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Indigenous bring needed diversity of expression to synod, speakers say

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 1:22pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People in Western countries need to see the different cultural expressions of faith that exist in other parts of the world, said some participants at the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon.

Panelists attending a Vatican briefing Oct. 7 were asked to comment on the way some media outlets and some people on social media expressed shock, disdain or concern for the presence of a wooden statue of a bare-breasted pregnant woman during a prayer service in the Vatican Gardens Oct. 4 and about the Catholic indigenous man who brought up the offertory gifts at Mass Oct. 6 wearing a headdress adorned with feathers.

"It is even more important that the world of Europe and Rome learn that other cultures also know how to talk about life, about well-being, fraternal coexistence," said French-born Bishop Emmanuel Lafont, who leads the Diocese of Cayenne in French Guiana, bordering the Amazon basin.

It is important people see there is another way to live "and not just consume and accumulate things," he said through a translator.

"There can't be just one voice. Every culture has its voice and its wisdom," he added.

He said he told the bishops of France years ago that if they were going to talk about ecology, then they also needed to listen to what indigenous people in the American and African continents had to say about their relationship with nature.

Once upon a time, these indigenous ways of life would have been considered forms of "idolatry" or a sign of "a lack of civilization," he said, "because we thought that only we had the truth and other people had nothing."

Giving visibility to different expressions and cultures not only will be a big part of discussions at the synod, but it also will be a "great service we can offer these people who believe they are more civilized than others," Bishop Lafont said.

Bishop David Martinez de Aguirre Guinea, apostolic vicar of Puerto Maldonado, Peru, told reporters the best response to people's concern or worry about indigenous adornments or expressions is to give indigenous people more visibility.

The indigenous headdress is worn for very special occasions -- like the synod's opening Mass, he said.

These images are very "striking" and that can make it hard for some people to go beyond appearances and look more deeply and discover what truly lies in the heart of these people, said the bishop, who is a member of the Dominicans.

"There are many things to discover" about the people of the Amazon, and the church can help them show the world who they are, he added.

"We can discover it in their contact, their way of relating to nature, their way of relating with each other, their way of establishing alliances, of not accumulating anything in life other than human relationships," he said.

"They have their own voice," the bishop said, and the church wants to help them speak for themselves rather than simply being the object of another's attention.

Commenting about the statue of the pregnant woman, the Spanish-born bishop said he has seen the image before and it seems to be a nonspecific symbol for fertility, life and women.

The statue could be seen as symbolizing "the Amazon like an entity that is pregnant with life for the entire planet, for all people."

Sister Alba Teresa Cediel Castillo, an indigenous member of the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of Immaculate Mary and of St. Catherine of Siena, said she agreed with the bishop's interpretation.

But she said she would add that it was her hope that "this pregnancy, this life that we are celebrating in the synod may give birth and not be a miscarriage."

Sister Cediel said she works with sisters who minister to the poor and indigenous, either in big cities or in remote areas of the Amazon region.

Women religious "have a very great presence in the Amazon," she said. "There are very few priests, and many have to go from place to place to place," trying to minister to many people spread out over vast distances.

"But we (sisters) have a constant presence in education, in health care, in projects that (communities) have for development," she said.

By virtue of their baptism, she said, "we accompany indigenous people in various events."

When a priest "cannot be present and there is a need for a baptism, we baptize," she said. "If someone wants to get married, we are there and we witness to this couple's love.

"And many times, we have listened to confessions," she said. "We haven't given absolution, but in the depths of our heart, we have said, with the humility that this man or woman approaches us, in times of sickness or when they are close to death, we believe that God the Father acts there, too."

"The presence of women in the Amazon is great and very fertile" with the presence of many missionaries and religious congregations, said Sister Cediel.
 
"I believe women must have greater participation in church life, but little by little. We will get there, but little by little" and with dialogue, she said.

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Contributing to this story was Junno Arocho Esteves and Barbara Fraser at the Vatican.

 

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Don't fear what is new, Cardinal Hummes says, introducing synod topics

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 12:32pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Barbara J. Fraser

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With its mandate to seek "new pathways for the church and for an integral ecology," the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon follows Pope Francis' call for the church to move forward without fear, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes told participants.

Speaking at the synod's opening session Oct. 7, Cardinal Hummes identified key issues for the synod based on consultations held in church jurisdictions in the nine Amazonian countries over the past year and a half.

Near the end of this speech, he added a comment not in the prepared text, reminding participants that "ecclesial communion is constructed and preserved with Peter and under Peter, with the pope and under the guidance of the pope. That is what the Catholic faith says."

Introducing the themes of the synod, the cardinal said that the church must turn outward and seek new pathways, as well as ways of inserting itself into Amazonian cultures. Synod participants also must consider new ways of providing pastoral care, possibly developing new ministries, in a place with too few church workers.

"The church needs to throw open her doors, knock down the walls surrounding her and build bridges, going out into the world and setting out on the path of history," Cardinal Hummes said, underscoring the pope's emphasis on a missionary church.

In times of change, he said, the church's role is to accompany people who live "on the margins of humankind."

The church remains loyal to its tradition not by remaining "linked to the past," but by recognizing its "living history," in which each generation "enriches this tradition ... with their own experience and understanding of faith in Jesus Christ," Cardinal Hummes said.

"We must not fear newness; we must not fear Christ, the new," he said "This synod is in search of new pathways."

In the presynod consultations, indigenous people asked the church to support them in defending their rights.

"Humankind has a great debt toward the indigenous peoples on the planet's various continents and therefore also in Amazonia," Cardinal Hummes said.

"Their cultures, languages, history, identity and spirituality are humanity's wealth and must be respected and preserved, as well as included in global culture," he added, to applause.

In reviewing the church's history of evangelization in the Amazon region, Cardinal Hummes underscored the work of missionaries and members of religious orders and congregations, as well as diocesan priests and laypeople, especially women.

The church also has played a key role in providing education and health care in the region, as well as in fighting poverty and human rights violations, he said.

Nevertheless, he said, a lack of priests results in "an almost total absence of the Eucharist and other sacraments essential for daily Christian life."

Amazonia is a vast area with few roads, so most travel is by river, which is slow, expensive and often dangerous. Because communities, especially indigenous villages, are widely scattered, many communities receive visits from a priest rarely, if at all.

Participants in presynod consultations "requested that the path be opened for the ordination of married men resident in their communities, while confirming the great importance of the charism of celibacy in the church," Cardinal Hummes said.

The presynod assemblies also raised the issue of women's role in the Amazonian church.

"Faced with a great number of women who nowadays lead communities in Amazonia, there is a request that this service be acknowledged and there be an attempt to consolidate it with a suitable ministry for them," Cardinal Hummes said to applause.

Turning to the theme of integral ecology, he said that the church cannot adequately minister to the people of the Amazon, especially indigenous people, without also caring for the Earth as "our common home."

During presynod assemblies, participants described threats that included oil production and mining on their lands, large infrastructure projects like roads and dams, industrial agriculture, logging, pollution and drug trafficking.

They also identified resulting social problems, including alcoholism, violence against women, human trafficking for sex work and labor, erosion of indigenous people's culture and identity, and poverty, as well as threats against or murders of people who defend the environment or indigenous territorial rights.

"Integral ecology teaches us that everything is connected: human beings and nature," Cardinal Hummes said, noting that in Genesis, God breathed life into humans made from the dust of the earth.

"All damage done to the earth damages human beings and all the other living creatures on the earth," he said. "One cannot address ecology, economy, culture and other issues separately."

Among the many critical environmental issues in the Amazon, Cardinal Hummes highlighted water, which is disappearing or polluted because of global warming, deforestation and the contamination caused by mining and pesticides.

While much emphasis has been placed on the church's role in remote, rural areas of the Amazon, Cardinal Hummes also stressed the importance of ministry in the Amazon's growing urban areas.

Cities like Manaus, Brazil, with about 2 million inhabitants, and Iquitos, in Peru, with more than half a million, continue to grow, especially as people migrate from rural communities in search of jobs or education.

Indigenous migrants face "extreme poverty, abandonment, rejection, disdain and denial" and often are "obliged to be invisible," Cardinal Hummes said, drawing the synod's attention to the need for urban ministry.

Cardinal Hummes invited the synod participants "to be guided by the Holy Spirit during these days." Invoking Mary, Queen of Amazonia, he called for prayer, meditation, ecclesial communion and a synodal spirit.

Echoing the theme of service from the opening Mass Oct. 6, he said, "This synod is like a table that God has prepared for his poor, and he is asking us to serve at that table."

 

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Justice is 'a divine characteristic' of God, archbishop says at Red Mass

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 12:09pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Andrew Biraj, Catholic Standard

By Mark Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Addressing a congregation that included Supreme Court justices and law students attending the Oct. 6 Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory encouraged those involved in law to reflect God's justice and mercy.

"Justice is a divine characteristic of God himself. Whether we are Christian, Jewish or Muslim in heritage -- we all believe that God is perfectly just and always merciful," Washington's archbishop said. "And those of you engaged in the administration of justice can and must never completely remove those divine qualities from your service and your calling."

