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Cardinal Bo slams Myanmar military for brutality in Kachin

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 12:00pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Seng Mai, EPA

By

MANDALAY, Myanmar (CNS) -- Myanmar's military continues to persecute ethnic Kachin, the predominant Christian group in a conflict-torn part of the country, as well as Rohingya Muslims, said Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, Myanmar.

Speaking Sept. 1 at a peace forum in South Korea, Cardinal Bo said the suffering the Rohingya have endured has captured the world's attention. He described their plight as an "appalling scar on the conscience of my country," ucanews.com reported.

Yet, he continued, other targeted groups are being overlooked as ethnic fighting rages on in northern Myanmar, with thousands of ethnic minorities having been injured, killed and displaced.

"Villages bombed and burned, women raped, churches destroyed, villagers used as human minesweepers and human shields," Cardinal Bo told peace experts at the Catholic University of Korea in Seoul.

The cardinal elaborated on military air strikes in Kachin in February and a major offensive in April that led to more than 7,000 people being displaced.

He said a series of "wars" were being waged in Myanmar against those who espouse religious freedom by forces preaching religious intolerance and hatred.

Cardinal Bo also lamented a several violent conflicts stemming from land ownership disputes and other concerns including human trafficking, environmental degradation, drug abuse by young people, poverty and a lack of protection of basic rights.

"These 'wars' continue even though Myanmar has moved over the past eight years through reforms and made a fragile transition from a military dictatorship to a fragile democracy," he said.

Sporadic fighting has occurred in the Christian stronghold of Kachin state since the country then known as Burma broke free of its colonial shackles in 1948 by gaining independence from British rule. The situation deteriorated in 2011 when some 100,000 people were displaced. Most of the state's 1.7 million Kachins are Christians, including 116,000 Catholics.

Cardinal Bo said the military retains supreme power, especially in its control of three key ministries, while the civilian government has little or no effective control over its activities.

This, combined with rising Buddhist nationalism and militancy, has created a dangerous cocktail of hatred and repression that denies ethnic and religious minorities the "peace and human dignity" they deserve, he said.

Cardinal Bo is known as a staunch campaigner for reconciliation in Myanmar, where peace negotiations with ethnic armed militias are ongoing and the Rohingya refugee crisis still is being settled.

Myanmar is facing harsh criticism over rights abuses in Rakhine state after a United Nations fact-finding mission found the military had committed gross human rights abuses in the state.

Cardinal Bo also talked about establishing permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula amid a recent series of high-profile meetings between the leaders of South Korea, North Korea, the United States and China.

He said the dream of nuclear disarmament and denuclearization on the peninsula was possible and urged continued dialogue.

However, he added, true peace cannot be realized when North Koreans still are being stripped of their human rights and basic freedoms.

The U.N. has described leader Kim Jong Un's repressive policies as crimes against humanity. In North Korea, more than 100,000 people remain incarcerated in prison camps, subjected to the most severe forms of torture, slave labor and abuse, in an environment where religious freedom is completely lacking.

"Peace is born from the concept of human dignity," Cardinal Bo said.

"Every human being, including those who hate us, is made in God's likeness. Hatred is taught through narratives of hatred. We can also teach every human soul to love," he added.

He said that while the respective situations in Myanmar and Korea are not exactly analogous, the principle objectives are similar.

The goal in both regions is "to build a lasting, genuine peace," he said, adding, "human dignity must be defended and injustice and impunity confronted."

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Editors: The original story can be found at www.ucanews.com/news/cardinal-bo-slams-myanmar-military-for-brutality-in-kachin-state/83234.

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

Lucky there's a 'Catholic Guy': Radio host taps into male zeitgeist

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 11:45am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit

By Jonathan Liedl

MINNEAPOLIS (CNS) -- Lino Rulli doesn't have any children of his own. Married two years ago, the 46-year-old and his wife, Jill, are hoping that changes soon.

But the Minnesota native and Catholic media personality is already the pater familias of his own unique brood: a devoted community of listeners to "The Catholic Guy," a weekday afternoon drive program on Sirius XM Radio's Catholic Channel, which Rulli has hosted since it started in 2006.

About 200 members of this tight-knit crew came to the Twin Cities Aug. 17-18 for "Catholic Guy Con," which sold out in 24 hours. The main event consisted of a recorded show and presentations from Rulli and his co-hosts, preceded the night before by a meet-up at a downtown Minneapolis brewpub. Mass celebrated by co-host Father Jim Chern, dinner catered by a St. Paul Italian eatery, and a visit to Rulli's high school alma mater, Hill-Murray in Maplewood, were other features.

"My biggest takeaway from this experience is just a feeling of gratitude," said Rulli, who admitted he had no idea the event would be such a success when it was being planned. "I've found myself thanking God over and over again for this career, and for our audience, and how lucky I am to be able to be in people's lives."

While the event was the first official Catholic Guy Con, for many fans it was not the first time they had gathered with each other and Rulli, who hosts several pilgrimages for Catholic Guy devotees each year. One Catholic Guy Con attendee had been on five.

But for listeners like Chuck Fanelli, who went to the Holy Land with Rulli in 2017, Catholic Guy Con was something special, a unique opportunity to be together with all four current members of the show and hundreds of other Catholic Guy fans.

"I said there's no way I'm missing this," recalled the 33-year-old New Jersey native, who has listened to every episode of "The Catholic Guy" since he first came across the program two years ago -- and still came even after he found out his wife was due to deliver their third child only days after the fan fest.

"(The Catholic Guy community) energizes me, renews my faith, and really helps me get back to being a better husband and father," said Fanelli, who made it home in time for the birth of his son, Michael Paul. "We all feel like family. A big, weird family."

For many Catholic Guy followers, the show provides the type of community they don't find elsewhere. When they listen to "The Catholic Guy," they're plugged into a relatable community of Catholics, and are encouraged in their Catholic faith.

During the show recording at a Minneapolis comedy club, attendees wore shirts with Catholic Guy catch-phrases, tweeted from Twitter accounts named after on-air gags, and called on Rulli to play favorite sound bites from the show.

"Wow, I feel like I'm the leader of my own cult," joked Tyler Veghte, the show's quirky but beloved atheist producer, after attendees sang along by heart to the musical introduction of the popular "What's on Tyler's Mind?" segment.

But while Veghte and co-hosts Father Chern and Mark Hart have their own unique followings among fans, make no mistake about it: "The Catholic Guy" begins and ends with Rulli, the Catholic Guy himself.

The show is infused with his personality, from the sarcastic, self-deprecating sense of humor that targets his big nose and his co-hosts alike, to the soundtrack provided by the Foo Fighters, his favorite band.

The show's approach to Catholicism is also Rulli's own. He believes being Catholic shouldn't be "compartmentalized," and mixes faith freely on air with humor and discussions on everything from sports to what he's watching on Netflix. It's this playful and occasionally irreverent style that makes "The Catholic Guy" "your home for pure Catholic pleasure," as its tagline states.

But the show isn't all laughs. For Rulli, who has won three Emmy awards for his previous media work as a television host and producer, it's also a craft he takes seriously. As his co-hosts noted at Catholic Guy Con, Rulli's goal is first and foremost to make a great radio show, one that normal people will want to listen to.

Rulli acknowledged this might be especially important now, in the midst of the unfolding crisis of cover-ups of clerical sex abuse. He briefly addressed the controversy on-air recently, but also recognizes that his program has a different role to play than news analysis.

"I think people need a respite from the bad news," he said. "So, without saying it explicitly, every day I go on the air and say -- in as entertaining a way as possible -- 'Here's why I'm Catholic. Here's why I love it. In spite of it all, here's what's beautiful and true about the faith.'"

"The bottom line is I host a funny Catholic radio show," Rulli told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. "That's what I get paid to do and people seem to enjoy it."

Rulli began honing the skills from his days in theater at Hill-Murray, to the campus radio program he hosted at St. John's University in Collegeville, where he earned a bachelor's degree in communications and a master's in theology. Rulli also got his television start in the Twin Cities, working for WCCO and KMSP before launching "Generation Cross," a Catholic TV show that combined fun and faith.

Though Rulli now resides in New York City, where he also serves as media advisor to Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, he says his Minnesota upbringing shapes the way he sees the world and the church. As he put it, "If it wasn't for my time on TV here, there wouldn't be 'The Catholic Guy' show anywhere."

