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Updated: 38 min 29 sec ago

'Laudato Si" provides motivation, framework for schools' green projects

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 5:35pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy University of Dayton

By Steve Larkin

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis' encyclical "Laudato Si'," which was promulgated June 18, 2015, has provided both a motivation and a framework for Catholic universities implementing sustainability projects.

The encyclical, which has acquired a reputation as the "environmental encyclical," has made Catholic universities more aware of their connections to and impact on the natural world.

But the effects of "Laudato Si'," just like the encyclical itself, go beyond just a renewed commitment to environmental causes.

Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," which "Laudato Si'" draws on, says that "the book of nature is one and indivisible: It takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development. Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person."

Pope Francis uses these words, as well as previous pieces of Catholic social teaching, to conclude that environmental problems cannot be separated from a much broader network of problems facing human society.

This integral approach toward human problems has encouraged Catholic universities to begin to understand all their efforts as part of an interconnected whole, not merely individual programs, and some Catholic universities have risen to the challenge.

St. John's University in New York, the University of Dayton in Ohio and the University of San Diego have all received a gold STARS rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in the time between the promulgation of "Laudato Si'" and now.

The STARS program, which stands for Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, is a transparent and self-reporting framework that includes both short-term and long-term sustainability goals for all kinds of colleges and universities.

The heads of sustainability efforts at all three universities said that "Laudato Si'" played an important role in their renewed commitment to sustainability efforts.

According to Michael Catanzaro, director of sustainability at the University of San Diego, said "Laudato Si'" was "super present to our minds" when the university instituted a Climate Action plan in 2016.

The plan builds on previous progress by the university, which has cut its energy consumption by 20 percent since 2010 and used less water in 2016 than it had in any of the previous 25 years. From this starting point, the plan aims to reduce the environmental footprint of the university from a baseline of 2010 by 15 percent by 2020, 40 percent by 2030, and 50 percent by 2035.

The university is taking action beyond the larger pieces of the plan, such as reducing water use and electricity use, using more renewable sources of energy, and reducing gas use by both students and faculty commuting in and on-campus shuttles.

To Catanzaro, the smaller pieces of the plan, such as reducing food waste, are just as important. He mentioned that reducing food waste had a special resonance to him.

"The first level of defense is eliminating waste," he said, and eliminating food waste is immediately visible in a way that eliminating other kinds of waste is not.

Catanzaro told Catholic News Service he believes that "Laudato Si'" serves as "a set of lenses" with which to look at the various problems confronting the university and the world.

"The pope speaks to these embedded systems creating the problems," he said, and the encyclical, by identifying the sources of the problems, makes it easier to attack the disease and not merely the symptoms.

The emphasis on sustainability in "Laudato Si'" is a part of the pope's diagnosis of the evils of the modern world, said Catanzaro.

"A culture of consumption creates a lot of the challenges we're facing," he said. He thinks it links together several other ideas discussed in "Laudato Si'," such as the quickening pace of human life, a throwaway culture, and the subjection of politics, especially in the Third World, to technological and financial interests.

While "Laudato Si'" has provided a framework for sustainability efforts, Catanzaro is still working on integrating and seeing all the university's efforts as parts of a larger whole. Aside from wanting to be environmentally sustainable, "we aim to serve as a community anchor and shed light on inequity and environmental and social injustice," he said.

Catanzaro sees the various programs at the University of San Diego as "taking small actions that amount to something larger," and he hopes that all the small actions people take will eventually come together to produce larger change.

At the University of Dayton, "Laudato Si'" served to encourage further sustainability efforts. The school already had been working on sustainability efforts for many years and had divested from fossil fuels in 2014, but the school "took 'Laudato Si'' to heart" when generating a report in every department looking for ways to become more sustainable, according to Steve Kendig, the executive director of energy utilization and environmental sustainability.

The encyclical also reinforced the importance of the school's Catholic and Marianist values, according to Kendig. "We try to maintain the integrity of all creation because protecting the life and dignity of all is part of our mission as a Catholic institution," he said.

Kendig sees the school's efforts against food deserts in the Dayton area as an important part of the sustainability efforts. Since studies have shown that Dayton is the second-worst city in the nation for food insecurity in households with children, the university views its work in this area as an important part of supporting the Dayton community.

"There's a collective sense here on campus that we promote Marianist values," Kendig told CNS. Students in a variety of programs contribute to that promotion and the school's sustainability efforts.

For example, some students in the department of engineering management, systems and technology worked on the logistics of trucks driving to and from a food shelter, and they ended up cutting several hundred miles of driving each week. The food shelter ended up saving enough money to provide 400 additional meals every week.

The university's work in Appalachia reflects the understanding of "Laudato Si'" that care for the environment and care for the poor are intertwined.

"During move-out week we collect furniture, small appliances, and food, and take it down to Appalachia," Kendig said.

Many people in that region have a hard time getting small appliances, according to Kendig. This program both helps the university be more sustainable by reducing the amount that gets thrown away and helps it fulfill its obligations to the poor by providing for their material needs and comfort.

The Hanley Sustainability Institute, which was established in 2014 with a $12.5 million gift from the foundation of George and Amanda Hanley, helps promote the cross-disciplinary work at the school and the connections with community organizations that make much of this work possible, and Kendig said that one of the goals of the institute is to both integrate sustainability into the life of the college and make it visible, helping to create a cultural change along with the material efforts.

At St. John's University, Thomas Goldsmith, the director of environmental and energy conservation, sees the sustainability program as a part of fulfilling the obligations to future generations discussed in "Laudato Si'."

"You could substitute the word sustainability for the word future," he said. "We have to use the finite natural resources for ourselves wisely so that they be protected for future generations."

To support that goal, St. John's has taken advantage of a number of programs offered by both New York City and New York state aimed at reducing its carbon footprint.

"We've taken advantage of statewide technical assistance programs to find out what is achievable in energy efficiencies," said Goldsmith.

The university also has tried to bring about a cultural change with its food waste program, which started in 2009 and was expanded in 2012. In addition to composting food waste and using the resulting soil in gardens, the program also aimed at getting students to take less food and scrape their plates into the compost bins, and it succeeded.

The program also takes both leftover food from the cafeteria and food grown in the gardens made with the composted soil and takes it to food kitchens. Goldsmith referred to the idea embodied by this part of the food waste program as "conserve to serve," showing that the programs that protect the environment and those that aid other people are interconnected.

At all three universities, students have been receptive to sustainability efforts and, in some cases, requested even more. While progress has been made, Catanzaro wants to make sure that "Laudato Si'" continues to encourage them and that universities not become indifferent to their sustainability efforts.

"Higher education often focuses on making students comfortable," he said, "but they learn the most in discomfort."

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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.

Update: Court says requirements on pregnancy centers violate free speech

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 1:25pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 June 26 that a California law that placed requirements on crisis pregnancy centers that oppose abortion violated the First Amendment.

In its decision in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, the court found that the law changes the content of the clinic's speech "by compelling petitioners to speak a particular message," and that the law went further than being a mere "regulation of professional conduct that incidentally burdens speech."

The state law in question is the Reproductive FACT Act, which says pregnancy centers must post notices in their facilities about where low-cost abortion services are available and also must disclose if they have medical personnel on staff.