The annual Mass, traditionally held on the Sunday before the Supreme Court opens its term on the first Monday of October, invokes God's blessings and guidance on those responsible for the administration of justice as well as on all public officials.

Archbishop Gregory noted, "We pray for all of the members of the judiciary and legal world because yours is the tremendous responsibility of attempting to reflect God's perfect justice and mercy in interpreting the laws of our nation and for all those who will come before you during this next year."

Those affected by the administration of justice, he added, include those who may have committed crimes, and "those whose language, culture, race, or religion are not your own, as well as those who are at precarious moment on the spectrum of human life."

"None of them are unimportant and all of them approach you for what they hope will be a sign and an expression of God's truth," he added.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. attended the Mass along with Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Stephen G. Breyer. Retired Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy also was there.

Massgoers also included U.S. Attorney General William Barr; U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia; and U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco; along with numerous judges and local attorneys, along with deans, professors and students from area law schools. John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America; and John DeGioia, president of Georgetown University, also were at the Mass.

The name of the Red Mass derives from the red vestments worn by the clergy during the solemn votive Mass of the Holy Spirit, representing the tongues of fire symbolizing the presence of the Holy Spirit.

"We begin another judicial season asking for a generous outpouring of God's Holy Spirit upon all who serve us in the realm of our legal structures," the archbishop said. "May each one of you rejoice in a spirit of integrity, courage and wisdom each day of this new year of legal justice and human compassion."

Archbishop Gregory added, "We begin a new judicial season always filled with hope that honesty and integrity will prevail and that the laws of our nation will be properly applied and observed. Those who work in the legal world carry a heavy burden and you must constantly work relentlessly to ensure that truth and fairness are not denied to any plaintiff or defendant."

The 67th annual Red Mass in the nation's capital was sponsored by the John Carroll Society, a group of 1,000 lay men and women in the Archdiocese of Washington from a variety of professions who participate in religious, charitable and social activities.

Archbishop Gregory said he was pleased to celebrate this year's Red Mass as the new archbishop of Washington. He was installed in May.

He first preached at the Red Mass in Washington in 2002 when, as bishop of Belleville, Illinois, he was president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He preached at the Mass in 2015 as archbishop of Atlanta.

"New beginnings are always good for the soul," Archbishop Gregory said. "Each year at this time, the legal world opens a new judicial session and that also should inspire us to give thanks for the gift of this particular component of our freedom that is captured and operative in the courts of our land and in the opportunity to pursue justice as a legitimate expression of our freedom and hope."

Praising the important role of the judicial branch, the archbishop noted, "Every court in the United States remains an enduring and irreplaceable manifestation of our freedom as a nation and as a people.

"Distinct from the legislative or executive branches of our government, your enduring value is primarily to be found in your careful and balanced pursuit and impartial application of the twin virtues of justice and mercy under the laws of our country."

Archbishop Gregory noted that the artistic representations of justice adorning modern court buildings reflect the ideals of that work.

"The statue of a woman wearing a blindfold and often holding an ageless balancing scale is a frequent and apt symbol of what justice must be for all of us -- evenhanded and without bias and prudent in attempting carefully to weigh all sides of an issue," he said.

That figure, he added, seemingly "declines to be concerned about or even take notice of the appearance of wealth, age, gender or power -- she only mulls over the merits of the issues that she carefully balances on her scales of justice."

Concluding his homily, Archbishop Gregory prayed: "May this new judicial season bring you increased wisdom and prudent judgments. May this new legal calendar bring our nation a boundless new hope and confidence in our freedom as a people. And may God be glorified in all that you do in all the myriad courts and legal corridors of our land in attempting to reflect his always more perfect justice and mercy."

Concelebrants of the Mass included Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services; Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia; and Washington Auxiliary Bishops Mario E. Dorsonville, Roy E. Campbell Jr. and Michael W. Fisher.

The 13 priests concelebrating included Msgr. Peter Vaghi, chaplain of the John Carroll Society and pastor of the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Maryland; Msgr. W. Ronald Jameson, the cathedral's rector; and Msgr. John Enzler, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington.

At the beginning of the Mass, a Knights of Columbus color guard marched down the aisle carrying the U.S. and Vatican flags, and the congregation sang the national anthem. As Mass ended, the congregation sang "America the Beautiful."

This year's Red Mass was celebrated 40 years to the day after St. John Paul II celebrated Mass at the cathedral Oct. 6, 1979, during his papal visit to Washington.

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Zimmermann is editor of the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

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Copyright © 2019 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.

Synod is a time to listen, discern, not despise, pope says

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 9:40am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops for the Amazon is a time of reflection, dialogue and listening to the needs and sufferings of indigenous people, Pope Francis said.

"The Holy Spirit is the primary actor in the synod. Please, do not kick him out of the room," the pope said, opening the gathering's first working session Oct. 7.

Speaking off-the-cuff, the pope said he was saddened to hear a "sarcastic" remark from a synod participant about an indigenous man wearing a feathered headdress who presented the offertory gifts at the synod's opening Mass Oct. 6.

"Tell me: What difference is there between having feathers on your head and the three-cornered hat worn by some officials of our dicasteries?" he asked, eliciting applause from synod participants.

Instead of becoming a series of reductive discussions that only undermine "the poetry" of indigenous people and their cultures, he said, the synod is a way for the church to walk with them "under the guidance of the Holy Spirit."

The synod was not called to "invent social development programs or museum-like cultural guardianships or pastoral actions in the same noncontemplative style that leads to actions that give counter signs," the pope said.

"We come to contemplate, to understand, to serve the people, and we do it by following a synodal path," he said. "We do it within the synod, not in roundtables, not in conferences and hidden discussions. We do it within the synod because a synod is not a parliament."

The first full day of the synod began with a prayer service in front of the altar of St. Peter's Basilica with members of indigenous communities standing arm-in-arm with cardinals and bishops singing as they waited for Pope Francis.

When the pope arrived, he led the invocation of the Holy Spirit's assistance with the chanting of "Veni, Creator Spiritus" ("Come, Holy Spirit") before processing with the large group from the basilica to the synod hall.

In his speech, the pope said it was important that the church stand with the people of the Amazon and steer clear of ideologies and "ready-made programs that attempt to 'discipline' the Amazonian peoples, discipline their history and their culture."

Ideologies, he said, are a "dangerous weapon" that can lead the church toward a pretentious attitude that reduces the understanding of indigenous people and their cultures to "categories of 'isms'" and prejudiced name-calling.

The pope also encouraged synod participants to reflect, to listen with humility and to speak with courage, "even if you are embarrassed."

Like at the Synod of Bishops on young people last year, he said, there will be a time of silent reflection after every four speeches in the synod hall.

"Someone told me, 'It's dangerous, father, because they are going to fall asleep.' The experience at the synod on young people, where we did this, was the contrary. They usually fell asleep during some of the interventions and would wake up in the silence," he said, drawing laughter from participants.

Highlighting the importance of responsible journalism in reporting the synod accurately, the pope urged participants to act with prudence when speaking to the press, adding that the synod "can be ruined a bit" by members speaking too freely with reporters.

Pope Francis said this often leads to forming two synods: one inside the Vatican and one outside.

"There is the inside synod that follows the path of Mother Church, of caring for the processes, and the outside synod that, due to information given flippantly and given with imprudence, causes those who inform to commit errors," the pope said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Copyright © 2019 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.

UPDATE: Fear, status quo smother fire of God's love, pope says at synod Mass

Sun, 10/06/2019 - 9:18am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church's mission in the world is to spread the fire of God's love and must not be limited to the "'ordinary maintenance' of those who already know the Gospel," Pope Francis said.

Celebrating the opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon Oct. 6, the pope said, "Jesus did not come to bring a gentle evening breeze, but to light a fire on the earth."

"If everything continues as it was, if we spend our days content that 'this is the way things have always been done,' then the gift vanishes, smothered by the ashes of fear and concern for defending the status quo," he said.

Among the thousands filling St. Peter's Basilica were members of various indigenous communities from the Amazon region. Some wore traditional headpieces while others painted their faces with ornate designs, proudly displaying the artistry of their cultures.

Several were chosen to present the offertory gifts during the Mass, solemnly walking up to the altar, some barefoot, and reverently bowing after presenting the gifts of bread and wine to the pope.

Jair Reis, one of about 1,200 Maragua Indians living in Brazil's Amazonas state, attended the Mass. He told Catholic News Service he has received threats from miners who have entered his people's lands illegally.

"We want our voices to be heard," he said. "Not for me, but for all the indigenous people of Brazil."

Jeremias Oliveira dos Santos, a Mura Indian also from Amazonas, said, "We need the support of the synod." A large mining company has invaded the Mura lands. He hopes the synod will help call attention especially to the need to demarcate indigenous territories. His people's demarcation is still in process, but Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said his government will not give another centimeter to indigenous peoples.

"We are living peoples" who depend on the forest and rivers for survival, he said. "People living along the entire course of the Amazon are threatened."

In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's second reading from St. Paul's Letter to Timothy. In it, the apostle reminds Timothy to "stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands."

Bishops, the pope said, have received the laying on of hands so that " we in turn might be hands raised to intercede before the Father, helping hands extended to our brothers and sisters."

