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Updated: 19 min ago

Sports on Sundays OK, except when used to skip Mass, says Vatican

Fri, 06/01/2018 - 11:07am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Father Nate Wills

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A new Vatican document cautions against the dangers of highly competitive children's sports, political and economic pressures on athletes to win '"at all costs" and the unsportsmanlike or violent behavior of fans.

The document on sports also calls on every group or institution sponsoring sports programs to have expert-guided child protection policies in place and it urged bishops, parishes and lay Catholics to be proactive in helping "humanize" sports.

The document, "Giving the Best of Yourself," also condoned sports on Sundays as a means of bringing families and communities together in joy and celebration, but only as long as such events are not used as an excuse to miss Mass.

The document was released June 1 by the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, and is the first Vatican document on sports, said Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the dicastery's prefect.

In a message to the cardinal, Pope Francis applauded the document and said, "Sport is a very rich source of values and virtues that help us to become better people."

"We need to deepen the close connection that exists between sport and life, which can enlighten one another," said the pope, who often fondly recalls how he and his family cheered on his favorite soccer team when he was a boy.

The 52-page document highlighted the church's positive view of the important values inherent to sport and blew the whistle on the growing threats in the sports world, including corruption, over-commercialization, manipulation and abuse.

The document -- meant for all Catholics and "people of goodwill" -- also was an invitation to the church to offer itself as a valuable resource, partner and leader in safeguarding the dignity of the human person and all of creation.

In fact, it made specific reference to the need to protect the environment when it comes to hosting sporting events and to respect animals involved in sports, ensuring "that they are treated in a morally appropriate way and not as mere objects."

It also mentioned briefly the growing and lucrative business of e-sports, that is, video game competitions and tournaments that award large cash prizes and draw huge numbers of spectators.

While not trying to touch on every problem or concern or pinpoint one sport in particular, the document listed what it saw as four serious challenges that are the result of an obsession with success and the huge economic and political pressures put on sports and athletes: the debasement of the body, doping, corruption and the negative behavior of spectators.

"Sports that inevitably cause serious harm to the human body cannot be ethically justified," it said. Given the greater understanding people now have about the harmful effects of some sports on the body, particularly brain damage, all of society must put the well-being and health of the person first.

People are not machines, it said, and parents, coaches and communities must avoid objectifying players, particularly with expectations they receive medals, scholarships, wealth or break records.

"Aberrations of this kind can be seen in highly competitive children's sports," it said, noting an increase in pushing kids to specialize -- often starting very early in life -- in one sport intensively year-round, which can result in overuse injuries or eating disorders, particularly in girls' and women's gymnastics.

"Parents have a responsibility of showing children that they are loved for who they are, not for their successes, appearance or physical abilities," it said.

Among the rights of life, dignity and freedom that must be protected in sports is protection against abuse, it said.

"Incidences of abuse of children whether physical, sexual or emotional by coaches, trainers or other adults are a direct affront" to minors, it said, so "institutions that sponsor sports programs for youth, including at the elite level, must develop policies with the help of experts that ensure the safety of all children."

The document called on the church to develop and promote an "apostolate for sports" that shows the church's commitment to the integral well-being and development of the human person in sports and to directly initiate sports-related activities at the local level.

It asked for appropriate pastoral plans for players and athletes -- including former professionals who sometimes experience depression and substance abuse when their career comes to an end -- as well as for parents and volunteers.

It called for "an educational strategy" to help coaches, teachers and managers seek the "best, most holistic" ways to humanize sports, and it urged seminaries to include formation in the pastoral care of sport as well as opportunities to practice sports, noting its potential as a way to evangelize.

Santiago Perez de Camino, head of the dicastery's Church and Sport Office, was asked about the impact of seeing religious and priests compete in major competitions, like U.S. Father Stephen Gadberry of Arkansas, who was appearing on the reality show, "American Ninja Warrior."

Father Gadberry and all men and women religious athletes offer "a very beautiful witness of how to join faith with sport," he said.

They also show a church that doesn't wait for people to come to them, he said, but one that goes directly onto the field to meet people where they are.

The document drew upon talks and teachings from Popes Pius X to Francis, as well as St. Thomas Aquinas, bishops' conferences and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It also cited contemporary experts, theologians and athletes, including David Meggyesy, former St. Louis Cardinals linebacker, who detailed the dehumanizing effects of pro-football in his book, "Out of Their League."

Lastly, the document emphasized how sports must always include fun. Competition is meant to fruitfully engage and draw the best out of people, it said, not to face "an enemy who must be annihilated."

Pope Francis, it said, invites people not only to play, but also to "challenge yourself in the game of life," striving for what is good with courage and enthusiasm.

"Don't settle for a mediocre 'tie,' give it your best, spend your life on what really matters and lasts forever," Pope Francis said.

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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.

Archdiocese's joint reorganization plan provides $210 million to survivors

Thu, 05/31/2018 - 6:37pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit

By Maria Wiering

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has reached a consensual plan with a committee representing clergy sexual abuse survivors to resolve its bankruptcy, offering $210 million for restitution to claimants.

The settlement is the largest ever reached in a bankruptcy case related to clergy sex abuse.

"By means of this consensual plan, the archdiocese and its parishes bring definitive resolution to this matter in a way that avoids further litigation and expense, and that allows the local church to carry on with its mission of spreading and living the Gospel Jesus Christ," said Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda during an afternoon news conference announcing the agreement May 31 at the archdiocese's central offices in St. Paul.

Archbishop Hebda expressed gratitude for the survivors who have come forward.

"Without their courage and persistence, today could not be possible," he said. "I've been humbled by their willingness to share their stories with me. To those of you who have done so, I thank you for that gift.

"I recognize that the abuse stole so much from you -- your childhood, your innocence, your safety, your ability to trust, and in many cases, your faith. Relationships with family and friends, relationships in your parishes and communities were harmed. Lives were forever changed. The church let you down, and I'm very sorry."

At an earlier news conference May 31, St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, who represented most of the abuse survivors, also announced the settlement, calling it "a story of trauma to triumph."

"This is some affirmation, as well as accountability," he said of the plan while standing with several sexual abuse survivors, their advocates and other attorneys, many of whom wiped away tears throughout the press conference. "This all represents hope, help, healing, and ' courage in the pursuit of truth."

Speaking at Anderson's news conference, Jamie Heutmaker, a survivor who is part of the Unsecured Creditors Committee, which represents survivors in the bankruptcy process, expressed his gratitude for people who have supported him in the nearly five decades since he was abused.

"Today is a great day for us and all survivors," he said. "There's still work to be done, but we've obviously done some really good work here, which I'm really proud of."

The consensual plan includes more than $50 million in increased funding from the archdiocese's previous plan of reorganization, which offered $156 million for restitution. The additional funds came from insurers, archdiocesan funds and parish contributions. The approximately $170 million contribution from insurers is the largest contribution from insurance carriers in the history of diocesan abuse settlements, according to Anderson.

Pending court approval, the plan's $210,290,724 settlement, minus administrative expenses including unpaid attorneys' fees, will be administered for survivor restitution through an independent trustee. As part of the plan, parishes will receive a channeling injunction which ends all litigation against them arising from this matter.

The funds will be available for distribution upon its approval by Judge Robert Kressel, who is overseeing the archdiocese's bankruptcy proceedings.

Archdiocesan leaders hope the bankruptcy can be completely resolved within a matter of months.

The consensual plan was the result of years of mediation between the archdiocese, insurers, parishes and representatives of survivors.

The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in January 2015 amid mounting claims of clergy sexual abuse going back decades against priests and others associated with the church in the archdiocese.

Archdiocesan leaders said reorganization would ensure abuse survivors would be equitably compensated while the archdiocese continued its mission. Mediation began immediately.

In May 2016, the archdiocese filed a plan of reorganization, initially offering $65 million for abuse survivor remuneration. Over the following months, that amount increased to $156 million, primarily through additional insurance company settlements.

As part of its bankruptcy, the archdiocese sold its three chancery buildings on Cathedral Hill in St. Paul, as well as a fourth property it owned near Northfield. It later moved its offices to St. Paul's Dayton's Bluff neighborhood to rental property.

In August 2016, the Unsecured Creditors' Committee filed a separate plan for the archdiocese's reorganization, asserting that the assets of 187 parishes in the archdiocese's boundaries, three Catholic high schools and the Catholic Community Foundation of Minnesota should be merged with the archdiocese's assets in a plan for reorganization. Kressel later ruled that the other organizations' assets did not legally require consolidation. The UCC appealed the ruling twice, but it was upheld by the U.S. District Court in December 2016 and the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in April 2018.

