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Updated: 47 min 53 sec ago

Ex-Vatican diplomat found guilty of distributing child porn

Sat, 06/23/2018 - 9:37am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A Vatican court found Msgr. Carlo Alberto Capella, a former staff member at the Vatican nunciature in Washington, guilty of possessing and distributing child pornography.

Judge Giuseppe Della Torre, head of the tribunal of the Vatican City State, delivered the verdict June 23, and sentenced Msgr. Capella to five years in prison and fined him 5,000 euro ($5,833).

The Vatican press office said he would serve his sentence in a Vatican cell located in the building of the Gendarme Corps of Vatican City State, as the Vatican police force is formally known.

It is presumed to be the same cell prepared for Paolo Gabriele, the former papal butler who leaked reserved papal correspondence in 2012, and Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda, former secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, who was found guilty of leaking confidential documents about the Vatican's financial reform in 2016.

Both Gabriele and Vallejo Balda were pardoned after serving a few months of their sentences.

Msgr. Capella was accused of having and exchanging with others "a large quantity" of child pornography; the quantity is such that the charges are considered "aggravated" by the Vatican City court.

Prior to verdict, the judges presiding over the case listened to Vatican prosecutor Roberto Zanotti who recommended the court sentence the Italian prelate to five years and nine months and fine him 10,000 euro ($11,668).

Roberto Borgogno, Msgr. Capella's lawyer, pleaded with the court to give the monsignor a reduced sentence and referred to his client's crimes as "a problem" that required intense therapy and not a heavy sentence.

Before adjourning in the morning, Msgr. Capella addressed the court, saying that the "mistakes I have made are evident as well as this period of weakness. I am sorry that my weakness has hurt the church, the Holy See and my diocese. I also hurt my family and I am repentant."

Referring to his possession and distribution of child pornography as "a bump in the road in my priestly life," the former Vatican diplomat said that he wants to continue receiving "psychological support."

The Vatican press office said a decision regarding Msgr. Capella by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith would be made at a later date. The congregation's investigations of clerical sexual abuse cases is separate from how those cases are handled by criminal courts.

The U.S. State Department notified the Holy See Aug. 21 of Msgr. Capella's possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images. The 50-year-old Italian monsignor had been working in Washington just over a year when he was recalled to the Vatican.

On Sept. 28, police in Canada issued a nationwide arrest warrant for Msgr. Capella on charges of accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography.

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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.

Trial begins for ex-Vatican diplomat accused of distributing child porn

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 3:57pm

IMAGE: CNS

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A former staff member at the Vatican nunciature in Washington, accused of possessing and distributing child pornography, admitted his guilt to a Vatican court and said he had never engaged in such behavior before his assignment in the U.S. capital.

"This kind of morbidness was never a part of my priestly life," Msgr. Carlo Alberto Capella told a courtroom June 22.

Vatican City State's criminal court issued an indictment June 9 against the prelate, who has been held in a jail cell in the Vatican police barracks since April 9.

Msgr. Capella is accused of having and exchanging with others "a large quantity" of child pornography; the quantity is such that the charges are considered "aggravated" by the Vatican City court.

The U.S. State Department notified the Holy See Aug. 21 of Msgr. Capella's possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images. The 50-year-old Italian monsignor had been working in Washington just over a year when he was recalled to the Vatican.

On Sept. 28, police in Canada issued a nationwide arrest warrant for Msgr. Capella on charges of accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography.

Recounting his diplomatic career at the Vatican, the Italian prelate told the court that after several years in India, Hong Kong and the Vatican Secretariat of State, he was unhappy about his assignment to the nunciature in Washington.

He said that "out of respect to the hierarchy, out of sense of duty and to not create problems, instead of making my discomfort known to them, I thanked them for the transfer."

The monsignor told the court that he felt "empty" and "useless" in his first four months at the Washington nunciature and initially used the internet for news and funny images.

In April 2016, Msgr. Capella started using the social microblogging site Tumblr to search for images when he started to see pornographic images. He said this led to conversations on the site's chat feature to engage in lewd conversations and exchange more perverse child pornographic images.

Gianluca Gauzzi, deputy commissioner of the Vatican police and a computer engineer, later testified that 40-55 photos, videos and Japanese comics depicting adult-child relationships were found or recovered from cellphones, USB drives and hard drives belonging to Msgr. Capella.

One video uncovered from the prelate's cellphone, Gauzzi told the courtroom, depicted sexual acts between a child and an adult.

Tommaso Parisi, a psychiatrist, told the courtroom he began treating Msgr. Capella in October and that the prelate has been cooperative and responded well to treatment twice a week.

Msgr. Capella was born in Carpi, Italy, and ordained to the priesthood in 1993 for the Archdiocese of Milan. After studying at the Vatican diplomatic academy in Rome, he entered the Vatican diplomatic service in 2004. He was assigned to the Washington nunciature in the summer of 2016.

Giuseppe Dalla Torre, president of the tribunal of Vatican City State, announced that the trial will continue June 23.

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Update: As immigration woes rise, lawmakers can't agree on solutions

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 11:40am

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Jason Miller, Franciscan Action Network

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Bipartisan disagreement on how to fix the country's immigration system led to failure once again as lawmakers on Capitol Hill turned down one immigration bill June 21 and postponed a vote on a second proposal, which also has a slim opportunity of passing.

Each side blamed the other for the failure to advance the first piece of legislation, which did not clear the initial hurdle of passing in the House of Representatives.

The remaining proposal, seen as a "compromise" bill, seeks to find a way to help youth brought to the country illegally as minors and a $25 million advance for a wall along the border with Mexico, a major campaign and yet-unfulfilled promise made by President Donald Trump. Though Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall, he is now asking Congress for U.S. taxpayer money for the structure.

"It's not a compromise. It may be a compromise with the devil, but it's not a compromise with the Democrats," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, of the remaining bill.

Though House Democrats voiced opposition to both bills, some Republicans, too, disagreed within their ranks.

Republican Congressman Will Hurd, of Texas, said in a statement released by his office June 21 that he opposed money for the border wall, saying it was "an expensive and ineffective fourth-century border security tool that takes private property away from hundreds of Texans." He also expressed concern about taking away something from one immigration program in exchange for helping another.

The remaining proposal seeks to do away with family-based migration, which allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor certain family members for a visa, but at the expense of providing a legal path for the youth brought into the country as minors, popularly known as "Dreamers."

As lawmakers retreated to salvage what they could and to haggle with others before the June 22 vote, a short distance away, Catholic groups joined other faith organizations in speaking out on Capitol Hill during a June 21 demonstration organized by Faith in Action against the detention of children at the border who have been separated from their parents.

Religious leaders -- including priests and women and men religious, the Franciscan Action Network, members of the Sisters of Mercy, the Columbans and others -- surrounded a group of children wrapped in aluminum insulation blankets in a building at the Capitol and called for prayer and fasting to bring an end to the misery of separated families on the border. The insulation blanket was like those handed out to children in detention centers at the border.

The Ignatian Solidarity Network also issued a press release voicing support for a statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposing both measures and asked Catholics to contact their representatives in Congress. In the June 18 letter to House members, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Migration, expressed concern with the compromise measure's cuts to family-based immigration, as well as the "harmful" changes to the asylum system and its lack of protections for unaccompanied children .