The Holy Spirit, which "is not a spirit of timidity, but of prudence," stokes the flames of God's gift, he said.

"Some believe that prudence is a 'customs control' virtue that stops everything so as not to not make mistakes," the pope said departing from his prepared remarks. "No. Prudence is a Christian virtue, a virtue of life. It is the virtue of governance. And he has given us this spirit of prudence."

Citing the catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said that prudence should not be confused with fear; it is a "virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it."

"Prudence is not indecision; it is not a defensive attitude," he said. "It is the virtue of the pastor who, in order to serve with wisdom, is able to discern, to be receptive to the newness of the spirit."

Fidelity to the newness of the spirit, he added, "is a grace that we must ask for in prayer."

"May the spirit, who makes all things new, give us his own daring prudence; may he inspire our synod to renew the paths of the church in the Amazon so that the fire of mission will continue to burn," the pope said.

"So many of our brothers and sisters in the Amazon are bearing heavy crosses and awaiting the liberating consolation of the Gospel, the church's caress of love," the pope said.

However, the pope also said that in the church's history, there were times when peoples and cultures were "devoured without love and without respect."

"How many times has God's gift been imposed, not offered; how many times has there been colonization rather than evangelization!" the pope said. "May God preserve us from the greed of new forms of colonialism."

Recalling the fires that devasted the Amazon region in August, the pope said that such fires are "set by interests that destroy" and "blaze up when people want to promote only their own ideas, form their own group, wipe out differences in the attempt to make everyone and everything uniform."

Speaking off-the-cuff, Pope Francis recalled a conversation he had with Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, who often would visit the tombs of missionaries who died in the Amazon.

"With a bit of shrewdness," he said, Cardinal Hummes told him, "'Do not forget them. They deserve to be canonized.'"

"For them, for those who are giving their lives now for those who have given their lives, with them, let us journey together," the pope said.

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Contributing to this story was Barbara Fraser at the Vatican. On Twitter follow Arocho @arochoju and Fraser @Barbara_Fraser.

 

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Copyright © 2019 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 cardinals: Loving, loyal service requires feeling God's love

Sat, 10/05/2019 - 6:09pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a ceremony to create 13 new cardinals, Pope Francis reminded new and old members of the College of Cardinals how much their ministry and service depends on their realizing how much God loves them and has been compassionate with them.

"Unless I feel that I am the object of God's compassion, I cannot understand his love," he said Oct. 5 during the consistory, a prayer service during which he personally welcomed 13 churchmen from 13 countries into the College of Cardinals.

A person either feels God's love or doesn't, he said, and "If I don't feel it, how can I share it, bear witness to it, bestow it on others?"

"Am I compassionate toward this or that brother or sister, that bishop, that priest? Or do I constantly tear them down by my attitude of condemnation, of indifference?" he asked, adding that it is a measure of one's loyalty in ministry.
 
"So many disloyal actions on the part of ecclesiastics are born of the lack of a sense of having been shown compassion, and by the habit of averting one's gaze, the habit of indifference."  

Pope Francis' meditation at the ceremony focused on the many ways God has shown his love and concern for his children.

In fact, he said, "the Lord's compassion is not an occasional, sporadic emotion, but is steadfast and indeed seems to be the attitude of his heart, in which God's mercy is made incarnate."

Jesus is the compassionate redeemer of humanity, the pope said. "He incarnates God's will to purify men and women afflicted by the scourge of sin; he is 'the outstretched hand of God,' who touches our sickly flesh and accomplishes this work by bridging the chasm of separation."

While God is "drenched with compassion," Pope Francis said, many times people -- even Jesus' disciples -- appear to lack compassion; they make excuses or feel indifferent.

The position or ministry someone has in the church "is not enough to make us compassionate," he said. An intense, personal awareness within of having been the object of God's compassion is needed.

This is why, he said, "I ask this of you, brother cardinals and those about to become cardinals: Do you have a lively awareness of always having been preceded and accompanied by his mercy?"

Without this feeling of his love, it cannot be understood, explained or shared, he said.

"The readiness of a cardinal to shed his own blood -- as signified by the scarlet color of your robes -- is secure if it is rooted in this awareness of having been shown compassion and in the ability to show compassion in turn," the pope said. "Otherwise, one cannot be loyal."

The pope asked the new cardinals to pray that the apostle Peter would intercede on their behalf for the grace "to have a compassionate heart, in order to be witnesses of the one who has looked with favor upon us, who chose us, consecrated us and sent us to bring to everyone his Gospel of salvation."

Choosing prelates from 13 different nations -- eight of whom belong to religious orders -- the pope had said he wanted to signal "the missionary vocation of the church that continues to proclaim the merciful love of God to all men and women of the earth." The Oct. 5 ceremony fell during the extraordinary Missionary Month.

Speaking on behalf of the new cardinals, Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, told the pope, "It's a bit a consistory of religious!"

The church is a missionary church that wants to bring God's mercy and good news everywhere, but especially to those who are suffering because of violence or injustice, Cardinal Ayuso said.

The new cardinals, he said, were praying to have more compassionate hearts, to heal people's wounds and promote a culture of inclusion and dialogue. Noting the Oct. 4 feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the cardinal said the saint reminded Christians their "only weapon is their humble faith and concrete, compassionate love for all creatures."

Cardinal Ayuso also promised the pope he would have "our loyal and sincere collaboration" and support "in the mission our Lord has entrusted to you."

The consistory brought to 225 the total number of cardinals in the world; 128 cardinals are under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave.

After the new cardinals professed their faith by reciting the Creed and formally swore fidelity and obedience to the pope and his successors, they approached Pope Francis one by one to receive their biretta, their cardinal's ring and the assignment of a "titular" church in Rome, which makes them part of the Roman clergy.

In addition to the 67-year-old Cardinal Ayuso, a Spanish member of the Comboni Missionaries, the 12 other prelates who received their red hats from the pope were Cardinals:

-- Jose Tolentino Calaca de Mendonca, Vatican archivist and librarian, Portuguese, 53.

-- Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, archbishop of Jakarta, Indonesia, 69.

-- Juan Garcia Rodriguez, archbishop of Havana, 71.

-- Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo, and member of the Capuchins, 59.

-- Jean-Claude Hollerich, archbishop of Luxembourg, Jesuit, 61.

-- Alvaro Ramazzini Imeri, bishop of Huehuetenango, Guatemala, 72.

-- Matteo Zuppi, archbishop of Bologna, Italy, 63.

-- Cristobal Lopez Romero, archbishop of Rabat, Morocco, Spanish member of the Salesians, 67.

-- Michael Czerny, undersecretary of the Section for Migrants and Refugees at the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Canadian Jesuit, 73.

-- Michael Fitzgerald, an English Missionary of Africa, who had served as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and later as Vatican nuncio to Egypt, 82.

-- Sigitas Tamkevicius, retired archbishop of Kaunas, Lithuania, Jesuit, 80.

-- Eugenio dal Corso, retired bishop of Benguela, Angola, an Italian member of the congregation of the Poor Servants of Divine Providence, 80.

 

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Catholics can offer calming voice in a time of fiery political debates

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 3:10pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholics -- clergy, religious and laypeople in the pews -- can utilize the values of their faith to overcome the increasing fiery rhetoric emerging because of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump's actions, several Catholic observers said.

While watching the caustic animosity that has deepened since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, announced the opening of the inquiry Sept. 24, those contacted by Catholic News Service expressed concern that American society is rapidly losing its sense of unity and that it may take years to repair the fractures.

The country is more than political wins and losses, said Arturo Chavez, president of the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, which prepares people for various types of ministry.

"I've been just saying (to students) repeatedly that being Catholic is a much bigger commitment and view of the world and of our neighbor than a political party," Chavez said. "Especially here in the United States, we're led to believe that there are only two options. As we continue to escalate the rhetoric, those two choices become more and more extreme.

"What I keep telling people is that we have to look at the bigger call that we have as followers of Christ," he said.

That call from the church -- not necessarily the institution as a whole or the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, but individuals working in their circles of family and community -- can play an important role in preserving civility, said Jesuit Father Joe Mueller, associate professor of theology and rector of the Jesuit community at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

He stressed that the United States is a not a "winner-take-all" nation.

"We need to recall things like we need to know the truth, we need to pursue justice if there's been a wrong and to be prudent about it," Father Mueller said. "We can say that no matter what state of information we have ourselves, we can recall that we are all citizens of this country and we don't always agree. That doesn't call into question someone else's beliefs. We have a civic unity.

"We are all under the same style of representative government. This is something we can all get behind. If the Constitution doesn't stand for truth and justice, we've got a real problem," he added.

Recognizing the important role individuals play in a democracy calls for the church to "remind us that government should be about the common good and not just about political combat," said John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life and Georgetown University.

He lamented that the events of recent weeks are continuing the "dysfunction and demoralization of Washington" under which the search for truth becomes secondary to winning.

Carr, onetime director of the USCCB's Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, told CNS that Catholics can begin to bridge the divides in their daily life.

"In our own relationships, our own family, our own circle of friends and colleagues, we might try to lower the temperature and focus on the search for truth," he said.