During the oral arguments March 20, some of the justices expressed concerns that the law might be about specifically targeting crisis pregnancy centers instead of providing information about abortion, and the decision mentions that, if the goal of the law were merely providing information about abortion to the public, that goal could be accomplished in more effective ways that do not require speakers to deliver unwanted speech.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, praised the ruling as "an important victory for the free speech rights of pro-life organizations."

"The Supreme Court today has affirmed that the First Amendment protects the right of all organizations to choose for themselves not only what to say, but what not to say," he said in a statement.

"This includes allowing pro-life pregnancy care centers to continue providing life-affirming support to both mother and child without being forced by governments to provide free advertising for the violent act of abortion in direct violation of the center's pro-life convictions," he said.

The USCCB and several other faith-based groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the Supreme Court supporting the pro-life pregnancy centers in the case.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, who is co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, said in a statement that "pregnancy centers want no part of a law requiring them to tell a woman where to go to kill her child. Thankfully, today the Supreme Court recognized their First Amendment right to free speech -- and to refrain from speaking."

"Crisis pregnancy centers like NIFLA serve women and children according to their religious mission, and California should respect that," said Mark Rienzi, president of Becket, which is a nonprofit religious liberty law firm. "This ruling proves that when it comes to important issues, the government doesn't get to tell people what to believe, and it also doesn't get to tell people what to say about it."

Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the opinion of the court, and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. Kennedy filed a concurring opinion which Roberts, Alito and Gorsuch joined. Justice Stephen Breyer filed a dissenting opinion and was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

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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.

Court upholds Trump's travel ban, says directive within president's scope

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 1:20pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Michael Reynolds, EPA

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a 5-4 decision June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump's travel ban on people entering the U.S. from some Muslim-majority countries, saying the president's action was within his power.

The court's much anticipated decision in the last case it heard this term reversed a series of lower court decisions that had struck down the ban as Illegal or unconstitutional.

Chief Justice John Roberts issued the opinion, supported by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. It said the president's proclamation is "squarely within the scope of presidential authority" in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

In sharply worded dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said the court's decision "fails to safeguard" this nation's fundamental principle of religious liberty and "leaves undisturbed" a policy that "now masquerades behind a facade of national-security concerns."

Immediate reaction on Twitter included Trump's message: "SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS TRUMP TRAVEL BAN. Wow!"

Catholic reaction included this tweet from the Sisters of Mercy: "This decision is disappointing and runs counter to this country's founding principles and values. Upholding this travel ban only exacerbates the scapegoating and attacks already directed against vulnerable communities, including immigrants, Muslims and people of color."

And John Gehring, director of Faith and Public Life tweeted: "Imagine a travel ban for people from countries with heavily Catholic populations. Irish Catholic immigrants were once demonized and viewed as a threat to democracy. SCOTUS ruling makes a mockery of our commitment to religious liberty."

When this case was argued before the court April 25, the majority of justices seemed to indicate they would uphold the president's ban.

The challengers to the ban -- Hawaii, several individuals and a Muslim group -- argued that Trump's policy was motivated by an antagonism toward Muslims and that it violated federal immigration law and the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on the government favoring one religion over another.

Trump has said the travel ban is necessary to protect the United States from terrorism by Islamic militants who could enter the U.S. The current version of the directive is indefinite about how long it will be in place and applies to travelers from five countries with predominantly Muslim populations: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. It also blocks travelers from non-Muslim countries: North Korea and some Venezuelan government officials and their families.

The president's first travel ban, issued right after he took office, was blocked by several U.S. courts. A few months later, a second version of the ban was similarly blocked by several lower courts but the Supreme Court voted last December to allow the policy to take effect until it heard oral arguments about it.

Catholic Church leaders expressed their objection to the travel ban in an amicus brief filed March 30 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Legal Immigration Network.

They said the ban singles out "populations of six overwhelmingly Muslim nations for sweeping immigration restrictions" that do not exist elsewhere in the world.

The brief said the president's order showed "blatant religious discrimination," which is "repugnant to the Catholic faith, core American values, and the United States Constitution." It also said the Supreme Court should relegate the order "to the dustbin of history, so it will do no further harm."

The Catholic groups said Trump's action posed a major threat to religious liberty and also failed the basic test of religious neutrality. If it stands, they said in the brief, it will prevent countless refugees from escaping persecution and starting a new life in this country with the help of church resettlement agencies.

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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.

German Catholic-Lutheran couple say some in mixed marriages feel rebuffed

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 10:32am

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy courtesy of Herbert and Ines Heinecke

By Zita Ballinger Fletcher

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the heated Communion debate continues in Germany, an interchurch couple directly affected by the Catholic Church's decisions shared their story with Catholic News Service.

Herbert and Ines Heinecke have been married since 1994. They live in a small town in northern Germany and have three daughters. Herbert Heinecke is Catholic, and Ines Heinecke is Lutheran.

"For both of us, our faith was already an important element in our lives before our marriage," the Heineckes told CNS in a written interview, submitting answers to questions as a couple. "As we got to know and love each other, we wanted also to shape this dimension of our life together."

The first step was to get to know each other's beliefs. They each learned about the core teachings of the other's denomination and formed an in-depth understanding. The Heineckes say this strengthened not only their relationship, but "deepened our individual faith, because we had to reflect on and discuss many things which are self-evident within our own denomination."

They said they formed a relationship that values both denominations. They baptized their daughters in the Catholic Church and raised them Christian. The children participated in activities in both parents' churches. All three girls were altar servers in the Catholic Church, but also sang in Protestant youth choirs.

Likewise, the husband and wife participated in their own church communities, while working actively to support each other's faith. Ines Heinecke is a member of her Protestant church council and sings in the choir. Herbert Heinecke is a member of his Catholic parish council and part of an ecumenical working group. The group organizes a monthly ecumenical service for families, in which Ines plays guitar in the Catholic church and Herbert participates in the celebration with the Protestant men's group.

The Heineckes volunteer as leaders in Network Ecumenism, a nationwide support group for couples of different denominations. They said despite the high number of interfaith couples in Germany, many encounter a lack of pastoral care from their denominations in response to their unique needs.

Many interchurch couples "have experienced rebuffs and coldheartedness from the churches, which has strained their marriage and led to estrangement from church," said the Heineckes.

Committed to living in complete unity, the Heineckes also live by their convictions with regard to receiving Communion. They go together to the Lutheran Lord's Supper and the Catholic Eucharist.

"It would be totally unimaginable to us to be separated from each other at the table of the Lord, when we share our whole life together in everything else," they said.

They said they have never encountered a pastor who has refused this to them, although some priests have been hesitant. Other interchurch couples have more difficulty.

"They sometimes experience rejection and find this very painful," the Heineckes said. "Some pairs withdraw from shared participation in order not to cause difficulties for the respective pastor."

The Heineckes' beliefs about why they should share Communion are shared by many interchurch couples in Germany.

"Even as we as a married couple share together all beautiful and difficult moments, it is self-evident to us that we should practice our faith together -- the shared participation in the Lord's Supper and the Eucharist is therefore an absolutely elementary part of this."

The Heineckes have been closely following the debate within the Catholic bishops' conference of Germany regarding the sharing of Communion and view the bishops' discord as "tragic."

