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All in good time: Liturgy document unlikely to bring quick changes

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:00am

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The shouts of joy and cries of despair that greeted Pope Francis' recent changes to canon law regarding liturgical texts appear to be exaggerated.

The changes can be read as part of Pope Francis' efforts to promote a "healthy decentralization" of church structures, said Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai. "It makes clear the responsibility of the (bishops') conferences" in preparing faithful translations. "But this is, more or less, the procedure we have been following."

"Just a few words have been changed" in canon law, so "we will have to see how it goes in the concrete," said the cardinal, who is a member of the international Council of Cardinals advising the pope on church governance and is a former member of Vox Clara, the committee that advises the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments on liturgical translations in English.

The document, "Magnum Principium" ("The Great Principle"), was released by the Vatican Sept. 9. It changes two clauses in canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law: from "reviewing" translations, the Holy See now is asked to "recognize adaptations approved by the episcopal conference"; and bishops' conferences, rather than being called "to prepare and publish" translations, are now called to prepare them "faithfully" and then to approve and publish them "after the confirmation of the Apostolic See."

In a note published with the text, Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the worship congregation, said under the new rules, the Vatican's "confirmatio" of a translation is "ordinarily granted based on trust and confidence" and "supposes a positive evaluation of the faithfulness and congruence of the texts produced with respect to the typical Latin text."

Reactions varied widely. Steve Skojec, publisher and director of the blog OnePeterFive.com, called it "a ticking time bomb" and said, "When it comes to the liturgy of the universal church, episcopal conferences are quite simply out of their depth."

Father Michael G. Ryan, the pastor of the cathedral in Seattle, who had led a campaign to delay implementation of the current English translation, asked in America magazine, "Will our bishops respond to this invitation and take a hard look at the woefully inadequate translation we are currently using? We can only hope and pray that their pastoral concern and commitment to liturgical celebrations that are both beautiful and intelligible will prompt them to walk through the door that Pope Francis has opened."

Neither Cardinal Gracias nor Msgr. Markus Graulich, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, expect a change anytime soon in the English translation of the Mass.

Pope Francis' document, however, could have a more immediate impact on what German- and French-speaking Catholics hear at Mass. The German bishops shelved their translation in 2013; they will discuss the new document at their general assembly in late September. A new French translation of the Mass already was under discussion by the Vatican and French-speaking bishops' conferences, but it has not yet been approved by the conferences and formally submitted to the Vatican.

The new document "gives a little endorsement now to (bishops') conferences and, in that sense, it's certainly in the direction of what the Holy Father wants: that conferences take more responsibility and healthy decentralization," Cardinal Gracias told Catholic News Service Sept. 19.

"The word 'fidelity' added (to canon law) is from 'Liturgiam Authenticam,'" he said, referring to the 2001 instruction on translations, which was issued by the worship congregation.The pope's changes to canon law confirm its teaching, although "minor modifications" are possible now.

"I have a feeling this will open the door" to small national or regional changes, for example in the English text in Africa versus India or North America, the cardinal said. "My personal opinion is that it is very convenient to have one translation for the whole world, but if there are such serious difficulties, I don't think we should force them" to accept a unified translation. He, like Msgr. Graulich, cited the example of bishops in Africa who said that having the people respond to the priest, "And with your spirit" creates difficulties in societies still influenced by animism or belief in witchcraft.

"The door is slightly ajar now for some variety," Cardinal Gracias said.

The idea, though, that any English-speaking bishop would propose starting the English translation over again is "absolutely ridiculous," he said. The current Missal is "a great improvement" over what existed before, and "nobody has an appetite for big changes now."

From a canon law point of view, the document "does not really strengthen episcopal conferences, but it tries to put on a better base the collaboration between the Holy See and the bishops' conferences, because there have been some problems in the last few years," Msgr. Graulich said. "It's a question whether the Holy See can really evaluate, as bishops' conferences can do, what is a proper translation."

But, inserting the Latin word "fideliter" into canon law means the translation has to be done in accordance with "Liturgiam Authenticam," he said. "You are not free to make a translation that 'more or less' reports the text, but you have to do a translation that is as true as possible to the Latin original."

At the same time, Msgr. Graulich said, the new law encourages collaboration between bishops and the Vatican in judging what constitutes a faithful translation into a specific language.

The German translation that has been stalled since 2013 was "a very literal translation," he said. "If I as a celebrant don't understand what I read the first time, how will people in the pews understand it if they only hear it?"

"You have structures of language in Latin -- and Italian and Spanish -- that we don't have in German," he said, referring to grammar and, especially, verb tenses.

The obligation, which Pope Francis formally added to canon law, that translations be "faithful" to the Latin is the responsibility of the bishops' conference doing the translation, he said, "but then, as the Holy See has to confirm that, it is a second check. It's more check and balance" than shifting power.

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.

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Copyright © 2017 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 says church was late fighting abuse, promises 'zero tolerance'

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 9:13am

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has endorsed an approach of "zero tolerance" toward all members of the church guilty of sexually abusing minors or vulnerable adults.

Having listened to abuse survivors and having made what he described as a mistake in approving a more lenient set of sanctions against an Italian priest abuser, the pope said he has decided whoever has been proven guilty of abuse has no right to an appeal, and he will never grant a papal pardon.

"Why? Simply because the person who does this (sexually abuses minors) is sick. It is a sickness," he told his advisory commission on child protection during an audience at the Vatican Sept. 21. Members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, including its president -- Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston -- were meeting in Rome Sept. 21-23 for their plenary assembly.

Setting aside his prepared text, the pope said he wanted to speak more informally to the members, who include lay and religious experts in the fields of psychology, sociology, theology and law in relation to abuse and protection.

The Catholic Church has been "late" in facing and, therefore, properly addressing the sin of sexual abuse by its members, the pope said, and the commission, which he established in 2014, has had to "swim against the tide" because of a lack of awareness or understanding of the seriousness of the problem.

"When consciousness comes late, the means for resolving the problem comes late," he said. "I am aware of this difficulty. But it is the reality: We have arrived late."

"Perhaps," he said, "the old practice of moving people" from one place to another and not fully facing the problem "lulled consciences to sleep."

But, he said, "prophets in the church," including Cardinal O'Malley, have, with the help of God, come forward to shine light on the problem of abuse and to urge the church to face it.

Typically when the church has had to deal with new or newly emerging problems, it has turned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to address the issue, he said. And then, only when the problem has been dealt with adequately does the process for dealing with future cases get handed over to another dicastery, he added.

Because the problem of cases and allegations of abuse are "grave" -- and because it also is grave that some have not adequately taken stock of the problem -- it is important the doctrinal congregation continue to handle the cases, rather than turning them over directly to Vatican tribunals, as some have suggested.

However, he said, the doctrinal congregation will need more personnel to work on cases of abuse in order to expedite the "many cases that do not proceed" with the backlog.

Pope Francis told commission members he wants to better balance the membership of the doctrinal team dealing with appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse. He said the majority of members are canon lawyers, and he would like to balance out their more legalistic approach with more members who are diocesan bishops and have had to deal with abuse in their diocese.

He also said proof that an ordained minister has abused a minor "is sufficient (reason) to receive no recourse" for an appeal. "If there is proof. End of story," the pope said; the sentence "is definitive."

And, he added, he has never and would never grant a papal pardon to a proven perpetrator.

The reasoning has nothing to do with being mean-spirited, but because an abuser is sick and is suffering from "a sickness."

The pope told the commission he has been learning "on the job" better ways to handle priests found guilty of abuse, and he recounted a decision he has now come to regret: that of agreeing to a more lenient sanction against an Italian priest, rather than laicizing him as the doctrinal team recommended.

Two years later the priest abused again, and Pope Francis said he has since learned "it's a terrible sickness" that requires a different approach.

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Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.

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Copyright © 2017 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.

