said.

Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital and now feel that, with its embassy there, the U.S. cannot be a fair broker in the peace process with Israel.

Many Israelis see opening the embassy as the long-awaited official recognition of Jerusalem as their capital and the fulfillment of a promise made by numerous U.S. presidents to move the building from Tel Aviv.

The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, which includes Archbishop Pizzaballa and bishops of the Eastern Catholic churches in the region, reiterated the Catholic Church's position that moving the U.S. embassy and "any unilateral move or decision about the Holy City of Jerusalem doesn't contribute to advancing the long-awaited peace between Israelis and Palestinians."

"We believe that there is no reason that could prevent the city from being the capital of Israel and Palestine, but this should be done through negotiation and mutual respect," said the statement from the assembly May 15.

The Catholic leaders also said the deaths and injuries along the Israeli-Gaza border "or most of them, could have been avoided if non-lethal tools had been used by the Israeli forces."

The assembly called on "all parties involved to avoid use of violence and to find ways to end siege imposed on about 2 million Palestinians in Gaza Strip as soon as possible."

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Some Irish believe lives were saved by country's prohibition on abortion

Top Stories - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 1:23pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/John McElroy

By Sarah Mac Donald

DUBLIN (CNS) -- In the last major pro-life rally ahead of Ireland's May 25 referendum on whether to liberalize the country's abortion laws, thousands gathered to say "no" to far-reaching proposals that could see abortion on demand up to 12 weeks, and even later in some cases.

In less than two weeks, people in Ireland will be asked if they wish to repeal Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution, known as the Eighth Amendment, which enshrined a ban on abortion in 1983 and gives equal right to life to the mother and the unborn child.

The Irish bishops have warned that if the Eighth Amendment is repealed, legislation the government plans to introduce would make Ireland one of the most liberal abortion regimes in Europe.

Among the speakers who addressed the weekend rally in the shadow of the Irish parliament on Dublin's Merrion Square was Mary Kenny, 24, a single mother from Pallaskenry. She believes the Eighth Amendment saved her daughter's life.

"Holly's life literally hung in the balance in the early stages of pregnancy," said Kenny, who became pregnant at age 19. "If it had been a matter of just driving down the road to the nearest abortion clinic or to my GP, almost certainly Holly would not be alive today."

Instead, Kenny believes the near total ban on abortion in Ireland gave her time to think about her pregnancy and opt to keep her baby.

"My first thought was abortion. I looked up the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and decided that I would travel to England to end the life of my small baby," she said. She would have been one of the 3,265 Irish women who annually make the trip across the Irish Sea to Britain for an abortion.

However, she discovered her passport was out of date, so she could not travel.

"I became frantic and I ordered abortion pills online," she explained to Catholic News Service.

She broke down in front of a colleague. "I told her my feelings of hopelessness and (of) the pills that were on the way. She told me she would have given anything to have been able to become pregnant, because all her children were adopted. 'You can do this,' she said. At that moment, those small words of encouragement were all that I needed to hear."

Holly arrived Nov. 19, 2013. Kenny continued with her college studies and has since secured a degree in technical communications and electronic learning at the University of Limerick.

Addressing the rally on May 12, Kenny said: "We know that at least 100,000 lives have been saved by the Eighth Amendment. We meet so many women that regret their abortions, but nobody regrets having their child."

While polls indicate that the "yes" campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment currently polls at 45 percent of voters, the gap between the two sides has been narrowing in recent weeks, with 34 percent saying "no" and 18 percent of voters still undecided. Nearly 4 percent gave no opinion.

Gavin Boyne, 20, a student of philosophy at Trinity College Dublin, told CNS he is strongly opposed to a repeal of the Eighth Amendment, which he believes saved him from being aborted.

"I have heard the pro-choice side argue that abortion should be legal in less-than-ideal conceptions," he told CNS. "I am the prime example of a less-than-ideal conception. My mother was 16 and got pregnant after a one-night stand. That is not ideal, but does that make me less valuable as a human being?"

Warning that repealing the Eighth is stripping unborn babies of their humanity, Boyne said a "yes" vote would suggest that "choice and convenience take precedence over human life, and that is a very slippery slope to go down. We have seen cases in the past where a certain group of people has been dehumanized and anything then was permissible."

On campus, he has found "a very strong 'yes' presence." Many students are "very hostile and aggressive," but he said he worries that "they have been fed soundbites, not facts."

Someone else who knows the challenge of being pro-life on campus is 21-year-old Katie Ascough. She was impeached as University College Dublin's Students Union president over her decision, following legal advice, to remove information from the student union handbook on procuring an abortion.

Ascough, a graduate in medicinal chemistry and chemical biology, told CNS, "My impeachment, if nothing else -- it highlighted the issue of freedom of speech in our country, especially on college campuses."

