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  • Kosovo to dedicate cathedral named for Mother Teresa

    By Jonathan Luxmoore

    WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- A cathedral named for St. Teresa of Kolkata is scheduled to be dedicated in Kosovo on the 20th anniversary of her death.

    The cathedral will be dedicated Sept. 5 in Pristina. Albanian-born Cardinal Ernest Simoni will represent Pope Francis at the dedication. Celebrations of the neo-classical cathedral, on Pristina's Bill Clinton Boulevard, will begin Aug. 26, the saint's birthday.

    "This will be a great event for our church and all people, whatever their faith and background," said Msgr. Shan Zefi, chancellor of Kosovo's Prizren-based Catholic apostolic administration.

    "Mother Teresa was a unifying figure, who worked among Christians and Muslims and was admired by everyone. A cathedral in her honor is a great gift for this country."

    He told Catholic News Service Aug. 16 that Catholics were grateful to Kosovo's government for backing the cathedral; its foundation stone was laid in 2005 by the late President Ibrahim Rugova, a Muslim.

    "Bishops will come from throughout the region, as well as Muslim and Orthodox leaders, in a sign of majority approval," Msgr. Zefi said.

    "St. Teresa's sisters have worked for many years here and enjoyed strong support, especially at a time of unemployment and hardship."

    Mostly ethnic Albanian Muslims make up at least 90 percent of the 2.1 million inhabitants of Kosovo, whose 2008 independence from Serbia has been recognized by 111 of the United Nations' 193 member-states, but not by the Vatican.

    The Catholic apostolic administration, founded in 2000 with 24 parishes, officially accounts for 3.5 percent of the population, although church leaders put numbers higher.

    The cathedral was daubed in Islamist graffiti at its September 2010 opening. However, in his interview, Msgr. Zefi insisted opposition had come "only from a few individuals."

    "Our church's ties with Kosovo's Islamic community are developing toward ever greater dialogue and tolerance," he said.

    Once fully completed, the building will have two 230-foot bell towers, making it one of the city's largest, as well as a stained-glass window depicting St. Teresa with St. John Paul II, and will become the seat of a full Catholic diocese, relocated from Prizren.

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  • Kosovo to dedicate cathedral named for Mother Teresa

    WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- A cathedral named for St. Teresa of Kolkata is scheduled to be dedicated in Kosovo on the 20th anniversary of her death. The cathedral will be dedicated Sept. 5 in Pristina. Albanian-born Cardinal Ernest Simoni will represent Pope Francis at the dedication. Celebrations of the neo-classical cathedral, on Pristina's Bill Clinton Boulevard, will begin Aug. 26, the saint's birthday. "This will be a great event for our church and all people, whatever their faith and background," said Msgr. Shan Zefi, chancellor of Kosovo's Prizren-based Catholic apostolic administration. "Mother Teresa was a unifying figure, who worked among Christians and Muslims and was admired by everyone. A cathedral in her honor is a great gift for this country." He told Catholic News Service Aug. 16 that Catholics were grateful to Kosovo's government for backing the cathedral; its foundation stone was laid in 2005 by the late President Ibrahim Rugova, a Muslim. "Bishops will come from throughout the region, as well as Muslim and Orthodox leaders, in a sign of majority approval," Msgr. Zefi said.

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  • Pennsylvania town a memory, but thriving church is site of pilgrimage

    CENTRALIA, Pa. (CNS) -- The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church sits on a serene Pennsylvania mountain and overlooks the abandoned, desolate borough of Centralia. The town is a memory, but the church still serves a thriving parish family, with congregants driving to the hilltop on Sundays and holy days from communities throughout the area. The church and the grounds surrounding it will be the site of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia's holy pilgrimage Aug. 27, the eve of the feast of the Dormition of the Holy Mother of God. The pilgrimage begins at noon with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy with Archbishop Stefan Soroka, head of the Philadelphia archeparchy and the metropolitan of U.S. Ukrainian Catholics in the United States. The homilist will be Father John M. Fields, an archpriest of the archeparchy. After the Divine Liturgy, a procession will take place from the church with a replica of the Icon of Our Lady of Pochaiv, where it will be placed in the outside chapel.

    Expat Salvadorans in U.S. mark Blessed Oscar Romero's 100th birthday

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Washington resident Berta Quintanilla said her toddler had always asked about the bespectacled older man whose photo he often saw at home and sometimes at church events. "He wanted to know about him, who he was," said Quintanilla. Because of the violent manner in which he died in 1980 -- shot to death while celebrating Mass -- it was difficult to explain the entire story of Blessed Oscar Romero to young Esau Cruz, now 6, but little by little, Quintanilla, began to teach him: He was a bit like Jesus. "He died for us," and "he didn't like injustice," she explained to him. Quintanilla, who was born in El Salvador, took Esau Aug. 15 to their Washington parish, the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, where parishioners shared cake in honor of Blessed Romero after the feast of the Assumption Mass, which fell on what would have been the Salvadoran archbishop's 100th birthday. Around the country, including in Dallas and Los Angeles, parishes remembered the beloved archbishop. "One hundred years after his birth, Blessed Oscar Romero still inspires us for his humility and courage -- for his love for the poor and his witness of solidarity and service to others, even to the point of laying down his life," said Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez in an Aug. 13 homily during a Mass celebrating the birth of the Salvadoran archbishop.

    Miami's Catholic school observatory is set for eclipse

    MIAMI (CNS) -- The student observatory at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School is eagerly awaiting the solar eclipse. Although Miami is not in the so-called "zone of totality," the region will be in the path of 80 percent of the sun's visibility at the peak of the Aug. 21 eclipse. "This eclipse is something that will be a wonderful experience for Miami; the most important thing is it will cover 80 percent of the sun and we must be careful not to look at the sun without special filters and special glasses," said Jesuit Father Pedro Cartaya, a spiritual counselor at Belen and founder of the observatory and the student astronomy club begun here in the 1980s. The priest, a native of Havana, will coordinate some 20 astronomy club student members and alumni watching and documenting the solar eclipse with a series of telescopes modified to safely observe -- and even document -- the phenomenon. In March 1970, Father Cartaya said, he was in Perry, Florida, to observe a rare total solar eclipse that moved through Central America and the North Florida region that year. "It was an amazing experience I will not forget," he told the Florida Catholic, Miami's archdiocesan newspaper. "A lot of astronomers from around the world were there; it was so dark."

    Pope prays for victims of 'devastating' mudslide in Sierra Leone

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis offered his condolences and his prayers to the people of Sierra Leone after flooding and a major mudslide Aug. 14 led to the deaths of hundreds of people and displaced thousands. "Deeply saddened by the devastating consequences of the mudslide on the outskirts of Freetown, His Holiness Pope Francis assures those who have lost loved ones of his closeness at this difficult time," said a message sent to Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles of Freetown by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state. Pope Francis "prays for all who have died, and upon their grieving families and friends he invokes the divine blessings of strength and consolation," said the message, which was released by the Vatican Aug. 16. The pope also "expresses his prayerful solidarity with the rescue workers and all involved in providing the much-needed relief and support to the victims of this disaster." In an Aug. 16 telephone interview from Freetown, Ishmeal Alfred Charles, who is managing Caritas' emergency response, told Catholic News Service, "There is so much agony and pain here. The burials start today," he said, noting that he was on his way to a mortuary to help people identify the bodies of their loved ones.

    Ohio community cafe responds to hunger while building a following

    PORT CLINTON, Ohio (CNS) -- Bow tie pasta with Chardonnay cheese sauce, fresh focaccia topped with herbs, a salad of fresh locally grown greens and made-from-scratch bread pudding aren't the usual fare for people in need of a free meal. At Bistro 163 in this lakefront town 38 miles east of Toledo, such tasty delights are the norm though. Part of the growing community cafe movement, the nonprofit restaurant with a modern, clean decor in the heart of Ohio's Lake Erie vacationland seeks to connect good food with good fellowship while beginning to address the needs of hungry, lonely and elderly people. Mary Leucht, 52, of nearby Oak Harbor, has been coming for the meal since winter. The housekeeper at a local hotel said the free meal helps to make ends meet on her modest income. "I come down for the food and the friendship," she said.

    Nigerian bishops urge clergy, laity to accept bishop's appointment

    LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) -- The bishops of six dioceses appealed to the priests, religious and laity of the Diocese of Ahiara to abide by the directive of Pope Francis and accept Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke as their bishop and prepare for his installation. The appeal came in an Aug. 9 statement after bishops from the church's Owerri province met in Aba. The province includes the Archdiocese of Owerri and the dioceses of Aba, Ahiara, Okigwe, Orlu and Umuahia. Nigerian church leaders had met Pope Francis June 8 to discuss the situation of Bishop Okpaleke, who was appointed bishop of Ahiara by then-Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, but who has been unable to take control of the diocese because of protests, apparently by the majority of priests. On June 10, the pope gave priests in the Ahiara Diocese 30 days to write a letter promising obedience to him and accepting the bishop appointed for their diocese, or they would be suspended. Father Kingsley Anyanwu, editor of The Guide, the Ahiara diocesan newspaper, said he could not confirm if priests had decided to heed the bishops' appeal. "All I know is that the priests are being respectful and showing their obedience to the Holy Father, Pope Francis. We cannot disobey the Holy Father, and we are also praying that the will of God be done in Ahiara Diocese," Father Anyanwu said.

    Vatican envoy: Vietnam's government must respect religious freedom

    LA VANG, Vietnam (CNS) -- The Vatican envoy to Vietnam called on the Southeast Asian nation's communist government to respect religious freedom. Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, the nonresident representative of the Vatican to Vietnam, presided at the Aug. 13 opening Mass of the Marian Congress, held at the national shrine of Our Lady of La Vang in central Vietnam's Quang Tri province. In his homily, Archbishop Girelli spoke of the state of religious freedom in the country, reported "In some provinces, civil authorities are anxious and complain about the Catholics and their deeds," the archbishop said during Mass, where he was joined by Vietnamese bishops and some 200 priests. Archbishop Girelli advised the gathering on the wisdom of St. Peter's words: "We must obey God rather than men" and of Jesus' "Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's. I would like to tell the Vietnamese Caesars to give to God what is God's," he said, to which the congregation responded with a large round of applause.