Bishop, Caritas staffer say situation in Mexico serious, much aid needed

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 3:15pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Francisco Guasco, Reuters

By

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- A Catholic bishop and a Caritas worker in Mexico said the situation was extremely serious after the Sept. 19 earthquake, and much aid would be needed.

"The situation is complicated, because the first earthquake (Sept. 7) had already affected thousands of people in Chiapas and Oaxaca," Alberto Arciniega, head of communications for Caritas Mexico, told Catholic News Service Sept. 20. "The church is continuing to assist those dioceses, but with what happened yesterday, the emergency situation is being re-evaluated to get a more exact assessment of the aid that is needed."

All the dioceses in Mexico were collecting food, water and other necessities for victims of the quakes, said Arciniega. He said they were seeking economic support from inside and outside the country.

"We know it is a serious situation, and international aid is being requested," Arciniega told Catholic News Service.

"Rehabilitation and reconstruction will take time and will be expensive," he added. "Thousands of people have been left homeless, and many churches have been damaged."

The magnitude 7.1 quake that hit Sept. 19 was not as strong as the earlier magnitude 8.1 quake, but the second quake was centered in Puebla state, just southeast of Mexico City, as opposed to in the Pacific Ocean. Arciniega said Puebla and Morelos states and Mexico City were worst hit in the second quake.

Arciniega shared audio of an interview with Bishop Ramon Castro Castro of Cuernavaca, in Morelos state.

The bishop reported "many deaths" and "many churches damaged." He said one colonial-era church collapsed but added, "Miraculously, the priests escaped safely."

Bishop Castro said parishes in his diocese had been collecting items to send to victims of the Sept. 7 earthquake in Chiapas and Oaxaca. Now those items -- if they were not destroyed in the Sept. 19 quake -- will be used locally, the bishop said, adding, "but it will not be enough."

He said one priest was taken to the hospital with serious injuries after his church collapsed; another was rescued from the rubble.

"There is a great deal of solidarity, thank God, but it is not enough. This is a serious disaster," Bishop Castro said.

Economic aid is important for "people who have been left homeless, who have been left with nothing, absolutely nothing."

"I am on my way now to visit the areas that have suffered the greatest damage, to try to convey a message of encouragement and hope," he said.

Arciniega was in Oaxaca when he spoke to CNS. He said the Sept. 19 earthquake was felt there, but apparently did not cause damage.

"People (in the south) are worried that the assistance will stop because the cameras and newscasts are focusing on Mexico City. There is fear that the aid will stop and the emphasis will be on the center of the country," he said.

He added that it was raining in Tehuantepec, an area of Oaxaca damaged in the first earthquake.

"That makes the housing situation more complicated. Not only did people's homes collapse, but now it's raining, so people are in shelters, they need food. They are setting up community kitchens. We are continuing to evaluate how much the diocese can do to help itself and requesting aid from other dioceses and from outside the country."

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Contributing to this story was Barbara Fraser in Lima, Peru.

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Copyright © 2017 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.

Rothers still rooted to land where martyred priest and siblings grew up

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 1:10pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Anamaria Scaperlanda Biddick

By Anamaria Scaperlanda Biddick

OKARCHE, Okla. (CNS) -- Tom Rother and his wife of 52 years, Marti, live on the farm where he grew up, less than an hour's drive from their five children and 15 grandchildren.

Though the farm, located three miles from the center of Okarche, is now run by his oldest two sons, he still spends days in the gently sloping fields, cutting hay alongside them and raising calves. At first glance, his life seems exceptional mostly in its rootedness: He attends the same parish and farms the same land where he was raised.

He also is a brother to the first U.S.-born martyr, Father Stanley Rother, who will be beatified Sept. 23 in Oklahoma City. He was gunned down in 1981 in the Guatemalan village where he ministered.

Tom, like his older brother Stan and their other siblings, grew up surrounded by farming, family and faith.

They began their day with farm chores and breakfast. Then, as Tom remembered, "We'd come in on the school bus, put our things up, and go over to church where they had Mass every morning," at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and School, still a thriving community in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, 30 miles northwest of the city.

After school, "we came home and had cows to milk and chores to do," he said. After dinner, "especially during the month of Mary and in the winter time, we prayed the rosary," Tom Rother recollected in an interview for Catholic News Service.

"I would try to sneak upstairs a little early," he said with a shrug and a laugh. "But it didn't work. They were good parents. They pushed it."

In addition to a strict household order that centered on work and prayer, the Rother parents modeled patience and love, "I hardly ever heard a cross word," between my parents, Tom said.

The parish priest, Father Edmund Von Elm, was a regular part of their family life, helping with the farm work and staying for dinner. "One of my dad's best friends was the priest up here at Holy Trinity," Tom said. "He loved to be around hay and cattle, 'cause he was a farm boy himself. I think that was one of the motivations for Stan and Sister to go to the religious life."

Tom was 13 when Stan and Betty Mae, now Sister Marita, left. "I was surprised. It just didn't happen very often," he said. "I just remember when Sister told me she was going. We were out digging potatoes. She told me that day, that come a little later in the summer, she was going to Wichita to be a nun. I couldn't believe it."

Betty Mae left a few weeks before Stan -- leaving Tom and their brother Jim to take over many of the farm chores. "We lost all of our help!" Tom laughed. "They just doubled up on us, and worked a little harder too."

Sister Marita is a member of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ and lives in Wichita, Kansas.

A few years after his ordination, when Father Rother volunteered for the mission in Guatemala, Tom wasn't surprised. "He was just a little different," he said.

"It takes a special person," he said, especially in a time when many men were leaving the priesthood altogether. In Father Stan's class alone, five of the 11 men ordained left within seven years. "It was really sad when these priests just started dropping out. We had three at Okarche quit."

His brother persisted, following the model of a parish priest that Father Von Elm set for him. He worked and broke bread alongside his parishioners. He was dedicated to them even when he was in danger. "He was home just before [he was killed] and you could just see it in him, he wanted to go back so bad to be with those people," he said, recalling when he heard the news of his brother's death.

"We were in Tennessee, that was our only vacation. When they told me that the phone was for me, I says, well, I can tell you what happened. And, so, we took off in the middle of the night, and drove," he remembered. "Next morning, Paul Harvey come on and said that there's been a Catholic priest from Okarche, Oklahoma, who was murdered in Guatemala. Now, that would have been our first news, if Dad wouldn't have got ahold of us."

After Stan died, it didn't occur to him that perhaps his brother was a saint. "That's a thing for back in the 16th century, not to come to a little old farmstead like this, you know," he said.

Since then, he has heard of his brother's intercession in four situations and witnessed it in one, though it is unlikely any are up to the Vatican standards for a miracle. His wife got knocked down by a cow, hit her head, and was in danger of being trampled by the 50 cows in the lot.

"I said, Stan buddy, if you ever help me, buddy, help me now," he said, recalling his fear at how the cows were moving around. Miraculously, "some of them went into the barn and stayed."

Pointing, Tom said, "the other ones stayed over in this corner, and there we were, and I was there with her, and them cows could have run right over us. But they just instantly calmed down. So, I just figured that was my miracle."

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Copyright © 2017 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.

Caritas staffers in Germany juggle duties as they help refugees

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 11:30am

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy of Caritas Stuttgart

By Dale Gavlak

STUTTGART, Germany (CNS) -- A young African mother calls for help to the Caritas staffer at the refugee dormitory as her toddler quickly scurries down the hallway, giggling. Unaware, Syrian and Iraqi refugees huddle outside under an awning, busy texting, as the rain pours down.

Caritas social worker Lisa Maisch said it's all in a day's work as she and others at the facility juggle many responsibilities, including providing care and support to refugees fleeing conflict and economic deprivation, who are often traumatized. At other times, Caritas workers find themselves having to give a motivational push to refugees to improve German language skills and pursue job prospects as a means of better integrating into a new life in the country.