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Liedl writes for The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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

Jesuit priest and school president offers prayers at McCain memorials

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 1:08pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool via Reuters

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Jesuit Father Edward Reese, the president of St. Ignatius Prep School in San Francisco, offered prayers in both Phoenix and Washington, including a homily at the National Cathedral in Washington, after the death of John McCain, the senator from Arizona who died Aug. 25 at age 81 after a long struggle with brain cancer.

Father Reese knew the McCain family when he was president at another Jesuit high school, Brophy Prep in Phoenix, for 20 years. Two of McCain's sons attended Brophy and McCain's wife, Cindy, served on the board of trustees.

In his Sept. 1 homily, Father Reese quoted from Gerard Manley Hopkins, himself a Jesuit priest and poet: "What I do is me: for that I came. But, I say more: the just man justices; keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces; acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is -- Christ -- for Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his, to the Father through the features of men's faces."

"Don't misunderstand me. We are not recommending John for sainthood. He was so very human and for that reason we can see God in his life," Father Reese said.

McCain "was the just man justicing," he added. "For John McCain, every human being deserved to be treated justly. He saw God our Father through the features of every person, especially those poor, persecuted by power and those in need."

The 31-year senator, who served in Vietnam and was held captive by the North Vietnamese for six years, "was a man who loved and knew that love is seen in action -- in doing," Father Reese said.

"He was so often surrounded by servicemen and women for whom he has a special affection." In death, McCain continues to be surrounded by fellow servicemen and women; he is buried at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland.

At an Aug. 31 memorial service at North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix, Father Reese reminded mourners that "Jesus, at his final meal with his friends, charged them to 'remember me ... in the breaking of the bread.'" Bread, the priest added, "must be broken to be shared. We celebrate the life today of a man who unselfishly was broken that we may all be put together again as one."

Father Reese said, "We now are called to re-member, put together again in our lives and heart, John McCain our brother, Jesus' brother."

He quoted from another poet, Henry Scott-Holland, an Anglican priest who died in 1918. His "Death Is Nothing at All" was not intended to be a poem, but was delivered as part of a 1910 sermon: "Laugh as we always laughed, at jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effect. Without the trace of a shadow on it."

McCain was a lifelong Episcopalian, but attended services at a Southern Baptist church for 17 years.

Prior to the memorial, Father Reese delivered an invocation for McCain at the Arizona state capital in Phoenix where McCain lay in state. "Loving God, see our tears for our brother, our father and husband, our fellow citizen and senator," he prayed. "Let these tears bring blooming in the desert he loved, in the country he served, in all our hearts! Amen."

Father Reese also said one of the opening prayers at the 2008 Republican National Convention that nominated McCain for president. He is the brother of another Jesuit priest, Father Thomas Reese, an author and journalist.

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

Cardinal Wuerl addresses church's 'pain, confusion and disillusionment'

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 12:57pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann, Catholic Standard

By Mark Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Addressing the clergy abuse crisis in the church will require "wider lay engagement, more realized accountability and evident transparency," said Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl at the end of a Sept. 2 Mass in Washington.

In remarks after Communion, at the installation Mass for a new pastor at Annunciation Parish in Washington, Cardinal Wuerl said the church must follow a pathway to holiness and bring "Christ's renewing light" to the darkness of the abuse crisis and the pain it has caused.

The way forward must involve "a renewed commitment on the part of each priest to do what in fact the vast majority of priests do so well every day. You and I must continue to support them as they carry out their ministry that is such a significant part of the healing."

The cardinal also stressed the importance of church accountability and engaging the laity in the wake of the resignation of retired Washington Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick over abuse allegations and the Pennsylvania grand jury report documenting clergy sexual abuse against minors over the past seven decades in six dioceses, including Pittsburgh, led by then-Bishop Wuerl from 1988 until his appointment as archbishop of Washington in 2006.

Since the release of this report, Cardinal Wuerl has faced strong criticism and calls for his resignation for his record in confronting clergy sexual abuse in the Pittsburgh Diocese.

Following canon law, the cardinal submitted his resignation to Pope Francis in 2015 when he turned 75. The pope has not accepted it.

In an Aug. 27 letter to staff of the Archdiocese of Washington, Msgr. Charles Antonicelli, vicar general and moderator of the curia, said that in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, then-Bishop Wuerl reached out to abuse survivors, removed all priests with credible claims of abuse against them, and was a leader in child protection.

At the end of the Sept. 2 Mass, installing Msgr. Michael Mellone as pastor, Cardinal Wuerl said the prayers of Catholics are for the whole church wounded by the shame of the actions that caused the abuse crisis. "You too bear a deep wound, because you love the church -- that's why you're here, and you do not know what is coming next."

He acknowledged the "pain, confusion and disillusionment" that Catholics feel, and he said he wished he could wipe it all away.

"As we move forward, I hope to lead by action, not just by words," he said, and then quoted part of what he had written in an Aug. 30 letter to priests in the archdiocese: "I ask you for prayers for me, for forgiveness for my errors in judgment, for my inadequacies, as well as for the grace to find, with you, ways of healing, ways of offering fruitful guidance in this darkness."

Near the end of his remarks, a man shouted: "Shame on you!" and stormed out of church.

This was right after the cardinal had asked the congregation to "hold close in our prayers and loyalty to our Holy Father, Pope Francis. Increasingly, it is clear that he is the object of considerable animosity."

After the man's outburst, Cardinal Wuerl said he wished he could redo decisions that he had made in his three decades as a bishop "and each time get it right." He encouraged people to join him in seeking God's grace and mercy as the church moves forward. He asked for their prayers for him, and for all those who were abused and all those suffering in the aftermath of abuse.

"We do all of this first in prayer, mindful that the source of our contrition, of our healing, and of our pathway into the future is the victory Christ won for us on the cross," he said.

The cardinal received applause at the end of his remarks.

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

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

Silence is Christ's response to lies, divisiveness, pope says at Mass

Mon, 09/03/2018 - 8:02am

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Jesus himself showed that the best way to respond to scandal and divisiveness is to stay silent and pray, Pope Francis said Sept. 3 as he resumed his early morning Masses with invited guests.

"With people lacking good will, with people who seek only scandal, with those who look only for division, who want only destruction," he said, the best response is "silence. And prayer."

The pope's Mass and homily came just over a week after Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former papal nuncio to the United States, called on Pope Francis to resign for allegedly ignoring sanctions Pope Benedict XVI had placed on then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick for sexual misconduct.

Asked about the archbishop's 11-page document, which included allegations of a "homosexual current" at the highest levels of the church, Pope Francis told reporters Aug. 26 to read the document for themselves and make their own judgments. The Vatican press office and most officials named in the archbishop's document also refused to comment.

The Gospel for Sept. 3 recounted Jesus' return to Nazareth and the fury of the townspeople when he refused to perform miracles for them. The reading from St. Luke ends: "They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away."

In his homily, Pope Francis said the reading should help Christians "reflect on how to act in daily life when there are misunderstandings," but also to understand "how the father of lies, the accuser, the devil acts to destroy the unity of a family, of a people."

According to a Vatican News report on the homily, Pope Francis said that it was with his silence that Jesus defeated the "wild dogs," the devil, who "had sown lies in the hearts."

"It wasn't people, it was a pack of wild dogs that chased him out of the city," the pope said. But Jesus is silent. "It is the dignity of Jesus. With his silence he defeats that wild pack and walks away because it was not yet his hour.'

"This teaches us that when there is this way of acting, of not seeing the truth, silence remains," he said.

Even in a family, he said, there are times when a discussion of politics or sports or money escalates into a truly destructive argument; "in these discussions in which you see the devil is there and wants to destroy -- silence. Have your say, then keep quiet."

"Because the truth is meek. The truth is silent. The truth is not noisy," he said.

Remaining silent and refusing to fight back is not always easy, he said, but it is what Jesus did and it is "anchored in the strength of God."

"May the Lord grant us the grace to discern when we must speak and when we must remain silence," he prayed.

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

Pope: Pray, act to protect clean water, guarantee access to it

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 9:03am

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Water is a gift of God that makes life possible and yet millions of people do not have access to safe drinking water, and rivers, seas and oceans continue to be polluted, Pope Francis said.

"Care for water sources and water basins is an urgent imperative," the pope said in a message Sept. 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, an observance begun by the Orthodox Church and now celebrated by many Christians.

With the world day 2018 focused on water, Pope Francis drew special attention to the more than 600 million people who do not have regular access to clean drinking water.

"Access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights," he said, quoting from his encyclical "Laudato Si'" on the environment.

"In considering the fundamental role of water in creation and in human development," he wrote, "I feel the need to give thanks to God for 'Sister Water,'" as St. Francis of Assisi said. Water is "simple and useful for life like nothing else on our planet."