Tracy Harkin's fifth child was diagnosed at birth with Trisomy 13, a severe life-limiting condition.

"We were told at that time that she was incompatible with life and that over 90 percent (of) children diagnosed with this don't make to a year old. But Kathleen has defied all medical expectations, and she is still with us today at 11 years of age. She is our little miracle," said Harkin, 43, of County Down.

Harkin is a member of the support group Every Life Counts, which assists parents whose children are diagnosed with a life-limiting condition. If the referendum passes, she believes the impact on children with a disability will be dramatic.

"Unborn children with special needs will be eradicated. It is heart-breaking for me, because I think special needs people bring so much to our families and our communities; they are a blessing. They teach us how to love and they bring out the best in us," Harkin said.

"There will be huge pressure on parents if they get a diagnosis of disability. In Britain, 90 percent of babies with Down syndrome are aborted, and with no time limits. What does that say about the value of disabled people in our society? It is really worrying -- we have got to prevent that happening."

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Parishes grow only when people are welcomed, heard, pope says

Top Stories - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 11:08am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) -- After months of study and discussion, the parishes of the Diocese of Rome have recognized "a general and healthy exhaustion" with doing the same things over and over, touching the lives of fewer and fewer people as time goes on, Pope Francis said.

Changing the way parishes -- and their priests and involved laity -- operate will not be easy, the pope said, but members of the diocese must set out to follow the Lord more closely, deal with the reality in their neighborhoods and learn how to show everyone living within the parish boundaries that they are recognized and loved.

Pope Francis addressed some 1,700 diocesan leaders, both clergy and laity, May 14 at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the diocese of Rome.

In the process of identifying the "spiritual illnesses" of the diocese, the pope said, the priests and parish leaders made it clear that they are tired of being content with what they have been doing for years.

A renewed outreach, the pope said, must begin by "learning to discern where God already is present in very ordinary forms of holiness and communion with him."

There are people in the parishes, he said, who might not know their catechism, but they see the basic interactions in their lives through a lens of faith and hope.

Calling for a "revolution of tenderness" in parishes and the diocese, Pope Francis said that while "guiding a Christian community is the specific task of the ordained minister -- the pastor -- pastoral care is based in baptism and blossoms from brotherhood and is not the task only of the pastor and priests, but of all the baptized."

The pope's speech marked his formal reception of a diocesan report on "spiritual illnesses" afflicting the city. Through a process that began in Lent, parishes identified the main challenges as "the economy of exclusion, selfish laziness, comfortable individualism, wars among us, sterile pessimism and spiritual worldliness," according to a statement from the diocese.

The priest who summarized the findings at the evening meeting told the pope that a lack of education in the faith was identified by many of the groups; that lack was seen regarding basic church teachings but also regarding how the Gospel and its values could be brought to bear on modern problems.

Pope Francis told them the process of identifying the problems had two benefits: a recognition of "the truth about our condition as being in need, sick," but, at the same time, a recognition that even if people have failed, God is still present and is calling his people to come together and to move forward.

"Our parishes," he said, "must be capable of generating a people, that is, of offering and creating relationships where people feel that they are known, recognized, welcomed, listened to, loved -- in other words, not anonymous parts of a whole."

To move forward, he said, Catholic communities must look at "the slaveries -- the illnesses -- that have ended up making us sterile."

Often, he said, parishes are slaves to doing things the ways they always have been done and to investing time and energy in projects and programs that no longer meet the needs of the people.

"We must listen without fear to the thirst for God and to the cry that rises from the people of Rome, asking ourselves how that cry expresses the need for salvation, for God," he said. "How many of the things that emerged from your studies express that cry, the invocation that God show himself and help us escape the impression that our life is useless and almost robbed by the frenzy of things that must be done and by time that keeps slipping through out hands?"

Too often, he said, evangelization also is stifled by "faith understood only as things to do and not as a liberation that renews us at every step."

Pope Francis asked the diocesan leaders to dedicate the next year to "a sort of preparation of your backpacks" for setting off on a multiyear process that would lead to a "new land," a place marked by new pastoral action that is "more responsive to the mission and needs of Romans today, but also more creative and liberating for priests and those who directly collaborate in their mission and in the building up of the Christian community."


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Graduates urged to proclaim 'a new American story' of 'holiness, heroism'

Top Stories - Mon, 05/14/2018 - 4:56pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Dana Rene Bowler, courtesy The Catholic University of America

By Maureen Boyle

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The American story began with the Catholic missionaries who first shaped the nation with the Gospel and proclaimed the dignity of all, a truth the class of 2018 must share to the betterment our country.

That was the message Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez imparted to more than 1,600 new graduates of The Catholic University of America May 12.