"The Catholic community is one of the few major institutions in American life that brings people together across partisan, ideology, racial and ethical lines and in times of great division. That in itself is a good thing," he said.

Such sentiments were echoed by Jim Ennis, executive director of Catholic Rural Life based in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Ennis noted how farmers are particularly independent, but also realize they rely on interdependence for their livelihood. That interdependence has helped the Catholic Church convene rural communities from California's Central Valley to the Midwest to address various concerns and, Ennis said, such examples can serve the rest of the country to calm the "anger and angst."

With the church's efforts rooted in Catholic social teaching and its seven principles that promote human dignity, the foundation for civil conversation that leads to understanding can be built, he said.

Those principles are: life and dignity of the human person; call to family, community and participation; rights and responsibilities; option for the poor and vulnerable; dignity of work and the rights of workers; solidarity; and care for God's creation.

"A lot of people, especially in Washington, D.C., where it's needed, come in with their fists up," Ennis told CNS. "People come in to defend themselves and attack. We can come in there to defuse this situation."

One observer, however, was more pessimistic about the church's role and said it may be individual Catholics who can soothe hateful feelings in politics.

Kathleen Sprows Cummings, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame, called for Catholics to "each in our own little world work toward a greater understanding and a greater tolerance."

She expressed concern that Catholics, like others, are more widely influenced by national developments rather than the Gospel or the words of clergy. That has led to polarization in the church that parallels the political chasms in U.S. society, Cummings explained.

What's her best advice for these times? "Prayer," she said.

Indeed, prayer has helped people find the truth in their lives, Carr said, adding that he thought more people are praying more intensely at Mass and privately for a solution to the nation's cavernous political divides.

"It would be important for all of us to hope that we find the truth, whether that benefits our preferred political party or not," Carr said. "Maybe our church and our faith can remind us there are some important principles at stake here beyond who wins and loses.

"The search for both truth and peace are not in contradiction, at least in our world," he added.

Chavez at the school in Texas said he found it interesting that the inquiry started as the church approached its celebration of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi Oct. 4. The saint, who focused on increasing the presence of Jesus in his life and treating all life with dignity, offers an example for Catholics to follow, he said.

"He strove for the third way. That's what Catholics, as individuals and institutionally, should be striving for."

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

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Imelda stirs up painful memories of Harvey as Houston church floods again

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 1:00pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/James Ramos, Texas Catholic Herald

By James Ramos

HUFFMAN, Texas (CNS) -- The damp odor in his now-empty office. The din of dozens of ventilation fans blasting air at max speed. The slashing sound of saws tearing apart drywall. The dark, murky water still standing on roadsides. The ache of again not having a physical home to a pained, and perhaps tired, spiritual community.

"Every single thing brings out a memory of Harvey," said Father Richard Barker, pastor of St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church in Huffman, located 45 minutes northeast of Houston.

When Tropical Storm Imelda dumped more than 2 feet of rain on east Montgomery County Sept. 19, several feet of floodwater from the East Fork of the San Jacinto River and Cedar Bayou rushed through Huffman, Dayton and Crosby. These entire communities became an "ocean of water," Father Barker said.

The floodwaters didn't care that Hurricane Harvey had flooded the parish, a community of more than 650 families, two years ago. Imelda brought 6 to 8 inches of water into the parish buildings while drenching the entire parish campus with several feet of water. But because of Harvey, parish leaders knew what to do.

The day after the storm, on Sept. 20, a small crew of parishioners -- those who could navigate the high waters that still choked Huffman, some 50 high-water rescues still took place nearby -- trekked to the church to save what they could. They elevated statues, kneelers and furniture, emptying cabinets of supplies, books, and more to spare anything from the risk of being reached by more water if it were to return.

Fifty parishioners came the next day to continue the renovation process themselves before remediation companies arrived. After Harvey, 4 feet of floodwaters stayed inside the church for three days, wreaking havoc by crawling up high into the walls of buildings, deeply contaminating everything on the parish campus.

"We can't get away from it," said Lynette Zaunbrecher, confirmation and sacramental coordinator at the parish.

This time they pushed any remaining floodwaters out of the buildings. Floodwaters snaked into the elevated space beneath the altar, a wooden structure that was already buckling from the moisture.

They pulled up the carpets, scrubbed down the new wooden pews installed 13 months ago, desperate to save the parish's major expenses, like the sound system. The organ and grand piano were all spared, but the community again was splintered by the floodwaters.

Walking around the church sanctuary, Father Barker and Zaunbrecher surveyed a strange scene. The podiums, votive candle holders, shelves and credence tables were all crammed next to the altar. Pews were elevated off the ground to dry out. Their shoes stuck to the floors as they crossed the sanctuary.

Suddenly, hot air moved through plastic tubing that coursed throughout the parish, working to "bake" the campus and clear the space of airborne contaminants.

Mass and faith formation programs were canceled that weekend but resumed Sept. 28. A nearby church shared chapel space to house the displaced congregation for weekend Mass.

When Imelda came, the parish was in the middle of a campaign to evangelize to neighboring communities. They shared the message that the doors were open and the parish was ready to share the faith and serve where needed.

New families were registering, parishioners who scattered after Harvey had returned, youth and adult faith formation programs were growing and even altar server trainings were set to begin the next week.

Now parish officials said there is no expected timeline to return to the church campus. But a priority effort to renovate and reopen the parish office, on the campus, was already underway. After Harvey, parish and ministry leaders spread out across the city in spaces opened to them but efforts were hampered by distance and lack of face-to-face communications.

After Harvey, Father Barker said, it took the community "a better part of a year to (fully restore) liturgical ministries" and "be able to give the congregation back the Precious Blood" in the Mass.

"We did everything possible to reawaken the parish, and now all of that is gone. All of our new teams, our new volunteers, all of that now is just washed away," he told the Texas Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

Ministries "are the first thing to suffer permanently" and take "such a long time to rebuild," especially faith formation and liturgical ministries, Father Barker said.

While there are "solid" plans to continue youth faith formation programs, "the liturgy now has gone with the water," he said. "You can't keep a full-blown liturgical team in place in a temporary location when Mass is coming out of a backpack or a piece of luggage."

In the aftermath of Imelda, Father Barker remained focused on empowering the parish ministry leaders. Still, even after knowing what to do after a storm, leading a community split by floodwater is no easy task.

"We're not looking at it like it's behind us," Father Barker said. "It's like we're yoked to this, like oxen and we're pulling it all."

Many parishioners were affected by Imelda, and Father Barker lost his own car to the flood. He said he continues to "lead in God strongly," no matter how tired, or flooded his parish may be.

Right before demolition entered full swing, Father Barker searched his office, now a tall, jumbled pile of boxes, books and paperwork sitting atop his desk in the middle of the barren space covered in industrial plastic wrap, for the crucifix that had hung on his office wall.

Zaunbrecher found it first. She lifted the plastic covering, reaching over a box and gingerly picked up the large crucifix and handed it to Father Barker. Since it was high, it was safe from Imelda's floodwaters. The dark wooden cross, with angled etchings on all four ends and knot-like bumps of a tree branch, featured a bronze corpus of Jesus Christ, whose head tilted with eyes closed as if he was sighing.

Father Barker clutched the crucifix close to his chest, at times tucking it under his chin as if to rest on it, seemingly sighing with Christ. With the crucifix, he went to another room and grabbed the parish blueprints. Before leaving the parish for the afternoon, he glanced once more to his office that Imelda, just like Harvey, had changed for him.

The waters had come again, but Father Barker knew that God would make a way back home, just as God did with Moses and the Israelites. But for now, he carried his cross with him outside of the church he leads.

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Editor's Note: To donate to the Archdiocesan Galveston-Houston Flood Relief Fund, visit https://www.archgh.org/floodrelief.

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Ramos is a staff writer and designer for the Texas Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

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On feast of St. Francis, pope joins Amazonians to plant tree at Vatican

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 11:42am

IMAGE: REUTERS

By Barbara J. Fraser

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis joined Amazonian church workers and indigenous people Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, to plant a tree in the Vatican Gardens.

He also consecrated the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon to St. Francis. The synod will be held at the Vatican Oct. 6-27.

About 20 delegates from Amazonian countries opened the ceremony, singing and dancing around a mandala of Amazonian symbols that included a banner with a photograph of Notre Dame de Namur Sister Dorothy Stang, a missionary from Dayton, Ohio, who was murdered in Brazil in 2005 because of her defense of the land rights of small-scale farmers.

Members of various church groups brought offerings of soil from symbolic places, including the Amazon, which has a rich cultural heritage and is also a land where martyrs have died; India, a country vulnerable to climate change; countries where people are trafficked or forced to migrate; places where young people participate in climate change demonstrations; and the Shrine of the Renunciation in Assisi.

Ednamar de Oliveira Viana, an indigenous woman, and Jose Cristo de Oliveira, a farmer, both from Brazil, joined the pope and Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Brazil to spread the soil around a small holm oak tree from Assisi and sprinkle it with water.

"Pope Francis is sensitive to our people," Viana said after the ceremony. When he refers to the earth as a common home, "he speaks a great deal about our life."

