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  • El Salvador celebrates its first saint, whose legacy continues

    IMAGE: CNS photo/Jose Cabezas, Reuters

    By David Agren

    SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (CNS) -- Near the end of his homily at a Mass just prior to St. Oscar Romero's canonization, Jesuit Father Jose Maria Tojeira yelled to the crowd outside the Metropolitan Cathedral: "Viva Monsenor Romero!" (Long live Bishop Romero!)

    The overflow crowed lustily yelled back, "Que Viva!" (Long live!)

    "We're not venerating a body," Father Tojeira said, "rather someone who is alive, together with God and in the hearts of all Christians that want to continue with the reality of the Gospel."

    During the Oct. 14 at the Vatican -- very early morning in El Salvador -- Salvadorans gathered in the square outside the cathedral to watch the ceremony on big screens; others watched in their parishes.

    St. Romero was shot dead while celebrating Mass March 24, 1980. His legacy of showing a preference for the poor and promoting peace lives on in his native El Salvador, where, even in death, he plays an outsized role in the country's public life and occupies a special place in its collective consciousness -- for devotees and detractors alike.

    He becomes El Salvador's first saint. But his current role in the country transcends religion. He also has assumed the status of national hero, whose words -- spoken in homilies -- sound prophetic and seem apt almost four decades after his death.

    "He still is the most venerated and respected leader of the last 100 years, certainly the last 50 years," said Rick Jones, youth and migration adviser for Catholic Relief Services in El Salvador.

    "He's still the sign post of what people are looking for in terms of some voice that talks about reconciliation, justice and hope for nonviolent transformation."

    St. Romero's slaying came as the country was on the cusp of civil war, which roared through the 1980s. His canonization comes as the country convulses with violence, much of it attributed to gangs preying on populations living in barrios under their control.

    As archbishop of San Salvador, the national capital, St. Romero accompanied the poor at a time when some two-thirds of the population lived in poverty. He also voiced people's demands for better wages and criticisms of the "oligarchy"  -- as the elites were caustically called -- at a time when his critics considered such talk "communist." He also called for a suspension of U.S. military assistance.

    The poverty and inequality St. Romero spoke out against are still rife in 2018. Many Salvadorans also still flee the country to escape the violence and indignities, causing his words to resonate with younger generations and even some evangelicals and atheists.

    "What he said is still valid. His words still carry enormous weight," said Douglas Martinez, a vendor in San Salvador. "He was practically a prophet on this earth."

    Canonization was never certain for St. Romero, though some in the country have long considered him a saint.

    "For me and for many people in the country -- a good number of people with a social commitment -- Bishop Romero has been a saint since his martyrdom, and now it's going to be the formal act," said Gabina Dubon, coordinator of the transformational social ministry in Caritas El Salvador.

    "In that time there was no freedom of expression. He became a voice for those without a voice, a defender of life, dignity, solidarity and the common good."

    St. Romero served only three years as archbishop of San Salvador, yet he left a legacy via his homilies, which were broadcast across the country.

    Participants in a procession to the cathedral carried signs with quotes culled from those homilies. "There's no more diabolical sin than taking bread from the hungry," read one sign. "It's necessary to call injustice by its name," read another.

    The celebrations carried political overtones for some. A U.N. truth commission named Roberto d'Aubuisson, an ex-army officer and founder of the conservative ARENA alliance, as the intellectual author of the murder. He died of cancer in 1992.

    Father Neftali Ruiz carried a banner castigating ARENA, but saying of Romero, "The people made him a saint."

    Father Ruiz stood outside the same cathedral where tens of thousands of Salvadorans mourned St. Romero at his funeral. Snipers opened fire on the funeral, killing at least 40 people.

    Only one Salvadoran bishop attended the funeral: Archbishop Arturo Rivera Damas, who was named St. Romero's successor in San Salvador.

    "He always defended Romero," Father Tojeira said of Archbishop Rivera, "but speaking in confidence ... he would say, 'A bishop like Romero arrives every 500 years.'"

    The St. Romero canonization showed how time had changed in the country and church though, in an interview, Father Tojeira quipped of St. Romero's critics, "They used to say 'communist.' They now have a little more civilized discourse but continue being similar."

    Celebrations of the canonization occurred in dioceses across El Salvador -- even in San Vicente, where priests would bless army helicopters during the civil war. Father Ruiz recalled being expelled from the minor seminary there in 2000 for refusing to stop displaying an image of St. Romero.

    Today, images of St. Romero grace everything from postage stamps to murals to the walls of the presidential palace to political ads, as the ruling party attempts to capitalize on his popularity and incorruptible reputation.

    That politicians try to appropriate St. Romero's image bothers some devotees as crime, corruption and poverty persist at alarmingly high levels. St. Romero also criticized both sides of the political spectrum.

    "(Politicians) don't practice what he preached," said Elsy Cornejo, who was selling CDs of St. Romero's homilies. "He spoke of peace and accompanying the poor."

    With the murder rate in El Salvador ranking among the highest in the world and gangs preying on poor barrio dwellers with crimes such as extortion and the forced recruitment of teenagers, Cornejo added, "We're also practicing very little of what he preached."

    Church observers expressed hope St. Romero's canonization could bring unity to a country with polarized politics and offer a possibility of improvement.

    "He presents a figure for reconciliation," Jones said, "and a different way to move forward other than ... just the left or the right."

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  • El Salvador celebrates its first saint, whose legacy continues

    SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (CNS) -- Near the end of his homily at a Mass just prior to St. Oscar Romero's canonization, Jesuit Father Jose Maria Tojeira yelled to the crowd outside the Metropolitan Cathedral: "Viva Monsenor Romero!" (Long live Bishop Romero!) The overflow crowed lustily yelled back, "Que Viva!" (Long live!) "We're not venerating a body," Father Tojeira said, "rather someone who is alive, together with God and in the hearts of all Christians that want to continue with the reality of the Gospel." During the Oct. 14 at the Vatican -- very early morning in El Salvador -- Salvadorans gathered in the square outside the cathedral to watch the ceremony on big screens; others watched in their parishes. St. Romero was shot dead while celebrating Mass March 24, 1980. His legacy of showing a preference for the poor and promoting peace lives on in his native El Salvador, where, even in death, he plays an outsized role in the country's public life and occupies a special place in its collective consciousness -- for devotees and detractors alike. He becomes El Salvador's first saint. But his current role in the country transcends religion. He also has assumed the status of national hero, whose words -- spoken in homilies -- sound prophetic and seem apt almost four decades after his death.

    St. Romero's brothers rejoice at his canonization

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Before the sun rose in Rome Oct. 14, 88-year-old Gaspar Romero and his brother, 93-year-old Tiberio Romero were at the head of the line of thousands of people waiting to get into St. Peter's Square. The two were at the Vatican for the canonization of their brother, St. Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador who was assassinated in 1980. In the glow of the lights under the colonnade surrounding St. Peter's Square, the Romero brothers and other family members waited with a group of priests from El Salvador. "Thanks to this event, our country has become known in the whole world," Gaspar Romero told Catholic News Service. "So many people in the world were waiting for this." While standing in line, he shared an anecdote of the honors his brother received throughout the years. Although he had kept a low profile in the wake of his brother's death, Gaspar Romero recently has begun to share his experience publicly. "I feel proud as a brother and as a family member," he said, "but also as part of the (Salvadoran) people because over there, they love him a lot."

    Relics offer physical reminder that saints were real people

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis and many people attending the canonization Mass in St. Peter's Square were alive when St. Paul VI and St. Oscar Romero were alive, but the new saints' relics and those of five other people canonized Oct. 14 still were present at the Mass as reminders that the saints were flesh-and-blood people who lived holy lives. The very formal relics, present in reliquaries with a red-wax seal, were set at the feet of a statue of Mary during the Mass. Most were what the church traditionally described as "first-class" relics: a piece of the actual physical remains of the saint, often bone fragments. But Pope Francis himself used other items -- traditionally known as "second-class" relics -- that previously had used by two of the new saints: He carried in procession the crosier of St. Paul VI and wore his pallium; he also wore the blood-stained cincture, a rope belt, that St. Romero was wearing when he was assassinated while celebrating Mass in 1980. And for the Eucharist, he used a chalice that had belonged to St. Paul VI. The formal reliquary for St. Paul VI was a glass vase containing the blood-specked undershirt he was wearing in November 1970 when a Bolivian artist stabbed him at the Manila airport.

    For Catholics, St. Oscar Romero's canonization a dream come true

    ROME (CNS) -- For many pilgrims from El Salvador and for many Catholics who focus on the tie between faith and justice, waiting for the canonization of St. Oscar Romero was an exercise in patience. The declaration of the sainthood of the Salvadoran archbishop, who was assassinated while celebrating Mass in 1980, teaches men and women that "holiness is first and foremost a gift" that doesn't come quickly, said Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines. "In Oscar Romero, we saw how he struggled, how he took the painful path of reconciling his previous understanding of the Gospel and the performance of the church's mission with the openness that Vatican II presented," the cardinal told Catholic News Service after celebrating a vigil Mass Oct. 13. "In a world where everyone is in a hurry, in a rush, and we want things perfect, well, he seems to be telling us, 'Take it easy, be patient!' And if you have to suffer through your own internal revolution of change out of love, then it's worth going through it," he told CNS. The Mass preceded a conference and a concert sponsored by Caritas Internationalis celebrating the Oct. 14 canonizations of both St. Romero and St. Paul VI.

    Hometown saints: Pilgrims at canonization support their local 'heroes'

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As the sun rose over the Tiber River, seven banners hanging on the facade of St. Peter's Basilica depicting the church's newest saints were illuminated by the new day. Pilgrims from all over the world had lined up behind metal barricades on the outer perimeter of the square until members of the Swiss Guard, security officers, police at metal detectors and volunteers wearing blue bibs got into position and ready for the tens of thousands of people attending the canonization ceremony and Mass Oct. 14. "Good morning, Brescia!" shouted one volunteer steering a large group from the Italian province, where St. Paul VI was born, through the maze of barricades to get into the square. Many pilgrims were easy to identify with colorful banners, flags, hats or bandanas emblazoned with their saint's image or name. In the crowd was Maria Giovanna Cimoli from Concesio, the small hometown of St. Paul VI. "I am so excited, so proud to be here. We live on the same street (St. Paul VI) lived on growing up," she told Catholic News Service. "I was living here in Rome when he was elected," she said. "I was in the square when they said his name. It was a shock." Forty-two years after they were married, Lucia Bescotti and Giovanni Ballini from Brescia found themselves once again waiting in line to get into St. Peter's Square. St. Paul VI had greeted them and given them his blessing in Rome after they were married in 1976 "when we were young," Bescotti said.

    Saints risk all for love of Jesus, pope says at canonization Mass

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Carrying Pope Paul VI's pastoral staff and wearing the blood-stained belt of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, Pope Francis formally recognized them, and five others, as saints of the Catholic Church. Thousands of pilgrims from the new saints' home countries -- Italy, El Salvador, Spain and Germany -- were joined by tens of thousands of others Oct. 14 in St. Peter's Square to celebrate the universal recognition of the holiness of men and women they already knew were saints. Carolina Escamilla, who traveled from San Salvador for canonization, said she was "super happy" to be in Rome. "I don't think there are words to describe all that we feel after such a long-awaited and long-desired moment like the 'official' canonization, because Archbishop Romero was already a saint when he was alive." Each of the new saints lived lives marked by pain and criticism -- including from within the church -- but all of them dedicated themselves with passionate love to following Jesus and caring for the weak and the poor, Pope Francis said in his homily. The new saints are: Paul VI, who led the last sessions of the Second Vatican Council and its initial implementation; Romero, who defended the poor, called for justice and was assassinated in 1980; Vincenzo Romano, an Italian priest who died in 1831; Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, a Spanish nun who ministered in Mexico and Bolivia and died in 1943; Catherine Kasper, the 19th-century German founder of a religious order; Francesco Spinelli, a 19th-century priest and founder of a religious order; and Nunzio Sulprizio, a layman who died in Naples in 1836 at the age of 19.

