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  • Bishops across U.S. condemn separation, detention of migrant children

    IMAGE: CNS photo/Callaghan O'Hare, Reuters

    By Rhina Guidos

    WASHINGTON (CNS) - From Denver to New York City, the country's Catholic bishops have joined a chorus of organizations, institutions and high-profile individuals urging the Trump administration to stop separating children from their parents as they seek respite in the U.S. from dire conditions in their home countries, largely in Central America.

    None have been more outspoken, however, than the bishops with dioceses on or near the border between the U.S. and Mexico, where many migrants, adults as well as children, are being held in detention centers in geographic areas where many of the prelates come into contact with families affected.

    "Refugee children belong to their parents, not to the government or other institution. To steal children from their parents is a grave sin, immoral (and) evil," said San Antonio's Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller June 14 via Twitter, the social media platform he has used to daily call attention to the situation.

    "Their lives have already been extremely difficult. Why do we (the U.S.) torture them even more, treating them as criminals?" he continued.

    In a June 5 interview with CBS News, U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions said: "If people don't want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them," meaning they shouldn't bring them along when trying to cross the border, which many do as they seek asylum. The furor over the separation of children from a parent or parents had already started in late May, before Sessions used a Bible passage to justify the actions.

    Bishop Daniel E. Flores of the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, said via Twitter May 31 that "separating immigrant parents and children as a supposed deterrent to immigration is a cruel and reprehensible policy. Children are not instruments of deterrence, they are children. A government that thinks any means is suitable to achieve an end cannot secure justice for anyone."

    But the outrage began in earnest after the June 14 speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Indiana, when Sessions said the practice of separating families is consistent with the teachings of the Bible because "persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order."

    The following day, New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said during CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time with Chris Cuomo" that while he appreciated Sessions quoting the Bible, the quote he used was not the best.

    "For one, St. Paul always says we should obey the law of the government if that law is in conformity with the Lord's law, all right?  No pun intended but God's law trumps man's law, all right?" he said.

    "And St. Paul himself who gave the quote that the attorney general used, he wouldn't obey Roman law when it said it was mandatory to worship the emperor," the cardinal continued. "He wouldn't obey that law. I don't think we should obey a law that goes against what God intends that you would take a baby, a child, from their mom. I mean, that's just unjust. That's unbiblical. That's un-American. There could be no Bible passage that would justify that."

    After Sessions' Bible quote, Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, also used the Bible to make a point and compared Christ's time as a refugee in the Holy Land to the migrants. 

    In a June 15 statement, he compared the distance from his diocese to other localities in Guatemala and Mexico, saying that "if Jesus of Nazareth returned, as at that time, from Galilee to Judea, ... we dare say he would not get as far as Sacred Heart Church downtown (in El Paso) before being detained."

    He urged Christians to think about the families fleeing and seeking asylum in the U.S., what they're going through and said that what's at stake "is the fundamental question of being Christian today, of being a person of faith today in our country and on the continent that is suffering an hour of Christ's passion."

    Bishop Seitz announced a public prayerful procession "in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who continue to migrate to our border" planned for the evening of July 20 in El Paso but did not release other details. The U.S. bishops also are talking about the possibility of a delegation of prelates going to the detention centers where many children are being held.

    In mid-June, The Associated Press said this year "nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their families at the U.S. border over a six-week period during a crackdown on illegal entries," according to documents from the Department of Homeland Security, which operates Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Two prelates from Colorado, Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Denver Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez, repeated what other bishops have said in June 18 statement, saying that while borders must be protected, the policy of separating families is "immoral" and urged that it be terminated immediately, saying those being detained are in need of protection.

    "These children and their parents are often fleeing violence and our country should not add to the inhumanity of their situation," they said.

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

CNS News Briefs

Brief versions on news stories from Catholic News Service. Catholic News Service provides news from the U.S., Rome and around the world in both English and Spanish, in written coverage, images and video reporting.
  • Cardinal: Dive deep into Scripture to find joy, clarity in anxious times

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Joy has to be rooted in the fullness of reality, the suffering of the Cross, the glory of the Resurrection and the providence of God, not in a gooey meringue of sweetness. This was one of the messages Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto shared with a New York audience June 16. At a time when the church is under attack by "grievously, ferociously secular people who are trying to squeeze faith out of everything," those who take a deep dive into Scripture will find joy and some clarity, according to the cardinal. Cardinal Collins gave the English keynote address at the ninth New York Catholic Bible Summit. Cardinal Juan Jose Omella of Barcelona, Spain, delivered the Spanish keynote address at the bilingual event. More than 600 people attended the daylong program at the New York Catholic Center in Manhattan. Cardinal Collins said the Book of Psalms, with its copious examples of joy as a response to anxiety and fear, is a good resource for contemplative prayer. In the midst of the storms and strife of people's contemporary lives, prayer puts events into a God-given perspective, he said.

    Conference looks at intersection of natural sciences, Thomistic thought

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Finding an international conference at which talks about astronomy and eucharistic adoration fit on the same schedule is rare. The three-day symposium, called "Thomistic Philosophy and Natural Science" and held in Washington by the Thomistic Institute and the Society of Catholic Scientists, focused on the intersection between the natural sciences, especially physics and biology, and Thomistic thought. About 75 priests, religious sisters, Catholic scientists, and interested Catholic students attended the June 6-8 conference. Despite the intellectual material (and it was very intellectual -- "There's a steep learning curve," said Dominican Father Dominic Legge, assistant director of the Thomistic Institute) the speakers were able to explain why what they had to say mattered outside of their field. Daniel De Haan, a postdoctoral fellow in the Faculty of Divinity at Cambridge University in England, reminded the audience that theoretical questions are not pursued for their own sake. Instead, "theoretical questions emerge from practical and existential questions." Practical questions, he said, relate to the ways in which people go about their lives and emerge from existential questions that ask about the end of life and why people live.

    600 Catholic institutions declare support for Paris climate agreement

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Caring for creation goes hand-in-hand with the mission of helping retreat-goers connect with God at the Jesuit Retreat House in Parma, Ohio. The center's tree-enshrouded grounds that filter the sound of nearby traffic in the middle of Cleveland's largest suburb offer a home for wildlife and a respite for those seeking a quiet place to pray and reflect about God in their life. "The beauty of these grounds and the care of these grounds is our responsibility," Rick Krivanka, executive director at the retreat house, told Catholic News Service June 18, the third anniversary of the release of Pope Francis' encyclical on care of the earth, "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home." "I believe every act we take in terms of care for the earth, even countless acts that are never seen, make a difference," he said, in explaining the retreat house's support for the newly released Catholic Climate Declaration. Made public on the encyclical's anniversary, the declaration serves as a moral call to action on the environment and urges President Donald Trump to return the United States to the Paris climate change agreement.

    Nearly 500 British priests sign statement in support of 'Humanae Vitae'

    MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- Nearly 500 British priests have signed a statement in support of the papal encyclical that forbade married couples from using contraception. They said the prophetic warnings contained within "Humane Vitae," (Of Human Life) published by Blessed Pope Paul VI July 25 1968, have proved to be accurate. "We propose discovering anew the message of 'Humanae Vitae,' not only in fidelity to the Gospel, but as a key to the healing and true development of our society," they said in the statement sent to the London-based Catholic Herald magazine June 14, ahead of the 50th anniversary of the encyclical's publication. The statement said "Humanae Vitae" represented a "re-affirmation of central aspects of the church's traditional teaching on human sexuality," including that the conjugal act was "always open to procreation and always unitive." "Humanae Vitae predicted that if artificial contraception became widespread and commonly accepted by society, then we would lose our proper understanding of marriage, the family, the dignity of the child and of women, and even a proper appreciation of our bodies and the gift of male and female," the statement said. "The Holy Father warned that governments would begin to utilize coercive methods to control what is most private and intimate," it said.

    Trenton bishop decries mass shooting that took place during arts festival

    TRENTON, N.J. (CNS) -- No motive "can justify these ongoing, seemingly relentless acts of gun violence plaguing our cities," Bishop David M. O'Connell of Trenton said after a mass shooting took place in the early morning hours of June 17 during a city arts festival. "The epidemic of gun violence has struck once again, this time close to home," he said in a statement. Gunfire broke out at 2:45 a.m. June 17 during a 24-hour festival called "Art All Night Trenton 2018." Police confirmed June 18 that 22 people had suffered gunshot wounds. Of that number, a 13-year-old boy and three other people were hospitalized and remained in critical condition. Police also said there were three suspected shooters. One identified as Tahaij Wells, 33, was killed. Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said his office's Homicide Task Force was investigating if he was fatally shot by police. Two other suspected shooters also were shot. One identified as Amir Armstrong, 23, remained hospitalized in stable condition. The third suspect, who was not identified, remained in critical condition. "How many times can our hearts break" over such violence, Bishop O'Connell asked.

    Dictatorships begin with taking over media to spread lies, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- All dictatorships begin the same way: media outlets are put in the hands of "unscrupulous" people who spread lies and weaken democracy, Pope Francis said. Typical standards, norms and laws in regard to communications are first eliminated, the pope said in his homily June 18 during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae. Then an entire media or communication outlet is handed over "to a firm, a business that slanders, tells lies, weakens democracy, and then the judges come to judge these weakened institutions, these destroyed, condemned people and a dictatorship makes progress this way," he said. "All dictatorships, all of them, began like this, by adulterating communication, by putting communications in the hands of people without scruples, of governments without scruples," he added.