In early June, Pope Francis asked the bishops not to publish nationwide guidelines for allowing Protestants married to Catholics to receive Communion at Mass, but to continue having diocesan bishops judge specific situations. The text of the German guidelines was never made public, but it was widely assumed to foresee situations in which a Lutheran married to a Catholic and regularly attending Mass with the Catholic spouse could receive the Eucharist on a regular basis.

During an inflight news conference June 21, the pope was asked about the decision. He said the guidelines went beyond what is foreseen by the Code of Canon Law "and there is the problem." The code does not provide for nationwide policies, he said, but "provides for the bishop of the diocese (to make a decision on each case), not the bishops' conference."

"This was the difficulty of the debate. Not the content," he said.

The document divided the German bishops.

"The Catholic Church in Germany has been damaged by this conflict," the Heineckes said, noting that "for many people, it is incomprehensible that the bishops are at odds" over this "instead of reacting together to the great challenges of our time."

In a published letter criticizing his fellow bishops, Bishop Gerhard Feige of Magdeburg said the original intent of the bishops' conference was to develop pastoral guidelines for individual cases, and he claimed that certain bishops portrayed it as an attempt to create a global church ruling. Citing evidence of media leaks, Bishop Feige supported his statements by exposing inconsistencies in the behavior of seven bishops who secretly contacted Rome.

"In this deepening division between Catholics; not only faith or intellectual spheres are clashing, but material interests and unsightly methods are also in play here," Bishop Feige said, noting that the "victims of all this are the affected" married couples and families.

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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.

Hundreds of calls come in at USCCB HQ seeking to foster detained kids

Mon, 06/25/2018 - 1:08pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/David Maung

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Maybe it was the request by the Pentagon for 20,000 mattresses as military bases become, at least partly, shelters for detained border crossers.

Maybe it was the federal government report that 2,342 children had been separated from 2,206 parents at the U.S.-Mexico border between May 5 and June 9.

Maybe it was the now-famous audio recording of children crying after being separated from their parents.

Or maybe it was the pictures of kids in cages.

Whatever the reason, hundreds of American adults have called the Washington headquarters of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops seeking to provide foster care for the separated children.

At first report June 20, 300 calls had come in. And the calls keep coming. "We're triaging the calls," said Katie Kuennen, associate director for children's services for the USCCB's Migration and Refugee Services office.

"We're getting flooded," Kuennen added. "It's not just Catholic Charities, but MRS-wide."

The one hitch: Most of those who have called are not licensed or certified to be foster parents. That's a process that varies from state to state, according to Kuennen. While most states can train and certify parents for foster care in two or three months, some states can take a lot longer.

Further, while many Catholic Charities USA affiliate agencies are set up to match foster families with children, not all are. MRS, Kuennen said, also partners with Bethany Christian Services in some areas of the country. Agencies wishing to add foster care to their portfolio of services can typically gain state licensing in a month or two, she added.

So what happens when the calls come in? "We're able to direct them to the nearest ORR foster care program that we have available," Kuennen told Catholic News Service June 22. ORR is the acronym for the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

"The programs aren't new, the process of bringing foster families on board isn't new," she said. "What's new is the public awareness of the program and the seeing of these images on television to get engaged and to open their homes to these families."

Even though President Donald Trump signed an executive order June 20 that essentially reversed that part of the administration's "zero tolerance" policy that separated kids from their parents, it was silent on the fate of those 2,352 kids already torn from their folks, plus whatever additional children were separated from their parents after June 9.

Moreover, a policy enacted in 1997 sets a 20-day limit for detained children to be detained alongside their parents. A Trump administration request to exceed that limit is before a federal judge in California.

"For years there has not been sufficient capacity in the ORR residential network for foster care placement," Kuennen told CNS. "Historically they (children) have been going into shelter settings."

However, "our department is currently responding to a funding opportunity announcement from ORR. I'm sure others (agencies) are as well. We are actively seeking to increase our transitional foster care and our long-term foster care," she added.

It could be coincidence that the ORR money is being freed up at this time, or it could be consequence.

"My sense is that it was initiated in May, released in May, so the timing does match up," Kuennen said, "before the family separation issue got a lot of attention after the zero tolerance (policy) was put into effect."

Although the money won't be officially freed up until the start of the new federal fiscal year Oct. 1, Kuennen said there is precedent for ORR to retroactively reimburse groups it has funded for expenses incurred if the group can show the money was spent on the specific grant plan.

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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.

Ex-Vatican diplomat found guilty of distributing child porn

Sat, 06/23/2018 - 9:37am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A Vatican court found Msgr. Carlo Alberto Capella, a former staff member at the Vatican nunciature in Washington, guilty of possessing and distributing child pornography.

Judge Giuseppe Della Torre, head of the tribunal of the Vatican City State, delivered the verdict June 23, and sentenced Msgr. Capella to five years in prison and fined him 5,000 euro ($5,833).

The Vatican press office said he would serve his sentence in a Vatican cell located in the building of the Gendarme Corps of Vatican City State, as the Vatican police force is formally known.

It is presumed to be the same cell prepared for Paolo Gabriele, the former papal butler who leaked reserved papal correspondence in 2012, and Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda, former secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, who was found guilty of leaking confidential documents about the Vatican's financial reform in 2016.

Both Gabriele and Vallejo Balda were pardoned after serving a few months of their sentences.

Msgr. Capella was accused of having and exchanging with others "a large quantity" of child pornography; the quantity is such that the charges are considered "aggravated" by the Vatican City court.

Prior to verdict, the judges presiding over the case listened to Vatican prosecutor Roberto Zanotti who recommended the court sentence the Italian prelate to five years and nine months and fine him 10,000 euro ($11,668).

Roberto Borgogno, Msgr. Capella's lawyer, pleaded with the court to give the monsignor a reduced sentence and referred to his client's crimes as "a problem" that required intense therapy and not a heavy sentence.

Before adjourning in the morning, Msgr. Capella addressed the court, saying that the "mistakes I have made are evident as well as this period of weakness. I am sorry that my weakness has hurt the church, the Holy See and my diocese. I also hurt my family and I am repentant."

Referring to his possession and distribution of child pornography as "a bump in the road in my priestly life," the former Vatican diplomat said that he wants to continue receiving "psychological support."

The Vatican press office said a decision regarding Msgr. Capella by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith would be made at a later date. The congregation's investigations of clerical sexual abuse cases is separate from how those cases are handled by criminal courts.

The U.S. State Department notified the Holy See Aug. 21 of Msgr. Capella's possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images. The 50-year-old Italian monsignor had been working in Washington just over a year when he was recalled to the Vatican.

On Sept. 28, police in Canada issued a nationwide arrest warrant for Msgr. Capella on charges of accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography.

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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.

Trial begins for ex-Vatican diplomat accused of distributing child porn

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 3:57pm

IMAGE: CNS

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A former staff member at the Vatican nunciature in Washington, accused of possessing and distributing child pornography, admitted his guilt to a Vatican court and said he had never engaged in such behavior before his assignment in the U.S. capital.

"This kind of morbidness was never a part of my priestly life," Msgr. Carlo Alberto Capella told a courtroom June 22.