Fulfilling the Gospel mandate to give the thirsty something to drink involves more than individual acts of charity, although those are important, he said. It also involves "concrete choices and a constant commitment to ensure to all the primary good of water."

Believers have an obligation to thank God for the gift of water and "to praise him for covering the earth with the oceans," Pope Francis said. But they also have an obligation to work together to keep the oceans clean instead of allowing them to be "littered by endless fields of floating plastic."

Thinking of oceans and seas, also led the pope to think of the thousands of migrants and refugees who "risk their lives at sea in search of a better future."

"Let us ask the Lord and all those engaged in the noble service of politics that the more sensitive questions of our day, such as those linked to movements of migration, climate change and the right of everyone to enjoy primary goods, may be faced with generous and farsighted responsibility and in a spirit of cooperation, especially among those countries most able to help," he wrote.

Pope Francis also offered prayers for people who fish and others who earn their livings at sea, for those who minister to them and for all the scientists and public policy experts who help the public recognize the treasures of the sea and work to protect them.

And, as the Catholic Church prepares for a world Synod of Bishops on young people, he urged Christians to educate and pray for the young "that they may grow in knowledge and respect for our common home and in the desire to care for the essential good of water, for the benefit of all."

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

Former nuncio now says sanctions against McCarrick were 'private'

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 6:33am

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) -- Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former nuncio to the United States who called on Pope Francis to resign for allegedly lifting sanctions placed on Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, now says those "sanctions" were "private" and neither he nor now-retired Pope Benedict XVI ever was able to enforce them.

While Archbishop Vigano went into hiding after publishing his "testimony" Aug. 25 about Archbishop McCarrick -- and about Pope Francis and a host of other current and former Vatican officials -- the former nuncio has continued to speak to the writers who originally helped him publish the document.

Pope Francis has not said anything since Aug. 26 when he told reporters traveling with him to study the document and do their own research. Even if the sanctions were private, Archbishop Vigano claimed Pope Francis was aware of them.

The measures imposed by Pope Benedict were in response to reports of Archbishop McCarrick's sexual misconduct with and sexual harassment of seminarians. After allegations that Archbishop McCarrick had sexually abused a minor were deemed credible in June, Pope Francis publicly imposed sanctions on him and accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals.

Archbishop Vigano also had said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, Archbishop McCarrick's successor, had long been aware of Pope Benedict's sanctions, but the Archdiocese of Washington said Aug. 27, "Cardinal Wuerl has categorically denied that any of this information was communicated to him."

One of the outlets that originally published Archbishop Vigano's text, LifeSiteNews, published an article Aug. 31 with Archbishop Vigano explaining how, after Pope Benedict allegedly imposed sanctions on Archbishop McCarrick in "2009 or 2010," Archbishop McCarrick continued to concelebrate at large public Masses and visit the Vatican and Pope Benedict himself.

Archbishop Vigano now says Pope Benedict made the sanctions private, perhaps "due to the fact that he (Archbishop McCarrick) was already retired, maybe due to the fact that he (Pope Benedict) was thinking he was ready to obey."

The former nuncio said that in November 2011 he was sent as nuncio to the United States with specific information about the sanctions from Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. The cardinal has not responded to a Catholic News Service request for an interview.

Archbishop Vigano appeared publicly with then-Cardinal McCarrick at a May 2012 gala in New York honoring the cardinal. LifeSiteNews said the archbishop explained that "he was just beginning his role as the pope's representative at the time" and that "the nuncio is not somebody who may enforce restrictions directly, especially with a cardinal, who is considered the superior."

The other English-language outlet that originally published Archbishop Vigano's text was the National Catholic Register, a newspaper owned by EWTN. The Register had reported that it "independently confirmed" that Pope Benedict "remembers instructing Cardinal (Tarcisio) Bertone to impose measures but cannot recall their exact nature."

In a Register blog post Aug. 31, the author of the original story, Edward Pentin, provided more information from his source, saying the retired pope is now "unable to remember very well" how the supposed sanctions were handled. "As far as (Pope) Benedict could recall, the source said the instruction was essentially that (then-Cardinal) McCarrick should keep a 'low profile.' There was 'no formal decree, just a private request,'" Pentin wrote.

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

Dallas bishop asks pope to convene synod to discuss clergy abuse

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 2:35pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jenna Teter, The Texas

By David Sedeno

DALLAS (CNS) -- Dallas Bishop Edward J. Burns has asked Pope Francis for an extraordinary synod to address issues in the latest Catholic clergy sex abuse crisis, including "abuse of power, clericalism, accountability and the understanding of transparency in the church."

The letter, posted to the Diocese of Dallas' website Aug. 30, was signed by the bishop and priests who serve in leadership roles in various consultative bodies in the diocese. It had been sent earlier in the day to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the U.S. papal nuncio, so that it could be forwarded to the pope as soon as possible.

"The current crisis of sexual abuse by clergy, the cover-up by leaders in the church and the lack of fidelity of some have caused great harm," the letter said. It suggests that this synod should include topics such as "the care and the safeguard of children and the vulnerable, outreach to victims, the identity and lifestyle of the clergy, the importance of healthy human formation within the presbyterate/religious community, etc."

"We are working diligently at the local level to deal with these issues but increasing accountability at all levels of the church is of utmost importance," Bishop Burns said in a statement. He also noted that the priests who signed the letter "believe a real solution must be found to the heinous issue of clergy abuse of minors."

One of the signers was Father Rudy Garcia, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Frisco, who serves on the diocesan presbyteral council.

"It's important to come together at this time of crisis in community of faith and respond to it through the lens of faith and with a firm resolve to create a safe environment for our young and vulnerable adults," he said, adding that priests must go through the same Safe Environment training that lay individuals who work or volunteer in parishes and schools are required to do annually.

"I think the bishop does an excellent job in drawing the community together and addressing this difficult issue at this difficult time and marshalling us around a solid plan of spirituality and of guaranteeing the safety of our environment now and in the future," he said.

In a news conference Aug. 30, Bishop Burns told reporters that he did not know whether the letter would move the pope to call a synod, but he said that numerous priests encouraged him to send it anyway.

The bishop's call for the special synod follows a similar one from the bishop of Portsmouth, England, on Aug. 22 and comes after weeks of news of clergy abuse, not only across the United States and abroad, but also within the Diocese of Dallas.

On Aug. 19, Bishop Burns told parishioners at St. Cecilia Catholic Church that their former pastor, Father Edmundo Paredes, had not only stolen church funds, but had also been accused of sexual misconduct by three individuals, later revealed to be three now-adult males, who said the abuse happened more than a decade ago. The bishop said that those allegations were found to be credible.

"If we are ever going to restore trust or credibility in the church, it's only going to come after we consistently do what is right," Bishop Burns said Aug. 26 at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in Plano.

"My friends, let me say to you that if this church of ours has to go through a purification, so be it," he said to applause. "And let us pray for the fire of the Holy Spirit, so as to purify us, in what we need to do, in being the church that we say we are. I'm not going to cover my ears or cover my eyes or cover my mouth and we are going to look at this head-on."

In the case of Father Paredes, Dallas diocesan officials have said that the former pastor is accused of theft of approximately $80,000 and that a settlement had been reached with the victims, who wished to remain anonymous.

Bishop Burns has said that in the future the diocese would:

-- Hold a Ceremony of Sorrow at St. Cecilia Catholic Church.

-- Schedule four town hall meetings, beginning with a liturgy, across the diocese to allow Catholics to ask questions.

-- Expand Safe Environment protocols with wider participation from parishioners.

-- Survey parents, grandparents and parishioners as to the effectiveness of the Safe Environment Program within their parishes.

-- Contract a researcher to look at Pennsylvania grand jury report about the inefficiencies of safeguards in the six dioceses there and to compare those inefficiencies to the Diocese of Dallas.

-- Ask priests across the diocese to pray the rosary prior to each Mass in October, whenever possible.

Diocesan officials have not said when the ceremony at St. Cecilia would occur or when or where the town hall meetings would be scheduled.

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Sedeno is executive editor of The Texas Catholic and Revista Catolica, the English- and Spanish-language newspapers of the Dallas Diocese.

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

Australian bishops, religious say they can't violate seal of confession

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 10:00pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Royal Commission

By

SYDNEY, Australia (CNS) -- Australia's Catholic bishops and religious orders, responding to recommendations from the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, accepted 98 percent of its suggestions, but said they could not accept recommendations that would violate the seal of confession.