"We are on the one hand social workers who give advice. On the other, we are also responsible for managing the facility," explained Maisch, who began working with Caritas in September 2014, a year before hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Africa flooded into Europe, with about 1 million landing in Germany.

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel seeks re-election for a fourth term of office Sept. 24, her policies on immigration have come under fresh scrutiny. Not all Germans are happy about the huge influx of foreigners from very different cultural and religious backgrounds; others are supportive of Merkel's actions.

"People live in a tight, narrow place here," Maisch, 31, told Catholic News Service. She spoke at the facility of stark concrete dormitories on the outskirts of Stuttgart, the affluent home to Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Bosch.

"Because of the insecurity of their legal status and the long time spent in the facility, some people are frustrated and feel pressure," said Maisch, whose holds bachelor and master's degrees examining social integration for refugees. "Arguments can start with neighbors in the facility, over small things like cleaning or noise, but it quickly quiets down."

Approximately 8,000 refugees live in and around Stuttgart, and Caritas cares for 3,000 of them. They are considered "asylum seekers," hailing from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Gambia, Eritrea, Somalia, Nigeria, Togo and Benin. The German government will determine their final status.

The Caritas facility in the leafy Mohringen district has 243 beds in three buildings, where two or three people share a clean, but cramped 49-by-15 room.

"Occasionally there are disputes, but well less than the public think," said Antonia Hacker, who works with Maisch at the facility. "Here, we have different nationalities, different cultures, different religions."

The application process to be considered a refugee with permission to stay in Germany can take up to three years and includes bureaucratic hurdles, causing much anxiety to those involved.

"We are really emotionally involved, having built near daily relationships with these people during this period, even though we, as individuals, are looking after a caseload of 60 or more people," Maisch said.

"It's a big challenge for us to explain to them what is written in a rejection letter telling them to go back," she said, adding Caritas helps find lawyers to make an appeal, if that's what the applicant wants.

She said a man from Gambia recently sat in her office and cried, fearing he and his wife would always be displaced and never would be settled.

"They are questioning these things every day. It's really hard for them to cope," Maisch said.

"Everyone has a reason for coming to Germany. It's difficult for those who are further traumatized by the journey just getting here," Hacker told CNS.

The 27-year-old Stuttgart native started her involvement with Caritas in 11th grade, helping homeless people, and became a staffer in 2015, aiding refugees after completing a university degree in social work.

"For instance, Germany has switched so many times between citing Afghanistan as an 'unsafe' or 'safe' country, so it's hard for people to keep learning German if they don't know if they will be allowed to stay," Hacker explained.

She said family reunification has its own difficulties. The German government has not permitted the reunion of a 19-year-old Iraqi girl with her mother, who has refugee status, because the girl is considered a legal adult in the West. However, a single woman her age would not be allowed to live alone in the Middle East.

"These kinds of things are difficult for me to understand, and I can't explain it to the people," Hacker said. "Sometimes I get angry and call the officials asking them why, saying they are family. But the authorities say she is over 18."

Although their colleague, Joachim Glaubitz, said he deals exclusively with those refugees who are allowed to remain in Germany, he sees the challenges with family reunion.

"Refugees are afraid for their families, constantly thinking about them. This can make it difficult for them to get a good start," Glaubitz, Caritas refugee counselor in Heilbronn, just north of Stuttgart, told CNS. "They always ask me to make it faster and to help them. But it's not possible to make it faster."

"Successful integration depends on the individual and where they are living in Germany. Language learning skills make it easier to find a job. There are problems, but many good examples, too," Glaubitz added.

Caritas also helps refugees with job applications, work and internship placements, locating housing, language classes, and integration courses as well as trauma counseling.

"These people have a lot of patience. They say, 'Thank you for letting me be here. Please leave me here because I am safe here. Thank God, I can be here.' I am surprised by the atmosphere," Hacker said. "They are happy, thankful and good."

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Copyright © 2017 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.

Church leaders offer prayers, Mexicans pitch in after earthquake

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 10:10am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Carlos Jasso, Reuters

By David Agren

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- Mexican church leaders offered prayers and urged generosity after an earthquake struck the national capital and its environs, claiming more than 240 lives -- including at least 20 children trapped in a collapsed school.

The magnitude 7.1 earthquake Sept. 19 added to the misery of Mexicans who suffered a magnitude 8.1 earthquake 12 days earlier. That quake left nearly 100 dead in the country's southern states and left thousands more homeless.

"We join the pain and grief of the victims of the earthquake, which occurred today ... in various parts of our country," the Mexican bishops' conference said in a Sept. 19 statement. "Today, more than ever, we invite the community of God to join in solidarity for our brothers who are suffering various calamities that have struck our country."

Mexicans have responded to the earthquake with acts of solidarity. The telephone system was overwhelmed and traffic snarled as power outages affected traffic lights. In hard-hit neighborhoods, people poured in, armed with buckets and shovels to help clear rubble from collapsed buildings, where people were trapped. Others were quick to donate food and drink to those assisting.

"Once again we are witnesses to the people of Mexico's solidarity," the bishops' statement said. "Thousands of hands have formed chains of life to rescue, feed or do their small part in the face of these emergencies."

Caritas chapters across the country opened collection centers to help those harmed by the earthquake. In Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera asked all parishes in the impacted areas, along with priests religious and laity to "collaborate with the authorities in order to assist people that have been affected and show Christian solidarity," said an article published in archdiocesan newspaper Desde la Fe.

Dioceses in Puebla and Morelos, south of the capital, reported widespread damage to churches. Caritas Mexico, the church's aid organization, reported at least 42 people dead in Morelos and 13 deaths in Puebla, where a dozen churches also collapsed.

Damage was widespread in parts of Mexico City, where at least 27 buildings collapsed, said President Enrique Pena Nieto.

A private school collapsed in Mexico City, trapping students ranging from kindergarten to junior high school. The Associated Press reported at least 25 students and teachers died, with others remaining unaccounted for.

As often happens in disasters, authorities expected the death toll to rise, because people could have been trapped in buildings when they collapsed.

At his general audience Sept. 20, Pope Francis prayed for victims and rescue personnel, invoking Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of Mexico.

"In this moment of suffering," he said, "I want to express my closeness and prayers to the entire Mexican population."

Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City expressed his sympathy to the relatives of those who had lost loved ones in the earthquake. He urged parishes, religious and the lay faithful to work with government authorities to "aid people who have been affected and demonstrate Christian solidarity."

The quake epicenter was in Puebla, southeast of Mexico City. Earthquakes usually affect Mexico City as much of it is built on a former lake bed and buildings sway in the soft soil, even though the epicenters are in distant states. That phenomenon allows an earthquake warning to sound, giving people approximately a minute to evacuate their buildings. The alarm did not sound Sept. 19, however.

"It totally frightened me," said Pedro Anaya, a small-business owner.

He decided to help, joining the hundreds of people hauling away debris from a collapsed apartment building in the trendy Condesa neighborhood.

"I saw that my family was OK so I came to help," he said.

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Contributing to this story was Barbara Fraser in Lima, Peru.

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Copyright © 2017 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 prays for victims of Mexico quake

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 7:04am

IMAGE: REUTERS

By

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As search and rescue operations continued in central Mexico, where more than 200 people died after a strong earthquake Sept. 19, Pope Francis offered his prayers for the victims.

"May our mother, the Virgin of Guadalupe, with great tenderness be near the beloved Mexican nation," the pope said in Spanish Sept. 20 during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.

"Yesterday a terrible earthquake struck Mexico -- I see there are many Mexicans among you today -- resulting in numerous victims and material damage," the pope told the crowd in the square. The quake, measuring 7.1, caused extensive damage in Mexico City and in neighboring states.

"In this moment of suffering," he said, "I want to express my closeness and prayers to the entire Mexican population."

"Let us all raise our prayers together to God so that he may welcome into his bosom those who have lost their lives and comfort the wounded, their families and all those affected," Pope Francis said. "We also ask prayers for all the relief and rescue personnel who are lending their help to all the people affected."