    Update: Pope asks people to value contributions refugees can make

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis called on nations working to develop a global compact on refugees to make sure they help ensure migration is safe, legal and humane. While nations work to forge proper policies, every individual, "each of us, is called to draw near to refugees and find with them moments of encounter, to value their contribution so that they, too, can be better included in the communities that receive them," the pope said June 17. "It is by these encounters and with this mutual respect and support that there is an answer many problems," he said. The pope's remarks came at the end of his Angelus address in St. Peter's Square. He reminded people of World Refugee Day June 20.

    Pope met with brother of Chilean priest found guilty of abuse

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The brother of Chilean Father Fernando Karadima called on his brother to ask forgiveness for the hurt inflicted on those he sexually abused. "I would ask him to be humble. Fernando, ask for forgiveness. Not in silence to God or in your prayers. Do it publicly, that people hear that you ask forgiveness for the harm you have done to victims and to everyone," Oscar Karadima said in an interview with Chilean newspaper La Tercera, published June 17. Oscar Karadima also revealed that he was among the group of priests and laypeople who met with Pope Francis June 2 and spoke to him about the suffering his family endured following the revelation that his brother was found guilty of sexual abuse. "I spoke to him about Fernando; I told him what Fernando was like with his family, with us: He was an arrogant man, authoritarian, a man we were afraid of and that even my mother was afraid of him," Oscar Karadima said. Recalling his conversation with the pope, Oscar Karadima said his family members "were also victims of abuse of power and of conscience" by his brother. Their family name, he added, was tarnished due to the scandals. Karadima recalled tearing up as he recounted his and his family's pain and that Pope Francis touched his hand and encouraged him. After listening to him, he added, the pope grabbed a piece of paper and wrote a message for the Karadima family. "To the family of Oscar Karadima, with my blessing and my sorrow for so much suffering that you bear. In the name of Fernando, silent and incapable of realizing (his mistakes), I ask your forgiveness," the pope wrote.

    Update: Bishops' pastoral letter on racism on track for November vote

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CNS) -- A planned pastoral letter addressing racism is on schedule for a November vote by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Bishop Sheldon J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, chairman of the bishop's Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, said during the bishops' spring general assembly June 14 that the document would reflect recommendations from the various audiences that have reviewed drafts of the document. The bishop said the document will focus on contemporary concerns affecting Native Americans and African-Americans and the "targeting" of Hispanics with racist language and actions. Among its components, he added, the document will: Reflect "grave concerns for the rise in racist expressions" in American society, public discourse and social media; and address ways racism affects institutions and public policy.

    Pope: Aborting children with birth defects is like Nazi eugenics program

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis denounced the practice of administering prenatal tests to determine birth defects that often lead to abortions, comparing it to the Nazi-era eugenics program that determined what lives were worth keeping or eliminating. Children are God's greatest gift and should be welcomed "as they come, as God sends them, as God allows, even if at times they are sick," the pope said June 16 during a meeting with members of Italian family associations. "I have heard that it is fashionable -- or at least common -- to do certain examinations in the first months of pregnancy to see if baby is not well or has some kind of problem. The first proposal in that case is, 'Should we get rid of (the baby)?' The killing of children. And to have a more tranquil life, an innocent is done away with," he said departing from his prepared speech. The pope recalled, as a boy, being taught in school about the Spartans, who "when a boy or girl was born with malformations, they would take them to the top of the mountain and throw them over to protect the 'purity of the race.'" Despite the atrocious nature of that practice, he continued, the practice of eugenics continues today "because the protocol of many doctors -- many, not all -- is to ask, 'Is something wrong (with the child)?'"

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

  • Immigration is main topic at National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Four political leaders from both parties spoke at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and they each went in their own directions with their speeches. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Vice President Mike Pence all spoke at the June 14 prayer breakfast at the Grand Hyatt Washington. Esperanza, a national network of Hispanic evangelical leaders, hosted a three-day conference which culminated in the prayer breakfast. Pelosi, who focused on the role of faith in both politics and life, said: "Our presence here is a reminder of the unifying power of faith." She also drew upon other virtues, saying that "you'll find hope where you'll always find it -- right between faith and love" as she encouraged the religious leaders in the audience to keep fighting and not lose hope. When explaining the importance of protecting all human life, Pelosi referred to Catholic teachings on the Incarnation: "When we observe in the credo that Christ came down from heaven and became man, it's a sacred moment," she said.

    Update: Pope Francis appoints Michigan pastor as bishop of Diocese of Salina

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has named Msgr. Gerald L. Vincke, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Grand Blanc, Michigan, as bishop of the Diocese of Salina, Kansas. Bishop-designate Vincke, 53, is a priest of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan. In 2016, the pope named him a "missionary of mercy." He was one of more than 1,000 religious-order and diocesan priests who received a special papal mandate to preach and teach about God's mercy during the 2015-16 Holy Year of Mercy. His appointment was announced June 13 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States. The bishop-designate was introduced as the newly appointed bishop of the Salina Diocese just one day after the 19th anniversary of his ordination as a priest. "I want to thank the Holy Father for his confidence in me," Bishop-designate Vincke, 53, said during the June 13 news conference. He will be installed Aug. 22.

    Julie Asher, CNS national editor, wins St. Francis de Sales Award

    GREEN BAY, Wis. (CNS) -- Julie Asher is the recipient of the 2018 St. Francis de Sales Award from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada. The award recognizes "outstanding contributions to Catholic journalism" and is the highest honor given by CPA. It was presented during a June 15 luncheon at the Catholic Media Conference in Green Bay. "Wow. It's overwhelming," said Asher after she was handed the award. "I can confirm there was no Russian collusion on this -- I had to say that coming here from Washington," she added. Asher thanked her CNS colleagues, led by editor-in-chief Greg Erlandson, and his predecessors. "I also want to thank all of you, my colleagues in the Catholic press, for what you do every single day and what you contribute to CNS. We are all workers in the vineyard; we do it every single day to tell the story of the Catholic Church," she said. Asher noted that she didn't come from a journalism family but said she had some ink in her blood because her father was an ink salesman and sold ink to several small newspapers in eastern Colorado and western Nebraska. "I always wanted to be a journalist and to tell stories," she said, adding that she loves what she does.

    Philippine authorities arrest suspect in priest's murder

    MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- Philippine authorities announced June 15 that they had arrested their "prime suspect" in the killing of Father Richmond Villaflor Nilo, reported ucanews.com. The suspect, identified as Adell Roll Milan, was arrested in San Isidro June 14, the same day Father Nilo was buried. A witness reportedly identified Milan, an alleged former drug user and hitman, as having shot the priest June 10. Authorities said police have also identified the vehicles used by the gunman and his accomplices, ucanews.com reported. Father Nilo was shot and killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen at a village chapel in Zaragoza while he was about to celebrate Mass. He was the third priest and the second in Nueva Ecija province killed in six months. Bishop Sofronio Bancud of Cabanatuan celebrated Father Nilo's funeral at St. Nicolas of Tolentine Cathedral in Cabanatuan. Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, papal nuncio to the Philippines, and several priests and bishops concelebrated.

    Update: Vatican team returns to Chile to 'ask forgiveness' for clergy sex abuse

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Arriving on his second visit to Chile, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta said his mission to the country was a sign of Pope Francis' closeness to the local church following devastating reports of sexual abuse and cover-ups by members of the clergy. Speaking to journalists in Santiago June 12, the archbishop said his team's pastoral mission includes providing "concrete technical and legal assistance to the dioceses in Chile so they may give adequate responses to each case of sexual abuse of minors committed by clergy or religious." Archbishop Scicluna, president of a board of review handling abuse cases within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Father Jordi Bertomeu Farnos, an official of the doctrinal congregation, visited Santiago June 12-13 before going to Osorno June 14-17. On June 11, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of 61-year-old Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno and two other Chilean bishops. Bishop Barros' appointment as head of the Diocese of Osorno in January 2015 sparked protest because of the bishop's connection to Father Fernando Karadima, his former mentor. Father Karadima was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys. Several of Father Karadima's victims alleged that Bishop Barros -- then a priest -- was present when the abuse occurred.

    Franciscan official says peaceful areas of Syria offer window of hope

    BEIRUT (CNS) -- For a Franciscan friar on a mission from Rome, a visit to peaceful areas in Syria provided a glimpse into a window of hope for the war-torn country. "I have met people full of hope, full of activity. I can feel it, they want to live, they want to continue with their lives. They want peace," Father Hugo Mejia, mission secretary of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars and general councilor of the order, told Catholic News Service June 14 in neighboring Lebanon after returning from a four-day visit to Syria. On his journey from Lebanon to the Syrian border, through Damascus and south to the province of Sweida, the Peruvian priest traveled through those parts of Syria without incident. There were many Syrian army checkpoints, but typically when it was known that priests were in the car, they were welcomed through, he said. Spending a night in the Old City of Damascus, the capital, Father Mejia was impressed with its liveliness. "There's a lot of activity. Businesses, hotels were open. I didn't imagine that, an absolutely normal life." He said he found the people open and friendly. In Sweida, 70 miles south of Damascus, where he spent the remainder of his visit, the priest noted that "there are a few problems in the area, but mostly it is in peace," even though some areas as close as 6 miles away are occupied "maybe by ISIS, maybe rebels, we don't know exactly."