While 11 other U.S. dioceses had filed for bankruptcy related to claims of clergy sexual abuse between 2004 and the archdiocese's filing, the archdiocese's reorganization was the first to include competing plans. In March 2017, both plans were sent to creditors, including abuse claimants, for a balloting vote. Abuse claimants voted overwhelmingly for the UCC plan, while other claimants voted overwhelmingly for the archdiocese's plan. The decision for plan approval ultimately rested with Kressel.

In December 2017, Kressel denied both plans and ordered the archdiocese and UCC to return to mediation with the goal of reaching a consensual plan.

In a memorandum explaining his decision, Kressel expressed concern about the eight abuse claimants who had died between then and when the archdiocese entered bankruptcy in January 2015, and about others who might die as the reorganization process "drags on."

The archdiocese, insurance carriers, parish representatives and UCC returned to mediation, ultimately arriving at the consensual plan May 30.

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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.

Immigrant kids at border present and accounted for -- and number growing

Thu, 05/31/2018 - 4:58pm

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a "zero tolerance" policy for immigrants crossing illegally into the United States, resulting in children being separated from their families, the number of minors in U.S. custody has grown by nearly 2,000.

At the same time the federal government has only about 1,300 beds left before it has to tap into an existing network of 100 shelters in 14 states.

"The situation is dire," said Jill Marie Bussey, advocacy director for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network.

Sessions announced the policy May 7. As of April 29, there were 8,886 migrant children in U.S. custody. By May 29, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department figures put the number at 10,773.

These numbers don't include the 1,475 children who had been placed with sponsors between October and December 2017 but cannot be accounted for by HHS. While the government made follow-up phone calls to the sponsors, not every sponsor could be contacted, or had returned a phone message.

There had been alarm expressed over the Memorial Day weekend that, with the imposition of the zero-tolerance policy, immigrant children arriving in the United States had been separated from their parents and promptly lost.

While that is not the case, HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan said May 28, the Cabinet agency's follow-up calls are not considered required. The HHS refugee office historically has said it is not legally responsible for children once they had been placed.

Bussey begged to differ. "They don't perceive themselves to be responsible for those children any longer, but the truth is we all are," she told Catholic News Service during a May 30 telephone interview from Tucson, Arizona, where CLINIC was sponsoring a conference.

Effects of the imposition of zero tolerance are being felt not just in the U.S. desert, but at ports of call, according to Jesuit Father Sean Carroll, executive director of the Kino Border Initiative, with dual offices in Nogales -- Arizona on the U.S. side of the border, Sonora state on the Mexico side.

"We have about 89 people at the port of entry Miguel, Sonora, waiting to be received by U.S. Customs. Most are from Guatemala. As of this morning, there were 89 people, and 57 of them were children," Father Carroll said May 30. "Some, the majority, are with their families; some are unaccompanied (minors)."

While Customs usually makes a near-immediate determination of the strength of asylum-seekers' cases, now "people are waiting," Father Carroll added. "The first people arrived on Friday (May 25). They've been waiting five days, going on six, to be received by U.S. Customs."

Sessions raised an uproar when he said, "If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law." He made the comments at the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies' spring conference May 7. "If you don't like that," he added, "then don't smuggle children over our border."

Father Carroll said some asylum-seekers near him have made the days-long trek by bus, some by car, others on foot. And what Sessions said has not seemed to filter down to them. "I haven't asked specifically, but most of them have little or no information" on the policy change, he said.

CLINIC's Bussey said there had been a federal policy in place called "family detention" "that's been carried out by administration after administration."

"Unfortunately," she continued, "what we're seeing is a zero-tolerance policy of every child is at risk of being separated from their parent or guardian. Over time we keep on hearing that separation is used as a tool for deterrence, but time after time we see children and their parents presenting themselves at the border because they're fleeing violence."

The mother of a 9-year-old child herself, Bussey said the government is ignoring the "push factors" that drive immigration. "If I'm the mother of 9-year-old and I live in the Golden Triangle (a region in northwest Mexico where the Sinaloa drug cartel has free rein), I know the gangs are going to kill my child. I'm going to take my child with me," she said.

"Seeking asylum is not illegal. What is illegal, what is not consistent or humane, is to turn them around," Bussey added. Instead, she said, federal immigration officials should "say that their lives would be in danger and to let them in."

Family separation is "not only needless and cruel, it threatens the mental and physical health of both the children and their caregivers," said a May 29 statement by American Psychological Association president Jessica Henderson Daniel.

"The longer that children and parents are separated, the greater the reported symptoms of anxiety and depression for the children. Negative outcomes for children include psychological distress, academic difficulties and disruptions in their development," Daniel said.

According to The Washington Post, the latest HHS figures already show an uptick in the amount of time minors are in federal custody without some kind of sponsor or foster-care agreement in place: now 57 days, up from 51 at the close of 2017.

Bussey also doubted Sessions' declaration that the government would criminally prosecute every illegal immigration case, whereas in the pass it had been a civil case.

"Our system is overloaded, period," she said. "Putting more people through a system that's overloaded is invariably trampling people's due process on a daily basis. I can't imagine putting more people through the process is going to make it any better."

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Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison.

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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.

Vatican team investigating abuse cover-ups to return to Chile

Thu, 05/31/2018 - 10:52am

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To promote healing after reports of sexual abuse and cover-ups, Pope Francis will send Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta and Father Jordi Bertomeu Farnos back to Chile.  

Both will visit the Diocese of Osorno "with the aim of advancing the process of reparation and healing of abuse victims," the Vatican said in a statement May 31.

Abuse survivors have alleged that Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno -- then a priest -- had witnessed their abuse by his mentor, Father Fernando Karadima. In 2011, Father Karadima was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys.

Archbishop Scicluna, who is president of a board of review handling abuse cases within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Father Bertomeu, an official of the doctrinal congregation, will depart "in the next few days," the Vatican said.

The Vatican also announced that "the pope will send the president of the Chilean bishops' conference a letter written personally by him and addressed to all the people of God, as he had promised the bishops."

During his visit to Chile in January, the pope sparked controversy when he pledged his support for Bishop Barros and said: "The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I will speak. There is not one piece of evidence against him. It is calumny."

He later apologized to the victims and admitted that his choice of words wounded many.

A short time later, the pope sent Archbishop Scicluna and Father Bertomeu to Chile to listen to people with information about Bishop Barros.

Not all of the 64 witnesses spoke about Father Karadima and Bishop Barros; several of them gave testimony about abuse alleged to have occurred at a Marist Brothers' school.

Their investigation resulted in a 2,300-page report that was given to the pope.

After reading their report, Pope Francis apologized for underestimating the seriousness of the sexual abuse crisis and acknowledged he made "serious mistakes in the assessment and perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information."

After a "careful reading" of the testimonies, "I believe I can affirm that all the testimonies collected speak in a brutal way, without additives or sweeteners, of many crucified lives and, I confess, it has caused me pain and shame," the pope said in an April 11 letter to the bishops of Chile.

He also summoned the bishops to Rome May 15-17, which resulted in most of the Chilean bishops offering their resignations to the pope.

In a document leaked by Chilean news channel Tele 13 before the meeting with the bishops, Pope Francis said he was concerned by reports regarding "the attitude with which some of you bishops have reacted in the face of present and past events."

The pope also said he was "perplexed and ashamed" after he received confirmation that undue pressure by church officials was placed on "those who carry out criminal proceedings" and that church officials had destroyed compromising documents.

Those actions, Pope Francis said, "give evidence to an absolute lack of respect for the canonical procedure and, even more so, are reprehensible practices that must be avoided in the future."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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

Pope names apostolic visitor to Medjugorje

Thu, 05/31/2018 - 9:45am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has named as apostolic visitor to Medjugorje the Polish archbishop he had initially sent to the town as his personal envoy to study the pastoral needs of the townspeople and of the thousands of pilgrims who flock to the site of the alleged Marian apparitions.

The pope appointed Archbishop Henryk Hoser, the retired archbishop of Warsaw-Praga, Poland, to be apostolic visitor to Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, for an indefinite period, the Vatican announced May 31.

"The mission of the apostolic visitor has the aim of assuring a stable and continuous accompaniment of the parish community of Medjugorje and of the faithful who go there in pilgrimage, whose needs require special attention," the Vatican announcement said.

Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, told journalists that Archbishop Hoser "will reside in Medjugorje" and that his mission does not involve investigating the authenticity of the alleged apparitions.

Archbishop Hoser's mission "is strictly pastoral and not doctrinal," Burke said.

The Polish archbishop was appointed in February 2017 as the pope's special envoy to study the pastoral situation in Medjugorje.

At a news conference following his first visit, Archbishop Hoser said that although he has no authority or expertise to discuss the authenticity of the alleged apparitions, it was clear that "there is a special spiritual climate" in Medjugorje.