"America's founders -- including Padre (St. Junipero) Serra -- dreamed of a nation where men and women from every race, religion and national background could live in equality," the archbishop said in remarks during the university's 129th annual commencement exercises held on the east steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, university chancellor, offered the ceremony's invocation.

"Their vision helped make this a great nation, exceptional in human history -- blessed with freedom and committed to sharing our blessings with the whole human race," said Archbishop Gomez, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, and a member of the university's board of trustees.

Since 2011, he has led the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest archdiocese in the United States, where he has focused his ministry on marriage and family, vocations, immigration and end-of-life issues.

Archbishop Gomez told the graduates that American society is divided and facing challenges, not related to demographics, technology or globalization, but rather a crisis of identity.

"America has lost her way because we have lost the threads of our national story. We no longer know who we are as a people or what our national purpose is," he said. "I say this is our biggest challenge because unless we know who we are and what we are here for, we will never be able to set the right priorities or find the right solutions to the many challenges we face."

To overcome these obstacles, he urged the class of 2018 to proclaim a new American story, one of "holiness and heroism," he said. "We need a new narrative that will define us and hold us together as one people with a common purpose."

He said America is "alive in her saints -- and we have so many! Mystics and missionaries; martyrs and immigrants; refugees and exiles. They came from everywhere to share their gifts and make this country what she was meant to be, a light to nations."

Archbishop Gomez was joined by four other immigrants who were receiving honorary degrees. Those honorees included Toufic Baaklini, president and chairman of the board of the nonprofit organization In Defense of Christians; Maria (Mary) Suarez Hamm, who served as the longtime executive director of Centro Tepeyac, a pro-life pregnancy aid center in Silver Spring, Maryland, and is a staff member of the Archdiocese of Washington's Office of Worship; Dina Katabi, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Ray Mahmood, founder of the Mahmood Investment Corp.

Archbishop Gomez spoke of the "litany of American saints," such as Henriette Delille; Mother Marianne Cope; Dorothy Day; Thomas Merton; Black Elk, a Lakota Sioux mystic and Catholic catechist; and Father Augustus Tolton, a freed slave and the nation's first African-American priest.

But he went on to say, the saints he knew from his tradition came from simple neighborhoods, parishes and families. "They are the hidden saints, saints of everyday -- holy wives, holy husbands, working hard to do what is right, sacrificing for their children; being good friends and good neighbors; serving the poor and working to make their communities stronger," Archbishop Gomez said. "We need to hold these people up as examples. Tell their stories. We need to try and be like them in our own lives."

He also recalled the life of Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Blessed Sacrament, a sainthood candidate. A refugee from the anti-Catholic Mexican persecutions of the 1920s, she became a religious sister and servant of the poor in Los Angeles.

"Mother Luisita used to tell everyone, 'For greater things we were born.' My friends, this is the meaning of our lives. This is the meaning of America."

"America's founders -- the missionaries and statesmen -- they knew this truth. They knew that we belong to a story that began long before us, the story of our Creator. They knew that we are born with a dignity and destiny that can never be denied," Archbishop Gomez said. "No matter who we are. Or where we came from. Or how we got here."

The American story, he said, is neither over nor naive, but one that continues to be written in one's daily life with God's help and protection, through decisions made and treating others with the charity of Christ.

"My prayer for you is that you will write a story that is filled with goodness, love and service; with prayer and thanks for simple gifts. I pray that you will always seek to know what is right -- and have the courage to do it," he told the graduates as they embark on a new chapter in their lives.

"We can still open the door with confidence to people who are yearning to breathe free. We can still practice politics with malice toward none and charity for all. We are made for greater things," said Archbishop Gomez in closing his remarks.

Catholic University President John Garvey also addressed the class of 2018, speaking on the Christian virtue of hospitality, inspired by the Rule of St. Benedict, which states: "Let all guests be received as Christ."

Referring to biblical stories about "entertaining angels unaware," Garvey encouraged the graduates to practice hospitality in their own lives by opening their hearts to new people and looking at those who are different with friendship instead of fear.

"It's a good virtue to begin life with," he said. "You will make some friends. You will bring an open heart to the responsibilities of citizenship. You will build a loving home. And there you might some day receive Christ."

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Boyle writes for the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Chilean bishop says mistakes were made in handling abuse cases

Top Stories - Mon, 05/14/2018 - 4:28pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A Chilean bishop acknowledged the damage inflicted on survivors of clerical sex abuse and the mishandling of cases by church leaders in the country.

"I am not saying that perhaps we have made mistakes. We have made mistakes," said Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez Errazuriz of San Bernardo.

Bishop Gonzalez, along with Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos Perez of Santiago, met with journalists May 14 on the eve of a three-day meeting between Pope Francis and 34 Chilean bishops.

The bishops are meeting at the Vatican May 15-17 to discuss with Pope Francis their handling of clerical sex abuse allegations.