    Yo-Yo Ma holds concert for peace at Chicago Catholic Church

    CHICAGO (CNS) -- When world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma brought his Concert for Peace to St. Sabina Church for the second time June 10, there was a special feature -- five original works written with family members who lost loved ones to gun violence as a tribute to the people who died. They are among 24 original songs created by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Negaunee Music Institute and Purpose Over Pain, a St. Sabina organization of parents who have lost a child to gun violence. All songs are available at notesforpeace.org. The idea to create the songs came after Ma saw the memorial board outside the parish that features photos of all the people connected to the parish killed by gun violence. Ma first visited St. Sabina in spring 2017 on a Sunday in between morning Masses. The senior pastor, Father Michael Pfleger, was told a man saying he was Yo-Yo Ma was in the church and wanted to meet him, which he thought was a joke. It wasn't. Ma had stopped by the church on his way to the airport saying he followed the priest's work against violence and wanted to help.

    Most fundamental human right is hope, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The theory that well-being will automatically flow down to everyone from the riches of the few is "a lie," Pope Francis said. The beatitudes show the way, he said, because they show that holiness doesn't concern just the soul, "but also the feet -- for going toward our brothers and sisters, and the hands -- for sharing with them." May the beatitudes "teach us and our world to not be wary of or leave at the mercy of the ocean waves those who leave their land, hungry for bread and justice; may they lead us to not live in excess, devoting ourselves to the advancement of everyone, kneeling with compassion before the weakest," he said June 15. This approach, he said, comes "without the easy illusion that, from the lavish table of the few, well-being automatically 'rains down' for everyone," he said.

    French church groups combine to fight anti-migrant attitudes

    PARIS (CNS) -- The French church has launched a program to combat anti-migrant and anti-Muslim attitudes amid reports of tensions among Catholics. "It is to resist the rise of tensions and hostilities within the Christian community that our movements have decided to work" with the French bishops' conference to find ways to "help Christians rise above these fears and face the migrant question calm and dispassionately," said a June 7 statement on the conference's website. It said the program is a response to papal appeals, requests from the bishops' pastoral agency for migrants, as well as the church's charitable agency, Caritas; Jesuit Relief Services; and Terre Solidaire, a French development nongovernmental organization. "We salute the engagement of numerous Christians in welcoming and integrating migrants, and we encourage them to strive for a change of attitudes," the statement said. While survey findings show that most Catholics show a greater "closeness and solidarity" with Muslims and migrants than other French groups, they need to have their "fears and vulnerabilities" heard to enable them to "see others as a richness, not a threat," it said. "We will construct and recommend a set of tools, actions and messages" to promote a "culture of encounter, which is the precondition for building a just and fraternal society," the church groups said.

    Scientists, believers should admit how little they know, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Scientists and people of faith always must admit they don't know everything, and they must never be afraid to explore and discover more, Pope Francis told astronomy students and experts. "As people who love what we do, we can find in our love for this universe a foretaste of that divine love which, in contemplating his creation, declared that it was good," he said June 14. The pope spoke to dozens of young astronomy students who were taking part in a monthlong summer school sponsored by the Vatican Observatory. The summer program in astrophysics, held every two years, accepts a small group of promising university and graduate students, mostly from developing nations, who are specializing in astronomical sciences. During a private audience in the apostolic palace, the pope praised the way the study program brings together people from so many different countries, cultures and areas of specialization. This endeavor shows how "diversity can be united by a common goal of study" and how success in that work depends precisely on this diversity, he said.

    Challenges to religious freedom continue, archbishop tells USCCB

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CNS) -- Challenges to religious freedom continue to emerge and the U.S. Catholic Church will remain steadfast in addressing them to serve the common good, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, told the spring assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In his report as chairman of the bishops' Committee for Religious Freedom, the archbishop said June 14 that such efforts are rooted in a vision to protect human dignity and support family and the gift of sexuality. "We propose this vision with passion for the good of individuals and for the good of our nation," the archbishop said. While some challenges have been overcome, such as the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act that forced religious institutions and people of faith to violate their faith, it does not mean they have ended, he said. "These issues will continue. They continue in health care. They continue in marriage and family, in life issues. Certainly challenges, perhaps of a different sort, in the welcome of immigrants and refugee families."

    Using women, trampling on their dignity is a sin, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Exploiting women or treating them like objects is a sin against God, Pope Francis said. "There is a rage against women, terrible rage," the pope said in his homily June 15 during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae. It will do people good -- especially those who enjoy freedom -- to reflect on how many women have become "slaves of this throwaway mentality," he said. The pope's homily focused on the day's Gospel reading in which Jesus tells his disciples that anyone "who looks at women with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Jesus also admonishes those who divorce their wife, saying it "causes her to commit adultery and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." Jesus "changed history," Pope Francis said, with the way he respected women and recognized they have equal dignity as men. At the time, women were second-class citizens and slaves in that they did not enjoy full freedom, he said.

    Update: U.S. officials return stolen Columbus letter back to Vatican Library

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With the help of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a 15th-century copy of a letter Christopher Columbus sent to his royal patrons describing the riches of the New World has been returned to its rightful owner -- the Vatican. The rare eight-page document, estimated to be worth $1.2 million, had been secretly replaced with a forgery, while the true document eventually ended up in the hands of a U.S. collector from Atlanta. The late Robert Parsons had purchased the piece for $875,000 in the United States in 2004 "in good faith," unaware it had been stolen. Callista Gingrich, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, and representatives of the Department of Homeland Security and its investigations division presented the original copy during a ceremony June 14 at the Vatican Library. Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, head of the Vatican Library and Vatican Secret Archives, and Msgr. Cesare Pasini, the library's prefect, also attended the ceremony. "This is a historic day," the archbishop said, as an important document that is part of the history of the Americas and Spain "returns home."

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

  • Bishop Kicanas wins England award, stresses Catholic press' critical role

    GREEN BAY, Wis. (CNS) -- Bishop George F. Kicanas accepted the Catholic Press Association's 2018 Bishop John England Award June 14 by praising the work of the Catholic press and stressing how critical Catholic journalism is to the church's message getting out to the world. Presented annually, the award recognizes publishers in the Catholic press for the defense of First Amendment rights, such as freedom of the press and freedom of religion. It is the CPA's highest award for publishers. Bishop Kicanas retired as head of the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona, last October after 14 years as its shepherd. He was appointed Tucson's coadjutor in 2002 and became head of the diocese a year later. As Tucson's bishop, he was publisher of the diocesan newspaper, which was called The New Vision for many years and is now called Catholic Outlook. Honored during a lunch at the Catholic Media Conference in Green Bay, he called "a great privilege" to receive the England award. "I have admired and respected the CPA for many years. Bishop Kicanas called it "a great privilege" to serve in Tucson and praised the diocese's communications office. "They're the very best." To the luncheon crowd of Catholic journalists, he said, "I know the bishops appreciate greatly the work you do. Thank you for all you do."

    Argentina moves closer to legal abortion; bishops pledge social action

    MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- Argentina's bishops expressed disappointment with the approval of an initiative that moves the South American country closer to legalizing abortion. But the bishops also pledged to review their social ministries to better attend to youth and women. The country's lower house of congress voted 129-123 to approve the initiative, which decriminalizes abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The initiative now goes to the country's senate. "This decision hurts us as Argentines," the bishops' conference said in a statement. "But the pain for the abandonment and the exclusion of innocents must be transformed into strength and hope, to continue fighting for the dignity of all human life." The close June 14 vote on the abortion issue reflected division in Argentine society, according to observers in the majority Catholic county. The law won support in big cities, but was opposed in the provinces. Supporters and opponents crowded streets in the capital -- with supporters waving green handkerchiefs -- as lawmakers debated through the night and the outcome remained uncertain until the final hours. A government survey taken in April showed Argentines split on this issue, with 46 percent opposing legalization and 45 percent supporting it.

    Video, letter among items to supplement bishops' election-year document

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CNS) -- New supplementary documents and a video are on the horizon for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in advance of the 2020 presidential election. During their spring general assembly, the bishops approved the production of a short letter "to inspire prayer and action regarding public life" and a short video and other resources that would apply the teaching of Pope Francis to contemporary issues. The actions are meant to clarify the bishops' document on Catholics in public life, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship." In a June 14 vote, bishops supported the actions 144-41, with two abstentions after an 85-minute discussion that found some bishops calling for an extensive revision of the quadrennial document that traditionally has been issued a year in advance of a presidential election. Approval came after the working group included a reference that the materials that will be developed would "apply the teaching of Pope Francis to our day."