"The biggest miracle of Medjugorje are the confessions" of hundreds of people each day, Archbishop Hoser told reporters in April 2017

In 1981, six young people claimed that Mary had appeared to them. Some of the six say Mary still appears to them and gives them messages each day, while others say they see her only once a year now.

Diocesan commissions studied the alleged apparitions in 1982-1984 and again in 1984-1986, and the then-Yugoslavian bishops' conference studied them from 1987 to 1990. All three commissions concluded that they could not affirm that a supernatural event was occurring in the town.

In 2010, retired Pope Benedict XVI established a papal commission to study the alleged apparitions; the commission was chaired by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, retired papal vicar of Rome.

The commission's report has not been made public, although some of its points were revealed after Pope Francis spoke about the commission's work.

Pope Francis acknowledged that pilgrims to the Marian site deserve spiritual care and support, but he also expressed doubts about claims of the continuing apparitions of Mary in Medjugorje.

During his flight to Rome from Fatima, Portugal, in May 2017, the pope told journalists that, regarding the Medjugorje commission's work, "three things need to be distinguished."

"About the first apparitions, when (the 'seers') were young, the report more or less says that the investigation needs to continue," the pope said, according to the English translation posted on the Vatican website.

"Concerning the alleged current apparitions, the report expresses doubts," he said. Furthermore, "personally, I am more 'mischievous.' I prefer Our Lady to be a mother, our mother, and not a telegraph operator who sends out a message every day at a certain time -- this is not the mother of Jesus."

Pope Francis said his "personal opinion" is that "these alleged apparitions have no great value."

The "real core" of the commission's report, he said, is "the spiritual fact, the pastoral fact" that thousands of pilgrims go to Medjugorje and are converted. "For this there is no magic wand; this spiritual-pastoral fact cannot be denied."

After the pope made his remarks, Servite Father Salvatore Perrella, a member of the commission, told Catholic News Service, "The commission did not make a definitive pronouncement." However, he said, in discussing the apparitions that supposedly began June 24, 1981, and continue today, the commission opted to distinguish between what occurred in the first 10 days and what has occurred in the following three decades.

"The commission held as credible the first apparitions," he said. "Afterward, things became a little more complicated."

The Medjugorje commission recommended that Pope Francis lift the ban on official diocesan and parish pilgrimages to Medjugorje and that he designate the town's parish Church of St. James as a pontifical shrine with Vatican oversight, the Servite said.

Such decisions would be "an intelligent pastoral choice," Father Perrella said, and they could be made whether or not the church officially recognizes the apparitions as "worthy of belief." Allowing pilgrimages and designating the church as a shrine would be a recognition of the prayer, devotion and conversion millions of people have experienced at Medjugorje.

At the same time, he said, it would ensure that "a pastor and not a travel agency" is in charge of what happens there.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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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.

Hawaii parishioners displaced by lava ask for prayers

Wed, 05/30/2018 - 3:25pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Marco Garcia, Reuters

By Anna Weaver

HONOLULU (CNS) -- Paul and Rose Utes, members of Sacred Heart Parish in Pahoa, had to leave their home when lava from the Kilauea eruptions moved into their section of the Leilani Estates subdivision in Puna on the Big Island.

At the time they heard the mandatory evacuation order, the couple, who own Black Rock Cafe in Pahoa, were prepping to cater food for Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva's parish visit that first weekend in May.

While the Utes were at their house retrieving their belongings, a fissure opened up across the street, sending a lava fountain shooting into the air. They later returned to get some of their dogs that had run off after the fissure explosion and a few more things. But with the road to their home fairly inaccessible, they haven't been back recently.

"It's just frustrating not knowing what's going on around your house," Paul said May 23 in a telephone interview with the Hawaii Catholic Herald, Honolulu's diocesan newspaper.

Yet Paul said they haven't accepted much relief support beyond temporarily staying in a friend's home because they feel there are other people who need it more. Their business hasn't been much affected by the eruptions so far. And they have insurance, though they still have to pay the mortgage on a house they can't live in.

The Utes, who have lived in Leilani Estates since 1991, now need to find a long-term place to stay.

"I don't want these houses. I want my house," Paul recalled his wife saying sadly as they drove around looking at potential rental properties that would allow their six dogs.

"If everybody could just keep all the people affected in their prayers," Paul asked. "I know a lot of people that lost their houses and need help. And they're devastated. And I know quite a few people who didn't have insurance and lost their houses."

Sacred Heart parishioners Richard and Nancy Robbins also live in Leilani Estates, but are four or five streets north of the current lava activity.

"God has looked out after us," Richard said.

According to Hawaii County Civil Defense, 82 structures to date have been destroyed by lava in this latest outflow from Kilauea Volcano, erupting continuously since 1983. Lava so far has covered more than 2,223 acres.

While Hawaii County issued an evacuation order to subdivision residents, some residents like the Robbinses have gone back to living in their homes. They moved from Miami to Hawaii 19 years ago and love Leilani. Now they regularly drive around the subdivision checking on the homes of friends and neighbors.

"It's one thing hearing about it, one thing seeing pictures on TV," Richard said, but another to be there. "We got halfway down a street and we realized that (the rest of the) street didn't exist anymore."

Richard said fellow parishioners have been wonderful. One couple offered their deployed son's home as a temporary residence. The parish food bank asked if they needed food. A non-Catholic local friend has also offered their home further away on the island for Richard and Nancy if and when they might need to leave Leilani again.

"We aren't in any need, but it's nice to hear people ask you, even if you don't need it," Richard said.

"Leilani is a very, very tight community," he added. "I'm just hoping we can survive. I don't want to have to leave Hawaii."

At Sacred Heart Parish in Pahoa town, you might not know there's major volcanic activity going on just a few miles away if not for the busy parking lot full of news crews and aid workers, said Lindbergh Marzo, Sacred Heart's pastoral council president.

The parish, which is 3.5 miles from the eruption, has allowed media and relief workers to use the church's lot and office bathrooms. At one point the parish hall was a temporary crisis information center. Other parishes have been dropping off donations there as well.

St. Joseph Parish in Hilo filled a 15-person passenger van with food, water, blankets, pillows, clothing, gift cards and other items for Puna evacuees and dropped it off at Sacred Heart May 22. Parishioners also raised a $3,224 cash donation for a local relief fund.

Father Paul Li, vicar forane of the diocese's East Hawaii vicariate, said the parishes in the vicariate took up a second collection for volcano aid during Masses May 19 and 20, which was Pentecost Sunday.

Father Li's parish of St. Theresa in Mountain View, which is about 18 miles from Pahoa, and Holy Rosary Mission in Keaau collected $1,164 in their second collection and also delivered blankets, tarps, towels and other items to Sacred Heart for distribution to those displaced residents that need them.

"Some people are grateful for where they are and some people have a lot of anxiety," Marzo said of the people he knows displaced by the volcano activity.

Leilani Estates is a rural subdivision with large lots on a 22-mile grid. The smaller nearby Lanipuna Gardens also is affected. At least 24 fissures have opened up since May 3, spewing molten rock on what used to be a quiet subdivision, forming a lava lake, sending magma to the ocean and expelling poisonous sulfur dioxide gas.

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Editor's Note: The Honolulu Diocese's three social service agencies -- Office of Social Ministries, HOPE Services Hawaii and Catholic Charities Hawaii -- are helping those affected by the volcanic activity. For information on how to donate to the agencies go to http://hopeserviceshawaii.org or https://www.catholiccharitieshawaii.org.

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Weaver writes for the Hawaii Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Honolulu.

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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.

Mass of support planned for Maryland town hit hard again by massive flood

Wed, 05/30/2018 - 12:50pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA

By Paul McMullen

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- For the second time in three years, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore will celebrate a Mass at St. Paul Church in the historic town of Ellicott City, where residents are again taking stock after another devastating flash flood.

Weekend worship for the feast of the Most Holy Trinity had concluded by the afternoon of May 27, when sustained, torrential rains turned Main Street below the church into a raging river that washed away automobiles, buildings and human life -- just as it had July 31, 2016.

Archbishop Lori will celebrate Mass June 2 at St. Paul, which was established in 1838, 66 years after the mill and railroad town was founded at was then a strategic location along the Patapsco River.

St. Paul is situated relatively safely above the Main Street thoroughfare, which once again produced reminders of the destructive power of nature, documented on social media as many prepared to observe Memorial Day.

A courthouse that dated to 1840 was among the structures destroyed in the historic town, which is part of the Baltimore metropolitan area and the county seat of Howard County.