Echoing Pope Francis' April 11 letter to the Chilean bishops, Bishop Ramos told journalists that the bishops felt "pain and shame" for the abuses committed.

"Receiving information that sexual abuses occurred in our community left many people in shock, because it is something that is unacceptable, intolerable, unjustifiable from every point of view," Bishop Ramos said.

When asked whether they intend to follow the pope's lead and ask forgiveness of survivors, Bishop Ramos said attending to the wounds inflicted upon "victims is a great, moral imperative."

"As Jesus said, we must ask forgiveness seven times 70. We are completely willing to ask forgiveness, but we also hope that forgiveness (can) be restorative," he said.

Recently, three Chilean abuse survivors who met with Pope Francis strongly criticized the bishops, accusing them of misinforming the pope on the reality of sexual abuse in the country.

Pope Francis invited Juan Carlos Cruz, Jose Andres Murillo and James Hamilton to stay at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican residence where he lives, and to meet with him individually April 27-29. They met him again as a group April 30.

Briefing journalists May 2 on their meeting with the pope, the survivors read a joint statement saying that for "10 years we have been treated as enemies, because we fight against sexual abuse and cover-up in the church."

Cruz said he told the pope how he was demonized by Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, and his successor, Cardinal Riccardo Ezzati, in a leaked email between the two prelates. Although media reports initially reported Cardinal Errazuriz would not attend the meeting, he boarded a plane May 13 from Santiago and landed in Rome.

Cruz said he told Pope Francis "how these two men lacked respect toward a person, which was known because they did the same to Jimmy (Hamilton) and Jose (Murillo). They called me a 'serpent,' they called me everything. I told the Holy Father, and he said he was hurt," Cruz said.

When asked whether they also received an apology from the bishops of Chile, Cruz said: "Pope Francis asked forgiveness for himself and on behalf of the universal church. The bishops of Chile don't know how to ask for forgiveness."

Bishop Gonzalez told journalists that victims must remain at the center of the upcoming discussions. He also said that he met with countless victims in his diocese and "knew the survivors that met with the Holy Father."

Shortly after the press conference, Cruz tweeted: "I've never seen him before in my life. The truth according to the bishops of Chile is very different from what we all have lived."

"My conclusion regarding the press conference of the Chilean bishops -- (Bishops) Ramos and Gonzalez -- is that they are great actors, who see a reality and a truth totally different from what common people see, and they should return to the planet from where they came," Cruz said in a follow-up tweet.

Several Chilean bishops arrived earlier in the day at Rome's Fiumicino airport for the upcoming meeting with Pope Francis.

Upon his arrival, Bishop Christian Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt told journalists: "I wouldn't say that there is a church in crisis. I would say that there is a serious problem that must be confronted, but not a church in crisis."

However, in a statement May 12, the Vatican press office said Pope Francis was concerned by the "circumstances and extraordinary challenges posed by abuses of power -- sexual and of conscience -- that have occurred in the last decades."

The pope "considers it necessary to profoundly examine the causes and consequences, as well as the mechanisms that in some cases led to a cover-up and serious omissions regarding the victims," the Vatican said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

 

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Chilean bishop says mistakes were made in handling abuse cases

Top Stories - Mon, 05/14/2018 - 4:28pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A Chilean bishop acknowledged the damage inflicted on survivors of clerical sex abuse and the mishandling of cases by church leaders in the country.

"I am not saying that perhaps we have made mistakes. We have made mistakes," said Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez Errazuriz of San Bernardo.

Bishop Gonzalez, along with Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos Perez of Santiago, met with journalists May 14 on the eve of a three-day meeting between Pope Francis and 34 Chilean bishops.

The bishops are meeting at the Vatican May 15-17 to discuss with Pope Francis their handling of clerical sex abuse allegations.

Echoing Pope Francis' April 11 letter to the Chilean bishops, Bishop Ramos told journalists that the bishops felt "pain and shame" for the abuses committed.

"Receiving information that sexual abuses occurred in our community left many people in shock, because it is something that is unacceptable, intolerable, unjustifiable from every point of view," Bishop Ramos said.

When asked whether they intend to follow the pope's lead and ask forgiveness of survivors, Bishop Ramos said attending to the wounds inflicted upon "victims is a great, moral imperative."

"As Jesus said, we must ask forgiveness seven times 70. We are completely willing to ask forgiveness, but we also hope that forgiveness (can) be restorative," he said.

Recently, three Chilean abuse survivors who met with Pope Francis strongly criticized the bishops, accusing them of misinforming the pope on the reality of sexual abuse in the country.

Pope Francis invited Juan Carlos Cruz, Jose Andres Murillo and James Hamilton to stay at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican residence where he lives, and to meet with him individually April 27-29. They met him again as a group April 30.