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  • Pope expels two Chilean bishops from priesthood

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In an unprecedented move, Pope Francis removed from the priesthood two Chilean bishops accused of sexual abuse. In a statement released Oct. 12, the Vatican said 84-year-old Francisco Jose Cox, the former archbishop of La Serena, and 53-year-old Marco Antonio Ordenes, the former bishop of Iquique, were dismissed from the clerical state by the pope and there would be no appeal. The Vatican cited norms issued by now-retired Pope Benedict XVI regarding serious crimes committed by members of the clergy; the norms state that the most serious cases are decided by the pope "when it is manifestly evident that the delict was committed and after having given the guilty party the possibility of defending himself." "The decision adopted by the pope on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, is not subject to appeal," the Vatican said. Just before the announcement was made, the pope met with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and discussed the sexual abuse scandal affecting the Catholic Church in the country.

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  • Updated: Diocese moving from prayer to action in wake of Hurricane Michael

    PENSACOLA, Fla. (CNS) -- In the wake of Hurricane Michael, which left 13 known dead and more than 1 million without power two days after it ravaged the Florida panhandle, the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, whose territory was smack in the path of the Category 4 storm, is moving from prayer to action. While the diocesan website still urges prayer for the hurricane's victims, quoting two verses form Psalm 107, it is also encouraging people to donate much-needed items to those whose lives were upended by Michael. In conjunction with Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida, the diocese is accepting cash donations at Goods urgently needed include water, tarps, nonperishable food items, cleaning supplies and gloves, pet supplies, and baby food and diapers. The diocesan pastoral center in Pensacola was accepting these items through Oct. 15, while St. Mary Church in Fort Walton Beach was conducting a weekend collection for those items Oct. 13-14. "So many people have lost everything: homes, property and even their livelihood. The scenes of destruction are heart-wrenching, knowing that when we see a place where there once was a house, a family used to live there and are now homeless," Bishop William A. Wack of Pensacola-Tallahassee said in an Oct. 12 letter to the diocese.

    Children of Salvadoran TPS holders gain support from Pope Francis

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Eleven children of parents who are in the United States under Temporary Protected Status traveled to Rome to meet Pope Francis ahead of the canonization of Blessed Oscar Romero. The delegation gained the pope's support for their parents' immigration status after briefly meeting with him Oct. 10. For the teens and young adults, Blessed Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, when he was assassinated in 1980, had defended people like their parents during his ministry. Temporary Protected Status, known as TPS, allows people who are affected by natural disasters, armed conflicts or other extraordinary conditions in their home countries to live and work in the U.S. It was set to expire for most beneficiary countries over the next several months. U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen Oct. 3 issued a ruling that temporarily suspended the cancellation of TPS for four countries, including El Salvador. The decision affects about 260,000 Salvadorans and tens of thousands of others from Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan. Crista Ramos, 14, is the lead plaintiff behind the lawsuit from which Chen's decision stemmed. "It's very important for me and for my family to be able to be here and present my case," Ramos told Catholic News Service. "I'm not only here to represent my family, but also the rest of the kids whose parents have TPS."

    Washington state's Supreme Court unanimously strikes down death penalty

    SEATTLE (CNS) -- The Catholic bishops of Washington state Oct. 11 applauded the unanimous decision of the state Supreme Court striking down the death penalty as unconstitutional. The court ruled its use is arbitrary and racially biased and converted the sentences for the state's eight death-row inmates to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Executions have been rare in Washington. Five prisoners have been put to death in recent decades. In 2014, the governor imposed a moratorium blocking its use. "The bishops have long been on record as opposing capital punishment," said a statement issued by the Washington State Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the bishops. "Today's decision by the Supreme Court indicates a move toward greater justice and greater respect for life at all stages. "The Catholic Church's consistent belief is that every human life is sacred from conception until natural death -- it is this principle that has energized our efforts for decades to abolish the death penalty," said Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle.

    Future of Lebanon's Catholic schools at risk under new salary rules

    BEIRUT (CNS) -- The future of Lebanon's long-standing tradition of Catholic education is at risk because of a controversial law governing teacher salaries. Salary increases for teachers in the private school sector are called for in a law that took effect in August 2017. As a new school year unfolds, school administrators are struggling with how to pay for the raises. Of Lebanon's more than 1 million students, 70 percent attend private schools, according to the country's General Secretariat of Catholic Schools. About 20 percent of private school students attend Catholic schools. Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch, often has called the country's private education system, particularly Catholic schools, "one of the pillars of Lebanon." While the law in question ordered new salary scales for workers in the public sector, it was also applied to private school teachers. To pay for the public employee salary boost, the Lebanese government increased taxes. But the private schools were left with no mechanism by which to cover teachers' raises. Because they receive no financial support from the government, Lebanon's Catholic schools -- which are typically run by religious orders and are not parish schools -- rely on tuition paid by the families of enrolled students.

    In Rome, Salvadorans demand justice for St. Romero's assassination

    ROME (CNS) -- A few days before Archbishop Oscar Romero was to be canonized, members of Salvadoran human rights organizations flew to Rome to demand justice for the archbishop's assassination. "We come here so that the church listens to us," Claudia Martinez, a representative of the Salvadoran-American organization SHARE, said at a conference organized Oct. 11 by human rights groups in Rome. According to the investigation of the Truth Commission for El Salvador, a U.N.-approved investigative body, Archbishop Romero was assassinated March 24, 1980, by death squads under the command of former Major Roberto d'Aubuisson Arrieta. The Salvadoran government has not prosecuted anyone for the murder. The process of recognizing Archbishop Romero as a saint "will not be complete without resolving the murder of our pastor," said the press release of the coalition of NGOs meeting in Rome. Some critics believe reopening the murder case would be to wallow in the past, reactivate old wounds and deepen the country's political polarization. But Alejandro Diaz, a lawyer pressing the case, told Catholic News Service: "There must be real justice for Romero, who himself had defended thousands of people."

    Young people want leaders who are fathers, not Pharisees, observer says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church must be a place of justice and mercy, and its members must be catalysts for change, some young observers said at the Synod of Bishops Oct. 11. "In order to teach justice and mercy to our young people, the church must first be a place of justice and mercy for our young people," said Joseph Moeono-Kolio from Samoa, who was representing the Caritas Internationalis Youth Forum and young people from the Pacific Islands. He asked the synod what young people could to do about uprooting injustice from the world "when we can't do it within our own churches?" The problem of clerical sexual abuse and corruption are present in his region, he said, but "reporting it or even speaking of it here is professional and cultural suicide. Young people are tired of Pharisees, we need fathers," he said.

    Ecumenical delegates join synod discussion on young people, faith

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As Catholic bishops at the synod look at ways to "accompany" young people on their faith journeys, an ecumenical delegate urged the bishops to let themselves be accompanied by young people in trying to scrutinize "the signs of the times." Waldensian Pastor Marco Fornerone, who represented the World Communion of Reformed Churches at the Synod of Bishops, urged his Catholic peers to pay attention to the voices of young people and, especially, young women. "Dare to listen to those who are not or have not been listened to enough, to those who usually are left out of the decision-making procession, but who have been brought inside this synod and, in fact, have been placed at its center: young men and women," he said Oct. 11. Women, he said, "are bearers of a potential that has not been free to express itself fully." Noting the direction the synod is heading and "the most significant theological developments of our time," he said, "it is necessary to recognize youth as a theological locus and young people -- and women! -- as a theological source together with the poor."

    Cameroon bishops deplore election fraud amid attacks on Catholic clergy

    OXFORD, England (CNS) -- Catholic bishops have complained of irregularities during Oct. 7 elections in Cameroon's conflict-torn English-speaking areas after a seminarian was killed by government troops in the latest of several anti-church incidents. "This presidential election took place in a social and security environment never previously experienced," the bishops' conference said in a report released Oct. 9. "We urge officials charged with its organization to take account of the failures and distortions we observed, and ensure elections are run well without irregularities in the future," the bishops said. The report followed national elections in which 85-year-old President Paul Biya was widely expected to win a seventh term. Official results had yet to be released Oct. 12. It said the Catholic Church had deployed 231 observers across Cameroon, but that 42 withdrew because of safety concerns in the English-speaking northwest and southwest regions, while others had been refused access to voting sites by "vigilante committees." Many English-speaking citizens had remained "stuck at home" because of insecurity, and no voting provisions had been made for those displaced by current violence, according to the report.

    Knights of Columbus, USAID collaborate to aid minorities in Middle East

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Knights of Columbus and the U.S. Agency for International Development have agreed to collaborate in efforts to help religious minorities in the Middle East rebuild their communities destroyed by Islamic State militants. A memorandum of understanding signed Oct. 12 by representatives of the two parties formally establishes a relationship among the federal government, the Knights of Columbus and local faith and community leaders to rapidly deliver aid to uprooted and persecuted people. "Crucially, the support will flow directly to individuals and households most in need of help," the memorandum said. Work initially will begin in Iraq and spread to other countries. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus said in a news release announcing the arrangement that such a collaborative effort will help stabilize communities wracked by violence, forced displacement and killings at the hands of the largely depleted Islamic State, commonly known as ISIS or IS. He said that the Knights hope "that our joint and combined efforts will bring open and concrete improvement to the situation confronting minority communities targeted by ISIS."

    Synod already leading to some changes, bishops report

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Even on the ninth day of the 25-day-long Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment, two bishops said they already had ideas for things they would want to start in their ministries. Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles told reporters Oct. 12 that the presence and input of 34 young adults at the synod has convinced him of the importance of having regular structures for listening to young people and seeking their opinion. Auxiliary Bishop Everardus de Jong of Roermond, Netherlands, said he was so struck by the personal testimony of Safa al Abbia, a 26-year-old Chaldean Catholic dentist from Iraq, that he vowed to do more in his diocese to raise awareness of and help persecuted Christians. "Global solidarity is part of the faith," he said. Both bishops also said the 30 or so women at the synod are being heard and offering important insights, but neither could address the question of why, when two religious brothers are voting members of the synod, no religious sisters are. "We listen to women, but voting is not so much about having power or steering roles" since the synod is an advisory body to the pope, Bishop de Jong said. "This is a bishops' synod, we have to listen to women, but there are no women bishops. We don't have women cardinals. We have to live with that."

    New documentary reveals rare interview of Blessed Oscar Romero

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A new documentary about Blessed Oscar Romero, featuring a rare interview with him, revealed the martyred archbishop's thoughts regarding accusations that he became too progressive. Salvadoran Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez shared an excerpt of the interview with journalists during a briefing Oct. 11 at the Vatican press office. "We had never heard this before because it was dubbed in German. We waited 40 years to find out what Archbishop Romero said," Cardinal Rosa Chavez said. The cardinal, who directed the documentary "Oscar Romero: A Shepherd According to the Heart of Christ," explained that in 1979 a Swiss television crew visited the future saint and asked to follow him for one week. Blessed Romero's response to a question regarding the fact that he "changed from a conservative bishop to a progressive bishop," he said, is a question "that has caused so much debate" and is now answered by the slain archbishop himself. "I don't think there has been a substantial change," Archbishop Romero said in the interview. "It is more of an evolution in accordance with the circumstances. My goal as a priest has always been to be faithful to the vocation, to the service of the church and the people."

    Theater program helps young Kenyans develop critical thinking skills

    NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- A theater education program at schools in one of Africa's largest slums is instilling critical thought in participants as well as providing fun, said a 25-year-old whose ambition is to enter politics to represent the poor residents in Kenya's Parliament. "A critical mind has been instilled in me and has allowed me to see things always from a critical point of view," Juma Ignatius, communications officer at the Italian embassy in Nairobi, told Catholic News Service Oct. 5. Ignatius participated in the theater program while at the Little Prince Primary School in Nairobi's Kibera slum, which is home to more than 400,000 people. "We played the adapted 'The Little Prince' play (from the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery) and out of this, I have never been the same again," he said. This year, the Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI) Foundation, a nongovernmental organization founded in Italy in 1972, staged an adaptation of "The Divine Comedy" by Dante Alighieri, an Italian poet of the Middle Ages. About 150 children from AVSI-run schools -- Little Prince, Ushirika and Urafiki Carovana primary schools in Kibera and Cardinal Otunga High School on the outskirts of Nairobi -- took part in the play.

