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  • Sister shares heartbreaking story to lead youths closer to God

    IMAGE: CNS photo/Natalie Hoefer, The Criterion

    By John Shaughnessy

    INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- It wasn't the story that the 20,000 Catholic youths were expecting to hear from a religious sister.

    And the audience of young people inside Lucas Oil Stadium on the morning of Nov. 17 became more quiet and riveted as Sister Miriam James Heidland shared the hard, heartbreaking chapters of her life story.

    She told participants at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis that she was sexually assaulted when she was 11. She began drinking alcohol on her 12th birthday. She was raped when she was 13 and she was an alcoholic by the age of 21.

    "I woke up one morning when I was 21, and I remembered two things," recalled Sister Miriam, a member of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. "Number one, I remembered what I had done the night before, and it was awful. Secondly, I remember something that was so much deeper in the area of shame.

    "I remembered I had promised myself that I wasn't going to do that anymore. At that moment, I realized I couldn't stop, that I was sick. I crawled up in a ball on the floor of my room in college, and I just wished for death. And I didn't know what to do."

    God did, she told the crowd of young people.

    "He started sending people into my life to speak the truth to me," she said as walked across the stage set up in the middle of the stadium floor.

    One of the people God sent to her was a priest who challenged her to change her life.

    "He would say, 'You're called for more. What are you doing with your life? I know you want more. You have a great destiny for your life. Have you thought about saying 'yes' to it?'

    "That man loved Christ, and he let Christ try to re-form him to the core of his being. And one of the reasons I'm here before you is because of the power of one person who said 'yes' to Christ. And how often do you and I think we can't make a difference? But your 'yes' matters. Your life matters. When you say 'yes,' the world is changed."

    So has the life of Sister Miriam.

    "I've been sober for many years now, through a lot of people's love for me and a lot of grace," she said, adding that wherever young people in the audience are today: "It's not the end of the story. Jesus is already waiting for you. He's waiting for you in the areas that are incredibly painful for you. He's waiting for you in the areas of your deepest dreams and your deepest desires."

    She also told the story of two choices that continue to define her life.

    "My biological parents were high school students, 17 years old, obviously not married," she said.  "To this day, I've never seen her face, but I have a deep intuition that at one point my mother thought of aborting me, but she didn't. And I stand here before you today because a scared 17-year-old girl said 'yes' to life and to the child in her womb."

    Then there was the choice of the couple who became her mother and father when they adopted her.

    "One of the first pictures my parents have of me was at Christmas time. My mom put me under the Christmas tree and said I was the gift to the family that year."

    She told the audience that God also offers people the gift of his love.

    "We don't understand his heart for us. We don't understand his love for us," she said, emphasizing that "God longs to heal you because you are made for more. He looks at you, and he just loves you."

    "God has no other ulterior motive," she told the youths, "than for you to share in his own beautiful life."

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    Shaughnessy is assistant editor of The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

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    Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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  • Day of prayer, awareness week focus on plight of persecuted Christians

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. Catholic Church will focus attention on the plight of persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria with a day of prayer Nov. 26 and a weeklong observance to raise awareness and educate people about their situation. The effort is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and Aid to the Church in Need. A Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians Nov. 26 initiates "Solidarity in Suffering," a Week of Awareness and Education that runs through Dec. 3. To help educate Catholics and others about the persecution of Christians, the Knights have organized several events during the week, including a roundtable discussion and talks in New York, Philadelphia and Washington. An evening memorial Mass for victims of Islamic State genocide to be celebrated Nov. 28 by Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Iraq, at the St. John Paul II Shrine in Washington. A section of the USCCB's website -- www.usccb.org/middle-east-Christians -- has a wide array of resources available to assist parishes, schools and campus ministries related to the Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians and Week of Awareness and Education.

    USCCB domestic policy chair decries many items in Senate tax bill

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development likes some of the provisions of the Senate's tax bill, but those likes are dwarfed by items that he said run afoul of Catholic teaching. "The Senate proposal is fundamentally flawed as written and requires amendment," said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, in a Nov. 22 letter addressed to senators, who are expected to take up consideration of the bill after they return from Thanksgiving recess. Bishop Dewane cited St. John XXIII's encyclical "Mater et Magistra," which said that "decisions about taxation involve fundamental concerns of 'justice and equity,'" and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which said public spending should serve as "an instrument of development and solidarity." And that is where the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as the bill is called, falls short. The bill, "as written, will raise income taxes on the working poor while simultaneously providing a large tax cut to the wealthy," Bishop Dewane said. "Tax breaks for the financially secure, including millionaires and billionaires, should not be made possible by increased taxes to families struggling to meet their daily needs."

    Youth, religious, priests encourage each other at conference to hear call

    INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- The theme of the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis was "Called." So it was appropriate that the more than 20,000 Catholic youths gathered Nov. 16-18 from across the country gave a bit more attention to the many priests and men and women religious who prayed with them, listened to inspiring presentations with them and had fun with them during the conference. Maybe God was using that interaction to call the youths to give prayerful reflection to a religious vocation. "Here we're able to see their real personalities come out," said Lillieyne Thompson of the Gary Diocese. "They're seen more as real people and not just as a holy figure. You see how they're cool and do normal things like everyone else does. "It helps me realize that I can follow God. You can have a fun life, be yourself without the peer pressure of high school," she told The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. "Seeing how cool all the priests are is so inspiring." The priests and religious present at NCYC also represented more dioceses and religious communities than any of the young participants could know in their homes.

    Sister shares heartbreaking story to lead youths closer to God

    INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- It wasn't the story that the 20,000 Catholic youths were expecting to hear from a religious sister. And the audience of young people inside Lucas Oil Stadium on the morning of Nov. 17 became more quiet and riveted as Sister Miriam James Heidland shared the hard, heartbreaking chapters of her life story. She told participants at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis that she was sexually assaulted when she was 11. She began drinking alcohol on her 12th birthday. She was raped when she was 13 and she was an alcoholic by age 21. "I woke up one morning when I was 21, and I remembered two things," recalled Sister Miriam, a member of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. "Number one, I remembered what I had done the night before, and it was awful. Secondly, I remember something that was so much deeper in the area of shame. ... I crawled up in a ball on the floor of my room in college, and I just wished for death. And I didn't know what to do." God did, she told the crowd of young people.

    Detention case prompts archbishop to ask what kind of society we are in

    SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) -- Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco asked the United States to take its temperature as a society after he got personally involved in the detention case of an immigrant in the country illegally. In May, Hugo Mejia, 37, and a co-worker were handcuffed by federal immigration officials when they reported for work at a construction site at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield and held since then at a federal detention facility. In an op-ed essay published in the San Francisco Chronicle Nov. 20, the day of Mejia's immigration hearing, Archbishop Cordileone said, "As I visited and prayed with Mejia's family, their anguish at the separation was palpable -- but so was their dignity and the power of their faith in the face of such great hardship." As Mejia's fate hung in the balance, the archbishop asked, "How should our society treat Mejia, and millions of other sisters and brothers like him? How would you want to be treated if you were in their situation?" During the hearing, a judge said Mejia, 37, could be freed on bond as his case wound its way through immigration court. The co-worker, Rodrigo Nunez, was not as lucky; he was deported in August.

    Contraceptive mandate battle still on: States fight religious exemptions

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Little Sisters of the Poor, who have always been known for their care for the poor elderly, have been in the spotlight for the past six years with their objection to the federal government's requirement that they provide insurance coverage of contraceptives for their employees. They hoped the issue was behind them after a new rule was issued in October by the Department of Health and Human Services granting an exemption to the contraceptive mandate for religious nonprofits who oppose the mandate on religious grounds. But days after the rule was issued, Pennsylvania and California filed complaints against the federal government over the exemption. Delaware, Maryland, New York and Virginia joined California's lawsuit to become the first plaintiff group to file a motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to prevent the new exemption rule from going into effect. This means the Little Sisters of the Poor are going back to court. Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at Becket, the law firm representing the sisters, said in a Nov. 21 press call that the HHS rule "should have been the end of the story" and the end of a "long and divisive culture war."

    Teens, adults forsake comfort to experience way of life for homeless

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNS) -- Though rain and high winds forced most of the 40 students and adults inside during the fifth annual "Homeless for a Night" campout at Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria Nov. 18, it brought greater awareness to the problem of homelessness. Cardboard boxes, tarps, sleeping bags and extra layers of clothing -- only what could fit in a small overnight bag -- filled the lawn outside Good Shepherd. Campers spent time in the afternoon working together to assemble the makeshift cardboard shelters, sometimes laying plastic underneath the boxes for protection from the soggy ground and covering boxes with tarps or plastic bags before going inside for Mass. The campers returned to their shelters at 9 p.m. after an evening full of activities. Miguel de Angel, director of youth ministry, said the program was inspired by a desire to give the students an experience of tangible service. "We needed something experiential to hopefully draw people out," he said. "Families and kids have responded." The church's ZIP code -- 22309 -- has the highest income disparity in the United States, according to Susan Grunder, parish director of social ministry.

    Update: Church leaders decry administration plan to end TPS for Haitians

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates and church leaders rallied around 58,000 Haitians living in the United States since a ferocious 2010 earthquake after the Trump administration moved to end a humanitarian program that allowed them stay in the country. The Haitians will be forced to leave the country by July 22, 2019, or face deportation. Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke terminated the Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for Haitians Nov. 20 after determining that conditions in the poor Caribbean nation had improved significantly since the earthquake. The effective date of the termination was delayed for 18 months "to allow for an orderly transition." Religious leaders and advocates on a media conference call Nov. 21 described the decision affecting Haitians in dire need of stability and security as lacking compassion and kindness. "It's not a question of sending them home. After so many years in the United States, they are home," said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami. "People have put down roots. They've started businesses and families and their children are American citizens. To send them back and take away their means of livelihood would not be in the best interested of the Haitians, their children or the American society in which they live," he said.

    Pope adds meetings, including with general, to Myanmar itinerary

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Accepting suggestions by Myanmar's cardinal, Pope Francis has added two private meetings to the schedule for his visit to the country: one with religious leaders and the other with the commander of the military, who wields great political power in the country. Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, said Pope Francis will meet Nov. 28 with representatives of various religions present in Myanmar and Nov. 30 with Gen. Min Aung Hlaing. Burke also said the public Mass in Yangon Nov. 29 will begin an hour earlier than originally scheduled because of the heat. About 90 percent of Myanmar's population follows Theravada Buddhism, and Pope Francis already had a meeting scheduled with the Sangha supreme council, which oversees the Buddhist monks throughout the country. But Myanmar also is home to Muslims, Hindus and followers of other Buddhist traditions, as well as Baptists, who far outnumber Catholics in the country. Representatives of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh will meet Pope Francis Dec. 1 in Dhaka during an interreligious and ecumenical meeting for peace, Burke said.

    At Mass, Jesus seeks to bring others with him to salvation, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If people really understood that participating at Mass is witnessing Christ's suffering, death and resurrection, then maybe they would stop taking pictures, talking and acting as if it were some kind of show, Pope Francis said. "This is Mass: to enter into Jesus' passion, death, resurrection and ascension. When we go to Mass, it is as if we were going to Calvary, it's the same," the pope said Nov. 22 during his weekly general audience, continuing his series of talks on the liturgy. If people realize that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist and is letting himself be broken and pouring out his love and mercy for everyone, "would we allow ourselves to chitchat, take pictures, to be on show? No," the pope said. "For sure we would be silent, in mourning and also in joy for being saved." The Mass, as a "memorial," is more than just remembering an event from the past, the pope said; it is making that event present and alive in a way that transforms those who participate. "Every celebration of the Eucharist is a beam of that sun that never sets, which is the risen Jesus Christ. To take part in Mass, especially on Sundays, means entering into the victory of the resurrection, being illuminated by his light, warmed by his heat," he said.

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    Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • Wisconsin Catholics raise money to make humanitarian visit to Puerto Rico

    ALLOUEZ, Wis. (CNS) -- What began as an effort by two members of a Green Bay parish to help family and friends affected by Hurricane Maria has mushroomed into a major relief project organized by parish and diocesan leaders. The project, "Breaking Bread With Puerto Rico: Home for Christmas," included a Nov. 17 fundraiser at St. Willebrord Church in Green Bay that brought in more than $8,000. The effort will continue with a trip to Puerto Rico in December to serve Christmas meals to parish families. Like the hurricane that hit the island of Puerto Rico Sept. 20, the fundraiser quickly picked up momentum after Maria Garcia and Griselle Montalvo, Puerto Rican natives and members of St. Willebrord Parish, began looking for ways to assist families and friends on the Caribbean island. Word spread and more and more people got involved. Montalvo and two others from the Green Bay Diocese will travel to Puerto Rico Dec. 18-23. The money raised will be used for the Christmas meals and rental of a van to transport the food. A grant the group received will cover airfare to and from Puerto Rico.

    Update: Bishops named for Diocese of Nashville, Diocese of Jefferson City

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has named Father J. Mark Spalding, a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky, as the new bishop of Nashville, Tennessee, succeeding Bishop David R. Choby, who died June 3. The pope also accepted the resignation of Bishop John R. Gaydos of Jefferson City, Missouri, and named as his successor Father W. Shawn McKnight, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas. Bishop-designate McKnight was executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations from 2010-2015. The appointments were announced in Washington Nov. 21 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Bishop-designate Spalding, 52, is vicar general of the Louisville Archdiocese and also pastor of two parishes, Holy Trinity and Holy Name. Bishop-designate McKnight, 49, is currently pastor of the Church of the Magdalen in Wichita. He also has been a chaplain at Newman University, also in Wichita.

    Using new media, National Geographic tells the story of Christ's tomb

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In the modern-age, news about Jesus doesn't just sell newspapers, it racks up page views, too. In 2016, when renovations around the site believed to protect the tomb of Christ in Jerusalem were underway, religious leaders agreed to the temporary removal of the marble slab covering the tomb so that restorers could install a moisture barrier to protect it. It would mark the first opening of the space in perhaps centuries. A team from National Geographic, which had been at the site to document the restoration, was allowed, during a relatively short window of time, to document the opening of tomb, in words, photos and video. National Geographic noted the interest by the number of clicks on the story and images the team posted about those 60 hours, which appeared on its website, not its iconic magazine, because of its immediacy. More than 3 million viewers worldwide flocked to the National Geographic website, https://www.nationalgeographic.com. "It was one of the highest-rated stories of the year for us. We got a sense from that, that there would be a lot of interest in this story," said Kathryn Keane, vice president of exhibitions for National Geographic, told Catholic News Service.

    'Future of church in good hands,' says Archbishop Gomez at closing Mass

    INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- When Indianapolis Archbishop Charles C. Thompson thanked Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez for celebrating the Nov. 18 closing Mass of the National Catholic Youth Conference, a cheer broke out from the Los Angeles youths in attendance. And when he mentioned the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' meeting held in Baltimore some days before the youth gathering, that archdiocese's contingent of teens shouted and clapped. He proceeded to receive shouts and standing ovations when he thanked the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministers, and then when he thanked the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, and then when he thanked all of the religious, deacons, priests and bishops who helped with NCYC, and then when he wished everyone safe travels. Archbishop Thompson just shook his head and laughed. "A guy going to a Catholic wedding told me he didn't know if he should wear a dress suit or a warm-up suit because Catholics stand up and sit down so much!" he joked. And that line too received a thunderous standing ovation. In his homily, Archbishop Gomez told the 20,000 youths: "You inspire us bishops. You give us hope. The future of the church is in good hands with you."

    Sermon on the screen: Priest plays himself in 'Lady Bird'

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Part of a voice-over in the trailer for "Lady Bird" -- playing over scenes from the movie and in between dialogue -- comes from a homily delivered to Catholic high school students attending a school Mass in the beginning of the movie. "We're afraid that we'll never escape our past. We're afraid of what the future will bring. We're afraid we won't be loved, we won't be liked and we won't succeed," the priest says. Not all of the sermon, even what was shown in the trailer, made it to the final cut of the coming-of-age movie, but that's OK with Claretian Father Paul Keller, who spoke these words. "Making connections, that's what preachers do," he told Catholic News Service Nov. 20 in a phone interview while he was at the airport in Ottawa, Ontario, awaiting a flight to Los Angeles. The priest looks natural addressing the movie's students in the congregation because he really is. He has celebrated Masses before at the church, St. Elizabeth of Hungary in Altadena, California. It's a real church -- not a Hollywood set.