Briefing journalists May 2 on their meeting with the pope, the survivors read a joint statement saying that for "10 years we have been treated as enemies, because we fight against sexual abuse and cover-up in the church."

Cruz said he told the pope how he was demonized by Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, and his successor, Cardinal Riccardo Ezzati, in a leaked email between the two prelates. Although media reports initially reported Cardinal Errazuriz would not attend the meeting, he boarded a plane May 13 from Santiago and landed in Rome.

Cruz said he told Pope Francis "how these two men lacked respect toward a person, which was known because they did the same to Jimmy (Hamilton) and Jose (Murillo). They called me a 'serpent,' they called me everything. I told the Holy Father, and he said he was hurt," Cruz said.

When asked whether they also received an apology from the bishops of Chile, Cruz said: "Pope Francis asked forgiveness for himself and on behalf of the universal church. The bishops of Chile don't know how to ask for forgiveness."

Bishop Gonzalez told journalists that victims must remain at the center of the upcoming discussions. He also said that he met with countless victims in his diocese and "knew the survivors that met with the Holy Father."

Shortly after the press conference, Cruz tweeted: "I've never seen him before in my life. The truth according to the bishops of Chile is very different from what we all have lived."

"My conclusion regarding the press conference of the Chilean bishops -- (Bishops) Ramos and Gonzalez -- is that they are great actors, who see a reality and a truth totally different from what common people see, and they should return to the planet from where they came," Cruz said in a follow-up tweet.

Several Chilean bishops arrived earlier in the day at Rome's Fiumicino airport for the upcoming meeting with Pope Francis.

Upon his arrival, Bishop Christian Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt told journalists: "I wouldn't say that there is a church in crisis. I would say that there is a serious problem that must be confronted, but not a church in crisis."

However, in a statement May 12, the Vatican press office said Pope Francis was concerned by the "circumstances and extraordinary challenges posed by abuses of power -- sexual and of conscience -- that have occurred in the last decades."

The pope "considers it necessary to profoundly examine the causes and consequences, as well as the mechanisms that in some cases led to a cover-up and serious omissions regarding the victims," the Vatican said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

 

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Dozens killed in protests as U.S. embassy inaugurated in Jerusalem

Top Stories - Mon, 05/14/2018 - 1:44pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa, Reuters

By Judith Sudilovsky

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- As the new United States embassy was inaugurated in Jerusalem May 14, violence broke out between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers.

International media reported that in Gaza, at least 52 people were killed, including five under the age of 18, and some 2,000 were injured. The death toll was expected to rise.

Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital and now feel that the U.S. cannot be a fair broker in the peace process with Israel.

Many Israelis see opening the embassy as the long-awaited official recognition of Jerusalem as their capital and the fulfillment of a promise made by numerous U.S. presidents to move the building from Tel Aviv.

Israel accuses many of the protesters of being members of Hamas and of using Palestinians as pawns in the violent protests along the Gaza border, which began March 30. The Israeli Defense Forces has said that numerous protesters have been caught trying to break through the border fence that imprisons them, and fire-lit kites sent by Palestinians across the border have caused millions of dollars of damage to crops when they have landed on Israeli farmland.

At St. Joseph Parish in Jifna, West Bank, May 14, Father Firas Aridah tolled bells at noon to mourn those injured and killed in clashes, to mark the commemoration of the day Palestinians call al-Naqba -- their catastrophe -- and to lament the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence; Palestinians commemorate that 250,000-300,000 Arabs living in the British mandate of Palestine were forced off their lands and homes at the time.

"Jerusalem is at the heart of the conflict," he said. "Opening the American embassy without resolving the conflict is going to the extreme. They can resolve the conflict of Jerusalem and then do whatever they want. But why just move the embassy to Jerusalem without resolving the conflict?"

The priest said although parishes in the Holy Land tell their parishioners to resist occupation by educating themselves and preparing for the future, people in Gaza see no future. He said he can stress to his school's Christian and Muslim students that throwing stones is not worth dying for, but people in Gaza are desperate.

"They don't have anything to lose," he said. "They are not living in dignity."

On May 15 Palestinians will mark a moment of silence in commemoration of the Naqba, much like the Israelis did a month early on the Hebrew anniversary of Israeli independence.

Father Aridah said he would light candles with his parishioners following 6 p.m. Mass May 15 and have a silent march to the center of the village. He expects the demonstrations, including throughout the West Bank, to continue for some time.

In a statement released May 14, Pax Christi International said it recognized the 70th anniversary of two historic events this year: the 70th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel and the Naqba.

"These two events are forever interconnected. Pax Christi members and partners will once again stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, especially those who, after seven decades, remain refugees, as they mark this solemn anniversary," said the statement. It called for the right of return and/or compensation for Palestinian refugees as a prerequisite for a just and fair Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, for which Pax Christi said an increased commitment from the international community is "urgently necessary."