"Without such changes to these measures, we would be compelled to oppose it," he said.

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Church now facing its own #MeToo moment, says Australian archbishop

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 11:37am

IMAGE: CNS Photo/Robert Duncan

By Junno Arocho Esteves

ROME (CNS) -- In the wake of historic allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up in countries around the world, the Catholic Church is experiencing the same challenge that has brought a reckoning to those who used their authority to abuse or silence victims, said an Australian archbishop.

Allegations such as those raised against Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, represent a "major shift" within the culture of the church, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane said June 21. Abuse survivors are "willing to speak and they are believed," and the church has new processes of investigation, he added.

"It's not unrelated to the #MeToo phenomenon; there's something going on in the culture. And one of the elements of that cultural shift is that people are prepared to speak up in a way that they would never have done before," he told journalists following a four-day conference in Rome on safeguarding and child protection.

The Anglophone Safeguarding Conference, held at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University June 18-21, reflected on the theme, "Culture, an enabler or barrier to safeguarding."

Among the speakers at the conference was Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, head of the Pontifical Gregorian University's Center for Child Protection, and Bishop Gilles Cote of Daru-Kiunga, Papua New Guinea.

While local cultures can influence how the church in a particular area handles abuse cases, there are aspects of church culture that have hindered progress in addressing allegations of sexual abuse, Archbishop Coleridge told Catholic News Service June 21.

"One word that's used to describe a large and complex phenomenon within the culture is clericalism. In other words, authority geared to power and not to service," he said. "In many ways, what happened in the Catholic Church was that our strengths became our weaknesses."

An example of those strengths was that closeness that Catholic clergy and religious shared with families. However, he said, it was precisely that which, "in certain situations, gave them access to the children who were abused."

Nevertheless, Archbishop Coleridge said that just as strength can become a weakness, a weakness can also become a strength.

"I believe that the agony we are passing through this time in fact is a purification of the church that has already made us stronger. It's kind of a searing grace that we never saw coming, and we certainly wouldn't have chosen. But somehow, God is in the midst of it all, purifying the church and calling us to what we are intended be," Archbishop Coleridge told CNS.

Following the conference's conclusion, Father Zollner told journalists that allegations such as those raised against Cardinal McCarrick are signs that now "things are tightening up and that the thoroughness of the approach reaches now even the highest levels."

Cardinal McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, said June 20 that he would no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible.

"A few years ago, we probably wouldn't have so easily (seen) that headline," Father Zollner said in reference to news about Cardinal McCarrick. "The church -- step-by-step, too slow but more and more consistently -- comes up with or lives up to what the norms are."

Archbishop Coleridge agreed with Father Zollner, adding that "what's happening with Cardinal McCarrick focuses on episcopal accountability" and that while progress has been made, "we have more to do."

As president of the Australian bishops' conference, Archbishop Coleridge stressed that although collaboration with local authorities is critical in confronting abuse and cover-ups, measures that compromise religious freedom and the rights of conscience are not the answer.

Laws requiring Catholic priests to break the seal of confession in some cases passed the Australian Capital Territory's Legislative Assembly in Canberra June 7.

The proposal, he said, "is poor public policy" that will not make children safer and amounts to a "renegotiation of the relationship between church and state."

He also said that following many cases of abuse, "there is a thirst for the church's blood" as well as a "desire to punish the Catholic Church and a desire to show the Catholic Church who is in charge."

"In other words, it's almost being said implicitly. 'For a long time, you tried to tell us what to do. Now, because of what's happened, we will tell you what to do.' So, it's a kind of a public humiliation of the church but it is one that we have brought upon ourselves. So self-pity doesn't take us very far," Archbishop Coleridge said. 

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Pope: Individual bishops must decide about Communion in mixed marriages

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 6:36pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM GENEVA (CNS) -- The question of allowing Protestants married to Catholics to receive Communion at Mass in special cases has to be decided by each individual bishop and cannot be decided by a bishops' conference, Pope Francis told reporters after a one-day ecumenical journey to Geneva.

During an inflight news conference June 21, the pope was asked about his recent decision requesting the Catholic bishops' conference of Germany not publish nationwide guidelines for allowing Communion for such couples.

He said the guidelines went beyond what is foreseen by the Code of Canon law "and there is the problem." The code does not provide for nationwide policies, he said, but "provides for the bishop of the diocese (to make a decision on each case), not the bishops' conference."

"This was the difficulty of the debate. Not the content," he said.

Cardinal-designate Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had written the bishops that "the Holy Father has reached the conclusion that the document has not matured enough to be published."

Pope Francis expanded on that by saying it will have to be studied more. He said he believed what could be done is an "illustrative" type of document "so that each diocesan bishop could oversee what the Code of Canon Law permits. There was no stepping on the brakes," he said.

The bishops' conference can study the issue and offer guidelines that help each bishop handle each individual case, he said.

MORE TO COME

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Forgiveness turns evil into good, pope tells Catholics in Geneva

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 1:24pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

GENEVA (CNS) -- At the end of a day dedicated to celebrating 70 years of an ecumenical fellowship forged by the World Council of Churches, Pope Francis turned to the region's Catholics, reminding them of what lies at the heart of the faith.

The Lord's Prayer "offers us a road map for the spiritual life" by reminding people they are part of one human family, that they should live a simpler, more caring life and that forgiveness works miracles in history, he said.

"There is no greater novelty than forgiveness, which turns evil into good," he told 40,000 Catholics from Switzerland, France and other nations not far from this landlocked country, whose history was built on the values of peace and neutrality.

The pope was in Geneva June 21 "as a pilgrim in quest of unity and peace," for a one-day journey celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the World Council of Churches -- a fellowship of 350 ecclesial communities, including many Orthodox churches, who represent some 500 million Christians worldwide. The Catholic Church, which cooperates extensively with the council, is not a full member.

Celebrating Mass at the city's enormous indoor expo center, the pope pointed to the essential lessons contained in the Lord's Prayer, which Jesus teaches his disciples in the day's Gospel reading.

The pope first circled the vast indoor center in a small white electric cart, greeting the faithful and blessing babies. Former pontifical Swiss guards in traditional uniform were present, standing at attention, representing their service rendered for more than 500 years in Rome.

"Father, bread, forgiveness," Pope Francis said in his homily. These are the three words in the Lord's Prayer "that take us to the very heart of our faith."

When praying "Our Father, who art in heaven," people are reminded that God "does not group us together in little clubs, but gives us new life and makes us one large family."

This prayer says that "every human being is part of us," he said, and that "we are called to be good guardians of our family, to overcome all indifference toward" everyone. "This includes the unborn, the older person who can no longer speak, the person we find hard to forgive, the poor and the outcast."

God commands his children to love each other from the heart, he said.

When praying, "Give us this day, our daily bread," it is asking God to "help me lead a simpler life."

"Life has become so complicated," he said, with everyone acting "pumped up, rushing from dawn to dusk, between countless phone calls and texts with no time to see other people's faces, full of stress from complicated and constantly changing problems."

"We need to choose a sober lifestyle, free of unnecessary hassles," the pope said, pointing to the example of a fellow Jesuit, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, whose feast day is June 21. The 16th-century Italian saint renounced his family's wealth and desired an austere religious life to better serve others.