    Washington bishops urge voters to carefully weigh clean air initiative

    SEATTLE (CNS) -- The five Catholic bishops of Washington state have offered voters a "framework" by which to consider a Nov. 6 ballot initiative that would, among other measures, put a price on carbon emissions. Citing the teaching of the popes of the last half-century -- from Blessed Paul VI through Pope Francis -- the bishops said in an Oct. 4 statement that their concern focused on the impact of climate change on the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. Titled "Catholic Principles and Environmental Policy," the statement was released on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the environment. The bishops stated they remained neutral on Initiative 1631 as Washingtonians prepared to vote. The measure, also known as the Clean Air Clean Energy Initiative, was developed as an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by requiring the state to invest in clean air and water and clean energy, support forests and "healthy communities." It would impose a fee on large carbon emitters based on the amount of pollution they release. The bishops offered several points for voters to consider before going to the polls.

    Harsh rhetoric, policies in U.S. cause migrants more pain, observer says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- One U.S. observer warned Pope Francis and the Synod of Bishops that the current immigration system in the United States "blatantly threatens" and disrespects the lives and dignity of migrants. The church must step up and expand the ways it protects and cares for migrant youth and families or else young migrants will come to believe secular and political activist groups are the only ones helping them speak out against racism and push for change, Yadira Vieyra said. The 29-year-old observer attending the synod on youth, faith and discernment is a specialist in child development and works in Chicago, helping migrant families. She told synod participants Oct. 11 that "the global issue of migration is a humanitarian crisis today." What she has witnessed in the United States is "how the hateful rhetoric and policies in my country are forcing families to experience sustained distress that warps the daily lives" of all migrants, whether they are unauthorized, legal or U.S. citizens from mixed status families.

    Class action request aimed at Quebec nuns for alleged physical, sexual abuse

    QUEBEC CITY (CNS) -- The Sisters of Charity of Quebec said they were "surprised" and "troubled" by allegations that children who once stayed at the Mont d'Youville orphanage in Quebec City were sexually abused not only by lay educators but also by nuns. The allegations came in a revised petition to the Quebec Superior Court from a former orphanage resident seeking designation of a class action lawsuit, the first in Quebec province that named a women's religious congregation. The original request for class action by Jean Simard, 56, was limited to lay educators at the orphanage. Since then, other alleged victims came forward and on Sept. 24, Simard's attorneys modified the petition to include some victims who said they had been abused by nuns. The nuns "are troubled to hear the allegations of the proceedings involving their congregation," the religious order said in an Oct. 3 statement from its attorney, Benoit Mailloux. "Before these legal proceedings, the Sisters of Charity of Quebec had never been informed of such allegations. Their astonishment is complete," he said.

    Devil destroys overtly or slyly by pretending to be a friend, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The devil is more dangerous when he is polite and friendly, persuading people to be "lukewarm" and worldly, than when he shows his true face and blatantly pushes people to sin, Pope Francis said. The vocation or "nature of the devil is to destroy" what God has created, the pope said Oct. 12 in his homily during morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. When the devil is unable to destroy something directly, through conflict or vices, he looks for another, sneakier way to attack because he is "slier than a fox," the pope said. The battle between good and evil is being fought even inside each person, "perhaps unbeknownst to us, but we are in battle," he said. "We Christians, Catholics, we go to Mass, pray," admit to having some flaws and recognize a few "little sins, but all seems to be in order," the pope said.

    Observers: Young people need small, nurturing networks to help them discern

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Young people can discover Jesus and find guidance more easily in small faith-based communities and networks, several observers said at the Synod of Bishops Oct. 10. Enzo Bianchi, founder of the Bose ecumenical community, told the synod that when young people learn about Jesus, they are "fascinated and touched" by his life and how "he chose love, closeness, relationships that never excluded and caring for the other, most of all, for those in need." Jesus becomes not just a "good example," but an actual source of inspiration who reveals it is possible to conform one's own life to the beautiful life he led, he said. What makes it beautiful and "meaningful" for youth, he said, was Jesus' relationship with nature and how he lived in a community with "a network of affection." Youth, therefore, are looking for a relationship "with Jesus through the faith and witness of the evangelizer," not "an encounter with a doctrine, much less with a great idea or with a morality, but with the living reality that fascinates, that carries meaning and the promise of a full life," Bianchi said. Father Jules Boutros, who heads the youth ministry committee of the Syriac Catholic Patriarchate in Lebanon, told the synod that if he were to paint a picture of the situation of young people in the Middle East, he would paint beautiful, colorful flowers growing in a minefield surrounded by rocks and brambles.

    Update: Pope accepts Cardinal Wuerl's resignation as Washington archbishop

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl as archbishop of Washington but did not name a successor. When the pope's decision was announced Oct. 12, the Archdiocese of Washington released a letter from Pope Francis to the cardinal, making clear his support for Cardinal Wuerl's ministry and leadership, but also praising the cardinal for putting the good of the church first. "You have sufficient elements to 'justify' your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes," the pope wrote. "However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this, I am proud and thank you." The archdiocese also announced the pope has named Cardinal Wuerl as apostolic administrator. Cardinal Wuerl had been facing pressure to resign after an Aug. 14 grand jury report detailing sexual abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses painted a mixed picture of how he handled some of the cases when he was bishop in Pittsburgh from 1988 until 2006. The 77-year-old cardinal, the sixth archbishop of Washington, had submitted his resignation, as is mandatory, to the pope when he turned 75, but it had not been accepted until now.

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  • Campus ministry report stresses need for collaboration, more outreach

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A report on Catholic campus ministry at U.S. colleges and universities found nearly nonexistent ministry at the nation's community colleges. It also called for more uniform certification standards as well as closer collaboration for campus ministers who operate under different models. The report, "A National Study on Catholic Campus Ministry 2017," was issued Oct. 9 by the U.S. bishops' Secretariat on Catholic Education. "The (federal) Department of Education reports there are more than 3,000 four-year colleges and universities in the United States. The Catholic Church has a pastoral presence at approximately 1 in 4 four-year institutions," the study said. "With the Department of Education data reporting 1,500 community colleges, the Catholic Church's pastoral presence drops to 1 in 60 for community colleges." It added, "For growth, Catholic campus ministers need to reach far more campuses than they currently serve. Community colleges present a particularly urgent need."

    Young people want credibility, someone to walk with them, bishops say

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Even in far-off Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, a bishop said a young person asked him what the church is doing to prevent clerical sexual abuse. "You would think in our isolation we would not hear about this topic," said Bishop Paul Donoghue of Rarotonga, who described his diocese as one of the "dots in the Pacific Ocean. Many dots." The young people in his diocese watch the news and read it on the internet, he said, and they are "under pressure from their peers on this topic. They need credible answers as they are deeply shamed and are uncomfortable associating with such a church," he told the synod Oct. 10. "The youth are asking us church leaders to be transparent and for our church to be up to date. It is my dream that this synod will give the youth both of these." Bishop Mark O'Toole of Plymouth, England, made a similar point Oct. 11, telling the synod, "credibility and authenticity are crucial. The cases of historic abuse within the church, recorded in so many parts of the world, are a counter sign," he said. "Young people rightly expect that we put victim survivors at the center of what we do."

    Limousine crash 'heartbreaking, gut-wrenching' for New York community

    ALBANY, N.Y. (CNS) -- Among the 20 people killed in a devastating limousine accident Oct. 6 in Schoharie were several victims who had connections to parishes, schools and Catholic organizations of the Albany Diocese. All 17 passengers in the limo and its driver were killed when the car ran through a stop sign, struck two pedestrians and a parked car, and landed in a shallow ravine. The pedestrians also died. Police have arrested the owner of the limousine company and charged him with criminally negligent homicide. Among the fatalities was Amanda Halse, 26, was a server, bartender and supervisor at the restaurant at Shaker Pointe senior living community in Watervliet, sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her boyfriend, Patrick Cushing, also died in the crash. Gregory Reeves, regional vice president for Lifestyles, the company that runs the restaurant, recalled the young woman everyone called "Mandy" as low-key, with a "Mona Lisa smile." Halse had worked at Shaker Pointe for the past three years, since the restaurant opened. "She had an infectious smile," Reeves said, and "what was behind it was a desire to please." He said he had spoken to Halse about pursuing a career in the restaurant industry; he believed she had what it took to succeed.

    Do not judge church by acts of individuals, synod observer says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The faults of one person cannot be blamed on the entire Catholic Church, Percival Holt, a 25-year-old observer at the Synod of Bishops, told reporters. "It is wrong to judge the church for the acts of certain people within the church," he said Oct. 11 during the Vatican's daily briefing on what is happening inside the synod on young people, the faith and vocational discernment. Holt, president of the Indian Catholic Youth Movement and member of the National Youth Commission of India's bishops' conference, said he wanted to make it clear that the church has "immense love and concern" for young people. "The church cares for you," he said. When asked specifically about the clerical abuse scandal, Holt told Catholic News Service, the abuse was not caused by the structure of the church, but by its members. His message to young people is that "if we want the church to be different, we have to hold onto our values and principles."

    John Gagliardi dies at 91; was winningest college football coach ever

    ST. CLOUD, Minn. (CNS) -- What must the opposing football team have thought when they began their vigorous calisthenics before the game while the St. John's University Johnnies were stretched out on their backs glancing up at the heavens? John Gagliardi didn't care much what anyone thought about his unorthodox coaching methods. With 60 years of coaching football at St. John's University in Collegeville, he had a record of 489-138-11 and won four national championships (two in NAIA and two in NCAA Division III). Gagliardi is down in the books as the winningest college football coach of all time. The esteemed coach, who retired in 2012 at age 86 and died Oct. 7 at 91, didn't do anything extraordinary in his coaching, according to those who knew him. In fact, it was some of the simplest things that captured the most attention. Instead of the usual calisthenics many teams partake in before a game, Gagliardi believed in appreciating the moment. He called it the "Nice Day Drill." He would instruct the players to lay on the ground on their backs and notice the world around them -- the cool breeze, the rustling leaves, the sky above. Gagliardi also didn't have a long list of rules to follow. There were no set times for "lights out," no spring practices, no required time in the weight room, just one main rule, the Golden Rule: Treat each person as you wish to be treated.

    What is God saying with rise of secularization? Jesuit superior asks

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church must find a way to look at secularization as an opportunity to find new ways to proclaim the Gospel, the Jesuit superior general told the Synod of Bishops. While the working document of the synod dedicated to young people views secularization as "a dark phase that is in the process of being overcome," the document offers no approach to "looking to interpret reality and discern God's action in history," said Jesuit Father Arturo Sosa Abascal. "What if we try, instead, to look at secularization as a sign of the times, in the theological sense that the Second Vatican Council gave to this expression? It means looking at secularization, and the secular world that arises from it, as one of the ways the Spirit is speaking to us and guiding us in this time," he told the synod Oct. 11. Father Sosa began his brief talk by looking at the working document's interpretation of secularization, which he said was viewed in a "simplified and negative" light. Secularization, he affirmed, can range from a combative attitude, "a militant atheism," that "wages war against any form of religious faith" to a more common form that interrupts "the social transmission of religion leading to ignorance regarding faith, religious experience and religion itself."