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  • Student from Holy Land learns valuable lessons as intern in Washington

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Every summer, students from Bethlehem University in Palestine intern at different work sites around world. This summer, Lara Kasbari came to Washington to intern at the Christian Brothers Conference. A senior at the university in the fall, she is a business administration major with a minor in marketing. Bethlehem University, founded in 1973 in the Lasallian tradition, was the first university in the West Bank and the first Catholic university in the Holy Land. There are currently more than 3,200 students enrolled and 326 faculty and staff, according to a university fact sheet. Students who are a part of the ambassador program at the university are the ones who are able to travel for a summer internship. The summer internship prepared her to become more self-reliant since she did not know many people in Washington beforehand. "It has been a totally different experience because the other interns are in different places," Kasbari said. "It's more about being independent and that's what I gained as well in this internship. Getting a taste of the real work life as well as being more independent."

    Papal envoy calls Blessed Romero 'martyr of hope'

    SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (CNS) -- Blessed Oscar Romero, the murdered archbishop of San Salvador, is a martyr of hope, said Chilean Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, Pope Francis' envoy to the celebration of the centennial of the archbishop's birth. Blessed Romero "is a true martyr of hope ... a great martyr of hope," said the Santiago cardinal. "He is so for the continent's poor, he is so for the people of El Salvador, he is so for the hope of our beloved church, for all who struggle for justice, reconciliation, peace and affectionately call him 'St. Romero of America.'" Cardinal Ezzati gave the homily Aug. 15 at the Salvadoran cathedral, where people gathered for a special Mass. He said Blessed Romero's "closeness to the poor ... led him to see, with his eyes, the injustice the peasants were suffering." Repeatedly interrupted by applause, the cardinal quoted a letter from Pope Francis to the Salvadoran bishops on Blessed Romero's beatification in 2015: "Those who have Archbishop Romero as a friend in faith ... those who admire him, find in him the strength and encouragement to build the people of God, to commit to a more balanced and dignified social order."

    Genocide of Christians continues in Middle East, says new U.S. report

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Trump administration renews its commitment to the protection of religious minority groups threatened by the Islamic State in the Middle East, according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the preface of the annual State Department report on international religious freedom, released Aug. 15. "ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yezidis, Christians and Shia Muslims in areas it controlled," Tillerson said in a statement Aug. 15. "ISIS is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups, and in some cases against Sunni Muslims, Kurds and other minorities." Since the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act, the State Department documents the state of religious freedom in nearly 200 countries around the world, reporting to Congress the "violations and abuses committed by governments, terrorist groups, and individuals." Ambassador Michael Kozak of the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, which produces the report, spoke about it in a news conference Aug. 15, saying the report is used to create a fact base for U.S. government decision-making. Kozak reported that while conditions for many do remain critical, there are signs of hope for the future.

    Oceania bishops discuss oceans, but also visit homeless, high school

    AUCKLAND, New Zealand (CNS) -- Church leaders from Oceania, meeting in New Zealand to discuss protecting the oceans, also served meals to the homeless and met with Pacific Islander high school students. A cardinal from Papua New Guinea, an archbishop from New Caledonia, and four bishops from Australia and New Zealand served meals to people who are homeless, mentally unwell or otherwise economically deprived at the Auckland City Mission Aug. 11. The prelates were in Auckland for a weeklong meeting of the executive committee of the Federation of Catholic Bishops' Conferences of Oceania. The meeting focused on protection of the oceans and the welfare of the people dependent thereon, as well as concerns for the people of West Papua, an Indonesian province. In a statement, the church leaders described their time at the Auckland City Mission as "a humbling experience during which we felt deeply Christ's call to sit and walk alongside those who struggle or find themselves on the margins of society." The day before their work at the city mission, the prelates visited De La Salle College in south Auckland, a high school with a predominantly Pacific Islander student body. Cardinal John Ribat of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, was the main celebrant at a Mass for feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was celebrated in advance so the church leaders could be included.

    Four-time international champion says whistles can change hearts, lives

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNS) -- It started out as a normal July 2001 day in the Office of Management and Budget in Washington. Chris Ullman, the budget spokesman, was just about to settle into a routine morning meeting with his co-workers when his boss, Mitch Daniels, gave a startling announcement. "The meeting is canceled," declared Daniels. "Everyone out ' except you, Ullman." In a split second, Ullman's bright and sunny morning seemed to be in danger of some extreme unpleasantness. "I'm fired," thought Ullman, as everyone left the room. He had been in the business long enough to know that people in the communications industry were just one bad quote away from unemployment. His fears were for nothing, though. Daniels informed him that instead of whistling in the unemployment line, Ullman would be whistling in the Oval Office for the 43rd president of the United States -- George W. Bush. For the past 30 years, the four-time international whistling champ has found himself in more than a few extraordinary situations thanks to his unique talent. He also likes to challenge others to find their "whistle" -- whatever talent God has given them -- and share it with the world.

    Conference offers a journey of hope to divorced Catholics

    CHARLESTON, S.C. (CNS) -- Standing among a crowd of other divorced and separated people, one woman struggled to speak over still-painful emotions. Clearing her throat and taking a breath, she explained that it had been 20 years since her divorce, but the pain still had the power to bubble to the surface. It was a sentiment clearly understood by other participants at the Journey of Hope Conference for Divorced Recovery held Aug. 4-6 in partnership with the Diocese of Charleston. Another man told the group it was the first time he had been able to talk about his divorce without being overcome by anger at his ex-wife. "The wound is not to be taken lightly," said Kathy Schmugge, director of the diocesan Office of Family Life. The office sponsored the program in conjunction with Lisa Duffy, creator of the Journey of Hope conferences. Schmugge was one of the speakers at the event, which drew over 70 people from around the United States. She saw a lot of teary eyes over the weekend, and heard a lot about the loneliness and isolation that divorced and separated people feel every day.

    Syriac Catholic patriarch says West has 'betrayed' Christian minorities

    EL CAJON, Calif. (CNS) -- The Syriac Catholic patriarch doesn't mince words about the ongoing violence and unrest in the Middle East. Nor does he shy away from calling out the West for not doing enough to protect Christian minorities. "I can tell you, we've been not only abandoned by the Western countries, but even we have been betrayed," Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan told The Southern Cross, newspaper of the Diocese of San Diego. He made the comments in a recent interview at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Syriac Catholic Parish in El Cajon. While the Christian minority in Syria and Iraq is composed of "peaceful people" who have been "working honestly for the well-being of their countries," he said, these Christians are neither oil-rich nor do they represent a terrorist threat to the West. Therefore, he said, they have been essentially ignored by the West and "abandoned to our destiny." The Syriac Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church in communion with the pope. Among the Catholic hierarchy, a patriarch is outranked only by the pope.

    Maryknoll nun receives Matteo Ricci Award for building bridges with China

    JAMAICA, N.Y. (CNS) -- Maryknoll Sister Janet Carroll, founding executive director of the U. S. Catholic China Bureau, was the recipient of the organization's 2017 Matteo Ricci Award, an honor bestowed upon people who best exemplify the bureau's mission to build a bridge of friendship and service between the Catholic Church in the U.S. and China. The award, named for the 16th-century Jesuit missionary to China, was presented to Sister Janet at a banquet Aug. 12 during the China bureau's 27th biennial national conference at St. John's University. Sister Janet, a New York City native and a member of the Maryknoll order for more than six decades, has led 11 bureau-sponsored study tours to China. She resides at the community's motherhouse in New York's Westchester County, where she remains active as an adviser and mentor with Maryknoll's Chinese Seminary Teachers and Formators Project, a program that helps train Chinese priests and women religious for leadership roles. In his remarks at the banquet, Tom McGuire, chairman of the board for the bureau, cited Sister Janet's "faithful work as a missionary disciple" and lauded her efforts in establishing the bureau in 1989. "Her knowledge of the Chinese language, culture and history, joined with her education in international relations, created a dynamic United States Catholic China Bureau," said McGuire. "It has provided strong initiatives to the programs for educating people in the United States and building bridges of friendship with the people in China."

    Bishops ask for peace after white nationalist rally turns deadly

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In the aftermath of a chaos- and hate-filled weekend in Virginia, Catholic bishops and groups throughout the nation called for peace after three people died and several others were injured following clashes between pacifists, protesters and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 11 and 12. A 32-year-old paralegal, Heather D. Heyer, was killed when a car plowed into a group in Charlottesville Aug. 12. The driver of the car was identified as James Alex Fields and he was taken into custody. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said early Aug. 14 the "evil attack" meets the legal definition of domestic terrorism and suggested pending federal charges for Fields, who the same day was formally charged by a Charlottesville judge with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death. Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, was one of the first to call for peace following the violence in Charlottesville late Aug. 11, which only became worse the following day. "In the last 24 hours, hatred and violence have been on display in the city of Charlottesville," he said the afternoon of Aug. 12. "I earnestly pray for peace."

    Biggest challenge for Chinese church? Fostering vocations, speakers say

    JAMAICA, N.Y. (CNS) -- Fostering vocations to the priesthood and religious life is the "biggest challenge" for the Catholic Church in China, said Passionist Father Robert E. Carbonneau, executive director of the U.S. Catholic China Bureau. "The whole society is becoming more materialistic," said Father Carbonneau, adding that "many options" have opened up for young people. Vocations and the ongoing formation of priests were among the topics presented when scholars, educators, clergy, religious and missioners with expertise on Catholicism in China gathered Aug. 11-13 for the China Bureau's 27th biennial national conference at St. John's University in the New York borough of Queens. This year's conference, which focused on the theme "Experience of the Chinese Church in the 21st Century," featured sessions on globalization, evangelization, spirituality, social outreach and eco-theology. Secularism, consumerism and smaller family units are among the factors that have contributed to the decline in vocations in the past decade, experts said. "Modernity is coming into China like a fast train," said Columban Father Tommy Murphy, a priest from County Mayo, Ireland, who has been a spiritual director at the national seminary in Beijing for four years.