With so much abundance in the world, the pope said, it fills up people's lives and empties their hearts.

May people rediscover "the courage of silence and of prayer" and "let us choose people over things so that personal, not virtual relationships may flourish."

"Daily bread" also means to never forget the life-giving power of Jesus; "he is our regular diet for healthy living. Sometimes however, we treat Jesus as a side dish."

Without him every day, life is meaningless, the pope said.

Finally, the prayer calls for forgiveness, which is not easy, but it is a gift.

God forgives everything and yet, "he asks only one thing of us: that we in turn never tire of forgiving. He wants to issue a general amnesty for the sins of others."

Offer up to God those lingering dregs of resentment and bitterness that prevent complete forgiveness, the pope said.

Imagine taking an X-ray of the heart, and point to the "stones needing to be removed," the pope said. Pray to God, "You see this stone? I hand it over to you and I pray for this person, for that situation; even if I struggle to forgive, I ask you for the strength to do it."

Forgiveness renews and works miracles, he said. After receiving God's forgiveness, "each of us is born again as a new creation when we love our brothers and sisters. Only then do we bring true newness to the world."

The pope said God is pleased "when we love one another and we forgive each other from the heart."

"Let us take the first step, in prayer, in fraternal encounter, in concrete charity" and, like God, love without ever counting the cost.

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Broken world needs Christian unity, pope tells Christian leaders at WCC

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 10:28am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

GENEVA (CNS) -- Not only God, but today's broken, divided world is begging for unity among Christians, Pope Francis said on an ecumenical pilgrimage to Geneva.

"Our differences must not be excuses," he said, because as Christ's disciples, Christians can still pray together, evangelize and serve others.

On his 23rd apostolic journey abroad June 21, the pope spent several hours with Christian leaders at the headquarters of the World Council of Churches, a fellowship of 350 ecclesial communities, including many Orthodox churches. The pope came to help celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of what is the largest and broadest ecumenical fellowship in the world.

Speaking to reporters aboard the papal plane from Rome, the pope said, "This is a trip toward unity," representing the "desire for unity."

He was greeted on the tarmac by dignitaries and two children in traditional dress; two former members of the Swiss Guard stood by the red carpet in the corps' full colorful uniform, which only happens on papal trips to Switzerland. Active guard members traveling with the pope are always in plainclothes.

Accompanied by the leadership of the WCC, the pope attended an ecumenical prayer service, marked by songs from the Protestant traditions and the Catholic Church's theme song for the Jubilee of Mercy. There was a common witness of faith in reciting the Nicene Creed and representatives from the Catholic Church and other Christian communities alternated readings, including a prayer of repentance, which asked God's forgiveness for their disunity and failure to serve God and all his children.

In his speech, the pope said, "Our lack of unity" is not only contrary to God's will, it is "also a scandal to the world."

"The Lord asks us for unity; our world, torn by all-too-many divisions that affect the most vulnerable, begs for unity."

Pope Francis, the third pope to visit the WCC, said he wanted to come as "a pilgrim in quest of unity and peace." He thanked God for having found "brothers and sisters already making this same journey."

The journey requires constant conversion, he said, and a renewed way of thinking that rejects worldliness and seeks to live "in the Spirit, with one's mind bent on serving others and a heart growing in forgiveness."

"Divisions between Christians have often arisen because at their root," he said, "a worldly mindset has seeped in."

"First self-concern took priority over concern for Christ," he said, and from there, it was easy for the devil to move in, "separating us."

Following Christ entails loss, he warned, because "it does not adequately protect the interests of individual communities, often closely linked to ethnic identity or split along party lines, whether 'conservative' or 'progressive.'"

Christians must belong to the Lord above and before they identify with anything else, "right or left; to choose in the name of the Gospel, our brother and sister over ourselves," he said.

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Cardinal McCarrick's 60 years of ministry in church had global impact

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 5:51pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Vatican has told Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, that he can no longer exercise any public ministry after an allegation that he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible.

While maintaining his innocence, the cardinal said June 20 he had cooperated with church authorities' investigation of the claim and that he would obey the Vatican directive on ministry.

As people in the many places he has served -- the New York Archdiocese, the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, and finally the Archdiocese of Washington -- absorb the news about the high-profile churchman, many also will recall Cardinal McCarrick's long years of ministry in the church on the national and international levels.

Even in retirement, after decades of regularly testifying before Congress and attending White House meetings on public policy, Cardinal McCarrick kept abreast of a range of policy issues, domestic and international.

As a board member of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency, he continued to travel the world and had regular speaking engagements and other activities, in the United States and beyond.

In May 2014, he was part of a U.S. bishops' delegation that traveled to Iran to meet quietly with Iranian religious leaders. In November 2013, he toured areas in the Philippines that had been devastated, visiting residents and celebrating Mass.

Then-Archbishop McCarrick was installed to head the Archdiocese of Washington in 2001. Just three weeks later he was made a cardinal. He was the fifth archbishop of Washington and the fourth in a row to be named a cardinal.

As canon law requires of all bishops, the cardinal submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI when he turned 75 on July 7, 2005. However, the pope asked the cardinal to continue heading the archdiocese. He retired in 2006 at age 76, and now-Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl was named to succeed him.

Ordained a bishop in 1977, he was an auxiliary for the New York Archdiocese until 1981, when he was made the first bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Metuchen. In May 1986 he was named archbishop of Newark.

He was there for 14 years. During his tenure in Newark, he ordained 200 priests, more than any other U.S. diocese in that period.

In 1997, as a speaker in the Distinguished Lecture Series of the U.S. State Department's Open Forum, he called for U.S. policy at home and abroad to focus on the poor and the vulnerable.

"We believe that we are called to put the needs of the poor first in our national and global choices," he said.

In 1998, he chaired and hosted a major international conference on the ethical dimensions of international debt, co-sponsored by the Vatican and U.S. bishops, at Seton Hall University in his archdiocese. The conference is credited with having a significant impact on the U.S. and world commitment to reducing the debt of heavily indebted poor countries.

He set an example of debt forgiveness in his own archdiocese early in the jubilee year 2000 by forgiving some $10 million that parishes, schools and church agencies owed the archdiocese.

In 2001, he was named to succeed retiring Cardinal James A. Hickey in the nation's capital.

He ordained 43 men in his time in the nation's capital, including a class of 12 that was the largest in more than 30 years.

Often in the news for his leadership in international justice and peace issues, Cardinal McCarrick headed the U.S. bishops' committees on migration, international policy and aid to the church in Central and Eastern Europe.

He is a founding member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and was on the U.S. Commission for the Study of International Migration and Cooperative Economic Development.

At a White House ceremony Dec. 6, 2000, he received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights.

Born in New York July 7, 1930, Theodore Edgar McCarrick was the only child of Theodore Egan McCarrick, a sea captain, and Margaret McLaughlin McCarrick. Growing up in the Great Depression, he was 3 when his father died and his grandmother moved in to help raise him while his mother worked.

He was 22 and had studied in Europe for a year-and-a-half, learning to speak French and German, before he entered St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers, New York. He earned a master's degree in history there and was ordained a priest of the New York Archdiocese May 31, 1958.