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Contributing to this story was Matthew Fowler at the Vatican.

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Copyright © 2017 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.

Archbishop calls for peace after verdict, asks community to come together

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 12:55pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Lawrence Bryant, Reuters

By Joseph Kenny and Jennifer Brinker

ST. LOUIS (CNS) -- Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis called for peace following a not guilty verdict in the trial of former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley.

Stockley, who is white, was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death in 2011 of Anthony Lamar Smith, an African-American. St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson issued the ruling after Stockley waived his right to a jury trial.

"If we want peace and justice, we must come together as a community through prayer, mutual understanding, and forgiveness," Archbishop Carlson stated. "While acknowledging the hurt and anger, we must not fuel the fires of hatred and division. We must ask God for peace in our own hearts and share it with those around us."

Protesters began gathering in downtown St. Louis soon after the ruling was made public on the morning of Sept. 15. Media reports had warned of threatened disruptions if Stockley was found not guilty.

Protests turned violent, and more than 120 people were arrested Sept. 17 as protesters attacked police and broke windows, according to CNN, which also reported that a peaceful protest took place Sept. 18, not too far from the site of the previous night's violence.

"Violence does not lead to peace and justice -- they are opposing forces and cannot coexist," the archbishop said in his statement. "I implore each of you to choose peace! Reject the false and empty hope that violence will solve problems. Violence only creates more violence. We must work together for a better, stronger, safer community, one founded upon respect for each other, and one in which we see our neighbor as another self."

Archbishop Carlson was to join other faith leaders from St. Louis for an afternoon interfaith prayer service for peace and solidarity Sept. 19 in downtown St. Louis.

Two Catholic churches in St. Louis -- St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Nicholas -- opened for prayer and conversation after the verdict was announced. An invitation was extended to a regular peace and justice vigil held every Sunday at 7 p.m. on the stairs of St. Francis Xavier (College) Church.

At St. Nicholas Church, about half a dozen people came for the regular 12:15 p.m. Mass. Father Art Cavitt, who is the pastor and also director of the St. Charles Lwanga Center in St. Louis, said he kept the church, located just north of downtown, open throughout the day Sept. 15 for anyone in need of a place to pray or seek pastoral care.

The tensions that arose from Ferguson and what's happening now, Father Cavitt said, "say something about us, and our country and humanity and our needs. There's this festering that has been happening -- in our communities and in ourselves. It's more reflective of that, than a specific case that pushes a button."

Reflecting on the Sept. 15 feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, Father Cavitt said that there are people who, like the Blessed Mother, have been heartbroken time and time again, but yet keep saying "yes" through the lens of faith.

"It is that witness of faith, that witness of the Gospel that will carry us through this day in St. Louis and whatever happens the next day as well," he told the St. Louis Review, the archdiocesan newspaper.

Assumption Parish in O'Fallon offered prayers for peace and healing at a free evening concert performance by Christian singer-songwriter PJ Anderson Sept. 15.

It was "a chance to join together as God's beloved coming to pray for our metro area and all cities (and) to resist situations that can pull us apart," said Amanda Suchara, media coordinator for the parish.

Four Catholic high schools in St. Louis closed in anticipation of the verdict.

By mid-afternoon Sept. 15, several hundred people were assembled at a downtown intersection near City Hall. Students and staff from St. Louis University were present at different points during the day.

Father Christopher Collins, the university's assistant to the president for mission and identity, started the day at St. Louis University's School of Law, just a couple of blocks from the protest site. He and several other clergy members went to the street to pray for about half an hour.

As a Jesuit, "you want to follow in a pastoral way -- to be where people are hurting and to be present," he said. "We called on God's love for all of us."

A group of several dozen St. Louis University students connected on GroupMe and went downtown after their morning classes.

"I came because it's the right thing to do. I want to stand with my community and protest what's going on here. It's not right," said junior Michael Winters, who is studying economics.

"The sense of complacency that people have, in that these sorts of things happen and some people come down to protest, but then we just sort of let it slide. I think I'm guilty of this as well, at times," said junior Charlie Revord, who is studying sociology and economics.

"Today is just a reminder that we have to keep up the pressure to try and make change," he added. "It's only going to come through coming together, having dialogue and really standing in solidarity with the people who are suffering."

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Kenny and Brinker are staff writers at the St. Louis Review and Catholic St. Louis, publications of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

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Pope cites St. Frances Cabrini as exemplar of ministry to immigrants

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 11:00am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Although she died 100 years ago, St. Frances Cabrini is a shining example of "love and intelligence" in ministering to the needs of immigrants and helping them become integral members of their new homelands, Pope Francis said.

Responding to "the great migrations underway today" the same way Mother Cabrini did "will enrich all and generate union and dialogue, not separation and hostility," Pope Francis said in a letter to Sister Barbara Louise Staley, superior of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which the saint founded.

Mother Cabrini arrived in New York in 1889 to work with Italian immigrants, setting up orphanages, schools and hospitals in nine U.S. cities. Naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1909, she died in Chicago Dec. 22, 1917.

The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were holding their general assembly Sept. 17-23 at the National Shrine of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Chicago.

In her work, particularly among Italian immigrants to the United States, Mother Cabrini "focused attention on situations of greatest poverty and fragility, such as the needs of orphans and miners," the pope wrote in his letter, which was released at the Vatican Sept. 19.

Mother Cabrini also demonstrated "a lucid cultural sensitivity" by making sure she was in constant contact with local authorities, the pope said.

"She undertook to conserve and revive in the immigrants the Christian tradition they knew in their country of origin, a religiosity which was sometimes superficial and often imbued with authentic popular mysticism," he wrote. "At the same time, she offered ways to fully integrate with the culture of the new countries so that the Missionary Mothers accompanied the Italian immigrants in becoming fully Italian and fully American."

With dialogue and help integrating, he said, "the human and Christian vitality of the immigrants thus became a gift to the churches and to the peoples who welcomed them."

While Mother Cabrini and the sisters had a specific mission to assist the immigrants and strengthen their faith, he said, Catholics today cannot forget "that is the vocation of every Christian and of every community of the disciples of Jesus."

On a more personal note, Pope Francis told the sisters, "I assure you of my remembrance and prayers with deep affection, both because I have always known the figure of Mother Cabrini and because of the special concern I devote to the cause of immigrants."

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Pope expands scope of John Paul II institute on marriage, family

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 10:12am

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To better prepare priests and pastoral workers to help meet the challenges they face today, Pope Francis is strengthening the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family and changing its name to the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and Family.

The new institution is to expand and deepen the types of courses offered as well as take "an analytical and diversified approach" that allows students to study all aspects and concerns of today's families while remaining "faithful to the teaching of Christ," the pope wrote.

The re-foundation of the institute was issued "motu proprio," on the pope's own accord, in an apostolic letter, "Summa Familiae Cura" ("Great Care for the Family"). Dated Sept. 8, the feast of the nativity of Mary, the letter was released at the Vatican Sept. 19.

The original institute for studies on marriage and the family was established by St. John Paul II in 1982, after the 1980 Synod of Bishops on the family called for the creation of centers devoted to the study of the church's teaching on marriage and the family. While the central institute is based in Rome, there are branches around the world, including in the United States, Australia, Mexico and India.

Given the newer gatherings of the Synod of Bishops on the family, those held in 2014 and 2015, and their call for a more pastoral and missionary approach to modern family life, Pope Francis wrote there is a need for greater reflection and academic formation in a "pastoral perspective and attention to the wounds of humanity" while keeping the original inspiration for the old institute alive.

By amplifying the institute's scope in making it a "theological" institute that is also dedicated to human "sciences," the pope said, the institute's work will study -- in a "deeper and more rigorous way -- the truth of revelation and the wisdom of the tradition of faith."

The anthropological and cultural changes underway affect every aspect of human life, he wrote, and that calls for a new approach that is not limited to pastoral practices and mission "that reflect forms and models of the past."

