You are here

Feed aggregator

DiNardo: Church must address its leaders' 'moral failures of judgment'

Top Stories - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 2:20pm

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick "will rightly face" a Vatican canonical process regarding sexual abuse allegations against him, but the U.S. Catholic Church must take steps to respond to church leaders' "moral failures of judgment," said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The accusations against Archbishop McCarrick, a former cardinal and retired archbishop of Washington, "reveal a grievous moral failure within the church," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.

"They cause bishops anger, sadness, and shame; I know they do in me," he said in an Aug. 1 statement. "They compel bishops to ask, as I do, what more could have been done to protect the people of God. Both the abuses themselves, and the fact that they have remained undisclosed for decades, have caused great harm to people's lives and represent grave moral failures of judgment on the part of church leaders."

To determine a course of action for the USCCB to take, Cardinal DiNardo said he convened the bishops' Executive Committee.

"This meeting was the first of many among bishops that will extend into our Administrative Committee meeting in September and our general assembly in November," he explained. "All of these discussions will be oriented toward discerning the right course of action for the USCCB."

Such work will "take some time," but he laid out four points to be acted upon immediately:

-- He encouraged each bishop in their diocese "to respond with compassion and justice to anyone who has been sexually abused or harassed by anyone in the church. We should do whatever we can to accompany them."

-- He urged anyone who has experienced sexual assault or harassment by anyone in the church to come forward. "Where the incident may rise to the level of a crime, please also contact local law enforcement."

-- The USCCB "will pursue the many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick's conduct to the full extent of its authority; and where that authority finds its limits, the conference will advocate with those who do have the authority. One way or the other, we are determined to find the truth in this matter."

-- "Finally, we bishops recognize that a spiritual conversion is needed as we seek to restore the right relationship among us and with the Lord. Our church is suffering from a crisis of sexual morality. The way forward must involve learning from past sins."

Cardinal DiNardo said the failures of judgment by church leaders in the case of Archbishop McCarrick "raise serious questions."

"Why weren't these allegations of sins against chastity and human dignity disclosed when they were first brought to church officials?" he asked. "Why wasn't this egregious situation addressed decades sooner and with justice? What must our seminaries do to protect the freedom to discern a priestly vocation without being subject to misuse of power?"

In conclusion, he asked all to "pray for God's wisdom and strength for renewal as we follow St. Paul's instruction: 'Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.'"

On July 28, Pope Francis accepted the resignation from the College of Cardinals of then-Cardinal McCarrick and ordered him to maintain "a life of prayer and penance" until a canonical trial examines accusations that he sexually abused minors.

In late June, the 88-year-old prelate said he would no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago in the Archdiocese of New York was found credible. The cardinal has said he is innocent.

In the weeks that followed the announcement, another man came forward claiming he was abused as a child by Archbishop McCarrick, and several former seminarians have spoken out about being sexually harassed by the cardinal at a beach house he had. In other developments, two New Jersey dioceses where he served in the 1980s and 1990s said settlements had been reached some years before in a couple of cases of abuse claims made against him.

He was the founding bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1981, then headed the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, before being named to Washington in 2001.

- - -

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.

U.S. altar servers bring tradition, heritage to Rome

Top Stories - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 11:55am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Junno Arocho Esteves

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Among the thousands of young altar servers braving the sweltering Rome heat, a group from the United States sat patiently in the shade of the colonnade in St. Peter's Square waiting to take their seats.

"Rome is really cool, but it's really hot," Francis Tran, an 11-year-old altar server from the United States, told Catholic News Service July 31.

Tran was among the 85 boys, girls, young adults and parents who traveled from Mary, Queen of Vietnam parish in New Orleans for an international pilgrimage of altar servers with Pope Francis.

The annual gathering, which began as a meeting of German altar servers with the pope, has expanded worldwide and brought an estimated 60,000 young men and women from 19 countries to the Vatican.

Tran told CNS that he likes being an altar server "because you get to be close to God, and it's a good feeling."

But like many of his peers, he is also excited about seeing the pope for the first time. "I like that he's religious and that he has my name!" Tran said.

The idea of bringing the first U.S. group to the pilgrimage came when a couple presented it to Deacon Vinh Tran over a year ago.

"The parents were excited. And after talking to the kids, they were even more excited about going to Rome. So, we started fundraising as much as we could for the kids to be here," he told CNS.

As a former altar server himself, Deacon Tran said it was important for the new generation of altar servers to see that serving God is no small task. He also said the international meeting was an opportunity for them to interact with altar servers from around the world and learn more about their faith.

"Now as a deacon, I am still serving at the altar, serving God," the deacon said. "The kids told me that by being altar servers, the closer they are to the altar, the closer they feel to God. It makes them feel happier."

The group also prepared a liturgical dance performance for the event and several were chosen to carry the U.S. flag, read a Scripture passage and present a gift to the pope.

Honoring their Vietnamese heritage, the group was to perform a traditional fan-and-flower liturgical dance accompanied by a song titled, "The Greatest Love," a Vietnamese hymn inspired by the Gospel of St. John.

The song and liturgical dance, Deacon Tran explained, also are a tribute to the 117 Vietnamese martyrs who died for their faith in the 18th and 19th centuries and were canonized by St. John Paul II in 1988.

To give one's life is "the greatest love a person can give to somebody. This implies Jesus Christ who died for us. So, our ancestors died for their faith, they died for that greatest love," Deacon Tran said.

Gabrielle Nguyen, a 14-year-old altar server who is among the liturgical dance performers, told CNS that despite her joy, the chance to perform in front of the pope and thousands of young men and women is "very nerve-wracking."

"Back at home our parish is very small, so we're used to performing in front of 400 people," she said. "But going from 400 to over 50,000, it puts a lot of pressure."

Nevertheless, Nguyen said the international meeting meant a lot to her to and her fellow altar servers who "don't often have this opportunity to just come out to Rome and be here and experience the city."

"It's just a really special gathering of people who share the same passion. We love serving for the Lord. We've met many people and we've made many friends," Nguyen told CNS.  

"I hope to live this experience and deepen my faith in God. That's really it," she said.

- - -

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

- - -

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.

Bishop asks for prayers for peace, justice on Charlottesville anniversary

Top Stories - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 6:30pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Joshua Roberts, Reuters

By Brian T. Olszewski

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- As the first anniversary of violence stemming from protests and counter-protests regarding the removal of Confederate monuments from Charlottesville approached, Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Richmond asked people to pray for justice, peace and an end to racism on the Aug. 12 anniversary.

"As the anniversary will draw much national and local attention, I am concerned it will be approached with provocative rhetoric rather than provide an opportunity for prayer and dialogue about racism, and the action needed to overcome it," the bishop wrote in his "Christ Our Hope" column in the July 30 issue of The Catholic Virginian, publication of the Richmond Diocese, in which Charlottesville is located.

Noting that racism is a sin, Bishop Knestout wrote, "The church cannot be silent about racism. Prayer -- individually and as a faith community -- is a start in our addressing racism. It cannot be an occasional act; we should pray about it in our daily lives and in faith community gatherings."

He invited Catholics to pray via teleconference the "Rosary for Racial Justice and Reconciliation," which has been hosted every first Friday over the past year by the Diocese of Richmond's Office for Black Catholics and Office of Social Ministries.

"As we speak and listen, we need to examine our individual and collective consciences about this sin," Bishop Knestout wrote. "Our prayer, dialogue and examination of conscience should lead to action -- individual and community action based upon Scripture, our commitment to social justice, and the dignity of the human person."

Once Catholics admit racism is a sin, the bishop noted, they have another obligation.

"Catholics are obliged to seek reconciliation with God and with the victims of racism," he wrote. "Our commitment to reconciliation involves a willingness to improve; it involves action."

Bishop Knestout said prayers could not be limited to Aug. 12.

"Do not confine your prayer to one day. Commit to praying, listening, learning, thinking and working for peace, justice and an end to racism," he wrote. "Our faith calls us to be witnesses of the Gospel. Be that witness in working to eliminate racism within our culture."

- - -

Olszewski is the editor of The Catholic Virginian, newspaper of the Diocese of Richmond.