After ordination he was assigned to The Catholic University of America in Washington. He spent seven years there, earning a master's degree in social sciences and a doctorate in sociology while serving first as an assistant chaplain and later dean of students and director of development.

From 1965 to 1969, he was president of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico.

He returned to New York in 1969 as archdiocesan associate secretary for education, and the following year he became secretary to New York's Cardinal Terence Cooke.

On June 29, 1977, he was ordained a bishop, serving as an auxiliary for the archdiocese.

He frequently traveled abroad to trouble spots, especially as chairman of the bishops' Eastern Europe and international policy committees.

Among places he had visited were Yugoslavia, Croatia, Kosovo, Albania, Lebanon, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda, East Timor, China, Vietnam, Cuba, Colombia and Mexico.

Besides English, French and German, he could handle Spanish and Italian "reasonably well" and "can understand Portuguese and a little Polish."

Cardinal McCarrick was a former member of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

He was on the board of trustees of The Catholic University of America and the boards of CRS and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

In addition to the committees he headed for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he served or had served on the bishops' Administrative Committee and their committees on doctrine, the laity, Latin America, Hispanic affairs and missions.

He was a founding member and president since 1997 of the Papal Foundation, established in the 1980s to assure the long-term solvency of the Holy See and contribute to its activities and papal charities around the world.

He was a member of the Synod for America in 1997 and served on its post-synodal council.

He spent a year from January 2011 to January 2012 as a visiting scholar at the Library of Congress, working out of an office in the library's historic Thomas Jefferson building.

During the yearlong post, Cardinal McCarrick looked at into how the Amman Message has evolved and what its effects have been on the teachings and practice of Islam. The subject fit one of his goals for retirement: to build bridges between Catholicism and Islam.

The Amman Message is a declaration recognizing the common principles of eight traditional schools of Islamic religious law.

Cardinal McCarrick's interest in Islam and involvement with relations between Christians and Muslims went back many years. In the mid-1990s, he served on the State Department's Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad and was one of the first members of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom when it was created in 1999.

He also was chairman of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land and continued to be involved in a variety of Holy Land and Middle East peace organizations and dialogues.

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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.

Trump signs executive order stopping family separation policy

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 5:28pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Leah Millis, Reuters

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- President Donald Trump signed an executive order June 20 that halts his administration's family separation policy for families who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

The executive order seeks to work around a 1997 consent decree that bars the federal government from keeping children in immigration detention -- even if they are with their parents -- for more than 20 days. The executive order instructs the attorney general to seek federal court permission to modify the consent decree.

The crisis was spawned when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a "zero tolerance" policy for border crossers. Under the policy, adults would be charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor for crossing the border. Under federal statute, those charged with felonies cannot have their children detained with them.

The government earlier in June said 1,995 minors had been separated from 1,940 adults who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, although some minors had crossed without their parents or adult kin.

The policy and its upshot stirred some of the most hostile reaction yet of any Trump initiative.

Hours before the executive order was signed, Pope Francis said he stood with the U.S. bishops, who had condemned the family separation policy, which has led to children being held in government shelters while their parents are sent to federal prisons.

Mexico's bishops likewise decried the policy. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was heckled June 19 while she dined at a Mexican restaurant in the Washington area.

Every living former first lady and the current first lady, Melania Trump -- herself an immigrant from Slovenia -- expressed their sorrow, or a stronger emotion, at the sight of children being separated from their parents.

"My wife feels strongly about it. I feel strongly about it. I think anybody with a heart would feel strongly about it," Trump said during the June 20 signing ceremony in the Oval Office, with Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence flanking him.

"I don't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated," Trump added. "This will solve that problem and at the same time we are keeping a very strong border."

Even so, the executive order is not necessarily a panacea. It allows the Department of Homeland Security to detain families together "under present resource constraints." The "temporary detention policy" also is only in effect "to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations."

Pence criticized those who make a "false choice" between being "a nation of laws" and showing compassion.

"We expect the House to act this week. We expect them to do their job," Nielsen said. The House is considering two immigration bills, although neither dealt in particular with the family separation policy.

"You will have a lot of happy people," Trump said as he signed the executive order. "What we have done today is we are keeping families together."

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Uptick in abuse claims likely after high-profile case brought to light

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 5:02pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- An increase in calls to dioceses to report claims of clergy sexual abuse has happened before, and is likely to happen again in the wake of the credible claim lodged against Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, according to the head of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection.

Those claims and inquiries, though, won't solely be about Cardinal McCarrick, said Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the secretariat.

Deacon Nojadera said the most noticeable such example was following the Boston Globe's "Spotlight" series examining clergy sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston in early 2002. Another such example he gave was the release of the movie "Spotlight," based on the newspaper's reportage. In the film's case, though, he added, abuse reports "weren't just about clergy sex abuse, but all kinds of abuse."

Much of this results, he said, "because there's this invitation (by dioceses) to survivors to please come forward."

When they do, diocesan victim assistance coordinators realize "you only have one shot" to engage with someone reporting abuse, Deacon Nojadera said.

Deacon Nojadera, in a June 20 interview with Catholic News Service, outlined the difference between "credible" and "substantiated" claims of abuse. Both terms were used in the Archdiocese of New York's report of the complaint against Cardinal McCarrick in the 1971 incident.

"Credible" means "it could have happened," Deacon Nojadera said. "There's truth to this."

"Substantiated," though, means "there's evidence to back this up," he added. That evidence is born out in a police investigation of the incident, a practice followed by the New York Archdiocese in the complaint against Cardinal McCarrick. "There's something that points to (the fact) that this, indeed, did happen."

In his June 20 statement accepting the Vatican's directive he cease any public ministry, Cardinal McCarrick said he did not recall the incident and "believe(s) in my innocence."

The incident was 47 years ago. Given all of the reports of abuse that have been filed since 2002 when the scandal in Boston was exposed, it may seem hard to believe that there are those who still had not reported abuse.

"We've had people report abuse from the Thirties," Deacon Nojadera told CNS. Each person who was victimized by abuse gets ready to discuss it at their own time, he added, although for some "that will be a secret they keep with them and go with them to the grave."

Fear, embarrassment and shame factor into the unwillingness to report abuse. Some victims live "in a small diocese, a small town, where everybody knows everybody," he said, and are wary of reporting abuse given those circumstances.

Those who do come forward, however, will be treated "with the utmost respect" by those they contact at the diocese, the deacon said. Should there be an influx, most dioceses have forged partnerships with hospitals, mental health professionals and the Catholic Charities agencies in their dioceses to provide services a victim needs.

Just as the diocesan net has widened to offer assistance to victims, the number and kinds of people showing an interest in preventing abuse and rendering aid also has expanded. What used to be known as a "safe environment leader-victim assistance leader" conference has since been rechristened the "Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference," with one held recently in New Orleans, attracting bishops and vicar generals.

"It's not just one or two people in a diocese, not just one or two people in a parish" who are addressing abuse, Deacon Nojadera said.

Now, with one of the highest-ranking U.S. church officials having been credibly accused of abuse, will the reporting of abuse stop anytime soon?

"I get asked this at conferences," Deacon Nojadera said. "and I tell them it will stop with the Second Coming."