    Update: 'Tag' movie based on three-decade chase game of Catholic school friends

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A group of Catholic high school friends has kept in touch -- literally -- since graduating more than 30 years ago from Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane, Washington. The way they've stayed connected -- through essentially continuing a version of tag they started in high school -- has received mixed reaction from people over the years, but that all changed five years ago when The Wall Street Journal ran a front-page article about them. The piece gave the group almost instant notoriety, as it was followed up by an ESPN segment and a slew of other interviews. The group of 10, who call themselves the "tag brothers," hired an agent and started talking about movie potential. Fast forward years later and now, they're "it" -- to use a tag expression -- because the story of the elaborate ways they've sneaked up on each other, sometimes in disguise, for one month of the year -- as per their signed agreement -- is now on the big screen in the movie "Tag," which releases nationally June 15. The movie takes the story of this group and runs with it, so to speak, with a fictionalized account. The original 10 friends -- nine graduated in 1983 and one in 1984 -- includes one priest, Father Sean Raftis, pastor of St. Richard's in Columbia Falls, Montana. At a reunion, the group was talking about their competitive high school tag and came up with a plan to continue it long distance every February.

    Humanitarian crisis in Yemen worsens, Catholic aid agency says

    AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) -- The Saudi-led coalition's assault on Hodeida, Yemen's main port city, will have a "catastrophic impact" on the ability of relief groups to get food, medicine and other aid to vulnerable Yemeni families in urgent need of assistance, a Catholic aid agency warned. CAFOD, the overseas aid agency of the bishops of England and Wales, made the comments ahead of a United Nations emergency meeting on the situation. "CAFOD partner staff in the country remain on the frontline, doing everything they can to reach people who are in urgent need of humanitarian aid," Giovanna Reda, CAFOD's head of humanitarian programs for the Middle East, told the Catholic News Service. "But with 90 percent of all Yemen's food imports passing through Hodeida, any disruption to the port's operation will affect the entire country," said Reda. The U.N. Security Council was to meet June 14 to discuss the situation in Yemen. "They must act now to secure a cease-fire and halt the suffering of millions of people," Reda told CNS.

    Bishops adopt 'pastoral response' for Asian, Pacific Island Catholics

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CNS) -- A new document focused on guiding the American church in addressing the pastoral needs of Asian and Pacific Island Catholics was approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during their annual spring assembly. Adopted 187-2 with two abstentions, "Encountering Christ in Harmony" is described as a "pastoral response" meant to provide support and to offer ideas for ministry to the nation's nearly 3 million Asian and Pacific Island Catholics. Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Salt Lake City, chairman of the bishops' Subcommittee for Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs, told the assembly a day before the vote that the document addresses the fastest growing minority community in the United States church and includes. "Asian and Pacific Islanders are ready for pastoral engagement in the church's mission of evangelization," he said. "Our approval of this document is indicative of an essential pastoral outreach to the mission of the church in the United States. It's a response to the call of Pope Francis to go to the peripheries to proclaim the Gospel," he added.

    Official explains Vatican media strategy: Let the pope be himself

    GREEN BAY, Wis. (CNS) -- To be "successful" on social media, Pope Francis only has to be himself; gimmicks aren't necessary, a Vatican official told Catholic communicators. "People want the pope just to be the pope," said Natasa Govekar, director of the theological-pastoral department of the Secretariat for Communication. For instance, she said, photos of the pope "with circus performers or wearing a silly hat do not do as well as photos of the pope praying." People congregate on social media sites, so the Catholic Church must be there with the Gospel message of salvation, love and tenderness, Govekar said June 12 at the Catholic Media Conference in Green Bay. Asked about the process for determining what tweets go out to the 47 million people who follow the nine-language @Pontifex accounts, Govekar said a team makes suggestions, but Pope Francis has the final say. Still, she said, in the end "it's not about us. It's not even about the pope. It's about Jesus."

    Bishops accept revised guidelines for health care partnerships

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CNS) -- The process for considering key moral questions are more thoroughly examined in revised guidelines governing Catholic and non-Catholic health care partnerships adopted by the U.S. bishops. Voting 183-2 with two abstentions June 14 during their spring assembly, the bishops adopted the revisions, which are limited to Part 6 of the "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services" developed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Under development since 2015, the revised directives govern moral questions related to the delivery of health care in settings involving cooperation among Catholic and non-Catholic systems. Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Doctrine's Subcommittee on Health Care, told the assembly a day earlier in introducing the directives to allow for additional comment and amendments that the new directives will help bishops decide whether a health care partnership can occur under the church's moral teaching. The revisions offer more specific guidance to hospital administrators confronted with an increasingly complicated business environment. They also are intended to offer guidance to bishops as they witness health care mergers and collaborative arrangements in their dioceses.

    Bishops approve charter changes to widen protection of young people

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CNS) -- Changes in language to clarify several sections of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" were approved during the spring general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The changes are the first since 2011 as the work to update the document took several years to wind through the review process established by the bishops. The bishops voted 185-5 with one abstention June 14 to enact the changes. A day earlier, Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Indiana, chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, presented the changes, saying the they will strengthen protections for young people. Among the changes approved is a provision that the review will occur every seven years instead of every two years.

    Migration is about people, not numbers, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Migrants seeking a better life in other countries must not be viewed with suspicion but rather defended and protected, no matter their status, Pope Francis said. International cooperation is needed "at every stage of migration," especially for countries where higher influx of migrants "often exceeds the resources of many states," the pope said June 14 in a message to participants of the Holy See-Mexico Conference on International Migration at the Casina Pio IV, a villa located in the Vatican Gardens. "I would like to point out that the issue of migration is not simply one of numbers, but of people, each with his or her own history, culture, feelings and aspirations. These people, our brothers and sisters, need ongoing protection, independently of what migrant status they may have," he said in the message read by Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, Vatican foreign minister. Among the attendees at the conference were Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Luis Videgaray Caso, Mexican secretary for foreign affairs; and Miguel Ruiz Cabanas, Mexican sub-secretary for foreign affairs. Thanking participants for their work "on behalf of the needy and the marginalized in our society," the pope said the current challenges in confronting the migration crisis "demand a change in mindset."

    Listen to those in need, pope says in World Day of Poor message

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- How is it that God in heaven can hear the cries of the poor, but so many people watching or standing nearby either cannot or just do not care, Pope Francis asked. People must make "a serious examination of conscience to understand whether we are really capable of listening to the poor," the pope said in a message for the World Day of the Poor. The recently established commemoration and the period of reflection and action preceding it are meant to give Christians a chance to follow Christ's example and concretely share a moment of love, hope and respect together with those in need in one's community, the pope said in the message dated June 13, the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, patron saint of the poor. The Vatican released the message to the public June 14. The World Day of the Poor -- to be marked each year on the 33rd Sunday of ordinary time -- will be celebrated Nov. 18 this year and will focus on a verse from Psalm 34, "This poor one cried out and the Lord heard."

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  • Dominican sisters, women of faith, decry policy of separating families

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A woman's religious order and a group of women of all faiths are taking a stance against the Trump administration's policy of separating families by taking children into custody and sending parents to detention centers at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Adrian Dominican Sisters, based in Adrian, Michigan, called for "an immediate end to the morally reprehensible practice" in a June 11 statement. The sisters said the policy of children being taken into government custody while their parents are sent away from them -- with no way of communicating and no way of knowing when they will be reunited -- indicates "the nation has lost its moral compass." They are calling on Congress "to enact long-overdue immigration reform that enjoys broad public support and reflects American values." More than 1,200 women of all faiths have signed a letter to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, which also calls for an immediate end to the practice of separating families. The letter states that "many of these families seek to apply for asylum; by international law, these families should receive a fair hearing, not immediately be judged as criminals."

    Police say prominent Bangladeshi priest had string of relationships

    RAJSHAHI, Bangladesh (CNS) -- The mysterious disappearance of a Bangladeshi priest just days before Pope Francis visited the country has taken a new turn, reported ucanews.com. Police suspected that Father Walter William Rozario had been kidnapped by radical Muslims when they found his abandoned motorbike and discovered that his mobile phone was switched off. But ucanews.com reported their investigation revealed that the 41-year-old priest allegedly had been involved in a string of relationships with women and at least one girl under 18, the age of consent in Bangladesh. "From our interrogation and findings, I can confirm that five women and an underage girl had illicit and physical relationships with the priest. One of those who admitted having an illicit affair with the priest was a girl aged 17 who was studying in college," Inspector Saikat Hasan of Boraigram police told ucanews.com. Father Rozario, then assistant parish priest at Maria Virgo Potens Church and acting headmaster of church-run St. Louis High School in Borni, was involved in preparatory work for the pope's visit when he went missing Nov. 27. Police found the priest in Sylhet, about 250 miles away, Dec. 1 after he reportedly escaped from his abductors and called his brother for help. But the next day Natore's police chief told a press briefing that Father Rozario had not been abducted but had sought to be on his own to escape psychological distress. During four days of searching for the priest, Boraigram police questioned about 20 people, including 11 women and several underage girls, based on information they found on two laptops and several SIM cards retrieved from the priest's rooms.

    National Review Board chair alerts bishops to complacency on abuse

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CNS) -- Cautioning against complacency in carrying out the requirements of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," the chairman of the National Review Board urged the country's bishops to "never waver" in their commitment to protect minors and vulnerable adults from sexual abuse. Francesco Cesareo said in a report during the spring general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops June 13, that auditors preparing the 15th annual report on the implementation of the charter found signs of complacency in carrying out the charter in some dioceses and eparchies. Released June 1, the report detailed audits of compliance with the charter in U.S. dioceses and eparchies conducted between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017. While progress is being made as the number of allegations during the period declined from the two previous years, he cautioned the bishops to remain vigilant. "Despite the progress we have made in the church and the ongoing efforts of dioceses, many among the faithful and in society at large question the commitment of the church, and in particular, the bishops, in addressing the sexual abuse of children," he told the assembly.