- - -

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.

From the pulpit, priests address allegations against Archbishop McCarrick

Top Stories - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 4:56pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- For his homilies on the weekend of July 21-22, Father Edward Looney, administrator of two rural Wisconsin parishes, planned to preach about ways to include God on summer vacation.

His rough outline was scribbled on Post-it notes.

But during the Saturday evening Mass when he heard the opening lines of the first reading from Jeremiah, the priest switched gears, deciding he had to say something about sexual abuse allegations against now former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington.

"Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the flock of my pasture," the passage from Jeremiah 23 begins.

It goes on to deliver harsh words for shepherds who have not cared for their sheep and says they will be punished for their evil deeds.

The message was not lost on Father Looney, who was ordained in 2015 and is frequently a guest on EWTN Radio's "Morning Glory" program.

"I thought about it and when I got to the ambo I knew it was a game-time decision" for a new homily, he told Catholic News Service.

So, for the 4 p.m. Mass July 21 at St. Peter and St. Hubert Parish in Rosiere, Wisconsin, and subsequent Masses there and at St. Francis and St. Mary Catholic Church about 10 minutes away in Brussels, the priest linked the Old Testament passage with the current situation in the church.

He urged parishioners to pray for all affected by recent abuse allegations, for anyone who had been abused and also for the "perpetrator" to come to a point of repentance, admitting guilt and asking forgiveness of God and others.

He said the issue is close to home because a priest had been found guilty of sexual abuse years ago in a neighboring town.

Father Looney put his homily on social media, as he often does, and one person who responded thanked him, saying he had been an abuse victim and hadn't lost faith in the church, which he still prayed for, but had lost faith in priests.

About 700 miles away, the same reading that inspired Father Looney also moved inspired Father Alek Schrenk's homily in Butler, Pennsylvania. Father Schrenk, parochial vicar of three small parishes -- St. Michael, St. Paul and St. Peter -- said that in light of the first reading he didn't see how he couldn't address the abuse allegations, noting that he was still struggling to deal with it "just as much as anyone."

The priest, who was ordained just last year and will get a new assignment in the fall with the reorganization of parishes in the Pittsburgh Diocese, said he felt the need to speak out about "abuse of power in the church," especially since it is on many people's minds locally with the upcoming release of the grand jury report on an investigation of clergy sexual abuse claims, many decades old, in the Pittsburgh Diocese and five other Pennsylvania dioceses.

He also said he thought parishioners needed to hear a priest speak about this situation honestly and "give them a lens to look at it through faith."

After Mass, the feedback was uniformly positive, he said, and a lot of people told him it took a lot of courage.

It was a homily he had prepared, writing it out to be sure he had the phrasing correct because he didn't want to turn his parishioners against church leaders, he said. But when he read it at the first Mass, he felt emotional, with what he described as righteous anger.

"I felt betrayed as a priest," he told CNS.

One parishioner told him he was glad he hadn't pushed the issue under the rug. Another person, visiting from the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania, said he came from a parish where his pastor had been removed because of abuse and asked for a copy of the homily to so he could send it to his family.

Father Schrenk said the situation is discouraging but he said it also can make people realize "we can do something to repair the damage. We can take what's so good about the church and salvage that and highlight that."

The priest, who was in seventh grade when the church abuse crisis was headline news, said it "has become more obvious that the road to healing is longer than we thought" and requires "a systemic overhaul."

In the Washington Archdiocese, which Archbishop McCarrick led from 2001 until his retirement in 2006, some priests mentioned the abuse allegations that first weekend after they were made public June 20. Others spoke about it the weekend of July 28-29 after the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had accepted Cardinal McCarrick's resignation from College of Cardinals and ordered him to maintain "a life of prayer and penance" until his canonical trial.

Conventual Franciscan Father Matt Foley, a weekend presider at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Gaithersburg, Maryland, said in his July 29 homily that it had been a "rough couple of weeks" for Catholics and said the response to the current news should be to "redouble our faithfulness" and remember "we are not alone in our life of faith."

Deacon Greg Kandra, of Brooklyn, New York, and author of "The Deacon's Bench" blog, also felt compelled to speak about Archbishop McCarrick in a homily, even though he was not scheduled to preach the July 28-29 weekend.

He published the homily he would have given on his blog, which was shared thousands of times and posted on the Facebook page of one parish.

In his reflection, he referred to the first official observance of the feast of Blessed Stanley Rother, a priest from Oklahoma who served as a missionary in Guatemala during its civil war when priests and religious were often targeted. The priest, who was attacked and killed in the rectory in 1981, had told his family he couldn't leave because "a shepherd doesn't run at the first sign of danger."

Deacon Kandra said those words are good to remember, especially now, "because the headlines the last few weeks have made something all too clear: Too many of our shepherds ran. They looked the other way. They enabled sin."

"Many people have written to me, outraged, the deacon said. "They are angry. They feel betrayed. But there is something else they feel. Like the thousands of people in the Gospel we just heard, they feel hunger. They are hungry for justice. Hungry for accountability."

He noted that we live in "treacherous, traitorous times" and that "things may get worse before they get better. But they will get better. They will."

The deacon urged readers not to despair and outlined the many reasons why he remains Catholic, ending with: "I am Catholic. Despite everything. Because of everything. I am Catholic. This is my faith."

- - -

Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.

- - -

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: Archbishop convicted of failure to report abuse resigns

Top Stories - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 11:17am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Darren Pateman, AAP via Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Archbishop Philip Wilson, who had been found guilty by an Australian court of failing to inform police about child sexual abuse allegations.

The Vatican made the announcement July 30.

Archbishop Wilson of Adelaide was sentenced to 12 months of house arrest by the Newcastle Lower Court July 3 with another hearing set for Aug. 14 to assess the location of his home detention.

The archbishop was convicted in May for failing to report allegations of child sexual abuse by a priest in the 1970s. He stepped aside from his duties in the Adelaide Archdiocese May 25 but at the time maintained his title as archbishop.

Archbishop Wilson had resisted calls to resign and had said July 4 he would do so only if an appeal of his conviction had failed.

However, "there is just too much pain and distress being caused by my maintaining the office of archbishop of Adelaide, especially to the victims of Father (James) Fletcher," Archbishop Wilson said in a statement released July 30.

"I must end this and therefore have decided that my resignation is the only appropriate step to take in the circumstances," he said.

Archbishop Wilson said the pope did not ask him to resign, but he submitted his request to the pope July 20 "because I have become increasingly worried at the growing level of hurt that my recent conviction has caused within the community."

The archbishop said he hoped and prayed his decision would be a "catalyst to heal pain and distress" and allow everyone in the archdiocese, including victims of Father Fletcher, to, according to the archdiocese's statement, "move beyond this very difficult time."

The Newcastle court found that, in 1976, then-Father Wilson had been told by a 15-year-old boy that he had been indecently assaulted by a priest, but that Father Wilson chose not to go to the authorities despite believing the allegations were true. Father Fletcher, the abusive priest, was convicted in 2004 of nine counts of child sexual abuse and died in 2016 while in prison.

Archbishop Wilson, who had led the Archdiocese of Adelaide since 2001, is the highest-ranking church official to be convicted of covering up abuse charges. He recently was diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer's disease, and throughout the magistrate's hearing he testified that he had no memory of the conversation with the 15-year-old.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, said that "while the judicial process will continue, Archbishop Wilson's resignation is the next chapter in a heartbreaking story of people who were sexually abused at the hands of Jim Fletcher and whose lives were forever changed."

"This decision may bring some comfort to them, despite the ongoing pain they bear," he said in a written statement released July 30.

"Archbishop Wilson has been praised by many for his work to support victims and survivors of child sexual abuse as bishop of Wollongong, archbishop of Adelaide and president of the bishops' conference," Archbishop Coleridge wrote.

However, he said, Archbishop Wilson has decided "that his conviction means he can no longer continue as archbishop because to do so would continue to cause pain and distress to many, especially to survivors, and also in the Archdiocese of Adelaide."