In a reflection on the tree's significance, Sister Liliana Franco of the Company of Mary, president of the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Men and Women Religious, said the time has come "to listen to the voice that the Spirit brings us from the Amazon."

The pope appeared tired at the event, during which he sat under a blazing noonday sun. He stood to greet and receive a crucifix from Amazonian delegates and to shovel the first spadeful of soil around the tree.

Instead of the brief prepared remarks he was scheduled to deliver after the tree was planted, however, he simply prayed the Our Father and left in a car. The ceremony ended abruptly without the planned closing prayer and song.

The tree-planting ceremony marked the end of the "season of creation," an annual period of prayer and action for the environment that is observed by various Christian churches between Sept. 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and Oct. 4.

The ceremony was organized by the Order of Friars Minor, the Global Catholic Climate Movement and the Pan-Amazonian Church Network, which is holding various events in Rome during the synod.

 

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Dallas' Bishop Burns says forgiveness in court was act of Christian love

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 2:36pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tom Fox pool via Reuters

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A Dallas bishop said that the public forgiveness offered by the brother of a murder victim toward the person who killed him was "an incredible example of Christian love."

Bishop Edward J. Burns, who heads of the Diocese of Dallas, offered the statement after 18-year-old Brandt Jean forgave former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger in court, as he read his victim impact statement Oct. 2. He also asked and was granted permission by the court to give her a hug, even though she fatally shot his 26-year-old brother, Botham Jean, in his apartment last year.

Guyger said she believed he was a burglar, but she was the one who entered his apartment without permission and later said she believed she was entering her own apartment.

Guyger was convicted of murder and sentenced to 10 years.

"I love you as a person and I don't wish anything bad on you," Brandt Jean told her in a video widely viewed and praised and in which the young man asked her to give her life over to Christ.

"I pray we can all follow the example of this outstanding young man. Let us pray for peace in our community and around the world," Bishop Burns said in the statement.

However, some were upset that Guyger wasn't given a harsher sentence and protested what they viewed as a light sentence.

Allison Jean, the victim's mother, said she hoped Guyger would use the time in prison to reflect on her actions.

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Cardinal Newman's canonization: Chance for campus groups to 'reclaim' name

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 11:32am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Lisa Johnston, St. Louis Review

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The upcoming canonization of Blessed John Henry Newman begs the question: Do Catholic college students today even know who Cardinal Newman is?

Yes and no, seems to be the answer, depending on where they go to school, but this could change after the Oct. 13 canonization of the British theologian and intellectual so tied in with university life.

Newman centers, located on the campuses of many public universities, get their name and their role from the cardinal who died in 1890 and emphasized that Catholic students who attend public universities must be given a place to gather to support and encourage one another in their faith.

Many university-based Catholic student groups no longer call themselves Newman Centers but instead go by terms like Catholic associations, Catholic student organizations or campus Catholic communities, possibly because students lack knowledge about Cardinal Newman, who has taken a bit of a back seat.

Barbara McCrabb, assistant director for higher education at the Secretariat of Catholic Education of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Cardinal Newman's canonization is an "opportunity for campus ministry to reclaim some of its roots" by reintroducing the saint she described as a Renaissance man, with concern for prayer, immigrants and the poor, to today's college students.

"All of what Cardinal Newman was talking about and hoping for has resonance today," she added, urging again that campus ministry "reclaim and rekindle its intellectual past" in telling the story of the new saint, who embraced the link between faith and reason and wanted laypeople to have a clear understanding of their faith that they could explain to others.

When Cardinal Newman was beatified in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI, a director of campus ministry at the University of Wisconsin in Madison said the cardinal's influence was more on campus ministry leaders today than the students themselves. In part, it's because "it's a rare student who would pick up 'Grammar of Assent' (one of the cardinal's books) and get excited about Cardinal Newman," said Father Eric Nielsen, who was, and still is, director of St. Paul's University Catholic Center on campus.

At the time, he said he hoped sainthood was not far off for the cardinal as that would raise his profile even more and likely promote his writings to college students. But in the meantime, he said, campus ministry leaders should continue to take up the cardinal's challenge to help students integrate faith and intellectual study and ultimately "bring Christ to the world."

That's the challenge that motivates Father Gary Braun, who has been director of the Catholic Student Center at Washington University in St. Louis for nearly 30 years. He said the campus ministry program is not just about keeping the participating students "over here" but "catapulting them back across the street healthier, happier, holier so they can impact the culture for the better there."

The priest said the center's sign outside the building includes the words "Newman Community" and he said students are often curious about it because most of them have never heard of Cardinal Newman in their parishes or even Catholic high schools.

Their curiosity brings about "a great opportunity to talk about him as a brilliant man and priest, his conversion story, his struggle to put his faith together with what they are learning in the university," he told Catholic News Service by email.

This discussion leads to inevitable dialogue about Cardinal Newman's impact on the whole idea of a university and his understanding of a church that both can change and cannot change.

One student who went through this Catholic student center was Melissa Villalobos of Chicago. Her 2013 healing, which saved her life and the life of her unborn child, was accepted by the Vatican this year as the miracle needed for Cardinal Newman's canonization.

Background material about Villalobos on the website of the London Oratories, which include the Oratory in Birmingham founded by Cardinal Newman, says that when Villalobos first came across the Newman Center at Washington University, she assumed it was named after a rich benefactor.

When she learned more about him even years later, particularly after his 2010 beatification, she developed a devotion to the British scholar, philosopher and writer. Her husband gave her holy cards of Cardinal Newman, and she prayed to him for small family needs and then a more urgent request, which ultimately moved up his canonization.

Being part of a student center with Newman in the name is not a guarantee that students will know who he is, but students at Penn Catholic Newman Community, part of the first Newman Club founded in the United States in 1893, have definitely picked up on his main ideas, said Patrick Travers, director of the Newman Apostolate for the University of Pennsylvania, and a member of the movement Sodalitium Christianae Vitae.

Travers said even though students might at first confuse Cardinal Newman with local Philadelphia saint St. John Neumann, they pick up the cardinal's motto, "Heart speaks to hear," because it is an integral part of the campus ministry.

The idea, he told CNS Sept. 19, is "God's heart speaks to our hearts, but then the invitation is to share our hearts to others."

Travers said this is especially key at Penn where "everyone is from the top of their class when they get here and they think that they have to be the best but they eventually hit a wall" which is something the Newman center, through its small groups, works to change by encouraging students to let barriers down and trust each other.

Those group discussions with fellow Catholic students also has made the difference for Hailey Rose Thayer, a junior biology education major at the University of Evansville, Indiana, who will be reading a petition at a prayer vigil for Cardinal Newman in Rome the night before his canonization.

In an email to CNS, Thayer said the Newman Center has changed her life, particularly its community aspect "because these are the people we see at Sunday Mass and our weekly dinner and discussions" that go on until late at night.

"During these late nights, we discuss God in our lives and what that means to us," she said, adding that they talk about where they have seen God and where they have struggled or done well. "In these precious moments, I feel that Newman's vision for the centers on college campuses has been carried out."

Her takeaway about Cardinal Newman is that he felt "universities should focus on more than just academics" and that one's studies "should amount to more than just facts on a page, but to an appreciation of God's design and an understanding of the universe on a greater scale."

Father Robert Lampitt, head chaplain at St John's Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was involved as a student before graduating in 2002, similarly appreciates Cardinal Newman's faith and intellect connection finding a home on the college campus.

"The patronage of Cardinal Newman is a constant reminder that one can be a stout intellectual as well as a saint," he said in an email, adding that he is grateful to be part of "a robust Newman Center which stands proudly in the center of campus reminding everyone that faith, too, is an integral part of the human experience."

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

 

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Synod document is to aid discussion, not be church teaching, cardinal says

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 11:22am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes said the working document for the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon is not official church teaching, but rather a way for bishops to listen to the local church's concerns.

The working document, which was drafted after input was received from bishops' conferences and local communities, "isn't a document of the synod, it is for the synod," Cardinal Hummes, relator general of the synod, told journalists Oct. 3.

"It is the voice of the local church, the voice of the church in the Amazon: of the church, of the people, of the history and of the very earth, the voice of the earth," he said.

During a briefing at the Vatican press office, Cardinal Hummes and Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, responded to a journalist's question regarding criticisms against the synod and its working document, also known as the "Instrumentum Laboris."

Scheduled for Oct. 6-27, the synod will focus on "Amazonia: New paths for the church and for an integral ecology."

In June, German Cardinal Walter Brandmuller published an essay in which he accused the synod's working document of being heretical because it refers to the rainforest as a place of divine revelation. In the essay, Cardinal Brandmuller also criticized the synod for its plans to get involved in social and environmental affairs.

U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke and Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, also launched similar accusations in an eight-page letter released Sept. 12, in which they cited "serious theological errors and heresies" in the synod's working document.

However, Cardinal Baldisseri said, "if there is a cardinal or a bishop who does not agree, who sees that there is content that does not correspond (to church teaching), well then, in the meantime I would say that it is necessary to listen and not judge because it isn't a magisterial document."

The secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops added that while he believes that everyone should be free to express their disagreement, he also felt it was inappropriate "that a judgment should be made about a document that isn't a pontifical document."