    Update: At meeting in Florida, U.S. bishops decry Sessions' asylum decision

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops June 13 decried U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision that asylum seekers fleeing domestic or gang violence cannot find protection in the United States. "At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life," the bishops' statement said. They urged the nation's policymakers and courts "to respect and enhance, not erode, the potential of our asylum system to preserve and protect the right to life." Sessions' decision "elicits deep concern because it potentially strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection," it said. "These vulnerable women will now face return to extreme dangers of domestic violence in their home country." The statement from the bishops came on the first day of their June 13-14 spring assembly in Fort Lauderdale. Just after opening prayers, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, read the statement from the dais, and the bishops voiced their support. Announced by Sessions at a June 11 news conference, the decision "negates decades of precedents that have provided protection to women fleeting domestic violence," it said. "Unless overturned, the decision will erode the capacity of asylum to save lives, particularly in cases that involve asylum seekers who are persecuted by private actors."

    Update: Mexico's leading presidential candidate embraces many religions

    MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- Earlier this year, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, best known for promising to bring down Mexico's "mafia of power," stood solemnly at a lectern talking about religion. "The time has come to present a proposal based on the aim that when we obtain the presidency, we must not only seek to achieve material well-being, we must also seek well-being for the soul," said the veteran leftist and runaway favorite to win the July 1 presidential election. "Just as we already have a political constitution, we are going to elaborate a moral constitution." Victory for the 64-year-old, often referred to as AMLO, would come after two previous unsuccessful attempts and the formation of an entirely new party -- the National Regeneration Movement, or MORENA -- which revolves entirely around him. Lopez Obrador's larger-than-life political personality is usually analyzed as a struggle between the radical side, which refused to accept defeat in the 2006 election, and the arch-pragmatist who governed Mexico City as mayor between 2000 and 2005. Now the candidate's religiosity -- of which the moral constitution proposed in February is just one example -- is in the spotlight, evening if understanding it is hampered by Lopez Obrador's deliberate ambiguity.

    Advisory council has represented U.S. Catholic concerns for 50 years

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In the spring and fall, some days are longer than others for Margaret Simonson, immediate past chair of the U.S. bishops' National Advisory Council, a group that advises the Administrative Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For the past few years, she has set out twice a year from her tranquil environs in the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, where she is chancellor, and headed east to Baltimore to meet with the 40 to 50 people from around the country who make up part of the advisory council where they discuss topics such as marriage, religious liberty, racism, immigration and other issues on the minds of the Administrative Committee. Formation of the National Advisory Council was first approved by the U.S. bishops in April 1968, just three years after the close of the Second Vatican Council, and it first met the following March. The group, conceived as a rotating group of advisers, helps the prelates take various views into consideration as they look for a way to respond to topics as a group and in the public arena. "At the beginning, it was overwhelming. I am used to small cities and not being involved in high-powered things," said Simonson in a June 7 interview with Catholic News Service. "It was a bit overwhelming but I knew it would be going in."

    Gathering looks at how to overcome polarization using social teaching

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- One week before President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shook hands at the historic summit on Singapore's Sentosa Island, 100 Catholics representing different perspectives huddled at Georgetown University in Washington. They were there to share ideas on overcoming polarization in the church and in U.S. society. "That work is more important now than ever," said John Carr, director of the university's Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, which convened the June 4-6 conference titled "Though Many, One: Overcoming Polarization through Catholic Social Thought." Researchers presented survey results on polarization at the conference and noted that U.S. Catholics are deeply divided on controversial issues like abortion and immigration. Catholics sometimes feel politically homeless when political parties espouse stances in variance of Catholic teaching, Carr said in the concluding session. "We've tried to provide a shelter, if not a home, for people who belong to the same family -- the Catholic family," he said, noting that Catholic social teaching on the dignity of all human life, solidarity with the poor and care for the environment can unite Catholics in working for the common good.

    Bishops of El Salvador warn against privatizing water

    SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (CNS) -- El Salvador's bishops urged lawmakers to discard any plans for privatizing water in the Central American country, saying the poor could not afford to pay the cost of a vital necessity. In a terse statement, issued June 12 and titled, "We will not allow the poor to die of thirst," the Salvadoran bishops' conference cited Pope Francis' encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," which said, "Access to potable and secure water is a basic, fundamental and universal human right because it determines the survival of people and therefore is a condition for the exercising of all other rights." The bishops continued: "As pastors, we are witnesses to the outcry of our people, who ask for potable water in all homes and could not pay the costs if (water) is turned into a good, which is subject to market forces." El Salvador's legislature is starting debate on a national water law. The legislation is proving controversial because some lawmakers favor increased private-sector participation in water management.

    Council of Cardinals finalizes draft of new document on Roman Curia

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will review a finalized draft of the apostolic constitution that would govern the Roman Curia, the Vatican spokesman said. The document, provisionally titled "Praedicate Evangelium" ("Preach the Gospel"), was reviewed by the international Council of Cardinals, and the draft will be "given to the Holy Father for the considerations he deems opportune, useful and necessary," said Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, June 13. The title is still subject to change, and the pope may choose to share it with others to receive feedback, Burke said. An early draft of the document was reviewed by Pope Francis and the council during their last meeting, April 23-25. The draft document emphasizes four points: the Roman Curia is at the service of the pope and the local churches throughout the world; the work of the Curia must have a pastoral character; the new section in the Vatican Secretariat of State would oversee the training, assigning and ministry of Vatican nuncios and diplomats around the world; and the proclamation of the Gospel and a missionary spirit must characterize the activity of the Curia.

    Pope launches appeal that World Cup in Russia helps promote peace

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As 32 nations get ready to vie for the World Cup in Russia, Pope Francis greeted players, organizers and soccer fans who will be following "this event that overcomes all borders. May this important sports event become an occasion for encounter, dialogue and fraternity between different cultures and religions, promoting solidarity and peace between nations," said the Argentine pope, who is an avid soccer fan. He made his remarks in an appeal at the end of his general audience in St. Peter's Square June 13. The 2018 FIFA World Cup was being held in Russia from June 14 to July 15. It is the first time the quadrennial tournament, which began in 1930, was held in Eastern Europe. The ball being used in the first match -- Russia vs. Saudi Arabia -- had been taken to the International Space Station by a Russian cosmonaut in March and returned to Earth June 3.

    Biggest danger in life is fear, settling for less, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The worst enemies in a young person's life aren't the problems they may face, Pope Francis said. The biggest dangers are being unwilling to find a way to adapt, mediocrity by settling for the status quo, and fear, he said at his general audience in St. Peter's Square June 13. "It is necessary to ask the heavenly father for the gift of healthy restlessness for today's young people, the ability to not settle for a life without beauty, without color. If young people are not hungry for an authentic life, where will humanity end up?" he said. As the pope spoke to the crowd of 15,000 people, he was flanked on either side by 10 children wearing bright yellow baseball caps. He had invited them to temporarily leave behind their parish group pilgrimage in the square and follow him to the platform in front of the basilica to be part of his VIP entourage for the morning. The pope said he was beginning a new series of audience talks on the Ten Commandments and how Jesus leads people from the law to its fulfillment. He asked people to reflect on the reading from the Gospel of Mark and Jesus' response to a young, wealthy man who asked what was needed to inherit eternal life. This question reflects the burning human desire for a full and dignified life, the pope said, but the challenge is "how to get there? What path to take?"

    Update: Encuentro priorities help shape Hispanic ministry in U.S.

    SOUTH BEND, Ind. (CNS) -- Nearly 200 Hispanic ministry leaders from 13 dioceses in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin gathered at the University of Notre Dame for their Region VII encuentro, held June 8-10. Among the main issues participants considered as priorities for their region were: evangelization and leadership development among youth and young adults; support and care for immigrants in the country without documents; accompaniment of families; the development of intercultural competencies in parishes; and the need to grow more vocations. "The encuentro has really brought to light to the authorities of the church the voices of the people. That's why these encuentros are so important," said Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Alberto Rojas, chairman of the Region VII encuentro. Like other regional encuentros being held around the country, the gathering at Notre Dame was part of the process leading up to the Fifth National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry -- or V Encuentro -- to take place Sept. 20-23, in Grapevine, Texas.

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  • Update: AMA delegates OK continued review of assisted suicide policy

    CHICAGO (CNS) -- The American Medical Association House of Delegates voted 314-243 not to affirm the report of the organization's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs to maintain the AMA's long-held opposition to assisted suicide. In a late June 11 vote during a meeting in Chicago, the House of Delegates voted to send the council's report back to committee for further review. In a joint statement June 12, the Catholic Medical Association and the National Catholic Bioethics Center announced disappointment in the House of Delegates decision. The two organizations noted the vote was narrow; 56 percent of delegates voted not to accept the report. "For more than two decades, the nation's most prominent and largest association of physicians vocally opposed physician-assisted suicide," said Dr. Peter T. Morrow, president of the Catholic Medical Association. "Monday's AMA's House of Delegates vote refusing their council's recommendation to continue opposing physician-assisted suicide is hugely disappointing and frankly disturbing." Like Morrow, Marie T. Hilliard, director of bioethics and public policy at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, expressed disappointment but called it "good news" the AMA did not change its position. The fact that review of the policy will continue "means we continue to work," she said.