Meanwhile, the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference announced July 26 it would hold a special meeting Aug. 2-3 in Melbourne to expedite the Catholic Church's formal response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Archbishop Coleridge said in a statement that they had received additional advice from the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, the Implementation Advisory Group, Catholic Professional Standards Limited, local safeguarding experts and canon lawyers that would better inform the bishops' response.

"We have also begun discussions with the Holy See about issues that concern the discipline and doctrine of the universal church," he wrote.

The archbishop said he hoped the bishops' formal response to the Royal Commission would be released as soon as possible after the early August meeting.

The commission released its report in December 2017 after five years of hearings, nearly 26,000 emails and more than 42,000 phone calls from concerned Australians. The report made 20 recommendations to the Catholic Church, including asking the bishops' conference to work with the Holy See to change the Code of Canon Law "to create a new canon or series of canons specifically relating to child sexual abuse."

Another recommendation was for the Australian bishops to work with the Holy See to determine if the absolute secrecy concerning matters discussed during confession also applies to a child confessing he or she has been abused sexually. The report also said the church should consider if "absolution can and should be withheld" if a person confesses to perpetrating child sexual abuse.

The commission called for improved screening of and formation for members of religious orders and asked the bishops' conference to "conduct a national review of the governance and management structures of dioceses and parishes, including in relation to issues of transparency, accountability, consultation and the participation of lay men and women."

- - -

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 accepts Cardinal McCarrick's resignation as cardinal

Top Stories - Sat, 07/28/2018 - 7:39am

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation from the College of Cardinals of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, and has ordered him to maintain "a life of prayer and penance" until a canonical trial examines accusations that he sexually abused minors.

The announcement came first from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a few minutes later from the Vatican press office.

The press office said July 28 that the previous evening Pope Francis had received Cardinal McCarrick's letter of "resignation as a member of the College of Cardinals."

"Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the cardinalate and has ordered his suspension from the exercise of any public ministry, together with the obligation to remain in a house yet to be indicated to him, for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial," the Vatican statement said.

In late June, Cardinal McCarrick, the 88-year-old retired archbishop of Washington, said he would no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago in the Archdiocese of New York was found credible. The cardinal has said he is innocent.

In the weeks that followed the announcement, another man came forward claiming he was abused as a child by Cardinal McCarrick and several former seminarians have spoken out about being sexually harassed by the cardinal at a beach house he had.

Although unusual, withdrawal from the College of Cardinals in such circumstances is not unheard of. Just 10 days before then-Pope Benedict XVI retired in 2013, Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien announced he would not participate in the conclave to elect Pope Benedict XVI's successor because he did not want media attention focused on him instead of the election of a new pope.

Pope Benedict XVI had accepted the cardinal's resignation as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh after reports that three priests and a former priest had accused the cardinal of "inappropriate conduct" with them going back to the 1980s.

One week after the conclave that elected Pope Francis, the Vatican announced the new pope accepted Cardinal O'Brien's decision to renounce all "duties and privileges" associated with being a cardinal. He died March 19.

- - -

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

In the reunification scramble, church groups raced to help families

Top Stories - Fri, 07/27/2018 - 5:45pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Mike Blake, Reuters

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In public and behind the scenes of a court order that immigrant families separated by the U.S. government be reunited by the end of July 26, the Catholic Church, from its leadership to its charitable and advocacy organizations, worked around the clock to speed up the effort, while also calling for a stop to the policy that led to the ordeal.

Catholic humanitarian organizations rushed to collect material help, bishops loudly denounced the separation policy, and groups such as Catholic Extension established a fund to shelter, feed and defend some of the separated immigrant families.

By the end of deadline day, when the more than 2,500 children separated were supposed to have been reunited with family members, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said 1,442 of them had found their way to a loved one and said the rest did not have an "eligible" family member to go to. The number of families the government reported reuniting by the following morning increased to 1,800 by some counts, but many say it's too early to paint a clear picture of who's been reunited.

Away from Washington, where the crisis began with a "zero tolerance" memo implemented in April, at places dealing head-on with the crisis it created -- such as Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in McAllen, Texas -- staff and volunteers were still seeing affected families trickle in on July 27, said Ashley Feasley, director of policy for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Migration and Refugee Services. The Texas facility served as a safe physical space for families to be reunited following their release.

In a July 27 telephone briefing organized by the National Immigration Forum, Feasley said about 500 separated families passed through Catholic affiliated centers, such as Catholic Charities, in places such as McAllen, San Antonio and Phoenix. Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas, also helped.

The Catholic Charities center in the border town of McAllen, at least, was expecting to see more of the separated families passing through into the weekend following the deadline, Feasley said.

Though there were joyous reunions, "they are very traumatized people," said Feasley.

Once immigration officials deemed the children could be reunited with the adults, they were taken to the "staging facilities," such as Catholic Charities, where they were given temporary shelter, if they needed it, a hot meal, a change of clothes, access to a shower and sometimes assistance so they could continue their travels toward the home of family or friends, Feasley said. 

But the weight of what had happened, plus arduous overnight travel for children and adults, as the government pushed to meet the deadline, left many of the affected family members visibly exhausted by the time authorities handed them over to Catholic aid organizations, she said.

Yet those were the fortunate ones. About a third of those who were separated remain apart, with the government saying they are "ineligible" for reunification.

"And it's unclear what that means," said Cathleen Farrell, director of communications for the National Immigration Forum.

Some adults apprehended when the separation policy went into place, possibly about 400 to 500 of them, have been deported, making it unclear what will happen to their children.

While Catholic aid groups, along with other faith-based entities, such as Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and Bethany Christian Services, were busy tending to the needs of the families following their ordeal, other church groups were calling for answers, pressing the government for action in reuniting the remainder.  

"The administration alone started this problem and has a moral obligation to reunite all the families they separated, not just the ones they deem acceptable or can currently locate," said Kevin Appleby, senior director of international migration policy for the Center for Migration Studies and the Scalabrini International Migration Network. "Just imagine if families were separated at the time of Christ. The baby Jesus could have been taken from the arms of the Holy Mother in the Gospel of Matthew, as they fled the terror of Herod into Egypt."

Groups such as the Sisters of Mercy Institute Justice Team called on people of faith and others to contact members of Congress urging them to stop policies "criminalizing immigrants," such as the "zero tolerance" policy that created the crisis.

Though family separation had been practiced before, immigration authorities, following orders by the Trump administration, began taking children away from parents or relatives in greater numbers as they were caught trying to cross the border with Mexico in June, even if they were entering seeking asylum.

"At the end of the day, the 'zero tolerance' policy should be stopped altogether, as these families are not a threat, first, and should not be subject to long term detention, second.  They are bona fide asylum seekers, not criminals, and should be treated accordingly," said Appleby.

What happens to the families now is anyone's guess but their plight is not over, as many have to figure out a way to grapple with the emotional toll of what's happened and get ready for court dates to deal with their undefined immigration situation.

Chief among the uncertainties surrounding the crisis that didn't come to an end because of a deadline, is what will happen to families who will continue to cross over. The administration has said it wants to practice family detention for illegal border crossers.

"(U.S.) bishops remain extremely concerned," said Feasley, adding that for the moment, the main concern is for the well-being of those affected, and to try to do what's possible "to make these families whole again."

- - -

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.

Jailed Vietnamese Catholic activist ends hunger strike

Top Stories - Fri, 07/27/2018 - 10:18am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vietnam News Agency via EPA

By

HANOI, Vietnam (CNS) -- A prominent Catholic blogger and activist ended a two-week hunger strike in a Vietnamese prison after she met with visiting U.S. diplomats, local bloggers reported.

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, 39, stopped her strike after the visit July 23, ucanews.com reported, after the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers released a statement July 25.

The bloggers said Quynh, who is known as "Mother Mushroom," appeared "very tired but was of sound mind after she was on hunger strike for 16 days."

Quynh in June 2016 began serving a 10-year jail sentence for publishing anti-government writings and fighting for prisoners of conscience. She began her hunger strike on July 6 to protest being mistreated at a prison camp in the northern province of Thanh Hoa, about 745 miles from her home in Khanh Hoa province.

The mother of two has undertaken hunger strikes three times to protest mistreatment, including food poisoning, since she was moved to the camp in January from Nha Trang, her hometown.