"This is just a working document that will be given to the synod fathers," he said. "And that will be the basis to begin the work and build the final document from zero. It's also known as a 'martyred document.'"

Cardinal Hummes told journalists that the purpose of the synod's working document stemmed from the church's desire to listen to the local church in the Amazon.

"The church didn't do it for the sake of doing it to only ignore them," the Brazilian cardinal said. "No! If it was done, it was so that (the church) could to listen to them. This is the synodal path: to seriously listen."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

 

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Violence on Amazonian border puts indigenous at risk, say church workers

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 10:02am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Ueslei Marcelino, Reuters

By Barbara J. Fraser

ROME (CNS) -- A series of violent events on the Amazonian border shared by Brazil and Peru has placed isolated indigenous people at risk, church workers say.

Maxciel Pereira dos Santos, who worked with the Brazilian government's National Indian Foundation, FUNAI, was murdered Sept. 6 in broad daylight in the Brazilian border town of Tabatinga.

Dos Santos was known for his efforts to keep illegal loggers, miners and other unauthorized people from entering the Vale do Javari indigenous territory on the border between Brazil and Peru, according to Cristina Larrain, a Chilean missionary working with the Brazilian bishops' Indigenous Missionary Council.

"He was well-known and well-liked, because he was very good at oversight" of the indigenous territory, where he was part of the FUNAI team that protected it from outsiders, she told Catholic News Service.

The murder came just a month before Catholic Church leaders were to meet for the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, to discuss "new paths for the church" in the Amazon. The synod will be Oct. 6-27 at the Vatican.

On Sept. 21, armed men attacked another FUNAI base in the Vale do Javari territory, the seventh such attack since November 2018, said the Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley, an umbrella organizations of the territory's inhabitants.

"Many people are invading areas that are within the indigenous territory," Larrain said.

The Union of Indigenous Peoples has reported incursions by loggers, miners, fishermen and farmers who enter the territory illegally.

In a statement Sept. 24, the group said evangelical missionaries also had entered the area without authorization. The organization prohibits proselytizing by church workers within the territory.

The incursions bring the risk of violent contact between outsiders and indigenous people living in the reserve. There is also the possibility that outsiders will negotiate with indigenous villagers to engage in illegal activities like logging or mining, Larrain said.

The working document for the synod for the Amazon notes that isolated indigenous people are especially vulnerable.

"Many of them have chosen to isolate themselves because they previously suffered traumas; others have been violently pushed aside by the economic exploitation of the Amazon," said the document.

Contact with outsiders, even indirectly by touching clothing or other items, could also expose isolated people to illnesses to which they have no resistance. Throughout the Amazon, tribes have been decimated by such contact.

Such contacts "could be happening without anyone knowing," Larrain said. Even violent encounters between outsiders and isolated groups often go unreported, with news emerging months or years after the events.

Since dos Santos' murder, other FUNAI workers have left the territory, fearing for their safety, leaving too few people to protect it, said the Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley.

The group blamed the lack of security in the territory on government policies that ease protection for indigenous rights and called on the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro to guarantee indigenous people's legal rights to their territories.

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Copyright © 2019 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.

Ranch aims to help teens, veterans work through mental health struggles

Wed, 10/02/2019 - 12:55pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Karen Bonar, The Register

By Karen Bonar

CHAPMAN, Kan. (CNS) -- Rhythmically, the song of the crickets rises and falls across the rolling hills. Soft clouds float through the sky as rays from the setting sun dance across yellow butterweed flowers.

Jordyn slowly uses a brush along the length Dakota's neck at Warrior's Ranch.

"The horses take your emotions. It's a different type of stress relief," she said. "Instead of yelling or being angry, if I work with a horse and hang out, it helps me be calm."

She tries to visit the Warrior's Ranch weekly as an opportunity to work through struggles.

"It's hands-on therapy," said Jordyn's mom, Kris. "She seems more relaxed afterward. The animals aren't judging. She can see the progress. She can enjoy the rewards."

Warrior's Ranch was founded to provide outdoor experiences for veterans and teenagers who struggle with suicidal thoughts or have attempted suicide.

Has 18-year-old Jordyn attempted suicide?

"Yes," she said simply.

Was it due, in part, to being bullied?

"Yes," Jordyn said. "I took a whole bunch of pills because I was done with everyone, done with all the drama."

She and her mother told their story to The Register, newspaper of the Diocese of Salina. (Their last names were withheld to protect their privacy.)

Kris said she knew her daughter, who once had a bubbly personality, struggled with depression. She never realized, however, how deep the hurt was.

"It caught me out of the blue," Kris said of her daughter's suicide attempt during her freshman year of high school. "I knew she was upset and I knew kids were bothering her, but she never would tattle or say specifics. I never realized how deep it had gotten to her."

Jordyn said she blocks out most of the memories surrounding the days leading up to her suicide attempt. The attempt led to more intense therapy.

"It was rough. People just were rude," she said. "It was ... like living a nightmare, but it was real. You know you had a nightmare, but you blocked it all out."

Returning to school following the attempt was a different kind of struggle.

"People who (previously told me they didn't like me) acted so fake," she said. "When we were in public, they were friendly, but when I would text them later, they would ignore me.

"There are a select few friends who have shown their support."

Bullying was something Jordyn experienced from a young age.

Kris explained Jordyn was born with the anterior bowing of her right tibia, meaning one leg was significantly shorter than the other.

"Kids would make fun of her because they didn't know how to process seeing someone different," Kris said. "She would wobble or wouldn't be as fast running, even though she was giving it a 100 percent effort."

At age 3, Jordyn had the first surgery to help lengthen her leg; she'd have 14 surgeries to stretch her bone by eight inches.

Due to surgeries, Jordyn missed school regularly. She spent 10 days in the hospital for surgery and would have to return to St. Louis for weekly follow-up appointments.

"She didn't develop a lot of friends because she was always at appointments and in pain," Kris said.

During grade school, Jordyn would get teased on the playground.

"One time, the school secretary called. She watched the boys pick on her by throwing rocks," Kris said. "Jordyn's problem was always not tattling. She didn't want to be a tattletale."

By middle school, Kris said, it was important to her Jordyn have regular counseling sessions, though "it was hard to find counselors to take someone that age."

Throughout school, Jordyn said she struggled with feeling excluded.

"I'm used to it, but it still hurts when I have to try hard to get someone's attention, and I know they're ignoring me because they don't like me," she said. "It hurts because I'm a people person."

It's not simply being ignored, though.

"I scroll through social media and see they're having a fun time," Jordyn said. "I don't get invited to bonfires. I feel excluded."

Social media creates a host of other complications, including teens who create fake accounts to say malicious things.

"I've seen some of the messages teens send other teens," said Jodi Mason, the founder of Warrior's Ranch. "Kids who are 14 or 15 will say, 'You're worthless, everyone wants you to die.' It's something I would never imagine. Who would ever think to say stuff like that?"

Talking about a deeply personal and often private experience, such as suicide, in a public platform is something Kris describes as "scary."

"Jordyn wants to tell her story and help others," Kris said. "As a mom, I want to support Jordyn. It's scary because kids are cruel. What if some kid reads it and starts to make fun of her?"

Talking openly and candidly about her struggles and suicide attempt is something Jordyn said is important to her.

"Bullying is going to get bigger and bigger," she said. "It will get to the point where it's the natural thing to do."

As a parent, walking with a child through the aftermath of a suicide attempt is difficult, Kris said.

"Take it one day at a time," she advised. "Kids get angry at the ones they love the most. You have to step back and remember it may be the illness or depression. Don't take it to heart. Still say, 'I love you.' Still try to talk to them, even if they don't want to talk to you."

Professional counseling and consistency is essential to developing healthy coping strategies.

"If you have to take them (to counseling) every day, do it," Kris said. "They may not like it, but one day they will look back and know you cared enough to take time out of your day to help.

"I hope that more parents reach out to each other. I'm glad to see more awareness and stories and real happenings coming out, instead of just trying to hide (the topic of suicide)."

From a teen's perspective, Jordyn said she thinks counseling is important, but not necessarily easy.

"Counselors know everything about us, but we know nothing about them," she said. "You want someone who can relate to you on a personal level."

Which is why Kris said she feels like the Warrior's Ranch is so important.

"Working with the horses in nature is more about learning about yourself," she said. "Learning what can you do to help calm your triggers or panic attacks. If Jordyn knows how to calm herself, it is probably beneficial, especially if you can't get in immediately (to see your counselor)."

"These animals are helping Jordyn," Kris added, "and she is helping the animals."

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Bonar is editor of The Register, newspaper of the Diocese of Salina.

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Report says Vatican suspends five employees following raid

Wed, 10/02/2019 - 12:35pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican apparently has suspended five employees after raids on Vatican offices.

Vatican police conducted a raid on offices in the Secretariat of State and its financial oversight office Oct. 1 following complaints of financial mismanagement, the Vatican press office said.

The following day, Italian magazine L'Espresso published an alleged internal notice from the Vatican informing of the "cautionary suspension" of five individuals.