    Catholic groups condemn ruling that limits some asylum seekers

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Asylum seekers fleeing domestic or gang violence need not apply for protection in the United States, said the country's top law enforcement official at a June 11 news conference explaining why he reversed an immigration court's decision that granted asylum to a Salvadoran woman who said she had been abused by her husband. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that while a person may suffer threats of violence in another country, "for any number of reasons relating to her social, economic, family or other personal circumstances," U.S. asylum laws cannot be used to remedy "all misfortune." Various organizations, including some Catholic groups, quickly condemned the attorney general's ruling. "No longer will the United States of America welcome and protect our vulnerable and abused brothers and sisters who are experiencing persecution and brutality," said Lawrence E. Couch, director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. Couch said in a statement that Sessions' decision was "inherently hostile and cruel."

    Interfaith leaders in Trinidad express unity on traditional marriage

    PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CNS) -- Interfaith leaders, including Catholics, have declared their belief that marriage can only be between a biological man and a biological woman. Claiming to jointly represent almost 90 percent of Trinidad and Tobago's population, in a June 11 news conference they also stated their intent to make two proposals to the Trinidad and Tobago government. The first is that the Marriage Act be amended to include the words, "biological male and biological female." The second proposal is that the Equal Opportunity Act not be amended to include LGBT definitions of gender and sexuality. "The Equal Opportunity Act adequately caters to all citizens," said the Rev. Desmond Austin of the Trinidad and Tobago Council of Evangelical Churches, "and the word 'gender' or 'sex' should not be redefined." A High Court decision in April declared two sections of the Sexual Offences Act dealing with sodomy null and void, prompting LGBT groups to seek amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act.

    A Father's Day story: stepping in when the biological dad steps out

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia (CNS) -- Katherine Babcock was in college studying toward an arts degree when she found out she was pregnant. The child's father, her best friend of 10 years, could not cope with the news. "He said: 'It's early enough in your pregnancy. You could just terminate,'" Babcock told The B.C. Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Vancouver. Now married with two more children, Babcock recalled the turmoil of when, after she decided to keep the baby, the young man she thought was her best friend stepped out of her life. After four months in cramped quarters, she moved into a tiny basement suite in the same neighborhood, with no stove and a shared laundry. In 2012, while living in that tiny basement, she got a call from her parents offering a free trip to visit them in Kamloops, British Columbia. There would be a reunion of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, a missions group with whom Babcock had once served in Tanzania. She accepted the invitation and took her young daughter. At the banquet, she recognized Tyson Babcock, a family friend who was also part of the missions group; they had dated in high school. They exchanged phone numbers and stayed in touch. As their long-distance relationship got serious, Katherine gave Tyson an ultimatum. "I said to him: 'If we're going to do this, listen: I have a baby. You're either in 100 percent, or you're out 100 percent. No ifs, ands, or buts. You're in or you're out.'" Tyson replied: "I'm in 100 percent." They married Oct. 11, 2014.

    Church praised for proactive response on abuse but warned of complacency

    NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- Despite groundbreaking steps the U.S. Catholic Church has taken to prevent the sexual abuse of minors in the past 16 years, a potential "complacency" in following safety protocols could pose a challenge to those hard-won advances. Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board, shared that view with diocesan safe environment and victims' assistance coordinators attending the Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference in New Orleans. The 13-member lay board advises the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on safe environment protocols for children in Catholic parishes, schools and organizations. In his talk June 6, Cesareo that because a large percentage of abuse claims deal with incidents that happened many years and even decades ago, the issue may appear now to be less urgent. "The church has responded very concretely to this question and very proactively, but one of the issues now is that because it is now historical -- you have newly ordained priests who were children when this broke out -- the urgency of it is not there," he said. "You have bishops who are new. They weren't there in 2002. The urgency is not there."

    Madagascar's cardinal-designate works quietly for improvements for poor

    CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- Cardinal-designate Desire Tsarahazana of Toamasina, Madagascar, is a quiet leader who is as comfortable talking to political leaders in plush offices as he is walking long distances to converse with people in remote villages, said a Catholic Relief Services official. The cardinal-designate has a "quiet and respectful style of leadership" as well as "an incredible balance," said Joshua Poole, CRS' country representative in Madagascar. Poole, who in his role as country director for the U.S. church's overseas relief and development agency has worked with Cardinal-designate Tsarahazana for three years, described the cardinal in a June 11 email to Catholic News Service. "He can easily shift from a meeting with the prime minister to speaking with a small group" of parishioners, he said. However, he does seem to feel "most at home and at peace in the countryside, building relationships and talking with the people in villages," Poole said.

    Update: Papal diplomat says U.S.-North Korea summit brings hope for peace

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Talks between the leaders of the United States and North Korea are "truly historic" and bring hope for the start of a new era of peace, said Pope Francis' ambassador to Korea. A "very important" new page has been turned, Archbishop Alfred Xuereb, apostolic nuncio to South Korea and Mongolia, told Vatican News June 12. "It marks the beginning of a still long and arduous journey, but we are hopeful because the start has been very positive, very good," he said. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump met on Singapore's Sentosa Island for the historic summit June 12. It was the first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. Afterward, Trump said Kim would work to end North Korea's nuclear program. Trump promised to end joint military exercises with South Korea.

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  • How Catholic schools foster self-discipline offers lessons, says study

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A new study conducted by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found that children in Catholic schools are less disruptive and have more self-control than their peers in non-Catholic or public schools. The authors of the study said they believe that examining students' self-discipline is particularly important in light of the ongoing debate about externally imposed discipline, such as detention and suspension, and methods of punishment used in public schools. "Clearly, an approach that fosters self-discipline is preferable to one that relies on externally imposed discipline. So if Catholic schools have succeeded in developing such an approach, we ought to pay more attention to what they are doing and how they are doing it," said the report, released May 31. A lack of research into this aspect of Catholic schooling also motivated the authors of the study. Many studies have been conducted to investigate the academic effects of Catholic schools-according to the report, their general conclusion is that "students in Catholic schools achieve at higher levels"-but little research has been done into other aspects of student development at Catholic schools.

    Public-private initiative helps over 9,000 people get free health care

    SAVANNAH, Ga. (CNS) -- Over the course of nine days in May, more than 9,000 patients received free medical, dental, ophthalmological and/or veterinary care as part of Operation Empower Health -- Greater Savannah. The initiative is a joint effort between the St. Joseph's/Candler health system, Georgia Southern University and the U.S. Department of Defense. Its true impact on the surrounding community can't solely be assessed by the number of patients and animals examined or even by the 26,000-plus procedures performed on them. Rather, even more telling are the physical and emotional impacts the program had -- and will continue to have -- not only on its patients but also on those who served them. "The hardest part for us is we have to turn people away," said Lt. Col. Andrew Magnet, mission officer in charge. He noted the finite number of physicians, dentists, optometrists, veterinarians and pieces of equipment available as well as the rapidity with which available time slots filled up.

    Philippine priest killed while preparing for Mass

    MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- Father Richmond Villaflor Nilo of Cabanatuan Diocese was gunned down inside a chapel in Zaragoza June 10 as he was about to celebrate Mass, reported ucanews.com. Police said the priest was shot while he was putting on his alb. At least three shots were fired through the chapel's window. Father Nilo became the fourth Catholic priest to be shot in the Philippines in the past six months and the second within a week, ucanews.com reported. "No priest, and no human being for that matter, deserves to be killed with utter brutality, disrespect and impunity," Bishop Sofronio Bancud of Cabanatuan said in a statement. "To kill a priest for whatever motive or cause is not only un-Christian and inhuman, it is also un-Filipino," he added. Father Nilo was parish priest of St. Vincent Ferrer Parish in Zaragoza and financial administrator of the diocese at the time of his death.

    New York court again rules archbishop's remains may be moved to Peoria

    PEORIA, Ill. (CNS) -- The Diocese of Peoria has reacted with "great joy" to a New York court ruling in favor of Joan Sheen Cunningham's petition to have the remains of her uncle, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, moved from New York City to Peoria. "It is the hope that this process will begin immediately," said a diocesan news release, issued June 8 following the ruling by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arlene Bluth that again clears the way for the remains of the famed orator and media pioneer to be removed from St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York and transferred to St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria, the archbishop's home diocese. Peoria Bishop Daniel R. Jenky said he hoped the Archdiocese of New York -- which appealed Bluth's original ruling in favor of Cunningham in late 2016 -- will now "cease its legal resistance." He asked all to pray "for a renewed spirit of cooperation" to move Archbishop Sheen's sainthood cause forward. Officials in the Archdiocese of New York said June 11 they "will review this decision carefully with our attorneys and determine what next steps might be taken." They said they were adhering to his wishes in his will and as expressed by his niece that he be buried in New York. In June 2016, in petitioning the courts for the transfer of his remains, Cunningham stated her uncle would not have objected to his body being moved to the Illinois cathedral.