    Vietnam archdiocese marks World Day of the Poor with a meal

    HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (CNS) -- An archdiocese in southern Vietnam has demonstrated care for the poor by providing a special meal. More than 600 elderly and disabled people of different faiths enjoyed a hearty lunch at the Bishop's House in Ho Chi Minh City Nov. 19, ucanews.com reported. The event to mark the first World Day of the Poor, initiated by Pope Francis, was attended by Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Do Manh Hung of Ho Chi Minh City. "The meal is an opportunity for the local church to concretely show mercy, care and respect to our brothers and sisters who are in poor conditions," Archbishop Doc told participants. As well as food and other gifts, each participant was given $13. Paul Bui Van Lien, 65, who lost the sight of both eyes in 1976 when he struck an unexploded shell with a hoe at a farm, said he had not tasted such delicious food for a long time. "I am happy to have lunch with the archbishop here," he said.

    Vietnam archdiocese marks World Day of the Poor with a meal

    HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (CNS) -- An archdiocese in southern Vietnam has demonstrated care for the poor by providing a special meal. More than 600 elderly and disabled people of different faiths enjoyed a hearty lunch at the Bishop's House in Ho Chi Minh City Nov. 19, ucanews.com reported. The event to mark the first World Day of the Poor, initiated by Pope Francis, was attended by Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Do Manh Hung of Ho Chi Minh City. "The meal is an opportunity for the local church to concretely show mercy, care and respect to our brothers and sisters who are in poor conditions," Archbishop Doc told participants. As well as food and other gifts, each participant was given $13. Paul Bui Van Lien, 65, who lost the sight of both eyes in 1976 when he struck an unexploded shell with a hoe at a farm, said he had not tasted such delicious food for a long time. "I am happy to have lunch with the archbishop here," he said.

    Archaeologist finds his human side at the tomb of Christ

    WASHINGTON (CNS) - Fred Hiebert's identity is firmly grounded in academia and in his professional work as a scientist. Over the years, he has studied and taught about ancient trade routes, such as the Silk Road, from China to Europe, and led underwater archaeology projects beneath the Black Sea. The lively and friendly archaeologist-in-residence at Washington's National Geographic Museum is not a stranger, by any means, to ancient treasures and places. "I've been to Machu Picchu, I've been to the tombs of the Mycenaean kings in Greece and it's ' you commune with the past. You sort of close your eyes" trying to imagine cultures and people who lived there long ago, he said about his job. It was an easy feat until his last assignment, which took him in 2016 and 2017 to the bustling city of Jerusalem and the place long believed to be the site where Christ was buried and where Christians believe that he returned to life. He was part of a team from the National Geographic Museum in Washington that covered the restoration taking place at the site of the tomb of Christ.

    Archaeologist finds his human side at the tomb of Christ

    WASHINGTON (CNS) - Fred Hiebert's identity is firmly grounded in academia and in his professional work as a scientist. Over the years, he has studied and taught about ancient trade routes, such as the Silk Road, from China to Europe, and led underwater archaeology projects beneath the Black Sea. The lively and friendly archaeologist-in-residence at Washington's National Geographic Museum is not a stranger, by any means, to ancient treasures and places. "I've been to Machu Picchu, I've been to the tombs of the Mycenaean kings in Greece and it's ' you commune with the past. You sort of close your eyes" trying to imagine cultures and people who lived there long ago, he said about his job. It was an easy feat until his last assignment, which took him in 2016 and 2017 to the bustling city of Jerusalem and the place long believed to be the site where Christ was buried and where Christians believe that he returned to life. He was part of a team from the National Geographic Museum in Washington that covered the restoration taking place at the site of the tomb of Christ.

    Cultural colonization blasphemes God by trying to alter his creation

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Ideological colonization is a form of persecution that seeks to obliterate the past, eradicate what makes people different and impose uniformity, Pope Francis said. Those who use a strategy of "making everything the same and eradicating what is different commit the terrible sin of blaspheming God the creator" because they want to change the way he made the world, the pope said Nov. 21 in his homily at Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. The only antidote or "medicine" for fighting this illness is "witness, that is, martyrdom," he said. The pope reflected on the day's first reading (2 Mc 6:18-31) about Eleazar, an elderly and holy scribe who preferred torture and death for breaking a king's law rather than breaking one of God's laws. This martyr and hero, the pope said, chose to die and become a new "root" that would give fruit in the future in response to a "perverse root that produces this ideological and cultural colonization." Ideological colonization is a form of persecution, the pope explained; it wants to sweep away all traditions, laws, history, even religion and God, and set up one new uniform culture. "It makes everything the same, it is unable to tolerate differences," he said.

    Pope raises profile of Vatican office coordinating work of nuncios

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has established a new section in the Vatican Secretariat of State to oversee the training, assigning and ministry of Vatican nuncios and diplomats around the world. The Section for Diplomatic Personnel will be concerned "exclusively with questions pertaining to the people who work in the diplomatic service of the Holy See or who are preparing to do so," said a statement Nov. 21 from the Secretariat of State. The section will oversee "the selection, initial and ongoing formation, the living and serving conditions, promotions" and other matters, the statement said. The head of the section, Polish Archbishop Jan Pawlowski, also will "convoke and preside over ad hoc meetings to prepare the nominations of pontifical representatives," who formally are nominated by the pope and usually are made archbishops with their first posting as a nuncio or apostolic delegate. The diplomatic staff at the Vatican embassies around the globe and most of the archbishops who serve as nuncios are alumni of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. There the future diplomats receive specialized training as they complete advanced degrees -- usually in canon law -- at a pontifical university in Rome. They also must study languages.

    Pope raises profile of Vatican office coordinating work of nuncios

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has established a new section in the Vatican Secretariat of State to oversee the training, assigning and ministry of Vatican nuncios and diplomats around the world. The Section for Diplomatic Personnel will be concerned "exclusively with questions pertaining to the people who work in the diplomatic service of the Holy See or who are preparing to do so," said a statement Nov. 21 from the Secretariat of State. The section will oversee "the selection, initial and ongoing formation, the living and serving conditions, promotions" and other matters, the statement said. The head of the section, Polish Archbishop Jan Pawlowski, also will "convoke and preside over ad hoc meetings to prepare the nominations of pontifical representatives," who formally are nominated by the pope and usually are made archbishops with their first posting as a nuncio or apostolic delegate. The diplomatic staff at the Vatican embassies around the globe and most of the archbishops who serve as nuncios are alumni of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. There the future diplomats receive specialized training as they complete advanced degrees -- usually in canon law -- at a pontifical university in Rome. They also must study languages.

    Mexican, American bishops offer moral guidelines for NAFTA talks

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Mexican and American bishops called on negotiators working to overhaul a 23-year-old trade agreement to ensure that any changes keep the needs of poor people foremost. Any new planks in the North American Free Trade Agreement must be evaluated "in terms of the effects on people and the environment in the affected countries," said a statement from the leaders of committees focused on justice and peace within both bishops' conferences. The statement was released Nov. 21 in Washington and Mexico City as negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico were in the third month of meetings on the agreement known as NAFTA. "We wanted to remind policymakers that there are moral considerations that must take place," explained Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, one of the signatories to the three-page document. Also signing the statement were Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Bishop Jose Gonzalez of Nogales, Mexico, chairman of the Mexican bishops' social ministry committee; Archbishop Carlos Garfias Merlo of Morelia, Mexico; and Bishop Guillermo Ortiz Mondragon of Cuautitlan, Mexico.

    Catholic schools urged to include students with development disabilities

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Mexican and American bishops called on negotiators working to overhaul a 23-year-old trade agreement to ensure that any changes keep the needs of poor people foremost. Any new planks in the North American Free Trade Agreement must be evaluated "in terms of the effects on people and the environment in the affected countries," said a statement from the leaders of committees focused on justice and peace within both bishops' conferences. The statement was released Nov. 21 in Washington and Mexico City as negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico were in the third month of meetings on the agreement known as NAFTA. "We wanted to remind policymakers that there are moral considerations that must take place," explained Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, one of the signatories to the three-page document. Also signing the statement were Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Bishop Jose Gonzalez of Nogales, Mexico, chairman of the Mexican bishops' social ministry committee; Archbishop Carlos Garfias Merlo of Morelia, Mexico; and Bishop Guillermo Ortiz Mondragon of Cuautitlan, Mexico.

    Vatican Museums launch joint art shows with China to further dialogue

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As a gesture of openness, cooperation and "cultural diplomacy," the Vatican Museums have organized two joint art exhibitions with China. "It is the first time ever the pope's museums have organized an exhibit in the People's Republic of China," Barbara Jatta, director of the Vatican Museums, told reporters at a Vatican news conference Nov. 21. Art, with its "beauty, is an exceptional vehicle for dialogue" in every corner of the world because it is "without fear, without barriers," she said. Following through on Pope Francis' call to be open to the world, Jatta said the initiative was a further show of the church's long tradition of "what we at the Vatican Museums like to call the 'diplomacy of art.'" The initiative, which will begin in March 2018, reflects an openness to and recognition of "that common identity and friendship" that the museums have begun with cultural institutes in China. The Vatican Museums will be loaning 40 pieces from its ethnological collections for display first in Beijing's Forbidden City and then in three other cities, including Shanghai. Likewise, China will be loaning 40 pieces from its collections for display in the Vatican Museums as part of the joint exchange.

    TV program notes -- week of Nov. 19, 2017

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As a gesture of openness, cooperation and "cultural diplomacy," the Vatican Museums have organized two joint art exhibitions with China. "It is the first time ever the pope's museums have organized an exhibit in the People's Republic of China," Barbara Jatta, director of the Vatican Museums, told reporters at a Vatican news conference Nov. 21. Art, with its "beauty, is an exceptional vehicle for dialogue" in every corner of the world because it is "without fear, without barriers," she said. Following through on Pope Francis' call to be open to the world, Jatta said the initiative was a further show of the church's long tradition of "what we at the Vatican Museums like to call the 'diplomacy of art.'" The initiative, which will begin in March 2018, reflects an openness to and recognition of "that common identity and friendship" that the museums have begun with cultural institutes in China. The Vatican Museums will be loaning 40 pieces from its ethnological collections for display first in Beijing's Forbidden City and then in three other cities, including Shanghai. Likewise, China will be loaning 40 pieces from its collections for display in the Vatican Museums as part of the joint exchange.

    Update: Protection urged for migrants, refugees, other 'vulnerable' groups

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the nation made preparations for Thanksgiving Day, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed gratitude for "the gift of immigrants and refugees to the country," but also appealed for their protection. "As we do every year, we will pause this coming Thursday to thank God for the many blessings we enjoy in the United States," Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said in a statement Nov. 20, a week after the U.S. bishops opened their annual fall assembly. The longest and most passionate discussion on the first day of the fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 13 focused on immigrants, on how to help them but also how to drive home the point that they, too, are our brothers and sisters and should not be demonized. Cardinal DiNardo said his Thanksgiving Day statement was prompted by the bishops urging he "speak out on their behalf." The bishops "expressed a shared and ever-greater sense of alarm -- and urgency to act -- in the face of policies that seemed unthinkable only a short time ago," he said.

    Update: Protection urged for migrants, refugees, other 'vulnerable' groups

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the nation made preparations for Thanksgiving Day, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed gratitude for "the gift of immigrants and refugees to the country," but also appealed for their protection. "As we do every year, we will pause this coming Thursday to thank God for the many blessings we enjoy in the United States," Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said in a statement Nov. 20, a week after the U.S. bishops opened their annual fall assembly. The longest and most passionate discussion on the first day of the fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 13 focused on immigrants, on how to help them but also how to drive home the point that they, too, are our brothers and sisters and should not be demonized. Cardinal DiNardo said his Thanksgiving Day statement was prompted by the bishops urging he "speak out on their behalf." The bishops "expressed a shared and ever-greater sense of alarm -- and urgency to act -- in the face of policies that seemed unthinkable only a short time ago," he said.

    Before Bangladesh trip, pope calls for interreligious dialogue

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis said he would travel to Bangladesh to proclaim the Gospel message of "reconciliation, forgiveness and peace," and he said he was especially looking forward to a meeting with the nation's religious leaders. "We are living at a time when religious believers and people of goodwill everywhere are called to foster mutual understanding and respect and to support each other as members of our one human family," the pope said in a video message to the people of Bangladesh. "I especially look forward to meeting religious leaders," he said in the video, which was released at the Vatican Nov. 21. Pope Francis is scheduled to leave Rome Nov. 26 for a visit to Myanmar Nov. 27-30 and Bangladesh Nov. 30-Dec. 2. What the Vatican described as an "interreligious and ecumenical meeting for peace" is scheduled for Dec. 1 in the garden of the archbishop's residence in Dhaka's Ramna neighborhood. The vast majority -- some 90 percent -- of Bangladesh's people are Muslim. The largest minority group is made up of Hindus. Christians are about 1 percent of the population. The ecumenical National Council of Churches in Bangladesh includes 13 Christian denominations; although the Catholic Church is not a member, it has a strong working relationship with the council.

    Before Bangladesh trip, pope calls for interreligious dialogue

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis said he would travel to Bangladesh to proclaim the Gospel message of "reconciliation, forgiveness and peace," and he said he was especially looking forward to a meeting with the nation's religious leaders. "We are living at a time when religious believers and people of goodwill everywhere are called to foster mutual understanding and respect and to support each other as members of our one human family," the pope said in a video message to the people of Bangladesh. "I especially look forward to meeting religious leaders," he said in the video, which was released at the Vatican Nov. 21. Pope Francis is scheduled to leave Rome Nov. 26 for a visit to Myanmar Nov. 27-30 and Bangladesh Nov. 30-Dec. 2. What the Vatican described as an "interreligious and ecumenical meeting for peace" is scheduled for Dec. 1 in the garden of the archbishop's residence in Dhaka's Ramna neighborhood. The vast majority -- some 90 percent -- of Bangladesh's people are Muslim. The largest minority group is made up of Hindus. Christians are about 1 percent of the population. The ecumenical National Council of Churches in Bangladesh includes 13 Christian denominations; although the Catholic Church is not a member, it has a strong working relationship with the council.

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  • Update: Friar lived out faith, hope, charity every day, says cardinal

    DETROIT (CNS) -- A humble priest and porter, Blessed Solanus Casey thanked God daily for the gift of those who came to his door in his small corner of the world. On Nov. 18, tens of thousands of those whom he touched gathered to thank God in return for the gift of the holy Capuchin Franciscan's life. "Others, above all the poor, were seen by him not as a weight or obstacle to his climb to perfection, but as a way to the light of the splendor of God," Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, told the tens of thousands of people gathered at Detroit's Ford Field for Blessed Solanus' beatification Mass. A congregation of more than 60,000 -- young, old, clergy and laity, those of all races and ethnicities -- flooded into Ford Field for the Mass, with tens of thousands more watching live on TV or the internet. Countless others visited the Solanus Casey Center and St. Bonaventure Monastery over the weekend to pray and leave prayer intentions at the tomb of a saintly friar known for miraculous healings, intercessions and a compassionate listening ear.

    Update: Friar lived out faith, hope, charity every day, says cardinal

    DETROIT (CNS) -- A humble priest and porter, Blessed Solanus Casey thanked God daily for the gift of those who came to his door in his small corner of the world. On Nov. 18, tens of thousands of those whom he touched gathered to thank God in return for the gift of the holy Capuchin Franciscan's life. "Others, above all the poor, were seen by him not as a weight or obstacle to his climb to perfection, but as a way to the light of the splendor of God," Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, told the tens of thousands of people gathered at Detroit's Ford Field for Blessed Solanus' beatification Mass. A congregation of more than 60,000 -- young, old, clergy and laity, those of all races and ethnicities -- flooded into Ford Field for the Mass, with tens of thousands more watching live on TV or the internet. Countless others visited the Solanus Casey Center and St. Bonaventure Monastery over the weekend to pray and leave prayer intentions at the tomb of a saintly friar known for miraculous healings, intercessions and a compassionate listening ear.