The press office issued no statement on L'Espresso's report nor any clarification regarding the nature of the financial transactions or people being investigated.

In a statement published Oct. 1, the Vatican said the operation, which was authorized by Vatican chief prosecutor Gian Piero Milano and his deputy, Alessandro Diddi, led to the confiscation "of documents and electronic devices."

The raid, the statement said, "is related to complaints presented at the beginning of the summer by the Institute for the Works of Religion (Vatican bank) and the Office of the Auditor General, concerning financial transactions carried out over time."

The suspension order published by L'Espresso features photos of one woman and four men, including Msgr. Mauro Carlino, head of information and documentation at the Vatican Secretariat of State, and Tomasso Di Ruzza, director of the Financial Intelligence Authority.

While the alleged order bars them from entering Vatican City State except to access health services or "if authorized by the Vatican magistrate," it also states that Msgr. Carlino will continue to reside at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican residence where Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia live.

In August, Pope Francis approved new statutes for the Vatican bank, including structural changes and a mandatory external audit.

Among the primary changes to the statutes is the inclusion of an external auditor which, according to the document, can be either an individual or a company proposed by the institute's supervisory board and appointed by the Commission of Cardinals overseeing the bank's work.

The external auditor, the statutes state, will "express opinions on the institute's financial statements in a special report" and "examine all the books and accounting documents." The auditor may also "request any information useful for auditing activities."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

 

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Without Holy Spirit, preaching becomes proselytizing, pope says

Wed, 10/02/2019 - 10:30am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Yara Nardi, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A person who claims to preach the Gospel by convincing people of their beliefs in Jesus is not evangelizing, but proselytizing, Pope Francis said.

"If there is no Holy Spirit, there is no evangelization," the pope said Oct. 2 during his weekly general audience. "This can be proselytizing, advertising. But evangelization means letting the Holy Spirit guide you, that he is the one that pushes you to announce, to proclaim with your witness, with martyrdom as well as with the word."

Continuing his series of talks on the Acts of the Apostles, the pope said that, following the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the violent persecution of Christians in Jerusalem seemingly brought the word of God "to a standstill."

However, while persecution "appears as the permanent state of life of the disciples," it does not extinguish "the fire of evangelization." Instead, it "feeds it even more."

The pope recalled the encounter of Philip, one of seven deacons chosen by the apostles, with an Ethiopian official who was reading a passage from the prophet Isaiah. After asking the man whether he understood what he was reading, the Ethiopian replied, "And how could I understand if no one guides me."

"That powerful man," the pope said, "recognizes that he needs to be guided to understand the word of God. He was the great banker, he was the minister of economy, he had all the power of money, but he knew that, without the explanation, he could not understand; he was humble."

Upon understanding the words of Isaiah, the Ethiopian official seeks baptism.

This encounter, he added, is a call for Christians to reflect on the fact that "it isn't enough to read Scripture, we need to understand its meaning."

"To enter into the word of God means to be willing to go beyond one's own limitations to encounter God and to conform oneself to Christ who is the living word of the father," the pope said.

Nevertheless, the pope said, what pushed Philip to meet with the man was the Holy Spirit who is ultimately "the protagonist of the evangelization."

Pope Francis said the true sign that a Christian is an evangelizer is "joy, even in martyrdom."

"May the Holy Spirit," he said, "make baptized men and women who proclaim the Gospel to attract others not to themselves but to Christ, who know how to make room for God's action, who know how to make others free and responsible before the Lord."

 

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For bishop with Mexican roots, El Paso's assault hit close to home

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 5:48pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Rhina Guidos

EL PASO, Texas (CNS) -- For Bishop Oscar Cantu of San Jose, California, the early August assault by a gunman who opened fire on El Pasoans and others doing weekend shopping at a Walmart in the border city this summer struck particularly deep.

Bishop Cantu served as the bishop of the nearby Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico, from 2013 until 2018, often flying and in and out of the El Paso airport on church business and he came to consider the city "part of home."

But more than a geographic closeness in his past experience as a neighboring bishop, he and his family are part of Texas' Mexican heritage, which is what came under attack during the shooting that resulted in 22 deaths. The gunman allegedly told authorities he was targeting Mexicans and news reports say he harbored anti-immigrant sentiments and had published writings saying he was angry at the "Hispanic invasion of Texas."

El Paso, in particular, has a reputation of intertwining the culture, food and languages of the two countries in its midst. El Pasoans will begin a sentence in English and end it in Spanish and vice versa. They proudly throw the word "binational" around, recognizing the commercial, familial and community bonds that are part of the city's history and identity -- one that incorporates two countries.

Perhaps because of that nature, it became a prime target for a gunman intent on attacking exactly those kinds of ties prevalent in many Texan families with Mexican roots, such as Bishop Cantu's.

Bishop Cantu's parents, originally from Mexico, raised their family of eight children on the opposite side of the state, in Houston, where the prelate was born. From a young age, he knew being Mexican in the U.S. came with moments of difficulty, he said in a Sept. 25 interview with Catholic News Service.

"I had experienced discrimination at different levels throughout my life, as a young person, a teenager, even as an adult, for being Hispanic, and you learn to cope with those things and brush it off," he said.

Although facing discrimination and prejudice comes with the territory of being a person of color in the U.S., nothing prepared him for the news he heard out of El Paso this summer.

On Sept. 26, Bishop Cantu, along with a delegation of U.S. bishops, women religious, lay ministers and others visited El Paso to learn about the current state of affairs in immigration circles there and made a stop at a makeshift memorial that locals erected near the Walmart where the shooting took place.

Like a river of sorrow but also of resilience, hundreds of items flow along the long fence: rosaries, artwork featuring Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Diving Providence, crucifixes, T-shirts of the Dallas Cowboys, candles of all shapes and sizes, drawings that incorporate in one flag the colors and design of the flags of the United States and that of Mexico -- a common sight in El Paso. The items surround the names of photos of those the gunman targeted and who died nearby, primarily Latinos, many who were Catholic, but also Mexican nationals.

"The fact that I could have been one of those targeted brings it very close to home. People don't see me as Hispanic necessarily. They see me as a cleric, a bishop, but I think its important that I remind people that (being Latino) is part of my identify as well," Bishop Cantu said. "My parents were immigrants. I grew up speaking Spanish at home so I feel a strong solidarity with those who were targeted in El Paso."

At the memorial, El Paso Bishop Mark J. Seitz and Fathers Fabian Marquez and Mark Salas, also of the Diocese of El Paso, told the group about the harrowing hours following the shooting, the people they encountered and whom they tried to comfort as they waited more than 24 hours to find out whether their loves ones survived or died.

"They were broken, but God was with them," Father Marquez told the group.

Bishop Seitz said the memorial, while painful because of the act of violence that had produced it, also became a place for the city to show care and compassion for those who died and for their families and loved ones. It became a place of love.

"This became our healing place," Father Marquez said.

Nearby, Father Marquez and Bishop Seitz spotted Antonio Basco, husband of Margie Reckard, one of those fatally wounded during the shooting. He was placing candles, flowers and other items near a cross bearing her name at the memorial. He made headlines around the world when he invited the public to his wife's memorial because he had no family who could attend. Flowers were sent from around the world and some traveled long distances to attend.

Father Marquez introduced him to the group as Tony and along with Bishop Seitz invited the visiting group to pray an "Our Father" and a "Hail Mary" with the widower, and to extend their condolences if they wished. Many hugged him or shook his hand, including Bishop Cantu, Bishop Brendan J. Cahill of Victoria, Texas, who was traveling with the group, which included many staff members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Bishop Seitz expressed sadness over what words of anger have produced in his community.

"We're left to deal with the consequences ... lives changed forever," he told CNS.

Bishop Cantu said the narrative that "we're being invaded," one that the gunman espoused, is "insidious and sad." And just when you think society has moved forward and "we understand each other better ... you understand, yes, we've taken a step forward, but we've taken also two or three steps backwards," he said. 

"I'm just really concerned about the heightening of rhetoric, the divisive rhetoric, talking heads, cable news, or video ' or even by the administration," Bishop Cantu told CNS. "It's not helpful."

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Update: Pope opens Missionary Month with call to share joy, hope, talents

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 3:46pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God wants everyone to take a risk to share with others the gifts he has given to them -- their life, talents and his love, Pope Francis said.

Opening the Extraordinary Missionary Month at a prayer vigil in St. Peter's Basilica Oct. 1, the pope said God "is asking you not simply to go through life, but to give life; not to complain about life, but to share in the tears of all who suffer."

Offering his encouragement, the pope said: "The Lord expects great things from you. He is also expecting some of you to have the courage to set out and to go wherever dignity and hope are most lacking," as there are still many people living without the joy of the Gospel.

Pope Francis called for the special month to remind people of their responsibility to share the Gospel and to proclaim the Gospel with renewed enthusiasm.

Similar to his commissioning missionaries of mercy for the Jubilee of Mercy, the pope commissioned 10 special missionaries at the end of the ceremony, presenting the five religious women, four religious men and a family with a small simple wooden cross to wear around their neck as they go on missions in various parts of Africa and Asia.

God "loves the church on the go," the pope said in his homily. "If it is not on the go, it is not church."