Vatican City State's criminal court issued an indictment June 9 against the prelate, who has been held in a jail cell in the Vatican police barracks since April 9.

Msgr. Capella is accused of having and exchanging with others "a large quantity" of child pornography; the quantity is such that the charges are considered "aggravated" by the Vatican City court.

The U.S. State Department notified the Holy See Aug. 21 of Msgr. Capella's possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images. The 50-year-old Italian monsignor had been working in Washington just over a year when he was recalled to the Vatican.

On Sept. 28, police in Canada issued a nationwide arrest warrant for Msgr. Capella on charges of accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography.

Recounting his diplomatic career at the Vatican, the Italian prelate told the court that after several years in India, Hong Kong and the Vatican Secretariat of State, he was unhappy about his assignment to the nunciature in Washington.

He said that "out of respect to the hierarchy, out of sense of duty and to not create problems, instead of making my discomfort known to them, I thanked them for the transfer."

The monsignor told the court that he felt "empty" and "useless" in his first four months at the Washington nunciature and initially used the internet for news and funny images.

In April 2016, Msgr. Capella started using the social microblogging site Tumblr to search for images when he started to see pornographic images. He said this led to conversations on the site's chat feature to engage in lewd conversations and exchange more perverse child pornographic images.

Gianluca Gauzzi, deputy commissioner of the Vatican police and a computer engineer, later testified that 40-55 photos, videos and Japanese comics depicting adult-child relationships were found or recovered from cellphones, USB drives and hard drives belonging to Msgr. Capella.

One video uncovered from the prelate's cellphone, Gauzzi told the courtroom, depicted sexual acts between a child and an adult.

Tommaso Parisi, a psychiatrist, told the courtroom he began treating Msgr. Capella in October and that the prelate has been cooperative and responded well to treatment twice a week.

Msgr. Capella was born in Carpi, Italy, and ordained to the priesthood in 1993 for the Archdiocese of Milan. After studying at the Vatican diplomatic academy in Rome, he entered the Vatican diplomatic service in 2004. He was assigned to the Washington nunciature in the summer of 2016.

Giuseppe Dalla Torre, president of the tribunal of Vatican City State, announced that the trial will continue June 23.

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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.

Update: As immigration woes rise, lawmakers can't agree on solutions

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 11:40am

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Jason Miller, Franciscan Action Network

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Bipartisan disagreement on how to fix the country's immigration system led to failure once again as lawmakers on Capitol Hill turned down one immigration bill June 21 and postponed a vote on a second proposal, which also has a slim opportunity of passing.

Each side blamed the other for the failure to advance the first piece of legislation, which did not clear the initial hurdle of passing in the House of Representatives.

The remaining proposal, seen as a "compromise" bill, seeks to find a way to help youth brought to the country illegally as minors and a $25 million advance for a wall along the border with Mexico, a major campaign and yet-unfulfilled promise made by President Donald Trump. Though Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall, he is now asking Congress for U.S. taxpayer money for the structure.

"It's not a compromise. It may be a compromise with the devil, but it's not a compromise with the Democrats," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, of the remaining bill.

Though House Democrats voiced opposition to both bills, some Republicans, too, disagreed within their ranks.

Republican Congressman Will Hurd, of Texas, said in a statement released by his office June 21 that he opposed money for the border wall, saying it was "an expensive and ineffective fourth-century border security tool that takes private property away from hundreds of Texans." He also expressed concern about taking away something from one immigration program in exchange for helping another.

The remaining proposal seeks to do away with family-based migration, which allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor certain family members for a visa, but at the expense of providing a legal path for the youth brought into the country as minors, popularly known as "Dreamers."

As lawmakers retreated to salvage what they could and to haggle with others before the June 22 vote, a short distance away, Catholic groups joined other faith organizations in speaking out on Capitol Hill during a June 21 demonstration organized by Faith in Action against the detention of children at the border who have been separated from their parents.

Religious leaders -- including priests and women and men religious, the Franciscan Action Network, members of the Sisters of Mercy, the Columbans and others -- surrounded a group of children wrapped in aluminum insulation blankets in a building at the Capitol and called for prayer and fasting to bring an end to the misery of separated families on the border. The insulation blanket was like those handed out to children in detention centers at the border.

The Ignatian Solidarity Network also issued a press release voicing support for a statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposing both measures and asked Catholics to contact their representatives in Congress. In the June 18 letter to House members, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Migration, expressed concern with the compromise measure's cuts to family-based immigration, as well as the "harmful" changes to the asylum system and its lack of protections for unaccompanied children .

"Without such changes to these measures, we would be compelled to oppose it," he said.

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Church now facing its own #MeToo moment, says Australian archbishop

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 11:37am

IMAGE: CNS Photo/Robert Duncan

By Junno Arocho Esteves

ROME (CNS) -- In the wake of historic allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up in countries around the world, the Catholic Church is experiencing the same challenge that has brought a reckoning to those who used their authority to abuse or silence victims, said an Australian archbishop.

Allegations such as those raised against Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, represent a "major shift" within the culture of the church, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane said June 21. Abuse survivors are "willing to speak and they are believed," and the church has new processes of investigation, he added.

"It's not unrelated to the #MeToo phenomenon; there's something going on in the culture. And one of the elements of that cultural shift is that people are prepared to speak up in a way that they would never have done before," he told journalists following a four-day conference in Rome on safeguarding and child protection.

The Anglophone Safeguarding Conference, held at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University June 18-21, reflected on the theme, "Culture, an enabler or barrier to safeguarding."

Among the speakers at the conference was Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, head of the Pontifical Gregorian University's Center for Child Protection, and Bishop Gilles Cote of Daru-Kiunga, Papua New Guinea.

While local cultures can influence how the church in a particular area handles abuse cases, there are aspects of church culture that have hindered progress in addressing allegations of sexual abuse, Archbishop Coleridge told Catholic News Service June 21.

"One word that's used to describe a large and complex phenomenon within the culture is clericalism. In other words, authority geared to power and not to service," he said. "In many ways, what happened in the Catholic Church was that our strengths became our weaknesses."

An example of those strengths was that closeness that Catholic clergy and religious shared with families. However, he said, it was precisely that which, "in certain situations, gave them access to the children who were abused."

Nevertheless, Archbishop Coleridge said that just as strength can become a weakness, a weakness can also become a strength.

"I believe that the agony we are passing through this time in fact is a purification of the church that has already made us stronger. It's kind of a searing grace that we never saw coming, and we certainly wouldn't have chosen. But somehow, God is in the midst of it all, purifying the church and calling us to what we are intended be," Archbishop Coleridge told CNS.

Following the conference's conclusion, Father Zollner told journalists that allegations such as those raised against Cardinal McCarrick are signs that now "things are tightening up and that the thoroughness of the approach reaches now even the highest levels."

Cardinal McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, said June 20 that he would no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible.

"A few years ago, we probably wouldn't have so easily (seen) that headline," Father Zollner said in reference to news about Cardinal McCarrick. "The church -- step-by-step, too slow but more and more consistently -- comes up with or lives up to what the norms are."

Archbishop Coleridge agreed with Father Zollner, adding that "what's happening with Cardinal McCarrick focuses on episcopal accountability" and that while progress has been made, "we have more to do."