"We are committed to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people while maintaining the seal. We do not see safeguarding and the seal as mutually exclusive," said the preamble to a 57-response to dozens of recommendations concerning child safety, formation of priest and religious workers, ongoing training in child safety and even out-of-home care service providers.

The response, published Aug. 31, came eight-and-a-half months after the Royal Commission released its 17-volume report on child sexual abuse. The report was based on five years of hearings, nearly 26,000 emails, and more than 42,000 phone calls from concerned Australians. In February 2017, Australian church leaders spent three weeks testifying before the commission.

The Royal Commission recommended that the bishops consult with the Holy See to clarify whether "information received from a child during the sacrament of reconciliation that they have been sexually abused is covered by the seal of confession" and whether "if a person confesses during the sacrament of reconciliation to perpetrating child sexual abuse, absolution can and should be withheld until they report themselves to civil authorities."

The commission also recommended that confession "only be conducted in an open space within the clear line of sight of another adult."

The response from the bishops and religious said dioceses would examine confessional spaces and practices. It said confessions of groups of children were normally conducted in the open and that the Catholic Professional Standards Limited it had established was developing standards and protocols.

"However, the 'seal of confession' is inviolable for the priest confessor," it said.

"Children will be less rather than more safe if mandatory reporting of confessions were required: the rare instance where a perpetrator or victim might have raised this in confession would be less likely to occur if confidence in the sacramental seal were undermined; and so an opportunity would be lost to encourage a perpetrator to self-report to civil authorities or victims to seek safety," said the response.

"Mandatory reporting of confessions would also be a violation of freedom of religious belief and worship," it added.

The bishops and religious noted that they had marked a few recommendations "For further consideration," and about a dozen that mentioned the Holy See had been noted to the Vatican. In October, leaders of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the chair of the church's Truth, Justice and Healing Council met with Vatican officials to discuss issues emerging from the royal commission investigations.

For instance, the Royal Commission said the bishops should urge the Vatican to change canon law so that "the pontifical secret" -- the confidentiality surrounding a canonical investigation and process -- "does not apply to any aspect of allegations or canonical disciplinary processes relating to child sexual abuse." The response said the bishops had sought canonical advice and consulted with the Holy See, but noted that the pontifical secret "does not in any way inhibit a bishop or religious leader from reporting instances of child sexual abuse to civil authorities."

The Royal Commission asked that the bishops urge the Vatican to eliminate the "imputability test" of canon law when dealing with cases of clerical sexual abuse; the imputability test basically means that a person's level of guilt for a crime is lessened to the degree that he or she was not aware that the action was wrong; if the imputability is diminished, canon law would recommend a lesser penalty for the guilty.

In response to a recommendation that the bishops work with the Vatican to amend canon law to remove the time limit for commencement of canonical actions relating to child sexual abuse, the bishops said this was already the practice in Australia. According to rules issued in 2003, the statute of limitation is 20 years after the victim reaches the age of 18; however, church law also says that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith can set aside that limit.

Several recommendations from the royal commission concerned celibacy -- the promise not to marry. The response said the bishops noted "that the Royal Commission made no finding of a causal connection between celibacy and child sexual abuse; that voluntary celibacy is a long-established and positive practice of the church in both East and West, particularly for bishops and religious life; and that inadequate initial and continuing formation of priests and religious for celibate living may have contributed to a heightened risk of child sexual abuse, but not celibacy as a state of life in and of itself."

In March, Pope Francis authorized an Australian plenary council, a meeting in which decisions become binding on the church in the country. The bishops said it was time to look at where the church in Australia was headed.

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Bishop echoes pope: The poor's plight is 'the Gospel, pure and simple'

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 3:14pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jim West

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Echoing what Pope Francis said during a Mass in May, the bishop who heads the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development said, "The struggle of working people, of the poor" is not first a "social or political question. No! It is the Gospel, pure and simple."

In the bishops' annual Labor Day statement, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, said the recent economic news may not "give an entirely accurate account of the daily lives and struggles of working people, those who are still without work, or the underemployed struggling with low wages."

The statement, "Just Wages and Human Flourishing," dated Labor Day, Sept. 3 this year, was released Aug. 30.

"Wages for lower-income workers are, by various accounts, insufficient to support a family and provide a secure future," Bishop Dewane said. "A recent study examined whether a minimum wage earner could afford an average two-bedroom apartment in their state of residence. Shockingly, in all 50 states, the answer was no."

He also took note from a recent Federal Reserve report that showed that four in 10 adults could not cover a $400 emergency expense, or would have to borrow money or sell something to do so.

"Taking into account inflation and the rising cost of living, workers at the lower end of the income spectrum have seen their wages stagnate or even decrease over the last decade," Bishop Dewane said. "From 2015 to 2016, the rate of (income) growth was highest at the top."

"Another alarming trend is the continuing disparities in median incomes between different racial and ethnic groups and between women and men," he added, citing 2016 data that showed the median household income of non-Hispanic whites was $25,500 more than that of blacks, and the real median earnings of women were $10,000 lower than that of men.

"Clearly no examination of our economy, in light of justice, can exclude consideration of how discrimination based on race and sex impacts the just distribution of wages," Bishop Dewane said, later citing three popes' encyclicals on income and wages.

St. John XXIII in "Pacem in Terris" "described wages that 'give the worker and his family a standard of living in keeping with the dignity of the human person,'" while St. John Paul II in "Laborem Exercens" "elaborated on the systematic implications of just wages, describing them as 'the concrete means of verifying the justice of the whole socioeconomic system,'" Bishop Dewane noted.

"However, when a society fails in the task of ensuring workers are paid justly, questions arise as to the underlying assumptions of that system. A society that is willing to exclude its most vulnerable members, Pope Francis suggests in 'Evangelii Gaudium,' is one where 'the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root.' Pope Francis warns that absent a just response, these disparities can lead to deep societal divisions and even violence," Bishop Dewane said.

He also cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which says, "Economic life is not meant solely to multiply goods produced and increase profit or power; it is ordered first of all to the service of persons, of the whole man, and of the entire human community," and that the fact that workers and employers have agreed to a certain wage "is not sufficient to justify morally the amount to be received in wages."

"The economy must serve people, not the other way around," Bishop Dewane added. "Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of participating in God's creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected, including the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to organizing and joining unions, to private property, and to economic initiative."

The Christian's task, Bishop Dewane said, was threefold: "to live justly in our own lives whether as business owners or workers. Secondly, we are called to stand in solidarity with our poor and vulnerable brothers and sisters. Lastly, we should all work to reform and build a more just society, one which promotes human life and dignity and the common good of all. We also need to recognize the gifts and responsibilities that God has entrusted to each of us."

He added, "As Christians, we believe that conflict or enmity between the rich and the poor is not necessary or inevitable. These divisions are in fact sinful. But we live in the hope that our society can become ever more just when there is conversion of heart and mind so that people recognize the inherent dignity of all and work together for the common good."

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Bishops of Atlanta province consider ways to lead in the face of crisis

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 1:29pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Douglas Deas, for the Catholic Miscellany

By Christina Lee Knauss

CHARLESTON, S.C. (CNS) -- Priests and bishops from the Province of Atlanta recently spent time considering the abuse crisis in the church, how to respond to it and how to best carry on in serving the faithful.

The discussion took place during the Provincial Assembly of Priests and Bishops, Aug. 20-22 at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston.

The gathering's theme, "Catholic Parishes of the 21st Century," was meant to give the prelates and clergy a chance to look at trends in thought and practice among people in the pews and develop more effective ministry at the parish level.

They reflected on that information against the backdrop of recent news, including the Pennsylvania grand jury report documenting sexual abuse in Pennsylvania dioceses, as well as Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick's resignation in the wake of abuse allegations.

Discussions focused on ways to reach out to increasingly large and diverse parishes in the Southeast, how to reach millennials and others leaving the church and how to improve communication among pastors, parish staff and the laity. Workshops were led by Charles Zech and Michael Castrilli from the Center for Church Management and Business Ethics at Villanova University.

Participants said the information will be helpful as priests and bishops consider ways to help the church confront the latest crisis.

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said in an interview with The Catholic Miscellany, diocesan newspaper of Charleston, that the meeting provided an important chance for the region's leaders and clergy to talk and pray together during an era that he called "probably the most destructive moment we have faced as a church in our nation."

Archbishop Gregory urged the faithful around the Atlanta Province to share their feelings and opinions in response to the abuse crisis.