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New York Archdiocese posts timeline on cardinal's ministry, abuse claim

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 4:44pm

By

NEW YORK (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of New York has posted an FAQ providing a timeline of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick's ministry in the church, information on how the archdiocese learned of an abuse allegation against the prelate now deemed credible and the church's procedure for addressing abuse claims.

Early June 20, Cardinal McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, said in a statement he will no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation that he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible. "While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence," the prelate said, he said he cooperated with the investigation into the claim.

Here is the FAQ posted at https://archny.org/tm-faq:

Q: When did Cardinal McCarrick serve in the Archdiocese of New York?

A: He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New York on May 1, 1958, and he remained a priest of the archdiocese until his appointment as the bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1981. While a priest of the archdiocese, his assignments included: serving as assistant chaplain, dean and director of development at The Catholic University of America in Washington (1958-1965); president of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico (1965-1969); associate secretary for education for the archdiocese and parochial vicar of Blessed Sacrament Parish, Manhattan (1969-1971); secretary to Cardinal Terence J. Cooke (1971-1977); auxiliary bishop (1977-1981).

Q: How did the Archdiocese of New York learn of this allegation?

A: The allegation came to us through the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP), which was established by the Archdiocese of New York two years ago as part of its ongoing effort to renew its contrition to those who suffered sexual abuse as a minor by a priest or deacon of the archdiocese and bring a sense of healing, resolution and compensation to victim-survivors. The program is administered by Kenneth Feinberg and his associate, Camille Biros.

Q: How did the Archdiocese of New York respond to the allegation?

A: The first step was to notify the district attorney. Then, because this allegation involved a cardinal, the archdiocese contacted the Holy See, which has exclusive authority in the oversight of a cardinal. The Holy See delegated New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, as the archbishop of the diocese where the alleged abuse occurred, to investigate the matter, following the requirements of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" and the policies of the Archdiocese of New York. This includes reporting the matter to law enforcement, and having the entire matter examined by outside professional investigators and the Archdiocesan Review Board, which found the allegation to be credible and substantiated.

Q: Can you provide details of the allegation?

A: Out of respect for the privacy of the victim, we will not release specific details about the allegation. Of course, there is no prohibition or restriction on the victim, who can choose to speak about any aspect of the case, including the allegation and how the case was handled by the IRCP, the Review Board, and the archdiocese.

Q: What happens now to Cardinal McCarrick?

A: As with all cases of substantiated abuse by a priest or deacon, the matter is now in the hands of the Holy See, which has final authority to determine what "punishment" to impose. This could range from living a life of prayer and penance, to a dismissal from the clerical state. Cardinal McCarrick has already been directed by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, that he is no longer to publicly exercise his priestly ministry.

Q: Where is Cardinal McCarrick now?

A: Cardinal McCarrick is the retired archbishop of Washington and continues to reside with them. He is 87 years old and in frail health. (He turns 88 July 7.)

Q: Isn't this all just another black eye for the Catholic Church?

A: This news will certainly be shocking and painful, especially to Catholics, and will cause many to wonder if this tragedy of abuse will ever end. At the same time, however, it should be noted that, fortunately, the policies and procedures put into place by the church are working. Although this case involves activity from nearly a half-century ago, the allegation was taken seriously, the matter was thoroughly and carefully investigated, and the decision is being publicly announced. No one, not even a cardinal, is above the law or our strict policies. The church can never be complacent, and must always do all that it can to prevent abuse, and respond with compassion, sensitivity and respect to victim-survivors who come forward. In this, it can be a model for others who are looking to respond to this sin and crime that affects all segments of society.

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DiNardo: All clergy, no matter their 'standing,' must protect children

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 1:40pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said June 20 that the all clergy in the Catholic Church "have made a solemn promise to protect children and young people from all harm."

"This sacred charge applies to all who minister in the church, no matter the person's high standing or long service," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.

He made the comments in a statement issued in response to the announcement that Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, will no longer exercise any public ministry after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible.

"This morning was a painful reminder of how only through continued vigilance can we keep that promise" of protecting children and young people, Cardinal DiNardo said, without mentioning Cardinal McCarrick by name. "My prayers are with all who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse. May they find healing in Christ's abundant love."

He said the U.S. bishops' "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," first approved in 2002, "outlines a process for addressing allegations, holding us accountable to our commitment to protect and heal."

He expressed gratitude to New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, "who has carried forward with clarity, compassion for the victims, and a genuine sense of justice. With him, I express my deep sadness, and on behalf of the church, I apologize to all who have been harmed by one of her ministers."

Cardinal McCarrick, who turns 88 July 7, was ordained a priest of the New York Archdiocese May 31, 1958. He was named auxiliary bishop of New York in 1977. He was appointed the first bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1981 and was named archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, in 1986. He was installed as archbishop of Washington in 2001. He was made a cardinal in Feb. 21, 2001, and retired as head of the Washington Archdiocese May 16, 2006.

In his statement, Cardinal McCarrick said that Cardinal Dolan had informed him "some months ago" of the abuse allegation.

"While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence, I considered it essential that the charges be reported to the police, thoroughly investigated by an independent agency and given to the Review Board of the Archdiocese of New York," Cardinal McCarrick said. "I fully cooperated in the process."

He will no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican, he said.

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Abuse allegation against Cardinal McCarrick found credible

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 10:07am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, said he will no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager almost 50 years ago has been found credible.

"While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence, I considered it essential that the charges be reported to the police, thoroughly investigated by an independent agency and given to the Review board of the Archdiocese of New York," the cardinal said in a statement June 20. "I fully cooperated in the process."

Cardinal McCarrick said that "some months ago" he was informed of the allegation by New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan.

"My sadness was deepened when I was informed that the allegations had been determined credible and substantiated," Cardinal McCarrick said.

The cardinal, who turns 88 July 7, was ordained a priest of the New York Archdiocese May 31, 1958. He was named auxiliary bishop of New York in 1977. He was appointed the first bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1981 and was named archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, in 1986. He was installed as archbishop of Washington in 2001. He was made a cardinal in Feb. 21, 2001, and retired as head of the Washington Archdiocese May 16, 2006.

MORE TO COME

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Pope supports U.S. bishops' criticism of 'immoral' immigration policy

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 9:03am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Adrees Latif, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis said he stands with the U.S. bishops who recently condemned the Trump administration's policy on immigration that has led to children being held in government shelters while their parents are sent to federal prisons.

"I am on the side of the bishops' conference," Pope Francis said in an interview with the Reuters news agency, published online June 20. "Let it be clear that in these things, I respect (the position of) the bishops' conference."

On the first day of their June 13-14 spring assembly in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, read a statement on behalf of the bishops denouncing the government's zero-tolerance policy.

"Families are the foundational element of our society, and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral," the statement said.

The political rise of populist movements in both the United States and in Europe has led to a severe crackdown on men, women and children trying to escape war, violence, poverty and persecution.

In Italy, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini banned the NGO rescue ship Aquarius, with more than 600 migrants aboard, to dock and has vowed to stop any foreign boats carrying rescued migrants into the country.

Pope Francis said the current wave of populist rhetoric against migrants was "creating psychosis" and that people seeking a better life should not be rejected.