As president of the Australian bishops' conference, Archbishop Coleridge stressed that although collaboration with local authorities is critical in confronting abuse and cover-ups, measures that compromise religious freedom and the rights of conscience are not the answer.

Laws requiring Catholic priests to break the seal of confession in some cases passed the Australian Capital Territory's Legislative Assembly in Canberra June 7.

The proposal, he said, "is poor public policy" that will not make children safer and amounts to a "renegotiation of the relationship between church and state."

He also said that following many cases of abuse, "there is a thirst for the church's blood" as well as a "desire to punish the Catholic Church and a desire to show the Catholic Church who is in charge."

"In other words, it's almost being said implicitly. 'For a long time, you tried to tell us what to do. Now, because of what's happened, we will tell you what to do.' So, it's a kind of a public humiliation of the church but it is one that we have brought upon ourselves. So self-pity doesn't take us very far," Archbishop Coleridge said. 

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Pope: Individual bishops must decide about Communion in mixed marriages

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 6:36pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM GENEVA (CNS) -- The question of allowing Protestants married to Catholics to receive Communion at Mass in special cases has to be decided by each individual bishop and cannot be decided by a bishops' conference, Pope Francis told reporters after a one-day ecumenical journey to Geneva.

During an inflight news conference June 21, the pope was asked about his recent decision requesting the Catholic bishops' conference of Germany not publish nationwide guidelines for allowing Communion for such couples.

He said the guidelines went beyond what is foreseen by the Code of Canon law "and there is the problem." The code does not provide for nationwide policies, he said, but "provides for the bishop of the diocese (to make a decision on each case), not the bishops' conference."

"This was the difficulty of the debate. Not the content," he said.

Cardinal-designate Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had written the bishops that "the Holy Father has reached the conclusion that the document has not matured enough to be published."

Pope Francis expanded on that by saying it will have to be studied more. He said he believed what could be done is an "illustrative" type of document "so that each diocesan bishop could oversee what the Code of Canon Law permits. There was no stepping on the brakes," he said.

The bishops' conference can study the issue and offer guidelines that help each bishop handle each individual case, he said.

MORE TO COME

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Forgiveness turns evil into good, pope tells Catholics in Geneva

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 1:24pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

GENEVA (CNS) -- At the end of a day dedicated to celebrating 70 years of an ecumenical fellowship forged by the World Council of Churches, Pope Francis turned to the region's Catholics, reminding them of what lies at the heart of the faith.

The Lord's Prayer "offers us a road map for the spiritual life" by reminding people they are part of one human family, that they should live a simpler, more caring life and that forgiveness works miracles in history, he said.

"There is no greater novelty than forgiveness, which turns evil into good," he told 40,000 Catholics from Switzerland, France and other nations not far from this landlocked country, whose history was built on the values of peace and neutrality.

The pope was in Geneva June 21 "as a pilgrim in quest of unity and peace," for a one-day journey celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the World Council of Churches -- a fellowship of 350 ecclesial communities, including many Orthodox churches, who represent some 500 million Christians worldwide. The Catholic Church, which cooperates extensively with the council, is not a full member.

Celebrating Mass at the city's enormous indoor expo center, the pope pointed to the essential lessons contained in the Lord's Prayer, which Jesus teaches his disciples in the day's Gospel reading.

The pope first circled the vast indoor center in a small white electric cart, greeting the faithful and blessing babies. Former pontifical Swiss guards in traditional uniform were present, standing at attention, representing their service rendered for more than 500 years in Rome.

"Father, bread, forgiveness," Pope Francis said in his homily. These are the three words in the Lord's Prayer "that take us to the very heart of our faith."

When praying "Our Father, who art in heaven," people are reminded that God "does not group us together in little clubs, but gives us new life and makes us one large family."

This prayer says that "every human being is part of us," he said, and that "we are called to be good guardians of our family, to overcome all indifference toward" everyone. "This includes the unborn, the older person who can no longer speak, the person we find hard to forgive, the poor and the outcast."

God commands his children to love each other from the heart, he said.

When praying, "Give us this day, our daily bread," it is asking God to "help me lead a simpler life."

"Life has become so complicated," he said, with everyone acting "pumped up, rushing from dawn to dusk, between countless phone calls and texts with no time to see other people's faces, full of stress from complicated and constantly changing problems."

"We need to choose a sober lifestyle, free of unnecessary hassles," the pope said, pointing to the example of a fellow Jesuit, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, whose feast day is June 21. The 16th-century Italian saint renounced his family's wealth and desired an austere religious life to better serve others.

With so much abundance in the world, the pope said, it fills up people's lives and empties their hearts.

May people rediscover "the courage of silence and of prayer" and "let us choose people over things so that personal, not virtual relationships may flourish."

"Daily bread" also means to never forget the life-giving power of Jesus; "he is our regular diet for healthy living. Sometimes however, we treat Jesus as a side dish."

Without him every day, life is meaningless, the pope said.

Finally, the prayer calls for forgiveness, which is not easy, but it is a gift.

God forgives everything and yet, "he asks only one thing of us: that we in turn never tire of forgiving. He wants to issue a general amnesty for the sins of others."

Offer up to God those lingering dregs of resentment and bitterness that prevent complete forgiveness, the pope said.

Imagine taking an X-ray of the heart, and point to the "stones needing to be removed," the pope said. Pray to God, "You see this stone? I hand it over to you and I pray for this person, for that situation; even if I struggle to forgive, I ask you for the strength to do it."

Forgiveness renews and works miracles, he said. After receiving God's forgiveness, "each of us is born again as a new creation when we love our brothers and sisters. Only then do we bring true newness to the world."

The pope said God is pleased "when we love one another and we forgive each other from the heart."

"Let us take the first step, in prayer, in fraternal encounter, in concrete charity" and, like God, love without ever counting the cost.

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Broken world needs Christian unity, pope tells Christian leaders at WCC

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 10:28am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

GENEVA (CNS) -- Not only God, but today's broken, divided world is begging for unity among Christians, Pope Francis said on an ecumenical pilgrimage to Geneva.

"Our differences must not be excuses," he said, because as Christ's disciples, Christians can still pray together, evangelize and serve others.

On his 23rd apostolic journey abroad June 21, the pope spent several hours with Christian leaders at the headquarters of the World Council of Churches, a fellowship of 350 ecclesial communities, including many Orthodox churches. The pope came to help celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of what is the largest and broadest ecumenical fellowship in the world.

Speaking to reporters aboard the papal plane from Rome, the pope said, "This is a trip toward unity," representing the "desire for unity."

He was greeted on the tarmac by dignitaries and two children in traditional dress; two former members of the Swiss Guard stood by the red carpet in the corps' full colorful uniform, which only happens on papal trips to Switzerland. Active guard members traveling with the pope are always in plainclothes.

Accompanied by the leadership of the WCC, the pope attended an ecumenical prayer service, marked by songs from the Protestant traditions and the Catholic Church's theme song for the Jubilee of Mercy. There was a common witness of faith in reciting the Nicene Creed and representatives from the Catholic Church and other Christian communities alternated readings, including a prayer of repentance, which asked God's forgiveness for their disunity and failure to serve God and all his children.