"I would ask the people to speak boldly to their priests, to share their anger and their hearts' concerns," he said. "I would also ask them to face this moment with trust and confidence in Christ and not necessarily in individuals."

Other bishops in attendance were Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone of the Diocese of Charleston, Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte, Bishop Luis R. Zarama of Raleigh and Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer of Savannah, plus Atlanta Auxiliary Bishops Bernard E. Schlesinger III and Joel M. Konzen.

The clergy attended a Mass at St. Patrick Church on Aug. 21, celebrated by Archbishop Gregory. Many of the priests who attended concelebrated from the pews, reciting the prayers and extending their hands in prayer during the consecration. Members of the parish sat beside them and joined in song and prayer.

In his homily, Archbishop Gregory said it was more important than ever for the clergy and the laity to remember the value that Christ placed on humility. It is an important time, he said, for the church's leaders to remember the importance of children and the respect owed to them.

"There is a different order in God's kingdom, where being little is more important than being significant," he said. "We have been reminded recently of that proper order, and the reminders have not always been easy. God continually calls us back to the order of his kingdom, where the little ones are the first and the important ones are their servants."

During closed discussion periods, the priests had the chance to share their feelings and concerns about the recent abuse revelation with the bishops. Bishop Hartmayer said the emotions expressed ranged from anger to disgust.

"It was important for the priests to have the opportunity to share their concerns as to what is going to be done to prevent this moral crisis from ever happening again," Bishop Hartmayer said.

Bishop Jugis said the assembly was valuable because it offered a chance both to confront the abuse crisis and consider ways to better serve the faithful in a province where the Catholic population is booming.

"It is beneficial for us to consider how to prepare for the growth that is still expected," Bishop Jugis said. "I would ask both the clergy and the laity to remember that we are all here to serve Christ the Lord."

Bishop Guglielmone said the assembly's theme and the discussions on ways to confront the future were especially important.

"We recognize that for many people there may be anger and disappointment right now, and a fear that the church they knew and loved is falling apart," Bishop Guglielmone said. "By looking at ways to make the parishes stronger, we're also considering ways to rebuild the sense of trust in the people we serve, to focus on what we're all about and to do what they have entrusted us to do, which is to spread the Gospel."

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Knauss is a reporter at The Catholic Miscellany, newspaper of the Diocese of Charleston.

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Faithful uphold the quiet tradition of lighting candles in churches

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 11:22am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Emily Benson, The Evangelist

By Emily Benson

WESTMERE, N.Y. (CNS) -- Linda Brown approached the candle stand at her parish, Christ the King in Westmere. She dropped a donation in the collection box and lit two candles.

Her husband, Ed, stood beside her as she bowed her head and said a silent prayer. He explained that the two candles were for his wife's mother, who recently passed away, and their son Jason, whom they also lost.

Ed Brown told The Evangelist, newspaper of the Diocese of Albany, New York, that being able to light a candle says "we still remember" loved ones who have passed from this life to the next. Linda Brown agreed that the candle stand, a new feature at Christ the King that had been requested by parishioners, has been helpful to her.

"I think it's comforting," she explained.

The act of lighting candles is a quiet but ever-present tradition in the Catholic Church and beyond. Candles appear at makeshift memorials after a tragedy and at official memorials when Catholics gather to pray. Candles are used at every Mass; at the Easter Vigil each year, a special candle is lit from a new fire and its light passed to individual candles held by parishioners.

Candle stands are often tucked away in the corners of churches, but they make an important impact on the faith of many parishioners.

"Candles have a special place in our faith journey," said Lou Ann Cleary, liturgy and music ministry director at Christ the King. "When I was a kid, I remember going and lighting a candle with my mom."

The candle stand at Christ the King was recently added. People can light a two-hour candle for $1. A sign over the stand reads, "Lighting a candle can symbolize the remembering of a loved one or a petition of prayer we make to God. We ask the saints to pray with us and for us during our most dire need. The light of the candle prolongs our prayer beyond our presence in church and shows our desire to remain in God's presence as we go about our day."

Father James Fitzmaurice, pastor at Christ the King, said parishioners had asked about getting a candle stand for quite some time.

Candle lighting is "just kind of a tradition," he said. "People would think of someone, an individual, as they lit a candle; or they say, 'Oh, I'll light a candle for you,' so it's for the living and deceased."

Visitors also partake in the tradition. Cleary recalled that, when her son and his wife visited Christ the King for the first time, her daughter-in-law immediately asked whether there were candles available to light.

"What we remember about church is that you can go in and light a candle," Cleary said.

At St. Mary Parish in Albany, many parishioners and guests light candles to remember lost loved ones or connect with God. A parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Church in Albany said she has lit many candles at St. Mary over the years: "It could be for a number of reasons -- just to honor the blessed mother or Lord, or for my family."

Candle lighting helps her, she said: "Oh my gosh, yes! I can't live in a world without God's graces."

Joe Krivanek visits St. Mary Church on his lunch hour while working in downtown Albany. He lights a candle at the church about once every week.

"I just feel that it's something to do" in memory of family and loved ones, he said.

Leo Wang of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, also was lighting a candle at St. Mary Church on a recent afternoon. He said he does so every time he stops by the church.

"It is almost always for my family," he told The Evangelist. The candle "is here when I'm not. I like to visit churches, but when I leave, it's something here."

Lighting a candle, Wang added, "is like signing a guest book" at a parish: though no else will know he lit a particular one, God knows he was there.

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Benson is a staff writer for The Evangelist, newspaper of the Diocese of Albany.

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

Pope serene despite 'pain' over archbishop's testimony, cardinal says

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 10:22am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While recent accusations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano have created tension in the Catholic Church, Pope Francis is approaching the situation calmly, the Vatican secretary of state said.

In an interview posted Aug. 30 by "Vatican Insider," the online news supplement to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that in situations like the current crisis "that obviously creates so much bitterness and worry," the pope "has the ability to take a very serene approach."

"From what I saw -- I haven't seen him today, but I have seen him in these days; I was with him during the trip to Ireland and after -- he seems serene," Cardinal Parolin said.

In an 11-page statement, published Aug. 26, Archbishop Vigano, who served as nuncio to the United States from 2011 to 2016, accused church officials, including Pope Francis, of failing to act on accusations of abuse of conscience and power by now-Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick. Archbishop Vigano claimed he told Pope Francis about Cardinal McCarrick in 2013.

Citing the rights of the faithful to "know who knew and who covered up (Archbishop McCarrick's) grave misdeeds," Archbishop Vigano also named nearly a dozen former and current Vatican officials -- including Cardinal Parolin -- who he claimed were aware of the accusations.

Speaking to reporters traveling back to Rome with him from Dublin Aug. 26, Pope Francis called on them to read Archbishop Vigano's statement carefully "and make your own judgment."

"I think the statement speaks for itself, and you have a sufficient journalistic ability to make a conclusion," the pope said.

Cardinal Parolin said that "one can only express pain, great pain" in a situation in which a bishop makes serious accusations against the pope.

"I hope that we can all work in the search for truth and justice, that those may be the points of reference and nothing more," the cardinal said.

However, when asked his opinion of the veracity of Archbishop Vigano's accusations, Cardinal Parolin said he deferred to Pope Francis' response.

"It is better not to enter into details on those things," Cardinal Parolin said. "I repeat what the pope said: You must read and make your own judgments; what was written speaks for itself."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Oregon church activities curtailed by smoke from wildfires

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 12:30pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company, handout via Reuters

By Ed Langlois

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- Catholic churches and homes in southern Oregon are safe so far amid wildfires, but persistent smoke has suppressed activities -- and spirits.

"It is horrible. It is absolutely grim," said Ann Brophy, pastoral associate at Sacred Heart Church in Medford.

This is the fourth consecutive season of heavy smoke in the region. Brophy said this summer's dose is the worst she has seen in her 30 years in Medford. "Children can't go out and play," she said.

Seniors have been intrepid about attending Mass at Sacred Heart, despite a dangerous and gloomy atmosphere for two months.

"They are trying to continue on with life," Brophy said.

Like many in the region, Brophy has curtailed her daily walks and has a nagging cough. She notices few pedestrians, cyclists or dog walkers.

"It's like a ghost town around here," she said.

Blue skies emerge now and then. But since July, air flow has mostly covered the region with smoke from fires as close as Gold Hill and as far as British Columbia. Northern California blazes are contributing. Visibility often drops below a mile and on certain days, the region has some of the world's worst air quality.

