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Updated: 38 min 31 sec ago

Going for God: Vatican invited to attend Olympic opening ceremony

Fri, 02/02/2018 - 8:55am

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- For the first time, the International Olympic Committee has invited a Vatican delegation not only to take part in the opening ceremony of the Winter Games, but also to attend its general meeting as an official observer.

The delegation was to be led by Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture and head of its "Culture and Sport" section.

The Vatican delegation was invited to attend the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Feb. 9 as well as the Olympic committee's annual session Feb. 5-7 where voting members meet to discuss major issues in the world of sports, reported the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, Feb. 2.

A Vatican delegation attended the opening of the Summer Olympics in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, but this was the first time a Vatican delegation was also invited to attend an annual session of the Olympic committee.

Msgr. Sanchez, a former modern pentathlete, told the Vatican newspaper he would present Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, and all Korean Olympic athletes with the official yellow and white jerseys worn by members of the Vatican's running club "Athletica Vaticana," which -- like its other sports teams -- is made up of employees of Vatican City State and the Holy See.

Athletes from both North Korea and South Korea were to walk together during the opening ceremony and were to carry the Korean "Unification Flag" -- a flag designed to represent all of Korea when athletes from the North and South participate as one team in sporting events.

Nearly two dozen North Korean athletes received permission from the IOC to compete in the Winter Games, which take place Feb. 9-25. While athletes will compete for their respective countries, there will be a unified Korean team at the Olympics for the first time as players from both North and South Korea make up a team in women's ice hockey.

 

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Ukrainian Catholic prelates make culinary wager on outcome of Super Bowl

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 1:55pm

IMAGE: CNS photos/Jacqueline Dorme, Republican-Herald and Gregory A. Shemitz

By

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- Two Ukrainian Catholic prelates have placed a culinary wager on the outcome of the Feb. 4 Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.

Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia, metropolitan of U.S. Ukrainian Catholics, is rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles, in their first Super Bowl appearance since 2005. Bishop Paul P. Chomnycky of Stamford, Connecticut, is rooting for the New England Patriots -- the returning Super Bowl champions and perennial powerhouse.

To show their confidence in their respective home teams, the bishops announced Feb. 1 they have placed a friendly wager on the ultimate outcome of the game. The beneficiaries will be either the chancery staff in Philadelphia or the chancery staff in Stamford.

"If the Eagles do not fly high on Sunday," Archbishop Soroka said, "we will provide a luncheon for the Stamford chancery staff highlighted with Philadelphia cheesesteaks. However, I do not suspect I will have to do so."

While Bishop Chomnycky and his chancery staff are looking forward to the Philly cheesesteak luncheon, the bishop stated that "if the Eagles fly high and the Patriots experience a rare defeat," he will provide the Philadelphia chancery staff with a luncheon "with Boston cream pie as the dessert."

The Philly cheesesteak was developed in the early 20th century "by combining frizzled beef, onions and cheese in a small loaf of bread," according to a 1987 exhibition catalog published by the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Philadelphians Pat and Harry Olivieri are often credited with inventing the sandwich by serving chopped steak on an Italian roll in the early 1930s.

According to the owners of the Parker House Hotel in Boston, the Boston cream pie was first created at the hotel by an Armenian-French chef, M. Sanzian, in 1856 and originally called a chocolate cream pie. While other custard cakes may have existed at the time, baking chocolate as a coating was a new process, making it unique and a popular choice on the menu.

The name "Boston cream pie" first appeared in the 1872 Methodist Almanac was declared the official dessert of Massachusetts Dec. 12,1996.

While both bishops are rooting for their respective home teams, they said they see the big game as an American tradition that brings the nation together on Super Bowl Sunday.

"It is amazing how on this one Sunday, people throughout the nation, indeed throughout the world, come together to watch a game played by grown men. Families, neighbors and organizations have parties and socials to enjoy this American classic. It is a unifying event," Archbishop Soroka said.

Bishop Chomnycky commented, "While we all hope for an exciting and competitive football game on Sunday, we also look forward to good sportsmanship and camaraderie among the players and fans both on and off the field. For a few hours, we are able to forget about the many problems throughout the world."

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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.