In his speech, the pope said, "Our lack of unity" is not only contrary to God's will, it is "also a scandal to the world."

"The Lord asks us for unity; our world, torn by all-too-many divisions that affect the most vulnerable, begs for unity."

Pope Francis, the third pope to visit the WCC, said he wanted to come as "a pilgrim in quest of unity and peace." He thanked God for having found "brothers and sisters already making this same journey."

The journey requires constant conversion, he said, and a renewed way of thinking that rejects worldliness and seeks to live "in the Spirit, with one's mind bent on serving others and a heart growing in forgiveness."

"Divisions between Christians have often arisen because at their root," he said, "a worldly mindset has seeped in."

"First self-concern took priority over concern for Christ," he said, and from there, it was easy for the devil to move in, "separating us."

Following Christ entails loss, he warned, because "it does not adequately protect the interests of individual communities, often closely linked to ethnic identity or split along party lines, whether 'conservative' or 'progressive.'"

Christians must belong to the Lord above and before they identify with anything else, "right or left; to choose in the name of the Gospel, our brother and sister over ourselves," he said.

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Cardinal McCarrick's 60 years of ministry in church had global impact

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 5:51pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Vatican has told Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, that he can no longer exercise any public ministry after an allegation that he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible.

While maintaining his innocence, the cardinal said June 20 he had cooperated with church authorities' investigation of the claim and that he would obey the Vatican directive on ministry.

As people in the many places he has served -- the New York Archdiocese, the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, and finally the Archdiocese of Washington -- absorb the news about the high-profile churchman, many also will recall Cardinal McCarrick's long years of ministry in the church on the national and international levels.

Even in retirement, after decades of regularly testifying before Congress and attending White House meetings on public policy, Cardinal McCarrick kept abreast of a range of policy issues, domestic and international.

As a board member of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency, he continued to travel the world and had regular speaking engagements and other activities, in the United States and beyond.

In May 2014, he was part of a U.S. bishops' delegation that traveled to Iran to meet quietly with Iranian religious leaders. In November 2013, he toured areas in the Philippines that had been devastated, visiting residents and celebrating Mass.

Then-Archbishop McCarrick was installed to head the Archdiocese of Washington in 2001. Just three weeks later he was made a cardinal. He was the fifth archbishop of Washington and the fourth in a row to be named a cardinal.

As canon law requires of all bishops, the cardinal submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI when he turned 75 on July 7, 2005. However, the pope asked the cardinal to continue heading the archdiocese. He retired in 2006 at age 76, and now-Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl was named to succeed him.

Ordained a bishop in 1977, he was an auxiliary for the New York Archdiocese until 1981, when he was made the first bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Metuchen. In May 1986 he was named archbishop of Newark.

He was there for 14 years. During his tenure in Newark, he ordained 200 priests, more than any other U.S. diocese in that period.

In 1997, as a speaker in the Distinguished Lecture Series of the U.S. State Department's Open Forum, he called for U.S. policy at home and abroad to focus on the poor and the vulnerable.

"We believe that we are called to put the needs of the poor first in our national and global choices," he said.

In 1998, he chaired and hosted a major international conference on the ethical dimensions of international debt, co-sponsored by the Vatican and U.S. bishops, at Seton Hall University in his archdiocese. The conference is credited with having a significant impact on the U.S. and world commitment to reducing the debt of heavily indebted poor countries.

He set an example of debt forgiveness in his own archdiocese early in the jubilee year 2000 by forgiving some $10 million that parishes, schools and church agencies owed the archdiocese.

In 2001, he was named to succeed retiring Cardinal James A. Hickey in the nation's capital.

He ordained 43 men in his time in the nation's capital, including a class of 12 that was the largest in more than 30 years.

Often in the news for his leadership in international justice and peace issues, Cardinal McCarrick headed the U.S. bishops' committees on migration, international policy and aid to the church in Central and Eastern Europe.

He is a founding member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and was on the U.S. Commission for the Study of International Migration and Cooperative Economic Development.

At a White House ceremony Dec. 6, 2000, he received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights.

Born in New York July 7, 1930, Theodore Edgar McCarrick was the only child of Theodore Egan McCarrick, a sea captain, and Margaret McLaughlin McCarrick. Growing up in the Great Depression, he was 3 when his father died and his grandmother moved in to help raise him while his mother worked.

He was 22 and had studied in Europe for a year-and-a-half, learning to speak French and German, before he entered St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers, New York. He earned a master's degree in history there and was ordained a priest of the New York Archdiocese May 31, 1958.

After ordination he was assigned to The Catholic University of America in Washington. He spent seven years there, earning a master's degree in social sciences and a doctorate in sociology while serving first as an assistant chaplain and later dean of students and director of development.

From 1965 to 1969, he was president of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico.

He returned to New York in 1969 as archdiocesan associate secretary for education, and the following year he became secretary to New York's Cardinal Terence Cooke.

On June 29, 1977, he was ordained a bishop, serving as an auxiliary for the archdiocese.

He frequently traveled abroad to trouble spots, especially as chairman of the bishops' Eastern Europe and international policy committees.

Among places he had visited were Yugoslavia, Croatia, Kosovo, Albania, Lebanon, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda, East Timor, China, Vietnam, Cuba, Colombia and Mexico.

Besides English, French and German, he could handle Spanish and Italian "reasonably well" and "can understand Portuguese and a little Polish."

Cardinal McCarrick was a former member of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

He was on the board of trustees of The Catholic University of America and the boards of CRS and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

In addition to the committees he headed for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he served or had served on the bishops' Administrative Committee and their committees on doctrine, the laity, Latin America, Hispanic affairs and missions.

He was a founding member and president since 1997 of the Papal Foundation, established in the 1980s to assure the long-term solvency of the Holy See and contribute to its activities and papal charities around the world.

He was a member of the Synod for America in 1997 and served on its post-synodal council.

He spent a year from January 2011 to January 2012 as a visiting scholar at the Library of Congress, working out of an office in the library's historic Thomas Jefferson building.

During the yearlong post, Cardinal McCarrick looked at into how the Amman Message has evolved and what its effects have been on the teachings and practice of Islam. The subject fit one of his goals for retirement: to build bridges between Catholicism and Islam.

The Amman Message is a declaration recognizing the common principles of eight traditional schools of Islamic religious law.

Cardinal McCarrick's interest in Islam and involvement with relations between Christians and Muslims went back many years. In the mid-1990s, he served on the State Department's Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad and was one of the first members of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom when it was created in 1999.

He also was chairman of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land and continued to be involved in a variety of Holy Land and Middle East peace organizations and dialogues.

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Trump signs executive order stopping family separation policy

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 5:28pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Leah Millis, Reuters

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- President Donald Trump signed an executive order June 20 that halts his administration's family separation policy for families who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

The executive order seeks to work around a 1997 consent decree that bars the federal government from keeping children in immigration detention -- even if they are with their parents -- for more than 20 days. The executive order instructs the attorney general to seek federal court permission to modify the consent decree.

The crisis was spawned when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a "zero tolerance" policy for border crossers. Under the policy, adults would be charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor for crossing the border. Under federal statute, those charged with felonies cannot have their children detained with them.