Eddison Hermond, a National Guardsman from Severn, was enjoying lunch with friends when he went to the aid of a woman and was washed away, toward the Patapsco. Two days later, search and rescue teams located his body on the Baltimore County side of the river.

After the flash flood of 2016, St. Paul served as an emergency shelter. According to Father Warren Tanghe, pastor, the loss of water to all of its buildings and power in some of them precluded it from serving that function this time.

"Our facilities are not suitable for community service," Father Tanghe said May 28 in an interview with the Catholic Review, Baltimore's archdiocesan news outlet.

A day later, he reported that "all our buildings now have power and water, and our electronics are up."

St. Paul is being used as a staging area for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. crews that are restoring utilities.

The flood was felt at Resurrection-St. Paul School, north of old Ellicott City. According to Karen Murphy, principal, one of her teachers "lost" his residence on Main Street.

"I have eight other staff members and dozens of families who bailed out basements this weekend, but are grateful that's all they had to do," Murphy said. "Our theme this year has been 'Be Strong, Be Courageous.' ... That's appropriate for right now."

To the north of downtown Ellicott City, the Our Lady's Center Marian Shrine was closed Memorial Day for what a message on its website described as "some cleaning of debris," but noted that it "escaped damage" thanks to improvements made to its grounds after the 2016 flood.

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McMullen is managing editor of the Catholic Review, the news website and magazine of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

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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.

Priest: 'Ninja' show a way to proclaim Gospel using his God-given talents

Tue, 05/29/2018 - 3:56pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Aprille Hanson, Arkansas Catholic

By Aprille Hanson

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CNS) -- An Arkansas Catholic priest is taking his ninja name "Father Flex" national as a contestant on the new season of the NBC reality show "American Ninja Warrior," debuting May 30.

Father Stephen Gadberry, pastor of St. Mary Church in Batesville and St. Cecilia Church in Newport, applied last December to be on the show, which allows everyday "warriors" to show off their skills in a series of challenging obstacle courses.

Competitors advance from city qualifying and finals to regional finals and finally national finals in Las Vegas. The grand prize winner receives $1 million.

Father Gadberry, 32, received a call in mid-February to compete in Dallas for a spot as a contestant. Tryouts were held during Holy Week.

On Palm Sunday, March 25, the priest was running, jumping and launching through the air on an obstacle course. Surrounded by friends, family and fellow religious, including sisters and brother priests, Father Gadberry and other ninja hopefuls competed from 10 p.m. until 7:45 a.m. the next morning.

"Hold on tight, breathe, concentrate, focus. Really in the heat of the moment it's just survive. Just keep moving forward one more step, one more step, that's what was going through my mind, just one more step," he told the Arkansas Catholic, newspaper of the Little Rock Diocese.

"It was crazy, but it fed in perfectly into Holy Week," he said. "On the obstacle course, you have to identify the obstacle, you've got to plan to attack it and to go on knowing that it's going to be kind of hard, but knowing that there's an end in sight.

"It's the same with the Triduum -- recognizing the struggle of sin and death but knowing that that's not the end, facing it and go walking with the Lord to Easter. So it was a good spiritual shot of caffeine."

His passion for CrossFit, as both an exercise regimen and now as a certified trainer, prepared him well.

The priest's parishioners think it's fun that he tried out for the show, but it's more about "sharing the joy of being Catholic," he said.

"What they're excited about is that the church that they're a part of is doing things that people usually wouldn't imagine. So their church is going to the peripheries is what Pope Francis says," he said.

"They're telling all these other people of different faiths and denominations that 'my church is not one that is stuck in a box. My church is one that can go and do crazy stuff. Come check it out,'" Father Gadberry added.

He said the camaraderie with his fellow competitors was a highlight, along with meeting Sean Bryan, known as the "Papal Ninja" from season nine of "American Ninja Warrior." The two first met on social media and met a few times in Dallas. Bryan offered the priest some tips and advice.

"His greatest tip was just to have fun. And that helped me to stay calm through it," Father Gadberry said.

Confirmation students at St. Mary Church eagerly offered up various nicknames for his time on the show. Father Gadberry said his favorite was "Father Flex." It fits nicely with his often-used hashtag "jesusismyhomie" on Instagram.

"Father Flex is not just muscles. ' With all this stuff I want to invite people to take it to the next level, go to the spiritual level," he said.

"We can flex our spiritual muscle too whenever you really got to lift some heavy spiritual weights and love somebody that you don't want to love or forgive somebody you don't want to forgive," he added. "Or really walk a walk with somebody that's very challenging. Very much the same way spiritually, you've got to build that muscle up."

Father Gadberry has no intention of becoming a reality star. It's all about using a larger platform -- last year the show averaged 6 million viewers per episode - to "proclaim the Gospel using the talents that God has given me."

Part of spreading the Gospel is breaking the priest stereotype.

"So many of my brother priests have amazing talents," from music to athleticism, "so anyone reading this, their pastor has an amazing talent or two or three. Ask them about it, because it reveals the human side of us," he said.

"We are really the image of Christ in the church and it's easy to think of God as this being who is way out there," he continued, "but Jesus came to be like one of us so hopefully the priest can be somebody at the altar who people look up to, but at the same time be one of the people, and that's what it means to be Christ as a priest."

For him, physical and spiritual well-being are parallel. Little Rock Bishop Anthony B. Taylor encourages all priests to "always be learning and he really supports all of us studying things that we're passionate about," Father Gadberry said.

"The spiritual life is important, but the soul needs a body. And that body must be a stable place where the soul can reside. We have to take care of our body; it's the temple of the Holy Spirit as Paul says. This is just a way of continuing my education/formation so then I can be better equipped to catechize people through that hobby of mine," he said.

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Hanson is associate editor of Arkansas Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock.

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Teaching on all-male priesthood is definitive, cardinal-designate says

Tue, 05/29/2018 - 2:50pm

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- That only men can be validly ordained to the priesthood is a truth that is part of the Catholic faith and will not and cannot change, said Cardinal-designate Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

"It gives rise to serious concern to see that in some countries there still are voices that put in doubt the definitive nature of this doctrine," the cardinal-designate wrote May 29 in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

St. John Paul II, confirming the constant teaching and practice of the church, formally declared in 1994 that "the church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the church's faithful."

Cardinal-designate Ladaria said some people continue to question the infallibility of St. John Paul's declaration in the document "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" because "it was not defined 'ex cathedra'" or formally, solemnly proclaimed as infallible. The argument, the cardinal-designate wrote, is that "a later decision by a future pope or council could overturn it."

But "sowing these doubts creates serious confusion among the faithful not only about the sacrament of orders as part of the divine constitution of the church, but also about how the ordinary magisterium can teach Catholic doctrine in an infallible way," he wrote.

A teaching of the church is infallible not only when it is solemnly pronounced by a council or by a pope speaking "ex cathedra," he said. A teaching is recognized as infallible also when it is "the ordinary and universal teaching of bishops spread throughout the world when, in communion among themselves and with the pope, they propose Catholic doctrine that is to be held definitively."

That is what St. John Paul did, he said. "He did not declare new dogma, but with the authority conferred on him as successor of Peter, he formally confirmed and made explicit -- to remove any doubt -- that which the ordinary and universal magisterium had considered as belonging to the deposit of faith throughout the history of the church."

"Christ willed to confer this sacrament on the 12 apostles -- all men -- who, in turn, communicated it to other men," Cardinal-designate Ladaria wrote. "The church always has seen itself as bound to this decision of the Lord, which excludes that the ministerial priesthood can be conferred validly on women."

In response to questions, he said, the doctrinal congregation "has repeated that this is a truth belonging to the deposit of the faith."

That a candidate for the priesthood must be male, he said, belongs to the "substance of the sacrament" and cannot be changed because the sacrament was instituted by Christ.

Just because women cannot be ordained, he said, does not imply "subordination, but a mutual enrichment."

The exalted role of Mary in the church, even though she was not one of the 12 apostles, shows the importance of both the feminine and masculine in the church, he said, which is a challenge to modern culture that "struggles to understand the meaning and goodness of the difference between man and woman."

Cardinal-designate Ladaria noted that Pope Francis also has reaffirmed the teaching on an all-male priesthood.

In "The Joy of the Gospel" in 2013 he wrote, "The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion."

And, responding to a reporter's question on a trip to Sweden in 2016, he said, "As for the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the last, clear word was given by St. John Paul II, and this holds."

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Voters in Ireland pave way for abortion on demand

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 1:41pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Alex Fraser, Reuters

By Michael Kelly

DUBLIN (CNS) -- Voters in Ireland have opted to remove the right to life of the unborn from the country's constitution, paving the way for abortion on demand up to 12 weeks.