The bloggers said they have called on foreign embassies in Vietnam and international human rights organizations to visit Quynh in the prison as a way of pressuring the state.

The bloggers said European Union representatives already have asked the government whether they can visit Quynh. It is believed that the government has yet to reply to the request.

Quynh had criticized the government's human rights abuses and corruption. She investigated and published widely on environmental protection, public health, correctional reform and anti-torture efforts. She also was critical of Vietnam's foreign policy toward China over disputed islands in the South China Sea.

The Sweden-based Civil Rights Defenders last year described her arrest and ongoing detention "as nothing more than persecution against her courageous defense of human rights."

Human Rights Watch criticized the Vietnamese government's rights record in a recent submission to the U.N.'s Human Rights Council.

"Vietnam seems to be contending for the title of one of Asia's most repressive governments," said Phil Robertson, the organization's deputy Asia director.

During the first seven months of 2018, the government convicted and imprisoned at least 27 rights bloggers and activists under various laws.

- - -

Editors: The original story can be found at www.ucanews.com/news/jailed-vietnamese-catholic-activist-ends-hunger-strike/82934

- - -

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.

Philippine clergy, advocates say human rights dying under Duterte

Top Stories - Thu, 07/26/2018 - 2:38pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Czar Dancel, Reuters

By

MANILIA, Philippines (CNS) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned the public during his third State of the Nation address July 23 that his two-year war on drugs would become even "more chilling" in the coming days.

Earlier that day, a group of human rights advocates attended Mass before taking to the streets of Manila armed with banners and placards calling for an end to extrajudicial killings, rallying for "democracy, justice, and freedom," and demanding Duterte step down from office.

During the Mass, the bishop who delivered the homily reminded parishioners that some 23,000 people have been slain as part of Duterte's brutal campaign against narcotics pushers and users, ucanews.com reported.

Some didn't need reminding; they already had lost family members to what critics see as a campaign of state-sanctioned murder, with many suspects gunned down before being able to defend themselves in court.

Nanet Castillo is a case in point. Her son was killed during the first wave of the war on drugs in 2016.

"We continue to seek and wait for justice to be served," she said.

Father Gilbert Villena, a member of Rise Up, a group formed by the relatives of those killed by security forces, said it was time to demand that Duterte fulfill his promises of "change for the greater good."

Human rights groups have described the past two years as the "worst years for human rights" in the Philippines since the declaration of martial law in September 1972.

Karapatan, a local group of rights activists, described the country as being in a state of crisis under Duterte.

"This government is even worse than all the other administrations that followed the period of martial law," said Cristina Palabay, one of the group's members.

She said the body count from drug-related killings at the hands of security forces already has surpassed the number of deaths recorded during the martial law years of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International Philippines said the country has become a "far more dangerous place" because of the impunity and lack of accountability police officers enjoy in carrying out Duterte's mandate.

The president has "created a culture where anyone can kill or be killed," said Jose Noel Olano, Amnesty's director of operations in the Philippines.

He also took issue with Duterte's "shortsightedness in accepting criticism" and "resistance to recommendations" on policy, claiming his actions have helped create an environment where people's human rights are being trampled upon on a daily basis.

Lawyer Harry Roque, a presidential spokesman, said such claims were unfounded as the anti-narcotics drive has been conducted legitimately.

He blamed the killings on suspects who "violently resisted" arrest and said Duterte "does not and will never condone extralegal killings."

The Promotion of Church Peoples Response, an ecumenical group, offered a different opinion, saying the current administration has been characterized by a "culture of fear, death, impunity and un-peace."

The Rev. Mary Grace Masegman, a Protestant minister, said Duterte "has not accomplished anything except demonstrating his gross incompetence and inability to rightly govern the nation."

Even members of the Catholic Church are being persecuted, she said.

In December, Father Marcelito Paez was gunned down in Nueva Ejica province after facilitating the release of a political prisoner.

Since January, four foreign religious missionaries, including Sister Patricia Fox, an Australian who is Philippine superior of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, have been arrested, detained, deported or threatened with deportation after they were accused of participating in political activities opposing the state.

Catholic priests and Protestant ministers also have become more vocal in taking issue about threats, harassment and surveillance conducted against them by the apparatus of the state.

Karapatan claims to have records showing 169 cases of "extrajudicial killings" during the first two years of Duterte's rule, significantly higher than the 103 cases reported during the same period under former president Benigno Aquino.

Moreover, from July 2016 to June 2018, at least 432,380 individuals have reportedly been displaced, compared to 9,756 under Aquino, the rights group said.

On July 16, at least 1,600 tribal people from 15 communities in the towns of Lianga and San Agustin in the southern Philippines fled their homes because of military operations.

Karapatan noted many more cases of illegal arrests and arbitrary detention during the early years of the current administration.

It listed 359 cases over the past 24 months in which people where illegally arrest and detained, and another 1,695 where suspects were apprehended unlawfully but not detained.

"The majority of those who were arrested illegally were human rights activists, environmental defenders, union leaders and poor people in big cities," Palabay told ucanews.com.

The bulk of the cases occurred in Mindanao, where martial law was declared at the onset of a five-month armed conflict in the city of Marawi that began on May 23, 2017, the group said.

Since then, at least 72 political killings have been reported in the region.

Even students and teachers apparently have not been spared. Save Our Schools Network reported 535 attacks on schools in tribal areas of Mindanao from July 2016 to April 17, 2018.

"We also documented at least 30 occasions of military encampment on tribal schools, with over 3,000 students affected," said Rius Valle, network spokesman.

He said that since June 2016, at least 72 tribal schools had been forced to close their doors either permanently or temporarily after being tagged by the military as "communist training camps."

- - -

Editors: The original story can be found at www.ucanews.com/news/human-rights-dying-under-dutertes-rule/82900.

- - -

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.

Accompanying change: Dublin meeting to focus on today's families

Top Stories - Thu, 07/26/2018 - 10:00am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Robert Duncan

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The last time a pope visited Ireland, the Constitution prohibited divorce, gay marriages were unthinkable, abortion was illegal and physical and sexual abuse at the hands of nuns and priests was a carefully hidden secret.

That has all changed in the almost four decades since St. John Paul II visited the country in 1979.

Pope Francis will visit Dublin and Knock Aug. 25-26, mainly for the World Meeting of Families. But he also will meet Irish government leaders and is expected to meet with survivors of abuse.

"Ireland is a country that has suffered tremendously, and suffered at the hands of the church, also -- so many cases of abuse: sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse," said Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, the Irish-born prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, which helped organize the World Meeting of Families.

Revelations of the extent of the abuse and the long-delayed response of church officials have devastated Irish Catholics, sent church attendance plummeting and contributed strongly to the waning influence of the Irish hierarchy in public discourse.

"Ireland is certainly a different country today" from what St. John Paul experienced in the late 1970s, Cardinal Farrell told Catholic News Service. "The church was a powerful force in Ireland -- for good or for bad, it's not my position to judge -- but, certainly, that is not the Ireland of today."

The people of Ireland and the Catholic Church in Ireland must find ways to work together and support each other in dealing with the new, multicultural, pluralistic reality of the country, he said.

"Pope Francis has tried to teach us that over the last five years," he said. "You've got to remember: People aren't the way we would like them to be; they are the way they are. And we have to bring the message of God and the word of God to people where they are, in this place, at this particular moment.

The changes in society -- not just in Ireland -- and in the church also have dictated changes in the World Meeting of Families and its "pastoral congresses," which since 1994 have gathered an international group of bishops, theologians, members of Catholic movements and Catholic families to strengthen their work and witness about the Catholic vision of marriage and family life.

The Dublin congress Aug. 22-24 will continue that core mission but has been designed to be more attractive to and welcoming of all families, including those who find some of the church's teachings challenging, he said. Participants can attend workshops ranging from cooking demonstrations to discussions about outreach to migrant and refugee families; and from fostering family prayer to welcoming LGBT people and their families.

"As Pope Francis says, we have to adjust to the reality with which we find ourselves," Cardinal Farrell said. "Catholics today are not so expressive of their Catholic identity, of their married identity, but I believe that they are seeking."