    Working alongside migrant laborers prepares seminarians for priesthood

    YAKIMA, Wash. (CNS) -- Seminarian John Washington was looking for a summer cultural experience as he prepared to end his academic year at Chicago's Mundelein Seminary and he found it in an agricultural field in central Washington. The seminarian from the Archdiocese of Atlanta spent his summer tending to Washington state's bountiful apple trees, speaking "field Spanish" with Latino migrant workers, learning about life in the migrant camps and bringing the Gospel to the agricultural laborers. "I wanted an adventure this summer," Washington said with a chuckle as he plunged a shovel into the dark earth while planting a replacement apple tree. "I'd say I got one." He looked around and spotted a few other seminarians from the Diocese of Yakima and two Spanish-speaking migrant workers, who showed him how deep he should plant the tree. The future priest's summer in the Pacific Northwest's agrarian fields was part of the Diocese of Yakima's migrant ministry program, which he learned about from a Mundelein classmate, who is a Yakima seminarian. All seminarians from the Diocese of Yakima are required to spend their summers working in the fields. It's part of their formation to work alongside the migrant laborers, to understand their plight, as well as their language, and to bring the faith to the people where they live and work. When Washington heard about this program, it was something he knew he wanted to experience.

    Honesty, gratitude to God are basis of credibility, cardinal tells synod

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Unless they recognize themselves as sinners rescued by Jesus, adults cannot be effective in helping young people find the path to faith and doing God's will, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago told the Synod of Bishops. "We must always keep fresh in our minds our own story of how Christ, the good Samaritan, did not pass by, but poured his oil of tenderness in our wounds, lifted us up, redeemed what was unredeemable on our own and opened for us a new future," the cardinal told the synod Oct. 10. As synod members began their second week of meetings, their speeches in the general sessions focused on the section of the synod working document dealing with "vocational discernment" and "the art of accompanying." Cardinal Cupich quoted the working document's assertion that "for young people, it is particularly important that mentors recognize their own humanity and fallibility." The parable of the good Samaritan was the Gospel reading for Oct. 8, he noted, and the early Christian writers read it as a story of each person's redemption. Pope Francis made the same point in his homily at his early morning Mass that day.

    Some married men would answer a call to priesthood, bishop says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Speaking to the Synod of Bishops on behalf of Belgium's bishops' conference, a bishop said he was sure some young married men would become priests if they were asked. The vocations of Christian marriage and "celibacy for the kingdom" of God "deserve to be equally promoted by the church," Auxiliary Bishop Jean Kockerols of Mechelen-Brussels said in his presentation Oct. 10. Just as Christians are expected to pursue another vocation out of their baptismal vocation in a way that gives "flesh" or substance to the sacrament of baptism, certain people, whether they are married or not, may hear a call to serve and be ministers of their communities, he said. "I am convinced that some young people," who, out of their baptismal vocation, answered a call to commit themselves to "the bonds of marriage would readily answer 'here I am' if the church were to call them to priestly ministry," said the bishop who was elected by the Belgian bishops to represent them at the synod on young people, faith and vocational discernment. The bishop's full text was published Oct. 10 on, the official French-language site of the Belgian bishops' conference.

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  • Patients, families urged to learn more about palliative, hospice care

    ST. LOUIS (CNS) -- Palliative and hospice care "address the needs of the whole person, which is the foundation of Catholic health care," said Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity, who is president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, based in St. Louis. She made the comments in an Oct. 8 news release issued jointly by CHA and the Supportive Care Coalition in Hillsboro, Oregon, to mark World Hospice and Palliative Care Day Oct. 13. The two organizations are encouraging the public to learn more about the benefits of palliative care to relieve suffering for chronic and life-limiting conditions and about the role of hospice care at the end of life. They also highlighted the need for greater access to and awareness of palliative care and hospice services in the United States. Together, CHA and the Supportive Care Coalition are advocating for access to high quality palliative care for all who need it and developing resources and tools to improve palliative care programs and increase awareness of its benefits. Resources designed for patients and their families can be found on the CHA website, The coalition's website is is

    U.K. court rules for bakers refusing to make cake with gay marriage slogan

    MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- The United Kingdom's Supreme Court has upheld the right of a bakery to refuse to make a cake emblazoned with a slogan in support of same-sex marriage. In a unanimous ruling, five judges overturned a series of decisions by the lower courts to conclude that "nobody should be forced to have or express a political opinion in which he does not believe." The decision settles a case brought by Gareth Lee of the LGBT group QueerSpace in June 2014 against Ashers bakers, which is based in Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. in which same-sex marriage is illegal. The bakery, owned by a Christian family, had turned down Lee's request to make a cake depicting Bert and Ernie, the Sesame Street puppets, and a slogan stating: "Support Gay Marriage." Judge Brenda Hale, court president, made a distinction between the withholding of services from a person on the grounds they are gay and the refusal to promote political opinions the service provider does not share. "It is deeply humiliating, and an affront to human dignity, to deny someone a service because of that person's race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief. But that is not what happened in this case," she said giving the judgment in court in London Oct. 10.

    Florida dioceses offer prayers for those in hurricane's path

    PANAMA CITY, Fla. (CNS) -- With EMS service suspended in some parts of Florida as Hurricane Michael made landfall Oct. 10 in the state's panhandle area with sustained winds clocked at 155 mph, at least least two dioceses offered prayers for those in the Category 4 storm's path. The Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, whose territory is directly in the hurricane's path, closed its pastoral center at noon Oct. 9 and said on Facebook it would stay closed until Oct. 11. The diocesan Facebook page also invoked the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel, and published a prayer to the saint. "St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil," the prayer says. "May God rebuke him, we humbly pray: and you, O prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, cast down to hell Satan and the other evil spirits, who prowl through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen." The Diocese of Venice, whose territory is along the western, or Gulf, coast of Florida, posted a "Hurricane Prayer" on its website, which soon migrated onto Twitter and was retweeted.

    Catholic voters urged to do their homework in midterm-election voting

    BATON ROUGE, La. (CNS) -- The midterm elections Nov. 6 can be the time to "throw the rascals out" and send a message to the nation's leaders on how they are doing as Republicans and Democrats battle for control of Congress. But Catholic voters should see the elections as a chance to research candidates and issues, educate themselves on Catholic social teaching and be sure they are voting with well-formed consciences, according to clergy and lay leaders of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. A resource Catholics can use when deciding how to cast their ballot is "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility" by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Rob Tasman, executive director of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops. "I think it's important for all Catholics to keep in mind that as the document from the bishops states, participating in the political process is not just a responsibility, but it is an obligation," Tasman told The Catholic Commentator, newspaper of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. "And I find that to be a very strong statement," he added.

    Texas dioceses will release names of clergy credibly accused of abuse

    HOUSTON (CNS) -- In an action to be more transparent, the 15 Catholic dioceses in Texas will release the names of clergy who were credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor, according to an Oct. 10 statement issued by the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops in Austin. "We believe this is in the path of healing, accountability and transparency," said Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio. "We are called as bishops to be more accountable and more responsible. This is the just and right thing to do." At a Sept. 30 meeting, the Texas bishops had agreed on jointly releasing the names, as part of "ongoing work to protect children from sexual abuse" and "promote healing and a restoration of trust" in the Church, according to the statement. Archbishop Garcia-Siller recognized that this effort will be most painful for the survivors of abuse and said the Catholic Church remains committed to supporting victims in every way. He echoed other Texas bishops and encouraged anyone affected by abuse to come forward to officials.

    Meeting the challenge: Bishops say synod can make a difference

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- At a Synod of Bishops where "cultural shift," "epochal change" and "massive challenge" are almost buzz phrases, Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg said, "I'm very optimistic." Briefing reporters Oct. 10, the archbishop also used the phrase "deep and profound change," but he expressed his belief that the synod Oct. 3-28 would give the Catholic Church a good start at responding to those changes. "We are an institution which has the strength to get up, to put the questions on the table and to think and to pray and to discern, not with opinions clashing, but with a great listening ability in order to see and feel what God wants us to do," Archbishop Hollerich said. Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes of Mexico City, who joined the archbishop at the briefing, told reporters that synod members are committed to changing the church's "modus operandi" when it comes to helping young people grow in faith and responsibility. The presence at the synod of 36 observers who are under the age of 30 also "helps us open our eyes more," the cardinal said.

    Catholic, grass-roots groups work with survivors after Haitian quake

    PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (CNS) -- As Haitian authorities confirmed the toll from the Oct. 6 earthquake at 17 dead and 333 injured, Caritas and other grass-roots organizations working with the victims highlighted the critical humanitarian situation facing survivors, who now lack shelter. More than 7,700 families are now in need of urgent humanitarian assistance; their houses having been destroyed or seriously damaged. And in an Oct. 8 situation report, the Catholic charitable agency Caritas Haiti said health, housing and education had also been hard hit by magnitude 5.9 earthquake. The Haitian Ministry of the Interior reported the destruction of or severe damage to at least 46 institutional buildings, including St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Plaisance, and four schools in Pilate, east of the epicenter. "Because this area of Haiti is very remote and poverty is extreme, it will be important to work with our partners to make sure that we help families rebuild their livelihoods and damaged homes," said Beth Carroll, head of programs in Haiti for Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' international relief and development agency that is part of the Caritas network. "CRS is starting now by working with the government to deliver tarps and house cleanup kits." Rosnel Jean-Baptiste of the Tet Kole peasant organization -- with members throughout the northwest of the country, where the earthquake struck -- said four members of the organization were killed by collapsing buildings in Port-de-Paix, 13 miles from the epicenter. Jean-Baptiste added that the earthquake has caused a mass exodus from Port-de-Paix, where several buildings, including the police station, were severely damaged. "People are panicking and fleeing the city for the rural sections," Jean-Baptiste said. "Either their houses are too seriously damaged for them to stay, or they fear further aftershocks and that their house will collapse on them."

    Church must adopt Jesus' method, mentor youth, says U.S. synod observer

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Church leaders and members need to be "spiritual mentors" -- like Jesus and the saints -- befriending, accompanying and enriching the lives of young people, one U.S. observer told the Synod of Bishops. "Young people are leaving the church for different reasons, but the absence of spiritual friendships and mentors in our families, schools and parishes lies at the heart of this crisis of faith," said Jonathan Lewis, assistant secretary for pastoral ministry and social concerns in the Archdiocese of Washington. "Spiritual friends and mentors are urgently needed today since young people trust personal relationships more than institutions," he said in his Oct. 10 intervention, which he shared with reporters. He began his brief talk in the synod hall by asking those present to think of how many young people they actually know by name. He recalled the great impact a priest had on his life in college when he was invited to begin spiritual direction, which involved walking in the evenings in conversation, "like a modern-day road to Emmaus."

    Brewers chaplain finds joy in connecting his love of priesthood, sports

    MILWAUKEE (CNS) -- Champagne corks popped in the visiting clubhouse Oct. 7 as the Milwaukee Brewers celebrated their sweep of the Colorado Rockies, advancing to the National League Championship Series. Back home in Wisconsin, an extended member of the Brewers' family was celebrating, too. Father Jerry Herda was popping a champagne cork in his backyard after watching the game on television with his family. Father Herda, the Milwaukee Archdiocese's vicar for ordained and lay ecclesial ministry, has been a lifelong Brewers fan, but he also has a special connection to the team, having served as its Catholic chaplain for 12 seasons. "The family was all together and we were screaming and yelling and even broke open a bottle of champagne in the backyard," admitted Father Herda, following the Brewers' 6-0 shutout of the Rockies to win the National League Division Series. Father Herda's role with the Brewers began shortly after pitcher Jeff Suppan signed with the team in 2006. A devout Catholic, Suppan asked if a Mass could be celebrated at Miller Park for players and staff prior to weekend games. As Father Herda explained, Suppan's previous team, the St. Louis Cardinals, had arranged for a Mass at the ballpark on weekends and Suppan hoped that could be replicated in Milwaukee.