With votes counted from 30 of Ireland's 40 constituencies, results from the nationwide referendum showed that 67.3 percent of citizens opted to remove the Eighth Amendment from the constitution, while 32.7 percent voted to retain it. Turnout was 64.5 percent.

Voters inserted the original amendment in the constitution in 1983 by a margin of 2-1, and it "acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right."

That text will now be deleted and replaced with an article stating that "provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy."

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said he would introduce legislation that would allow abortion on demand up to 12 weeks, up to 24 weeks on unspecified grounds for the health of the mother, and up to birth where the child is diagnosed with a life-limiting condition that means he or she may not live long after birth.

An exit poll conducted by the Ireland's national broadcaster RTE asked voters what motivated them to opt for either "yes" or "no." Among "yes" voters, the most important issues were the right to choose (84 percent), the health or life of the woman (69 percent), and pregnancy as a result of rape (52 percent).

Among "no" voters, they cited the right to life of the unborn (76 percent), the right to live of those with Down syndrome or other disabilities (36 percent), and religious views (28 percent).

John McGuirk, spokesman for Save the Eighth, which campaigned for a "no" vote, described the outcome as "a tragedy of historic proportions."

"The Eighth Amendment did not create a right to life for the unborn child -- it merely acknowledged that such a right exists, has always existed and will always exist," he said, insisting that "a wrong does not become right simply because a majority support it."

"We are so proud of all of those who stood with us in this campaign -- our supporters, our donors, our families and our loved ones," he said. "This campaign took a huge personal toll on all of us who were involved, and we have been so grateful for their support."

Insisting that pro-life campaigners will continue their efforts, McGuirk told Catholic News Service: "Shortly, legislation will be introduced that will allow babies to be killed in our country. We will oppose that legislation. If and when abortion clinics are opened in Ireland, because of the inability of the government to keep their promise about a (general-practitioner-led health) service, we will oppose that as well.

"Abortion was wrong yesterday. It remains wrong today. The constitution has changed, but the facts have not," he said.

Ruth Cullen of the LoveBoth campaign insisted that the organization will try to ensure that the Irish prime minister, or Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, is true to his pledge that the government will work to ensure that abortions are rare.

"We will hold the Taoiseach to his promise that repeal would only lead to abortion in very restrictive circumstances. He gave his word on this, now he must deliver on it. No doubt many people voted for repeal based on the Taoiseach's promises in this regard," she said.

Commenting on the campaign, Cullen said: "We are immensely proud and grateful to all our volunteers throughout the country who worked tirelessly over recent months to ensure unborn babies would not be deprived of legal protections.

"The campaign to protect unborn babies will endure," she said.

Eamonn Conway, a theologian at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, told Catholic News Service he was "greatly saddened" by the result. However, he pointed out that "the truth is that the Irish Constitution merely recognized the right to life that is antecedent to all law. This most fundamental of all human rights is not extinguished or diminished because our constitution no longer acknowledges it. What is diminished is our constitution," he said.

Conway said he believes "the task facing the Catholic Church now is to ensure that it makes every effort to accompany with the healing compassion of Christ everyone caught up in the tragic circumstances that surround an abortion ... from grieving parents to medical practitioners."

Archbishop Eamon Martin, primate of All-Ireland, was expected to address the referendum outcome during a homily at the country's national Marian shrine at Knock, County Mayo, May 27.

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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.

Mercy Friday: Pope surprises students rehearsing after school

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 2:35pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Continuing his occasional series of "Mercy Friday" visits, Pope Francis surprised the students at a school renamed in March in honor of a student who died of leukemia at the age of 11.

For the visit May 25 to the Elisa Scala Comprehensive School, which includes students from the age of 3 to 14, the pope also brought books for the school library. The Vatican did not provide the titles of the books or give any other details about them.

Before the city of Rome and the Italian department of education allowed the whole school to be named after Elisa, the library was. Her parents, Giorgio and Maria, said their daughter loved to read and, after she died in 2015, they started the library, which now holds more than 20,000 volumes, all of which were donated.

The couple gave the pope a guided tour of the shelves.

Pope Francis arrived at the school after classes had ended for the day. But more than 200 students were there preparing for a year-end show featuring dance, sport and theater. After five months of rehearsals, they sang for the pope.

The pope began the "Mercy Friday" initiative during the Holy Year of Mercy in 2015-16 to highlight the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Among other places, the visits have taken him to hospitals and rehabilitation centers, a group home for children, a L'Arche Community, a halfway house for women inmates with small children and a home for women rescued from forced prostitution.

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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.

Abortion doesn't protect women's human rights, Vatican official says

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 11:15am

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- It is a contradiction to claim that promoting access to safe abortions is somehow protecting the human rights of women and girls, a Vatican representative said.

"In fact, abortion denies the unborn child his or her most basic right -- to life itself," said Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva.

As Pope Francis has said, "Human life is sacred and inviolable. Every civil right rests on the recognition of the first and fundamental right, that of life, which is not subordinate to any condition, be it quantitative, economic or, least of all, ideological," the archbishop said.

Archbishop Jurkovic spoke May 25 at the World Health Assembly, a meeting of the member states of the World Health Organization to set W.H.O. policies and programs.

He was addressing one of the agenda items of the May 21-26 meeting, specifically on the global strategy for the health of women, children and adolescents.

The Vatican delegation "shares many of the concerns and observations" in the W.H.O. director-general's report, he said, including: the importance of universal health coverage; improving specific data on health; ending violence against women and children; and revising child health policies and programs so they cover from infancy to 18 years of age.

However, he said, the Vatican delegation had serious concerns about the inclusion of an item "on so-called 'safe abortion' in this report and in the global strategy in general."

"The Holy See does not consider abortion or abortion services to be a dimension of reproductive health or reproductive health care," Archbishop Jurkovic said.

The delegation was also "immensely concerned" about the W.H.O. being part of an open-access "Global Abortion Policies" database launched by several U.N. departments and programs. The database summarizes every country's laws and policies concerning abortion with the aim, according to the W.H.O., "to promote greater transparency of abortion laws and policies, as well as to improve countries' accountability for the protection of women and girls' health and human rights."

"The Holy See does not endorse any form of legislation that gives legal recognition to abortion and, thus, firmly objects to any and all efforts by the U.N. or its specialized agencies to promote national legislation that permits the taking of the life of an unborn child," the archbishop told the assembly.

"Moreover, the Holy See cannot accept the contradictory claim that promotion of so-called 'safe abortion' is a means to 'protect' the human rights of women and girls, when, in fact, abortion denies the unborn child his or her most basic right -- to life itself," he said.

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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.

Veterans found 'life-changing,' 'healing' experience at Lourdes

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 11:03am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tamino Petelinsek, courtesy Knights of Columbus

By Zita Ballinger Fletcher

Veterans taking part in the 2018 Warriors to Lourdes pilgrimage to France said the journey has positively influenced their lives and benefited those around them.

Maj. Jeremy Haynes, a first-time spiritual pilgrim and Lourdes visitor, said he is a changed man since visiting the shrine, where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous in a series of visions in 1858.

"The trip has been life-changing for my wife and me," Haynes told Catholic News Service. "With faith as our compass, we remain committed to moving forward."

Haynes was shot four times in Afghanistan and sustained injuries that have left him struggling to overcome the physical constraints of paralysis. It has been a difficult journey. He also seeks healing for wounds in his family life that occurred prior to his physical injury.

"With a minimum emphasis on faith, my family life was a disaster and divorce was imminent. After being shot multiple times, I recall sinking into a dark place," said Haynes. "Despite being a sinner, God showed mercy by sparing my life and allowing me to witness the birth of my son. Taking part in this spiritual journey has cleansed my soul and created a stronger connection with my wife."

Haynes previously served within the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), 82nd Airborne Division, and the American Red Cross national headquarters. He commanded a parachute rigger company, served as an aide de camp, and taught at the Army Logistics University. He is currently assigned to the Walter Reed National Medical Center and soon will retire from the military. He has been awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Combat Action Badge, Jumpmaster, Parachute Rigger Badge and Air Assault Badge.

Haynes, who went on the Lourdes trip to seek healing "mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally," said he was honored to visit Lourdes with military from around the world. The Warriors to Lourdes trip -- sponsored by the Archdiocese for the Military Services and the Knights of Columbus -- occurred in late May, during the 60th annual International Military Pilgrimage to the Marian shrine in France.

"We broke bread together, worshipped together, and promoted peace together. Although we speak different languages, faith connected us," Haynes said. "I experienced the power of prayer as being a universal language that led me to encounter awesome individuals."

The Rev. Steven Rindahl, an Anglican priest and U.S. Army veteran, took part in the pilgrimage and said he believed the journey benefited all who participated in it.