    Focus on hope, love while fighting racism, urge speakers at Georgetown

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Government, religious and university leaders encouraged a standing-room-only crowd at Georgetown University not to lose hope in the battle against racism. What drew the large audience was a panel on "Confronting Racism in Our Hearts and in Our Nation," held Nov. 13 the university's Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart. The four panelists were Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, a civil rights leader who helped organize the 1963 March on Washington; Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory; Marcia Chatelain, associate professor of history and African-American studies and a member of the Working Group on Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation at Georgetown; and Rev. Jim Wallis, the author of "America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America." The moderator was John Carr, director of Georgetown's Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, which co-sponsored the dialogue along with the university's Office of Mission and Ministry. "The first thing our church has to do is to acknowledge that it, too, is racist," said Archbishop Gregory. "The sin of racism isn't a sin that is out there, it is a sin that permeates all of us."



    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Government, religious and university leaders encouraged a standing-room-only crowd at Georgetown University not to lose hope in the battle against racism. What drew the large audience was a panel on "Confronting Racism in Our Hearts and in Our Nation," held Nov. 13 the university's Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart. The four panelists were Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, a civil rights leader who helped organize the 1963 March on Washington; Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory; Marcia Chatelain, associate professor of history and African-American studies and a member of the Working Group on Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation at Georgetown; and Rev. Jim Wallis, the author of "America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America." The moderator was John Carr, director of Georgetown's Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, which co-sponsored the dialogue along with the university's Office of Mission and Ministry. "The first thing our church has to do is to acknowledge that it, too, is racist," said Archbishop Gregory. "The sin of racism isn't a sin that is out there, it is a sin that permeates all of us."

    Residents of Philippines mining town protest reopening of coal mine

    MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- Residents of a central Philippine mining town have set up camp outside the Department of Environment and Natural Resources office in Manila to dramatize their opposition to the re-opening of a mine in their community. At least 30 people from Manicani Island in Eastern Samar province want assurances from the government that an open pit mine will remain closed, ucanews.com reported. Religious leaders expressed support for the protesters by celebrating a Mass outside the main gate of the ministry Nov. 17. Father Lenox Nino Garcia of Borongan Diocese said the Mass was intended for the "enlightenment of government officials" about the effects of destructive extraction of natural resources. The residents oppose a mining company's bid for a permit to operate the mine for another 25 years. Mining on the island was suspended in 2002 after complaints filed by local people, including Bishop Crispin Vasquez of Borongan and other members of the clergy. The faith-based group Philippine-Misereor Partnership has been calling on the government to declare the island a "no-go-zone" for mining operations.

    Irish association to offer sessions for priests falsely accused of abuse

    MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- Residents of a central Philippine mining town have set up camp outside the Department of Environment and Natural Resources office in Manila to dramatize their opposition to the re-opening of a mine in their community. At least 30 people from Manicani Island in Eastern Samar province want assurances from the government that an open pit mine will remain closed, ucanews.com reported. Religious leaders expressed support for the protesters by celebrating a Mass outside the main gate of the ministry Nov. 17. Father Lenox Nino Garcia of Borongan Diocese said the Mass was intended for the "enlightenment of government officials" about the effects of destructive extraction of natural resources. The residents oppose a mining company's bid for a permit to operate the mine for another 25 years. Mining on the island was suspended in 2002 after complaints filed by local people, including Bishop Crispin Vasquez of Borongan and other members of the clergy. The faith-based group Philippine-Misereor Partnership has been calling on the government to declare the island a "no-go-zone" for mining operations.

    Science, humanities must overcome 'tragic division,' pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Science, technology, religion and the humanities need to work together for their mutual benefit and to safeguard humanity, Pope Francis said. A broader, more holistic approach is needed to "overcome the tragic division between 'two cultures' -- the humanistic-literary-theological and the scientific, which leads to mutual impoverishment, and to encourage greater dialogue," including between the church and the scientific community. The pope spoke Nov. 18 during an audience with participants of the Pontifical Council for Culture's plenary assembly. The gathering, held Nov. 15-18, discussed the challenges facing humanity given the rapid advancements in neuroscience, genetics in medicine and artificial intelligence. Pope Francis praised those working in the field of science for their efforts to help humanity. Recognizing that the church has not always shown it its full appreciation for science, the pope said scientific study and endeavors are rooted in the duty to care for and safeguard creation, which must be driven by love and service, not "control and arrogance." While science and technology have deepened human knowledge and understanding about creation, "alone, they are not enough to give all the answers," he said.

    'Victims' charter' is next step in fighting trafficking, academy says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Science, technology, religion and the humanities need to work together for their mutual benefit and to safeguard humanity, Pope Francis said. A broader, more holistic approach is needed to "overcome the tragic division between 'two cultures' -- the humanistic-literary-theological and the scientific, which leads to mutual impoverishment, and to encourage greater dialogue," including between the church and the scientific community. The pope spoke Nov. 18 during an audience with participants of the Pontifical Council for Culture's plenary assembly. The gathering, held Nov. 15-18, discussed the challenges facing humanity given the rapid advancements in neuroscience, genetics in medicine and artificial intelligence. Pope Francis praised those working in the field of science for their efforts to help humanity. Recognizing that the church has not always shown it its full appreciation for science, the pope said scientific study and endeavors are rooted in the duty to care for and safeguard creation, which must be driven by love and service, not "control and arrogance." While science and technology have deepened human knowledge and understanding about creation, "alone, they are not enough to give all the answers," he said.

    As Brazil cracks down on drugs, parish religious life changes

    RIO DE JANEIRO (CNS) -- For years favela residents throughout Rio de Janeiro have lived side-by-side with drug traffickers, who flock to these very poor mountainside communities confident that police would not go up the steep alleyways to arrest them. Recent government efforts to capture the drug traffickers, however, have led police to venture farther into these communities and threaten residents' daily lives, including their religious routines. In Rocinha favela for the last two years Franciscan Father Dandro Roberto da Cosa said fireworks usual signal that gunshots are not far behind. Rocinha is one of Latin America's largest favela communities, home to almost 70,000 people, according to a 2010 survey. Here the recent battle between two drug trafficking groups and the attempts by military police to crack down on drug activity in areas like this are starting to take their toll on residents. Father da Costa said that, since the beginning of the year, several church activities have been canceled because of the growing clashes between rival drug trafficking groups and the police. "Parishioners still come to Mass," said Father da Costa, "but not as often as they did before.

    As Brazil cracks down on drugs, parish religious life changes

    RIO DE JANEIRO (CNS) -- For years favela residents throughout Rio de Janeiro have lived side-by-side with drug traffickers, who flock to these very poor mountainside communities confident that police would not go up the steep alleyways to arrest them. Recent government efforts to capture the drug traffickers, however, have led police to venture farther into these communities and threaten residents' daily lives, including their religious routines. In Rocinha favela for the last two years Franciscan Father Dandro Roberto da Cosa said fireworks usual signal that gunshots are not far behind. Rocinha is one of Latin America's largest favela communities, home to almost 70,000 people, according to a 2010 survey. Here the recent battle between two drug trafficking groups and the attempts by military police to crack down on drug activity in areas like this are starting to take their toll on residents. Father da Costa said that, since the beginning of the year, several church activities have been canceled because of the growing clashes between rival drug trafficking groups and the police. "Parishioners still come to Mass," said Father da Costa, "but not as often as they did before.

    Zimbabwean bishops call for restraint, patience in government shake-up

    CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- Zimbabwe's Catholic bishops urged restraint and patience from Zimbabweans in what they called "most delicate times" after 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe was sacked as leader of his party following a de facto coup. They also called on Zimbabwe's defense forces and political leaders to work for a "peaceful end to the crisis and a speedy return to normalcy and constitutional order." Events have been "keenly and prayerfully followed," the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference said in a Nov. 19 statement signed by conference president Bishop Michael Bhasera of Masvingo, vice president Archbishop Robert Ndlovu of Harare and other bishops."The church has also observed the increased economic hardship for ordinary Zimbabweans," it said, noting that "the atmosphere has drastically deteriorated, culminating in the current intervention by the Zimbabwe Defense Forces." Jesuit Father Fidelis Mukonori, parliamentary liaison officer for the Harare Archdiocese, heads a negotiating team between Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in 1980, and the military officers. The bishops urged all to remember that "the entire population is concerned about the process as well as the future of the country," the bishops said.

    Zimbabwean bishops call for restraint, patience in government shake-up

    CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- Zimbabwe's Catholic bishops urged restraint and patience from Zimbabweans in what they called "most delicate times" after 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe was sacked as leader of his party following a de facto coup. They also called on Zimbabwe's defense forces and political leaders to work for a "peaceful end to the crisis and a speedy return to normalcy and constitutional order." Events have been "keenly and prayerfully followed," the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference said in a Nov. 19 statement signed by conference president Bishop Michael Bhasera of Masvingo, vice president Archbishop Robert Ndlovu of Harare and other bishops."The church has also observed the increased economic hardship for ordinary Zimbabweans," it said, noting that "the atmosphere has drastically deteriorated, culminating in the current intervention by the Zimbabwe Defense Forces." Jesuit Father Fidelis Mukonori, parliamentary liaison officer for the Harare Archdiocese, heads a negotiating team between Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in 1980, and the military officers. The bishops urged all to remember that "the entire population is concerned about the process as well as the future of the country," the bishops said.

    Youth urged to remember they're 'beloved children of God, called by name'

    INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- The sound of more than 20,000 teens screaming and singing along with raucous music of Christian hip-hop band TobyMac was loud. The sound of the same number of youths in silent prayer was deafening. These external and internal forms of praise formed bookends to the opening general session of the National Catholic Youth Conference Nov. 16 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. After two hours of music, entertainment -- including cultural dancing by the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement -- and an entrance procession of banners from each diocese present, the participants were greeted by Indianapolis Archbishop Charles C. Thompson. Although each person came "from many dioceses, many states ' and with many titles," he said, "we are first and foremost children of God. And that God who knows us desires to be known by us. ' God wanted us to know him ... through a personal relationship with a human being, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. "We are beloved children of God, called by name, claimed by Christ," he continued, referring to the conference theme of "Called." "We begin this NCYC weekend by embracing that reality of who we are."

    Youth urged to remember they're 'beloved children of God, called by name'

    INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- The sound of more than 20,000 teens screaming and singing along with raucous music of Christian hip-hop band TobyMac was loud. The sound of the same number of youths in silent prayer was deafening. These external and internal forms of praise formed bookends to the opening general session of the National Catholic Youth Conference Nov. 16 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. After two hours of music, entertainment -- including cultural dancing by the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement -- and an entrance procession of banners from each diocese present, the participants were greeted by Indianapolis Archbishop Charles C. Thompson. Although each person came "from many dioceses, many states ' and with many titles," he said, "we are first and foremost children of God. And that God who knows us desires to be known by us. ' God wanted us to know him ... through a personal relationship with a human being, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. "We are beloved children of God, called by name, claimed by Christ," he continued, referring to the conference theme of "Called." "We begin this NCYC weekend by embracing that reality of who we are."

    To understand border issues, Americans immerse themselves for a week

    EL PASO, Texas (CNS) -- Eight U.S. citizens caught glimpses of hope and inequity during a week spent along the U.S.-Mexico border. "You can learn things in books, but I'm one of those people who learn things by seeing them firsthand," said Mercy Sister Eileen Trainor of New York City, one of the participants. The group spent five days in mid-November visiting refugee shelters, churches and associations in El Paso and in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. They shared meals, prayers and daily reflections in an excursion organized by the Sisters of Mercy and the Columban Mission in El Paso. Brunella Bowditch, professor of biology at Georgian Court University, participated because she notices how current U.S. politics affect her students' performance and behavior. "A lot of my students are Dreamers from Mexico and Central America," she said of young people who can work or attend classes in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. "I can see when my students are troubled, so I came here to understand them better." Understanding immigration and its close cousins, poverty and violence, starts at the 8-foot-high border fence dividing El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.

    To understand border issues, Americans immerse themselves for a week

    EL PASO, Texas (CNS) -- Eight U.S. citizens caught glimpses of hope and inequity during a week spent along the U.S.-Mexico border. "You can learn things in books, but I'm one of those people who learn things by seeing them firsthand," said Mercy Sister Eileen Trainor of New York City, one of the participants. The group spent five days in mid-November visiting refugee shelters, churches and associations in El Paso and in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. They shared meals, prayers and daily reflections in an excursion organized by the Sisters of Mercy and the Columban Mission in El Paso. Brunella Bowditch, professor of biology at Georgian Court University, participated because she notices how current U.S. politics affect her students' performance and behavior. "A lot of my students are Dreamers from Mexico and Central America," she said of young people who can work or attend classes in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. "I can see when my students are troubled, so I came here to understand them better." Understanding immigration and its close cousins, poverty and violence, starts at the 8-foot-high border fence dividing El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.

    Pope Francis calls Benedict's teaching 'precious heritage'

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The theological work and papal teaching of retired Pope Benedict XVI "continue to be a living and precious heritage for the church," Pope Francis said. The pope met Nov. 18 with the winners of the 2017 Ratzinger Prize, named for the retired pope to honor those who make significant contributions to theology and culture. The three winners had met the day before with Pope Benedict in his residence in the Vatican gardens. Pope Francis told the group that Pope Benedict's "prayer and his discreet and encouraging presence accompany us on our common journey." The Ratzinger Prize is awarded each year by the Vatican-based Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Foundation, and Pope Francis urged the foundation to pay tribute to the retired pope not only by promoting the study of his writings, but to continue the spirit of his work by "entering into new fields in which modern culture asks for dialogue with the faith." The prize winners were German Lutheran theologian Theodor Dieter, German Catholic theologian Father Karl-Heinz Menke and Estonian composer Arvo Part, an Orthodox Christian.

    Pope Francis calls Benedict's teaching 'precious heritage'

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The theological work and papal teaching of retired Pope Benedict XVI "continue to be a living and precious heritage for the church," Pope Francis said. The pope met Nov. 18 with the winners of the 2017 Ratzinger Prize, named for the retired pope to honor those who make significant contributions to theology and culture. The three winners had met the day before with Pope Benedict in his residence in the Vatican gardens. Pope Francis told the group that Pope Benedict's "prayer and his discreet and encouraging presence accompany us on our common journey." The Ratzinger Prize is awarded each year by the Vatican-based Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Foundation, and Pope Francis urged the foundation to pay tribute to the retired pope not only by promoting the study of his writings, but to continue the spirit of his work by "entering into new fields in which modern culture asks for dialogue with the faith." The prize winners were German Lutheran theologian Theodor Dieter, German Catholic theologian Father Karl-Heinz Menke and Estonian composer Arvo Part, an Orthodox Christian.

    Cardinal who was veteran diplomat, expert in heraldry dies at 92

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A seasoned and successful Vatican diplomat and expert in heraldry, Italian Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo died Nov. 19 in Rome at age 92. Pope Francis sent a telegram of condolence Nov. 20 to the cardinal's sister, Adriana Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, expressing his "sincere admiration" for the cardinal, "who lived with fidelity his long and fruitful priesthood and episcopacy at the service of the Gospel and the Holy See." As a Vatican diplomat, the pope said, the cardinal "dedicated himself with wisdom to the good of the people" in the countries he served. And, as archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the cardinal strengthened the "spiritual vitality" of the basilica and its "ecumenical vocation" as the burial place of the apostle. Named apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine in 1990, he was instrumental in establishing diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel in 1993; he became the Vatican's first nuncio to Israel and held the post until 1998. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, vice dean of the College of Cardinals, was to celebrate his funeral Mass Nov. 21 in St. Peter's Basilica. Pope Francis was to officiate over the final commendation.