    Vatican releases list of synod members drafting final report

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Twelve synod members have been named to a commission to draft the final report summarizing the discussion at the Synod of Bishops on young people. The report will be given Pope Francis. Headed by Brazilian Cardinal Sergio da Rocha of Brasilia, the group of five cardinals, three bishops and four priests come from or work in Italy, India, Ghana, Ukraine, Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, Brazil and Australia. The Vatican released the names Oct. 10. Cardinal Rocha, 58, relator general or recording secretary of the synod, will lead the commission with the assistance of Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, 78, general secretary of the synod, and the synod's two special secretaries: Italian Jesuit Father Giacomo Costa, 51, editor-in-chief of the magazine, Aggiornamenti Sociali and vice president of the Carlo Maria Martini Foundation; and Italian Salesian Father Rossano Sala, 48, professor of youth pastoral ministry at Rome's Salesian Pontifical University and editor-in-chief of a magazine on pastoral care for youth.

    New saints shared a close friendship, professor says

    ROME (CNS) -- Blesseds Paul VI and Oscar Romero crossed paths on their road to sainthood and formed a personal friendship that strengthened each other's resolve in the face of growing challenges, an Italian professor said. According to Roberto Morozzo della Rocca, a professor of contemporary history at Roma Tre University and author of a biography of Blessed Romero, said that Blessed Paul had a deep appreciation and affection for Blessed Romero, despite the rumors and gossip that floated around the Vatican corridors. "We can say that Paul VI protected Romero. In Rome, there was a flood of negative information regarding the archbishop of San Salvador. They accused him of being political, of being a communist, of being heretical," Morozzo said Oct. 9 at a conference at Palazzo San Calisto in Rome. The event, sponsored by the Salvadoran Embassy to the Holy See, reflected on the friendship between the pope and the Salvadoran archbishop who were scheduled to be declared saints by Pope Francis Oct. 14. Manuel Roberto Lopez, El Salvador's ambassador to the Holy See, said the canonization of Blessed Romero "seemed like an impossible dream for us Salvadorans," and his being declared a saint alongside Pope Paul was the culmination of "a history of friendship."

    Chinese bishop says agreement is sign that universal church is one

    ROME (CNS) -- The Catholic Church is one throughout the world, and Pope Francis' agreement with the communist government of China is a sign of that, Bishop John Baptist Yang Xiaoting of Yan'an told members of a Rome parish. The 54-year-old bishop is one of two bishops from mainland China attending the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment. He and the other synod delegate, 50-year-old Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai of Chengde, concelebrated Mass Oct. 7 at the Rome parish of Santa Maria ai Monti with Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio. The parish supports a charity that funds mission work throughout Asia, according to SIR, the news agency of the Italian bishops' conference. Invited to say a few words, Bishop Yang started with the day's Bible readings about the creation of man and woman and about Jesus' teaching about marriage. "Just as a family constituted by a husband and wife is always one, so is the church, which is one, holy, catholic and apostolic," the bishop said, according to SIR. "In Italy, in China or in any other country, Christ's love is the same."

    St. John Paul II still challenges Catholics to be holy, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The teachings, life and holiness of St. John Paul II can help guide and protect people on their daily journey toward Christ, Pope Francis said. Greeting Polish pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Krakow, which Pope John Paul led from 1964 until he was elected pope in 1978, Pope Francis thanked God for this "great pope" who led the church into the new millennium. The group was in Rome to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their countryman's election as pope Oct. 16, 1978. "May his teaching, his example of holiness and his intercession guide and protect our daily, at times difficult, journey along the path of the Lord," Pope Francis told them at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square Oct. 10. Meeting the group earlier in the Vatican's Paul VI audience hall, the pope said the rich patrimony his predecessor left to the church and to his fellow Poles represents "a challenge to be faithful to Christ and to answer with joyful dedication the call to be holy."

    Vocation not limited to religious life, youth minister tells synod

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Discovering and following one's vocation is about the choices one makes each day, a young observer told the Synod of Bishops. "Vocation and its discernment is not limited to religious life or to marriage. It is an everyday process that is reflected in my work, whereby fulfilling my tasks I can grow in holiness," Viktoria Zolnova, one of three dozen synod observers under the age of 30, told the gathering Oct. 9. The Slovakian youth minister shared her belief that God opened a door for her to study English and catechetics abroad, helping her to realize how extensive the definition of a vocation can be. Zolnova felt that she was not truly growing or fulfilling her potential as an office manager for a small company, and was praying and searching for new opportunities. "I was missing that deep satisfaction and joy that comes from well-accomplished work. I desired a change," she said. "God was calling me to do something new and he was showing me the way," she said.

    Contempt for life is the source of all evil, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Procuring an abortion is wrong, inhumane and like hiring a hit man "to fix a problem," Pope Francis said. It is a contradiction to allow for killing a human life in a mother's womb "in the name of protecting other rights," he said during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square Oct. 10. "How can an act that suppresses the innocent and defenseless budding life be therapeutic, civilized or simply humane?" he asked the more than 26,000 people present. "Is it right to snuff out a human life to solve a problem?" he asked, until the crowd shouted loudly, "No. Is it right to hire a hit man to solve a problem? No, you can't. It's not right to take out a human being, a small one, too, in order to fix a problem. It is like hiring a professional killer," he said. The pope took a brief break from the Oct. 3-28 Synod of Bishops on young people to attend the morning general audience and continue his series of talks on the Ten Commandments.

    Pentecost fire, not stagnant pool, should describe church, archbishop says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Perhaps "a pebble of spiritual disruption" needs to be dropped into the "stagnant pools" where the Catholic Church's enthusiasm for the Gospel and for mission have been allowed to wane, the archbishop of Melbourne told the Synod of Bishops. "Our task is to rediscover a young church that goes out, not to re-create a church for the young to come to," Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli told members of the synod Oct. 10. The archbishop described the massive figure of Jesus in the Sistine Chapel fresco of the Last Judgment as "glowing with vitality and beautiful to behold. And he is gloriously young. Our Redeemer is young because he is alive," the archbishop said. In the same way, the church -- his body -- is meant to be young and alive, just as it was in the early days after Pentecost. "Pentecost set off a Gospel fire in the disciples, anointing them and sending them out into the world," he said. "The disciples did not wait for people to come to them; they got up and went out."

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  • Network of pregnancy resource centers to receive Evangelium Vitae Medal

    SOUTH BEND, Ind. (CNS) -- The Women's Care Center, a nationwide network of pregnancy resource centers that began in 1984 with one location near the University of Notre Dame's campus, has been named the recipient of the 2019 Evangelium Vitae Medal bestowed by the university's Center for Ethics and Culture. The recipient is announced annually on Respect Life Sunday, which this year was Oct. 7. The award, comprised of a specially commissioned medal and $10,000 prize, will be presented at a Mass and banquet April 27 at Notre Dame. "The Women's Care Center sets the standard nationwide for compassionate and comprehensive care for mothers, babies and families," said O. Carter Snead, the William P. and Hazel B. White director of the Center for Ethics and Culture. "In its work and witness, the Women's Care Center embodies the unconditional love and radical hospitality that anchors and sustains a culture of life. It is our privilege to honor them with the Evangelium Vitae Medal," Snead said in a statement. The Women's Care Center opened its first location immediately south of the Notre Dame campus. In the past 24 years, it has grown to 28 pregnancy resource center locations in 11 states and serves more than 26,000 women annually, making it the largest network of pregnancy resource centers in the United States.

    Former schoolmate's need, tragic death of student prompts organ donation

    CLAYMONT, Del. (CNS) -- Archmere Academy in Delaware has an expansive campus, but at its heart, the size of the student body at the private Catholic school fosters close bonds between members of the community. Or, as 1979 graduate Michael Hare puts it, "It's a tiny place. Everybody knows everybody." And last fall, Archmere principal John Jordan found out his former schoolmate needed a kidney transplant. Hare's mother had called headmaster Michael Marinelli to have her son listed among the school's prayer intentions. With his longtime friend on the donor list for the second time in his life, Jordan decided he would offer his own organ. A few factors helped him make the decision. One of those was a discussion with Marinelli and another was the example set by one of his students. Anthony Penna -- an Archmere junior -- was removed from life support during the first week of October last year, a few days after he was gravely injured in an automobile accident. (His sister, Gabrielle, was injured but returned to school shortly thereafter.) Jordan was with Anthony's parents, Melanie and Robert, when he died. "It was just a moment that was sacred, tragic," Jordan told The Dialog, the newspaper of the Diocese of Wilmington. "And Mel leans over and was like, 'Now go help others.' I think that phrase in that moment, combined with Michael Marinelli's commentary and my friendship with Mike (Hare), it was like I should try and do that. It sounds so much more linear than it was in my head."

    Encuentro veterans feel Texas event, like predecessors, will be fruitful

    GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Years of backbreaking work in the vegetable fields of California, Oregon, and Washington introduced Jose Lopez to the Encuentro process in 1985. The national meetings, started in 1972, were designed to help the Catholic Church respond to the needs and realities of a growing Hispanic population in the U.S. "I went to the III Encuentro to represent the migrant farmworkers in Region XI," he said recalling the Aug. 15-18, 1985, gathering of 2,000 Hispanic Catholics and 56 bishops in Washington. "At the time, I was a volunteer and part of a diocesan committee on youth. I was the voice of the migrant." During discussions, Lopez asked for more church involvement, based on social teaching, to help the many temporary workers who harvest crops in the U.S. Along with his father and brothers, he spent a lifetime picking cherries, tomatoes, cucumbers and asparagus up and down the Pacific Coast. "At the time, the laws didn't support farmworkers," said the veteran participant of multiple encuentros. "We didn't have enough water in the field and not enough restrooms or breaks."

    Pope 'suffered at foot of cross' after 'Humanae Vitae,' says author

    DENVER (CNS) -- "Humanae Vitae" was controversial when it was promulgated in 1968 and it remains misunderstood by many today. For the 50th anniversary of Blessed Paul VI's encyclical on married love, the regulation of births and responsible parenthood, Denver resident Terry Polakovic, co-founder of the Catholic women's study group Endow, explored it and seven other papal documents spanning the last 138 years to uncover what the Catholic Church says about human life and love. The result is an engaging and enlightening book, "Life and Love: Opening Your Heart to God's Design," published by Our Sunday Visitor. "Someone once told me that you can know all of history and what's going on in the culture by following church documents because the church is always interacting with the world," Polakovic told the Denver Catholic, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Denver. Starting with Pope Leo XIII's "Arcanum Divinae" ("On Christian Marriage," 1880), Polakovic then breaks open Pope Pius XI's "Casti Connubii" ("Of Chaste Wedlock," 1930); Blessed Paul's "Humanae Vitae" ("Of Human Life"), St. John Paul II's "Familiaris Consortio" ("On the Christian Family," 1981), "Mulieris Dignitatem" ("On the Dignity and Vocation of Women," 1988) and "Evangelium Vitae" ("The Gospel of Life," 1995), then on to Pope Benedict XVI's "Deus Caritas Est" ("God Is Love," 2005), and Pope Francis' "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love," 2016).

    Synod group reports focus on abuse, sexuality, friendship, mission

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In their first formal reports to the entire Synod of Bishops, many of the gathering's working groups reported that they had discussed the clerical sexual abuse crisis and, especially, its impact on young Catholics. The theme of the synod is "young people, the faith and vocational discernment," but the working group English-A, which includes bishops from the United States, Australia, Ireland and England, said, "the context for vocational discernment has changed utterly. Our group suggests that the issue of child sexual abuse in the church cannot be skimmed over tangentially in a few short sentences. The shattered trust, the trauma and lifelong suffering of survivors; the catastrophic failures in case management; the continued silence and denial by some of these awful crimes and sins -- these issues cry out to be named openly by the synod," the group said. As one of the group reports released Oct. 9, the English speakers said bishops "should not be afraid" to share how they "feel about this shocking betrayal of our youth and of all the faithful. As one member of our group reminded us: 'Trust arrives slowly, on foot, but Trust leaves on horseback! Trust must be rebuilt, one person at a time.'"