    Nigerian cardinal says pressure to change Communion rules is unfortunate

    JASIKAN, Ghana (CNS) -- Pope Francis did not change church teaching on the rules for receiving Communion, but rather assured people who are in difficult situations that the church cares for them and the mercy of God extends to them, a Nigerian cardinal said. Nigerian Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, speaking at Ghana's National Eucharistic Congress in Jasikan Aug. 11, said it was unfortunate that pressure has mounted on the Catholic Church in some places to relax the rules about the reception of holy Communion. Such pressure, he said, can be seen in efforts to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion without an annulment of their marriage or without abstaining from sexual relations with their new partners. The age-old principles of the unity and indissolubility of marriage cannot be compromised to accommodate "modern trends," he said. "In a world going down the drain through widespread moral laxity, the church of God cannot abdicate her responsibility to uphold the high standards of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ," Cardinal Onaiyekan told Catholics gathered for the congress.

    Pope entrusts to Mary victims of disasters, conflict, social tension

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a week in which natural disasters, war and racial conflicts dominated the headlines, Pope Francis prayed that Mary would bring peace to a divided world. After reciting the Angelus prayer on the feast of the Assumption, the pope asked Mary to obtain "for everyone consolation and a future of serenity and harmony. To Mary, Queen of Peace -- who we contemplate today in the glory of paradise -- I entrust once again the anxieties and sorrows of the people who suffer in many parts of the world due to natural disasters, social tensions or conflicts," the pope told thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square Aug. 15. Pope Francis did not name any specific location, but as he spoke, the search for survivors continued in Sierra Leone after a devastating mudslide engulfed the outskirts of the capital, Freetown, killing more than 300 people. Flooding and landslides also struck southern Nepal, killing at least 70 people. In Charlottesville, Virginia, clashes between white nationalists and protesters resulted in the death of three people, including a 32-year-old paralegal, Heather D. Heyer, who was killed Aug. 12 when a car plowed into a group protesting the white nationalist rally.

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  • 'Notre Dame Trail' pilgrimage salutes school's spirit, founders and Mary

    INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- At 80, Holy Cross Brother Larry Stewart plans to walk and bike a 320-mile pilgrimage that is close to his heart and his faith. It's a journey that will honor the spirit of the Holy Cross men who traveled through Indiana during a brutal early winter 175 years ago to establish the University of Notre Dame. Brother Larry hopes to participate in the entire pilgrimage, which began Aug. 13, goes through Aug. 26 and is being called the "Notre Dame Trail" -- recalling a journey that began long ago in the Diocese of Vincennes, where the roots of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis started. "It's just a thrill to take part in the history of this," said Brother Larry, who was looking for a new challenge after completing coast-to-coast bicycle rides across the United States when he was 60 and 70. "I've always enjoyed a challenge." This one is far more meaningful to him as it salutes Holy Cross Father Edward Sorin and the Holy Cross brothers who traveled with him from France to the United States -- and those who forged onward from Vincennes to South Bend on a journey that led to the founding of Notre Dame in 1842. "That journey was unbelievable," said Brother Larry, one of 32 people who signed up to do the entire pilgrimage.

    Kentuckian on 1,400-mile nautical pilgrimage to draw attention to Fatima

    SAVANNAH, Ga. (CNS) -- Rowing an 18-foot-long open canoe solo along the Intracoastal Waterway from Miami to New York City, Greg Dougherty hopes to draw attention to the centennial of the Marian apparitions at Fatima, Portugal. The craft named the Santa Maria de Fatima packed with bags of food, clothes, emergency gear and a statue of Our Lady of Fatima looks both cramped and small for such a long voyage. His 1,400-mile nautical pilgrimage began June 13 and as of Aug. 14, he was 10 miles south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, he told Catholic News Service. He also said he hoped to arrive in New York by late September or early October. The Southern Cross, newspaper of the Diocese of Savannah, caught up with Dougherty in early August on the 47th day of his pilgrimage. He had arrived at Thunderbolt Marina in Thunderbolt. Dougherty's canoe outfitted with tandem sliding seats enables him to use his legs and arms as he repeatedly pulls on the oars throughout the day. His planned crewmate for the journey, Gerald Sargent, a member of the British Royal Marines, was called back to active duty leaving Dougherty on his own. Rowing on his own "is exhausting," said Dougherty, "and that is a good thing." At night, he sleeps in the forward section of the two-man canoe.

    Catholics urged to emulate Martha, Mary, welcome Lord into their hearts

    SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. (CNS) -- Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa, encouraged attendees at a two-day Hispanic charismatic congress to emulate Martha and Mary and welcome the Lord into their hearts. "We celebrate the feast of these two women today," he said in English, as Father Jeremy Wind translated into Spanish. "Like Martha, we serve the Lord in the way we take care of others; like Mary, we sit at the Lord's feet and listen to his teachings." The 13th Annual Hispanic Congress for Diocese of Sioux City was held July 29-30 at a conference center in South Sioux City, in Nebraska right across the Missouri River from Iowa's Sioux City. The theme of the gathering was "A Personal Encounter With Jesus Christ." Bishop Nickless celebrated the opening Mass July 29; Father Wind, preached the homily in Spanish. The priest is parochial vicar at St. Cecelia Parish in Algona, Iowa, and two other parishes. "I preached about how St. Martha is usually known for being very occupied with service, but there's another deeper quality to Martha," he explained. "Martha could not even imagine what Jesus could do with her dead brother Lazarus."

    'You are a treasure,' Texas cardinal tells Catholic youth

    HOUSTON (CNS) -- Surrounded by thousands of teens from throughout the Houston region at the 2017 Archdiocesan Youth Conference, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston encouraged the youth to seek holiness in all parts of their lives. Cardinal DiNardo, who is the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, closed the weekend July 30 by celebrating Sunday Mass, capping a jampacked July 28-30 weekend in downtown Houston. Presented by the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese's Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization, the conference offered more than 2,600 teens a chance to experience the local church's diversity and embrace the opportunity to share and deepen their faith through daily Mass, confession and other prayer experiences. "You've had speakers who have spoken to you about good judgments, they've spoken to you about growing in wisdom," Cardinal DiNardo told the teens in his homily. "Good judgment and wisdom and using our resources to grow in the Lord, we just call it holiness. I hope you leave convinced that holiness is not a category outside your life." The theme of this year's conference was "Holiness" and featured a half-dozen speakers with music by contemporary worship leader Ike Ndolo of Tempe, Arizona.

    Catholics on Guam pray for peace amid threats by North Korea

    HAGATNA, Guam (CNS) -- The Catholic Church on Guam is urging its members and all people on the island to be prayerful and stay centered in Christ amid threats of missile attacks by North Korea. Coadjutor Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes of Agana asked all priests to promote prayers of peace at all Masses Aug. 13 as tensions continue, following threats by North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un to attack this American territory in the Marianas Islands. "In your Masses this Sunday, especially in the prayer of the faithful, please offer prayers for peace between our nations, just resolution of differences, and prudence in both speech and action," Archbishop Byrnes said in a message to all priests of the Archdiocese of Agana Aug. 11. "Please also offer prayers for the men and women of our military, especially those whom we host on Guam, that they might find grace for diligence and courage as they execute their respective duties," he said.

    Mexico City Archdiocese clarifies number of abuse cases reported

    MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of Mexico City said it reported six cases of priests accused of sexually abusing minors to prosecutors between 2010 and 2017, following a change in Mexico's Religious Associations Law requiring such crimes to be brought to the authorities' attention. "Cardinal Norberto Rivera left it clear that, starting with the implementation of (the law in 2010) -- which requires religious leaders and their representatives to inform the corresponding authority about the probable committing of crimes -- he had knowledge of the probable commission of six acts, presumably criminal, after being told by his vicars," the archdiocesan publication Desde la Fe said in an Aug. 10 article. "He instructed (the vicars) to report them immediately to the corresponding authorities." The article followed news that Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera was interviewed by an investigator from the federal attorney general's office over criminal complaints of covering up 15 cases of abuse. Cardinal Rivera's lawyer, Armando Martinez Gomez, said the complaints were filed by a pair of former priests. Father Hugo Valdemar Romero, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Mexico City, said the accusations were brought to "create a scandal of such a level that the pope would accept (the cardinal's) resignation" more quickly. Cardinal Rivera turned 75 June 6 and, in accordance with canon law, submitted his resignation to Pope Francis.

    Women religious advised to stop focusing on dwindling numbers

    ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) -- Sister Mary Pellegrino, outgoing president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, urged participants at the group's annual assembly in Orlando not to focus on dwindling numbers of women religious but instead on the communion they have with each other. She said the danger of focusing too much on decreasing numbers is that it diminishes every vocation, the church and even God. "It's rooted in a corporate God who ascribes to human notions of progress and growth, rather than rhythmic patterns of fruitfulness," Sister Pellegrino, a Sister of St. Joseph, said in an Aug. 10 talk, adding that concern about smaller numbers also "reflects our fears and our uneasy and unresolved relationship with death." She said a new emphasis on deepening communion could be liberating but also challenging. Sister Pellegrino gave the keynote address during the Aug. 8-11 assembly for the association of the leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. LCWR has about 1,350 members, who represent nearly 80 percent of the approximately 48,500 women religious in the United States. Looking back, she said the "golden age" of religious life happened around World War II and after the Second Vatican Council and its call for renewal of religious life in the 1960s, it was all downhill, according to prevailing accounts that say women religious left teaching in the schools to take secular jobs, swapped habits for street clothes and became feminists.