In chilly Minnesota, archbishop has warm welcome for Super Bowl visitors

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:02pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Cath

By Marie Wiering

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) -- Archbishop Bernard J. Hebda may be a Pittsburgh native, but like a true Minnesotan, he began a welcome video for Super Bowl visitors talking about the weather.

"The weather here can get a little chilly this time of year, but as a transplant myself, I can tell you firsthand, the people and hospitality here are warm and inviting," the archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis said in a 76-second video taped in the Cathedral of St. Paul.

The video was posted Jan. 30 to the archdiocese's website, www.archspm.org. It also can be viewed in the local news section on the site of the archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Spirit, thecatholicspirit.com.

Minneapolis will host the 2018 Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium Feb. 4. A million visitors are expected to visit the Twin Cities for the big game.

"My prayer for this special weekend is that all of you -- teams, vendors, families, media and all guests -- have a safe and fun visit," said Archbishop Hebda, who has headed the archdiocese since 2016.

He said he also hoped that the Twin Cities' guests visit one of the archdiocese's "more than 180 Catholic parishes," naming the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, the nation's first basilica, which is located on the west end of Minneapolis a mile-and-a-half from the stadium, and the Cathedral of St. Paul, which overlooks downtown St. Paul.

"You can explore their beauty, have a few quiet moments or attend Mass in one of a dozen languages," he said.

"Again a warm welcome to all of you, from all of us," he said.

The video concluded with welcomes in seven different languages from individuals and groups representing different immigrant communities in the archdiocese.

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Wiering is editor of 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.

Dialogue dilemma: Vatican's China overture sparks controversy

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 9:00am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Roman Pilipey, EPA

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Vatican efforts to honor those who suffer and die for their faith while trying to negotiate with oppressive regimes to expand religious freedom have been fraught with criticism and real pain for more than 50 years.

For example, whether Vatican diplomatic efforts during the Cold War helped ensure the survival of the Catholic Church behind the Iron Curtain or amounted to appeasing evil is still a subject of scholarly debate.

But, unfortunately, the topic is not just a matter of history.

A similar tension is being played out in China, where the Vatican is engaged in dialogue with the communist government in an attempt to move, however slowly, toward a situation in which all the Catholic bishops would be in full communion with Rome and all Catholics would recognize each other as members of the same church.

But some people who have given up their freedom to remain faithful to the pope and some who have observed the resulting suffering see the Vatican's dialogue with the Chinese government as a betrayal.

One of the loudest critics of the Vatican's current engagement with the Chinese government is Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, retired archbishop of Hong Kong.

In a blog posted on his Facebook page Jan. 29, he asked rhetorically, "Is it not good to try to find mutual ground to bridge the decades-long divide between the Vatican and China?" And then he responded, "But can there be anything really 'mutual' with a totalitarian regime? Either you surrender or you accept persecution, but remaining faithful to yourself."

While Cardinal Zen acknowledged that some Catholics who have cooperated with the government-approved Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association did so "not by their own free will, but under heavy pressure," he also said others are "willing renegades" who, in effect, are in schism.

For decades, the communist government has insisted on naming bishops for Chinese dioceses; for the Catholic Church, that is the prerogative of the pope, since unity with the pope is the guarantee of unity with the church.

But the Vatican's current policy not only involves dialogue with the Chinese government to find agreement on the appointment of bishops and pry open even some tiny space for religious freedom, it also is focused on healing relations among Chinese Catholics.

The importance of uniting Chinese Catholics was explained by now-retired Pope Benedict XVI in his 2007 letter to Catholics in China.

The division created by cooperating or refusing to cooperate with the patriotic association, Pope Benedict wrote, "is a situation primarily dependent on factors external to the church, but it has seriously conditioned her progress, giving rise also to suspicions, mutual accusations and recriminations, and it continues to be a weakness in the church that causes concern."

It is in building a "communion of love that the church appears as 'sacrament,' as the 'sign and instrument of intimate union with God and of the unity of the human race,'" Pope Benedict wrote. "Avoiding judgments and mutual condemnations" is the only way to promote unity in a situation where individuals, particularly bishops, must decide the extent to which they can cooperate with the government for the good of their communities.

Criticism of the Vatican's Cold War outreach to Soviet-bloc nations was focused on Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, seen as the project's chief architect. A full-time Vatican diplomat for decades, he served as Vatican secretary of state from 1979 to 1990.