"There have been people who have been touched in so many different ways. It would be difficult to make a list to encompass all the different blessings people have received while they've been here," said Rev. Rindahl, a retired U.S. Army chaplain who has served in duty stations in many states, including Texas, New York and Georgia.

Rev. Rindahl, who has ministered to active-duty soldiers and veterans, has worked with veterans afflicted by post-traumatic stress disorder as an "extensive piece" of his total ministry. In addition to emotional stress, people exposed to combat often suffer from a condition he refers to as "moral injury," which he describes as a conflicted conscience resulting from complex or traumatic wartime experiences.

"War is an unnatural thing. They get this sense of guilt or shame," said Rev. Rindahl, who believes this condition can be treated successfully with a faith response, particularly the sacrament of reconciliation.

"The great thing about Lourdes is that it is a known place for healing. Regardless of what your injury is -- whether it's physical, emotional or damage to your soul -- when a person says, 'I want to go to Lourdes,' they're going specifically with a heart and mind open to receiving God's grace and what God has in store for them," said Rev. Rindahl.

Retired U.S. Army Capt. Gary M. Rose said the 2018 Lourdes journey helped a friend recently suffering from severe PTSD connected with "a very bad, horrible battle" that happened in 1966. Rose said there has been a "noticeable improvement in his demeanor" since their return.

"Every single person that I know that went on that trip has come back much better than they were when they left for Lourdes," said Rose, a Catholic. "Even me -- I feel a lot better. My outlook is far better than it was a week or 10 days ago."

Rose said while visiting the shrine he was often asked by others whether he believed the Mary was present.

"I got asked, 'Do you think Mary is here?' I don't know. I can't personally say, 'Mary is here,'' said Rose. "But I can personally say that there is some entity in the Lourdes shrine area that spreads nothing but good and seems to improve the demeanor and the psychological aspects of everybody that I associated with that went to Lourdes with me last week."

Haynes said he is extremely grateful to all those who sponsored the opportunity and who volunteered at it -- and also expressed a special thanks to organizers for allowing his wife to take part in the journey with him.

"Thank you for equipping me with the tools to become a better God-fearing man, husband, father, and citizen," said Haynes.

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Fletcher is a correspondent for Catholic News Service.

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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.

Scouts see how different faith traditions live out Ten Commandments

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 4:10pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Marie Mischel, Intermountain Catholic

By Marie Mischel

OGDEN, Utah (CNS) -- Each year for the past decade, a group of Boy Scouts in Ogden have spent a day walking from house of worship to house of worship, learning how the Ten Commandments are put into practice in different faith traditions.

"From the very beginning, the idea was to build an awareness of an ecumenical spirit," said Deacon Herschel Hester, one of the four original organizers of the Ten Commandments Walk.

Because most of the Scouts have never been exposed to a faith outside their own, "the whole idea is for these young men to be introduced to a larger (faith) community than just theirs," he told the Intermountain Catholic, newspaper of the statewide Diocese of Salt Lake City.

"It has nothing to do with a merit badge, but it all has to do with living out the 12th point of the Scout Law: A Scout is reverent," said Deacon Hester, who is a member of the diocese's Committee on Scouting and a member of the executive board of the Boy Scouts Trapper Trails Council.

Scouts who belong to the council's member troops take part in the event, which took place this year May 12.

The walk also helps emphasize the Scout oath, which promises duty to God, the deacon said.

Ninety Scouts participated in the inaugural walk. This year more than 300 boys walked the 6.6-mile route that took them to Ogden's Second Baptist Church, Emmanuel Church of God in Christ, the Salvation Army, the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Elim Lutheran Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Fourth Ward, Hope Resurrected Church, First Church of Christ, Scientist, First Presbyterian Church and Congregation Brith Sholem.

At the final stop, Rabbi Ben Stern chanted the Ten Commandments in Hebrew from the synagogue's Torah scroll.

"When someone reads Torah, the most important thing is to be accurate on their reading," he said, and explained that generally on the Jewish Sabbath the person reading or chanting from the Torah uses a book rather than the handwritten scroll because the book is easier to read.

The book is held by a person other than the reader, and the person holding the book will correct the reader if there is a mispronunciation, Rabbi Stern said. "If you get something wrong, they have to stop you. It's required."

Rabbi Stern also answered questions such as why yarmulkes are worn, how long the Jewish worship services are, and the concept of kosher.

The night before the hike, the Scouts camped out at Marshall White Center Park. That evening, they heard from Charles W. Dahlquist II, the national commissioner of Boy Scouts of America and past Young Men general president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"Scouting is a world organization of people who care about each other and who care about duty to God and faith in God, and who not only believe what they have learned but they practice what they preach and they practice what they believe," said Dahlquist.

He urged those present to learn about the different faith practices they would hear about the next day "because understanding brings peace."

Dahlquist was invited to speak to the gathering by Jacques Behar, a member of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting and president of the Ogden synagogue.

Some of Dahlquist's closest friends are people of faiths different from his own, he said. "There is much more that joins us than separates us. We live in a time when we need to be joined more than ever before."

Behar, who has been an adult Scout leader for 32 years, said in an interview that he is pleased young men of many faiths participate in the hike because afterward "it's interesting to have them walk away and say, 'Gee, I didn't realize how close we all are.'"

"And I always tell them that if you would just concentrate on the 85 percent that we're all alike, and not so much on the 15 percent that we're not, the world would be a much better place," he said.

Riley Crezee, an Eagle Scout from St. James the Just Parish's Troop 293 who served as the master of ceremonies for the evening, said the opportunity the Ten Commandments Walk gives for Scouts to learn about different people's faith is important, "especially today where everything is just very polarized. ... I think that makes us better people as a society."

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Mischel is editor of the Intermountain Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Salt Lake City.

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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.

Ryan, Brownback, archbishop address National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 1:26pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- This year's National Catholic Prayer breakfast took on a decidedly Kansas flavor, as Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City and Sam Brownback, a former House and Senate member and governor of Kansas, addressed nearly 1,000 gathered at a Washington hotel May 24.

Also speaking was outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, who was a staffer for Brownback in the latter's early days in Congress.

"We support the right to religious freedom," said Brownback, now the U.S. at-large ambassador for international religious freedom. It is not because that right appears in the Constitution or the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights, he said, but "because it's a God-given right."

"No government has the right to infringe upon a God-given right. No government has the right to do that," he added to applause.

"It's important to us because it's important to God," Brownback said. The right to religious freedom is "not in our DNA, but it's in our souls," and all humans have that right "even if we disagree with their path or destination."

Despite this, "more people are being persecuted for their faith right now than at any other time in human history," according to Brownback. "God knew before he made us that we would mess it up -- and he created us anyway."

Brownback began his remarks by congratulating those in the audience who "fought and fought and fought" for the right to life. He said that during his six years as Kansas governor, which ended with his February confirmation to the ambassadorial post, he had "signed 19 pro-life bills, and we had 17,000 fewer abortions in Kansas in those six years than we had in the prior six years."

Ryan, who is not running for re-election, thanked those in attendance "for what do you on this excellent journey."

He lamented the political culture in Washington. "'Survival of the shrillest' is what some people call us these days," he said. It seems, he added, as if everything is viewed "always in survival mode" and people find intrigue in things "that frankly aren't all that intriguing."

In Washington politics, Ryan said, "optics" is what counts. "That is a word I will not be missing," he said to laughter.

He recommended Catholic social teaching, sometimes calling it "Catholic social doctrine," as "the perfect antidote to what ails our society."

"As Catholics, there is nothing more fulfilling than fulfilling our mission with passion, with prayer and with joy," Ryan said.

He lauded the twin principles of subsidiarity and solidarity as the best approach to dealing with issues, rather than relying on government to solve every problem. With those principles in hand, Ryan said, "people and problems are not treated as if they're distractions,"

In his remarks, Archbishop Naumann, who begins a three-year term in November as chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, warned that the nation's most serious crisis is "a God-crisis -- a crisis of faith."

He looked askance at "the large number of millennials who profess atheism or, even more commonly, identify themselves as spiritual, but not religious. This nonreligious spiritualism is a new paganism, where God is not the God of revelation who makes himself known to us, but a god or gods that are fashioned in our own image to reinforce our own desires."

Archbishop Naumann said, "It is this loss of a sense of God that also leaves us vulnerable to losing sight of the innate value of each and every human being." It promotes a culture in which "human life becomes just another thing in a world of things. Materialism reigns and breeds utilitarianism; our value is determined by our usefulness," he said.

"We are called to renew our nation, not primarily by enacting laws, but by announcing the joy and hope of the Gospel of Jesus to individuals in desperate need of its good news. It is our task to reclaim our culture -- one mind, one heart, one soul at a time," Archbishop Naumann said.