For example, he said, more couples under the age of 40 have registered for the Dublin gathering than for any of the previous world meetings, and some 37,000 people have registered for the congress.

The entire World Meeting of Families 2018 is focused on Pope Francis' 2016 letter, "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"), which offered his reflections on modern family life.

Cardinal Farrell said he hoped the meeting and the pope's visit would help spark "a renewed consciousness of the beauty of marriage and of the beauty of family" and, even more, that "people would become enthused about helping each other."

In societies where people are increasingly isolated from each other and live far from the rest of their extended families, he said, the traditional supports for a strong, healthy marriage and family are more difficult to find.

Pope Francis made no changes to Catholic doctrine in "Amoris Laetitia," the cardinal said. But there is "a pastoral change, a way of dealing with married couples" starting from the "practical reality" of their own lives.

"It's about the practicality of loving and caring and living marriage according to the word of God," he said. "People are searching for this."

"We understand that the world has changed," the cardinal said. "We don't judge anybody, but we believe in what we believe as Catholics" and want to help those seeking assistance.

Cardinal Farrell attracted some strong reaction in early July after he said in an interview that priests are not the best people to prepare and accompany couples for married life. "They have no credibility; they have never lived the experience," he was quoted as saying.

"Priests have an important role to play, obviously," he told CNS July 24. "That's a foregone conclusion; we are talking about a sacrament that people are preparing to receive."

"Marriage preparation should be done under the direction of a priest," he said, but always with couples who are trained and "can connect with young people today."

"Young couples need support," he said. And that ministry belongs predominantly to other married couples because the challenges usually are not theological or moral, but are questions related to "the practical, everyday reality of living life with a person."

"We have to accompany people where they are in their lives, not where we would hope they were," Cardinal Farrell said. And for that, "we need couples. We need laypeople, people who are experienced, people who have walked the walk."

- - -

Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden

- - -

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.

On Twitter and other social media, church 'called to be salt and light'

Top Stories - Wed, 07/25/2018 - 4:33pm

By Steve Larkin

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has said that shepherds "should have the smell of the sheep." For some bishops and their dioceses, that means going on Twitter.

"Bishop (David A.) Zubik (of Pittsburgh) was very clear: If he can meet people in a particular way, he wants to do it," said Nick Sciarappa, the digital media strategist for the diocese. "Twitter is one way we can bring local content to Pittsburghers."

One of the main features of the diocese's Twitter feed is a weekly series of videos where someone in the diocese reflects on a Gospel reading.

In the videos, which are about two to five minutes long, people from the Diocese of Pittsburgh describe what the Gospel reading means to them and how they apply it to their own lives.

Sciarappa said that the videos' popularity has grown more than he expected.

"I started off by asking people that I knew to be good preachers, but the videos gained so much traction that people started asking if they could do them," he told Catholic News Service.

"We have so many talented priests, deacons, laypeople, members of religious orders -- all of it in our diocese, and the videos let us highlight that."

The reaction has been very positive.

"The main thing I've been hearing is that people didn't know that Pittsburgh had so many talented Christians willing to share the faith," he said.

Even the bishop himself has taken to Twitter.

"He's very hands-on in running his personal account," Sciarappa said.

Every month, he tweets asking for prayer requests, which he prays for and invites anyone who sees them to do the same.

In the Archdiocese of Edmonton, in Alberta, Canada, a 2016 effort by Archbishop Richard Smith led to the archdiocese increasing its focus on social media.

"We want to use Twitter as an evangelization tool and a means of communication," said Lincoln Ho, the social media specialist for the archdiocese. "We're trying to reach out to the youth audience."

He mentioned that since the archdiocese covers a large geographic area -- central Alberta -- the Twitter account gives them another method to broadcast information to the entire archdiocese.

The account also helps the diocese evangelize.

Ho said that a decent number of people ask questions, and "if people are asking questions we'll respond."

Archbishop Smith is "probably the most popular archbishop in Canada who tweets personally," Ho said.

He doesn't do all the tweeting from his own account, and Ho said you can tell when the archbishop wrote a tweet himself. "If there are no hashtags or pictures, it's the archbishop. If there are hashtags or pictures, it's not."

On occasion, the archdiocese finds itself the subject of trolling, which is making deliberately provocative online posts in the hope of eliciting a reaction.

"We get people trolling because Archbishop Smith is big on pro-life issues, both abortion and end-of-life issues," Ho told CNS. "Sometimes people troll because they just don't understand what we're trying to do, and so we've had some very good outcomes just responding and talking to people."

The Archdiocese of St. Louis sees its Twitter account as a way to evangelize.

"There's so much pablum and garbage out there, and so we need to stand up and be the voice of the Truth with a capital 'T,'" said Elizabeth Westhoff, the director of communications for the archdiocese.

The archdiocese began its social media presence in 2008.

"Social media then was considered 'new media,' and we said that, if it's new, we should probably be on it," Westhoff said.

"We hope that we can start conversations with social media. We have so much to share -- 2,000 years of faith and teaching and history and tradition."

People respond to the tweets on the archdiocesan and the archbishop's Twitter accounts.

"The messages we get, especially on the archbishop's account, are interesting. He'll get a lot of prayer requests from people who are struggling, and the archbishop will tell them he'll remember them while saying Mass or reach out to them personally," Westhoff said.

In the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Bishop David L. Ricken was motivated to make his own Twitter account after Pope Benedict XVI made one in 2012.

"Following the pope's example, the bishop wanted to get into Twitter," said Matthew Livingstone, the social communications director for the Diocese of Green Bay.

"He's involved in every tweet that goes out. It has to ultimately be his voice," Livingstone said. "On his account, he really has a voice of inspiration and encouragement and spiritual growth."

The bishop believes that saying the name of Jesus on Twitter is important.

"He speaks to the audience that follows his account, but he also writes prayers to Jesus which he tweets," Livingstone said.

"In these spaces, we're called to be salt and light," Livingstone said, and the bishop believes that saying the name of Jesus is a key part of that.

Despite the novelty of Twitter, Westhoff said nothing about it is really all that new.

"There's a long history of Catholic communications. It starts with God speaking to Adam," she said. "Imagine what St. Paul could have done with a Twitter account."

- - -

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.

O'Malley: 'Specific actions' needed now to address claims against cardinal

Top Stories - Wed, 07/25/2018 - 10:11am

By

BOSTON (CNS) -- Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley called for "three specific actions" to immediately address allegations of sexual abuse of minors and "sexual improprieties" with seminarians made against Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, starting with "a fair and rapid adjudication of these accusations."

Second, there must be "an assessment of the adequacy of our standards and policies in the church at every level, and especially in the case of bishops," he said in a statement issued late July 24. "And third, communicating more clearly to the Catholic faithful and to all victims the process for reporting allegations against bishops and cardinals."

"Failure to take these actions will threaten and endanger the already weakened moral authority of the church and can destroy the trust required for the church to minister to Catholics and have a meaningful role in the wider civil society," Cardinal O'Malley said.

The cardinal, who is president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, issued the statement in response to articles in the national media over the past several days that "have reported accusations of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick's sexual improprieties with several adults and his criminal violations of the sexual abuse of minors."

"These alleged actions, when committed by any person, are morally unacceptable and incompatible with the role of a priest, bishop or cardinal," Cardinal O'Malley said.

In late June, Cardinal McCarrick, the 88-year-old retired archbishop of Washington, said he would no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago in the Archdiocese of New York was found credible. The cardinal has said he is innocent.

Cardinal O'Malley added: "In this moment there is no greater imperative for the church than to hold itself accountable to address these matters, which I will bring to my upcoming meetings with the Holy See with great urgency and concern."

MORE TO COME

- - -

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.

Chilean cardinal called to testify for suspected abuse cover-up

Top Stories - Wed, 07/25/2018 - 10:03am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Sebastian Silva, EPA

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Chilean prosecutor's office has issued a subpoena to Cardinal Riccardo Ezzati of Santiago regarding his role in the alleged cover-up of sexual abuse by members of the clergy.

In a statement released by the Archdiocese of Santiago July 24, Cardinal Ezzati said he was committed to helping victims "search for the truth" and denied any wrongdoing.