"We must be informed and passionate interpreters of the wisdom of faith" in a context in which individuals find less support than they had in the past from social structures, relationships and family.

"In the clear proposal of remaining faithful to the teaching of Christ, we must, therefore, look with the intelligence of love and with wise realism, at the reality of families today in all of their complexity, in their light and darkness," the pope wrote.

MORE TO COME

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Bishop defends Jesuit priest after seminary withdraws invitation

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 6:21pm

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A U.S. bishop vigorously defended Jesuit Father James Martin when a prominent U.S. seminary canceled an invitation it had extended to the well-known author, who was to speak about Jesus at an October event, after fringe groups unhappy with the priest's recent book about the church and the gay community mounted a series of attacks.

Theological College, a national seminary at The Catholic University of America in Washington, said the cancellation, first made public Sept. 15, came after it "experienced increasing negative feedback from various social media sites regarding the seminary's invitation" to Father Martin. It did not name the groups associated with the attacks.

"This campaign of distortion must be challenged and exposed for what it is -- not primarily for Father Martin's sake but because this cancer of vilification is seeping into the institutional life of the church," said San Diego Bishop Robert W. McElroy in a vigorous defense published by America magazine Sept. 18.

"The concerted attack on Father Martin's work has been driven by three impulses: homophobia, a distortion of fundamental Catholic moral theology, and a veiled attack on Pope Francis and his campaign against judgmentalism in the church," wrote Bishop McElroy.

The cancellation of the speech was not the first, Father Martin noted, even though that speech and others he was to give were about Jesus and not the book.

In a Sept. 15 Facebook post, the priest wrote about the incident and said the attacks included "a storm of phone calls, emails and messages to Theological College, which included, I was told, people screaming at the receptionists who answered the phone. In the end, they felt that the expected protests and negative publicity would distract from Alumni Day." 

Father Martin was to speak at an Oct. 4 symposium celebrating the 100th anniversary of the seminary's founding.

"The organizers were all apologetic and in some cases more upset than I was. I know that they were under extreme pressure, and in some cases were overwhelmed by the rage that can be generated by social media: ill will based on misrepresentations, innuendos, homophobia and especially fear. Perfect love drives out fear, as 1 John says. But perfect fear also drives out love," Father Martin wrote.

"Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity," the book that has driven the controversy, grabbed the No. 1 spot on Amazon's Roman Catholicism category Sept. 18. 

It has been endorsed by Bishop McElroy, U.S. Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the Vatican's Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, and Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, and has a long list of endorsements from other notable Catholics. However, it also was recently criticized by Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal.

Jesuit Father Matt Malone, editor of America magazine, where Father Martin is editor at large, defended the priest and the book, which has been approved by the Jesuits as being in line with church teaching, in a Sept. 16 statement.

"Some elements in the American church," Father Malone said, "have taken it upon themselves to organize a campaign, not only against the contents of the book, but against Father Martin himself. In recent weeks, Father Martin has been subjected to repeated, calumnious attacks in social media and in print, involving invective that is as appalling as it is toxic. It is one thing to engage in spirited debate. It is another thing to seek to stymie such debate through fear, misinformation, or blunt censorship."

Though Theological College, with the cancellation of the invitation made more than a year ago, was seeking to avoid controversy, it invited more attention. The news of the cancellation ended up appearing in the pages of major U.S. newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post over the weekend of Sept. 16 and 17.

John Garvey, Catholic university's president, issued a statement saying the institution regretted any implication that the university supported the decision by the seminary, adding that "universities and their related entities should be places of free, civil exchange of ideas. Our culture is increasingly hostile to this idea."

Garvey said it was "problematic" that groups within the Catholic Church demonstrate an "inability to make distinctions and to exercise charity."

In his Facebook post, Father Martin, a consultor to the Vatican's Secretariat for Communications, said the only thing he asked of the organizations that canceled his talks is that they be honest about the reasons for the cancellations.

"Also, I want to say that none of these cancellations disturbs me," he said. "I've not lost any sleep over them. ... I want to say that Jesus is close to me in prayer. So I am at total peace."

Thousands on social media, including high profile Catholics, voiced support for the Jesuit.

After the Theological College invitation was rescinded, Holy Trinity Church, in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood, asked Father Martin if he could instead visit their Jesuit parish around the same time.

"So I look forward to seeing you all in Washington," he said.

Whether by coincidence or on purpose, on Sept. 18 hackers briefly took down the international Catholic daily LaCroix International after it ran the commentary "Catholic Cyber-Militias and the New Censorship" about the incident.

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North Miami parish serves up a post-hurricane luxury: A hot meal

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:15pm

By Marlene Quaroni

NORTH MIAMI, Fla. (CNS) -- Thanks to Father Fritz Bellonce, pastor of Holy Family Church in North Miami, many people in the area around the church had hot meals after Hurricane Irma knocked out power to the community.

"The stores and restaurants are closed," he said. "People are eating potato chips, peanut butter, crackers, canned food, snacks, whatever nonperishables that you don't have to cook. A hot meal, right now, is a welcome luxury."

Father Bellonce learned from a previous hurricane-related experience. As a seminarian in 2005 at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary near Boynton Beach, he saw long lines of hungry, tired people waiting outside the few open restaurants in Palm Beach County after Hurricane Wilma struck.

Before Hurricane Irma arrived, he got ready: He bought 200 pounds of rice, lots of beans, pork, chicken, turkey and cooking ingredients -- dishes that are popular in Holy Family's predominantly Haitian-American community.

"I knew the first place people in need come to is the church," he told the Florida Catholic newspaper. "We share what we have. We practice what we preach."

He prepared to serve even as Holy Family's circular church building suffered severe roof damage.

"There's a hole in the ceiling, and a puddle of water was inside the gift shop," Father Bellonce said. "One of the seven air-conditioning units on the church roof blew completely apart."

Volunteers arrived on Monday to help clean up debris on church and school grounds. In the Holy Family schoolyard, a group of young men from a parish organization, TAF-The Atoma (Greek for "unbreakable") Family, cleared heavy tree branches.

Also clearing debris around the school were Holy Family School principal Doreen Roberts and her two granddaughters. So was assistant principal Casey McCoy.

Father Bellonce, with the help of seminarian Alix Sylien from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, rounded up volunteers to cook meals in the parish hall kitchen.

Serving Holy Family was a natural for Sylien: It's his home parish, and he was assigned there during the summer. He delivered meals in his SUV throughout the neighborhood.

"Many people don't have transportation to get to the church," Father Bellonce said. "Alix has been a great help."

Those who did have cars, like Jean Beaubrun, picked up the hot food from the parish hall's kitchen take-out window.

"This is a blessing," said Beaubrun, who carried three take-out boxes: for himself, his wife and their 9-year-old son.

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Quaroni is on the staff of the Florida Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Miami and the dioceses of Orlando, Palm Beach and Venice.

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Governing requires prayer, wisdom, counsel, pope says

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:18am

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Those who govern or are in positions of authority are called to be humble and serve the good of the people God entrusts to them rather than the interests of their party or themselves, Pope Francis said.

Without prayer, a leader risks serving his own selfish desires or political party, closing himself or herself in a "circle from which there is no escape," the pope said Sept. 18 during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

"Who has more power than a ruler? The people, who have given him the power, and God, from whom power comes through the people," the pope said. "When he has this awareness of being subordinate, he prays."

In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's reading from St. Paul's First Letter to Timothy in which he asks that "supplications, prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority."

The pope also spoke about the day's Gospel reading from St. Luke, which recounted Jesus' healing of a slave at the behest of his master, a Roman centurion.

"This man felt the need for prayer" not because it was a last resort but because he knew that "there was someone above him, there is another who is in charge," the pope said.

Praying for politicians and those who lead, the pope continued, is important "because it is the prayer for the common good of the people who are entrusted to him."