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Volcano's lava flow displaces members of one Hawaii parish

Top Stories - Fri, 05/11/2018 - 4:55pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/USGS, handout via Reuters

By Patrick Downes

HONOLULU (CNS) -- In addition to offering prayers, the Catholic Church is stepping into action on behalf of hundreds of residents displaced from a fierce and unpredictable volcanic eruption.

Members of Sacred Heart Parish in the town of Pahoa in the Puna District of the island of Hawaii -- known colloquially as the Big Island -- are opening their hearts, their homes and their parish hall to those forced to flee the lava flowing from cracks in the ground in their neighborhood.

Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu has visited and offered his assistance.

Local Catholic service agencies are working with victims, coordinating aid efforts, and collecting and distributing funds.

About 1,700 people reside in Leilani Estates, a rural subdivision of acre-sized lots on a grid of about 22 miles of roads, where at least 15 fissures have opened up since May 3 spewing molten rock and poisonous sulfur dioxide gas. A Hawaii County evacuation order sent subdivision residents packing shortly after the eruption began.

According to Hawaii County Civil Defense, 36 structures, including 26 homes, already have been destroyed by lava from the 2.5-mile-long fissure system, the newest outflow from Kilauea Volcano, which has been erupting since 1983. Lava so far has covered more than 115 acres.

During pauses in the volcanic activity, residents have been allowed to return to their homes to retrieve belongings.

Some are staying at two county evacuation centers. Sacred Heart parishioners are being taken in by fellow parish members, according to parish administrator Father Ernesto Juarez.

"Parishioners are opening up their homes," he told the Hawaii Catholic Herald, Honolulu's diocesan newspaper.

Bishop Silva was at the parish May 5-6, the weekend the eruption started, for a previously arranged episcopal visitation and to administer the sacrament of confirmation.

With hundreds of small earthquakes predicting volcanic activity, the bishop had offered to reschedule his visit, but Father Juarez, after consulting with some of his parishioners, decided to proceed as planned.

"I was happy to be there with them during that time," the bishop said.

"I was actually surprised how normal life seemed in Pahoa, despite the eruption that was taking place in the parish boundaries," the bishop said. "I did not detect any panic or great anxiety."

He said he could see from the church the plume of smoke from the eruption site.

Several people told him that evacuees who were parish members did not have to use the county-run emergency shelters "because they were offered hospitality by fellow parishioners."

Bishop Silva said that the diocese's three social service agencies -- Office of Social Ministries, HOPE Services Hawaii and Catholic Charities Hawaii -- "have all been involved in the situation."

"I asked them to keep me informed to see if there was anything I could do or if there were any services of the diocese that needed to be mobilized," he said.

The bishop was told that immediate needs for shelter, food and clothing were being addressed locally, but that "long-term needs may require help from outside the community."

"We will continue to monitor the situation and will let people in the diocese know if there are any specific ways they can help," he said.

Father Juarez volunteered the parish hall as a crisis information center.

At the center, which is open weekday, evacuees from the Leilani Estates and the smaller Lanipuna Gardens subdivision connect with personnel from Hawaii County and social service agencies for information or to apply for assistance. Participating organizations include Child and Family Services, The Food Basket, Catholic Charities Hawaii and HOPE Services Hawaii.

HOPE Services Hawaii, which deals primarily with homelessness on the Big Island, has deployed several staff members who, with others, are collecting data on evacuated households to determine their needs. As of May 10, the agency had gathered information on nearly 300 households.

"Quite a bit of people need everything," said Brandee Menino, HOPE Services Hawaii chief executive officer, who is coordinating the data collection. "They are checking all the boxes -- food, shelter, permanent housing, transportation."

Other families have temporarily settled in with family and friends, but will have needs down the road, she said. Some hope to eventually go back home.

"We're still only days in and it looks like this is going to be a long one," Menino said.

She added some of the agencies involved cover financial assistance, food, shelter, counseling, case management, physical and mental health, clothing, legal assistance and animal care.

HOPE Services has already given out some rent assistance.

In a message to Big Island parishes, Catholic Charities Hawaii's Hawaii Island Community Director Elizabeth Murph said housing needs are a looming concern, in particular for those with mortgages to pay on houses they no longer have access to.

She said besides stable housing, other immediate needs include counseling, clothing, and gift cards for groceries, household items and gas.

Catholic Charities Hawaii has asked the public for monetary donations to be used for direct housing assistance for the victims of both the Kilauea eruption and April's historic flooding on Kauai.

Donations will go toward temporary housing subsidies, emergency home repairs and other related needs.

"Funds will be immediately available" to victims, Murph said, compared to money from other organizations distributed through a lengthy grant process.