    World Meeting of Families to feature Father James Martin as keynoter

    MAYNOOTH, Ireland (CNS) -- The issue of LGBT families has dogged the ninth World Meeting of Families since it was revealed that an image of a gay couple was edited for a preparatory booklet, and Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David G. O'Connell's comments on gay families were deleted from a video. On June 11, the date the Vatican released Pope Francis' schedule for attendance at the World Meeting of Families, Irish church officials confirmed that U.S. Jesuit Father James Martin, who has written about the need for dialogue between the LGBT community and the Catholic Church, will be a keynote speaker at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in August. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, president of the World Meeting of Families 2018, said Father Martin's book, "Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity," had the support of three U.S. cardinals, including Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life. Asked if gay couples were welcome, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, told media: "This is a gathering of people to which everyone is welcome."

    Update: Pope's August visit to Ireland will include quick trip to Knock

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' brief visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families Aug. 25-26 will include a quick trip to the Marian shrine at Knock and a special meeting with homeless families. He also will meet representatives of survivors of clerical abuse and residential abuse -- such as Magdalen laundries and mother and baby homes -- during the course of his two days in Ireland. In Maynooth, Ireland, June 11, the day the pope's itinerary was published, Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam, custodian of the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, told reporters, "One of the most beautiful sights at Knock is to see families, sometimes the three generations, praying and enjoying the peace and tranquility of the shrine." The apparition at Knock in 1879, he said, "was family apparition." Fifteen people in the village said they saw the apparition of Mary, Joseph, a lamb representing Jesus, and St. John the Evangelist, to whom Jesus entrusted Mary as his mother. Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, told media he expected many Northern Ireland Catholics to travel to Knock for the occasion now that a papal visit north of the border had been ruled out. He added that they were still "delighted that he is coming to this island, and we'll celebrate that and make the most of it."

    Spain agrees to welcome rescue boat after Italy, Malta refuse

    ROME (CNS) -- Spain has announced it will let a ship holding 629 migrants and refugees, who were rescued from the Mediterranean, dock on its shores, after Italy and Malta refused to accept the vessel. Doctors Without Borders operating on the Mediterranean Sea tweeted June 11 that among those on board were seven pregnant women, 15 people with serious chemical burns, several suffering from near drowning and hypothermia, and 123 unaccompanied minors. The ship Aquarius had been on standby since June 10, waiting for permission to dock at a nearby port of safety. The Aquarius had rescued hundreds of people June 10 from unsafe rubber boats -- one of which collapsed during the night. The ship also took in another 400 people rescued by Italian vessels. The Italian minister of the interior, Matteo Salvini, announced June 10 that all Italian ports would be closed to the rescue boat after Maltese authorities refused to allow the ship to dock, saying international law required it to dock in Italy. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced later June 11 that his country would grant the Aquarius permission to dock for "humanitarian reasons. It is our duty to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe port to these people."

    Catholic scientists find camaraderie when discussing faith, research

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- There are few places University of Delaware physicist Stephen Barr would rather be than in a roomful of 100 or so of his science colleagues discussing quantum mechanics without having to confront the oft-perceived divide between science and religion. Barr, president of the fast-growing Society of Catholic Scientists, was in his element June 9 during the society's 2018 conference at The Catholic University of America in Washington. He delivered his talk on observing the behavior of atoms and subatomic particles to an audience of like-minded Catholic scientists from various disciplines who appreciate that their research is helping unravel the Creation's mysteries. Barr, 64, has long wanted to see such an opportunity for Catholic scientists to come together to discuss their scientific expertise, network and share their faith. The conference was the society's second, the first taking place in Chicago in 2017. More than 100 professional and student scientists gathered to explore "The Human Mind and Physicalism" with nearly a dozen presenters incorporating scientific findings in physics, ecology, free will and the human mind with philosophical perspectives during a weekend of reflection and discovery.

    Pope shares childhood memories with Italian children

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis told Italian schoolchildren that he grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, "the most beautiful city in the world," and that besides playing soccer, he loved to fly kites as a child. "We would make them with cane and paper, light paper. We made them ourselves," the pope told about 500 children from schools in the poorer neighborhoods of Rome and of Milan. In the kite championship, he added, there were prizes for "the prettiest one and for the one that went highest." With the children seated around him in the atrium of the Vatican audience hall, Pope Francis answered their questions about his childhood, his school, his vocation and the standard question children ask him, "How did you feel when you were chosen pope?" Meeting the pope was the culmination of the "Children's Train" initiative of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Italian state railroad. Pope Francis urged the children always to remember their first school and first teacher. "Can a tree whose roots have been removed produce flowers?" the pope asked. The children shouted, "No."

    Pope advances sainthood cause for Mexican mother, Argentine martyrs

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis issued decrees advancing the sainthood cause of four candidates, including a widowed mother of nine from Mexico, who founded groups for laypeople as well as two religious congregations. At a meeting June 8 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, the pope signed a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Concepcion Cabrera Arias, thus paving the way for her beatification. Another miracle would be needed for her canonization. Born Dec. 8, 1862, in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Venerable Cabrera was known for her spiritual devotions and writings. She married Francisco Armida in 1884 and had nine children before his death in 1901. She founded the "Works of the Cross," which includes a religious order for women, one for men and apostolates for laypeople. She died in Mexico City in 1937 and was declared venerable by St. John Paul II in 1999. The pope also recognized the martyrdom of Argentine Bishop Enrique Angel Angelelli Carletti of La Rioja, Fathers Carlos Murias and Gabriel Longueville, and of a layman, Wenceslao Pedernera.

    Pope to oil execs: 'No time to lose' in switch to alternative energy

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The world needs a new kind of leadership that believes in building up the whole human family and protecting the environment, Pope Francis told a group of energy and oil executives and global investors. That also means using alternatives to fossil fuels for meeting everyone's energy needs and mitigating the effects of global warming, he said. "Civilization requires energy, but energy use must not destroy civilization," he said in his address June 9 at the Vatican. The pope spoke to leaders taking part in a conference June 8-9 on "Energy Transition and Care for Our Common Home," sponsored by the Vatican's Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business in the United States.

    Pope leads prayers for U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Leading thousands of people in prayer, Pope Francis said he hoped the upcoming summit between the United States and North Korea would lead to lasting peace. After praying the Angelus with an estimated 20,000 people in St. Peter's Square June 10, the pope said he wanted to convey "a special thought to the beloved Korean people," and he asked the crowd to pray the "Hail Mary" so that "Our Lady, Queen of Korea, may accompany these talks. May the talks that will take place in the next few days in Singapore contribute to the development of a positive path that assures a future of peace for the Korean peninsula and the whole world," Pope Francis said. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump were to meet on Singapore's Sentosa Island for the historic summit June 12. It was to be the first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. Before leading the crowds in praying for the summit, the pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading in which Jesus confronts "two types of misunderstandings" from the scribes and his relatives.

    Vatican criminal court indicts monsignor on child porn charges

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A Vatican court indicted Msgr. Carlo Alberto Capella, a former staff member at the Vatican nunciature in Washington, and ordered him to stand trial beginning June 22 on charges of possessing and distributing child pornography. Vatican City State's criminal court issued the indictment June 9, the Vatican press office announced. Msgr. Capella has been held in a jail cell in the Vatican police barracks since April 9. Msgr. Capella is accused of having and exchanging with others "a large quantity" of child pornography; the quantity is such that the charges are considered "aggravated" by the Vatican City court. If found guilty, he faces a prison sentence of one year to five years and a fine from 2,500 euro to 50,000 euro (about $3,000-60,000). However, according to Vatican law, "the penalty is increased if a considerable quantity of pornographic material is involved." The 50-year-old Italian monsignor had been working in Washington just over a year when he was recalled to the Vatican after the U.S. State Department notified the Holy See Aug. 21 of his possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images.

    Pope accepts resignations of three Chilean bishops in wake of scandal

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After an in-depth Vatican-led investigation into clerical sexual abuse and cover-ups, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of 61-year-old Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, Chile, and two other Chilean bishops June 11. The two other bishops, who had reached the customary retirement age of 75, were Archbishop Cristian Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt and Bishop Gonzalo Duarte Garcia de Cortazar of Valparaiso. The pope named apostolic administrators to run each diocese in the meantime: Mercedarian Father Ricardo Basilio Morales Galindo, Chilean provincial, for the Archdiocese of Puerto Montt; Auxiliary Bishop Pedro Ossandon Buljevic of Santiago for the Diocese of Valparaiso; and Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Concha Cayuqueo of Santiago for the Diocese of Osorno. The announcement came as Pope Francis was sending his Vatican team back to Chile to promote healing from the abuse crisis.

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

  • Indiana diocese ordains five priests, largest class since 1975

    FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CNS) -- With words of welcome into a new friendship with Jesus, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades ordained five men to the priesthood in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. The ordination June 2 marked the largest class in the diocese in 43 years. Hundreds of the faithful pressed into the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception to witness the ceremony. The congregation included dozens of priests and Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services. Bishop Rhoades acknowledged the historic occasion during opening remarks before beginning the Mass, saying that the new priests' vocation was an answer to prayers that God would send laborers to the vineyard. The group included Father Patrick Hake and Father David Huneck of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Father Jay Horning of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Paris, Father Nathan Maskal of St. Charles Borromeo Parish and Father Thomas Zehr of Our Lady of Good Hope Parish, all in Fort Wayne.