In a similar way, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the current secretary of state, is at the center of discussion over the current attempt to dialogue with the Chinese government.

In his Jan. 29 Facebook post, Cardinal Zen seemed to imply that Pope Francis was not fully informed of Cardinal Parolin's activities and approach. The Vatican press office swiftly issued a denial.

Cardinal Parolin himself responded in an interview published Jan. 31 with the Italian newspaper La Stampa and its Vatican Insider website.

"In China, perhaps more than elsewhere, Catholics have been able to preserve, despite many difficulties and sufferings, the authentic deposit of faith, keeping firmly the bond of hierarchical communion between the bishops and the successor of Peter as a visible guarantee of faith itself," the cardinal said. "In fact, communion between the bishop of Rome and all Catholic bishops touches the heart of the church's unity: It is not a private matter between the pope and the Chinese bishops or between the Apostolic See and civil authorities."

But in China, he said, the unity of the church also is threatened by judgments Chinese Catholics make about each other based on the level of their acceptance of government involvement in the life of the community.

Cardinal Parolin said the Vatican wants to overcome the "perennial conflict between opposing principles and structures" by "finding realistic pastoral solutions that allow Catholics to live their faith and to continue together the work of evangelization in the specific Chinese context."

"The hope is that, when God wills it, we won't have to speak of 'legitimate' and 'illegitimate' bishops, 'clandestine' and 'official' bishops in the church in China," he said, but the focus will be on all Chinese Catholics "learning the language of collaboration and communion again."

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.

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

Trump immigration plan's impact on family 'deeply troubling,' says bishop

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 4:50pm

IMAGE: REUTERS

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The chairman of the U.S. bishops' migration committee said Jan. 30 that the Catholic bishops welcomed the Trump administration's proposal to give "Dreamers" a path to citizenship, but at the same time, they are "deeply troubled" about the plan's "impact on family unity."

On Jan. 26, the White House released a proposal offering a path to citizenship for approximately 1.8 million of the so-called Dreamers and asking for a $25 billion investment in a border wall and other security measures. The plan also calls for an end to the diversity visa program, popularly known as the "visa lottery," and also a program that grants visa preferences to relatives of U.S. citizens or residents.

The administration said its focus for immigration policy is to keep the "nuclear family" intact.

"We welcome the administration's proposal to include a path to citizenship for Dreamers. However, the proposed cuts to family immigration and elimination of protections to unaccompanied children are deeply troubling," said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration.

He made the comments in a statement released ahead of President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech, to be delivered at 9 p.m. Eastern time. Immigration and border security were among the topics Trump was expected to address in the speech, in addition to the economy, tax reform and the country's infrastructure needs.

"Family immigration is part of the bedrock of our country and of our church," Bishop Vasquez said. "Pope Francis states: 'The family is the foundation of coexistence and a remedy against social fragmentation.' Upholding and protecting the family unit, regardless of its national origins, is vital to our faith."

In September, Trump ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, and he called on Congress to pass a measure to preserve the program. The DACA recipients are called Dreamers, who are immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children by their parents. Under DACA, they are protected from deportation, but they have to apply to the program and meet certain criteria.

DACA ends March 5, unless Congress passes a bill to keep the almost 6-year-old program in place.

"In searching for a solution for Dreamers, we must not turn our backs on the vulnerable," Bishop Vasquez said in his statement. "We should not, for example, barter the well-being of unaccompanied children for the well-being of the Dreamers. We know them all to be children of God who need our compassion and mercy.

The U.S. bishops "urge a bipartisan solution forward that is narrowly tailored" to keep DACA in place, the bishop said. "Time is of the essence. Every day we experience the human consequences of delayed action in the form of young people losing their livelihood and their hope.

"As pastors and leaders of the church, we see this fear and sadness in our parishes and as such, continue to call for immediate action," Bishop Vasquez added. "Elected officials must show leadership to quickly enact legislation that provides for our security and is humane, proportionate and just."

The Trump administration's proposal to provide a path to citizenship for approximately 1.8 million Dreamers includes those currently covered by the program and more than 1 million who meet the DACA criteria but have not signed up.

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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.

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