Father Juarez, who has been at the parish for less than a year, visited the main evacuation shelter in Pahoa May 7. Several hundred people are being temporarily housed there.

He was joined by former pastor Jesuit Father Mike Scully, parish religious education director Maila Naiga and parishioners Liz Morgan and Roberta Vangoethem.

"We talked to them, shared stories, offering comfort, letting them know that there are people who have great concern about their plight," Father Juarez said.

The parish is bringing back into action its Disaster Assistance Relief Team, which was mobilized when Tropical Storm Iselle ravaged the east side of the Big Island in 2014, and later that same year when a lava flow threatened Pahoa.

At an East Hawaii vicariate meeting May 8, Father Juarez said, some of his fellow Big Island priests offered their parishes for "refuge." At the meeting the priest gathered rosaries, Bibles and holy water to be distributed at the evacuation center.

Father Juarez said his church, which is three-and-a-half miles from the eruption, is not in any immediate danger.

"We are safe in Pahoa as of now but we are always reminded to be vigilant," he said.

"We still need prayers," he added. "The eruption is unpredictable."

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Downes is editor of the Hawaii Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Honolulu.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Bishops discuss how their moms gave practical, spiritual help

Top Stories - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 5:08pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Erik Shanabrough

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Just in time for Mother's Day, a handful of bishops shared memories of their moms on a recent podcast by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The bishops, interviewed on the "Made for Love" podcast, which is part of the USCCB's Marriage Unique for a Reason website, spoke about what they admired about their mothers or how their mothers challenged or supported them over the years. The podcast is available here: https://soundcloud.com/usccbclips/made-for-love-ep-12-bishops-have-moms-too.

Two bishops spoke about how hard it was for their mothers to see them leave home. Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, left at age 13 for the seminary and even though his mom wasn't ready for him to leave, she told him: "If this is what God wants for you, you have my support." Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, said he didn't want to leave the comfort of home to go to kindergarten when he was young, but then the tables were turned not too many years later when his mom didn't want him to leave for boarding school.

The bishops, interviewed by Sara Perla, a USCCB program specialist, spoke about the practical and spiritual ways their moms helped them.

Auxiliary Bishop George J. Rassas of Chicago said his mom drilled him in Latin so he could be an altar server. Bishop Michael J. Sis of San Angelo, Texas, remembered the time he had been hit in mouth by a bat in a neighborhood baseball game and his mother picked him up and carried him to the dentist office a few blocks away. It was something he describes as "a wonderful illustration of her care for me as a mother -- that she would drop everything and care for me."

The bishops didn't sentimentalize motherhood either. Bishop Gregory J. Mansour of the Maronite Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, New York, who was one of six children, said his mother told him when he was older about a time she took all the children to church and was crying in prayer saying: "God, I can't do this ... I need your help."

The bishop said that as a kid he experienced so much love that never imagined his mom was struggling and had no idea what she was going through.

When he was ordained in Lebanon he said he expressed -- in what he describes as the "poorest Arabic possible" -- gratitude to his mother and encouragement to all mothers emphasizing that every challenge was worth it.

When his mom went back to school and graduated in eight years for a two-year degree -- because she was still busy at home -- he and his proud siblings cheered, "Go mom! Go mom!"

And that cheering goes both ways. When Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, told his mother he was going to be a priest he said she was "so happy she couldn't speak," as if she were 10 St. Monica's -- the mother of St. Augustine -- "rolled up in one."

He has high words of praise for his mother too, saying she was saint-like for telling him the truth, holding him accountable, challenging him, not just cuddling him and never turning her back on him.

"My mother is the best living example of any person that I have ever met in my life for whom I never doubted for a moment that she loved me," he said.

He said when he got into a fight with an older bully -- as he describes an encounter when he was about 11 or 12 in his Brooklyn neighborhood -- his mom found out about it within minutes and wanted to know what happened and if he was OK.

Years later, when he was accepted at a different Catholic high school from his friends -- with no tuition -- he wasn't initially happy there and wasn't doing well academically. His mom sat him down and told him he had to give the school his best shot and only if he didn't like it after that could he attend another school.

He stayed and he loved it, he says in the podcast, but it wasn't the only tough conversation he would have with his mother because as he put it: "I did some stupid things growing up and she was as angry as they come, but she never stopped loving me."

One proof of her love and pride is that her favorite video, that she would watch every other day, was of his ordination.

The bishop's mom, Gennarina, died in 2011, but she gave the bishop food for thought on the relationship that would be been uniquely shared by Mary and Jesus. He said that after she said: "Do what he tells you" about Jesus, Mary said nothing else that was recorded.

Bishop Caggiano said you can imagine how many people came up to her to ask if they could talk to Jesus.

"Of course, go!" he said she would say.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

States bordering Gulf of Mexico rank at, near bottom of new index

Top Stories - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 11:56am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Larry W. Smith, EPA

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Everything gets ranked these days, from burger joints to colleges. States are no different.