Europe, he added, is facing a "great demographic winter" and, without immigration, the continent "will become empty."

"Some governments are working on it, and people have to be settled in the best possible way, but creating psychosis is not the cure," he said. "Populism does not resolve things. What resolves things is acceptance, study, prudence."

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Bishops 'cannot, in good faith, endorse' new GOP immigration bill

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 4:23pm

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops "cannot, in good faith, endorse" an immigration bill submitted by the House's Republican leadership, said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Migration.

Bishop Vasquez said the bill would bring about "large structural changes to the immigration system that detrimentally impact families and the vulnerable." He said the new bill, still without a name or number, "contains several provisions that run contrary to our Catholic social teaching."

He made the comments in a letter dated June 18 and sent to each member of the House. It was posted June 19 on the U.S. bishops' website justiceforimmigrants.org.

Bishop Vasquez said this unnamed bill would "undermine asylum protections by significantly raising the hurdle applicants face during the 'credible fear' review, lead to increases in child and family detention ' eliminate protection for unaccompanied minors through the proposed changes to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, includes part of the DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals)-eligible population but does not include same population eligible in the USA Act and the DREAM Act, make sweeping cuts to family-based immigration and unilaterally implement a safe third country agreement without a bilateral or multilateral treaty or agreement."

Nor would the bill "end the practice of separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border, he added. "Instead, this bill would increase the number of children and families in detention, which is not acceptable." Bishop Vasquez reminded House members the Trump administration can end its family separation policy, without the need for legislation, at its own discretion.

Bishop Vasquez added, "We believe that any such legislation must be bipartisan, provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship, be pro-family, protect the vulnerable and be respectful of human dignity with regard to border security and enforcement."

The Uniting and Securing America Act (USA) Act, which he referenced in the letter, would protect Dreamers and strengthens border security. The DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which he also mentioned, primarily would offer a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other Dreamers.

In the letter, Bishop Vasquez reminded House members the Trump administration can end its family separation policy without the need for legislation through its own discretion, and that an immigration bill could secure the U.S. border and ensure humane treatment to immigrant families through alternative policies.

Given the newness of the bill, "we ask for timely consideration of our concerns," Bishop Vasquez said, "particularly the cuts to family-based immigration, as well as the harmful changes to the asylum system and existing protections for unaccompanied children. Without such changes to these measures, we would be compelled to oppose it."

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, has pledged to bring both the new bill and H.R. 4760, the Securing America's Future Act, to the House floor for votes. Bishop Vasquez, in January, wrote to the House opposing H.R. 4760. In the June 18 letter, he said, "we respectfully urge you to reject" it.

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Editor's Note: The full text of the letter can be found at https://bit.ly/2I3gDFf.

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Iraqi iconographer honors his Syriac roots

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 12:45pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy of Mothana Butres

By Doreen Abi Raad

BEIRUT (CNS) -- When Islamic State fighters overran Qaraqosh, Iraq, in the summer of 2014, Mothana Butres was able to grab only a single volume from his father's collection of thousands of Syriac books and manuscripts.

The handwritten, 600-year-old book of Syriac hymns now inspires much of Butres' work as an iconographer.

From a modest walk-up apartment in Zahle, Lebanon, a city not far from the Syrian border, the Syriac Catholic iconographer and refugee creates his sacred art in a sparsely furnished living room. As he works, he sings the hymns he has committed to memory from the sole book he managed to save.

Butres is the creator of the Our Lady of Aradin icon, a centerpiece of the first Catholic shrine dedicated to persecuted Christians. The shrine is housed in St. Michael's Church in New York City and was dedicated June 12.

"The inspiration when I was working on Our Lady of Aradin was that it was the Virgin Mary who was protecting the Christians," Butres told Catholic News Service.

He chose to present Mary in the traditional wedding dress of the Aradin area of Iraq "to represent that the Virgin Mary will always be a part of the Christians in Iraq and that she is the protector of Christians in Iraq and all the Middle East," Butres said.

He said that when faced with an ultimatum by Islamic State fighters, Iraq's Christians gave up their land but refused to give up their faith.

"The people who were persecuted, their blood is a stronger message than anything I could ever convey," he said. But the recent persecution and the oppression suffered by his ancestors led him "to the way I think and the way I do my work."

Butres said he believes his icons can be an instrument for intercessory prayer. The prayers of the people who visit the shrine in New York and pray before the icon of Our Lady of Aradin are joined with those of the persecuted Christians. 

"Based on what Jesus told us, that 'if two people are gathered in my name, I will be among them,'" he said.

The Syriac book Butres treasures from his father's library collection also awakened him to the lost practice of writing books by hand, especially in the Syriac language, which is spoken by Christians in certain areas of Syria and Iraq, including Qaraqosh. Syriac also is used in the liturgy of some Eastern churches, including the Syriac Catholic, Syriac Orthodox and Maronite Catholic churches. The language is related to Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

"I'm trying to revive the value of the handwritten texts. Books used to be handwritten," Butres said.

As part of an ongoing personal project, Butres intends to write out the entire Bible in Syriac on a long scroll of leather just over a foot wide. In three months of work, the tiny, intricate text he has etched extends 16 feet in length and comprises the first five chapters of the Old Testament.

"I believe that in writing out the Bible, we can discover it in a new, deeper perspective, more than just reading it," he said.

In his icons, Butres often incorporates streams of handwritten text related to the image, which contributes to preserving the Syriac language, heritage and spirituality. The icon of Our Lady of Aradin, for example, includes the Hail Mary in Syriac.

Butres' introduction to iconography began at age 12; a deacon at his church in Qaraqosh taught him the ancient art as well as formulas for producing colors and varnishes from natural products, for example, using eggs and wine for shades of red, using beeswax for varnish and using deer musk to give the icon a scent.

Prayer and religious formation were part of Butres' daily life growing up in a Syriac Catholic family as one of 16 children. 

"We were very close to the church," said. "Every day at dusk, we went to the church to pray," he recalled, adding that for "anyone who didn't participate, there was no dinner." The same went for missing Sunday Mass: no lunch and dinner.

That pious upbringing fostered vocations, he said. One of Butres' sisters became a Dominican nun. His brother, Nimatullah, is a priest serving the Syriac Catholic Diocese of Our Lady of Deliverance, which is based in Bayonne, New Jersey. Father Butres attended the dedication ceremony for the Our Lady of Aradin shrine in New York.

The artistic Butres became a deacon at age 20 and studied theology at Holy Spirit University in Lebanon, earning a bachelor's degree.

Butres intended to complete his master's degree in theology, carrying out his research in Qaraqosh, but had to abandon all he had accomplished there when Islamic State attacked his childhood home.

That home, overtaken, gutted and ruined by Islamic State, is under repair now. From Lebanon, Butres created the Our Lady of Qaraqosh icon as a gift for his family, intending it as "a protector of the house where she was always present."

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Synod working document: Young Catholics need church that listens to them

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 9:43am

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Young Catholics are looking for a church that listens to their concerns, accompanies them in discerning their vocations and helps them confront the challenges they face, said a working document for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on young people.

The synod's "instrumentum laboris" (working document), published by the Vatican June 19, stated that young people "want to see a church that shares their situations of life in the light of Gospel rather than by preaching."