    Religious freedom in U.S., around world focus of June 22-29 observance

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. Catholic Church's 2018 religious freedom observance begins June 22, the feast of two English martyrs who fought religious persecution -- Sts. John Fisher and St. Thomas More -- and ends June 29, the feast of two apostles martyred in Rome -- Sts. Peter and Paul. "Serving Others in God's Love" is the theme of this year's Religious Freedom Week. U.S. Catholics are encouraged to pray and take action act in support of religious liberty at home and abroad. "Religious freedom allows the space for people of faith to serve others in God's love in ministries like education, adoption and foster care, health care, and migration and refugee services," said the chairman of the U.S. Conference of catholic Bishops' Committee for Religious Liberty, "We encourage people of faith to reflect on the importance of religious freedom so that we might have the space to carry out our mission of service and mercy," Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, said in a statement. Two USCCB websites, www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek and www.usccb.org/freedom, have resources for observing the week and learning about current and ongoing threats to religious liberty. For social media the hashtag is #ReligiousFreedomWeek.

    Legal challenges put Iowa's fetal heartbeat law on hold

    DAVENPORT, Iowa (CNS) -- A new Iowa law prohibiting abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected has been placed on hold while lawyers on opposing sides of a lawsuit prepare their cases. The America Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, as co-counsel, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and its medical director, Dr. Jill Meadows. Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City is a co-plaintiff in the case. Plaintiffs are challenging the constitutionality of the so-called fetal heartbeat bill. A heartbeat can be detected in an unborn baby at around six weeks of age, before some women may realize they are pregnant. The law was to take effect July 1 and would have provided few exceptions for abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. On June 1, a Polk County District Court judge granted a temporary injunction placing the law on hold as the lawsuit gets underway.The Thomas More Society, a not-for-profit, national public interest law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family and religious liberty, is representing the state. The Chicago-based law firm agreed to do so because Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller disqualified himself from defending the new statute.

    East European church leaders fret about same-sex marriage ruling

    WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- Catholic leaders in central Europe vowed to uphold church teachings on marriage after Europe's highest court ruled same-sex married couples should have residence rights in all countries. "Groups who think differently about marriage will certainly see this as a new opportunity," said Father Francisc Ungureanu, secretary-general of the Romanian Catholic bishops' conference. "But we're confident the truth about human life and marriage will remain the same, and we'll count on politicians and legislators not to defy this. The very function of law and justice is to say what marriage is and protect it," he told Catholic News Service. The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice upheld June 5 the right of a Romanian gay man, Adrian Coman, to have his American marriage partner, Claibourn Robert Hamilton, living with him. Welcoming the June 5 ruling as a "win for human dignity," Coman said it would enable the couple to "look in the eyes of any public official in Romania and across the EU certain our relationship is equally valuable and equally relevant."

    Update: Pope appoints auxiliary bishops for Washington, Rockville Centre

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington and an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York. The new Washington auxiliary, Bishop-designate Michael W. Fisher, 60, has served the archdiocese as episcopal vicar for clergy and secretary for ministerial leadership since 2006. The new Rockville Centre auxiliary, Bishop-designate Richard G. Henning, 53, is rector of Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, New York. The appointment of the two new bishops was announced June 8 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States. "Msgr. Fisher brings to this ministry recognized talent and demonstrated ability," Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl said in a statement. "In particular, his concern for his brother priests, dedication to priestly ministry and his kind yet directive leadership will be gifts to this local church as he serves in this new capacity." In Rockville Centre, Bishop John O. Barres praised Bishop-designate Henning for, among other things, his "pastoral charity and intelligence, his commitment to a demanding life of daily prayer (and) his love for the Hispanic community and evangelization." Bishop-designate Fisher's episcopal ordination will be June 29, and Bishop-designate Henning's episcopal ordination will be July 24.

    Monthslong 'labor of love' makes Texas church whole again after Harvey

    SPRING, Texas (CNS) -- Parishioners arrived hours before the rededication Mass at St. Ignatius of Loyola in Spring, joyful of finally being home in their church after being ousted for nine months by Hurricane Harvey's flooding and subsequent repairs. "It's been tough. It really was a labor of love. This deepened my trust in God, the Good Shepherd, accompanying us," said Father Norbert Maduzia, St. Ignatius of Loyola pastor. In fact, finding Jesus missing an arm and hanging on the parish's processional crucifix floating face down in the floodwaters made Father Maduzia realize, "God was suffering along with those who had lost so much in the storm." Jesus' arm was found floating in the church and a parishioner with restoration experience from the Smithsonian Institution repaired the processional crucifix. Held high, it led the procession and Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo as they entered into the church for blessings, anointing and the May 31 rededication.

    Space station crew members give pope custom-made blue flight suit

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If Pope Francis ever plans an apostolic trip to space, he's all set after receiving a custom-made blue flight suit with patches of the Argentine flag, his papal coat of arms and a pair of angel wings with his crew name, Jorge M. Bergoglio. The outfit also came with add-on white mantle, or short cape, just so there would be no mistaking he was still the pope. The gifts were presented to the pope June 8 by Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli and four other astronauts, who returned from the International Space Station in two groups, one in December and one in February. The delegation from the Expedition 53 Mission also included Commander Randy Bresnik from Fort Knox, Kentucky; Joe Acaba from Inglewood, California; Mark Vande Hei from Falls Church, Virginia; Sergey Ryazanskiy from Moscow; and some of their family members. They had requested an audience with the pope during their post-flight tour of Italy, so they could meet him face-to-face after speaking with him via satellite last October, Bresnik told Catholic News Service. Recalling that conversation from space, Bresnik, who is a Baptist, said, "It was interesting seeing the Catholics on our crew, the Eastern Orthodox crew members, to see everybody energized by talking with the pope, with what he represents."

    Philippine church leaders oppose pistol-packing priests

    MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- Church leaders in the Philippines criticized a proposal to arm priests as a protective measure in the wake of recent attacks on clergy members. Calls have come from several quarters for priests to take advantage of a 2014 law allowing journalists, priests, lawyers, doctors, nurses, accountants and engineers to carry firearms outside their homes. The calls come after three recent shooting incidents involving priests. In the most recent case June 6, Father Rey Urmeneta, 64, who serves at a parish in Calamba City about 25 miles north of Manila, survived a gun attack by two assailants. He was the third priest to have been shot since December. In April, Father Mark Ventura from Gattaran in the northern Philippines died after being shot by a lone gunman shortly after celebrating Sunday Mass and in December Father Marcelito Paez was shot dead in Jaen, about 75 miles north of Manila.

    Pope: Small acts of kindness, not great speeches, show God's love best

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God shows his love, not with great speeches, but with simple, tender acts of charity, Pope Francis said. "When Jesus wants to teach us how a Christian should be, he tells us very little," the pope said, but he shows people by feeding the hungry and welcoming the stranger. Celebrating Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae June 8, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the pope spoke about the boundless love of Christ, "which surpasses knowledge." It is not easy to understand, he said, but God expresses his infinite love in small, tender ways. In the day's first reading, the prophet Hosea says the Lord loved his people like a child, taking them into his arms, drawing them in, "close, like a dad" would, the pope said.

    Update: Chilean Catholics weather clergy sexual abuse crisis fallout

    SANTIAGO, Chile (CNS) -- Like other Catholics, Teresa Correa, a mother of four and a member of the parish in the Chilean capital's upscale Las Condes neighborhood, has lost some of her confidence in the Catholic Church. Correa admitted to Catholic News Service in early June that the clergy sexual abuse crisis has left her and her friends wondering where the church is headed. She said it's "time for the laity to take the lead and help out." She also said it is important to be strong and brave during what is a difficult time for Catholics in Chile. Her friend Pilar Concha, a mother of six, agreed. "My children are between 15 to 6 years old," she told Catholic News Service. "They see what is going on in the press. When we eat together in the evening, they talk to me about it, especially the older ones. They say, 'Mummy, did you see what happened in such and such place with that bishop? Did you hear what the pope said?'" The women's thoughts have been on the clergy sexual abuse crisis that has rocked the Chile's Catholic Church. The crisis deepened during the Pope Francis' visit in January and has remained a top news story for months.

    Synod working document seeks 'new paths' of evangelization in Amazon

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church must discover new ways to provide the Eucharist and pastoral support to the people of the Amazon, especially indigenous people threatened by forced displacement and exploitation, a new document said. The Vatican released the preparatory document for the special Synod of Bishops on the Amazon June 8. The synod gathering in October 2019 will reflect on the theme "Amazonia: New paths for the church and for an integral ecology." The connection between care for the environment and the pastoral care of the people who live in the region is highlighted throughout the document, because, it said, "protecting indigenous peoples and their lands represents a fundamental ethical imperative and a basic commitment to human rights." "Moreover," it continued, "it is a moral imperative for the church, consistent with the approach to integral ecology called for by 'Laudato Si'." The document ended with 30 questions about how the church should respond to specific challenges in the region such as injustice, violence and discrimination, particularly against the area's indigenous people. Responses to the questions will provide material for the synod's working document.

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

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