The government earlier in June said 1,995 minors had been separated from 1,940 adults who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, although some minors had crossed without their parents or adult kin.

The policy and its upshot stirred some of the most hostile reaction yet of any Trump initiative.

Hours before the executive order was signed, Pope Francis said he stood with the U.S. bishops, who had condemned the family separation policy, which has led to children being held in government shelters while their parents are sent to federal prisons.

Mexico's bishops likewise decried the policy. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was heckled June 19 while she dined at a Mexican restaurant in the Washington area.

Every living former first lady and the current first lady, Melania Trump -- herself an immigrant from Slovenia -- expressed their sorrow, or a stronger emotion, at the sight of children being separated from their parents.

"My wife feels strongly about it. I feel strongly about it. I think anybody with a heart would feel strongly about it," Trump said during the June 20 signing ceremony in the Oval Office, with Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence flanking him.

"I don't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated," Trump added. "This will solve that problem and at the same time we are keeping a very strong border."

Even so, the executive order is not necessarily a panacea. It allows the Department of Homeland Security to detain families together "under present resource constraints." The "temporary detention policy" also is only in effect "to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations."

Pence criticized those who make a "false choice" between being "a nation of laws" and showing compassion.

"We expect the House to act this week. We expect them to do their job," Nielsen said. The House is considering two immigration bills, although neither dealt in particular with the family separation policy.

"You will have a lot of happy people," Trump said as he signed the executive order. "What we have done today is we are keeping families together."

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Uptick in abuse claims likely after high-profile case brought to light

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 5:02pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- An increase in calls to dioceses to report claims of clergy sexual abuse has happened before, and is likely to happen again in the wake of the credible claim lodged against Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, according to the head of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection.

Those claims and inquiries, though, won't solely be about Cardinal McCarrick, said Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the secretariat.

Deacon Nojadera said the most noticeable such example was following the Boston Globe's "Spotlight" series examining clergy sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston in early 2002. Another such example he gave was the release of the movie "Spotlight," based on the newspaper's reportage. In the film's case, though, he added, abuse reports "weren't just about clergy sex abuse, but all kinds of abuse."

Much of this results, he said, "because there's this invitation (by dioceses) to survivors to please come forward."

When they do, diocesan victim assistance coordinators realize "you only have one shot" to engage with someone reporting abuse, Deacon Nojadera said.

Deacon Nojadera, in a June 20 interview with Catholic News Service, outlined the difference between "credible" and "substantiated" claims of abuse. Both terms were used in the Archdiocese of New York's report of the complaint against Cardinal McCarrick in the 1971 incident.

"Credible" means "it could have happened," Deacon Nojadera said. "There's truth to this."

"Substantiated," though, means "there's evidence to back this up," he added. That evidence is born out in a police investigation of the incident, a practice followed by the New York Archdiocese in the complaint against Cardinal McCarrick. "There's something that points to (the fact) that this, indeed, did happen."

In his June 20 statement accepting the Vatican's directive he cease any public ministry, Cardinal McCarrick said he did not recall the incident and "believe(s) in my innocence."

The incident was 47 years ago. Given all of the reports of abuse that have been filed since 2002 when the scandal in Boston was exposed, it may seem hard to believe that there are those who still had not reported abuse.

"We've had people report abuse from the Thirties," Deacon Nojadera told CNS. Each person who was victimized by abuse gets ready to discuss it at their own time, he added, although for some "that will be a secret they keep with them and go with them to the grave."

Fear, embarrassment and shame factor into the unwillingness to report abuse. Some victims live "in a small diocese, a small town, where everybody knows everybody," he said, and are wary of reporting abuse given those circumstances.

Those who do come forward, however, will be treated "with the utmost respect" by those they contact at the diocese, the deacon said. Should there be an influx, most dioceses have forged partnerships with hospitals, mental health professionals and the Catholic Charities agencies in their dioceses to provide services a victim needs.

Just as the diocesan net has widened to offer assistance to victims, the number and kinds of people showing an interest in preventing abuse and rendering aid also has expanded. What used to be known as a "safe environment leader-victim assistance leader" conference has since been rechristened the "Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference," with one held recently in New Orleans, attracting bishops and vicar generals.

"It's not just one or two people in a diocese, not just one or two people in a parish" who are addressing abuse, Deacon Nojadera said.

Now, with one of the highest-ranking U.S. church officials having been credibly accused of abuse, will the reporting of abuse stop anytime soon?

"I get asked this at conferences," Deacon Nojadera said. "and I tell them it will stop with the Second Coming."

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New York Archdiocese posts timeline on cardinal's ministry, abuse claim

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 4:44pm

By

NEW YORK (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of New York has posted an FAQ providing a timeline of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick's ministry in the church, information on how the archdiocese learned of an abuse allegation against the prelate now deemed credible and the church's procedure for addressing abuse claims.

Early June 20, Cardinal McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, said in a statement he will no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation that he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible. "While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence," the prelate said, he said he cooperated with the investigation into the claim.

Here is the FAQ posted at https://archny.org/tm-faq:

Q: When did Cardinal McCarrick serve in the Archdiocese of New York?

A: He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New York on May 1, 1958, and he remained a priest of the archdiocese until his appointment as the bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1981. While a priest of the archdiocese, his assignments included: serving as assistant chaplain, dean and director of development at The Catholic University of America in Washington (1958-1965); president of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico (1965-1969); associate secretary for education for the archdiocese and parochial vicar of Blessed Sacrament Parish, Manhattan (1969-1971); secretary to Cardinal Terence J. Cooke (1971-1977); auxiliary bishop (1977-1981).

Q: How did the Archdiocese of New York learn of this allegation?

A: The allegation came to us through the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP), which was established by the Archdiocese of New York two years ago as part of its ongoing effort to renew its contrition to those who suffered sexual abuse as a minor by a priest or deacon of the archdiocese and bring a sense of healing, resolution and compensation to victim-survivors. The program is administered by Kenneth Feinberg and his associate, Camille Biros.

Q: How did the Archdiocese of New York respond to the allegation?

A: The first step was to notify the district attorney. Then, because this allegation involved a cardinal, the archdiocese contacted the Holy See, which has exclusive authority in the oversight of a cardinal. The Holy See delegated New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, as the archbishop of the diocese where the alleged abuse occurred, to investigate the matter, following the requirements of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" and the policies of the Archdiocese of New York. This includes reporting the matter to law enforcement, and having the entire matter examined by outside professional investigators and the Archdiocesan Review Board, which found the allegation to be credible and substantiated.

Q: Can you provide details of the allegation?

A: Out of respect for the privacy of the victim, we will not release specific details about the allegation. Of course, there is no prohibition or restriction on the victim, who can choose to speak about any aspect of the case, including the allegation and how the case was handled by the IRCP, the Review Board, and the archdiocese.

Q: What happens now to Cardinal McCarrick?

A: As with all cases of substantiated abuse by a priest or deacon, the matter is now in the hands of the Holy See, which has final authority to determine what "punishment" to impose. This could range from living a life of prayer and penance, to a dismissal from the clerical state. Cardinal McCarrick has already been directed by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, that he is no longer to publicly exercise his priestly ministry.