    Cardinal who was veteran diplomat, expert in heraldry dies at 92

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A seasoned and successful Vatican diplomat and expert in heraldry, Italian Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo died Nov. 19 in Rome at age 92. Pope Francis sent a telegram of condolence Nov. 20 to the cardinal's sister, Adriana Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, expressing his "sincere admiration" for the cardinal, "who lived with fidelity his long and fruitful priesthood and episcopacy at the service of the Gospel and the Holy See." As a Vatican diplomat, the pope said, the cardinal "dedicated himself with wisdom to the good of the people" in the countries he served. And, as archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the cardinal strengthened the "spiritual vitality" of the basilica and its "ecumenical vocation" as the burial place of the apostle. Named apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine in 1990, he was instrumental in establishing diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel in 1993; he became the Vatican's first nuncio to Israel and held the post until 1998. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, vice dean of the College of Cardinals, was to celebrate his funeral Mass Nov. 21 in St. Peter's Basilica. Pope Francis was to officiate over the final commendation.

    Pope criticizes police brutality, denounces dangerous drivers

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Putting the brakes on dangerous and distracted driving, Pope Francis criticized using mobile phones when at the wheel and treating roads like racetracks. While praising the work and sacrifice of police officers dealing with transit and highway patrol, he also cautioned them against turning the just use of force into brutality. "Wisdom and self-control are needed, especially when the police officer is viewed with mistrust or seen almost as an enemy, instead of as a guardian of the common good," he said. The pope made his remarks in a speech Nov. 20 to staff and managers of the central administration of the Italian police in charge of traffic and highway patrol and of the railways. Whenever officers must check or constrain someone, "it's important to rely on a use of force that never degenerates into violence," he said, particularly in places where the police are looked upon with distrust. Mercy is essential, he said; mercy is not weakness nor does it mean renouncing all use of force. "Instead, it means being able to not equate the culprits with the crime they commit, ending up causing damage and creating a feeling of revenge; it also means making an effort to understand the needs and motives of the people that you encounter in your work," he said.

    Pope criticizes police brutality, denounces dangerous drivers

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Putting the brakes on dangerous and distracted driving, Pope Francis criticized using mobile phones when at the wheel and treating roads like racetracks. While praising the work and sacrifice of police officers dealing with transit and highway patrol, he also cautioned them against turning the just use of force into brutality. "Wisdom and self-control are needed, especially when the police officer is viewed with mistrust or seen almost as an enemy, instead of as a guardian of the common good," he said. The pope made his remarks in a speech Nov. 20 to staff and managers of the central administration of the Italian police in charge of traffic and highway patrol and of the railways. Whenever officers must check or constrain someone, "it's important to rely on a use of force that never degenerates into violence," he said, particularly in places where the police are looked upon with distrust. Mercy is essential, he said; mercy is not weakness nor does it mean renouncing all use of force. "Instead, it means being able to not equate the culprits with the crime they commit, ending up causing damage and creating a feeling of revenge; it also means making an effort to understand the needs and motives of the people that you encounter in your work," he said.

    Vatican investigating abuse at pre-seminary

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican announced it had launched a new investigation into reports about sexual abuse in a pre-seminary for young adolescents run by the Diocese of Como, Italy, but located inside the Vatican. Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, issued a statement Nov. 18 saying that beginning in 2013 when "some reports, anonymous and not," were made, staff of the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary and the bishop of Como both conducted investigations. "Adequate confirmation was not found" regarding the allegations, which involved students and not staff. Some of the students already had left the pre-seminary when the first investigations were carried out, the statement said. However, "in consideration of new elements that recently emerged, a new investigation is underway to shed full light on what really happened," the statement said. In early November, the Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, whose books based on leaked Vatican documents were at the heart of two Vatican trials, published a new book, "Original Sin." The book included allegations about sexual abuse at the pre-seminary where boys in middle school and high school live.

    Vatican investigating abuse at pre-seminary

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican announced it had launched a new investigation into reports about sexual abuse in a pre-seminary for young adolescents run by the Diocese of Como, Italy, but located inside the Vatican. Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, issued a statement Nov. 18 saying that beginning in 2013 when "some reports, anonymous and not," were made, staff of the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary and the bishop of Como both conducted investigations. "Adequate confirmation was not found" regarding the allegations, which involved students and not staff. Some of the students already had left the pre-seminary when the first investigations were carried out, the statement said. However, "in consideration of new elements that recently emerged, a new investigation is underway to shed full light on what really happened," the statement said. In early November, the Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, whose books based on leaked Vatican documents were at the heart of two Vatican trials, published a new book, "Original Sin." The book included allegations about sexual abuse at the pre-seminary where boys in middle school and high school live.

    Pope names Brazilian cardinal to be relator general of upcoming synod

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has chosen Brazil's Cardinal Sergio da Rocha to serve as relator general of next year's Synod of Bishops on youth. The nomination of the 58-year-old archbishop of Brasilia was announced at the Vatican Nov. 18. The relator is responsible for providing a comprehensive outline of the synod's theme at the beginning of the meeting and for summarizing the speeches of synod members before work begins on concrete proposals for the pope. Scheduled for Oct. 3-28, the synod will focus on "Young people, faith and vocational discernment." Cardinal da Rocha, a moral theologian, has decades of experience on local, diocesan, national and continental committees for youth ministry and vocations. He also serves on the general council of the secretary for the Synod of Bishops. Also Nov. 18, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had chosen two Italian priests as special secretaries for the synod: Jesuit Father Giacomo Costa, editor of an Italian journal focused on faith, society and justice and author of a book on discernment; and Salesian Father Rossano Sala, a theologian and professor focusing on youth ministry at Rome's Salesian Pontifical University.

    Pope names Brazilian cardinal to be relator general of upcoming synod

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has chosen Brazil's Cardinal Sergio da Rocha to serve as relator general of next year's Synod of Bishops on youth. The nomination of the 58-year-old archbishop of Brasilia was announced at the Vatican Nov. 18. The relator is responsible for providing a comprehensive outline of the synod's theme at the beginning of the meeting and for summarizing the speeches of synod members before work begins on concrete proposals for the pope. Scheduled for Oct. 3-28, the synod will focus on "Young people, faith and vocational discernment." Cardinal da Rocha, a moral theologian, has decades of experience on local, diocesan, national and continental committees for youth ministry and vocations. He also serves on the general council of the secretary for the Synod of Bishops. Also Nov. 18, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had chosen two Italian priests as special secretaries for the synod: Jesuit Father Giacomo Costa, editor of an Italian journal focused on faith, society and justice and author of a book on discernment; and Salesian Father Rossano Sala, a theologian and professor focusing on youth ministry at Rome's Salesian Pontifical University.

    Inequality in health care is sign of society's 'sickness,' pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Justice and compassion compel the Catholic Church to work to ensure equality and fairness in the distribution of health care resources and in people's access to them, Pope Francis said. A global economic system focused on profit alone has led to a "sickness" infecting society, that of growing inequality in access to basic necessities, including basic health care, the pope said in a written message to a Vatican conference. The International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions and the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development held a conference Nov. 16-18 to discuss global inequalities in health care and to find ways to coordinate a response. Anthony R. Tersigni, president of the confederation and president and CEO of Ascension, a U.S. Catholic health care group, presented a plan for a new website that would serve as a platform for connecting Catholic hospitals and other health facilities, allowing them to share information and resources. Pope Francis encouraged those involved in the project to ensure every individual actually benefits from the right to health care. Equal access to health care will make little progress without addressing "the structural causes of poverty," he said.

    Inequality in health care is sign of society's 'sickness,' pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Justice and compassion compel the Catholic Church to work to ensure equality and fairness in the distribution of health care resources and in people's access to them, Pope Francis said. A global economic system focused on profit alone has led to a "sickness" infecting society, that of growing inequality in access to basic necessities, including basic health care, the pope said in a written message to a Vatican conference. The International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions and the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development held a conference Nov. 16-18 to discuss global inequalities in health care and to find ways to coordinate a response. Anthony R. Tersigni, president of the confederation and president and CEO of Ascension, a U.S. Catholic health care group, presented a plan for a new website that would serve as a platform for connecting Catholic hospitals and other health facilities, allowing them to share information and resources. Pope Francis encouraged those involved in the project to ensure every individual actually benefits from the right to health care. Equal access to health care will make little progress without addressing "the structural causes of poverty," he said.

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  • CLINIC ramps up training, education to better serve immigrants

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Catholic Legal Immigration Network never really had a shortage of opportunities to train lawyers and citizens to represent and advocate for immigrants and refugees. However, given the tenor of the past year, CLINIC -- which was founded by the U.S. bishops but has long been its own separate nonprofit agency -- has stepped up its schedule of trainings in response. CLINIC now has more than 330 affiliates nationwide, said Jeanne Atkinson, its executive director, in a Nov. 16 telephone interview with Catholic News Service from CLINIC headquarters in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland. Not all of the affiliates are Catholic in their origin or orientation, Atkinson added, but all share CLINIC's mission. "We're trying to make sure when they provide legal services, they are providing high-quality legal services in a professional manner," she said. "We have the largest network of immigration programs around the country," Atkinson said. Thanks to the number of affiliates, CLINIC can spot trends. "If we hear it five times, then it's a fluke," she added. "If we hear if 50 times, then there's something wrong."

    CLINIC ramps up training, education to better serve immigrants

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Catholic Legal Immigration Network never really had a shortage of opportunities to train lawyers and citizens to represent and advocate for immigrants and refugees. However, given the tenor of the past year, CLINIC -- which was founded by the U.S. bishops but has long been its own separate nonprofit agency -- has stepped up its schedule of trainings in response. CLINIC now has more than 330 affiliates nationwide, said Jeanne Atkinson, its executive director, in a Nov. 16 telephone interview with Catholic News Service from CLINIC headquarters in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland. Not all of the affiliates are Catholic in their origin or orientation, Atkinson added, but all share CLINIC's mission. "We're trying to make sure when they provide legal services, they are providing high-quality legal services in a professional manner," she said. "We have the largest network of immigration programs around the country," Atkinson said. Thanks to the number of affiliates, CLINIC can spot trends. "If we hear it five times, then it's a fluke," she added. "If we hear if 50 times, then there's something wrong."

    Bishop Dewane disappointed by House passage of tax cut bill

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The chairman of a U.S. bishops' committee concerned with domestic justice issues expressed disappointment over the House of Representatives' passage of "the deeply flawed" tax cut bill. House members "ignored impacts to the poor and families" in passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Nov. 16, said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida. In a statement Nov. 17, Bishop Dewane cited findings by the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation that show the bill's raising of taxes on the working poor beginning in 2023 while giving simultaneous tax cuts to the highest-income Americans is problematic. A Nov. 9 letter to House members by the chairmen of three U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' committees outlined what they called "many deficiencies" in the bill and that the bill places "new and unreasonable burdens on families." Bishop Dewane credited lawmakers for restoring the adoption tax credit, which was not included in earlier versions of the bill. But he also raised concern that the House measure repeals an exclusion for families assisted by their employer to adopt children in need and eliminates incentives for charitable giving.

    Bishop Dewane disappointed by House passage of tax cut bill

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The chairman of a U.S. bishops' committee concerned with domestic justice issues expressed disappointment over the House of Representatives' passage of "the deeply flawed" tax cut bill. House members "ignored impacts to the poor and families" in passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Nov. 16, said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida. In a statement Nov. 17, Bishop Dewane cited findings by the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation that show the bill's raising of taxes on the working poor beginning in 2023 while giving simultaneous tax cuts to the highest-income Americans is problematic. A Nov. 9 letter to House members by the chairmen of three U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' committees outlined what they called "many deficiencies" in the bill and that the bill places "new and unreasonable burdens on families." Bishop Dewane credited lawmakers for restoring the adoption tax credit, which was not included in earlier versions of the bill. But he also raised concern that the House measure repeals an exclusion for families assisted by their employer to adopt children in need and eliminates incentives for charitable giving.

    Catholic leaders urge Trump to return U.S. to leading role on climate

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The United States must resume its leadership role in addressing climate change, dozens of Catholic leaders wrote in a letter to President Donald Trump. "On behalf of people who are poor and vulnerable and future generations, we especially ask that you act based upon the best available climate science," 161 leaders said in the Nov. 16 correspondence. The group called on the president to fund the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, meaningfully participate in the framework convention deliberations, and honor U.S. commitments to the Green Climate Fund. The U.N. framework guides international climate policy while the IPCC assesses scientific, technical and socioeconomic information related to human-induced climate change. The framework convention established the Green Climate Fund in 2010 to assist countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, especially least developed countries, small island developing states and African nations. The writers cited Blessed Paul VI, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis for advancing the church's call to care for creation.

    Catholic leaders urge Trump to return U.S. to leading role on climate

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The United States must resume its leadership role in addressing climate change, dozens of Catholic leaders wrote in a letter to President Donald Trump. "On behalf of people who are poor and vulnerable and future generations, we especially ask that you act based upon the best available climate science," 161 leaders said in the Nov. 16 correspondence. The group called on the president to fund the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, meaningfully participate in the framework convention deliberations, and honor U.S. commitments to the Green Climate Fund. The U.N. framework guides international climate policy while the IPCC assesses scientific, technical and socioeconomic information related to human-induced climate change. The framework convention established the Green Climate Fund in 2010 to assist countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, especially least developed countries, small island developing states and African nations. The writers cited Blessed Paul VI, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis for advancing the church's call to care for creation.

    Black Catholic woman religious and civil rights leader dies at 93

    ST. LOUIS (CNS) -- Sister Mary Antona Ebo, a Franciscan Sister of Mary whose courageous words during the 1965 march in Selma, Alabama, became a rallying cry for many in the civil rights movement, died Nov. 11 at a retirement community outside St. Louis. She was 93. St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson will celebrate her funeral Mass Nov. 20 at St. Alphonsus Liguori Church in St. Louis. A private burial will take place in Resurrection Cemetery in St. Louis. "We will miss her living example of working for justice in the context of our Catholic faith," the archbishop said in a statement. The archdiocesan Peace and Justice Commission said in a statement that Sister Antona's "courage and work to end the injustice of racism provided the inspiration and guidance" the commission's members needed in their work.

    Black Catholic woman religious and civil rights leader dies at 93

    ST. LOUIS (CNS) -- Sister Mary Antona Ebo, a Franciscan Sister of Mary whose courageous words during the 1965 march in Selma, Alabama, became a rallying cry for many in the civil rights movement, died Nov. 11 at a retirement community outside St. Louis. She was 93. St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson will celebrate her funeral Mass Nov. 20 at St. Alphonsus Liguori Church in St. Louis. A private burial will take place in Resurrection Cemetery in St. Louis. "We will miss her living example of working for justice in the context of our Catholic faith," the archbishop said in a statement. The archdiocesan Peace and Justice Commission said in a statement that Sister Antona's "courage and work to end the injustice of racism provided the inspiration and guidance" the commission's members needed in their work.

    Update: Care for the dying does not mean obstinately resisting death, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People who are dying must be accompanied with the love of family members and the care of medical professionals, but there is no requirement that every means available must be used to prolong their lives, Pope Francis said. "Even if we know that we cannot always guarantee healing or a cure, we can and must always care for the living, without ourselves shortening their life, but also without futilely resisting their death," the pope said in a message to the European members of the World Medical Association. "This approach is reflected in palliative care, which is proving most important in our culture, as it opposes what makes death most terrifying and unwelcome: pain and loneliness," the pope said. The European members of the medical association were meeting at the Vatican Nov. 16-17 for a discussion with the Pontifical Academy for Life on end-of-life care. At the same time, across St. Peter's Square, the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions were hosting a meeting on inequalities in health care.

    Update: Care for the dying does not mean obstinately resisting death, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People who are dying must be accompanied with the love of family members and the care of medical professionals, but there is no requirement that every means available must be used to prolong their lives, Pope Francis said. "Even if we know that we cannot always guarantee healing or a cure, we can and must always care for the living, without ourselves shortening their life, but also without futilely resisting their death," the pope said in a message to the European members of the World Medical Association. "This approach is reflected in palliative care, which is proving most important in our culture, as it opposes what makes death most terrifying and unwelcome: pain and loneliness," the pope said. The European members of the medical association were meeting at the Vatican Nov. 16-17 for a discussion with the Pontifical Academy for Life on end-of-life care. At the same time, across St. Peter's Square, the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions were hosting a meeting on inequalities in health care.