"I have the conviction that I have never covered up nor obstructed justice, and as a citizen, I will fulfill my duty of providing all records that will help to clarify the facts," he said.

The archdiocese confirmed that Cardinal Ezzati is scheduled to testify Aug. 21.

The subpoena is believed to be related to the case of Father Oscar Munoz Toledo, the former chancellor of the Archdiocese of Santiago, who was arrested July 12 following allegations that he abused seven minors in Santiago and Rancagua since 2002.

Rancagua prosecutor Emiliano Arias, accompanied by police, conducted two search-and-seizure operations of archdiocesan offices in connection with the charges against Father Munoz as well as several other pending investigations.

Speaking to journalists July 12 after the second raid, Arias confirmed that his office was investigating an alleged sex-abuse ring in Rancagua as well as possible cover-ups of abuse cases by senior members of the clergy, including Cardinal Ezzati and his predecessor, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz.

During the first search operation, which took place June 13, police raided the judicial offices of the Archdiocese of Santiago as well as the offices of retired Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic of Rancagua.

Bishop Goic, who served as president of the Chilean bishops' commission for abuse prevention, was forced to suspend 14 of the diocese's 68 priests in mid-May after an investigative report by a Chilean television channel revealed the existence of the sex-abuse ring made up of clergy.

The news of Cardinal Ezzati's summons comes on the heels of the release of a 2013 letter addressed to the cardinal by Bishop Goic that was seized during the June 13 raid and published by Chilean newspaper El Mercurio July 22.

In his letter, Bishop Goic questioned the cardinal's commitment to victims of sexual abuse, including victims of Chilean Father Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty of sexual abuse and sentenced by the Vatican in 2011 to a life of prayer and penance.

"Sometimes I have the impression, perhaps subjective, that you don't share the opinion of the national commission" regarding the sex abuse scandals, he said.

"At the same time, members of the commission shared their dissatisfaction with certain situations that you have had to take on. For me, it hasn't been easy; to maintain communion with you and respect and listen to the critical judgments of the members requires a complex balance," Bishop Goic wrote.

He also called Cardinal Ezzati to task for not continuing to meet with survivors of Father Karadima's abuse, saying that although some were harsh in their criticism of the church's handling of abuse crisis, it does not "take away their condition of wounded and damaged victims."

"The impression that I have heard from your collaborators in Santiago, as well as at (the bishops' conference) is that you do not listen with the willingness of heart to try to understand the suggestions of others; that you reserve, at times, delicate matters without sharing with others. I experienced some of that personally," Bishop Goic wrote.

In a July 23 statement, Bishop Goic criticized the release of "private documents that were handed to authorities under the reservation and confidentiality of a developing judicial investigation."

He also said that document that was published was "a draft text of a private letter that I prepared for the Archbishop of Santiago at the time."

"I never handed in or sent that document to its recipient because I had the opportunity to speak directly with him about its content," the bishop said.

- - -

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

- - -

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.

Evangelizing, caring for others at core of deacons' vocation, nuncio says

Top Stories - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 12:13pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Peter Finney Jr., Clarion Herald

By Peter Finney Jr.

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- The core vocational work of permanent deacons is to evangelize and care for others, not to perform office duties, the apostolic nuncio to the United States said July 22 to more than 1,300 deacons attending the 2018 National Diaconate Congress in New Orleans.

In his post-Communion remarks at the opening Mass of the five-day gathering, Archbishop Christophe Pierre noted that St. John Paul II had declared that the "service of diaconal ministry finds its identity in evangelization."

"Not (in) doing office work," but in "evangelizing," Archbishop Pierre said.

The opening Mass was celebrated in a ballroom holding 2,200 seats. Of the 18,500 permanent deacons in the U.S. -- who represent more than half the worldwide total -- 1,300 permanent deacons were attending the July 22-26 conference, along with their wives and children, for a record total of 2,800 attendees.

"I'm quite amazed to see so many deacons and wives of deacons," the nuncio said, as his message from the altar was displayed to the far reaches of the room on two oversized video screens.

Recalling the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the permanent diaconate in the Latin-rite church by Blessed Paul VI through his 1968 "motu proprio" (on his own initiative) titled "Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem," Archbishop Pierre lauded the permanent deacons for their humble service of charity, proclaiming the word and leading the faith community in prayer.

He echoed Pope Francis' remarks that defined permanent deacons as "pioneers of the new civilization of love."

"This is Christ's call, isn't it?" Archbishop Pierre asked. "Don't forget, the job is Jesus'. Otherwise, it is your job, your work, right? No. The work is Christ's. It is one thing to serve at the altar. It is another to be an evangelizing force in the world.

"In my travels throughout the United States, I've seen how permanent deacons continue to serve through their hard work and generous service. Deacons have been able co-workers with their bishops, priests and laity in many dimension of ecclesial life, especially the apostolate works."

Archbishop Pierre praised the deacons for their works, especially in hospital ministry. He also said the church as a whole must do more to prepare couples for marriage and to enrich the marriages of those already married.

"We should invest more in marriage preparation," he said.

Archbishop Pierre offered the personal greetings of Pope Francis and said the permanent diaconate has "flourished" in the last half-century, "particularly here in the United States, where nearly 18,500 permanent deacons carry out their threefold diaconal 'munera' of word, charity and liturgy."

He asked the deacons and their wives to reflect on the words of dismissal at Mass, often spoken by the deacon -- "Go forth, the Mass is ended"; "Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord"; "Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life"; "Go in peace."

"Share the peace of Christ with all those you meet -- your family first -- your friends and even your enemies," Archbishop Pierre said. "Be instruments of the gift of peace. Thank you and thanks be to God for you and your service to the church and for all those who have supported you."

In his homily at the opening Mass, New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond stressed the deacon's role in being the "conscience" of the church in matters of service to the poor and disenfranchised.

"All Christians are called to charity by their baptism, but deacons lead us as a church in the works of charity," he said. "We look to you in some ways as the conscience of the church. We ask you to find those who are in need and to invite us to serve them. And when we forget them or fail to be people of charity as a church, we ask you to be our conscience and to call us back to what God asks."

- - -

Finney is executive editor/general manager of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

- - -

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: Cardinal Farrell expresses shock over Cardinal McCarrick abuse case

Top Stories - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 9:40am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Robert Duncan

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, head of the Vatican office for laity and family, said he was "shocked" when he heard allegations of years of sexual abuse and harassment by Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the man who ordained him a bishop and whom he served as an auxiliary bishop for six years.

"I was shocked, overwhelmed; I never heard any of this before in the six years I was there with him," Cardinal Farrell told Catholic News Service July 24.

The Irish-born cardinal was incardinated in the Archdiocese of Washington in 1984, and shortly after Cardinal McCarrick was named archbishop of Washington in 2000, the future Cardinal Farrell was named his vicar general.

The Vatican official said he had never met Cardinal McCarrick until Cardinal McCarrick became archbishop of Washington.

In late June Cardinal McCarrick, the 88-year-old retired archbishop of Washington, said he would no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago in the Archdiocese of New York was found credible. The cardinal has said he is innocent.

The Archdiocese of Washington said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, "at the direction of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has instructed Cardinal McCarrick that he is to refrain from any public ministry or activity until a definite decision is made."

Since then, at least one other person has come forward claiming Cardinal McCarrick sexually abused him as a child, and several former seminarians have claimed that the cardinal would invite groups of them to a beach house and insist individual members of the group share a bed with him.

"I worked in the chancery in Washington and never, no indication, none whatsoever," Cardinal Farrell said. "Nobody ever talked to me about this and I was involved, heavily involved," in investigating and confronting the problem of clerical sexual abuse for the Archdiocese of Washington, especially after the U.S. bishops approved their charter for child protection in 2002.

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington said in late June that he had requested a review of all the Archdiocese of Washington's records. "Based on that review, I can report that no claim -- credible or otherwise -- has been made against Cardinal McCarrick during his time here in Washington."


- - -

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 Francis approves USCCB delegates for October's Synod of Bishops

Top Stories - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 1:00pm

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has ratified the members elected by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to represent the United States at Synod of Bishops Oct. 3-28.