A missionary church, he said, "does not waste time lamenting things that go wrong, the loss of faithful, the values of a time now in the past," he said.

The church "does not seek safe oases to dwell in peace, but longs to be salt of the earth and a leaven in the world" because she knows her strength is Jesus himself, "not social or institutional relevance, but humble and gratuitous love."

The pope used the parable of the talents to explain how God entrusts people with his greatest treasures: "our own lives, the lives of others" and a number of different gifts and talents.

God does not want those gifts to be "stored in a safe," but to be dedicated "with boldness and creativity" to a true vocation that will bear fruit, the pope said.

On the day of judgment, "God will not ask us if we jealously preserved our life and faith, but instead whether we stepped forward and took risks, even losing face," he said.

The Extraordinary Missionary Month is meant to "jolt us and motivate us to be active in doing good. Not notaries of faith and guardians of grace, but missionaries," he said.

Like martyrs, missionaries live a life spreading peace and joy, loving everyone, even their enemies, out of love for Jesus, he said.

In the parable, the master is pleased with his enterprising servants as "good and trustworthy" and harshly criticized his fearful servant as "wicked and lazy."

God severely reproaches the fearful servant because his evil "was not having done good; he sinned by omission," the pope said.

"Omission is the opposite of mission," he said. People sin by omission "whenever, rather than spreading joy, we think of ourselves as victims, or think that no one loves us or understands us. We sin against mission when we yield to resignation, 'I can't do this: I'm not up to it.'"

"We sin against mission when we complain and keep saying that everything is going from bad to worse, in the world and in the church," he said, "when we become slaves to the fears that immobilize us, when we let ourselves be paralyzed by thinking that 'things will never change'" and when life is lived as a burden, not as a gift, "when we put ourselves and our concerns at the center, and not our brothers and sisters who are waiting to be loved."

The pope highlighted the lives St. Therese of the Child Jesus, whose feast day is Oct. 1, St. Francis Xavier and Venerable Pauline-Marie Jaricot, who helped lay the foundations of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

By highlighting a religious woman, a priest and a laywoman, the pope said he wanted to show no one is excluded from the church's mission.

"Yes, in this month the Lord is also calling you" -- fathers, mothers, young people, bankers, restaurant workers, the unemployed, the infirm. "The Lord is asking you to be a gift wherever you are, and just as you are, with everyone around you."

 

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Tikuna deacon prepares to become first priest from Amazonian tribe

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 1:20pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Manuel Rueda

By

NAZARETH, Colombia (CNS) -- On a Sunday morning, Deacon Ferney Pereira was leading a prayer service in this small village's Catholic Church.

After reading a passage from the Gospel of Luke, the 30-year-old deacon stepped down from the altar, walked among his congregation and delivered an animated sermon in Tikuna, the language of this Amazonian village.

"I speak in Tikuna because this helps us to preserve our culture, and because there are elders here who can't speak Spanish well," Deacon Pereira said after the service. "I was also telling them that we live in a paradise called the Amazon. And if we don't work to preserve it, no one will do it for us."

Deacon Pereira will become the first priest from the Tikuna ethnic group, a tribe of about 60,000 people that live deep in the Amazon, along a stretch of the jungle shared by Colombia, Peru and Brazil.

As an indigenous priest, he said, he will be in a unique position to keep the Catholic faith alive among the members of his tribe, while working in defense of native communities.

"Some people here have criticized me for supposedly betraying our culture" Deacon Pereira said. "But I don't see it that way. I think that the church has given me an education that will help me to strengthen our communities."

His road to the priesthood began as a teenager, when he moved away from his home village of Nazareth because it did not have a high school. His parents sent him to Leticia, where he lived in a dormitory run by Franciscan friars who hosted indigenous students who were in town to complete their studies.

At the dormitory, the friars also trained the young indigenous students on how to plant crops and how to be community leaders. They also got lessons on indigenous history.

"They never talked to us about becoming priests," Deacon Pereira said. "But they showed us that it would be possible for us to be leaders in our communities."

After training to become a teacher and returning to his village, Deacon Pereira ended up running a church youth group at the request of a local missionary. That's when, in a gathering of local catechists, he met the bishop of Leticia.

"He asked if anyone there wanted to become a priest," Deacon Pereira recalled. "And I lifted my hand without really knowing what that entailed."

Deacon Pereira ended up living eight years away from the Amazon, near Medellin, Colombia, as he completed his theology and philosophy studies at one of the country's main seminaries.

But he returned to the Amazon upon graduating. In June, he was ordained a transitional deacon by Bishop Jose Quintero Diaz, the bishop who got him on track to becoming a priest. Bishop Quintero asked Deacon Pereira to return to his home village to restore the local church and work with the indigenous population.

During his current spell in Nazareth, Deacon Pereira experienced some of the challenges that bishops from South American countries will discuss at the Oct. 6-27 Synod of Bishops for the Amazon at the Vatican.

One of them is the issue of building a church with an "indigenous face" that embraces different ways of life and culture.

"Many young people in the Amazon don't want to go to church, because the priest only talks," he said. "We are a people that are used to praising God through song and dance, because that is what we also have in our rituals."

To encourage more young people in his village to go to church, Deacon Pereira infuses his prayer ceremonies with singing in the Tikuna language and lively music played by a youth group he has been leading since last year.

He said some missionaries "have frowned upon" this type of practice, saying it is too similar to what evangelical churches do. But he insists that dance and song must be integrated into Catholic ceremonies in the region because it is something that is natural for indigenous people.

Deacon Pereira is also supportive of traditional indigenous rituals and recently organized a "purification" ceremony with a group of local medicine men; about 70 young people in the village attended. He said he believes these type of activities help to build cohesion in the community and pride for indigenous culture. They also help some young people to feel less alienated.

"I think it is important for us to accompany the community in different areas of their life," said Deacon Pereira, who has also helped organize sports tournaments and a cultural festival. "In the traditional rituals, there are also lots of ways in which we praise God from our own culture."

He said he hopes the synod will help deepen the commitment of missionaries and clergy that arrive in the region to work with indigenous people, while being respectful of their traditions.

He is also hoping that the synod will address priest shortages in the region. Currently, Deacon Pereira's village of Nazareth only gets visited by priests on special occasions like Easter, so Catholics in the village rarely get sacraments like confession.

As he awaits ordination, Deacon Pereira helps sustain the faith by holding Sunday liturgies in which he gives people Communion with hosts that have been consecrated by a priest.

"The idea is to walk together, to implement social projects, pastoral work, religious work," he said. "We don't want the church to eclipse indigenous culture, or indigenous culture to eclipse the church."

 

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Pope names Archbishop Auza, Vatican rep at U.N., as nuncio to Spain

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 12:36pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

By

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis named Archbishop Bernardito Auza, who has represented the Vatican at the United Nations since 2014, to be nuncio to Spain and Andorra.

The Vatican made the announcement Oct. 1. It did not name a replacement as permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.

A statement on the site of the Holy See Mission said the archbishop would take up his post in Madrid Dec. 1.

Archbishop Auza, 60, also served as permanent observer of the Holy See to the Organization of American States in Washington from July 2014 until Sept.3, when the Vatican appointed Msgr. Mark Miles as the first permanent observer in residence in Washington.

Archbishop Auza served at the Holy See Mission 2006-2008, before being named nuncio to Haiti, where he helped lead and rebuild after the January 2010 earthquake that killed at least 316,000 people.

In a statement, the Filipino archbishop described his time at the United Nations as "intense years of learning and understanding more deeply the great international questions of our time." He said they also were years of "knowing and working with the Catholic Church in the tri-state area" of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and beyond, in particular in ministering to the Filipinos and other migrant communities. He thanked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, as well as "all the other bishops with whom I have worked ... the priests, men and women religious and all the people of God for their kindness, welcome and great spirit of collaboration and fraternity."

As permanent representative to the United Nations, Archbishop Auza welcomed Pope Francis Sept. 25, 2015. Although as an observer he had no vote, he participated in the negotiations that led to the adoption of various international documents, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Treaty on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, the Global Compact on Safe Orderly and Regular Migration and many others.

He also organized more than a dozen conferences a year on topics such as human trafficking, religious persecution, families, the advancement of women, the defense of indigenous peoples and protection of migrants and refugees.

Archbishop Auza was ordained a priest of Diocese of Talibon, Philippines, in 1985. He was educated by Spanish Dominican Friars in Manila and Rome, and has traveled extensively throughout Spain. He entered the Vatican diplomatic corps in 1990 and served in Madagascar, Bulgaria and Albania, then worked at the Vatican Secretariat of State.

After the Haitian earthquake, with three key Port-au-Prince archdiocesan leaders dead and scores of other religious killed or missing, Archbishop Auza took a leading role in stabilizing and helping rebuild the church. As nuncio, he was also the key player in channeling relief money from the Vatican and other church sources to local needs and in helping make key decisions on project priorities and spending funds transparently by setting up an independent "inspection" commission.

He helped local projects raise funds and focused efforts on encouraging new and capable church leaders, as well as on building a better and more adequate infrastructure for the church with seminaries, schools, parishes and housing.

 

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