    Russian church leader hopes cardinal tackles local issues during visit

    WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- A Russian church leader has urged the Vatican's secretary of state to use his upcoming Moscow visit to tackle "practical difficulties" facing local Catholics, rather than just discussing international issues. "The Catholic community still has serious problems here, not least in Moscow itself; we need help to improve our situation," said Msgr. Igor Kovalevsky, secretary-general of the Russian bishops' conference. "We hope this visit won't be confined to political dialogue between the Holy See and Russian Federation. The local dimension is crucial to any such dialogue, and we count on this being recognized," he said. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, will be the most senior Vatican figure in Moscow in nearly two decades when he visits Aug. 20-24. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, former secretary of state, dedicated Moscow's Immaculate Conception Catholic basilica in December 1999. Msgr. Kovalevsky told Catholic News Service Aug. 13 that Russia's Catholics expected the cardinal to prioritize ties with the predominant Orthodox Church and the government of President Vladimir Putin. However, he added that his church was still trying to regain Soviet-seized Catholic buildings in Moscow, after city officials rejected a court order to hand them back, in one of many local disputes.

    Venezuelan cardinal rejects U.S. military intervention

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A Venezuelan cardinal rejected the possibility of foreign intervention in the country following U.S. President Donald Trump's threat to pursue a military option. "The crisis we Venezuelans are suffering is so serious that now an external problem arises: the threats of a military option by President Trump," Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas said. The cardinal spoke Aug. 13 after celebrating the 150th anniversary of the consecration of his archdiocese's cathedral Aug. 13. He rejected the assertion that foreign military intervention could solve the crisis Venezuela is experiencing. "I -- and I am sure all the Venezuelan bishops -- reject all foreign military interference, such as the Cuban one present for some time in Venezuela," Cardinal Urosa said, "and I do not agree with the threat of a military option." After a meeting Aug. 11 with Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State, Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and H.R. McMaster, national security adviser, Trump told journalists that a military intervention was "certainly something that we could pursue."

    Cling to the Lord, not horoscopes, fortunetellers, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When passing through the storm of life's difficult moments, Christians must latch on to Christ and not the false sense of security offered by psychics and soothsayers, Pope Francis said. Speaking to pilgrims before reciting the Angelus Aug. 13, Pope Francis talked about the day's Gospel passage, which recounts the story of Jesus walking on water. Jesus tells St. Peter to come to him, but his lack of faith when walking on the water toward Jesus during a storm leads to him slowly to start sinking in the sea. Christians today, Pope Francis said, also can doubt the assurance of Christ's presence when confronting life's "turbulent and hostile waters. When we do not cling to the word of the Lord, but consult horoscopes and fortunetellers to have more security, we begin to sink," the pope said. Although most Romans escape the city during the summer, hundreds of pilgrims still made their way to St. Peter's Square, waving banners and flags while cheering loudly as the pope appeared in the window of the Apostolic Palace. Pope Francis said the Sunday Gospel reading invites all Christians to reflect on their faith "both as individuals and as an ecclesial community, even the faith of all us here today in the square."

    Pope prays for Christian victims of violent attacks in Africa

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis called for an end to violence against Christians following deadly attacks in two African countries. The pope led pilgrims in praying a Hail Mary for the victims of a deadly shooting Aug. 6 at St. Philip's Catholic Church in Ozubulu, located in Nigeria's southern state of Anambra. He also prayed for Christians killed following an attack at a mission in Gambo, Central African Republic. "I hope that all forms of hatred and violence cease and that such shameful crimes are no longer committed in places of worship where the faithful gather to pray," the pope told pilgrims Aug. 9 before concluding his weekly general audience. The BBC and other news outlets reported Aug. 7 that at least 11 people were killed and as many as 18 others wounded as they attempted to flee the carnage in Ozubulu. While no suspects have been caught, authorities believe the target was a young businessman involved in a drug deal gone wrong. The situation in the Central African Republic is more widespread, with violent clashes between the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels and the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militia. In a series of email messages sent to his brother and shown to Catholic News Service Aug. 8, Spanish-born Bishop Juan-Jose Aguirre Munoz of Bangassou, Central African Republic, detailed the horrors that occurred at the Gambo mission, located about 45 miles away. "There are 50 dead in Gambo. The mission has been ransacked." The Spanish bishop, who has welcomed 2,000 Muslims at the cathedral in Bangassou to defend them from attacks by anti-Balaka militants, asked his brother to pray for the country.

    Archbishop says Blessed Romero could be canonized next year

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The archbishop officially promoting Blessed Oscar Romero's cause for sainthood said he hopes the process will conclude within a year and Catholics around the world will honor St. Oscar Romero, martyr. "Keeping alive the memory of Romero is a noble task, and my great hope is that Pope Francis will soon canonize him a saint," Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the postulator of the Salvadoran archbishop's cause, said in a homily Aug. 12 in London. In an interview with Vatican Radio's English program, Archbishop Paglia was more specific: "We could hope that in the next year perhaps it is possible" that the Congregation for Saints' Causes will have completed its review of an alleged miracle attributed to Blessed Romero's intervention and present its findings to the pope. Recognition of the miracle would clear the way for canonization. The biggest hurdle in the sainthood cause was obtaining recognition that Blessed Romero, who was shot while celebrating Mass, was a martyr, Archbishop Paglia said in London. Some church leaders, including some who worked in the Roman Curia, had insisted Blessed Romero was assassinated because of his political position. But, Archbishop Paglia said, "The essence of his holiness was his following the Lord by giving himself completely for his people."

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  • Retired Maronite Bishop Shaheen dies at age 80

    ST. LOUIS (CNS) -- Retired Bishop Robert J. Shaheen, who was the second bishop to head the Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles, died in St. Louis Aug. 9. Bishop Shaheen, who turned 80 June 3, was a native of Danbury, Connecticut, and ordained a priest in 1964. He was the first Maronite priest to be ordained in the United States and was assigned as pastor of St. Raymond's Maronite Church, now cathedral, in 1967. The parish was founded in 1912 to serve Maronite Catholics primarily of Lebanese and Syrian descent. On Dec. 5, 2000, St. John Paul II named him the second bishop of the Maronite eparchy. He retired in 2013. The eparchy, which relocated its headquarters from Los Angeles to St. Louis in 2001, extends across 34 states, ministering to about 46,800 Maronite Catholics from California to Ohio and Michigan to Alabama. "We pray for the repose of his soul, and give thanks to God for all of the lives that Bishop Shaheen has touched in his extraordinary life" said Bishop A. Elias Zaidan, the eparchy's current bishop and successor to Bishop Shaheen.

    Catholic, Orthodox patriarchs seek help, say Mideast churches in danger

    BEIRUT (CNS) -- Mideast Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs decried the desperate situation they face as shepherds of churches "whose existence is in real danger." They categorized the continued displacement of Christians from the Middle East as "a genocidal project, a humanitarian catastrophe and a plague of the earth's civilization." "The time has come to make a prophetic cry" and to speak "the truth that frees us in the spirit of the Gospel," the Council of the Eastern Patriarchs said in a statement Aug. 11, after an Aug. 9-10 meeting in Diman, Lebanon. "We, the custodians of the 'small flocks,' are hurting because of the exodus of Christians from their native lands in the Middle East," the patriarchs said. They appealed to the United Nations and to "the states directly concerned with the war in Syria, Iraq and Palestine to stop the wars that have arisen, as are evident in the demolition, killing, displacement, revival of terrorist organizations and the fueling of intolerance and conflicts between religions and cultures." They asked Pope Francis "to call on the representatives of the people who control the destinies of peoples, to remind them and even to scold them that the continued displacement of Christians from the Middle East is certainly a genocidal project, a humanitarian catastrophe, but a plague of the earth's civilization."

    Sister Teresa Maya, new LCWR president, brings bicultural view to role

    ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) -- A familiar Spanish saying defines the experience and worldview of Sister Teresa Maya, a Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word: "Ni de aqui, ni de alla" ("from neither here nor there"). Before becoming president-elect of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in 2016, Sister Maya collaborated with the religious conference in Mexico, an experience that taught her there are "two or three versions of the same story -- whether it's because there's another language or cultural perspective or geography -- and that's important to keep in mind," she said. Sister Maya, who is Mexican-American, made the transition to LCWR president Aug. 11, the final night of the conference's annual assembly in Orlando. She will lead the organization as the rest of the U.S.Catholic Church starts to tip from a majority-Anglo to a majority-Hispanic congregation. LCWR is an association of the leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. The conference has about 1350 members, who represent nearly 80 percent of the approximately 48,500 women religious in the United States

    Auxiliary appointed for Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has named Father Andriy Rabiy as auxiliary bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia. Bishop-designate Rabiy, 41, currently serves as vicar general and vice chancellor of the archeparchy and as pastor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Reading, Pennsylvania. The appointment was announced in Washington Aug. 8 by Msgr. Walter Erbi, charge d'affaires at the apostolic nunciature in the United States. Born Oct. 1, 1975, in Lviv, Ukraine, Bishop-designate Rabiy studied at St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Washington and was ordained to the priesthood in 2001. He will be ordained a bishop in his native Lviv Sept. 3 by Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, Ukraine, the leader of more than 5 million Ukrainian Catholics around the globe. Co-consecrators will be Archbishop Stefan Soroka of the Philadelphia archeparchy, who is metropolitan of U.S. Ukrainian Catholics in the United States, and Bishop David Motiuk of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton, Alberta. The ordination will take place in St. George Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Lviv.

    Bishop Cantu calls for diplomacy to ease U.S.-North Korea differences

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Diplomacy and political engagement are necessary to resolve the differences between the United States and North Korea and avoid a military conflict, the chairman of a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops committee said in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Writing Aug. 10, Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, echoed a recent call from the Korean bishops' conference to support talks to secure the peaceful future of the Korean Peninsula. Bishop Cantu acknowledged that the escalating threat of violence from North Korea's leaders cannot be "underestimated or ignored," but that the "high certainty of catastrophic death and destruction from any military action must prompt the United States to work with others in the international community for a diplomatic and political solution based on dialogue." The letter follows days of back-and-forth threats between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un. North Korean officials also said they were reviewing plans to strike U.S. military targets in Guam. The Archdiocese of Agana, Guam, urged everyone to "remain calm, trust that the security of our island is in good hands" and place "complete trust in our God."