The synod will meet at the Vatican to discuss "young people, faith and vocational discernment."

The USCCB announced July 23 that the U.S. church's delegates will be:

-- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

-- Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the USCCB.

-- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

-- Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, a member of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

-- Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis.

In preparation for the synod, the USCCB and other episcopal conferences, as well as ecclesial movements, associations and experts in the field, were consulted throughout 2017 on the synod topic of "young people, the faith, and vocational discernment."

The Vatican also collected responses from an online questionnaire aimed at youth and young adults conducted last year.

In March of this year, over 300 young adult delegates gathered in Rome, where Pope Francis convened a presynod gathering to listen directly to the voice of young people from around the world. The gathering produced a final presynodal document.

The USCCB sent three delegates to that meeting: De La Salle Christian Brother Javier Hansen, who teaches at Cathedral High School in El Paso, Texas; Nick Lopez, director of campus ministry for the University of Dallas; and Katie Prejean-McGrady, a wife, new mother, youth minister, and a popular speaker from the Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

The working document was released in late June and includes a summary of all the synod consultations to date. It describes the purpose of the upcoming Synod of Bishops as an opportunity for the church "to accompany all young people, without exception, toward the joy of love," realizing that "taking care of young people is not an optional task for the church, but an integral part of her vocation and mission is history."

On July 14, the Vatican announced Pope Francis has chosen his delegates to the synod -- four cardinals from countries where young people are facing special challenges.

He named Cardinals Louis Sako of Baghdad, the Chaldean patriarch; Desire Tsarahazana of Toamasina, Madagascar; Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar; and John Ribat of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. As presidents-delegate, the cardinals will alternate presiding over the synod sessions.

- - -

Editor's Note: The official USCCB webpage for the synod is www.usccb.org/synod-2018.

- - -

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.

Texas Catholic 'respite' center serves as symbol of American compassion

Top Stories - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 12:17pm

By Rhina Guidos

MCALLEN, Texas (CNS) -- It's been featured in fundraisers at the Vatican and on news shows. This summer, it's been visited by Kerry Kennedy, Robert and Ethel Kennedy's daughter, and TV celebrity Gayle King.

The U.S. bishops recently made it the first stop on a high-profile visit to the border.

But the real celebrities who walk through its doors are the poor, unkempt, tired, thirsty, hungry women, children and men who run to it shortly after being released by immigration authorities -- a modern Statue of Liberty come to life.

Its official name is the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley's Humanitarian Respite Center. From the outside, the humble cream-colored building with Mission-revival style touches, calls little attention to passers-by. But inside its walls, volunteers give a warm welcome, including unexpected smiles and applause, along with clothes and warm food, to recent arrivals to the U.S. as they walk through its doors.

It was Sister Norma Pimentel, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus and executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, whose idea it was to create this place to "welcome the stranger" and who came in the form of a migrant to the border town of McAllen.

She often posts pictures on Twitter of babies and moms, teens and fathers and other children who walk through the center's doors. She calls them "miracles." She tells their stories. One was about a woman who fled Guatemala after her 16-year-old son was kidnapped and killed by gangs. She photographed the woman with her remaining son as they passed through the center.

"The fact is that they are human persons, they are people, they need attention, they need care," Sister Norma, as she's popularly known, said in a July 1 interview with Catholic News Service.

In 2014, Sister Norma set out to provide some of that care, as she saw an influx of immigrants arriving in Texas' Rio Grande Valley, in the Brownsville Diocese. With local volunteers, she began a makeshift operation to help the migrants obtain clothes and food. Out of a property that belonged to the local Sacred Heart Church, they began clothing and feeding the newcomers.

Her mission now has a more permanent home on Beaumont Avenue in McAllen, where migrants, many seeking asylum, have access to a shower after a harrowing trip, a clean change of clothes, a quick medical look, if they need it, a warm meal and a snack for the road.

On the trip by a group of U.S. bishops in early July, Sister Norma said she wanted the prelates to talk with the families, to see them and hear their stories so they could talk about them to others and speak on their behalf. Though there's a sense of antagonism toward immigrants around the country, she's eager to showcase at the respite center a side of the U.S. that the newscasts and TV stories often leave out and that immigrants may not be aware of.

"They (the immigrants who pass through) go in gratitude of the fact that we, here in the United States, are people that have a heart, that care and that are able to participate by serving them, by bringing them soup, by hearing their story, by showing them they matter," she said.  

Some, like volunteer Lisa Foley, of Reno, Nevada, who was at the center July 1, cared enough to spend her summer vacation days with them.

"I came here to help. I can't sit and watch it on the news any longer," said Foley, a social worker by profession, showing in her hand shoelaces and rubber bands she was handing the women who had them taken away while being processed by immigration authorities. "It's the least I can do."

Through the center, Sister Norma also wants others to see migrants as children and mothers, fathers and brothers, many of them fleeing danger. The mothers and fathers who pass through "all tell you that, in one way or another, they're fleeing, they fear for the lives of their children."

"They know that if they stay (in their home countries), their life is in danger and their child may be kidnapped, or taken by a gang," she said. "Their stories are so similar and they all flee because they are frightened for their lives."

The center's mission of compassion has been noticed at the highest levels of the church. On the occasion of his elevation to cardinal, Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich, through his role as chancellor of Catholic Extension, organized a benefit dinner in 2016 at the Vatican that raised $100,000 and donated it to the respite center.

The flow of migrants, which ebbs and sometimes overflows, has sent Sister Norma on a mission to find more space, and funds, to continue the work of helping migrants. Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley has set up a GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/humanitarian-respite-center for those who want to help.

Sister Norma hopes the center will continue to be a place where the poor and hungry will find more than just material help, but will continue to provide newcomers an initial dose of compassion that exists in the United States and that many of the migrants who have passed through have experienced.  

"They're hopeful and they have faith in their God that here in the United States, there will be people who understand and will help them make sure they're safe," she said.  

- - -

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 calls for respect for migrants amid rising number of deaths at sea

Top Stories - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 10:10am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jon Nazca, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With the rising death toll of migrants and refugees attempting the treacherous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea, Pope Francis urged world leaders to act to prevent further tragedy.

"I make a heartfelt appeal to the international community to act decisively and promptly in order to prevent such tragedies from recurring and to guarantee the safety, respect for the rights and dignity of all," the pope said July 22 after reciting the Angelus prayer with an estimated 25,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

According to the International Organization for Migration's Missing Migrant Project, an estimated 1,490 migrants have died in the Mediterranean Sea this year. The pope expressed his pain "in the midst of such tragedies" and offered his prayers "for the missing and their families."

In Italy, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has barred several rescue ships from docking and has vowed to stop any foreign boats carrying rescued migrants into the country. The move has hampered rescue efforts of migrants trying to escape war, violence, persecution and poverty.

Before making his appeal, the pope reflected on the day's Gospel reading in which Jesus invites his disciples to rest after their first mission, but the gathering of a large crowd prevents them from relaxing and eating.

"The same thing can happen today as well," the pope said. "Sometimes we don't succeed in carrying out our plans because something urgent occurs that messes up our plans and requires flexibility and availability to the needs of others."

In those situations, he continued, Christians are called to imitate Jesus who wasn't upset but rather was compassionate toward the people because "they were like sheep without a shepherd."

"Jesus' gaze isn't a neutral gaze or, worse, cold and distant because Jesus always looks with the eyes of the heart. And his heart is so tender and full of compassion that he is able to see even the most hidden needs of people," the pope said.

The same compassion, he added, is the "behavior and predisposition of God toward humankind and its history."

"With Jesus at our side, we can proceed safely, we can be overcome trials, we can progress in love toward God and toward our neighbor. Jesus has made himself a gift for others, becoming a model of love and service for each one of us," Pope Francis said.

- - -

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

- - -

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.

'Walking priest' pursues street evangelization hoping listeners seek God

Top Stories - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 2:42pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jerry Mennenga

By Joanne Fox

WEST BEND, Iowa (CNS) -- With apologies to Fats Domino, Father Lawrence Carney is "walkin' and talkin' about you and me," and hoping that listeners will come back to -- not "me" -- but God.