Leaders also must pray and ask the Lord for wisdom so that they find their true strength in God and in the people and not "in small groups or in myself," he said.

And leaders who claim they cannot pray because they are agnostic or atheist, he said, at least must examine their consciences and seek counsel from those their people consider wise.

Christians "cannot leave rulers alone, we must accompany them with prayer," the pope said. And when a leader does "awful things," he added, they need even more prayers.

"Pray, do penance for those who govern," the pope said. "The prayer of intercession -- it is beautiful what Paul says -- is for all leaders, for all those in power. Why? So 'that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life.' When a leader is free and can govern in peace, all people benefit from this."

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Salesian priest recounts harrowing tale of his capture, liberation

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 10:35am

By Junno Arocho Esteves

ROME (CNS) -- Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil was sitting in a room in an unknown location -- one of several he had been relocated to during his 18-month imprisonment -- when he received some unexpected news.

"Those who kept me came to where I slept (and said), 'I bring you good news. We are sending you home. If you need to go to the bathroom, go. Take a shower, but quickly!'" Father Uzhunnalil told reporters Sept. 16 at the Salesian headquarters in Rome.

The Salesian priest from India was kidnapped March 4, 2016, from a home for the aged and disabled run by the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, Yemen. On that day, four Missionaries of Charity and 12 others were murdered in the attack by uniformed gunmen.

Seeing a group of Missionaries of Charity sisters seated at the news conference in Rome, Father Uzhunnalil expressed his condolences. However, the memory of the four sisters' martyrdom still proved too difficult to bear.

Silence filled the room as the Salesian priest covered his eyes, tears streaming down his face while doing his utmost to hold back emotions that he thought he could contain.

"I thank God Almighty for this day, for keeping me safe, healthy, clear minded; my emotions were in control until now," he said after regaining his composure. 

"I don't want to speak too much about the sisters because I get too emotional," he said.

Although reports following his kidnapping suggested the attack was carried out by the so-called Islamic State, Father Uzhunnalil said his captors never identified themselves.

Knowing very little Arabic, Father Uzhunnalil said he spoke to the militants with the few words he knew: "Ana hindiin" ("I am Indian"). To this day, the Indian priest still wonders why he was the only one spared in the slaughter.

"Why they did not kill me, why they didn't tie my hands, I don't know," he said. "Perhaps they wanted some ransom or whatever it is. I only believe that maybe God had put that into their heads when I said, 'I am Indian,' and they made me sit there while they killed the others, the sisters."

After leaving him in the trunk of the car, the militants ransacked the chapel taking the tabernacle, wrapping it with the altar linen and placing it near the kidnapped priest. With his hands unbound, Father Uzhunnalil carefully moved the linen and found "four or five small hosts," which he kept to celebrate the Eucharist the first few days of his capture.

After his short supply ran out, he said, he continued reciting the Mass prayers when alone despite not having bread and wine.

"I peacefully was able to say my Eucharist all from memory, although bread and wine wasn't available. But I prayed to God to give me those items spiritually," Father Uzhunnalil said.

He spent most of his days praying for the pope, his bishop, his Salesian brothers, and "certainly those sisters, all those persons whom God had called" on the day of his abduction.

Father Uzhunnalil said he found consolation in the words of a hymn, "One day at a time, sweet Jesus."

"Just give me the strength to do every day what I have to do. Yesterday's gone, sweet Jesus, and tomorrow may never be mine. Lord, help me today, show me the way, one day at a time," he would sing to himself in the solitude of his room.

On Sept. 11, Father Uzhunnalil was given the news of his liberation. After traveling for hours blindfolded, the priest along with two of his captors waited in the car.

Several hours later, his captors told him "some arrangements weren't done" and they headed back.

Not understanding the church's teaching on the Holy Trinity and the "unity of God in three persons," Father Uzhunnalil recalled, one of his captors said, "You might have prayed to the third God, now you must pray to the second God so tomorrow can go well."

Returning to his cell, he slept briefly when he was rustled out of bed in the middle of the night Sept. 12 and taken on the same long ride, his head once again covered. He was then moved to another vehicle where a person pulled up his picture on a cell phone and asked the priest, "Is this you?"

After confirming his identity, the driver drove for more than a day through the desert and told him: "Now you are free, now you are safe."

Father Uzhunnalil was then taken to the Omani capital of Moscat where he received medical treatment, fresh clothes, and a shaving kit.

While he knows few details about arrangements for his release, Father Uzhunnalil expressed his gratitude to those who helped secure his liberation, including Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said of Oman, the government authorities of India, and the Vatican, including Pope Francis whom he met the day after his release.

As Pope Francis entered the room Sept. 13, the Salesian knelt before him and kissed his feet. Visibly moved by the gesture, the pope helped him up and kissed his hands.

Before blessing Father Uzhunnalil, the pope embraced him and said he would continue to pray for him as he had done during his imprisonment.

"In that meeting, the pope kissed my hand. I never deserved it," he said. "I'm only grateful to God for his blessings, I'm sure he prayed much for me."

Even his captors, Father Uzhunnalil said, knew of the pope's efforts and inadvertently gave him a reason to hope.

"One of the captors told me, 'The pope has said you will be freed soon but nothing is happening still.' From that, I knew that the whole world was there, the whole church was there, the world was worried for me. So, I am grateful," he said.

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Catholic college leaders reach out to DACA students in uncertain times

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 3:05pm

IMAGE: REUTERS

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic college leaders who have protested the Trump administration's plan to do away with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, also have heightened their resolve to do more for DACA students and have expressed cautious belief that federal legislation to give these students more permanent help could be at hand.

"Maybe this is the moment" where something will happen, said Donna Carroll, president of Dominican University just outside of Chicago, the day after President Donald Trump discussed a potential DACA deal at the White House Sept. 13 with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-New York.

The private discussion was downplayed by Trump on Twitter, who said: "No deal was made last night on DACA," about the meeting with Democrat leaders but just a day later he confirmed something could be in the works, telling reporters: "We're working on a plan for DACA."

DACA, instituted by President Barack Obama in 2012, allows some 800,000 young people brought to the United States illegally as children to stay in the country and work or go to school with a temporary reprieve from deportation -- providing they meet certain criteria. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Sept. 5 that the program would end in six months if Congress did not pass legislation to make the program permanent.

Carroll, Dominican's president for 24 years and a longtime advocate for immigration reform, takes a long view of DACA and the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, which was introduced in 2001 and has repeatedly failed to pass. The measure would offer the chance of permanent legal residency to those who arrived in this country illegally as children.

"This changes with every narrative every day," Carroll cautioned the 100 DACA students who attend Dominican University in a letter she wrote to them after the Sept. 5 announcement that DACA was ending.

Despite her outrage at the decision, she told students that she hopes the broad negative reaction to it could provide impetus for the Dream Act to pass.

Carroll, who also issued a statement as did many Catholic college presidents opposing the decision to rescind DACA, told Catholic News Service that her letter to the students was important to "give them a sense of certainty and support" in this time of such uncertainty.

She said the DACA students on campus are obviously anxious, but they also are resilient and pushing forward, and she urged them to continue that spirit and to "hunker down and focus on their academic progress."

In the meantime, the university, like other Catholic colleges and universities around the country with DACA recipients, has continued or even upped its assistance to these students with financial, legal and spiritual resources for them as their future lies in the balance.

Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, said she spoke to the 100 DACA students, or "Dreamers," at her school after the announcement that the program was ending and they were "extremely stressed out" and particularly worried for their families because their work permits are often the sole source of family income.

They worry about what will happen if they lose their ability to work or to have a driver's license, she said.

McGuire assured students they would continue to receive scholarships from the university and she also said the university was adding group support sessions and extending them to include the families of "Dreamer" students.

When university alumnae have been in touch with the school wondering how they can help these students, McGuire urges them to get in touch with their representatives in Congress and push for passage of the Dream Act.