    From Ohio to Kenya, Glenmary brother trots globe in search of vocations

    CINCINNATI (CNS) -- God's ability to call vocations isn't limited by geography, and so a vocation director must go wherever the Holy Spirit leads. For Brother David Henley, a member of the Glenmary Home Missioners, it's led all around the world. The Columbus native professed his first oath with Cincinnati-based Glenmary in 2003. Knowing Glenmary's mission is to bring the Catholic Church to small towns and rural counties of Appalachia and the South, he figured his days of traveling were limited. With an increase of Hispanic immigrants in Glenmary's missions, Brother David quickly found himself in Mexico to learn the language. Since becoming vocation director in 2010, he has visited 39 states, Mexico again, Kenya and Uganda, all in search of vocation prospects. "When I joined Glenmary, I thought I would have to give up traveling, but God obviously had a different plan," Brother David told Glenmary Challenge magazine. "I have realized my love to travel to new places and to meet new people has served Glenmary well. Guys are not lined up outside our door to sign up, so we have to go to where they are to meet them. Glenmary has seen a surge in vocation prospects contacting us from different parts the world," he added. "It is exciting that men from places that were once served by missionaries are feeling inspired to serve as missionaries themselves."

    Iraqi archbishop fears more persecution, says IS went underground

    CHESTER, England (CNS) -- Christianity in Iraq is just one wave of persecution away from extinction, said the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Basra. In an interview with Catholic News Service, Chaldean Archbishop Habib Nafali said there were now so few Christians in his country that the church there would disappear if it was subjected to further persecution. He said the displacements and murders of Christians over the past 15 years constituted genocide. "Another wave of persecution will be the end of Christianity after 2,000 years," he said in the Oct. 5 interview in St. Columba's Church. "There is a global game, and the peaceful people -- the minorities -- in the end will be the ones who are destroyed," he said. He said he was fearful of renewed persecution because he believed the Islamic State terror group had not been defeated, but had gone underground. It was suspected of being behind a recent spate murders of women who had chosen to dress themselves in Western fashions, he said. "We have seen with our own eyes how they attack Christians," he added.

    Abuse crisis, role of women recurring themes at synod, members say

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Despite many positive and joyful moments during the Synod of Bishops on young people, bishops also have set aside the agenda to discuss the serious scandals and unfolding allegations affecting the church, two synod fathers said. Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, president of the India bishops' conference told reporters at a Vatican briefing Oct. 9 that when he was leading one of the English-language working groups, "I could sense that the bishops themselves wanted to speak about this matter." He said he proposed setting aside the process of going through the working document paragraph by paragraph and instead, "we said, 'Let's talk.' We discussed this in-depth and, really, the youth want an authentic church, we all want an authentic church and we are looking forward to making the church even more authentic," he said. Cardinal Gerald C. Lacroix of Quebec told reporters that the difficult moment the church is going through was discussed by young people and others at the synod "because it is part of today's reality."

    Update: Kavanaugh says he feels no 'bitterness' over confirmation process

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- New Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh said Oct. 8 he has no "bitterness" over a contentious confirmation process that ultimately ended with a Senate vote Oct. 6 to confirm him for the seat on the high court left vacant by the July 31 retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. "The Supreme Court is an institution of law. It is not a partisan or political institution. The justices do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle. We do not caucus in separate rooms," Kavanaugh said in remarks at an evening ceremonial swearing-in held in the East Room of the White House. "The Supreme Court is a team of nine, and I will always be a team player on the team of nine." Anthony administered the oath at the swearing-in, which was hosted by President Donald Trump. The packed room include Kavanaugh's wife and daughters and other family members along with Chief Justice John Roberts and all the associate justices. Kavanaugh was to hear his first cases Oct. 9 with the rest of the court. Roberts officially swore in Kavanaugh late Oct. 6, after the Senate's 50-48 confirmation vote, which took place despite the interruptions of screaming protesters who had to be escorted from the gallery that oversees the Senate chamber.

    Land, oil, mining, drug crops: Colombian Amazon tough for small farmers

    FLORENCIA, Colombia (CNS) -- German Polania and his wife, Adonai Munoz, arrived in Colombia's southern Caqueta region in 2001, fleeing paramilitaries who had killed Munoz's sister and terrorized their neighbors. But as they began to rebuild their lives, eking out a living with a small herd of dairy cows, they found themselves trapped anew in violence involving armed guerrillas, paramilitary groups and government security forces. And although peace accords signed in November 2016 officially ended the armed conflict between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, they still have not ended the violence for this farming couple and their neighbors. Companies that once avoided Colombia's Amazonian region because of the hazards of war are now jockeying to profit from timber, oil, minerals and palm oil plantations. That places small farmers and the Catholic Church workers who help them on a dangerous frontier marked by conflicts over land, oil, mining and drug crops. "The Amazon used to be everybody's backyard," Bishop Omar de Jesus Mejia Giraldo of Florencia told Catholic News Service. "Now it's everybody's doorstep. Land will always be the object of conflict."

    Church needs to meet young people where they are, U.S. observer says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) - To reach young people and teach them the faith, Catholics must first show them that they are loved, "not just judged, discarded, or abused," said a 29-year-old observer at the Synod of Bishops. Yadira Vieyra, who works with migrant families in Chicago, told Vatican News Oct. 8 that the church needs to meet young people where they are. And while "a good portion" of the bishops at the synod are listening, she said, others are "still focused on preaching the truth to our youth. Yes, it's important to communicate the truth," she said, "but also you can't just communicate the truth without treating someone with love and care and attentiveness." According to Vieyra, the church's message should be attentive to where youth are right now. It is important for the church to hear their needs and adapt its ministry so that they feel the church recognizes their humanity as well, she said. In her small working group at the synod, she said she reminded the bishops that young people are not the same everywhere in the world. "I have made it a point to bring them back to the reality that not all of our youth are the same and their lives are not the same, not just in the U.S. but in other parts of the world."

    Reports: President will pass along invitation for pope to visit North Korea

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The South Korean president's office said that when the president meets Pope Francis Oct. 18, he will pass on an invitation for the pope to visit North Korea. The Vatican confirmed Oct. 9 that South Korean President Moon Jae-in would meet the pope Oct. 18 at the Vatican. The evening before the meeting, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, will celebrate a Mass for peace on the Korean peninsula in St. Peter's Basilica, and Moon will attend. Moon's office told reporters that North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, said his country would offer a "fervent welcome" to Pope Francis if he accepted an invitation to visit. Quoting Moon's spokesman, Kim Eui-kyeom, the Korean Times reported: "President Moon suggested that Chairman Kim meet the pope, pointing out that he is very much interested in peace on the Korean Peninsula." The North Korean leader "promised Moon he would give a fervent welcome to the pope if he visited Pyongyang," the North Korean capital.

    How Paul VI influenced one young man who now leads his home diocese

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- His voice, his outstretched hands, his boarding an airplane to meet the world -- those are some of the most striking things about Blessed Paul VI that moved and inspired a young man discerning the priesthood. "I still remember his voice when we would hear him on television," Bishop Pierantonio Tremolada of Brescia told Catholic News Service by telephone Oct. 8. "It was such a unique voice, very heartfelt, authoritative, the voice of a good man," said the 62-year-old bishop who grew up and was ordained in Milan -- the archdiocese Pope Paul led before he was elected pope in 1963. Once again crossing the pope's path, Bishop Tremolada has -- since 2017 -- been leading the Diocese of Brescia where the pope was born. The bishop will be among those concelebrating Mass and attending the canonization of Blessed Paul and six other men and women in Rome Oct. 14. More than 5,000 Catholics from Brescia signed up to travel with the bishop for the ceremony. The saint-to-be is a particularly suited example for young people, Bishop Tremolada said from his office in Brescia, because he exemplified a youthful optimism, hope, curiosity and openness to the world and the future.

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  • Bishop prays for refugees 'left in harm's way' with cap on admissions

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Trump administration's cap of 30,000 refugees to be admitted to the United States for fiscal year 2019 will leave thousands more "in harm's way," said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration. He said the bishops were saddened by the low number but pledged to work with the administration to reach that goal while they continue to call for a higher number of refugees to be admitted during the next fiscal year. A "Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions" was issued Oct. 4 as a memorandum to the U.S. State Department confirming the number of 30,000, which was first announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Sept. 17. The figure is one-third less than last year's 45,000, which had been the lowest number on record. "As Christians, we believe it is our duty to welcome and help those who are persecuted, including the vulnerable such as children and religious minorities," Bishop Vasquez said in an Oct. 6 statement. "Resettlement in our country is a way through which we live out our Gospel call to welcome the persecuted into our communities -- individuals and families with no viable options to stay where they are or return home." He said he was "saddened" by the major reduction in resettlement to 30,000 refugees.

    Aid groups, bishop sound alarm over humanitarian crisis in Yemen

    AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) -- Aid agencies and Catholic officials are sounding the alarm on Yemen's spiraling humanitarian crisis, calling on the combatants to end the war and make badly need assistance available. Yemen is facing the largest humanitarian crisis of this time, according to the United Nations. The impoverished nation at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula is now the most food-insecure population in the world due to the 4-year-old conflict. "A war is ongoing in Yemen, but the big world does not seem to be very interested," said Bishop Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of Southern Arabia, which includes Yemen. "There are innumerable people internally displaced because they fled from the war," he told Catholic News Service. "A wonderful nation with a cultural tradition (spanning millennia) is about to be destroyed," warned Bishop Hinder, decrying the lack of international resolve to end the conflict tearing Yemen apart.

    Volunteers keep vigil so the dying won't be alone in their last moments

    ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- Maryel Rodgers sat beside a stranger named Grace. The woman lay still "under a purple fleece blanket sprinkled with brightly colored hearts and edged with broad fringes," recalled Rodgers. "Her graying hair spilled across the pillow. Her breath was firm and steady. She seemed to be unaware of the commotion of the busy hospital unit." From a poster on the door, Rodgers learned that Grace enjoyed dancing and oldies music. She had a husband and daughter. Grace looked about Rodgers' own age, and she softly began to speak to the woman about what they might have had in common. Eventually, she had to leave. "How do I say goodbye? I am looking at you, robed in that soft blanket of royal purple and I think of the woman in the Gospel story who was eager to touch the fringes of Jesus' garment," Rodgers wrote in her journal, which was later published in an Ignatian Volunteer Corps newsletter. "Let me now touch the fringes of your garment as you move into eternity. Thank you for your company." Rodgers, a parishioner of Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church in Arlington, was one of the first Ignatian volunteers to spend time with a patient in their last moments as part of the No One Dies Alone program at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington. For the past two years, when someone in the hospital is dying without family or friends nearby, volunteers have come to spend a few hours by their bedside.

    Vatican investigates former Chilean archbishop

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican is investigating an accusation of abuse against a controversial Chilean archbishop, the Schonstatt Fathers confirmed. In a statement released Oct. 6, Schonstatt Father Fernando Baeza, the order's provincial superior in Santiago, Chile, said an accusation of abuse that occurred in Germany in 2004 against retired Archbishop Francisco Jose Cox was reported in 2017. "Once the complaint was received, a canonical trial was opened in Germany and was sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the congregation that is responsible for receiving and resolving complaints made against clergy and who should resolve the canonical consequences of this complaint," Father Baeza said. He also confirmed that the retired archbishop currently resides at the Schonstatt Fathers' general house in Vallendar, Germany. Father Baeza said the Schonstatt Fathers were committed to "establishing new criteria of discernment in the face of this painful reality and to never abandon victims."

    Martyred archbishop lived Gospel, sought God's will, says Mercy sister

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the world Synod of Bishops unfolds at the Vatican, thousands of faithful pilgrims get ready to witness the Oct. 14 canonization of Blessed Oscar Romero, along with Blessed Paul VI and five other new saints. Among those preparing for the pilgrimage to Rome is Mercy Sister Ana Maria Pineda, a theologian, professor and author who has researched and studied the life and legacy of Blessed Romero, an archbishop and martyr who spoke up on behalf of the poor and vulnerable during El Salvador's civil war. "He was one of the most conscious followers of Jesus, he knew what that meant, and he knew what he was called to do," Sister Pineda said in an interview with Catholic News Service. Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero was fatally shot while celebrating Mass at a chapel in a hospital March 24, 1980. Three years earlier, in 1977, Blessed Paul named him the archbishop of San Salvador, which provided him a national platform to speak out in defense of the poor and against the violence and oppression attributed to the government at the time. He was beatified by Pope Francis in 2015. He is considered an iconic figure and his legacy advocating for human rights is admired around the world. However, Sister Pineda advises not to see him as a superhero, but as a bright man with flaws and limitations. He was timid and at times felt insecure, and struggled with impatience and a bad temper.