Quoting a presynod gathering of young people who met at the Vatican March 19-25, the working document said young Catholics "want an authentic church. With this, we would like to express, particularly to the church hierarchy, our request for a transparent, welcoming, honest, attractive, communicative, accessible, joyful and interactive community."

The working document is based mainly on comments solicited in a questionnaire last June from national bishops' conferences around the world as well as the final document of the presynod gathering.

An estimated 305 young adults participated in the weeklong presynod meeting, which allowed practicing Catholics and others to provide input for Pope Francis and the world's bishops, who will meet at the synod in October to discuss "young people, faith and vocational discernment." Some 15,000 young people also participated in the presynod process through Facebook groups online.

The meeting, the working document said, "highlighted the potential that younger generations represent" as well as their "hopes and desires."

"Young people are great seekers of meaning, and everything that is in harmony with their search to give value to their lives arouses their attention and motivates their commitment," it said.

Presenting the "instrumentum laboris" to journalists at a press briefing June 19, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary-general of the synod, said the synod's goal is that young Catholics may find "the beauty of life, beginning from the happy relationship with the God of the covenant and of love" in a world that often robs them of their "affections, bonds and prospective of life."

"The synod dedicated to young people gives us the opportunity to rediscover the hope of a good life, the dream of a pastoral renewal, the desire for community and passion for education," he said.

Divided into three parts, the working document outlines the church's need to listen to young people, to help guide them in the faith and in discerning their vocational calling, and to identify pastoral and missionary paths to be able to accompany them.

The responses collected by bishops' conferences around the world cited a need for ways to help young men and women confront the challenges of cultural changes that sometimes disregard traditions and spirituality.

The working document also states that while the church highlights the importance of the body, affection and sexuality, many young Catholic men and women "do not follow the directions of the sexual morality of the church."

"Although no bishops' conferences offer solutions or indications, many (conferences) believe the issue of sexuality should be discussed more openly and without judgment," it said.

Young people attending the presynod meeting said issues such as contraception, abortion, homosexuality, cohabitation and marriage are often debated both by young Catholics and non-Catholics.

The working document also highlighted the need to reaffirm church teaching on the body and sexuality at a time when biomedical advancements have pushed a more "technocratic approach to the body," citing examples such as egg donation and surrogacy.

"Moreover, precocious sexuality, sexual promiscuity, digital pornography, the exhibition of one's own body online and sexual tourism risk disfiguring the beauty and depth of emotional and sexual life," the "instrumentum laboris" said.

Church leaders, it said, must "speak in practical terms about controversial subjects such as homosexuality and gender issues, which young people are already freely discussing without taboo."

Also, "LGBT youths, through various contributions received by the secretariat of the synod, want to benefit from a greater closeness and experience greater care from the church," while some bishops' conferences are asking what they can recommend to young people who enter into a homosexual relationship, but want to be closer to the church, the document said.

Regarding the use of the initials "LGBT" in a major church document, Cardinal Baldisseri told journalists that it was a term used in one of the documents given by the bishops' conferences "and we quoted them."

"We are open. We don't want the synod to be closed in itself," Cardinal Baldisseri said. "And in the church, there are many areas, there is freedom for people to express themselves -- on the right, left, center, north and south -- this is all possible. That is why we are willing to listen to people with different opinions."

The working document also said young Catholics would like more initiatives that allow further dialogue with nonbelievers and the secular world to help them integrate their faith in their dealings with others.

Young men and women from primarily secularized areas "ask nothing from the church" and "expressly asked to be left in peace, because they feel its presence as annoying and even irritating." These feelings, the document stated, do not come from contempt but rather due to "serious and respectable reasons."

Among the reasons are the church's sexual and economic scandals, priests who do not know how to engage with young people, and the way the church justifies its doctrinal and ethical positions to modern society.

Young men and women are also hoping the church can help them "find a simple and clear understanding of the meaning of vocation," which is often misinterpreted as referring only to priesthood and consecrated life.

While the church has confirmed that marriage is also a vocation, the document confirms the need for "a youth vocational ministry capable of being meaningful for all young people."

"Called to holiness and anointed by the spirit, the Christian learns to grasp all the choices in existence in a vocational perspective, especially the central one of the state of life as well as those of a professional nature," it said.

"For this reason, some bishops' conferences hope that the synod will find ways to help all Christians rediscover the link between profession and vocation in all its fruitfulness ... and in view of the professional orientation of young people with a vocational perspective," the document said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Bishops across U.S. condemn separation, detention of migrant children

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 5:37pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Callaghan O'Hare, Reuters

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) - From Denver to New York City, the country's Catholic bishops have joined a chorus of organizations, institutions and high-profile individuals urging the Trump administration to stop separating children from their parents as they seek respite in the U.S. from dire conditions in their home countries, largely in Central America.

None have been more outspoken, however, than the bishops with dioceses on or near the border between the U.S. and Mexico, where many migrants, adults as well as children, are being held in detention centers in geographic areas where many of the prelates come into contact with families affected.

"Refugee children belong to their parents, not to the government or other institution. To steal children from their parents is a grave sin, immoral (and) evil," said San Antonio's Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller June 14 via Twitter, the social media platform he has used to daily call attention to the situation.

"Their lives have already been extremely difficult. Why do we (the U.S.) torture them even more, treating them as criminals?" he continued.

In a June 5 interview with CBS News, U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions said: "If people don't want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them," meaning they shouldn't bring them along when trying to cross the border, which many do as they seek asylum. The furor over the separation of children from a parent or parents had already started in late May, before Sessions used a Bible passage to justify the actions.

Bishop Daniel E. Flores of the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, said via Twitter May 31 that "separating immigrant parents and children as a supposed deterrent to immigration is a cruel and reprehensible policy. Children are not instruments of deterrence, they are children. A government that thinks any means is suitable to achieve an end cannot secure justice for anyone."

But the outrage began in earnest after the June 14 speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Indiana, when Sessions said the practice of separating families is consistent with the teachings of the Bible because "persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order."

The following day, New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said during CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time with Chris Cuomo" that while he appreciated Sessions quoting the Bible, the quote he used was not the best.

"For one, St. Paul always says we should obey the law of the government if that law is in conformity with the Lord's law, all right?  No pun intended but God's law trumps man's law, all right?" he said.

"And St. Paul himself who gave the quote that the attorney general used, he wouldn't obey Roman law when it said it was mandatory to worship the emperor," the cardinal continued. "He wouldn't obey that law. I don't think we should obey a law that goes against what God intends that you would take a baby, a child, from their mom. I mean, that's just unjust. That's unbiblical. That's un-American. There could be no Bible passage that would justify that."

After Sessions' Bible quote, Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, also used the Bible to make a point and compared Christ's time as a refugee in the Holy Land to the migrants. 

In a June 15 statement, he compared the distance from his diocese to other localities in Guatemala and Mexico, saying that "if Jesus of Nazareth returned, as at that time, from Galilee to Judea, ... we dare say he would not get as far as Sacred Heart Church downtown (in El Paso) before being detained."

He urged Christians to think about the families fleeing and seeking asylum in the U.S., what they're going through and said that what's at stake "is the fundamental question of being Christian today, of being a person of faith today in our country and on the continent that is suffering an hour of Christ's passion."