    Nun known as 'Mother Teresa of Pakistan' to receive state funeral

    HRISSUR, India (CNS) -- The government of Pakistan will accord a state funeral to Sister Ruth Katharina Martha Pfau, a German-born member of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary who devoted her life to eradicating leprosy in Pakistan. Sister Ruth, dubbed the Mother Teresa of Pakistan, died Aug. 10 in Karachi. She was 87. "Sister Ruth was a model of total dedication. She inspired and mobilized all sections of society to join the fight against leprosy, irrespective of creed or ethnic identity," Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, president of Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference, told Catholic News Service Aug. 11. "We are happy that the government is according her a state funeral on Aug. 19," the archbishop said, noting it would be at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Karachi.

    Cardinal calls Salvadorans to reflect on true meaning of martyrdom

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The celebrations of the 100th anniversary Blessed Oscar Romero's birth should be a time to reflect on what it really means to call someone a martyr, said Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez of San Salvador. Too many people in El Salvador "continue to call martyrs those who picked up arms and died following an ideal" in the country's 12-year-long civil war, the cardinal wrote in an article for L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper. The country's real martyrs, the cardinal said, "never stained their hands with blood," and they were "men and women who strove to love God and their neighbors." The real martyrs of El Salvador are Blessed Romero, "the assassinated priests and the four U.S. women -- three religious and a laywoman -- whose lives were taken in December 1980," he said, referring to Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan, a laywoman. In addition, he wrote, "we all have a debt that we must begin to settle as soon as possible. We are obliged out of gratitude to God and love for the truth to redeem the memory of hundreds of anonymous martyrs, most of whom were humble campesinos." "For us, martyr means witness," he said. "We must walk with them in the name of Christ."

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  • Mariachi musicians know where credit goes for their talent: to God

    SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Miguel Grima and his nephew Jonathan Grima may be accomplished musicians in an area mariachi band, but both know where the credit goes for their talent. "Every night, I pray and thank God for my music," Jonathan stressed, during a break while performing at at a wedding reception. Miguel expressed much the same sentiments in Spanish, as his wife, Sophia Grima, translated. "When I sing at Mass, that's when I raise my voice in song and give my thanks to God for the gifts he has given me," Miguel said. Both Jonathan and Miguel attend Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City. Jonathan plays the violin for Mariachi Nuevo Guachinango, Miguel's Sioux City-based mariachi band that was formed about 30 years ago in the Mexican state of Jalisco. "My father was the one who started the business," Miguel explained in a recent interview with The Catholic Globe, newspaper of the Diocese of Sioux City. "I started playing in the band with my brothers at the age of 8." A mariachi band is found at almost every occasion that needs some music, Miguel pointed out.

    Sister Helen Garvey, former LCWR president, dies at 82

    DUBUQUE, Iowa (CNS) -- Sister Helen Maher Garvey, 82, former president of both the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and of her order, the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, died Aug. 6. She was 82. Sister Garvey, who entered religious life at age 17 and took the name Sister Robert Joseph, earned a doctorate in organizational development from Columbia University in New York City. She taught elementary school at schools run by her order in Chicago and Antioch, Illinois, and in Fort Dodge, Iowa. She later served as principal of elementary schools in Bellerose and Hempstead, New York, and was then elevated to leadership in the BVM order in 1976. Only 41 at the time of her election, Sister Garvey served 16 years as either president or vice president of the congregation, concluding her tenure as president in 1992. During her tenure as president, the BVMs created the Heartland Housing Initiative in Dubuque, and renovated a stately old home into apartments for 22 families, naming it Helen Garvey Place. In 1993, she began an 11-year ministry as director of pastoral services for the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky. Sister Garvey was elected to the three-year presidency of the LCWR in 1986.

    Pope Francis appoints bishops to serve two Chaldean eparchies

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has named Bishop Emmanuel Challita of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Addai of Toronto as bishop of the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Peter to Apostle in San Diego. The pope also named Bishop Frank Kalabat of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, based near Detroit, as administrator of Eparchy of Addai of Toronto. The appointments were announced in Washington Aug. 9 by Msgr. Walter Erbi, charge d'affaires at the apostolic nunciature in the United States. The Eparchy of St. Peter has about 65,150 Catholics and its jurisdiction extends to the western U.S. The Eparchy of Addai of Toronto has about 38,000 Catholics.

    Pro soccer player attributes his strength to his faith

    PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- Taylor Washington, a defender for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds soccer team, says he keeps God at the center of his life and that even during games when he's in a competitive mindset, he'll often pray a Hail Mary or a Glory Be. "Why I'm so strong is because of Christ," he said. "Everything that he's done for me and all the blessings I've received in my life are because of him. At times, it's overwhelming. I just have to give thanks." Washington attends daily Mass and goes to confession. Before games he reads Scripture passages and prays a St. Jude chaplet. And before stepping onto the field, he says a prayer to St. Michael for protection. On his Twitter account, @TBMMW4, Washington posts regular prayers and Bible verses. "Tweeting about things like Christ's love, God's mercy and church teachings are nothing compared to all the things that he's done for me," Washington said, adding: "The little things I do every day don't amount to any worthiness to him, but I try to honor him in everything I do."

    Kenyan bishops urge calm as opposition rejects early results

    NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- Catholic bishops in Kenya called for calm in the East Africa nation, as pockets of violent postelection protests left at least five dead in opposition strongholds. The protests had ignited slums in Nairobi and Kisumu after Raila Odinga, the main opposition candidate, rejected the provisional early results, which showed incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta had taken an early lead in Aug. 8 voting. "We are saying to the actors (politicians), you were given an opportunity to go around the country; now can you stop and reflect and allow Kenyans to pause as they wait for the results," said Bishop Alfred Rotich, retired head of the country's military diocese, at an Aug. 10 news conference. "We need to be calm, we need to be sober ... this is moment for peace," he added. In Eldoret, Bishop Cornelius Arap Korir issued a similar appeal. In some areas, his diocese is still recovering from a deadly postelection violence that occurred 10 years ago. "We urge calm. Those who (are) aggrieved should go to court," said Bishop Arap Korir.

    Peacemakers at White House vigil urge U.S. to empty its nuclear arsenal

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Saying the possession, upgrading and potential use of nuclear weapons was sinful, peacemakers gathered outside the White House on the feast of the Transfiguration and implored the U.S. government to empty its arsenals and embrace a world of peace. "Nuclear weapons are immoral, illegal, anti-God, anti-life, anti-creation and have no right to exist," Art Laffin of Washington's Dorothy Day Catholic Worker community told the gathering Aug. 6, marking the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. He said the feast of the Transfiguration invites the world to "say yes to the God of life, who commands us to love and not to kill, and no the forces of evil, death and destruction." Laffin urged the group to recall that the anniversary was a time of "remembering the horror, repenting the sin and reclaiming a future without nuclear weapons" during the one-hour vigil just after sunrise. The group included members of Catholic movements working to end nuclear weapons. They had gathered to "apologize" for the Hiroshima bombing, and for the bombing three days later of the Japanese city of Nagasaki Aug. 9, 1945, both of which culminated in the death and maiming of hundreds of thousands of people, the peacemakers said.

    Missouri Catholics say pro-life law 'most significant in a generation'

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CNS) -- The Missouri Catholic Conference has urged Catholics throughout Missouri to contact their state lawmakers and Gov. Eric Greitens "for working together to pass some of the most significant pro-life legislation in a generation." Greitens signed the measure July 26, one day after the state Senate passed it in a 22-9 vote. The state House had earlier OK'd the bill. The new law, which takes effect Oct. 23, features numerous pro-life provisions, including: Requiring annual, on-site and unannounced inspections of abortion clinics and mandating clinics have emergency measures in place for botched abortions; ensuring that women hear medical information from a doctor before deciding whether to obtain an abortion; and largely overturning the St. Louis "abortion sanctuary" ordinance and prohibiting other municipalities from passing similar ordinances. In addition, the new law will allow the Missouri attorney general to enforce the state's abortion laws when local prosecutors fail to do so.

    Catholic schools make outreach to Hispanic community a priority

    PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- As a cap-and-gown clad Sally Luciano stepped across the stage to receive her high school diploma this past June, she was surrounded by the cheers of Kleenex-clutching parents and the faculty and staff of St. Mary's Academy, the 158-year-old prep school in downtown Portland. It was a treasured moment for the teen and her parents, who emigrated from the Dominican Republic before their daughter was born. It also reflected a relatively uncommon occurrence in the Archdiocese of Portland. A 2016 report by the Oregon Community Foundation, which promotes effective philanthropy, found that the number of Latinos in the state has increased by 72 percent since 2000. According to the archdiocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry, around 50 percent of western Oregon's Catholics are Hispanic. The number of Hispanic students enrolled in Catholic schools, however, hasn't kept pace: Though the figures have inched upward, currently just 12 percent of elementary school students and 9 percent of secondary students are Hispanic. Latinos make up nearly a quarter of Oregon public school students, according to the Oregon Community Foundation.

    Catholic Relief Services looks to change concept of world's orphanages

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Catholic Relief Services has released an emotion-filled video as a way of starting a conversation about the world's orphanages. Children no longer end up in orphanages in the United States, and officials at CRS want a world where there is no longer a need for such institutions. They are not advocating shutting down orphanages in poor countries and turning the children out onto the streets. CRS officials said their vision is to transform orphanages in countries like Haiti and South Sudan into family resource centers, offering families the support they need to keep their children at home. To help people rethink the concept of orphanages, the international Catholic aid organization wrote a script, scouted locations, employed a film crew, hired actors and traveled to Puerto Rico to tell the story of a poverty-stricken mother making the heartbreaking decision to send her daughter to an orphanage, said Sean L. Callahan, president and CEO of CRS. Though these institutions are called orphanages, Callahan said few of the children raised in them are actually orphans. Most people are unaware that 80-90 percent of children in orphanages have at least one living parent and, in most cases, poverty or disability is the reason why they are there, he told Catholic News Service in an August interview. CRS hopes the video, released Aug. 10, will help drive home this point, particularly to well-meaning donors who think they are helping children by supporting orphanages.