    Church must answer abuse survivors' thirst for justice, archbishop says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Responding to clerical sexual abuse demands truth and justice, not just admitting a sin was committed, said Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta. When he speaks with survivors, "I find a great thirst and a great hunger for justice, which I share," he told reporters at a synod briefing Oct. 8. A longtime abuse investigator -- in the past for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and more recently at the request of Pope Francis -- the archbishop was attending the Oct. 3-28 Synod of Bishops on young people as archbishop of Malta. As an abuse investigator, he said his role is to help the church understand what the truth is and to help bring justice. "What pains me is the fact that sometimes justice takes an amount of time that is a bit excessive. And this is a problem that very much pains Pope Francis," he said, referring to how slow the process is.

    Migration should be a choice, not forced, says cardinal

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Young people should have a right to migrate but should never be forced to do so, said an Italian cardinal at the Synod of Bishops. Italian Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of Congregation for Catholic Education, told reporters at a briefing Oct. 6, "The church in Italy and other countries has opened its doors" to migrants. But many members of the synod, particularly those coming from migrant-sending countries in Africa and Asia, "have used the occasion to give another perspective," he said. Those bishops are saying, "The church in Italy is right to develop all its capacity to welcome migrants, especially young people," he said. But the churches in Africa and Asia "are working just as hard to ensure the young people stay and fight the phenomena that exploit these young people" such as not providing them the education they need, job opportunities or peace, he said.

    Retired Philadelphia auxiliary bishop dies; recalled as 'beloved pastor'

    PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- Bishop Louis A. DeSimone, retired auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia and pastor emeritus of St. Monica Parish in South Philadelphia, died Oct. 5 at St. Thomas Monastery in Villanova following a brief illness. He was 96, and the third oldest Catholic bishop in the United States. A funeral Mass will be celebrated Oct. 10 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput will be the principal celebrant. "I was saddened to learn of the death of Bishop DeSimone," said the archbishop, who is attending the Synod of Bishops on young people in Rome and will be returning to Philadelphia for the funeral. "He was a man of great energy, charity and joy who deeply touched all those he met in tremendously positive ways. Daily, he lived out his episcopal motto, 'Servus Tuus' ('Your Servant'), in his words and actions." He asked the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to offer prayers for Bishop DeSimone and invited priests "to offer Mass for the happy repose of his soul. We are all grateful for the gift of his life and his selfless service. May God grant him eternal life and give peace and consolation to all those who mourn his passing," Archbishop Chaput said. Bishop DeSimone was born Feb. 21, 1922, and raised in Bridgeport.

    Update: Pakistan court rules on Catholic's blasphemy charge, defers announcement

    CHESTER, England (CNS) -- A court in Pakistan has reached a decision on whether a Catholic woman will become the first person to hang to death under the country's controversial blasphemy laws. A special bench of the Supreme Court, sitting in Islamabad, reached a verdict Oct. 8 on the fate of Asia Bibi, but publication has been deferred until a later, unspecified date, according to the British Pakistani Christian Association. In an Oct. 8 news release sent by email to Catholic News Service, Mehwish Bhatti, an officer of the BPCA who was in the courthouse during the proceedings, said the three judges "have come to a decision, but it has been reserved." Christians in Pakistan are conscious of the threat of an outbreak of rioting by Muslim mobs if Bibi is acquitted by the court, the BPCA said in an Oct. 7 press release, even though they are praying ardently for her release. Bibi has been held in solitary confinement since November 2010, when she was sentenced to hang for insulting Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Ashiq Masih, her husband, told Catholic News Service in an Oct. 5 interview that if Bibi is released she and her family will immediately seek sanctuary in one of several countries that have offered them exile, because it was too dangerous for them to remain in Pakistan.

    Mary is a mother to sinners, not the corrupt, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Even the greatest sinners can find a loving mother in Mary while those who are corrupt find refuge only in their own blind and selfish desires, Pope Francis said. In a book that was scheduled to be released Oct. 10 in Italian, the pope said Mary is unable to enter the hearts of corrupt men and women because they have made the "satanic" choice of "locking the door from the inside. Mary cannot be the mother of the corrupt because the corrupt would sell their own mother, they would sell their belongings to a family, to a people," the pope said. "They look for their own profit, whether it's economic, intellectual, political, of any kind." The book, titled "Ave Maria" ("Hail Mary"), features reflections on the Marian prayer made by Pope Francis during an interview with Father Marco Pozza, a prison chaplain in the northern Italian city of Padova. Several excerpts of the new book were published Oct. 8 by "Vatican Insider," the online news supplement to the Italian newspaper La Stampa. The pope said he imagined that throughout Mary's life, she remained a "normal woman" despite the extraordinary circumstances of being the mother of God, and "she is a woman that any woman from this world can imitate."

    Christians must live the beatitudes, not just preach them, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With songs, poetry and dance -- including hip-hop -- young people shared with Pope Francis and members of the Synod of Bishops some of their life stories, hopes, dreams and, especially, questions. The late-afternoon gathering Oct. 6 brought more than 5,000 young people, mostly Italian high school and university students, to the Vatican audience hall. Young adults from several countries told their personal stories of finding faith; one young man recounted his teen years of crime, detention and finally jail; another spoke of his recovery from addiction; a young Italian woman spoke of volunteer work, living and working in a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon; and another young woman talked about her current discernment as a novice in a religious order. Then the questions came: What can we do to prevent teen suicide? How do we find meaning in life? How can we fight discrimination and inequality? How can we counter fear of foreigners? What can the church do to help young Christians in countries where they are a minority? How are young people supposed to respond to their peers who ask about the sex abuse scandal and are convinced the church is "a lair of people more interested in money and power than good?"

    Pope: Eastern-rite priests' families offer unique example

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The families of Eastern-rite Catholic priests give an important witness to what is healthy and wonderful about family life, Pope Francis said. Speaking to laypeople, clergy and religious of the Slovak Catholic Church -- a Byzantine-rite church that has maintained its tradition of ordaining both celibate and married men -- the pope said, "the families of priests live a unique mission today. When the very model of the family is called into question if not attacked outright, you offer a healthy and exemplary testimony of life," he said in his talk Oct. 6. The pope encouraged the small Slovak Catholic Church, which also has a diocese in Canada -- the Eparchy of Sts. Cyril and Methodius of Toronto -- to safeguard its Byzantine tradition, "which I, too, came to know and love when I was younger. Rediscover it and live it to the full just as the Second Vatican Council taught," he said.

    Mercy, love can heal wounded marriages, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God wants couples to live out their marriage faithfully and not abandon hope when things go awry, Pope Francis said. "A love with mutual self-giving sustained by Christ's grace" is what allows couples to remain united in marriage, the pope said Oct. 7 during his Sunday Angelus address. But "if individual interests -- one's own satisfaction -- prevail in spouses, then their union will not endure," he said. The pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St. Mark, in which the Pharisees test Jesus by asking him if it is "lawful for a husband to divorce his wife." "What God has joined together, no human being must separate," Jesus replied to them. Jesus' teaching, the pope explained, is "very clear and defends the dignity of marriage" as a union between man and woman "that implies fidelity."

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  • Church leaders must face truth of abuse, Cardinal DiNardo says

    ROME (CNS) -- The president of the U.S. bishops' conference welcomed Pope Francis' pledge to fight attempts to cover up cases of sexual abuse and to stop offering special treatment to bishops who have committed or covered up abuse. "On behalf of my brother bishops in the United States, I welcome the statement of Oct. 6 from the Holy See which outlines additional steps Pope Francis is taking to ensure the faithful are protected from the evil of sexual assault," Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo said in a statement released Oct. 7 in Rome. The cardinal, president of the USCCB, is in Rome for the Synod of Bishops. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, conference vice president, also is in Rome for the synod, and the two U.S. leaders were expected to meet privately with Pope Francis Oct. 8 as questions continue over the handling of years of allegations of sexual misconduct by former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington. In a statement Oct. 6, the Vatican said Pope Francis had ordered a thorough review of the archives of Vatican offices to study how the allegations were handled.

    Cardinal Ouellet responds to Archbishop Vigano on McCarrick case

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington had been told by Vatican officials to withdraw from public life because of rumors about his sexual misconduct, said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. However, because they were only rumors and not proof, then-Pope Benedict XVI never imposed formal sanctions on the retired Washington prelate, which means Pope Francis never lifted them, Cardinal Ouellet wrote Oct. 7 in an open letter to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former Vatican nuncio to the United States. The archbishop had issued an open letter to Cardinal Ouellet in late September urging him to tell what he knew about now-Archbishop McCarrick. Archbishop Vigano's letter followed a massive statement in mid-August calling on Pope Francis to resign because, he claimed, Pope Francis had known there were sanctions on Cardinal McCarrick and not only did he lift them, he allegedly made Cardinal McCarrick a trusted confidante and adviser on bishops' appointments in the United States. Addressing Archbishop Vigano as "dear brother," Cardinal Ouellet said, "I understand how bitterness and disappointments have marked your path in the service of the Holy See, but you cannot conclude your priestly life this way, in an open and scandalous rebellion." Archbishop Vigano's letters, he said, "inflict a very painful wound" on the church, "which you claim to serve better, aggravating divisions and the bewilderment of the people of God!" "Come out of hiding," Cardinal Ouellet told Archbishop Vigano, who left Rome as soon as his mid-August missive was published, claiming that it was for his own safety.

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  • Synod: Let young people describe their reality, walk with them to God

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church's youngest cardinal, 51-year-old Cardinal Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, Central African Republic, said the key question before the Synod of Bishops is: "What is God trying to tell us through young people?" Finding better ways to pass the faith on to younger generations is one part of the task, the cardinal told reporters Oct. 6. The other part is to encourage them and support them in sharing the faith with others. Participants in the synod of bishops -- the 267 voting bishops, priests and religious brothers, as well as the 72 experts and observers -- spent the evening of Oct. 5 and the morning of Oct. 6 getting to know each other in their small groups, which are divided by language. The groups, taking what they hear in the synod's general assembly sessions, are to make suggestions for a final synod document. The Vatican does not publish the texts of speeches given in the sessions but allows the bishops to do so.

    Update: Vatican reviewing McCarrick case, vows to pursue truth no matter what

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Promising a thorough review of how the Vatican handled allegations of sexual misconduct by former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the Vatican acknowledged that what happened may fall short of the procedures that are in place today. "The Holy See is conscious that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues. However, as Pope Francis has said: 'We will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead,'" the Vatican said in statement released Oct. 6. The Executive Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had said in August that they would seek such an investigation, and leaders of the bishops' conference met with Pope Francis Sept. 13 to tell him how the church in the United States has been "lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse." After the meeting with the pope, neither the bishops nor the Vatican mentioned an investigation. However, the president and vice president of the conference -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles -- are at the Vatican for the Synod of Bishops and are likely to meet the pope again Oct. 8. Renewing its commitment to uncovering the truth, the Vatican also said that information gathered from its investigation as well as "a further thorough study" of its archives regarding the former cardinal will be released "in due course."

    Pope names members for Vatican office for laity, family, life

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Less than five months after updating the statutes of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, Pope Francis named a new slate of members of the Vatican office, including U.S. law professor Helen Alvare, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta and Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of Quebec. The Vatican announced the new members and a large group of consultants Oct. 6. Among the new dicastery members are three married couples; they come from Poland, Singapore and Germany. The new consultants to the office include: U.S. Father Robert W. Oliver, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors; and Dr. Thomas W. Hilgers, founder and director of the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha, Nebraska.