Q: Where is Cardinal McCarrick now?

A: Cardinal McCarrick is the retired archbishop of Washington and continues to reside with them. He is 87 years old and in frail health. (He turns 88 July 7.)

Q: Isn't this all just another black eye for the Catholic Church?

A: This news will certainly be shocking and painful, especially to Catholics, and will cause many to wonder if this tragedy of abuse will ever end. At the same time, however, it should be noted that, fortunately, the policies and procedures put into place by the church are working. Although this case involves activity from nearly a half-century ago, the allegation was taken seriously, the matter was thoroughly and carefully investigated, and the decision is being publicly announced. No one, not even a cardinal, is above the law or our strict policies. The church can never be complacent, and must always do all that it can to prevent abuse, and respond with compassion, sensitivity and respect to victim-survivors who come forward. In this, it can be a model for others who are looking to respond to this sin and crime that affects all segments of society.

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DiNardo: All clergy, no matter their 'standing,' must protect children

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 1:40pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said June 20 that the all clergy in the Catholic Church "have made a solemn promise to protect children and young people from all harm."

"This sacred charge applies to all who minister in the church, no matter the person's high standing or long service," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.

He made the comments in a statement issued in response to the announcement that Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, will no longer exercise any public ministry after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible.

"This morning was a painful reminder of how only through continued vigilance can we keep that promise" of protecting children and young people, Cardinal DiNardo said, without mentioning Cardinal McCarrick by name. "My prayers are with all who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse. May they find healing in Christ's abundant love."

He said the U.S. bishops' "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," first approved in 2002, "outlines a process for addressing allegations, holding us accountable to our commitment to protect and heal."

He expressed gratitude to New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, "who has carried forward with clarity, compassion for the victims, and a genuine sense of justice. With him, I express my deep sadness, and on behalf of the church, I apologize to all who have been harmed by one of her ministers."

Cardinal McCarrick, who turns 88 July 7, was ordained a priest of the New York Archdiocese May 31, 1958. He was named auxiliary bishop of New York in 1977. He was appointed the first bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1981 and was named archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, in 1986. He was installed as archbishop of Washington in 2001. He was made a cardinal in Feb. 21, 2001, and retired as head of the Washington Archdiocese May 16, 2006.

In his statement, Cardinal McCarrick said that Cardinal Dolan had informed him "some months ago" of the abuse allegation.

"While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence, I considered it essential that the charges be reported to the police, thoroughly investigated by an independent agency and given to the Review Board of the Archdiocese of New York," Cardinal McCarrick said. "I fully cooperated in the process."

He will no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican, he said.

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Abuse allegation against Cardinal McCarrick found credible

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 10:07am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, said he will no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager almost 50 years ago has been found credible.

"While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence, I considered it essential that the charges be reported to the police, thoroughly investigated by an independent agency and given to the Review board of the Archdiocese of New York," the cardinal said in a statement June 20. "I fully cooperated in the process."

Cardinal McCarrick said that "some months ago" he was informed of the allegation by New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan.

"My sadness was deepened when I was informed that the allegations had been determined credible and substantiated," Cardinal McCarrick said.

The cardinal, who turns 88 July 7, was ordained a priest of the New York Archdiocese May 31, 1958. He was named auxiliary bishop of New York in 1977. He was appointed the first bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1981 and was named archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, in 1986. He was installed as archbishop of Washington in 2001. He was made a cardinal in Feb. 21, 2001, and retired as head of the Washington Archdiocese May 16, 2006.

MORE TO COME

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Pope supports U.S. bishops' criticism of 'immoral' immigration policy

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 9:03am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Adrees Latif, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis said he stands with the U.S. bishops who recently condemned the Trump administration's policy on immigration that has led to children being held in government shelters while their parents are sent to federal prisons.

"I am on the side of the bishops' conference," Pope Francis said in an interview with the Reuters news agency, published online June 20. "Let it be clear that in these things, I respect (the position of) the bishops' conference."

On the first day of their June 13-14 spring assembly in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, read a statement on behalf of the bishops denouncing the government's zero-tolerance policy.

"Families are the foundational element of our society, and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral," the statement said.

The political rise of populist movements in both the United States and in Europe has led to a severe crackdown on men, women and children trying to escape war, violence, poverty and persecution.

In Italy, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini banned the NGO rescue ship Aquarius, with more than 600 migrants aboard, to dock and has vowed to stop any foreign boats carrying rescued migrants into the country.

Pope Francis said the current wave of populist rhetoric against migrants was "creating psychosis" and that people seeking a better life should not be rejected.

Europe, he added, is facing a "great demographic winter" and, without immigration, the continent "will become empty."

"Some governments are working on it, and people have to be settled in the best possible way, but creating psychosis is not the cure," he said. "Populism does not resolve things. What resolves things is acceptance, study, prudence."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Bishops 'cannot, in good faith, endorse' new GOP immigration bill

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 4:23pm

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops "cannot, in good faith, endorse" an immigration bill submitted by the House's Republican leadership, said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Migration.

Bishop Vasquez said the bill would bring about "large structural changes to the immigration system that detrimentally impact families and the vulnerable." He said the new bill, still without a name or number, "contains several provisions that run contrary to our Catholic social teaching."

He made the comments in a letter dated June 18 and sent to each member of the House. It was posted June 19 on the U.S. bishops' website justiceforimmigrants.org.

Bishop Vasquez said this unnamed bill would "undermine asylum protections by significantly raising the hurdle applicants face during the 'credible fear' review, lead to increases in child and family detention ' eliminate protection for unaccompanied minors through the proposed changes to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, includes part of the DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals)-eligible population but does not include same population eligible in the USA Act and the DREAM Act, make sweeping cuts to family-based immigration and unilaterally implement a safe third country agreement without a bilateral or multilateral treaty or agreement."

Nor would the bill "end the practice of separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border, he added. "Instead, this bill would increase the number of children and families in detention, which is not acceptable." Bishop Vasquez reminded House members the Trump administration can end its family separation policy, without the need for legislation, at its own discretion.

Bishop Vasquez added, "We believe that any such legislation must be bipartisan, provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship, be pro-family, protect the vulnerable and be respectful of human dignity with regard to border security and enforcement."

The Uniting and Securing America Act (USA) Act, which he referenced in the letter, would protect Dreamers and strengthens border security. The DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which he also mentioned, primarily would offer a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other Dreamers.

In the letter, Bishop Vasquez reminded House members the Trump administration can end its family separation policy without the need for legislation through its own discretion, and that an immigration bill could secure the U.S. border and ensure humane treatment to immigrant families through alternative policies.

Given the newness of the bill, "we ask for timely consideration of our concerns," Bishop Vasquez said, "particularly the cuts to family-based immigration, as well as the harmful changes to the asylum system and existing protections for unaccompanied children. Without such changes to these measures, we would be compelled to oppose it."

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, has pledged to bring both the new bill and H.R. 4760, the Securing America's Future Act, to the House floor for votes. Bishop Vasquez, in January, wrote to the House opposing H.R. 4760. In the June 18 letter, he said, "we respectfully urge you to reject" it.

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Editor's Note: The full text of the letter can be found at https://bit.ly/2I3gDFf.

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

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