To do so, he added, we need Jesus. "Jesus defeats humanity's twin enemies, sin and death, by walking through death to eternal life. We believe in a God who died but is far from dead. The triumphant, risen Lord is still animating the lives of those who open their hearts to encounter his love. Thus for the Christian, we are never without hope," the archbishop said.

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Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison

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Remains of St. John XXIII begin pilgrimage in his home diocese

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 1:21pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Paul Haring

BERGAMO, Italy (CNS) -- Accompanied by Bishop Francesco Beschi of Bergamo and escorted by both Italian and Vatican police officers, the glass coffin containing the body of St. John XXIII left the Vatican early May 24 for a 370-mile drive to Bergamo.

The route taken for the trip north was kept secret for security reasons.

When the procession reached Bergamo's central Vittorio Veneto Square, Bishop Beschi told thousands of people gathered there that it was "with great joy and emotion that I accompanied to our diocese, our city, the urn with the mortal remains -- now relics -- of John XXIII, which return for a few days to the land of his birth."

St. John, who opened the Second Vatican Council, was born Nov. 25, 1881, in Sotto il Monte, a town near Bergamo. After his ordination as a priest and years of service in the Vatican diplomatic corps, he was appointed patriarch of Venice in 1953. He was elected pope Oct. 28, 1958, and died five years later.

The pilgrimage with his remains was meant to mark the 60th anniversary of his election and the 55th anniversary of his death.

Maria Calagari was in the square with her sister and some friends to welcome St. John's remains. 

"We are fortunate because we saw him when he was pope, we saw him die and we just saw him now -- 55 years later as a saint here in Bergamo," she said. "We are fortunate."

In connection with the pilgrimage of St. John's relics, Pope Francis gave an interview to L'Eco di Bergamo, the area's main daily newspaper, which is owned by the Diocese of Bergamo.

In the interview, Pope Francis described St. John as "a saint who did not know the word 'enemy,'" but "always sought what would unite people."

For St. John, he said, "the church is called to serve human beings, not just Catholics, and to defend always and everywhere the rights of the human person and not just of the Catholic Church."

Pope Francis said the pilgrimage was meant to be "a gift and an occasion" to renew one's faith and to remember the great pope. It is a special opportunity for the elderly, the sick and the poor, who have not been able to go to St. Peter's Basilica to pray at his tomb.

The visit to the Diocese of Bergamo included a stop at the city's prison, where 180 prisoners -- including 35 Muslims -- asked permission to enter the internal courtyard where a truck carrying the remains was to stop.

The prison yard was the first place in Bergamo where people were allowed to touch the glass coffin. The prisoners were given a square of either yellow or white fabric to touch to the glass; most of them touched the glass with their hands, then used the fabric to wipe the glass clean.

Vincenza, one of the inmates, told the local television station that it was amazing to have the saintly pope's remains stop in the prison at the beginning of the pilgrimage "because usually, especially for important events, prisoners are the last ones people think about."

From the prison, the relics were to be driven to the diocesan seminary named after Pope John XXIII. The priests of the diocese were to escort the remains to the cathedral later in the day.

Teens and young adults of the diocese planned a prayer vigil in the cathedral May 25, and the remains were also to be present the next morning as new priests were ordained for the diocese.

After a Mass with the poor May 27, the body was to be moved to the hospital named after the late pope, then transferred to the Shrine of St. John XXIII in Sotto il Monte.

Pilgrims can pray before the saint's remains at the shrine until June 10, when Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, will celebrate Mass and the body will be returned to the Vatican.

Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, told Vatican Media that "this is the first time -- it's never happened before -- that the remains of a pope make a return visit to his home, to his roots."

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Contributing to this story was Cindy Wooden at the Vatican.

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Update: Pope to meet with second group of abuse survivors from Chile

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 12:50pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will meet with five priests who suffered abuse by Chilean Father Fernando Karadima or his followers, the Vatican said.

The pope will meet June 1-3 with "five priests who were victims of abuses of power, of conscience and sexual abuse," the Vatican said in a statement May 22.

Two priests who have accompanied the survivors "in their juridical and spiritual journey" and "two laypeople involved in this suffering" also were invited by Pope Francis, the statement said. They will all be guests at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican residence where Pope Francis lives.

The pope will celebrate a private Mass with the group June 2 and will meet with members of the group together and individually, the statement said. In late April, Pope Francis had hosted three laymen who were sexually abused by Father Karadima.

"With this new meeting, planned a month ago, Pope Francis wants to show his closeness to abused priests, accompany them in their pain and listen to their valuable opinion to improve the current preventative measures and the fight against abuses in the church," the statement said.

The day after the Vatican's announcement, three Chilean priests who will take part in the meeting read a statement on behalf of all nine, confirming their participation in the meetings with Pope Francis.

At a May 23 news conference in Santiago, Chilean Fathers Francisco Astaburuaga Ossa, Alejandro Vial Amunategui and Eugenio de la Fuente Lora thanked the pope for his invitation, which they said they hope would "re-establish justice and communion, particularly within our Archdiocese of Santiago and its presbyteries."

The statement was signed by the three priests, as well as Fathers Javier Barros Bascunan and Sergio Cobo Montalva.

The four other members of the group, the statement said, wished to remain anonymous.

They also expressed the "hope that our experience may give a voice to many others who have suffered abuses or have accompanied abused persons."

The Chilean priests also asked journalists to respect the "confidentiality and the privacy" of the meetings and that there will be "no more public statements until our return to Santiago."

The Vatican said the priests were abused by Father Karadima and his followers in the parish of Sagrado Corazon de Providencia, also known as the community of "El Bosque" ("The Forest").

Known as an influential and charismatic priest, Father Karadima founded a Catholic Action group in the wealthy Santiago parish and drew hundreds of young men to the priesthood. Four of Father Karadima's proteges went on to become bishops, including Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno.  

However, several former seminarians of "El Bosque" revealed in 2010 that the Chilean priest sexually abused them and other members of the parish community for years. One year later, Father Karadima was sentenced by the Vatican to a life of prayer and penance after he was found guilty of sexual abuse.

Chilean survivors have also alleged that Bishop Barros -- then a priest -- as well as other members of Father Karadima's inner circle had witnessed their abuse by his mentor.

The pope, who initially defended his 2015 appointment of Bishop Barros as head of the Diocese of Osorno, apologized after receiving a 2,300-page report from Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta.

In a letter released April 11, Pope Francis said he had been mistaken in his assessment of the situation in Chile, and he begged the forgiveness of the survivors and others he offended. He invited three survivors -- Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo -- to Rome in late April and called all of the Chilean bishops to the Vatican for meetings May 15-17.

In a document leaked by Chilean news channel Tele 13 before the meeting with the bishops, Pope Francis said he was concerned by reports regarding "the attitude with which some of you bishops have reacted in the face of present and past events."

The document's footnotes included several details from the investigation made by Archbishop Scicluna, which confirmed that, in some instances, the bishops deemed accusations of abuse as "implausible."

But Pope Francis said he was "perplexed and ashamed" after he received confirmation that undue pressure by church officials was placed on "those who carry out criminal proceedings" and that church officials had destroyed compromising documents.

Those actions, he said, "give evidence to an absolute lack of respect for the canonical procedure and, even more so, are reprehensible practices that must be avoided in the future."

After the three-day meeting, most of the Chilean bishops offered their resignations to the pope.

Back in Chile, bishops -- including Bishop Alejandro Goic of Rancagua, president of the Chilean bishops' commission for abuse prevention -- continue to face a backlash over their handling of cases of abuse.

Bishop Goic suspended 14 of the diocese's 68 priests May 19 after an investigative report by Tele 13 alleged there was a sex-abuse ring made up of clergy and known as "La Cofradia" ("The Brotherhood").

According to the report, "La Cofradia" had its own hierarchical structure and carried out, as well as covered up, the sexual abuse of minors by members of the group.

The report also alleged that although Bishop Goic was informed and presented with evidence of the group's existence by Elsa Fernandez, a local youth minister, he refused to act.

Fernandez said she contacted the Chilean bishops' conference in January to inform them of the abuses committed by "La Cofradia." However, she said, she was informed in an email that the conference "does not formally receive complaints."

In an interview published on the Tele 13 website May 22, Bishop Goic said he had thought people talking about "La Cofradia" were speaking "in jest" and said he "never received a formal complaint that seriously said this was happening."

After the report's broadcast, Bishop Goic acknowledged that he had met with Fernandez, and he apologized for his failure to act "with the appropriate agility in the investigation" of the priests allegedly involved in the sex abuse ring.