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  • Update: Prof who called for senators' 'miserable death' to take leave

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A Georgetown University associate professor's tweets that white Republican men should die a "miserable death" for supporting Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination for the Supreme Court is more than just about free speech, said the head of Students for Life of America. "Recommending violence, death and mutilation for members of Congress is not a simple 'free speech' moment," Kristan Hawkins told Catholic News Service in an email late Oct. 3. "It's a debasement of our free market place of ideas and a recommendation for criminal conduct." In a Sept. 29 tweet, associate professor C. Christine Fair, who teaches in the Security Studies Program within the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, said that white Republican men deserve "miserable deaths while feminists laugh as they take their last gasps." A bonus, she suggested, would be to "castrate their corpses and feed them to swine." On Oct. 5, The Georgetown Voice student newspaper tweeted that Fair and Dean Joel Hellman of the School of Foreign Service "mutually agreed to Professor Fair (going) on research leave effective immediately." The paper quoted a statement from Hellman. Her tweets can still be found in cyberspace. Her Twitter account was suspended shortly after she posted them but as of Oct. 5, it was not clear if her account remained suspended.

    Minnesotan wants other Catholics to know, love Blessed John Henry Newman

    ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) -- Ron Snyder knows not many Catholics have heard of Blessed John Henry Newman, the famous 19th-century British theologian and spiritual writer who left the Anglican Church and became a Catholic at age 44. He has been "very inspiring to me," Snyder told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He noted that Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles has referred to him as "the greatest Catholic mind since Thomas Aquinas." Snyder, 60, a parishioner of Our Lady of Grace in Edina, was introduced to Blessed Newman in 2007 when he began pursuing a master's degree in Catholic studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. An orthodontist by day who desired to deepen his faith, Snyder took evening classes over six years to complete the degree. "He's compelling to read. "His Catholic theology is so rich, and it's all deeply grounded in Scripture," said Snyder, who hopes to introduce more Catholics to the churchman's, life, faith and legacy at event he is planning on Blessed Newman's feast day, Oct. 9. It's a session of what he calls Newman on Tap. It will feature Mass with Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda and a presentation by David Deavel, an assistant professor of Catholic studies at the University of St. Thomas.

    Mercy sisters decry report of immigrant children moved to tent city

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas said they are "outraged and appalled" by a recent report of migrant children being moved to a tent city in Texas, adding that what is happening now "pales in comparison to the trauma and uncertainty these young girls and boys and their families will experience for years to come." "The photos and reports of these detention centers for children are the most recent example of how the Trump administration has continued to ratchet up its aggressive approach to tearing immigrant families apart while offering no remedy to decades of failed U.S. foreign policy that has produced the conditions from which people are fleeing for their lives," said an Oct. 3 statement by the Mercy sisters, based in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland. A New York Times article Sept. 30 said migrant children in shelters across the country were being transported in the night in recent weeks to a tent city on desert property in Tornillo, Texas, outside of El Paso. At the time 1,600 children were at the site with more expected since it was expanded to house 3,800 and to remain open until at least the end of the year. Evelyn Stauffer, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement to The New York Times that "it is common to use influx shelters as done on military bases in the past, and the intent is to use these temporary facilities only as long as needed."

    Judge blocks TPS cancellation, says ending program unconstitutional

    SILVER SPRING, Md. (CNS) -- A federal judge's Oct. 3 preliminary injunction blocking cancellation of Temporary Protected Status for people from four countries living in the United States is a welcome step, said the executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen of the Northern District of California will protect, for now, about 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan currently covered by the program who would be deported if it ends. "The court rightly pointed to problems with the administration's decision-making process in terminating TPS, including possible constitutional violations," Jeanne Atkinson, CLINIC's executive director, said in an Oct. 4 statement. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security, which administers the program, announced it was ending TPS status for recipients from the four countries in late 2018 and throughout 2019, saying conditions in those countries had improved and the migrants could safely return, even as the U.S. Department of State warned against travel to those nations. Based in San Francisco, Chen ruled in the case Ramos v. Nielsen, filed by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and other groups on behalf of nine people with TPS status and five U.S. citizen children of TPS holders against the Department of Homeland Security, headed by Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen.

    By helping a mom choose life, woman shows how one person can impact cause

    INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- When David Bereit, founder of 40 Days for Life, spoke at a Right to Life of Indianapolis fundraiser, he shared stories to emphasize how one person can make a difference in the pro-life movement. He knows such stories from around the world. But one of the greatest examples he said he knows took place in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. In his remarks Sept. 25, Bereit recalled meeting 18-month-old Larelle Thompson two years ago. Through the prayers of the many individuals participating in the spring 40 Days for Life campaign in 2015, he said, Larelle's mother chose life rather than abort her child at the Planned Parenthood facility in Indianapolis. Those prayers made a tangible difference, Bereit said. And so did one other person who also was praying that day while driving an RV. Her name is Linda Kile. On Sept. 26, she and a lively Larelle, now 3 and a half, joined Bereit at a 40 Days for Life rally outside the very abortion facility where Larelle's life nearly came to a horrific end. Holding the young girl, Kile shared the story of how she and Larelle "came to be such good friends." Kile, who is now director of the Great Lakes Gabriel Project, drives "Gabriel," the pro-life organization's mobile ultrasound RV used to help women in unexpected pregnancies choose life.

    Cardinal: Damage of abuse scandal caused by church leadership, not media

    ROME (CNS) -- The days of making "weak excuses" in response to the sexual abuse crisis are over, said German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising. The fallout and damage that has resulted, he added, "has not been caused by the press doing their job properly, but rather by the church itself; it's caused by the church leadership," which had a duty to act responsibly. The Catholic Church needs more open and clear dialogue, accountability and a willingness to see abuse survivors and critics who push for remedy and reform not as enemies, but as "as cooperators with the Holy Spirit," the cardinal said at a news conference Oct. 5. Next to a flat wooden cross covered with shards of a broken mirror, the cardinal and others spoke at an event hosted by the Pontifical Gregorian University and its Center for Child Protection. The center was announcing the start of the first interdisciplinary two-year master's degree program in safeguarding. The cardinal's archdiocese has helped provide financial support to the CCP since it was established in 2012. Cardinal Marx, who is president of the German bishops' conference and a member of Pope Francis' advisory Council of Cardinals, said the situation now compared to just six years ago when he helped inaugurate the Center for Child Protection "is much more urgent."

    Update: Youth outreach must begin with commitment to ending abuse, bishop says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Addressing the Synod of Bishops on the lack of trust many young people have in institutions in general, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, said the synod had an obligation to address the issue of clerical sexual abuse. "It is a both a crime and a sin that has undermined the confidence and trust that young people must have in the church's leaders and the church as an institution, so that they may again trust their priests and bishops to exercise true spiritual fatherhood, serve as adult figures in their lives and as authentic mentors of faith," the bishop told the synod Oct. 4. The Catholic Church and its ministers are called to offer young people "reassurance, comfort, hope and belonging," and that will be impossible unless the church and its leaders "continue to face courageously and honestly the betrayal of young people by clerics to whom they were entrusted. This sin must never again be found in our midst," he said. Bishop Caggiano also used his allotted four minutes to speak to the synod about the role technology and beauty play in the lives of young people and how understanding that helps the church find better ways to respond to the questions young people are asking.

    Synod urged to make more room for young leaders and for women

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Two women religious urged the Synod of Bishops to open more space in the Catholic Church, including in decision-making roles, to women and young people. Young Catholics can "challenge all the people of God in living our common purpose of revealing God's love," said U.S. Sister Sally M. Hodgdon, superior general of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery. "Can we let go and walk the path with them?" Sister Hodgdon and Korean Sister Mina Kwon of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres were among the nonvoting synod observers who were invited to address the gathering Oct. 5. Synod members must try to trust the Holy Spirit, Sister Hodgdon said, and trust young people "to design what a welcoming and open church is and looks like today." In addition to the horror of the sexual abuse scandal, she said, church members betrayed young people "through nonacceptance, a lack of integrity and transparency and a lack of authentic Gospel living."

    At synod, young people call for more involvement, representation

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Young people from around the world told Pope Francis and members of the Synod of Bishops that they no longer want to remain on the sidelines but want to take an active role in the church. Young men and women from Chile, Argentina, Australia and Panama were among the delegates who addressed the synod in its opening days and spoke candidly about their hopes for the Catholic Church to address the challenges they face in the modern world. "Young people don't just want to be treated as such," said Silvia Retamales, a member of the Chilean bishops' youth office. "We need a different and open church that doesn't close the doors on social, sexual and ethnic minorities." As the church in Chile continues to face a growing crisis regarding sexual abuse and cover-up by members of the clergy, Retamales told the synod members that young Catholics in the country are "crying out for a structure that totally avoids any disposition that encourages, allows or covers up any form of abuse." The role of women in the church, she added, must also be strengthened in areas "of real decision-making and participation in our communities."

    Blue Mass honors dedication, sacrifice of men, women in law enforcement

    HOUSTON (CNS) -- A bagpipe blared as Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez led deputies along with police officers from Houston, Santa Fe and other area agencies into the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to celebrate a Blue Mass in honor of men and women in law enforcement. Local tragic events from fatal shootings at Santa Fe High School in Galveston County to the rescue and recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey made this year's Blue Mass ever more appreciative of men and women who are among the first to respond to emergency situations, organizing officials said. Auxiliary Bishop George A. Sheltz of Galveston-Houston, who celebrated the Sept. 29 Blue Mass, recalled the funeral a year ago at the co-cathedral for Houston Police Sgt. Steve Perez, who drowned trying to report to his command post in the midst of the Hurricane Harvey flooding. Thousands of uniformed officers from across the country attended the funeral Mass. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo and retired Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston and other local clergy were the concelebrants. State officials, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also attended. Bishop Sheltz also referred to retired Houston Police Officer John Barnes, wounded while working security last May 18 when a student fatally shot eight students and two teachers and wounded 10 others before being apprehended.

    Bishops say young people need to be heard, not arrogantly lectured

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church needs to communicate the beauty and intelligence of faith to young men and women without resorting to condescending and aggressive methods, Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles told members of the Synod of Bishops. A "renewed apologetics and catechesis" can help young people who are tempted to leave the church due to convictions "that religion is opposed to science or that it cannot stand up to rational scrutiny, that its beliefs are outmoded, a holdover from a primitive time, that the Bible is unreliable, that religious belief gives rise to violence, and that God is a threat to human freedom," Bishop Barron said in his speech to the synod Oct. 4. "I hope it is clear that arrogant proselytizing has no place in our pastoral outreach, but I hope it is equally clear that an intelligent, respectful, and culturally sensitive explication of the faith ('giving a reason for the hope that is within us') is certainly a 'desideratum' ('desire')," he said. Later that evening, Bishop Barron joined Nigerian Bishop Godfrey Igwebuike Onah of Nsukka at an event dedicated to the synod on youth, faith and vocational discernment. The University of Notre Dame's Center for Ethics and Culture sponsored the event in Rome.

    Young U.S. religious woman talks to synod about 'accompaniment'

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The first person under 30 to address the Synod of Bishops was Sister Briana Santiago, a 27-year-old member of the Apostles of the Interior Life from San Antonio. "I think all of us young people need to be listened to first of all and then guided" in discovering who they are and who God is calling them to be, Sister Santiago told the synod Oct. 4. Several sessions of the synod were to begin with a brief presentation from one of the 36 young people appointed observers at the synod. Several of them, like Sister Santiago, participated in the presynod meeting of young adults in Rome in March. The meeting brought together more than 300 young adults from around the world; the vast majority were active Catholics, but the group also included members of other religions and young people who profess no faith at all. Sister Santiago told the synod she also helped read and summarize the comments of another 15,000 young people who followed the presynod on Facebook. "I was surprised by how many desires we young people have in common despite our many countries and cultures," she said. "There was so much joy in that hall -- the joy of getting to know and being known, which you could hear in the laughter, the songs and the chatter during breaks."

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