Known as the "walking priest," Father Carney brought his message of street evangelization to Sts. Peter and Paul Church in the north central Iowa town of West Bend in early July.

The event was sponsored by the Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption in collaboration with the Office of Discipleship and Evangelization for the Diocese of Sioux City.

Ordained for the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, Father Carney is on loan to the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, where he serves as chaplain to the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, in Gower. He visits the nuns daily to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, offers the sacrament of reconciliation and provides spiritual direction.

Once his duties are complete, Father Carney, 42, takes to the streets of St. Joseph. Armed with a rosary in one hand and a large crucifix in the other, the tall priest in a black cassock and wide-brimmed clerical hat known as a "saturno" shares the Gospel with anyone who approaches.

The oldest of three boys in his family, Father Carney recalled his first inkling of a vocation surfaced in kindergarten.

"A Redemptorist priest visited and held up a card of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and it seemed like the eyes of Our Lady would follow me," he said.

"I thought, 'If a priest can do that with a holy card, then I want to be a priest,'" he said, smiling.

Father Carney confessed he "fought" the idea of the priesthood in high school.

"I was convinced I was to marry a beautiful young woman and have 12 children," he said. "God ultimately won that battle."

Following his 2007 ordination, Father Carney served as a parish priest in the Wichita Diocese. His life changed when he chose to walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain -- opting to wear a cassock -- talking to about 1,000 people during his 32 days on the trail.

The experience led to his decision to walk the streets.

Father Carney's ministry led him to pen "Walking the Road to God," published in 2017 by Caritas Press. The book is subtitled, "Why I left everything behind and took to the streets to save souls."

"I'm a horrible author," the priest said. "Isn't is something how God chooses the worst people to do his will?"

But save souls, he has, in his travels in Missouri and elsewhere.

"Three years ago, I was approached by a non-Catholic family who insisted their home was possessed by demons; the children were saying they saw red eyes in the house," he said. "They asked me to pray for them and I did."

When he later saw the family, Father Carney asked about the house.

"'Oh, Father, after you prayed and left, the devils left,' the mother reported," he said. "After one year of instruction, they were received into the church and one of the sons is discerning a vocation to the priesthood."

The story was one of several the priest shared with the 125 people who attended his talk.

In his book, Father Carney expressed his dream of a new order of priests, clerics and brothers, who walk and pray in cities around the U.S. to reach out to lukewarm and fallen-away Catholics and non-Catholics.

The Vatican approved his request for the new order Dec. 8 -- to accept men into the Canons Regular of St. Martin of Tours. The new community will be based in St. Joseph. About a dozen men have indicated an interest in joining, Father Carney said.

"I am in the process of discernment myself for this new community," he said. "God willing, I will profess my first vows on Nov. 11, 2019."

Meanwhile, Father Carney "walks the walk and talks the talk" to about 10 people a day, about 2,000 to 5,000 folks in the last four years.

"The best part of the walking is I get to contemplate God," he said. "I pray the rosary, get some exercise, look at nature and someone might talk to me and then, I share my contemplation with them."

After his presentation, Father Carney took questions, with one person asking if he walked the 245 miles from St. Joseph to West Bend.

With a grin, Father Carney shook his head in response. However, he did admit to being somewhat of an expert on shoes.

"I have discovered 'shandals' work well," he said, referring to a part-shoe, part-sandal, which he had on his feet.

Father Carney reported the Canons Regular are looking into creating the hybrid and marketing them.

"We will be calling them, Father Martens," he said, chuckling repeatedly at the reference to the popular Doc Martens footwear.

- - -

Fox is managing editor of The Catholic Globe, newspaper of the Diocese of Sioux City.

- - -

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.

Adoptive parents nervous after raids of Missionaries of Charity homes

Top Stories - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 1:44pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Saadia Azim

By Saadia Azim

RANCHI, India (CNS) -- Theodore Kiro held 13-month-old Navya on her return to his family after they were separated for a week. The crying baby happily clung to Kiro, whom she knows as her grandfather.

Navya is one of the four babies whose fate became entangled in the recent child trafficking scandal broke at Rachi's Nirmal Hriday (Tender Heart) home, run by the Missionaries of Charity. A five-member district child welfare committee decided it was not fair for the foster mother and the child to be separated for long and ruled they should be united conditionally. The welfare committee asked the foster parents to take the child before the committee every week and keep it informed of the child's schedule.

"The child and the mother were in trauma after separation, so the committee members decided compassionately to unite them. But this status has been fixed for the next two months only," said Kiro, a local political leader using his clout to prepare legal papers for adoption of the toddler. Navya was brought to their home in Ranchi just after her birth and was reclaimed by the child welfare committee as one of the babies who allegedly was sold illegally by an employee of the Missionaries of Charity home.

Though the parents confess that there was no exchange of money yet, the officers are investigating the process of adoption without proper paperwork. This makes Anuka Tigga, another adoptive mother of a 4-year-old, jittery. She is scared for her child after the central government announced July 17 that all records and child care homes run by the Missionaries of Charity will be inspected and adoption processes scrutinized.

"It is not that I have committed any wrong. Rather, these happenings will adversely affect the well-being of my child," said Tigga.

The Indian Ministry for Women and Child Development has directed the state governments that all child care institutions should be registered and linked to the Central Adoption Resource Authority within a month. Many mothers such as Tigga question the fate of children already living with adoptive parents, for fear the government will say the process was not followed and their children will be taken away.

In 2015, the Missionaries of Charity stopped offering adoption of children because the Indian government introduced new rules making it easier for single women and men to adopt. The government rules said prospective adoptive parents must pay a fixed amount of 40,000 rupees ($580).

Police said Jharkhand state's Child Welfare Committee came to suspect the Ranchi home was involved in the illegal trading of children after a couple complained they were not given a child, despite paying 120,000 rupees (US$1,850) as an adoption fee. Sister Mary Prema Pierick, superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, said in a July 17 statement from Kolkata that the order was cooperating with authorities, and that when a lay employee, Anima Indwar, admitted to the welfare committee in early July that the baby had not been given to the couple, Indwar was handed over to police.

During recent raids at Nirmal Hriday and Shishu Bhawan (Children's Home) in Ranchi, 11 unwed pregnant women were shifted to government homes and 22 children, including one child as young as a month old, were sent to the Karuna Center, a government-run home. Navya's family complained that, after the separation, they found their child to be in a miserable condition in the government facility.

Those children who remain in many of homes run by Missionaries of Charity are destitute, orphans and unwanted children who are nursed and cared for and prepared for adoption through the Central Adoption Resource Authority system. The police are investigating now as to why the nuns continued to keep children in their facility when they were no longer a registered body for adoption. The norm has been that though the unwed mothers are provided with nursing and support by the nuns, it is the responsibility of the guardians and families who want to adopt to register with the child welfare committees. The nuns and the Missionaries of Charity staff facilitate the process.

The Missionaries of Charity and other Christian bodies are questioning the intention of the government in the recent actions against the order. They say that, after the arrests of Indwar and Sister Concelia, the nun in charge of accompanying mothers and babies to the welfare committee, the Missionaries of Charity were not given a chance to be heard and were not warned about the raids.

The Christian community and some politicians are also questioning the role of the media, which widely published a video of Indwar's confession leaked by police.

Police have seized record books from the Missionaries of Charity homes in Jharkhand state. Christian leaders say this is deliberate antagonism by the state's extremist Bharatiya Janata Party government, which has accused the Missionaries of Charity of religious conversion in the pretext of social service. Sister Concelia was sent to two weeks of judicial custody.

After the incident, Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal state, where the religious order is based, called the actions against the Missionaries of Charity a move to undermine the work of St. Teresa of Kolkata, who founded the order.

Abraham Mathai, former vice chairman of the Indian Minorities Commission, has asked for independent judicial inquiry if need be to stop what he calls persecution of the Missionaries of Charity, saying it is bringing disrepute to the whole organization.

- - -

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.

Pages

The Catholic Voice

The Archdiocese of Omaha • Catholic Voice
402-558-6611 • Fax 402 558-6614 •
E-mail Us

Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved.
This information may not be published, broadcast,
rewritten or redistributed without written permission.

Comment Here