Ann McElaney-Johnson, president of Mount St. Mary's University in Los Angeles, said she absolutely has called her representative and would continue to do so -- regularly.

She is impressed that Catholic university presidents and the U.S. bishops have been vocal in their support of DACA. "We really stand, as a Catholic Church and Catholic universities, together on this," she said, adding: "We are standing with these students and we will do everything we can to see that their futures are secure."

McElaney-Johnson said the mood on campus is mixed among DACA students who feel stressed for themselves and their families but who also have "a certain resolve to do everything they can to stand up for their rights."

"The students feel this, but everyone else feels it too," she told CNS. "There is a strong sense of resolve that we have to take care of these students and make our voices heard."

Speaking up for DACA students has been the rallying cry of Trinity's McGuire, who told Catholic higher education leaders during a Sept. 5 presentation at the University of Notre Dame to boldly defend them.

"If ever there was a time for Catholic higher education to act on its deepest values, to stand in solidarity with the poor and disposed of this earth, the time is now," she said, urging the college presidents and administrators to "be on the right side of history and social justice."

She also reached out to the broader higher education community in a Sept. 8 column for Inside Higher Ed, an online website, stressing that higher education should "consider doing something we rarely do -- join forces across industries and social organizations to let Congress know how wide and deep the demand is to provide an effective legal remedy for Dreamers."

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter:@carolmaczim.

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Cardinal says Irma collection can help meet material, pastoral needs

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 1:00pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/James Ramos, Texas Catholic Herald

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington has asked his fellow bishops around the country to take up an emergency collection in their dioceses during weekend Masses Sept. 23-24 to help those recovering from devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and the southeastern region of the United States.

"While emergency outreach was immediate, we know that the road to recovery and the rebuilding of communities will be long and additional support will be needed," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston in a statement issued late Sept. 14.

The funds collected "will be used in the affected areas to support humanitarian aid, assistance with long-term efforts to restore communities after widespread destruction, and for the pastoral and reconstruction needs of the church in U.S. and the Caribbean," he said.

Cardinal DiNardo acknowledged that his call "comes on the heels" of the emergency collection for victims of Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas and Louisiana and held on for days before moving inland.

Harvey, too, "caused catastrophic damage and compelled us to respond," he said. "Likewise, Hurricane Irma has been devastating and our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean, especially the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, and the southern U.S. need our help."

The earlier call for a collection came in an Aug. 28 letter from Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, as USCCB vice president, suggesting funds be collected during Masses the weekend of Sept. 2-3 or Sept. 9-10.

Hardly any place in the path of Hurricane Irma was left untouched. Its strength and size, with 120-plus-mph winds stretching 70 miles from its core, leveled entire islands in the eastern Caribbean, brought unprecedented flooding on Cuba's north coast, devastated the Florida Keys, snapped construction cranes in downtown Miami and targeted cities along Florida's Gulf Coast.

In the Keys alone, at least 25 percent of the homes were destroyed and 65 percent suffered significant damage, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Brock Long. "Basically, every house in the Keys was impacted," he told the news media.

In a Sept. 12 statement, the U.S. bishops' Executive Committee prayed for "the safety and care of human life" after two catastrophic hurricanes -- Irma and Harvey -- and they urged Catholics around the country to offer their prayers as well as financial support and volunteer help as they can.

Irma dwindled to a tropical storm as it neared the Florida-Georgia line early Sept. 11 and had died out over southern states by week's end.

"The church is a channel for grace and solidarity in the wake of natural disasters as it offers solace and support in their aftermath," Cardinal DiNardo said Sept. 14. "However, as is so often the case, the church itself in these regions is both a long-standing provider of aid and now is in need of tremendous assistance itself."

Many church structures "have been damaged and their resources depleted which makes it even more challenging to provide assistance and pastoral outreach to those in need," he added.

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Vatican diplomat recalled from U.S. during child-porn investigation

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 9:00am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A member of the Vatican diplomatic corps serving in Washington has been recalled to the Vatican where he is involved in a criminal investigation involving child pornography, the Vatican said.

The Vatican press office said Sept. 15 that it was notified Aug. 21 by the U.S. State Department "of a possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images by a member of the diplomatic corps of the Holy See accredited to Washington."

"The Holy See, following the practice of sovereign states, recalled the priest in question, who is currently in Vatican City," the press office said.

The Associated Press reported that the State Department confirmed it had asked the Vatican to lift the official's diplomatic immunity. It said that request was denied.

The Vatican said the priest's identity and other details are covered by "investigative confidentiality" during the preliminary investigation stage. The Vatican yearbook lists the nuncio, Archbishop Christoph Pierre, and three priests as making up the diplomatic staff at the Washington nunciature.

After receiving the notification from the State Department, the Vatican said, "the Secretariat of State transmitted this information to the promoter of justice of the Vatican tribunal." The promoter of justice is the Vatican's chief prosecutor.

"The promoter of justice opened an investigation and has already commenced international collaboration to obtain elements relative to the case," the Vatican said. 


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Holy Land trip helps U.S. military veterans overcome PTSD

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 3:00pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Debbie Hill

By Judith Sudilovsky

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, U.S. Army veteran Rocio Villanueva fell onto the stone of the unction where tradition holds that Jesus was laid out after his crucifixion and touched her head to the smoothed surface.

Injured during a tour of duty in Iraq and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the 31-year-old engineering specialist and mother of four was raised in a Catholic home but had slowly lost touch with her faith. After almost a week in the Holy Land as part of the second group of women veterans participating in the Heroes to Heroes program, Villanueva felt a spiritual renewal.

"Since the third day I got here I felt a healing in my heart. At the Church of the Annunciation (in Nazareth), I felt so good and able to speak to God," said Villanueva, a member of St. Mary Catholic Church in Escondido, California.

"My family has been able help me physically, but with the part I have inside of me, it has been really hard to open up. I had so much anger in my heart and was so sad, I could cry about anything. Here I felt my heart open up. I went to confession and I felt that God was talking to me through the priest," she said.

Since its founding six years ago by Judy Isaacson Schaffer, a Teaneck, New Jersey, marketing and sales professional whose father and grandfather served in the military, Heroes to Heroes has taken 14 groups of U.S. veterans -- including those who served in Vietnam -- to meet with their Israeli counterparts and visit holy sites. It is a peer-support program with the goal of helping achieve spiritual healing and preventing suicide.

Villanueva's group was in the Holy Land Sept. 5-12. Participants visited Bethlehem, were baptized in the Jordan River and joined in the Israeli memorial ceremony commemorating the 9/11 attacks in New York and elsewhere.

With 22 U.S. veterans committing suicide every day, Schaffer said she recognized the need to reach out to those veterans suffering the most from PTSD, just as her father had volunteered with veterans from earlier wars. Because less than 1 percent of Americans serve in the armed forces -- a small fraction of whom are women -- many veterans feel isolated when they return, she said.

The peer-to-peer encounter with Israeli veterans, some of whom have also experienced traumatic injuries, as well as discussions within their own group allow the U.S. veterans to see that it is possible to move forward from their challenging experiences, Schaffer explained.

Participants are asked to stay in contact with members of their group for a year after the visit.

Most of the veteran services available in the U.S. are geared towards male veterans, and perhaps because of this lack of institutional and communal support, more women veterans commit suicide than men, Schaffer said.

In addition to combat trauma, some women have also been victims of military sexual trauma, she said.

"I will never get over (the trauma), but I can get past it," said U.S. Army veteran Rory Shaffer, 42. A mother of three, Shaffer served twice in Iraq and was severely injured in a blast which killed three of her friends. She also witnessed the suicide of another friend while on combat duty.

"Within my household, I have support but the rest of my family just thinks I should get over it," Shaffer said. "I have been suffering. I was not expecting that one-third of the group would say this group saved their lives."