    Ex-Vatican diplomat: U.S., North Korea must return to negotiating table

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The United States and North Korea must return to the negotiating table and focus on improving the quality of life of their people rather than on the might of their advanced weaponry, said a former Vatican diplomat. In an interview with Vatican Radio Aug. 9, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, former Vatican representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva, said that "instead of building walls and creating dissidence or admitting the possibility of recourse to violence," both countries must have a constructive approach that benefits the people. "To arrive at this point, we need to change, in a lot of ways, the public culture and insist and educate that the way forward is not the way of having the latest military technology, but having an approach of inclusion and participation in building the common good of the global human family," the archbishop said. North Korea's nuclear ambitions have led to further isolation and sanctioning by the international community, leading to a war of words with the United States.

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  • Speaker sees 'decisive battle' being waged against marriage, family

    WICHITA, Kan. (CNS) -- Scott Hahn told a packed convention hall in Wichita that Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the Fatima visionaries, had once predicted the "decisive battle" between the Lord and Satan would be regarding marriage and family. And that battle is being fought today, said Hahn, who gave three talks during the Catholic Family Conference Aug. 4-6. One of the most popular Catholic speakers in the country, Hahn, who is a professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, told of how Italian Cardinal Carlo Caffarra had received the visionary's prediction after writing her asking for prayers. The battle is not a modern one, Hahn said, adding that the battle was initiated at the dawn of history when Satan tempted Adam and Eve. "We need to recognize the importance of this," he said. Hahn's talks centered on Mary and St. Joseph.

    Chaplain offers Mass aboard ship for Marines killed in crash of Osprey

    ABOARD THE USS BONHOMME RICHARD (CNS) -- Just hours after a Marine aircraft crashed off the east coast of Australia, killing three Marines, a U.S. Catholic chaplain serving on the USS Bonhomme Richard offered a Mass and prayers Aug. 6 for the victims, the survivors and their families. Father David J. Hammond, a Navy chaplain who holds the rank of lieutenant, said the Mass in the ship's Star of the Sea Chapel, according to a news release from the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services. The three Marines were killed when their MV-22 Osprey went down in the Coral Sea while trying to land on a Navy ship Aug. 5. Military officials Aug. 8 identified the three as 1st Lt. Benjamin Cross, 26, of Oxford, Maine; Cpl. Nathaniel Ordway, 21, of Sedgwick, Kansas; and Pfc. Ruben Velasco, 19, of Los Angeles. New reports said dive teams continued to recover debris from the crash site. On the night of the tragedy, Father Hammond offered a prayer over the USS Bonhomme Richard's public address system. It was at 10 p.m., which is a prayer is always offered on U.S. Navy vessels, the archdiocese said.

    Syro-Malabar Catholics celebrate consecration of North Carolina church

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CNS) -- Hundreds of people filled a spacious, brightly lit building in south Charlotte in July for an occasion years in the making: the consecration of a permanent church for the Indian Catholic community in the Queen City. St. Mary's Syro-Malabar Catholic Church was dedicated July 22 by Bishop Jacob Angadiath during Holy Qurbana, or Mass, celebrated mostly in the Malayalam language. It is the first permanent home for Charlotte's Indian Catholic community -- comprised of about 45 registered families and growing -- and only the second Syro-Malabar Catholic church in North Carolina. "We have consecrated this church for the public worship of God. It is a gift of God, and let us give thanks to God," said Bishop Jacob, who shepherds the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy, which is based in Chicago and encompasses all Syro-Malabar Catholics in the U.S. Auxiliary Bishop Joy Alappatt, of the Chicago eparchy, and Bishop Peter J. Jugis, who heads the Latin-rite Diocese of Charlotte, concelebrated the four-hour liturgy, along with several other priests.

    Responding to priests, Vatican investigates Indonesian bishop

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNS) -- The Vatican has appointed an apostolic visitor to investigate claims by Indonesian priests that their bishop had a mistress and misappropriated church funds. Bishop Antonius Subianto Bunyamin of Bandung, Indonesia, told Aug. 8 that the Vatican had asked him to look into the accusations against Bishop Hubertus Leteng of Ruteng, Indonesia. Bishop Bunyamin, also general secretary of the Indonesian bishops' conference, was scheduled to visit the diocese on Catholic-majority Flores Island during the week of Aug. 14. The conflict erupted June 12 when 69 diocesan priests submitted letters of resignation, leaving their positions as episcopal vicars and parish priests and demanding that Bishop Leteng change how the diocese is run. The move followed allegations last year that the bishop secretly borrowed $94,000 from the Indonesian bishops' conference and $30,000 from the diocese without providing accounting for how the money was spent. Reports indicated that the disagreement among the priests and the bishop emerged during a meeting in which he explained that the money was used to finance the education of a youth from a poor family who was studying to be a pilot in the United States. When asked for details, he told them that it was none of their business. However, the priests said they suspected the money went to a woman with whom they alleged the bishop was having an affair. The alleged relationship between the bishop and the woman surfaced in 2014 after a priest who chose to leave the priesthood publicly discussed it.

    Let Jesus be 'your teacher, your life coach,' archbishop urges teens

    LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles told 1,600 Catholic teens gathered for the "City of Saints" conference that their faith and love for Jesus was an inspiration. "Your desire to live your faith and share your faith -- it is so beautiful to witness. And it is so inspiring," he said in an Aug. 5 homily at the University of California at Los Angeles. The archbishop and the Office of Religious Education of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles hosted the third annual "City of Saints" conference for teens, offering them an encounter with Christ through fellowship, praise and worship. Teenagers attended from 80 parishes and schools throughout Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, the three counties that make up the archdiocese. The Aug. 4-6 event featured speakers as well as music with contemporary Catholic-Christian band WAL. Attendees had the opportunity to participate in facilitated group time and the sacrament of reconciliation. Archbishop Gomez also celebrated an afternoon Mass Aug. 4 to welcome the teens, then led them in an outdoor eucharistic procession.

    Vatican official hints at unofficial agreement with China on bishops

    HONG KONG (CNS) -- A senior Vatican official has hinted there is an unofficial agreement between the Holy See and Beijing on the appointment of bishops, even as negotiations to formalize arrangements continue to hit roadblocks, reported Argentine Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, who attended a conference on the sensitive topic of organ donation and transplants in the southern Chinese city of Kunming, offered the hint during an interview with state-run Global Times Aug. 4. "We need to make a distinction between a formal agreement and the real things (that are happening among the public). The real thing is that at this moment China and (the) pope have a very good relation," said Bishop Sorondo. Observers have been increasingly confident that a process has been put in place as the two sides work toward a formal agreement, especially after the appointment of five new bishops in 2015 and 2016 that were recognized by both sides. But reported a formal agreement appears to be stuck on three bishops appointed by Beijing who are not recognized by the Vatican. Two of them are understood to have family relationships inconsistent with the priesthood, and another has a cloud over him regarding possible criminal offenses.

    Pope 'saddened' after shooting in Nigerian church

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis sent his condolences to the victims and survivors of a deadly shooting that occurred during Mass Aug. 6 at a parish in Nigeria. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, expressed the pope's sentiments in a message dated Aug. 7 to Bishop Hilary Odili Okeke of Nnewi. Pope Francis, the message said, was "deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and injury following the violent attack" in St. Philip's Catholic Church in Ozubulu, a town located in the Nigerian southern state of Anambra. According to the Nigerian newspaper, The Vanguard, witnesses say a gunman entered during an early morning Sunday Mass and opened fire during the prayer of the faithful. The BBC and other news outlets reported Aug. 7 that at least 11 people were killed and as many as 18 others wounded as they attempted to flee the carnage. While no suspects have been caught, authorities believe the target was a young businessman involved in a drug deal gone wrong.

    Pope says he's saddened by 'perfect' Catholics who despise others

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God did not choose perfect people to form his church, but rather sinners who have experienced his love and forgiveness, Pope Francis said. The Gospel of Luke's account of Jesus forgiving the sinful woman shows how his actions went against the general mentality of his time, a way of thinking that saw a "clear separation" between the pure and impure, the pope said Aug. 9 during his weekly general audience. "There were some scribes, those who believed they were perfect," the pope said. "And I think about so many Catholics who think they are perfect and scorn others. This is sad." Continuing his series of audience talks about Christian hope, the pope reflected on Jesus' "scandalous gesture" of forgiving the sinful woman. The woman, he said, was one of many poor women who were were visited secretly even by those who denounced them as sinful. Although Jesus' love toward the sick and the marginalized "baffles his contemporaries," it reveals God's heart as the place where suffering men and women can find love, compassion and healing, Pope Francis said.

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  • Bishop attends ICE meeting for mother fearing separation from sick child

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- After hearing about the plight of a cancer-stricken child whose mother was facing imminent deportation, a U.S. border bishop, Texas Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, decided to pay the pair a visit at the hospital. On Aug. 7, he prayed at a Texas hospital with bed-ridden 8-year-old Alia Escobedo, suffering from bone cancer, and her mother Maria De Loera, the child's only caretaker, before heading to a meeting with immigration officials -- a hearing in which the mother was to report for deportation but one which the bishop attended in her place. In an Aug. 7 phone interview with Catholic News Service, Bishop Seitz said, "As a parish priest, one of the most rewarding ministries was through the sick. I always felt close to children who were sick." At the hospital, he said, he read Scriptures with the mother and daughter, who are Catholic, and prayed. He said he tried to reassure the mother that there were a lot of people trying to help. On Aug. 8, ICE officials granted De Loera a six-month stay to continue watching over her daughter during treatment. At her daughter's bedside, De Loera wears an ICE-issued ankle monitor to track her location even though she has not committed a crime and arrived seeking asylum, church officials said.