    Realizing today may be one's last day changes how one lives, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- It is not morbid to start each day understanding that it may be one's last, Pope Francis said. Death is a reality that will come to everyone -- for some as a sudden surprise, for others as an end to an illness -- but in every case, Jesus will say, "Come with me," the pope said Nov. 17 in his homily at Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. November is a month of remembrance of the deceased and reflection about God's kingdom and eternal life. It is one way the church asks the faithful to reflect on death because, he said, it is easy to get caught up in daily work or school and social routines and think "it will always be this way." The church and the Lord "say to each one of us, 'Stop, hold on. It won't be like this every day. Don't get accustomed as if this were eternity,'" he said.

    Realizing today may be one's last day changes how one lives, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- It is not morbid to start each day understanding that it may be one's last, Pope Francis said. Death is a reality that will come to everyone -- for some as a sudden surprise, for others as an end to an illness -- but in every case, Jesus will say, "Come with me," the pope said Nov. 17 in his homily at Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. November is a month of remembrance of the deceased and reflection about God's kingdom and eternal life. It is one way the church asks the faithful to reflect on death because, he said, it is easy to get caught up in daily work or school and social routines and think "it will always be this way." The church and the Lord "say to each one of us, 'Stop, hold on. It won't be like this every day. Don't get accustomed as if this were eternity,'" he said.

    'All of us are God's children,' pope says in video message to Myanmar

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- By visiting Myanmar in late November, Pope Francis said he wants to strengthen Catholics in their commitment to faith and charity and to encourage all efforts "to build harmony and cooperation" among people of all religions. The pope's video message to the people of Myanmar was posted Nov. 16 on the official Facebook page for the visit and was released by the Vatican the next day. "We are living at a time when religious believers and people of goodwill everywhere sense the need to grow in mutual understanding and respect and to support each other as members of our one human family," he said, "for all of us are God's children." About 90 percent of Myanmar's 54 million people are Buddhist. Christians and Muslims each account for about 4 percent of the population and about 1 percent is Hindu.

    'All of us are God's children,' pope says in video message to Myanmar

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- By visiting Myanmar in late November, Pope Francis said he wants to strengthen Catholics in their commitment to faith and charity and to encourage all efforts "to build harmony and cooperation" among people of all religions. The pope's video message to the people of Myanmar was posted Nov. 16 on the official Facebook page for the visit and was released by the Vatican the next day. "We are living at a time when religious believers and people of goodwill everywhere sense the need to grow in mutual understanding and respect and to support each other as members of our one human family," he said, "for all of us are God's children." About 90 percent of Myanmar's 54 million people are Buddhist. Christians and Muslims each account for about 4 percent of the population and about 1 percent is Hindu.

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    Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • Supreme Court to hear case on free speech and crisis pregnancy centers

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Supreme Court has decided to hear a case examining freedom of speech at crisis pregnancy centers. The case, accepted Nov. 13, will consider if a California law that went into effect in 2016 violates the Constitution by requiring the state's 200 crisis pregnancy centers to inform their clients, in specific detail, about the availability of free or low-cost abortion and contraceptive services and provide a referral number for them. The law in question, called the Reproductive FACT Act, says centers must post such notices in areas where they will be clearly seen on paper that is "at least 8.5 inches by 11 inches and written in no less than 22-point type." Centers also are required to disclose in their advertisements if they have medical personnel on staff. Some centers provide counseling and offer supplies of diapers, formula, clothes and baby items. Centers that fail to comply are subject to fines of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses. Three pregnancy centers challenged the law in court saying it infringed on their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion. The pregnancy center law was upheld last October by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that said the state could regulate professional speech because of its interest in safeguarding public health and to ensure that "citizens have access to and adequate information about constitutionally protected medical services like abortion."

    U.S. bishop: Congo tensions high; church teaches democratic practices

    CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- While political tensions in Congo are running high, the local church is making headway in teaching democratic practices in remote communities, said an official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "There is a real sense of desperation in the country, with growing poverty and people not being paid," said Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace. In a Nov. 2 telephone interview from Congo's capital, Kinshasa, he said widespread corruption is depleting government coffers. Church and other leaders are concerned "that there will be violence in the streets or an attempted coup," he said. Noting that the central African country "needs a stable government, and there don't seem to be many candidates who inspire confidence for effective leadership," he said the local church has a team that focuses on identifying and training community leaders. Bishop Cantu and Stephen Hilbert, the bishops' foreign policy adviser for Africa and global development, visited Congo Oct. 27-Nov. 3 and met with government officials, opposition and civil society leaders, among others.

    New museum tells the story of the Bible -- chapter and verse

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Hey, Smithsonian, there's a new kid on the block. It's the Museum of the Bible, just a few blocks from the National Mall in Washington. With its opening to the public Nov. 18, it will tell visitors how the Bible -- both Old Testament and New Testament -- has intersected society and at times even transformed it. The people behind the museum say that if visitors were to read the card behind every artwork, saw every video, heard every song and took part in every interactive experience -- including a Broadway-style musical called "Amazing Grace" about the song's writer, John Newton, and the biblical inspiration behind the abolitionist movement -- it would take them 72 hours to do it all. But visitors can take their time, because there is no admission charge to the museum. The museum was the brainchild of Steve Green, chairman of the museum's board of directors and president of the Hobby Lobby chain of arts and crafts stores. "It's exciting to share the Bible with the world," Green said at a Nov. 15 press preview of the museum.

    Helping the sick, ministering to souls one vocation for priest-physician

    OAKLAND, Calif. (CNS) -- At the bottom of the Pilgrims' Path leading to the Oakland's Cathedral of Christ the Light stands the Order of Malta Clinic of Northern California, a tiny space where more than 25,000 times over the past nine years, patients with no medical insurance have been treated. The clinic runs on what's been described as less than a shoestring, staffed primarily by volunteer doctors and nurses who provide medical care without an insurance card or copay, and with a major dose of compassion. Among the clinic's latest additions is a physician who wears a white coat embroidered with his name. And beneath that coat is a Roman collar. In the clinic, he's Dr. Diaz. Up that path at the cathedral, where he serves as parochial vicar, he's Father Diaz. One man, one vocation. "My first vocation was a priestly vocation," Jesuit Father Francisco Javier Diaz Diaz said. "Everything started from there."

    Update: New York prelates bring solidarity, hope, aid to Puerto Rico

    OAKLAND, Calif. (CNS) -- At the bottom of the Pilgrims' Path leading to the Oakland's Cathedral of Christ the Light stands the Order of Malta Clinic of Northern California, a tiny space where more than 25,000 times over the past nine years, patients with no medical insurance have been treated. The clinic runs on what's been described as less than a shoestring, staffed primarily by volunteer doctors and nurses who provide medical care without an insurance card or copay, and with a major dose of compassion. Among the clinic's latest additions is a physician who wears a white coat embroidered with his name. And beneath that coat is a Roman collar. In the clinic, he's Dr. Diaz. Up that path at the cathedral, where he serves as parochial vicar, he's Father Diaz. One man, one vocation. "My first vocation was a priestly vocation," Jesuit Father Francisco Javier Diaz Diaz said. "Everything started from there."

    Nuncio to Canada says mercy is rooted in dialogue

    QUEBEC CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' representative to Canada said diplomats today "are called to be peacemakers, in a sincere dialogue." In a talk at Laval University Nov. 14, Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, apostolic nuncio, stressed that pontifical diplomacy aims at serving humanity, trying to be a united family. He said mercy is rooted in a culture of dialogue, which must be fostered in any peace process. Archbishop Bonazzi quoted Pope Francis' 2016 meeting in Havana with Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow; the meeting led to important advances in Catholic-Orthodox dialogue. "The church does not exist to promote itself, but to collaborate with the faithful and realize the aspiration of its founder, Jesus. We must look at humanity through mercy," he said. Archbishop Bonazzi and Anne Leahy, Canadian ambassador at the Holy See from 2008 to 2012, spoke about the role of the Vatican in international diplomacy.

    Immigration advocates say Trump stirs anti-immigrant fears after attack

    QUEBEC CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' representative to Canada said diplomats today "are called to be peacemakers, in a sincere dialogue." In a talk at Laval University Nov. 14, Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, apostolic nuncio, stressed that pontifical diplomacy aims at serving humanity, trying to be a united family. He said mercy is rooted in a culture of dialogue, which must be fostered in any peace process. Archbishop Bonazzi quoted Pope Francis' 2016 meeting in Havana with Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow; the meeting led to important advances in Catholic-Orthodox dialogue. "The church does not exist to promote itself, but to collaborate with the faithful and realize the aspiration of its founder, Jesus. We must look at humanity through mercy," he said. Archbishop Bonazzi and Anne Leahy, Canadian ambassador at the Holy See from 2008 to 2012, spoke about the role of the Vatican in international diplomacy.

    Priest seen as 'Catholic Martin Luther King' who gave 'all to his faith'

    PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- The crowd in Holy Rosary Parish's Aquinas Hall, more than 250 strong, hushed as the lights dimmed for "Tolton: From Slave to Priest." At its end, the audience rose to give a standing ovation for the performance, for the actor, Andrae Goodnight, who portrays the 19th-century priest Father Augustus Tolton, and for Leonardo Defilippis, president and founder of St. Luke Productions, who conceived and produced the drama. "This spoke to my heart, and Andrae Goodnight did a wonderful job," said Evelyn Couser, chairwoman of the African-American Catholic Community of Oregon and a parishioner at Portland's St. Mary Magdalene Church, better known as "The Madeleine." "It comes at a critical time," added her husband, Ron Couser, in an interview with the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Portland Archdiocese. "We are a divided nation and Father Tolton's message is one of unity in Christ." After its opening five-night run at various parishes in Oregon in October, the play headed to Chicago and several other Illinois cities. The last week of November it was being performed in St. Louis and elsewhere in Missouri, with a final stop back in Illinois Dec. 2.

    Priest seen as 'Catholic Martin Luther King' who gave 'all to his faith'

    PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- The crowd in Holy Rosary Parish's Aquinas Hall, more than 250 strong, hushed as the lights dimmed for "Tolton: From Slave to Priest." At its end, the audience rose to give a standing ovation for the performance, for the actor, Andrae Goodnight, who portrays the 19th-century priest Father Augustus Tolton, and for Leonardo Defilippis, president and founder of St. Luke Productions, who conceived and produced the drama. "This spoke to my heart, and Andrae Goodnight did a wonderful job," said Evelyn Couser, chairwoman of the African-American Catholic Community of Oregon and a parishioner at Portland's St. Mary Magdalene Church, better known as "The Madeleine." "It comes at a critical time," added her husband, Ron Couser, in an interview with the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Portland Archdiocese. "We are a divided nation and Father Tolton's message is one of unity in Christ." After its opening five-night run at various parishes in Oregon in October, the play headed to Chicago and several other Illinois cities. The last week of November it was being performed in St. Louis and elsewhere in Missouri, with a final stop back in Illinois Dec. 2.

    Update: Committee sees growing number of texts, rise of digital technology

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- A growing number of texts, not only in English and Spanish but in other languages, and the rise of digital technology is having an impact on the work of the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee on the Catechism, said its chairman, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut. The subcommittee, which uses bishops, staff and contractors to read proposed catechetical texts from publishers, is charged with certifying that they are in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Spanish texts also must go through a "translation verification" process that is supposed to render the English-language catechism faithfully. "We have seen a dramatic increase in the variety of and number of such texts," Bishop Caggiano said Nov. 14 during the U.S. bishops' fall general assembly in Baltimore. Another factor is digital publishing, which represents "a change in the landscape of catechesis that is both complex and continues to grow," Bishop Caggiano said.

    Update: Committee sees growing number of texts, rise of digital technology

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- A growing number of texts, not only in English and Spanish but in other languages, and the rise of digital technology is having an impact on the work of the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee on the Catechism, said its chairman, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut. The subcommittee, which uses bishops, staff and contractors to read proposed catechetical texts from publishers, is charged with certifying that they are in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Spanish texts also must go through a "translation verification" process that is supposed to render the English-language catechism faithfully. "We have seen a dramatic increase in the variety of and number of such texts," Bishop Caggiano said Nov. 14 during the U.S. bishops' fall general assembly in Baltimore. Another factor is digital publishing, which represents "a change in the landscape of catechesis that is both complex and continues to grow," Bishop Caggiano said.

    God's kingdom is not flashy show, but grows silently within, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God works in ways that are small and hidden and grow silently until they give fruit, Pope Francis said. "The kingdom of God doesn't come in a way that attracts attention," like "a show" or "carnival," he said Nov. 16 in his homily at Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. The kingdom does not reveal itself "with boasting, with pride, it doesn't love publicity," he said, because it is "humble, hidden and that way, it grows." The pope reflected on the day's Gospel reading from St. Luke, in which the Pharisees ask Jesus when the kingdom of God would come. Jesus replies that the coming of the kingdom "cannot be observed and no one will announce, 'Look, here it is,' or, 'There it is.' For behold, the kingdom of God is among you." Doubts or questions about "when" God's kingdom will come is seen often in the Bible, the pope said.

    Spirit of communion needed in church, world, pope tells priests

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sincere, harmonious unity is needed in the world and in the church, Pope Francis told an international association for Catholic priests. "It's very sad when we find in a presbyterate that this unity doesn't exist," and, instead, gossip and backstabbing are the rule, he said. "Gossip destroys the diocese, destroys unity among priests -- between themselves and with the bishop," he said. The pope spoke during an audience Nov. 16 with participants in the international assembly of the Apostolic Union of the Clergy, a global confederation of groups promoting brotherhood and mutual support among members of the diocesan clergy whether they are bishops, priests or deacons. "We always see the bad in other people, always," he told the priests, but extreme care must be taken so that those observations do not turn into "terrorist" attacks where one plants gossip that destroys another person, then walks away unscathed.

    Chinese officials pay poor to swap religious images for portraits of Xi

    HONG KONG (CNS) -- Officials in China's eastern Jiangxi province have replaced religious images displayed by Christian families with portraits of the country's leader, Xi Jinping. Ucanews.com reported that, on Nov. 12, pictures were uploaded to the popular social messaging service WeChat account of Huangjinbu town government, showing officials removing images of the cross and other religious subjects in Yugan County. The message from officials said the Christians involved had "recognized their mistakes and decided not to entrust to Jesus but to the (Communist) Party" claiming the Christians voluntarily removed 624 religious images and posted 453 portraits of Xi. The officials also claimed they were "converting" Christians to party loyalty through poverty alleviation and other schemes to help the disadvantaged. Nearly 10 percent of Yugan County's largely impoverished 1 million people is Christian.



    HONG KONG (CNS) -- Officials in China's eastern Jiangxi province have replaced religious images displayed by Christian families with portraits of the country's leader, Xi Jinping. Ucanews.com reported that, on Nov. 12, pictures were uploaded to the popular social messaging service WeChat account of Huangjinbu town government, showing officials removing images of the cross and other religious subjects in Yugan County. The message from officials said the Christians involved had "recognized their mistakes and decided not to entrust to Jesus but to the (Communist) Party" claiming the Christians voluntarily removed 624 religious images and posted 453 portraits of Xi. The officials also claimed they were "converting" Christians to party loyalty through poverty alleviation and other schemes to help the disadvantaged. Nearly 10 percent of Yugan County's largely impoverished 1 million people is Christian.

    Prayer service, conference to promote peace in South Sudan, Congo

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' insistence that he preside at a prayer service for peace in South Sudan and Congo is a clear sign of his support and the support of the church, a missionary sister said. Sister Yudith Pereira-Rico, associate executive director of Solidarity with South Sudan, said the religious orders organizing the prayer service Nov. 23 asked Pope Francis "to participate in some way and he said, 'No, I'm presiding.' So for us, it's a huge support and also for the people of South Sudan." Sister Pereira-Rico, a member of the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary, spoke at a Vatican news conference Nov. 16 to announce the prayer service as well as a roundtable discussion in January on building peace in the two suffering African nations. The goal of both events "is to show that peace is possible and we can do it together," she said. Solidarity with South Sudan is an international network of religious congregations that was formed to train primary school teachers, health care workers, pastoral agents and sustainable farmers from all ethnic groups in country with the hope they would learn tolerance and reconciliation along the way.