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Helping, not fame from chainsaw video, brings true joy, says Carmelite

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 2:50pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Sister Margaret Ann

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- She inspired many when she rolled up the sleeves of her habit to clean up after Hurricane Irma with a chainsaw.

After the local police department posted a video Sept. 12 on Twitter of Carmelite Sister Margaret Ann Laechelin trimming branches off a fallen tree with a chainsaw, she became an instant hit and a symbol of sorts for the hurricane-ravaged Miami area.

"People are making a big deal about the chainsaw, but I've already given my life to God and that's what brings true joy," not the fame that came after the airing of the video, said Sister Laechelin in a Sept. 14 phone interview with Catholic News Service.

But the community at Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School, where she is the principal, has been enjoying the fame and the attention it has brought to the suburban Miami Catholic school of 300 students in West Kendall, she said.

"They say 'Sister, you're famous. Can I have your autograph?'" she said.

The community needs every bit of levity it can find as it recovers from the damage wrought by Hurricane Irma, which led to the school's closing because a cooling tower needs to be fixed before students are allowed to return. Inspired by the Carmelite's example of contributing to the cleanup, families from the school have shown up to help clean around the perimeter, she said.

Though it's not open for classes, the school has been helping the surrounding community, giving out ice (from its icemaker) and providing a place for others to charge their phones and regroup, Sister Laechelin said.

"There's such joy in giving," she said.

And that's what she was doing when she decided to clear the tree from the road when a police officer, armed with a phone, happened to drive by and filmed her. Though you wouldn't know it from the video, she had never really used a chainsaw before, but when she was faced with finding a way to clear the tree, she remembered some important advice from her students.

"I had to go on YouTube" to figure it out, she said, "but growing up in Texas, I did a lot of yardwork and my dad taught me to figure things out."

Though she lives in Florida, she is a member of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart in Los Angeles, who also have a community of four women religious in Florida. Via FaceTime, she has been talking to them, easing the concerns of her community in Los Angeles, she said.

"Sisters, we stick together," she told CNS.

They weren't surprised at all. she said, by seeing her wielding the chainsaw and said,"That's Sister Margaret Ann, she never sits back and jumps right in."

Her family in Texas, however, was in "awe" when they saw her on TV, she said, and told her "I always thought you'd be famous, but not because of a chainsaw."

The best lesson she can impart on her students from the situation, she said, comes from the Gospel.

"I want them to know that if they see a need, to step in and to help people, to help others, because God didn't create us to be selfish and to care only for our little world," she said.

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Copyright © 2017 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.

Caravan of Louisiana parishioners takes supplies, hope to Harvey victims

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 2:42pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Christine Bordelon, The Clarion Herald

By Christine Bordelon

BEAUMONT, Texas (CNS) -- Hope. That's what 50-plus volunteers from a Louisiana Catholic parish offered to those devastated by Hurricane Harvey as part of a pre-dawn caravan of six 18-wheelers with donated supplies to Texas Sept. 9.

"We are so glad to see you," a Beaumont resident told the group from St. Catherine of Siena Parish as they arrived at the first Texas stop. "God bless you."

The stop was a warehouse run by Catholic Charities of Greater Beaumont that served as a storage and distribution site for food, water, hygiene and cleaning supplies, baby food, diapers and more for parishes and people in need.

The caravan left St. Catherine of Siena in Metairie, Louisiana, at 4:30 a.m., and the bus of volunteers arrived back home at midnight. In Beaumont, the first stop, volunteers first unloaded 18-wheelers already on site before unloading three of their own that had been part of the six-hour convoy from Metairie.

Catholic Charities staff and volunteers greeted the Metairie travelers with thanks and a prayer offered by Bishop Curtis J. Guillory, head of the Beaumont Diocese since 2000. A native of Mallet, Louisiana, he served in the Archdiocese of New Orleans from 1974 to 1988.

He said the greatest signs after a disaster are the individuals rushing to aid others, no matter their race or belief.

"With you people here, it is a sign of hope," Bishop Guillory said. "It gives us encouragement. We realize we are not in this alone."

The Diocese of Beaumont's devastation was comparable to Hurricane Rita's damage in 2005 and Ike's in 2008, Bishop Guillory said. This time, relentless rain badly damaged 12 of 50 churches in the diocese, three schools and sent 8 feet of water into Holy Family Retreat Center.

"It's been very bad," Bishop Guillory said.

Recovery continues in southern Texas after Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on the region Aug. 25-30. In a four-day period, many areas received more than 40 inches of rain. Flooding inundated hundreds of thousands of homes, displaced more than 30,000 people, and prompted more than 17,000 rescues. At least 70 people died.

At St. Ann School in Orange, Texas, all staff members except the principal had water in their homes, and there was no running water for three days, with a boil advisory remaining two weeks later due to pumps flooding.

"That's what we are facing here," Bishop Guillory said. "But through it all, you see the goodness of people. God speaks through storms, and through the people."

Carol Fernandez, executive director and president of Catholic Charities Southeast Texas, concurred with Bishop Guillory. Fernandez was living in New Orleans in 2005 and lost her home in Katrina.

"I can't say thank you enough," Fernandez said. "It is so awesome bringing love from my hometown and all over the nation. Volunteers are providing help and creating hope. This is what it is we do (as Catholics) - helping people but at the same time reminding people that they are loved and not forgotten."

She estimated that her agency would be distributing needed items for four to six weeks.

From Beaumont, three of the 18-wheelers continued west to a Knights of Columbus council and St. Vincent de Paul distribution center and thrift store on the east side of Houston.

Knights from the Archdiocese Galveston-Houston opened Council 3077 headquarters to be used as a drive-through for individuals needing supplies and food donated by the Houston Food Bank and other generous individuals.

The last of the 18-wheelers arrived at the St. Vincent de Paul Vincentian Center in east Houston, serving as the central warehouse and thrift store frequented by the area's surrounding Hispanic population, said Christina Deajon, who is vice chancellor of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and a liaison to St. Vincent de Paul and other social agencies.

"We are their family and have relationships with them," she told a reporter from the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the New Orleans Archdiocese. "We are a regular source of food for many people."

Pallets of rice, tissue paper, paper towels, food, clothing, etc., were pulled from the trucks, and Deajon said some remained at the location to stock its food pantry and thrift store "where people can come and get what they need."

Sixty parishes have St. Vincent de Paul councils, Deajon said, and many Vincentians were trained to help affected families navigate recovery services at the local, state and national level.

"This is taking the recovery center and putting it in a community that has been severely impacted," she said. Deajon noted that more than 61 Catholic sites, primarily church parishes, reported varying degrees of damage. Six sites -- including four churches whose sanctuaries were underwater, the Christian Renewal Retreat Center and diocesan Cemeteries Office -- reported catastrophic damage. A Knights council in Dickinson was destroyed.

St. Catherine volunteers saw their effort as a repayment of kindnesses Texas bestowed on Louisianians during Katrina. The parish also had sent supplies to Baton Rouge in 2016.

"We saw who it was helping and how it affected people, and we wanted to do this as a family (his wife and daughter accompanied him) and a parish community," said Wayne Francingues, past Men's Club co-president. "I think we all saw how desperate our area was for Katrina, and Houston helped us and Baton Rouge helped us, so it was easy to give back. We understand that desperation you feel and know little things like we did in Texas can help."

Father Tim Hedrick, parochial vicar of St. Catherine of Siena, was proud to be part of such a generous parish that recognized a need and worked hard to fill it. St. Pius X Parish and Archbishop Chapelle High School also donated supplies to the relief effort.

"And something even greater was that we showed them the love of Christ and gave them hope during their difficult time," he said. "Our motto (at St. Catherine of Siena) is 'Centered on Christ and Ablaze With Love.' This really shows that we as a community are trying to live that out at St. Catherine."

The priest quoted St. Catherine of Siena, the parish's patron saint, "Be who God created you to be, and you will set the world on fire. As Christians, we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ and that's who we were today."

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Bordelon is associate editor of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

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