    Phoenix Diocese says retired bishop 'categorically denies' abuse claim

    PHOENIX (CNS) -- The Diocese of Phoenix said retired Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien, who headed the diocese from 1982 to 2003, "categorically denies" an allegation that he sexually abused a young boy while the youngster was in grade school in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A civil lawsuit has been filed against the diocese, several parishes and Bishop O'Brien, now 81. According to its records, the diocese said in an Aug. 3 statement, Bishop O'Brien "was never assigned to any of the parishes or schools identified in the lawsuit, and no specific information has been presented which connects Bishop O'Brien to the plaintiff." The diocese said it immediately contacted the Maricopa County Attorney's Office "upon learning of these allegations in September of 2016, and has offered its assistance and cooperation with any law enforcement investigation into the matter." The lawyer for the unnamed plaintiff, who is now 47 and lives in the Tucson area, told The Associated Press that his client had not repressed the alleged abuse and only recently began having flashbacks about it. "Because this is a pending litigation matter, we will not be sharing additional information," the diocese added.

    Lessons about New York church's historic pipe organ part of music camp

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- At the Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral in Lower Manhattan, Polina Maller, 11, took a few moments from her violin lesson to talk about her appreciation for music. "It's fun, and I like it. Music makes me feel like I'm free inside; it makes me feel like I could create things, and then I feel good about myself," Polina, a classical music aficionado, said July 26 in an interview with Catholic New York, the archdiocesan newspaper. She was midway into a week of a summer music camp on the cathedral grounds. Eleven children took part in the first-time program, "Pipes, Pedals & Peals," sponsored by the Friends of the Henry Erben Organ. The group is a charitable organization devoted to the conservation and restoration of the 1868 Henry Erben Organ inside St. Patrick's Old Cathedral. The five-day camp, which operated three hours each morning, was open to children ages 7 to 12. Organizers expect to make it an annual summer program.

    Chapel ministers to souls who visit, live amid Grand Canyon splendor

    GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (CNS) -- Father Rafael Bercasio pastors perhaps the smallest parish in America -- and the most uniquely situated. A short walk away from the south rim of the Grand Canyon sits El Cristo Rey Chapel, a small wooden building that serves as the spiritual home of the Catholic families who work at the national park. El Cristo Rey, a parish of the Phoenix Diocese, has 26 registered families, who are "always outnumbered by the tourists," Father Bercasio said. The chapel is located within the boundaries of Grand Canyon Village, a residential neighborhood of around 1,500 households that includes a school, a grocery store and a post office. Residents are employed as park rangers and naturalists, maintenance workers, and hotel, restaurant and retail staff. Some live there only six months out of the year, although the park is open year-round. "You cannot live here if you're not working in the Grand Canyon," the priest explained. Grand Canyon Village is perhaps more familiar to park visitors as the site of historic hotels such as El Tovar and the stopping point for the most photographed views of the canyon.

    Israeli archaeologists think they found lost Roman city of Julias

    JERUSALEM (CNS) -- After decades of searching, Israeli archaeologists working on the shores of the Sea of Galilee believe they have uncovered the lost Roman city of Julias, home of the apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip. Mordechai Aviam, head of the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archaeology at Kinneret Academic College, said in a press statement Aug. 6 that the remains uncovered at Beit Habek, in the Bethsaida Valley Nature Reserve, have led them to believe that this was a significant Roman city and not just a simple fishing village. The ruins included artifacts characterizing a bathhouse and a building wall next to a mosaic floor. "The discovery of dozens of golden glass mosaics in the previous season and the present season attests to the fact that the church was an important and magnificent place," he said in the statement. "This is a discovery that will arouse great interest among early Christian scholars, historians of the New Testament, and scholars of the Land of Israel in general and the Jewish Galilee, during the Second Temple period in particular." Steven Notley, distinguished professor of Bible at Nyack College in New York, also worked with Aviam on the recent dig.

    Pope tells Belgian Brothers of Charity no more euthanasia for patients

    MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- Pope Francis has given a Belgian religious order until the end of August to stop offering euthanasia to psychiatric patients. Brother Rene Stockman, superior general of the order, told Catholic News Service the pope gave his personal approval to a Vatican demand that the Brothers of Charity, which runs 15 centers for psychiatric patients across Belgium, must reverse its policy by the end of August. Brothers who serve on the board of the Brothers of Charity Group, the organization that runs the centers, also must each sign a joint letter to their superior general declaring that they "fully support the vision of the magisterium of the Catholic Church, which has always confirmed that human life must be respected and protected in absolute terms, from the moment of conception till its natural end." Brothers who refuse to sign will face sanctions under canon law, while the group can expect to face legal action and even expulsion from the church if it fails to change its policy. The group, he added, must no longer consider euthanasia as a solution to human suffering under any circumstances.

    Salvadorans to walk 90-plus miles to mark centennial of Romero's birth

    SAN SALVADOR, El Savlador (CNS) -- Salvadorans plan to walk more than 90 miles in three days to mark the centennial of Blessed Oscar Romero's birth. Participants will leave the Metropolitan Cathedral in San Salvador Aug. 11 and are scheduled to arrive in Ciudad Barrios, the eastern city where Blessed Romero was born, Aug. 13. The pilgrimage, "Caminando hacia la cuna del Profeta" ("Walking toward the prophet's birthplace"), will go through four dioceses -- San Salvador, San Vicente, Santiago de Maria and San Miguel. Blessed Romero was born Aug. 15, 1917, and the actual centennial will be marked by a Mass at San Salvador's cathedral. Chilean Cardinal Ricardo Ezzatti of Santiago, Pope Francis' special envoy to the celebration, will be the main celebrant. Masses also are scheduled in other parts of the country. On Aug. 12, in the western Santa Ana Diocese, Archbishop Leon Kalenga Badikebele, apostolic nuncio to El Salvador, will deliver the homily at a commemorative Mass, while Salvadoran Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez, a close friend of Blessed Romero, is scheduled to give a presentation on the archbishop's life and work.

    West Bank priests stress nonviolence as youths protest Israeli occupation

    JERUSALEM (CNS) -- With tensions still high in the Old City following weeks of violence, Father Firas Aridah completed his work at the Latin Patriarchate early so he could leave Jerusalem for his West Bank parish before any possible violence began. "There were many (Israeli) police and soldiers, closing many roads," Father Aridah told Catholic News Service in a phone interview once he was back in Jifna's St. Joseph Parish July 28. Friday afternoon prayer in Muslim tradition is considered especially significant and is required of all Muslim men. Often during volatile periods, prayers at the contested Al-Aqsa Mosque compound have been followed by demonstrations. Sometimes the tensions spread to other sections of Jerusalem, or even to the West Bank. For Father Aridah and other parish priests in the West Bank, the challenge is to emphasize the Christian tradition of nonviolence while supporting their young parishioners' desire to oppose the Israeli occupation. Father Aridah said he counsels young people not even to throw stones at the young Israeli soldiers who sometimes come near their village on patrols or in search of men wanted by the army.

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  • Tiny Arizona parish plays host to leader of world's Ukrainian Catholics

    TUCSON, Ariz. (CNS) -- A tiny Ukrainian Catholic parish in Tucson received a huge honor this summer with the visit of the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. When Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, Ukraine, the leader of more than 5 million Ukrainian Catholics worldwide, visited St. Michael Parish in July, "it was an amazing experience," said Father Andriy Chirovsky, 61, pastor of the 50-member parish. He is a former professor of the archbishop. Archbishop Shevchuk was in the United States for the enthronement, or installation, June 29, of Ukrainian Catholic Bishop Benedict Aleksiychuk, former auxiliary bishop of Lviv, as the new head of the Eparchy of St. Nicholas in Chicago. Archbishop Shevchuk was invited to Arizona by the pastor of Dormition of the Mother of God Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Phoenix, to attend a special event there to mark its 60th anniversary. Father Chirovsky wrote to his former student for the latter's 47th birthday May 5 and encouraged him to make a side trip to Tucson. "He told me, 'You have me in Arizona for two days. You figure it out,'" Father Chirovsky told the Catholic Outlook, newspaper of the Latin-rite Diocese of Tucson. The priest consulted with his counterpart in Phoenix. That parish was hosting him July 2, so St. Michael Parish picked July 1.

    Father Michael Crosby dies at 77; led corporate responsibility campaigns

    DETROIT (CNS) -- Capuchin Franciscan Father Michael Crosby, author, speaker, retreat leader and a longtime convener and organizer of corporate responsibility campaigns, died Aug. 5 at age 77. His funeral Mass was to be celebrated Aug. 12 at St. Lawrence Seminary in Mount Calvary, Wisconsin. Father Crosby, executive director of the Milwaukee-based Wisconsin/Iowa/Minnesota Coalition for Responsible Investment, was diagnosed with cancer in December. Despite surgery and a course of treatment and chemotherapy in April, the cancer was discovered to have spread by June and Father Crosby entered hospice at that time. The Capuchin often was in the forefront of efforts to introduce shareholder resolutions on behalf of religious orders that covered a wide range of concerns including climate change, sourcing of materials and fair treatment of employees. He told Catholic News Service as the 2016 corporate annual meeting season opened that he believed that shareholders, no matter how small their stake in a company, were responsible for urging executives to protect human dignity by advancing the cause of workers, the environment and human rights.