    U.S. opioid epidemic affects not only addicts but families and budgets

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' insistence that he preside at a prayer service for peace in South Sudan and Congo is a clear sign of his support and the support of the church, a missionary sister said. Sister Yudith Pereira-Rico, associate executive director of Solidarity with South Sudan, said the religious orders organizing the prayer service Nov. 23 asked Pope Francis "to participate in some way and he said, 'No, I'm presiding.' So for us, it's a huge support and also for the people of South Sudan." Sister Pereira-Rico, a member of the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary, spoke at a Vatican news conference Nov. 16 to announce the prayer service as well as a roundtable discussion in January on building peace in the two suffering African nations. The goal of both events "is to show that peace is possible and we can do it together," she said. Solidarity with South Sudan is an international network of religious congregations that was formed to train primary school teachers, health care workers, pastoral agents and sustainable farmers from all ethnic groups in country with the hope they would learn tolerance and reconciliation along the way.

    Update: Priest mediates between Zimbabwe generals, Mugabe

    CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- A Catholic priest is mediating between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and generals who seized power. Father Fidelis Mukonori, parliamentary liaison officer for Harare Archdiocese, is trying to mediate a graceful exit for the 93-year-old president, who has led Zimbabwe for 37 years. Father Frederick Chiromba, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference, told Catholic News Service Nov. 16 that, through his work, Father Mukonori knows Mugabe and the senior military officers well. He said Father Mukonori was not at a Nov. 15 meeting of the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations, who called for an interim government to be formed to "oversee the smooth transition to a free and fair election." The church leaders, including Father Chiromba, said they wanted to make it clear to the military "that it is their responsibility to ensure that human dignity and rights are respected."

    Update: Priest mediates between Zimbabwe generals, Mugabe

    CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- A Catholic priest is mediating between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and generals who seized power. Father Fidelis Mukonori, parliamentary liaison officer for Harare Archdiocese, is trying to mediate a graceful exit for the 93-year-old president, who has led Zimbabwe for 37 years. Father Frederick Chiromba, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference, told Catholic News Service Nov. 16 that, through his work, Father Mukonori knows Mugabe and the senior military officers well. He said Father Mukonori was not at a Nov. 15 meeting of the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations, who called for an interim government to be formed to "oversee the smooth transition to a free and fair election." The church leaders, including Father Chiromba, said they wanted to make it clear to the military "that it is their responsibility to ensure that human dignity and rights are respected."

    Update: Puerto Rico archbishop sees spiritual rebirth after storm's wrath

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Almost two months after the devastating winds and rains of Hurricane Maria pummeled the island of Puerto Rico, there is still no clear path to recovery. Although some power and phone service have been restored and relief supplies are slowly filtering in, the cleanup and rebuilding is only just beginning. "You go day by day, but it's overwhelming and traumatic," said Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The archbishop, who attended the U.S. bishops' fall assembly in Baltimore, is acutely aware of the storm's initial and ongoing impact. Since Maria, he has visited 57 parishes in his archdiocese and has 100 more to go. Every parish in this archdiocese in the northeast corner of the island was impacted by the hurricane from minimal to extensive damage. And as Puerto Rico's Catholics find their way through the wreckage and mud-soaked parish buildings and roofless homes while coping with minimal electricity, food and water, he said they have not lost their faith. For many, their faith has only deepened.

    Update: Puerto Rico archbishop sees spiritual rebirth after storm's wrath

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Almost two months after the devastating winds and rains of Hurricane Maria pummeled the island of Puerto Rico, there is still no clear path to recovery. Although some power and phone service have been restored and relief supplies are slowly filtering in, the cleanup and rebuilding is only just beginning. "You go day by day, but it's overwhelming and traumatic," said Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The archbishop, who attended the U.S. bishops' fall assembly in Baltimore, is acutely aware of the storm's initial and ongoing impact. Since Maria, he has visited 57 parishes in his archdiocese and has 100 more to go. Every parish in this archdiocese in the northeast corner of the island was impacted by the hurricane from minimal to extensive damage. And as Puerto Rico's Catholics find their way through the wreckage and mud-soaked parish buildings and roofless homes while coping with minimal electricity, food and water, he said they have not lost their faith. For many, their faith has only deepened.

    Update: Detroit archbishop elected next USCCB secretary starting fall 2018

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit will be the next secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, taking office next November. Bishops voted 96-88 to elect Archbishop Vigneron Nov. 14 during their fall general assembly. Votes also were cast for a new chairman of the bishops' Committee for Religious Liberty and chairmen-elect for the committees on Communications, Cultural Diversity in the Church, Doctrine, National Collections and Pro-Life Activities. Archbishop Vigneron will succeed New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, who is starting his third and final year of his three-year term. The Detroit prelate will serve one year as secretary-elect and then start a three-year term in office at the conclusion of the 2018 fall general assembly. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, was elected over Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee as chairman of the Committee on Religious Liberty by a 113-86 vote. He was to assume his duties at the conclusion of the assembly.

    Books highlight papal advice on ministry, diaconate as 'vocation of joy'

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit will be the next secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, taking office next November. Bishops voted 96-88 to elect Archbishop Vigneron Nov. 14 during their fall general assembly. Votes also were cast for a new chairman of the bishops' Committee for Religious Liberty and chairmen-elect for the committees on Communications, Cultural Diversity in the Church, Doctrine, National Collections and Pro-Life Activities. Archbishop Vigneron will succeed New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, who is starting his third and final year of his three-year term. The Detroit prelate will serve one year as secretary-elect and then start a three-year term in office at the conclusion of the 2018 fall general assembly. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, was elected over Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee as chairman of the Committee on Religious Liberty by a 113-86 vote. He was to assume his duties at the conclusion of the assembly.

    Quick fixes, denial won't stop climate change, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Denial or indifference when it comes to climate change will not help further honest research or facilitate finding adequate solutions, Pope Francis told government leaders attending a meeting on implementing the Paris accord. Ratified by 170 nations, the 2016 agreement marks "a shared strategy to tackle one of the most worrying phenomena our human race is experiencing -- climate change," the pope said in a written message. The message was read Nov. 15 to those attending the COP23 session of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, Nov. 6-17. The Vatican released a copy of the text Nov. 16. In the message -- addressed to the president of the COP23 session, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of Fiji -- the pope said the Paris agreement is "a clear path of transition toward a model of low- or no-carbon economic development, encouraging solidarity and emphasizing the strong links that exist between fighting climate change and fighting poverty."

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    Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • Bishops approve revised translation of baptismal rite for children

    BALTIMORE (CNS) - During their annual fall assembly Nov. 13-14 in Baltimore, the U.S. bishops dealt with pressing issues of the day, such as racism and immigration reform, but they also paid close attention to the words used during children's baptisms. The day after they discussed it, the bishops Nov. 14 approved the use of a new translation in the baptismal rite for the first time in 40 years. In discussing the topic, the bishops made it clear it was not something they took lightly. "We need to think about these things. It's not just the pope or the Holy See that protects revelations, but us," said Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron. Retired Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pennsylvania, questioned the need for the change and the expense of doing it, saying the changes were relatively minor and made the text more cumbersome.

    Welcome to the CNS news report for Friday, Nov. 3, 2017

    BALTIMORE (CNS) - During their annual fall assembly Nov. 13-14 in Baltimore, the U.S. bishops dealt with pressing issues of the day, such as racism and immigration reform, but they also paid close attention to the words used during children's baptisms. The day after they discussed it, the bishops Nov. 14 approved the use of a new translation in the baptismal rite for the first time in 40 years. In discussing the topic, the bishops made it clear it was not something they took lightly. "We need to think about these things. It's not just the pope or the Holy See that protects revelations, but us," said Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron. Retired Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pennsylvania, questioned the need for the change and the expense of doing it, saying the changes were relatively minor and made the text more cumbersome.

    CIDSE sees pope's encyclical as guide to climate action plans

    BRUSSELS (CNS) -- An international alliance of Catholic social justice organizations called on governments to respond to climate change in ways that reflect the sentiments Pope Francis expressed in his encyclical, "Laudato Si'." In a position paper released Nov. 15 at the U.N. climate talks in Bonn, Germany, International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity, or CIDSE, said the success of the Paris climate agreement depends on "our own cultural and spiritual transformation," as described by the pope. "We will not be able to alleviate poverty and develop in a progressive way without recognizing the connection between ourselves and nature, and the important role nature plays in enabling us to develop. Likewise, we will not tackle climate change without addressing the social, economic and political factors that drive our current development pathway, putting us at odds with the stability of the planet on which we depend," said the paper, "Climate Action for the Common Good." The document poses questions that stem from the encyclical and focus on assuring that climate action is a just undertaking for everyone on the planet.



    BRUSSELS (CNS) -- An international alliance of Catholic social justice organizations called on governments to respond to climate change in ways that reflect the sentiments Pope Francis expressed in his encyclical, "Laudato Si'." In a position paper released Nov. 15 at the U.N. climate talks in Bonn, Germany, International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity, or CIDSE, said the success of the Paris climate agreement depends on "our own cultural and spiritual transformation," as described by the pope. "We will not be able to alleviate poverty and develop in a progressive way without recognizing the connection between ourselves and nature, and the important role nature plays in enabling us to develop. Likewise, we will not tackle climate change without addressing the social, economic and political factors that drive our current development pathway, putting us at odds with the stability of the planet on which we depend," said the paper, "Climate Action for the Common Good." The document poses questions that stem from the encyclical and focus on assuring that climate action is a just undertaking for everyone on the planet.

    Hindus threaten missioners; bishop seeks protection for Christians

    SAGAR, India (CNS) -- A Catholic bishop has sought protection for the Christian community in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh after Hindu nationalists marched through the streets waving burning torches and denouncing missionaries. The marchers on Nov. 10 accused Sagar district authorities of not acting upon complaints they filed against missionaries for violating a law that restricts religious conversions. They said if the administration failed to act within two weeks, they would start an indefinite strike in front of a Catholic-run orphanage in the area. Ucanews.com reported the trouble in Sagar started in September after government officials evicted a Catholic priest working in the orphanage and closed a 20-year-old mission following a dispute over the land title. Church leaders say the government action was instigated by Hindu groups. The leaders of the fundamentalist religious awakening co-ordination committee, which organized the march, told media that the church's social services and work in education and health care are all a facade to convert gullible people to Christianity.

    Parents of year-old quadruplets get challenges, smiles times four

    SAGAR, India (CNS) -- A Catholic bishop has sought protection for the Christian community in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh after Hindu nationalists marched through the streets waving burning torches and denouncing missionaries. The marchers on Nov. 10 accused Sagar district authorities of not acting upon complaints they filed against missionaries for violating a law that restricts religious conversions. They said if the administration failed to act within two weeks, they would start an indefinite strike in front of a Catholic-run orphanage in the area. Ucanews.com reported the trouble in Sagar started in September after government officials evicted a Catholic priest working in the orphanage and closed a 20-year-old mission following a dispute over the land title. Church leaders say the government action was instigated by Hindu groups. The leaders of the fundamentalist religious awakening co-ordination committee, which organized the march, told media that the church's social services and work in education and health care are all a facade to convert gullible people to Christianity.

    Update: Bishop asks for prayers after shooting tragedy in California

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, asked his brother bishops meeting in Baltimore to pray for the victims of the nation's latest shooting tragedy. The bishops were gathered for the second day of their annual fall assembly Nov. 14. Early that morning in Northern California, a gunman opened fire at random locations, including near a grade school, in a rural area, leaving at least four people dead and at least 10 others injured. AP reported that sheriff's deputies fatally shot the gunman, who was later identified as Kevin Neal, 43. He was the fifth fatality in the incident. At least two children were among those being treated for injuries. The Tehama County Sheriff's Office said that it was dealing with seven crime scenes, according to AP. Tehama County is one of several counties that comprise the Sacramento Diocese. California Gov. Jerry Brown in a statement said he and first lady Anne Gust Brown "are saddened to hear about today's violence in Tehama County, which shockingly involved schoolchildren. We offer our condolences to the families who lost loved ones and unite with all Californians in grief."

    Update: Bishop asks for prayers after shooting tragedy in California

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, asked his brother bishops meeting in Baltimore to pray for the victims of the nation's latest shooting tragedy. The bishops were gathered for the second day of their annual fall assembly Nov. 14. Early that morning in Northern California, a gunman opened fire at random locations, including near a grade school, in a rural area, leaving at least four people dead and at least 10 others injured. AP reported that sheriff's deputies fatally shot the gunman, who was later identified as Kevin Neal, 43. He was the fifth fatality in the incident. At least two children were among those being treated for injuries. The Tehama County Sheriff's Office said that it was dealing with seven crime scenes, according to AP. Tehama County is one of several counties that comprise the Sacramento Diocese. California Gov. Jerry Brown in a statement said he and first lady Anne Gust Brown "are saddened to hear about today's violence in Tehama County, which shockingly involved schoolchildren. We offer our condolences to the families who lost loved ones and unite with all Californians in grief."

    Legionaries deny illegal offshore dealings indicated by Paradise Papers

    MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The Legionaries of Christ say a series of offshore accounts opened by its disgraced founder -- and exposed by investigative journalists examining a cache of documents shining a light on tax havens -- have been closed. The order added that the accounts never violated any laws and did not handle the vast sums of money alleged in the investigation. "The offshore entities that existed with some relation to the congregation and its members were operated legally and never were companies used for illicit activities, as some journalistic articles affirm," the Legionaries said in a statement. The statement also attempted to pin the blame for the accounts' existence on the wealthy order's founder, the late Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, who led a double life in violation of Catholic teaching, included fathering children and sexually abusing seminarians. Father Maciel died in 2008 after being ordered to lead a life of prayer and penance, and the Legionaries of Christ was put under Vatican leadership, which started the process of cleaning up the order's finances and closing the offshore companies.

    Legionaries deny illegal offshore dealings indicated by Paradise Papers

    MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The Legionaries of Christ say a series of offshore accounts opened by its disgraced founder -- and exposed by investigative journalists examining a cache of documents shining a light on tax havens -- have been closed. The order added that the accounts never violated any laws and did not handle the vast sums of money alleged in the investigation. "The offshore entities that existed with some relation to the congregation and its members were operated legally and never were companies used for illicit activities, as some journalistic articles affirm," the Legionaries said in a statement. The statement also attempted to pin the blame for the accounts' existence on the wealthy order's founder, the late Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, who led a double life in violation of Catholic teaching, included fathering children and sexually abusing seminarians. Father Maciel died in 2008 after being ordered to lead a life of prayer and penance, and the Legionaries of Christ was put under Vatican leadership, which started the process of cleaning up the order's finances and closing the offshore companies.

    Bishops urged to seize momentum to evangelize coming from convocation

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Last July's Convocation of Catholic Leaders proved to be such a hit among participants that local dioceses were encouraged during the U.S. bishops' fall general assembly to build on the momentum that emerged to answer Pope Francis' call to evangelize. Addressing the assembly, a trio of bishops said the convocation energized attendees and offered an opportunity to "be bold and creative" in building evangelization efforts to bolster church and parish life. "This was certainly a great event that reached key people throughout the world," Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, a member of the bishops' Working Group on the Life and Dignity of the Human Person, which planned the convocation. "My brothers, not only was this event great, it was different. It was not just another meeting. It has given us an opportunity of a new moment of evangelization in the United States." The gathering brought together more than 3,200 Catholic leaders for four days in Orlando, Florida. Archbishop Wenski said that while the event was led by the bishops, it gave attendees the opportunity to hear and be heard. The convocation was developed in response to Pope Francis' call to missionary discipleship in his apostolic exhortation on the proclamation of the Gospel, "Evangelii Gaudium."