But the state of some states is quite different from their counterparts.

An area called the "Gulf South" -- the five states bordering the Gulf of Mexico -- rank at or near the bottom of the JustSouth Index issued by the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University New Orleans. Those states are Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

The index, which debuted last year, looks at poverty, racial disparity and immigrant exclusion -- areas that the study's originators saw as important from the viewpoint of Catholic social teaching. The index looked at three aspects of each area before arriving at its rankings.

"Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas earned spots in the bottom six rankings" overall, said the study, which was unveiled May 2 at the Capitol. This is an improvement over the first year of the rankings, when they were in the bottom four.

Florida, which had been 41st in the first index, moved up six spots to 35th. But the Sunshine State shouldn't pat itself on the back quite yet; it finished dead last in poverty.

Louisiana finished 50th in racial disparity and 47th in immigrant exclusion; while Mississippi finished ahead of only Florida in poverty, and Texas wound up 50th in immigrant exclusion and 48th in poverty.

Jesuit Father Fred Kammer, director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute, said: "Sadly, the Gulf South states continue to lag far behind many others in promoting integral human development for their residents, even though there are some marginal changes in one indicator or another."

Progress, though, need not be incremental or Sisyphus-like. From last year's index to this year's, big leaps were not impossible. Wyoming soared from 24th to second, while Alaska moved from 28th to seventh, and Wisconsin leapt from 33rd to 16th. Likewise, Connecticut dropped from fifth to 20th, Utah slid from 17th to 33rd, and South Dakota slumped from 15th to 43rd.

The three indicators for the poverty ranking were the average income of poor households, health insurance coverage for the poor and housing affordability. For racial disparity, the indicators were public school integration, white-minority wage equity and white-minority employment equity. The immigrant exclusion indicators were immigrant youth outcomes, immigrants' English proficiency and health insurance coverage of immigrants.

"The Gulf South has an unmistakable legacy of discrimination and marginalization toward people of color. The disproportionate advantages for white Americans in relation to persons of color in virtually every sphere of life illustrate the deep divisions that exist despite the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the election of the first African-American president," the study said.

Father Kammer said May 2 the region's legacy of slavery and racial discrimination contributes to unequal outcomes for whites and nonwhites.

Lane Windham, associate director of Georgetown University's Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, added the region "has the lowest union density" in the country. "People with union jobs make better wages," she declared, noting the history of employers who have moved production to the nonunion South to avoid unions and to pay workers less.

Poverty remains a grinding, draining issue in the region. "In 1996, 68 of every 100 poor families received TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) benefits and in 2014, just 23 of every 100 poor families were receiving benefits," the report said. "The maximum TANF monthly benefit for a single-parent family of three in Mississippi is $170 compared to $653 in Wisconsin and $789 in New York."

The region also has fared poorly in adapting to growing numbers of immigrants.

"States in the Gulf South have experienced a significant influx of immigrants into their workforces in recent years and have not yet made adequate adjustments to their social, economic, and political systems in order to promote justice and dignity for immigrant residents," the report said. "In addition, the Gulf South's treatment of immigrants is colored by a history of discrimination against Hispanics and African-Americans."

Immigrants face other forms of discrimination as well, according to the report. "In Texas, schools districts that have experienced an influx of students with limited English proficiency have had difficulty providing effective services to students because the school finance system does not take into consideration the true costs of providing quality language services to immigrant children," it said.

"Some businesses will attempt to reduce costs by classifying immigrants as contract, temporary, or part-time workers to avoid offering benefits," it continued. "Not only are these practices harmful to immigrant workers and families but also are not in the long-term interest of the employer, because workers who have health insurance are more present, productive and committed to their jobs."

On another score, "public school segregation contributes to second-class schools where quality is low and resources are scarce. Additionally, gaps in employment and earnings stemming from racial and ethnic differences embody discriminatory practices and limit the economic opportunities of people of color to the benefit of their white neighbors," the report said, noting that after federal supervision of public-school districts was eased, more minority students were educated in schools that were predominantly minority-majority.

While the index pointed out flaws in states' practices, it also offered policy prescriptions.

States and school districts, it said, "should increase the share of resources allocated to schools serving a large percentage of minority students. Additional funding would allow those schools to attract and retain high-quality teachers, and provide critical support services for at-risk students."

It added, "States can create incentive housing zones in which developers could request a project-based subsidy from the state for a specified number of affordable rental units developed within the zone."

Another relatively easy fix: expanding Medicaid.

"The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provided an option for state leaders to expand the Medicaid program, largely funded with federal dollars, to provide coverage to the poorest persons in the state," the report said. "Nineteen states, including four in the Gulf South region, have chosen not to do so."

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Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison

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