    Example of founder of Knights 'etched in our hearts,' says archbishop

    ST. LOUIS (CNS) -- Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori paid tribute Aug. 3 to deceased members of the Knights of Columbus for their lives and example of charity and also recalled the founder of the fraternal order, Father Michael J. McGivney, for his life of devotion and service. The archbishop was the main celebrant and homilist of the Aug. 3 memorial Mass on the final day of the 135th annual international convention of the Knights of Columbus held in St. Louis. "With joy and thanksgiving, we remember the life and example of the saints and indeed all the holy ones who were members of the order or friends of the order," said the archbishop, who is supreme chaplain of the Knights. He noted the closeness St. John Paul II felt to the Knights during his pontificate and also recalled the Knights of Columbus among the priests and their companions martyred during the Mexican Cristero Rebellion 1926-29. Most of the martyrs were priests executed for carrying out their ministry despite the suppression they experienced under Mexico's anti-clerical laws. Regarding Father McGivney, Archbishop Lori said: "Etched in our hearts is the example of this devoted parish priest who poured out his life in service."

    Create unity where there is division, pope tells Peruvians

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Preparing for his visit to Peru in 2018, Pope Francis called on the country's people to follow the example of the Peruvian saints who brought unity amid division. "You have so many saints -- and great saints, who marked Latin America; saints who built the church, that is, from separation to unity," the pope said in the message released by the Archdiocese of Lima Aug. 5. The video message was recorded by Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima during a recent visit at the Vatican. The Vatican announced in June that the pope will visit Chile and Peru Jan 15-21. In Chile Jan. 15-18, he is set to visit the cities of Santiago, Temuco and Iquique. He will then fly to Peru and from Jan. 18-21, he will visit Lima, Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo. In the video, standing next to a statue of Peru's beloved St. Martin de Porres, the pope noted the country's "wealth of saints" who worked tirelessly to bring "unity to those scattered, which is what Jesus did." "A Christian must follow along that path," the pope said.

    Pope names Academy for Life governing council

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Completing the reorganization of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Francis named four scholars to serve on the academy's governing council. The Vatican announced Aug. 5 the scholars who would comprise the council: Etsuko Akiba, a professor of law in the faculty of economics at the University of Toyama, Japan, and a specialist in Catholic bioethics and bioethics law; Monica Lopez Barahona, general director of the Spain's Biosanitary Studies Center and president of the Spanish delegation of the Jerome Lejeune Foundation; Auxiliary Bishop Alberto German Bochatey of La Plata, Argentina, professor of bioethics and vice chancellor of the Catholic University of La Plata; and Adriano Pessina, professor of moral philosophy and director of the Center for Bioethics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan. Msgr. Carlos Simon Vazquez, delegate for the Family and Life Section of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, and Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, head of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for the Study of Marriage and Family in Rome, also serve on the council by virtue of their positions.

    Pope expected to visit Myanmar in late November

    YANGON, Myanmar (CNS) -- Pope Francis is expected to focus on trying to improve the troubles of about a million ethnic Muslim Rohingya when he visits Myanmar the last week of November, reported The Vatican has acknowledged a possible trip is being studied, but it has said it is too early to confirm the trip. reported the visit is expected to announced officially in September. Bishop Raymond Sumlut Gam of Banmaw said a visit by Pope Francis to Myanmar is most likely, although he said he had not officially been informed. "The Catholic bishops invited Pope Francis before the 500th anniversary of Catholicism in Myanmar in late 2014," Bishop Gam told "Some improvements have occurred such as diplomatic relations between Myanmar and Vatican, plus the appointment of an apostolic nuncio." President Htin Kyaw also invited the pope. Observers believe that the unexpected move by Myanmar's civilian-led government was driven by its desire to skirt the powerful military, with which it effectively shares power. Under Myanmar's 2008 constitution, the military retains the crucial defense, border and home affairs portfolios as well as 25 percent of both houses of parliament. Last year, Pope Francis had said he hoped to visit India in 2017, but hesitation on the part of the Indian government led Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai to tell Vatican Radio in June that an Indian trip was unlikely before 2018. Sources told that the current plan calls for the Myanmar visit to precede a visit to Bangladesh.

    Knights name family of year, honor several councils at convention

    ST. LOUIS (CNS) -- A family from Austin, Texas, that has shown special care for the homeless was named the Knights of Columbus International Family of the Year for 2017 during the Knights' annual international convention Aug. 1-3 in St. Louis. Larry and Beth Odom and their 10 children typically carry supplies with them when they go out to give to those in need they encounter. When fire destroyed the home of a single mom and her four children, the Odoms took them into their home for five months. "Larry and Beth have taught their children to serve selflessly," said the application nominating the Odoms for the award. "Serving others is, for them, a privilege, not a burden." "It's a lesson I learned from my parents," Larry said in an Aug. 3 statement. "I remember on more than one occasion, people stayed with us when I was a boy." Larry belongs to the Knights of Columbus Council 8156 in Austin, which he joined after attending a council event with his family. Other awards given during the convention to Knights of Columbus councils included recognition for community service, fundraisers, and family and church activities.

    Syro-Malankara bishop serving in U.S. named head of new eparchy in India

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The synod of bishops of the Syro-Malankara Church has erected the Eparchy of Parassala, India, and with the assent of Pope Francis, has elected as the first bishop of the eparchy Bishop Thomas Eusebius Naickamparampil, who is currently serving Syro-Malankara Catholics in the U.S. and Canada. Bishop Naickamparampil, 56, heads the Syro-Malankara Eparchy of St. Mary Queen of Peace of the U.S. and Canada, which is based in Elmont, New York. Pope Francis also has given his assent to the nomination of Auxiliary Bishop Philipose Stephanos Thattahil of Tiruvalla, India, who is 65, to succeed Bishop Naickamparampil. The appointments were announced in Washington Aug. 5 by Msgr. Walter Erbi, charge d'affaires at the apostolic nunciature in the United States. Bishop Naickamparampil's enthronement to head the Eparchy of Parassala is scheduled for Sept. 23. In the meantime, he will continue as apostolic administrator of the New York-based eparchy until Bishop Thattahil's arrival.

    American community finds a new home in Rome

    ROME (CNS) -- After years in exile from the church they had called home for the past 95 years, the American Catholic community in Rome moved to a new church they can finally call their own. Located just a few steps away from the U.S. Embassy to Italy, St. Patrick's Church is the new official "mission for the care of souls for U.S. faithful residing in Rome," said Paulist Father Greg Apparcel, rector of St. Patrick's. U.S. Catholics in Rome, guided by the Paulist Fathers, had called the Church of Santa Susanna their parish since 1922. But the cloistered Cistercian nuns, who have had a presence at the historic parish since 1587, found the American presence distracting and made various attempts over the years to evict them. While there was no dispute regarding the ownership of Santa Susanna, the pastoral responsibility of the church had belonged to the Paulist priests for decades. In 2012, however, tensions rose when several large signs were placed in the church that stated the Cistercians owned the church. Father Apparcel told CNS that he appealed to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, who in turn asked Pope Francis to intervene in the matter and allow the American community to return to the parish. Instead, the Vatican encouraged Father Apparcel to move to St. Patrick's Church, a parish run by Augustinian priests from Ireland who decided in 2012 to leave their ministry in Rome due to "a lack of priests."

    Classical approach to education gains momentum among Catholic schools

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Each year on Nov. 1, the feast of All Saints, the classrooms at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Classical School in Denver are not full of students, but of little saints. Dressing up as the saints is what the principal, Rosemary Anderson, describes as part of her students' "joyful witness of the faith," which serves as the foundation of Lourdes Classical. Students at Lourdes attend Mass four times a week, recite ancient poets, such as Homer, and begin learning Latin in kindergarten. Lourdes Classical is part of a classical education approach to Catholic schooling, a movement gaining momentum in schools across the country. "Classical education is really an integration of the whole person's formation," Anderson said to Catholic News Service in an interview July 19. "You're teaching virtue in every lesson, just because what they're learning about is relevant to them, they aren't just reading it out of a textbook." In 2012, the parish school at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Parish in Denver shifted from a traditional Catholic school, to a classical educational approach. At the time, they had fewer than 100 students. "The school had to do something to attract people, it was on the verge of closing," Anderson said. "But also, I was discovering as a Catholic school teacher how fulfilling a Catholic classical education is in regards to being a teacher and being in service to the church."

    Vacation time should be prayer time, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Summertime can and should be a time for extra prayer, a moment of peace that allows Christians to savor the joy of their relationship with Jesus and find new strength to reach out with love to others, Pope Francis said. Before reciting the Angelus Aug. 6, the feast of the Transfiguration, Pope Francis talked about the Gospel story of the disciples going up Mount Tabor with Jesus, "detaching themselves from mundane things" and contemplating the transfigured Lord. Today, too, Christ's disciples need to "rediscover the pacifying and regenerating silence" that comes from prayer and meditating on a Gospel passage. "When we put ourselves in this situation, with the Bible in hand, in silence, we begin to feel this interior beauty, this joy that the word of God generates in us," the pope said. With high temperatures still plaguing Rome and most of southern Europe, many tourists and pilgrims in St. Peter's Square came armed with umbrellas or bought paper parasols from wandering venders outside the square. Pope Francis said he knew the students in the square were in the midst of their summer holidays and many of the other people in the square were on vacation. He told them, "It's important that in the period of rest and breaking away from daily concerns, you restore the energies of your body and soul, deepening your spiritual journey."

    Cardinal Tettamanzi, 'loving, beloved pastor,' dies at 83

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, whom Pope Francis described as one of the Archdiocese of Milan's "most illustrious sons and one of its most loving and beloved pastors," died Aug. 5 at the age of 83. The former archbishop of Milan and prolific writer on themes related to family life and to bioethical issues was described by Italian media as being "small in stature, but big in heart." In an unusually long message of condolence to the people of the archdiocese, Pope Francis said Cardinal Tettamanzi gave a joyful witness to the Gospel and "distinguished himself as an attentive pastor, totally dedicated to the needs and good of his priests and all his faithful." Cardinal Tettamanzi was long considered one of the most authoritative voices in the Italian Catholic Church, and his appointment to the College of Cardinals in 1998 immediately put him near the top of Italian pundits' list of possible future popes. He had served as general secretary of the Italian bishops' conference in the early 1990s, winning a reputation as a wise leader, a negotiator and a pastor in touch with the real problems of society.

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