"It just keeps hanging in there," said Debbie Todor, administrative assistant at St. Anne Parish in Grants Pass. "I have heard some people say they can't get out because of smoke." Plans for the Sept. 1 dedication of the new church in Grants Pass went ahead.

A fire in Gold Hill was miles away from St. Rita Retreat Center, but smoke has been "terrible," said Father Stephen Fister, executive director of the retreat site. One group canceled a planned meditation retreat that would have brought people from all over the country.

Scratchy throats are common and some residents have discomfort in their chests as smoke particles cause inflammation in airways. Older people and children have been especially vulnerable.

Our Lady of the Mountain Parish in Ashland moved its summer picnic inside. Many outdoor performances of the town's Oregon Shakespeare Festival have been relocated to a high school auditorium.

Mass attendance at Our Lady of the Mountain seems low, said Stephanie Hoffman, the business manager. "The smoke does get very tiresome," Hoffman said.

Summer haze is starting to feel normal, said Joyce Marks, pastoral associate at Shepherd of the Valley Parish in Central Point.

"You go out to your car and there are ashes on the windshield," she said. "People are just tired of it."

Vacation Bible School at the parish drew 100 children, but they had to stay inside all week. "We had to be creative," said Marks, who plans to hold the event before fire season next year.

Marks has noticed that elders are staying home more. Parish picnic attendance was down by half, and the fall festival may need to be postponed, depending on winds and air quality.

Throughout the region, prayers of the faithful often mention firefighters and those who have lost homes in northern California.

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Langlois is managing editor of the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland.

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

Is there truth in Archbishop Vigano's text and how are Catholics to know?

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 11:55am

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholics in the pews and even priests in the Vatican are confused about the long document Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano published claiming Pope Francis turned a blind eye to information he had about the sexual misconduct of now-Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick.

Pope Francis' response to journalists Aug. 26 that they should read the document carefully, investigate and make their own decisions was not a big help.

Littered with repeated accusations about a "homosexual current" of cardinals and archbishops close to Pope Francis, the document's central claim is that Pope Francis knew about Archbishop McCarrick's abusive behavior as early as June 2013 and did nothing about it.

In fact, Archbishop Vigano said, Pope Francis, "in the case of McCarrick, not only did not oppose evil but associated himself in doing evil with someone he knew to be deeply corrupt. He followed the advice of someone he knew well to be a pervert, thus multiplying exponentially with his supreme authority the evil done by McCarrick."

Archbishop Vigano states that in "2009 or 2010" Pope Benedict XVI "had imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis: the cardinal was to leave the seminary where he was living, he was forbidden to celebrate (Mass) in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance."

But such a sanction was never announced publicly.

It could be that Pope Benedict did not want to draw attention to behavior that was not public knowledge. But, as one canon lawyer at the Vatican told Catholic News Service Aug. 28, "at best it's weird, an anomaly" not to publish a sanction that has public consequences, such as forbidding the cardinal to celebrate Mass publicly or make public appearances.

Yet, Cardinal McCarrick continued to celebrate Mass publicly in the United States and to visit the Vatican, even being part of group audiences with Pope Benedict and later Pope Francis. Also strange is the fact that Archbishop Vigano himself appeared at public events with then-Cardinal McCarrick, including at a May 2, 2012, gala dinner of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, which honored Cardinal McCarrick as a "Pontifical Ambassador for Mission."

Oblate Father Andrew Small, director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, told Catholic News Service Aug. 29 that neither Archbishop Vigano nor anyone from the nunciature tried to dissuade the societies from giving the honor to Cardinal McCarrick.

Clearly, if there were sanctions, they were not enforced. But the question remains, were there sanctions and did Pope Francis know about them before this summer when the Archdiocese of New York announced an investigation found credible evidence that Archbishop McCarrick sexually abused a minor?

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and many individual bishops have asked for a thorough investigation of the Archbishop McCarrick situation, including Archbishop Vigano's claims.

"The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence," Cardinal DiNardo said Aug. 27. "Without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusations and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past."

In the eyes of many, the fact that Archbishop Vigano consulted with and was even assisted by journalists and bloggers who have worked publicly to oppose and discredit Pope Francis does not help his cause.

One of those involved was Aldo Maria Valli, author of the blog "Duc in Altum," which has been very critical of Pope Francis since the publication of "Amoris Laetitia" on the family. Valli wrote Aug. 27 that Archbishop Vigano called him more than a month ago wanting to talk to him. Valli invited the archbishop to dinner at his home.

"He was worried about the church and feared that at its top there were people who were not working to bring the Gospel of Jesus to today's men and women, but to sow confusion and give in to the logic of the world," Valli wrote.

As they walked to the archbishop's car at the end of the evening, Valli said Archbishop Vigano told him, "Don't call me. I'll get in touch with you."

A month later, the archbishop called again. And during another dinner in the Valli home, "he cited the case of McCarrick, the former cardinal held guilty of serious abuse, and he let it be known that everyone -- in the USA and the Vatican -- knew about it for a long time, for years. And yet they covered it up."

The archbishop said he would send a document to Valli to read and to publish or not as he saw fit. Valli said he asked if it would be an exclusive, and Archbishop Vigano told him, "No. I will give it to another Italian blogger, an Englishman, an American and a Canadian. There will be translations in English and Spanish."

They spoke later and agreed on the date and time of publication, Valli said. "He decided on Sunday, Aug. 26, because the pope, returning from Dublin, would have an opportunity to reply, responding to the journalists' questions on the plane."

The other Italian blogger and papal critic, former journalist Marco Tosatti, told the Associated Press that he helped Archbishop Vigano edit the document for publication. The meeting Aug. 22, he said, came after a similar, earlier phone call and meeting like Archbishop Vigano had with Valli.

After the Pennsylvania grand jury report came out, Tosatti told AP that he told Vigano, "I think that if you want to say something, now is the moment, because everything is going upside-down in the United States. He said 'OK.'"

The National Catholic Register, which is owned by EWTN, and the Canada-based LifeSiteNews also received the text in advance. The LifeSiteNews Rome-based writer did the official translation of Archbishop Vigano's document into English.

The Register reported Aug. 25 that it had "independently confirmed that the allegations against McCarrick were certainly known to Benedict, and the pope emeritus remembers instructing Cardinal Bertone to impose measures but cannot recall their exact nature." Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was Vatican secretary of state.

But Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the retired pope's personal secretary, told the German newspaper Die Tagespost Aug. 28 that Pope Benedict did not and would not comment on Archbishop Vigano's document. The Register then replied that it never said Pope Benedict had read Archbishop Vigano's report or that he had commented on it, only that Pope Benedict remembered wanting to impose sanctions of some sort.

Some things are clear: Archbishop Vigano's document was prepared in consultation with at least one of the bloggers and journalists who were the first to publish it; the archbishop's document is filled with rhetoric indicating a broader agenda than just ending clerical sexual abuse; and the release of the document was coordinated and timed to have maximum impact.

What is not clear is if there were sanctions imposed on then-Cardinal McCarrick and, if there were, did Pope Francis know about them. And as of Aug. 29, neither Pope Francis nor the Vatican press office has provided an answer.

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden

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Vocations in Ireland have dwindled due to abuse scandal, pope says

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 10:00am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While the faith of Catholics in Ireland is strong, the scandal of abuse and cover-up by church leaders has caused a decline in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, Pope Francis said.

During his weekly general audience Aug. 29, the pope led pilgrims in praying a "Hail Mary" to Our Lady of Knock so "the Lord may send holy priests to Ireland, that he sends new vocations."

"In Ireland there is faith; there are people of faith, a faith with great roots. But you know something? There are few vocations to the priesthood. Why? This faith doesn't flourish because of these problems, the scandals, many things," he said.

In his audience talk, the pope reflected on his visit Aug. 25-26 to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families.

The thousands of families participating from around the world, he said, were "an eloquent sign of the beauty of God's dream for the entire human family."

"God's dream is unity, harmony and peace, the fruit of fidelity, forgiveness and reconciliation that he has given us in Christ," the pope said. "In the mystery of his love, he calls families to participate in this dream and make the world a home where nobody is alone, unwanted or excluded."

The witness given by couples during the meeting, he continued, was a reminder that love in marriage is a gift from God that is "cultivated every day in the domestic church" and spreads "its beauty in the great community of the church and of society."

"How much is the world in need of a revolution of love, of tenderness!" the pope said. "This revolution begins in the heart of the family."

Pope Francis said that although there were moments of great joy during his trip, there were also moments of "pain and bitterness" caused by the suffering endured by survivors of abuse and "the fact that church leaders in the past did not always know how to adequately address these crimes."