    Australian archbishop: New marriage law must include conscience clauses

    CANBERRA, Australia (CNS) -- After a majority of Australians indicated they favored same-sex marriage, Australia's bishops said legislators must ensure that any new law on marriage includes protection for religious freedom. Nearly 80 percent of Australians mailed back their government postal surveys on the issue. Of the 12.7 million Australians who participated, nearly 62 percent said they favored same-sex marriage, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he hoped to have marriage equality legislation passed by Christmas. In a statement Nov. 15, the day the survey results were announced, Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, said members of Parliament "must recognize and respect the concerns of the more than 4.8 million Australians who opposed a change to the definition of marriage." He called for Parliament to include "strong conscience and religious freedom protections. The Catholic Church continues to respect the dignity of LGBTIQ Australians, and our ministries will continue to care deeply about the dignity and value of all people we encounter," Archbishop Hart said.

    'Papal' Lamborghini gift to be auctioned off for charity

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While a Lamborghini would make a stylish popemobile, Pope Francis has decided to auction off the one he was given by the Italian automaker to aid several charities close to his heart. The pope was presented with a one-of-a-kind white and gold Lamborghini Huracan by the luxury car manufacturer Nov. 15, just before making his way to his weekly general audience in the standard popemobile. The pope signed and blessed the automobile, which will be auctioned off by Sotheby's. The proceeds, the Vatican said, will be given to the pope, who already has chosen to fund three projects: the resettlement of Christians in Iraq's Ninevah Plain; support for women rescued from human trafficking and forced prostitution; and assistance to the suffering in Africa. Specifically, part of the proceeds from the auction will go to Aid to the Church in Need, a pontifical foundation, which is working to rebuild homes, houses of worship and community buildings that were destroyed by the Islamic State and caused thousands of Iraqi Christians to flee their homes.

    First VIDEO posted Nov. 2, 2017

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While a Lamborghini would make a stylish popemobile, Pope Francis has decided to auction off the one he was given by the Italian automaker to aid several charities close to his heart. The pope was presented with a one-of-a-kind white and gold Lamborghini Huracan by the luxury car manufacturer Nov. 15, just before making his way to his weekly general audience in the standard popemobile. The pope signed and blessed the automobile, which will be auctioned off by Sotheby's. The proceeds, the Vatican said, will be given to the pope, who already has chosen to fund three projects: the resettlement of Christians in Iraq's Ninevah Plain; support for women rescued from human trafficking and forced prostitution; and assistance to the suffering in Africa. Specifically, part of the proceeds from the auction will go to Aid to the Church in Need, a pontifical foundation, which is working to rebuild homes, houses of worship and community buildings that were destroyed by the Islamic State and caused thousands of Iraqi Christians to flee their homes.

    Mass is a time of silence and prayer, not idle chitchat, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Mass is the highest form of prayer and not an appropriate moment for small talk, Pope Francis said. At church, Catholics should spend their time in silence before Mass, preparing "to meet with Jesus" instead of engaging in "chitchat," the pope said Nov. 15 during his weekly general audience. "Silence is so important," he said. "Remember what I told you last time: we are not going to a show. Silence prepares us and accompanies us." The pope continued his new series of audience talks on the Mass, reflecting on the Eucharist as a form of prayer that is "the highest, the most sublime and, at the same time, the most concrete" way of encountering God's love. "This is the greatest grace: to experience that the Eucharist is the privileged moment to be with Jesus and, through him, with God and with our brothers and sisters," the pope said.

    Mass is a time of silence and prayer, not idle chitchat, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Mass is the highest form of prayer and not an appropriate moment for small talk, Pope Francis said. At church, Catholics should spend their time in silence before Mass, preparing "to meet with Jesus" instead of engaging in "chitchat," the pope said Nov. 15 during his weekly general audience. "Silence is so important," he said. "Remember what I told you last time: we are not going to a show. Silence prepares us and accompanies us." The pope continued his new series of audience talks on the Mass, reflecting on the Eucharist as a form of prayer that is "the highest, the most sublime and, at the same time, the most concrete" way of encountering God's love. "This is the greatest grace: to experience that the Eucharist is the privileged moment to be with Jesus and, through him, with God and with our brothers and sisters," the pope said.

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    Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • Beatification will see 'Jesus planting his cross' in heart of Detroit

    DETROIT (CNS) -- On Nov. 18, more than a few Hail Marys will be thrown around inside Ford Field. And unlike a football game, every single prayer will be answered. That day jerseys and helmets will be replaced by chasubles and miters as thousands of bishops, clergy and faithful from across the country prepare to celebrate the beatification of Capuchin Franciscan Father Solanus Casey at the home of the NFL's Detroit Lions, the largest venue Detroit could find. There won't be pyrotechnics or huge inflatable lions when the opening procession begins through the stadium's giant tunnel, but it should be a surreal sight nonetheless. "The image for me, when we think about what the Mass is, becomes Jesus planting his cross -- his massive cross -- in the center of Ford Field," said Father Robert Spezia, one of several priests helping coordinate the massive liturgy. "Picture this massive crucifix that he died on coming down and being planted on the 50-yard line; that's what's going to happen on Nov. 18."

    Bishops OK budget figures for 2018, diocesan assessment hike for 2019

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops approved the budget for their restricted and unrestricted funds for 2018 in a 125-4 vote, with three abstentions. Passage required a majority of members present. They also narrowly approved a 3 percent increase in the diocesan assessment for 2019 by a vote of 136-31, with five bishops abstaining. With 197 diocesan and eparchial heads in the United States, the vote required approval by two-thirds, or 132 of them. The matter was voted on by paper ballot after an electronic balloting malfunction forced the bishops to resort to paper balloting for the rest of the day Nov. 14, the second day of their annual fall general assembly in Baltimore. The bishops had voted down a request last year to increase the assessment, noted Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of Cincinnati, who is treasurer of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Budget and Finance. As a result, he said, "the staff worked diligently over several weeks ... to balance the budget -- cutting programs and travel, cutting building maintenance" and curtailing wages "below market value for the D.C. area. It's a tight, balanced, unrestricted-funds budget."

    Faith leaders push administration to extend protections for immigrants

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops approved the budget for their restricted and unrestricted funds for 2018 in a 125-4 vote, with three abstentions. Passage required a majority of members present. They also narrowly approved a 3 percent increase in the diocesan assessment for 2019 by a vote of 136-31, with five bishops abstaining. With 197 diocesan and eparchial heads in the United States, the vote required approval by two-thirds, or 132 of them. The matter was voted on by paper ballot after an electronic balloting malfunction forced the bishops to resort to paper balloting for the rest of the day Nov. 14, the second day of their annual fall general assembly in Baltimore. The bishops had voted down a request last year to increase the assessment, noted Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of Cincinnati, who is treasurer of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Budget and Finance. As a result, he said, "the staff worked diligently over several weeks ... to balance the budget -- cutting programs and travel, cutting building maintenance" and curtailing wages "below market value for the D.C. area. It's a tight, balanced, unrestricted-funds budget."

    Panama archbishop: World Youth Day will invite youth of other faiths

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The Panamanian archbishop helping to organize World Youth Day said the 2019 celebration in his country will invite youth of other faiths to join in. "We want it to be ecumenical," said Archbishop Jose Domingo Ulloa Mendieta of Panama in a Nov. 13 interview with Catholic News Service. "We're working to include youth from other communities of faith to participate." Archbishop Ulloa visited Baltimore for the gathering of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 13 and 14, where he gave bishops an informational overview of the preparations for World Youth Day. The international event, started by St. John Paul II in 1985, is a religious celebration that takes place every three years and lasts several days in a chosen country. It is attended by Catholic youth from around the world. Archbishop Ulloa said Pope Francis told him not to model the event after previous World Youth Day celebrations, but to give the upcoming one a distinct flavor of the realities of Latin America. The event will touch on themes of immigration, which has affected youth, including some who migrate to escape violence in some parts of Central America, on protecting "the common home," meaning ecological issues, and will feature martyrs and saints of Latin America, including Blessed Oscar Romero, as models for the youth, the archbishop said.

    Panama archbishop: World Youth Day will invite youth of other faiths

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The Panamanian archbishop helping to organize World Youth Day said the 2019 celebration in his country will invite youth of other faiths to join in. "We want it to be ecumenical," said Archbishop Jose Domingo Ulloa Mendieta of Panama in a Nov. 13 interview with Catholic News Service. "We're working to include youth from other communities of faith to participate." Archbishop Ulloa visited Baltimore for the gathering of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 13 and 14, where he gave bishops an informational overview of the preparations for World Youth Day. The international event, started by St. John Paul II in 1985, is a religious celebration that takes place every three years and lasts several days in a chosen country. It is attended by Catholic youth from around the world. Archbishop Ulloa said Pope Francis told him not to model the event after previous World Youth Day celebrations, but to give the upcoming one a distinct flavor of the realities of Latin America. The event will touch on themes of immigration, which has affected youth, including some who migrate to escape violence in some parts of Central America, on protecting "the common home," meaning ecological issues, and will feature martyrs and saints of Latin America, including Blessed Oscar Romero, as models for the youth, the archbishop said.

    Lebanese cardinal concludes historic visit to Saudi Arabia, meets Hariri

    BEIRUT (CNS) -- Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, patriarch of Maronite Catholics, concluded a historic visit to Saudi Arabia Nov. 14, the first such visit of a cardinal or Maronite patriarch to the Muslim kingdom that bans the practice of other religions. The visit came amid turmoil in the Middle East and a new crisis in Lebanon following the surprising resignation of its prime minister, Saad Hariri, announced from Saudi Arabia Nov. 4. The invitation to the Lebanese cardinal from the Saudi king was issued before the prime minister crisis. Cardinal Rai met with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and separately with Hariri, whose resignation raised speculation in Lebanon that he was being held against his will in Riyadh. In his broadcast resignation, Hariri cited the "grip" of the Iran-backed movement Hezbollah on Lebanon, and also said he feared for his life. Cardinal Rai, meeting with Lebanese expatriates in Riyadh after his arrival Nov. 13, said, "Despite the crises, the brotherly relationship that gathers Lebanon and Saudi Arabia is always present." He assured them that "Lebanon will survive as long as Muslim-Christian coexistence is there."

    Lebanese cardinal concludes historic visit to Saudi Arabia, meets Hariri

    BEIRUT (CNS) -- Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, patriarch of Maronite Catholics, concluded a historic visit to Saudi Arabia Nov. 14, the first such visit of a cardinal or Maronite patriarch to the Muslim kingdom that bans the practice of other religions. The visit came amid turmoil in the Middle East and a new crisis in Lebanon following the surprising resignation of its prime minister, Saad Hariri, announced from Saudi Arabia Nov. 4. The invitation to the Lebanese cardinal from the Saudi king was issued before the prime minister crisis. Cardinal Rai met with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and separately with Hariri, whose resignation raised speculation in Lebanon that he was being held against his will in Riyadh. In his broadcast resignation, Hariri cited the "grip" of the Iran-backed movement Hezbollah on Lebanon, and also said he feared for his life. Cardinal Rai, meeting with Lebanese expatriates in Riyadh after his arrival Nov. 13, said, "Despite the crises, the brotherly relationship that gathers Lebanon and Saudi Arabia is always present." He assured them that "Lebanon will survive as long as Muslim-Christian coexistence is there."

    Bishops to put together pastoral plan for marriage, family life ministry

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- U.S. Catholic bishops acknowledged that Catholic families and married couples need more support from the church at large and hope to offer it by giving parishes plenty of resources through a pastoral plan for marriage and family life. A proposal for such a plan was introduced to the bishops on the second day of their annual fall assembly in Baltimore Nov. 14 and was approved by paper ballot with 232 votes in favor. The pastoral plan was described by Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, a member of the bishops' Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, as a response to Pope Francis' 2016 apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"). Bishop Malone, who introduced the idea to the bishops, was filling in for Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, the committee's chairman, who was in Rome for preparatory meeting for the Synod of Bishops in 2018.

    Bishops to put together pastoral plan for marriage, family life ministry

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- U.S. Catholic bishops acknowledged that Catholic families and married couples need more support from the church at large and hope to offer it by giving parishes plenty of resources through a pastoral plan for marriage and family life. A proposal for such a plan was introduced to the bishops on the second day of their annual fall assembly in Baltimore Nov. 14 and was approved by paper ballot with 232 votes in favor. The pastoral plan was described by Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, a member of the bishops' Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, as a response to Pope Francis' 2016 apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"). Bishop Malone, who introduced the idea to the bishops, was filling in for Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, the committee's chairman, who was in Rome for preparatory meeting for the Synod of Bishops in 2018.

    Life of African-American priest told through play 'From Slave to Priest'

    CHICAGO (CNS) -- The life of Father Augustus Tolton already reads like a novel and now it is immortalized on stage with the new play "Tolton: From Slave to Priest," produced by St. Luke Productions from Battle Ground, Washington. Tolton, a former slave, is the first recognized American diocesan priest of African descent. The Archdiocese of Chicago opened his cause for sainthood in 2011, giving him the title "servant of God." Born into slavery, he fled with his mother and siblings through the woods of northern Missouri and across the Mississippi River while being pursued by soldiers when he was only 9 years old. The small family made their home in Quincy, Illinois, a sanctuary for runaway slaves. The boy's father had died earlier in St. Louis, after escaping slavery to serve in the Union Army. Growing up in Quincy and serving at Mass, young Augustus felt a call to the priesthood, but, because of rampant racism, no seminary in the United States would accept him. He headed to Rome, convinced he would become a missionary priest serving in Africa. However, after ordination, he was sent back to his hometown to be a missionary to the community there, again facing rampant racism.

    Life of African-American priest told through play 'From Slave to Priest'

    CHICAGO (CNS) -- The life of Father Augustus Tolton already reads like a novel and now it is immortalized on stage with the new play "Tolton: From Slave to Priest," produced by St. Luke Productions from Battle Ground, Washington. Tolton, a former slave, is the first recognized American diocesan priest of African descent. The Archdiocese of Chicago opened his cause for sainthood in 2011, giving him the title "servant of God." Born into slavery, he fled with his mother and siblings through the woods of northern Missouri and across the Mississippi River while being pursued by soldiers when he was only 9 years old. The small family made their home in Quincy, Illinois, a sanctuary for runaway slaves. The boy's father had died earlier in St. Louis, after escaping slavery to serve in the Union Army. Growing up in Quincy and serving at Mass, young Augustus felt a call to the priesthood, but, because of rampant racism, no seminary in the United States would accept him. He headed to Rome, convinced he would become a missionary priest serving in Africa. However, after ordination, he was sent back to his hometown to be a missionary to the community there, again facing rampant racism.

    Sainthood cause of Lakota catechist moves forward

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops voted Nov. 14 to move forward the sainthood cause of Nicholas W. Black Elk, a 19th-century Lakota catechist who is said to have introduced hundreds of Lakota people to the Catholic faith. At the annual fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, the bishops "approved by voice vote the canonical consultation," or support for the cause. The episcopal consultation process is "a step in the Catholic Church's process toward declaring a person a saint." Bishop Robert D. Gruss of Rapid City, South Dakota, spoke to the bishops about Black Elk, born into the Oglala Lakota Tribe in 1863 in Wyoming. "He was widely known among his people as a holy man and mystic," Bishop Gruss said. "He was given a vision at a very early age." The message of that vision was that "we should all live as one."

    Sainthood cause of Lakota catechist moves forward

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops voted Nov. 14 to move forward the sainthood cause of Nicholas W. Black Elk, a 19th-century Lakota catechist who is said to have introduced hundreds of Lakota people to the Catholic faith. At the annual fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, the bishops "approved by voice vote the canonical consultation," or support for the cause. The episcopal consultation process is "a step in the Catholic Church's process toward declaring a person a saint." Bishop Robert D. Gruss of Rapid City, South Dakota, spoke to the bishops about Black Elk, born into the Oglala Lakota Tribe in 1863 in Wyoming. "He was widely known among his people as a holy man and mystic," Bishop Gruss said. "He was given a vision at a very early age." The message of that vision was that "we should all live as one."