"I must admit that personally, as a Christian and a pastor, I find myself very affected by this difficult situation that hurts and embarrasses me," the bishop said. "I pray that the truth, the whole truth, may come to light in these cases and in any other situations that threaten the Gospel of Christ's love."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Chicago priest's effort to build community earns CCHD leadership award

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 12:02pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Natalie Battaglia

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A year into his priesthood, Father Matt O'Donnell was named a pastor.

Days before his 27th birthday in 2013, Father O'Donnell arrived at St. Columbanus Parish in Chicago's South Side Park Manor neighborhood and since then has embraced his ministry to the African-American community.

It didn't take long for the young priest who grew up at St. Fabian Parish in the Chicago suburb of Bridgeview to become a leading figure in the neighborhood.

Father O'Donnell, now 31, went about getting to know residents and parishioners and learning what they thought the community needed. From that, Father O'Donnell recruited volunteers in spearheading the creation of a variety of services and ministries that has cemented St. Columbanus as an anchor in Park Manor.

For starters, there's the parish food pantry that serves more than 500 people 49 of 52 Wednesdays a year, the building of a new playground that gives kids a safe space to be kids and an athletic center that gives older kids an alternative to gang life. The parish also is the site of Augustus Tolton Catholic Academy, an acclaimed elementary school focusing on science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and math.

The parish opens its doors to the wider community, hosting its popular "Pop Up Clergy" program from time to time in front of the church, complete with a grill for barbecuing. The event brings neighbors and police together to foster friendship and understanding. The most recent in early May attracted 150 people.

"The people (at the parish) are very grateful that I'm young and have inexhaustible energy," he told Catholic News Service.

For his efforts, Father O'Donnell was named the 2018 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the U.S. bishops' domestic anti-poverty and social justice program.

The award is to be presented June 13 at a reception during the spring assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich in a statement called Father O'Donnell's work of building a parish "a living example of Pope Francis's vision of a field hospital church that exists to serve humankind and spread the Gospel of a loving God."

"By his caring presence, his limitless energy for good works and his compassionate ministry, he has made St. Columbanus a beacon of hope in its community and an example of faith in action far beyond its borders," he said.

In nominating Father O'Donnell for the award, Olivia Silver said she wanted to call attention to the "good things that were happening at the parish and the good things that Father Matt was doing."

Silver, a member of Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral and a St. Columbanus volunteer, called the priest an "innovative pastor who gives his entire heart to his parish, his community and his loved ones."

"He is doing such great stuff there," she said.

Father O'Donnell takes little credit for the parish's accomplishments, citing instead parish staff for the success of the many ministries. He said he strives to "empower the people in the parish to take the responsibility to run the different aspects of the ministry that we have."

And he thanked parishioners for being "forgiving and patient with me."

Father O'Donnell also credited the "good priests around me to give me on-the-job training" in the work of a pastor.

The young priest has long held an interested in serving in the African-American community. His internships before ordination were in other South Side parishes where he "fell in love with the liturgy, the music, the preaching" and discovered that the hospitality of the neighborhoods was "very giving."

A period spent at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans strengthened his desire for his chosen ministry.

That interest convinced then-Cardinal Francis E. George to appoint Father O'Donnell as pastor. "Cardinal George said he would rather have me because I have the desire to serve the black community than to have somebody who had more experience but didn't have the desire," Father O'Donnell recalled.

As for the future, Father O'Donnell has eyes on opening a community service center to help residents prepare for the GED test and apply for work. He has even thought of opening a coffee shop "to create some jobs in the area."

The priest acknowledged Park Manor is going through changes, like many other Chicago neighborhoods: longtime residents have either moved away or died; violence has increased; locally owned businesses have closed; and poverty is growing.

Such factors motivate Father O'Donnell to do his best while partnering with others interested in building an inclusive, welcoming community.

"St. Columbanus has been here since 1909 and has been an anchor in in Park Manor," he said. "We're trying to figure out what more we can be doing to better the life of the neighborhood."

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

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Pope prays that Catholics in China may live their faith in peace

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 10:00am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis asked people to pray for Catholics in China so that they may be able to live their faith with serenity and in full communion with the pope.

The Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians May 24. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI established the feast as a world day of prayer for the church in China because Mary is venerated under that title at the Marian shrine in Sheshan, outside Shanghai, China.

At the end of his general audience talk in St. Peter's Square May 23, Pope Francis said the feast day "invites us to be united spiritually with all the Catholic faithful who live in China."

He asked people pray to Our Lady so that Catholics there would be able "to live the faith with generosity and serenity" and so that they would know how to carry out "concrete gestures of fraternity, harmony and reconciliation, in full communion with the successor of Peter."

"Dear disciples of the Lord in China, the universal church prays with you and for you so that even in the midst of difficulties you may continue to trust in God's will," he said.

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Editors: Here is the prayer in English that Pope Benedict XVI released in 2008 on the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China: https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/prayers/documents/hf_ben-xvi_20080515_prayer-sheshan.html

In Chinese: https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/zh_tw/prayers/documents/hf_ben-xvi_20080515_prayer-sheshan.html

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Church official cautiously optimistic about DACA bills before Congress

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 3:37pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The executive director of the U.S. bishops' Migration and Refugee Services gives credit to a group of moderate Republicans in Congress trying to revive interest in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals legislation, or DACA, by their efforts to bring not just one bill, but four, to the House floor.

"They are surfacing the issue forcefully and making the House deal with it," said William Canny.

Although he believes the bills could bring about a "path forward," he said he is not fully convinced it will happen because of the extent of anti-immigrant sentiment in Congress and the White House.

A current proposal, led by Reps. JeffDenham, R- California, and Will Hurd, R-Texas, along with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, is tapping into an obscure House rule called "queen of the hill" which would bring four immigration bills to the House floor for a vote and the bill with the most votes would pass.

But for Congress to even consider these multiple bills, there needs to be enough signatures on a discharge petition. As of May 21, 20 Republicans and 176 Democrats have signed the petition, which needs signatures from 25 Republicans and all 193 Democrats.

If the "queen of the hill" procedure gets the go-ahead, there will be debate on each of the four bills in the course of one day, followed by votes. Another technicality of this procedure is that discharged bills can only be brought to the House floor on the second and fourth Monday of each month, when the House is in session, which narrows the window for this to happen to June 25 and July 23.

In the meantime, it's a waiting game, Canny told Catholic News Service.

He said the U.S. bishops want Congress to help Dreamers find a path to stay in this country and become citizens "without the fear and stress" they currently live with daily. He also called it "tragic" that DACA recipients -- who have been here since childhood and have been educated here -- are currently left "to the whims of various courts."

When President Trump announced last September that he was terminating DACA, he asked Congress to pass a permanent legislative solution for DACA participants. His March 5 deadline has passed and now the DACA battle is in the courts with multiple lawsuits challenging Trump's decision and seven states filing a lawsuit to try to end DACA.

The four DACA bills that could come up for vote are: Securing America's Future Act, also known as Goodlatte Bill, written by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia; the DREAM Act; the Uniting and Securing America Act (USA) Act; and a fourth bill that will be chosen by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin.

The Goodlatte Bill would grant temporary status for DACA recipients with renewable three-year visas and would include stronger border enforcement and legal immigration restrictions. The DREAM Act primarily offers a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other Dreamers. The USA Act, sponsored by Reps. Denham and Pete Aguilar, D-California, would grant permanent legal status to qualified Dreamers and border improvements.

If the four bills do not come up for House vote, Securing America's Future Act could come to a floor vote in mid-June but it is said to have little chance of passing in its current form.

Canny said the U.S. bishops have supported the DREAM Act and the USA Act, which have narrow immigration reform, but they are against the restrictions within the Goodlatte Bill, and of course they don't know what Ryan bill would look like.

Three California bishops placed an ad in a local newspaper May 18 asking House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, to allow a debate and a vote on DACA, specifically the USA Act. The ad, in the form of a letter, urged McCarthy to recognize: "The time to act is now. We have to do what we can to protect these blameless people who were brought into our country when they were only small children."

In late April, the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin Texas, stressed his support for USA Act, saying he hoped Congress would "find a humane legislative solution for Dreamers."

He said the USA Act would provide qualifying Dreamers with protection from deportation and give them a path to citizenship while also augmenting border security at the U.S./Mexico border, increasing the number of immigration judges and Board of Immigration Appeals staff attorneys.

A May 21 editorial in The Los Angeles Times by Denham, said: "Immigration policy is the responsibility of Congress, and this may be our last chance for a legislative fix before DACA recipients' lives are upended; if we leave DACA in the courts to languish (or be dismantled) and fail to act in Congress, then program recipients will be left in limbo or, worse, deported to a 'home' they never knew."

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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