His meeting Aug. 25 with abuse survivors left "a profound mark," and he said he prayed for forgiveness "for these sins, for the scandal and the sense of betrayal" felt by survivors and members of the church.

"I prayed that Our Lady would intercede for the healing of victims and give us the strength to firmly pursue truth and justice," the pope said.

The Irish bishops, he said, have taken "a serious path of purification and reconciliation" with those who have suffered and have worked alongside government authorities to establish "a series of severe norms to guarantee the safety of young people."

"In my meeting with the bishops, I encouraged them in their efforts to remedy the failures of the past with honesty and courage, trusting in the promises of the Lord and counting on the profound faith of the Irish people, to inaugurate a season of renewal of the church in Ireland," Pope Francis said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Catholic psychologist, abuse survivor, offers advice for families

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 12:45pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Clodagh Kilcoyne, Reuters

By Zita Ballinger Fletcher

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- After recent reports describing clergy sex abuse, Paul Peloquin, a Catholic clinical psychologist and a clergy abuse survivor, shared advice for victims and their families.

"For Catholics who have been abused by a priest or clergy, it's doubly difficult because they have not only been psychologically traumatized, but spiritually traumatized," Peloquin told Catholic News. "Unless that is addressed, healing is very difficult."

His work as a Catholic psychologist is tied to his own journey as an abuse survivor.

"I'm a survivor myself," said Peloquin, who is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "I left the church for over 30 years. I thought I had the perfect justification. I totally rejected the church and walked away."

Peloquin overcame the effects of the abuse by reclaiming his faith and helping fellow victims in his professional life as a psychologist. Once suffering from spiritual doubt, he now works to promote spiritual healing.

"If one says, 'the Catholic Church is bad' or 'all priests are bad,' that's too broad of a brushstroke. They're not," said Peloquin, who struggled with his beliefs for a long time. "I thought that way for a while."

His decision to return to Catholicism was difficult. It resulted from experiences that changed his perspectives over time.

"I came to a point in my life where I came to my senses and realized I wasn't finding what I was looking for in life -- that there was a great spiritual void," Peloquin said. "My heart started to soften over a period of time. It took many years."

He started going to church while escorting his terminally ill father to daily Mass. Peloquin did not attend to worship, but attended out of a sense of duty and obligation.

As time passed, Peloquin sought out a one-on-one experience with God -- not in a busy parish, but in the isolation of a Benedictine monastery in the mountains. He said he was able to develop his personal faith in God while experiencing the beauty of nature.

Peloquin said that going to a church can trigger traumatic memories for victims. He advised survivors to seek spiritual healing in a place where they feel peace.

"If people can find a way to be quiet and still, the Lord wants to reach out to them," he said.

He said that while many survivors feel the need to vent their anger, it is only a first step in the healing process. Peloquin also does not believe that money awarded in damages can restore victims to spiritual and emotional wholeness.

"If people say, 'Well, I'm just going to get money,' that's not going to heal anything," Peloquin said. "We're talking about a psychological and spiritual wound."

He advised parents to seek help from police or professional counselors if their child discloses sexual abuse.

"I would recommend that the parents get a consult with someone who is familiar with this, to see if they could ask the right questions, how they should react and how they are reacting," he said. "Don't go off and attack a priest or a teacher without getting the support of a professional."

Professionals trained to interview children can often uncover details that parents cannot, while still being sensitive to the needs of the child.

"Oftentimes abuse is committed by someone that is known by the family members," he said.

While most parents react emotionally because of disbelief or anger, Peloquin said it is important to keep calm. Open-mindedness, a caring demeanor and good listening skills prevent a child from "shutting down," he explained.

Many children hesitate to come forward because of fear that no one will believe them. Children who have been seduced over a period of time also feel guilty about being abused. Peloquin said parents must not allow their religious or personal views get in the way of listening to their child.

"The child needs to feel that they're respected and protected in all things," he said.

The psychologist said children should be educated about appropriate and inappropriate types of touching. Kids also should be encouraged to speak to a parent, teacher or other responsible adult if they feel uncomfortable with a particular adult. Doing so, Peloquin said, will enable children to recognize inappropriate behavior and not be seduced into an unwanted relationship. Children should also be encouraged to vocalize their concerns to others.

In advice to fellow Catholics who are struggling emotionally because of clergy sex abuse, Peloquin said panic is not the right response.

"Most priests are good people, but there are some who aren't," he said. "We need the priests. We don't have the sacraments without the priests. But we need good priests, who want to live the life of the priesthood and as servants."

Peloquin said that during his years as a professional psychologist, he has never seen any harm resulting from parents supporting and listening to their child. Problems arise, he said, when parents are close-minded.

"If parents deny it and say, 'this can never happen,' that's very harmful."

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

Catholic psychologist, abuse survivor, offers abuse advice for families

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 12:45pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Clodagh Kilcoyne, Reuters

By Zita Ballinger Fletcher

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- After recent reports describing clergy sex abuse, Paul Peloquin, a Catholic clinical psychologist and a clergy abuse survivor, shared advice for victims and their families.

"For Catholics who have been abused by a priest or clergy, it's doubly difficult because they have not only been psychologically traumatized, but spiritually traumatized," Peloquin told Catholic News. "Unless that is addressed, healing is very difficult."

His work as a Catholic psychologist is tied to his own journey as an abuse survivor.

"I'm a survivor myself," said Peloquin, who is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "I left the church for over 30 years. I thought I had the perfect justification. I totally rejected the church and walked away."

Peloquin overcame the effects of the abuse by reclaiming his faith and helping fellow victims in his professional life as a psychologist. Once suffering from spiritual doubt, he now works to promote spiritual healing.

"If one says, 'the Catholic Church is bad' or 'all priests are bad,' that's too broad of a brushstroke. They're not," said Peloquin, who struggled with his beliefs for a long time. "I thought that way for a while."

His decision to return to Catholicism was difficult. It resulted from experiences that changed his perspectives over time.

"I came to a point in my life where I came to my senses and realized I wasn't finding what I was looking for in life -- that there was a great spiritual void," Peloquin said. "My heart started to soften over a period of time. It took many years."

He started going to church while escorting his terminally ill father to daily Mass. Peloquin did not attend to worship, but attended out of a sense of duty and obligation.

As time passed, Peloquin sought out a one-on-one experience with God -- not in a busy parish, but in the isolation of a Benedictine monastery in the mountains. He said he was able to develop his personal faith in God while experiencing the beauty of nature.

Peloquin said that going to a church can trigger traumatic memories for victims. He advised survivors to seek spiritual healing in a place where they feel peace.

"If people can find a way to be quiet and still, the Lord wants to reach out to them," he said.

He said that while many survivors feel the need to vent their anger, it is only a first step in the healing process. Peloquin also does not believe that money awarded in damages can restore victims to spiritual and emotional wholeness.

"If people say, 'Well, I'm just going to get money,' that's not going to heal anything," Peloquin said. "We're talking about a psychological and spiritual wound."

He advised parents to seek help from police or professional counselors if their child discloses sexual abuse.

"I would recommend that the parents get a consult with someone who is familiar with this, to see if they could ask the right questions, how they should react and how they are reacting," he said. "Don't go off and attack a priest or a teacher without getting the support of a professional."

Professionals trained to interview children can often uncover details that parents cannot, while still being sensitive to the needs of the child.

"Oftentimes abuse is committed by someone that is known by the family members," he said.

While most parents react emotionally because of disbelief or anger, Peloquin said it is important to keep calm. Open-mindedness, a caring demeanor and good listening skills prevent a child from "shutting down," he explained.

Many children hesitate to come forward because of fear that no one will believe them. Children who have been seduced over a period of time also feel guilty about being abused. Peloquin said parents must not allow their religious or personal views get in the way of listening to their child.

"The child needs to feel that they're respected and protected in all things," he said.

The psychologist said children should be educated about appropriate and inappropriate types of touching. Kids also should be encouraged to speak to a parent, teacher or other responsible adult if they feel uncomfortable with a particular adult. Doing so, Peloquin said, will enable children to recognize inappropriate behavior and not be seduced into an unwanted relationship. Children should also be encouraged to vocalize their concerns to others.

In advice to fellow Catholics who are struggling emotionally because of clergy sex abuse, Peloquin said panic is not the right response.

"Most priests are good people, but there are some who aren't," he said. "We need the priests. We don't have the sacraments without the priests. But we need good priests, who want to live the life of the priesthood and as servants."