    Update: Abortion, assisted suicide are pro-life focus, says cardinal

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Assisted suicide and abortion remain the focus of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, according to Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, the committee chairman. One of those issues was being taken up by the American Medical Association House of Delegates as the U.S. bishops held their fall general assembly in Baltimore Nov. 13-14. Regarding assisted suicide, the AMA House of Delegates at its own meeting was holding a forum to get more input on whether the AMA's decades-long position against assisted suicide should be one of "neutrality." The AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs has been studying the issue. "In light of the complex and deeply contested nature of the issues at stake, CEJA believes it is wisest to proceed cautiously and allow ample time for thoughtful reflection in developing its report," the AMA has said. "Efforts continue, in collaboration with other groups, to provide CEJA with compelling reasons to maintain the AMA's long-held opposition to assisted suicide," Cardinal Dolan said in a report submitted in advance of the bishops' meeting. "Similar efforts continue with state-level medical associations to urge them to maintain or adopt opposition to assisted suicide."

    Update: Abortion, assisted suicide are pro-life focus, says cardinal

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Assisted suicide and abortion remain the focus of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, according to Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, the committee chairman. One of those issues was being taken up by the American Medical Association House of Delegates as the U.S. bishops held their fall general assembly in Baltimore Nov. 13-14. Regarding assisted suicide, the AMA House of Delegates at its own meeting was holding a forum to get more input on whether the AMA's decades-long position against assisted suicide should be one of "neutrality." The AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs has been studying the issue. "In light of the complex and deeply contested nature of the issues at stake, CEJA believes it is wisest to proceed cautiously and allow ample time for thoughtful reflection in developing its report," the AMA has said. "Efforts continue, in collaboration with other groups, to provide CEJA with compelling reasons to maintain the AMA's long-held opposition to assisted suicide," Cardinal Dolan said in a report submitted in advance of the bishops' meeting. "Similar efforts continue with state-level medical associations to urge them to maintain or adopt opposition to assisted suicide."

    British Catholic schools remove 'mother,' 'father' from admission forms

    MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- The terms "mother" and "father" will be banned from Catholic schools' admissions forms in England and Wales following a complaint the terms discriminated against gay and stepparents. The Office of the Schools Adjudicator, which settles disputes on behalf of the government, upheld the objection of a parent who wished to enroll a child in Holy Ghost Catholic Primary School in London. The parent had been asked to fill in a form which left spaces only for the names of "mother/guardian" and "father/guardian" and argued that the terms discriminated against "separated, step- and gay parents." Peter Goringe, one of 12 adjudicators, said in a late October ruling that "in the absence of any clarification of the term 'parent,' the use of the words 'mother' and 'father' might, as the objector suggests, be taken to imply that the school is restricting its definition." The Catholic Education Service, an agency of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, has advised more than 2,200 schools to revise their policies to take account of the adjudicator's decision.

    British Catholic schools remove 'mother,' 'father' from admission forms

    MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- The terms "mother" and "father" will be banned from Catholic schools' admissions forms in England and Wales following a complaint the terms discriminated against gay and stepparents. The Office of the Schools Adjudicator, which settles disputes on behalf of the government, upheld the objection of a parent who wished to enroll a child in Holy Ghost Catholic Primary School in London. The parent had been asked to fill in a form which left spaces only for the names of "mother/guardian" and "father/guardian" and argued that the terms discriminated against "separated, step- and gay parents." Peter Goringe, one of 12 adjudicators, said in a late October ruling that "in the absence of any clarification of the term 'parent,' the use of the words 'mother' and 'father' might, as the objector suggests, be taken to imply that the school is restricting its definition." The Catholic Education Service, an agency of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, has advised more than 2,200 schools to revise their policies to take account of the adjudicator's decision.

    U.S. seminary in Rome to host World Day of Poor lunch guests

    ROME (CNS) -- Just before Thanksgiving, the Pontifical North American College will welcome some special guests of Pope Francis. About 4,000 poor people are expected to join the pope for Mass in St. Peter's Basilica Nov. 19, which Pope Francis had designated as the World Day of the Poor. After the Mass and noon recitation of the Angelus, the 4,000 people will be offered lunch. But since this is a Sunday lunch -- not a sack lunch -- the Vatican audience hall can accommodate only about 1,500 people. The North American College, the U.S. seminary in Rome -- located on the hill above the Vatican -- was one of several seminaries and soup kitchens that offered to serve some of the pope's guests. "We are expecting a group of just over 200 guests to be coming to the college for 'pranzo,'" said Father David A. Schunk, assistant vice rector of the college. "The group will be dining in our refectory."

    Ghanaian bishops meet to discuss challenges to families

    HO, Ghana (CNS) -- Families today live in complex situations, and Pope Francis "invites us to look at the reality of the family today in all its complexity, with both in its lights and shadows, in faithfulness to Christ's teaching," the pope's representative told Ghana's bishops. Speaking Nov. 13 at the opening of the bishops' fall general assembly, Archbishop Jean-Marie Speich, apostolic nuncio, said Pope Francis' 2015 apostolic exhortation, "Amoris Laetitia," was written to help everyone experience God's love and to know that all were welcome members of the church. The bishops' meeting focused on the challenges of the family. Opening the assembly, Archbishop Philip Naameh, president of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference, said young people across the social divide seemed fixated on sexuality. He said elite urban families were turning to assisted reproductive technologies to address fertility challenges. Archbishop Naameh said some couples go to their priest for direction, and the church must consider the moral dilemmas such couples face.

    Persecuted Christians at risk of being forgotten, bishop says

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Persecuted Christian minorities in Asia, Africa and the Middle East are at risk of being forgotten, according to the chairman of the U.S bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace. "It is important that the church tell their stories," said Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, during a news conference Nov. 13, the first day of the bishops' annual fall general meeting in Baltimore. The plight of minority Christians will be the focus of "A Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians" to be observed Nov. 26. The initiative was announced in July by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with "Solidarity in Suffering," a week of awareness and education on their situation starting Nov. 26. "The solemnity of Christ the King is a fitting time to reflect on religious freedoms and persecution," said a joint statement Nov. 9 by Bishop Cantu and Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president. Based on a report titled "Persecuted and Forgotten?" issued by Aid to the Church in Need in July, which covers the period of August 2015-July 2017, there appears to be a wall of hostility against Christians. In addition to Nigeria in West Africa, there is a contiguous line of nations cited in the report starting in Sudan, going to Eritrea and north to Egypt, then working its way through Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, India and China before winding up in North Korea.

    Welcome to the CNS news report for Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Persecuted Christian minorities in Asia, Africa and the Middle East are at risk of being forgotten, according to the chairman of the U.S bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace. "It is important that the church tell their stories," said Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, during a news conference Nov. 13, the first day of the bishops' annual fall general meeting in Baltimore. The plight of minority Christians will be the focus of "A Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians" to be observed Nov. 26. The initiative was announced in July by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with "Solidarity in Suffering," a week of awareness and education on their situation starting Nov. 26. "The solemnity of Christ the King is a fitting time to reflect on religious freedoms and persecution," said a joint statement Nov. 9 by Bishop Cantu and Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president. Based on a report titled "Persecuted and Forgotten?" issued by Aid to the Church in Need in July, which covers the period of August 2015-July 2017, there appears to be a wall of hostility against Christians. In addition to Nigeria in West Africa, there is a contiguous line of nations cited in the report starting in Sudan, going to Eritrea and north to Egypt, then working its way through Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, India and China before winding up in North Korea.

    Catholic Charities resets focus to disaster relief after huge storms

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Disaster relief work has become the top priority of Catholic Charities USA, the agency's president told the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. This fall's onslaught of destructive hurricanes -- Harvey in Texas, Irma in Florida and Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands -- has caused the agency to shift its priorities in the short-term toward aiding people who have lost homes and livelihoods, Dominican Sister Donna Markham said Nov. 13 in a report on agency activities. "It's been a tough year and it's been very tough in the last few months," Sister Markham said. The agency has collected $21 million from donors for hurricane relief since early September, but she said millions of dollars more are needed. In an earlier joint presentation, Maronite Bishop Gregory J. Mansour of the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, chairman of the Catholic Relief Services board of directors, and Sean Callahan, CRS president and CEO, stressed the importance of the agency's work in collaborating with local parishes and church agencies in 112 countries that are part of the church's Caritas Internationalis network.

    Faith leaders: Christian politicians who hurt migrants, hurt Jesus

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Disaster relief work has become the top priority of Catholic Charities USA, the agency's president told the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. This fall's onslaught of destructive hurricanes -- Harvey in Texas, Irma in Florida and Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands -- has caused the agency to shift its priorities in the short-term toward aiding people who have lost homes and livelihoods, Dominican Sister Donna Markham said Nov. 13 in a report on agency activities. "It's been a tough year and it's been very tough in the last few months," Sister Markham said. The agency has collected $21 million from donors for hurricane relief since early September, but she said millions of dollars more are needed. In an earlier joint presentation, Maronite Bishop Gregory J. Mansour of the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, chairman of the Catholic Relief Services board of directors, and Sean Callahan, CRS president and CEO, stressed the importance of the agency's work in collaborating with local parishes and church agencies in 112 countries that are part of the church's Caritas Internationalis network.

    Indigenous Canadians seek closure in cases of missing family members

    EDMONTON, Alberta (CNS) -- It has been 20 years since Susie Laliberte Small's sister, Marie, disappeared. Despite the pain of not knowing the fate of her sister, Laliberte Small has never lost faith that God would provide some solace. "I just depend on God, and hopefully one day we'll have some answers," said Laliberte Small, a member of St. Dominic Savio Catholic Parish in Edmonton. She was one of many who shared their family stories with the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls during public hearings in Edmonton in early November. "We want closure to this, we're tired. I pray all the time, I read the Bible, and I've asked, 'Why isn't God answering our prayer?' But no, I've never questioned my faith," said Laliberte Small. An estimated 1,000 to 4,000 women and girls have been murdered or reported missing in Canada over the last 30 to 40 years. The inquiry is expected bring recommendations to the federal government to address the systemic causes of violence against indigenous women and girls in Canada. "This isn't just an indigenous problem," said Chief Commissioner Marion Buller. "This is a Canadian problem. This is a national tragedy. We have a vital role to play in making Canada a safe place for everyone."

    ADVISORY-SCHEDULE CHANGE Nov-1-2017

    EDMONTON, Alberta (CNS) -- It has been 20 years since Susie Laliberte Small's sister, Marie, disappeared. Despite the pain of not knowing the fate of her sister, Laliberte Small has never lost faith that God would provide some solace. "I just depend on God, and hopefully one day we'll have some answers," said Laliberte Small, a member of St. Dominic Savio Catholic Parish in Edmonton. She was one of many who shared their family stories with the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls during public hearings in Edmonton in early November. "We want closure to this, we're tired. I pray all the time, I read the Bible, and I've asked, 'Why isn't God answering our prayer?' But no, I've never questioned my faith," said Laliberte Small. An estimated 1,000 to 4,000 women and girls have been murdered or reported missing in Canada over the last 30 to 40 years. The inquiry is expected bring recommendations to the federal government to address the systemic causes of violence against indigenous women and girls in Canada. "This isn't just an indigenous problem," said Chief Commissioner Marion Buller. "This is a Canadian problem. This is a national tragedy. We have a vital role to play in making Canada a safe place for everyone."

    Bishops voice support of migrants, worries over 'poisoning rhetoric'

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The longest and most passionate discussion on the first day of the fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 13 focused on immigrants, on how to help them but also how to drive home the point that they, too, are our brothers and sisters and should not be demonized. During a discussion period after a presentation from a working group on immigration issues, Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley spoke to the bishops about a visit he made over the weekend to a Washington parish where he had served as a young priest. On Nov. 11, he met with young adults at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart who shared their stories of migration, but also shared with the cardinal how they had benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which is now in peril. "It was very moving to listen to these young people," Cardinal O'Malley said.

    Update: 'Horrendous attack weighs on all our hearts,' says cardinal

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The longest and most passionate discussion on the first day of the fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 13 focused on immigrants, on how to help them but also how to drive home the point that they, too, are our brothers and sisters and should not be demonized. During a discussion period after a presentation from a working group on immigration issues, Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley spoke to the bishops about a visit he made over the weekend to a Washington parish where he had served as a young priest. On Nov. 11, he met with young adults at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart who shared their stories of migration, but also shared with the cardinal how they had benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which is now in peril. "It was very moving to listen to these young people," Cardinal O'Malley said.

    Philippine church leaders urge Trudeau to take back toxic waste

    MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- Catholic Church leaders in the Philippines are calling on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take back several shipping containers of toxic waste that arrived in the country from Canada in 2013, reported ucanews.com. The Canadian prime minister was in Manila for the 31st summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a regional grouping that promotes economic, political and security cooperation. He indicated that the waste was shipped as part of a private business deal, but that Canada might now be able to take it back. On Nov. 14, Trudeau delivered an impassioned pitch to ASEAN countries to open the door to Canada joining the East Asia Summit and the region's defense ministers' panel. He said Canada was "ready to contribute to ASEAN's success in an increasingly globalized world." Climate justice activists, however, said Trudeau has done "a lot of talk and photo-ops" but has not addressed the containers of toxic waste that Filipinos want returned to Canada. The shipments, labeled as recyclable plastics, arrived in batches from Canada in July and August of 2013, according to environmental watchdogs. However, in February 2014, after the Philippines' Bureau of Customs decided to open them due to a foul smell, they were discovered to contain hazardous waste materials.

    Catholic screenwriter doesn't pooh-pooh a teddy bear's importance

    MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- Catholic Church leaders in the Philippines are calling on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take back several shipping containers of toxic waste that arrived in the country from Canada in 2013, reported ucanews.com. The Canadian prime minister was in Manila for the 31st summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a regional grouping that promotes economic, political and security cooperation. He indicated that the waste was shipped as part of a private business deal, but that Canada might now be able to take it back. On Nov. 14, Trudeau delivered an impassioned pitch to ASEAN countries to open the door to Canada joining the East Asia Summit and the region's defense ministers' panel. He said Canada was "ready to contribute to ASEAN's success in an increasingly globalized world." Climate justice activists, however, said Trudeau has done "a lot of talk and photo-ops" but has not addressed the containers of toxic waste that Filipinos want returned to Canada. The shipments, labeled as recyclable plastics, arrived in batches from Canada in July and August of 2013, according to environmental watchdogs. However, in February 2014, after the Philippines' Bureau of Customs decided to open them due to a foul smell, they were discovered to contain hazardous waste materials.

    Vatican releases pope's schedule for visit to Chile, Peru

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- During his visit to Chile and Peru, Pope Francis will honor the country's religious roots and underline the plight of indigenous men and women. The Vatican said Pope Francis will be in Chile Jan. 15-18, visiting the cities of Santiago, Temuco and Iquique. He then will fly to Peru and, from Jan. 18-21, he will visit Lima, Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo. In Chile, the pope will meet with residents of the Mapuche indigenous community in the Araucania region. Members of the Mapuche have called for the government to return lands confiscated prior to the country's return to democracy in the late 1980s. He will also meet with the indigenous people of the Amazon during his visit to Puerto Maldonado. The Amazon rainforest includes territory belonging to nine countries in South America and has experienced significant deforestation, negatively impacting the indigenous populations in the area and leading to a loss of biodiversity. A special gathering of the Synod of Bishops to focus on the Amazon region will take place in Rome in October 2019.

    Vatican releases pope's schedule for visit to Chile, Peru

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- During his visit to Chile and Peru, Pope Francis will honor the country's religious roots and underline the plight of indigenous men and women. The Vatican said Pope Francis will be in Chile Jan. 15-18, visiting the cities of Santiago, Temuco and Iquique. He then will fly to Peru and, from Jan. 18-21, he will visit Lima, Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo. In Chile, the pope will meet with residents of the Mapuche indigenous community in the Araucania region. Members of the Mapuche have called for the government to return lands confiscated prior to the country's return to democracy in the late 1980s. He will also meet with the indigenous people of the Amazon during his visit to Puerto Maldonado. The Amazon rainforest includes territory belonging to nine countries in South America and has experienced significant deforestation, negatively impacting the indigenous populations in the area and leading to a loss of biodiversity. A special gathering of the Synod of Bishops to focus on the Amazon region will take place in Rome in October 2019.

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