Bishop Seitz announced a public prayerful procession "in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who continue to migrate to our border" planned for the evening of July 20 in El Paso but did not release other details. The U.S. bishops also are talking about the possibility of a delegation of prelates going to the detention centers where many children are being held.

In mid-June, The Associated Press said this year "nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their families at the U.S. border over a six-week period during a crackdown on illegal entries," according to documents from the Department of Homeland Security, which operates Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Two prelates from Colorado, Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Denver Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez, repeated what other bishops have said in June 18 statement, saying that while borders must be protected, the policy of separating families is "immoral" and urged that it be terminated immediately, saying those being detained are in need of protection.

"These children and their parents are often fleeing violence and our country should not add to the inhumanity of their situation," they said.

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Dictatorships begin with taking over media to spread lies, pope says

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 12:48pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Kith Serey, EPA

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- All dictatorships begin the same way: media outlets are put in the hands of "unscrupulous" people who spread lies and weaken democracy, Pope Francis said.

Typical standards, norms and laws in regard to communications are first eliminated, the pope said in his homily June 18 during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Then an entire media or communication outlet is handed over "to a firm, a business that slanders, tells lies, weakens democracy, and then the judges come to judge these weakened institutions, these destroyed, condemned people and a dictatorship makes progress this way," he said.

"All dictatorships, all of them, began like this, by adulterating communication, by putting communications in the hands of people without scruples, of governments without scruples," he added.

The pope's homily focused on the day's first reading in which Jezebel succeeds in her a plot to help her husband, King Ahab, take possession of their neighbor's land; the neighbor, Naboth, refused to sell what had belonged to his family for generations. Jezebel arranged for two men to accuse Naboth of cursing God and the king, for which Naboth was stoned to death.

Pope Francis said what happened to Naboth is similar to what happened to Jesus, St. Stephen and all martyrs who were condemned as a result of lies and falsehoods.

Today, many people, "many heads of state or government," forge the same scenario: start with a lie and "after you destroy both a person and a situation with that falsehood," there is a judgment and a conviction, he said.

Many countries, today, he added, "they use this method: destroy free communication."

But individuals, too, are also tempted to destroy others by talking behind their back, telling lies or spreading scandalous news, the pope said.

Talking about scandals is enormously seductive, he said, and "one is seduced by scandals. Good news isn't a seductress."

"The seduction of scandal in communication backs one into a corner," in that it destroys people like Naboth or St. Stephen, who was stoned to death by people who didn't want to hear the truth.

There have been "so many people, so many countries destroyed by evil and calumnious dictatorships," he said, including the ones that persecuted the Jews with "calumnious communication" so they ended up in Auschwitz.

"Oh, it was a horror, but it's a horror that happens today -- in small communities, to people, in many countries. The first step is to seize communications, and later destroy, judgment and death," he said.

 

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Pope met with brother of Chilean priest found guilty of abuse

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 11:32am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The brother of Chilean Father Fernando Karadima called on his brother to ask forgiveness for the hurt inflicted on those he sexually abused.

"I would ask him to be humble. Fernando, ask for forgiveness. Not in silence to God or in your prayers. Do it publicly, that people hear that you ask forgiveness for the harm you have done to victims and to everyone," Oscar Karadima said in an interview with Chilean newspaper La Tercera, published June 17.

"Fernando," he continued, "you are a man who is going to die. How can you die in this way, as a proud person who doesn't ask forgiveness? I ask you in the name of God and the most holy virgin who you always said you loved so much. I ask you in the name of my father, my mother, my two dead sisters."

Oscar Karadima also revealed that he was among the group of priests and laypeople who met with Pope Francis June 2 and spoke to him about the suffering his family endured following the revelation that his brother was found guilty of sexual abuse.

"I spoke to him about Fernando; I told him what Fernando was like with his family, with us: He was an arrogant man, authoritarian, a man we were afraid of and that even my mother was afraid of him," Oscar Karadima said.

Recalling his conversation with the pope, Oscar Karadima said his family members "were also victims of abuse of power and of conscience" by his brother. Their family name, he added, was tarnished due to the scandals.

"We are the only Karadima family in Chile. I've read on social media, 'The Karadima family are a family of degenerates, a family guilty of covering up, a family of pedophiles,'" he said.

Known as an influential and charismatic priest, Father Karadima drew hundreds of young men to the priesthood, and four of his proteges went on to become bishops, including retired Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno.

After accusations of sexual abuse came to light in 2010, the Vatican investigated Father Karadima and sentenced him to a life of prayer and penance after he was found guilty of sexual abuse.

Oscar Karadima said he also wanted to inform the pope of the four bishops who formed part of Father Karadima's inner circle and that "they were witnesses and covered up abuses."

"The pope stopped me and said, 'Speak to me about Barros.' I told him, 'Your Holiness, Bishop Barros lied. He was my brother's friend and, in a certain way, you can say he belonged to his 'iron circle,'" Oscar Karadima recalled. The pope had accepted Bishop Barros' resignation June 11. Abuse survivors have alleged that when Bishop Barros was still a priest, he witnessed their abuse by his mentor.

"Everyone knew that they were made bishops because my brother Fernando was able to make it so, through his friendship or closeness with (Cardinal) Angelo Sodano," he added.

Cardinal Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, served as apostolic nuncio to Chile from 1978-1988 and as Vatican secretary of state from 1991-2006.

Karadima recalled tearing up as he recounted his and his family's pain and that Pope Francis touched his hand and encouraged him.

After listening to him, he added, the pope grabbed a piece of paper and wrote a message for the Karadima family.

"To the family of Oscar Karadima, with my blessing and my sorrow for so much suffering that you bear. In the name of Fernando, silent and incapable of realizing (his mistakes), I ask your forgiveness," the pope wrote.

Karadima said he was moved by the pope's gesture and said it was the first time someone from the Catholic Church recognized his family's pain.

"Neither (Cardinal Riccardo) Ezzati, nor (Cardinal Francisco Javier) Errazuriz, nor anyone acknowledged our pain. That is why what I also ask for -- because no one has said it -- is justice for my family. The pope was the only one who had words of affection and consolation toward them," Oscar Karadima said.

Pope Francis has made seeking forgiveness and promoting reconciliation a priority in the fallout of the sexual abuse crisis that has rocked the Chilean church.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, president of a board of review handling abuse cases within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Father Jordi Bertomeu Farnos, an official of the doctrinal congregation, concluded their June 14-17 visit to the diocese of Osorno with a Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew.

During the Mass, Archbishop Scicluna, Father Bertomeu and Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Concha Cayuqueo of Santiago, apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Osorno, kneeled before the congregation and asked forgiveness.

"Pope Francis has entrusted me to ask forgiveness for each one of the faithful of the Diocese of Osorno and all the citizens of this territory for having wounded you and profoundly offending you," Archbishop Scicluna said.

Addressing journalists after the Mass, the archbishop thanked the people of Osorno for welcoming him and said the visit was only the beginning of the journey toward reconciliation.

True reconciliation, he said, isn't achieved with a mission of a few days, but is rather a gift from God that must be accompanied by long process that requires patience, generosity and humility."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

 

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