Peloquin said that during his years as a professional psychologist, he has never seen any harm resulting from parents supporting and listening to their child. Problems arise, he said, when parents are close-minded.

"If parents deny it and say, 'this can never happen,' that's very harmful."

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

NRB: Change in church's culture, including bishops, needed to end abuse

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 12:38pm

IMAGE: CNS photo illustration/Rick Musacchio, Tennessee Register

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- More committees are not the answer to stop the abuse of children and vulnerable adults by clergy, said an Aug. 28 statement by the National Review Board, which is charged with addressing clerical sexual misconduct in the Catholic Church.

"What needs to happen is a genuine change in the church's culture, specifically among the bishops themselves," the board said. "This evil has resulted from a loss of moral leadership and an abuse of power that led to a culture of silence that enabled these incidents to occur.

"Intimidation, fear, and the misuse of authority created an environment that was taken advantage of by clerics, including bishops, causing harm to minors, seminarians, and those most vulnerable," the NRB said. "The culture of silence enabled the abuse to go on virtually unchecked. Trust was betrayed for the victims/survivors of the abuse; the entire body of Christ was betrayed in turn by these crimes and the failure to act."

The purpose of the NRB, established in 2002 as part of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, is to work collaboratively with the U.S. bishops' Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People in preventing the sexual abuse of minors in the United States by persons in the service of the church.

But even the charter that created the NRB is wanting, the board's statement said.

"The members of the NRB have on numerous occasions pointed out the weaknesses in the charter given its deliberate ambiguity and its lack of inclusion of bishops. During the most recent revision process of the charter, many of the recommendations made by the NRB to strengthen the charter were not incorporated for a variety of reasons. These recommendations need to be reconsidered in light of the current situation, as well as the inclusion of bishops in the charter," the NRB said.

"The National Review Board has for several years expressed its concern that bishops not become complacent in their response to sexual abuse by the clergy. The recent revelations make it clear that the problem is much deeper."

The statement said, "The episcopacy needs to be held accountable for these past actions, and in the future, for being complicit, either directly or indirectly, in the sexual abuse of the vulnerable. Holding bishops accountable will require an independent review into the actions of the bishop when an allegation comes to light."

The statement added, "The NRB also believes that the statement of Episcopal Commitment is ineffective and needs to be revised into a meaningful, actionable commitment.

"In particular, the notion of 'fraternal correction' must outline concrete steps that will be taken when a bishop is alleged to have committed sexual abuse or has failed to respond immediately and without hesitation when a cleric is accused of sexual abuse," it said.

"To ensure that bishops undertake their obligation to act decisively when they have knowledge of incidences of sexual abuse committed by the clergy or their brother bishops, there must be substantive formation of newly appointed bishops on their responsibility as moral leaders within the church, especially in responding to sexual abuse, something which is currently lacking.

The NRB offered itself as the body with which to entrust an independent review of allegations against bishops, as outlined by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. bishops.

"The NRB, composed exclusively of lay members, would be the logical group to be involved in this task," it said. "An anonymous whistleblower policy, as is found in corporations, higher education and other institutions in both the public and private sector, that would be independent of the hierarchy with participation by the laity, perhaps the NRB, who would report allegations to the local bishop, local law enforcement, the nuncio and Rome, needs to be established immediately."

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

Trinidad's First Peoples were also nation's first Catholics

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 12:14pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Laura Ann Phillips

By Laura Ann Phillips

ARIMA, Trinidad (CNS) -- Past small family-owned businesses and homes tightly packed into well-worn streets, a procession of just over 300 St. Rose of Lima devotees snaked through the semi-rural borough of Arima, 45 miles southeast of the capital.

In its middle, a five-foot statue of the saint rode, elevated on a wooden, rose-framed litter at the back of a flatbed truck. For centuries, St. Rose has been a bridge between the Catholic Church and Trinidad's First Peoples -- an assortment of Amerindian tribes that inhabited the island for at least 6,000 years before Christopher Columbus stumbled upon them in 1498.

A wizened woman, a blend of East Indian and one of the nearly disappeared Amerindian tribes, walked in front of the saint-bearing truck as closely as the safety marshals allowed, holding aloft a matte-cream, plastic vase crammed with oversized pale pink artificial blooms.

Several names, neatly handwritten in fine black marker, covered the vase's surface: people alive and dead for whom she needed the saint's favors. When the statue was returned to its home in the St. Rose Parish Church, that vase was the first to be ensconced at the saint's feet.

"Santa Rosa is like mother to them," explained First Peoples Chief Ricardo Bharath Hernandez. "The faith and devotion people have placed in this saint has worked miracles for them."

Devotion some find objectionable, since Catholicism was brought by the Spanish, who decimated most of the island's indigenous tribes.

The Spanish didn't settle in Trinidad until 1592. About 40,000 indigenous people of varying tribes lived on the island, and there was light trading and a tenuous peace for some time. But, when Spain's encomienda system was introduced around 1644, Amerindian labor was seized.

The Nepuyo tribe of Arima mounted the strongest resistance, their Chief Hyarima leading a force effective enough to slow Spanish occupation of the island's north for decades.

Some Amerindians, though, were converted early by the Capuchins who staffed missions erected throughout the island, each dedicated to a particular saint; Arima's was dedicated to St. Rose. The newly baptized doffed their traditional names for that of their estate owner or the baptizing priest. This is why so many local Amerindian descendants carry Spanish names, said Hernandez. Records recovered from the missions have helped some people trace their tribal roots.

Still, it is nearly impossible to find pure-blooded descendants of any of the original tribes today; some think none exist. What was left of them dissolved, over the centuries, into Trinidad's myriad ethnicities.

Some find it difficult to wholeheartedly embrace the Catholic Church and its practices. Others find power in both.

"My Lord and my savior is Jesus Christ, his son, and that will never change," said Hilary Bernard, a dentist and First Peoples descendant.

In First Peoples' prayer, she noted, "The name Tamushi is given to almighty God. It's Taino, which is one of the Arawak languages, and it means, 'creator of the universe', 'almighty God.'"

Bernard is also a member of the Catholic charismatic prayer group that's heavily involved in youth ministry and social outreach.

"There's no separation for me, really. There's nothing to reconcile."

The First Peoples' "commitment to prayer and allowing prayer to transform and inform their lives is a very important thing," said Msgr. Christian Pereira, a former St. Rose parish priest for several years.

"They have a very deep relationship to the earth and the universe, which is their essential relationship of the Divine Spirit of the Holy One."

Western religions have allowed themselves to "become divorced from the universe," Msgr. Pereira said. "Pope Francis has tried to pull us back in "Laudato Si'," to remind us that the (Creator is present in all elements of the) earth, and the universe is the seat of the Creator."

The Amerindian devotion to St. Rose can be traced to a 17th-century legend which some call a miracle, others the oppressor's cunning.

Amerindian hunters were in the hills and found a girl alone there. She was dumb, so they took her back to the village. That night, she disappeared, but she was found again in the forest the next day. They brought her back to the settlement, but she disappeared that night, too. The next day, when she was found, the people took her to the mission priest. He told them the mysterious girl was the manifested spirit of St. Rose and, after that night, would not return. Sure enough, the girl was never seen again.

The daughter of Chief Hyarima later became Catholic, followed by many of their peoples. The First Peoples' Carib queen, the community's titular head throughout the years, is said to be her descendant.

"Now, there are oral traditions, and there is the practical thing," stated Chief Hernandez, "because there are similar stories in other indigenous communities of the region where the Catholics took possession."

Still, he defends his community when their devotion to the saint and Catholicism are criticized by internal and external groups.

"I tell them we must remember that, for over 200 years, this has become part of the people's tradition and culture," said Hernandez. "The Santa Rosa festival allowed them a space to practice their indigenous culture."

For more than 230 years of the feast's celebration, following the Mass and procession, all assembled at the park in front of the church, where the First Peoples share their traditional dances, rituals, food, games and craft. Today, it is a modest food and craft operation run jointly by the parish and First Peoples with a more modern lean.

Still, their community's festival preparations are robust. On Aug. 1, a conch shell -- the shell of a large ocean mollusk -- is blown, a religious ceremony performed in the hills, and cannons fired. During the weeks following, the women prepare decorative roses, buntings and flags, with separate duties for the men. The community also participates in the parish novena.

"The First Peoples existed long before Jesus Christ was born," said Msgr. Pereira. "They hold the presence of the Great Spirit in nature all around them in reverence and, to this day, recognize God's presence in wider creation, as well as the particular presence of God in the person of Jesus Christ in our Catholic Church."

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