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  • Don't let quake shake your hope, pope tells earthquake survivors

    IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media


    CAMERINO, Italy (CNS) -- Wearing a firefighter's helmet painted white and gold for the occasion, Pope Francis entered the earthquake-damaged cathedral in Camerino and prayed before a statue of Mary missing the top of its head.

    The pope began his visit June 16 outside the historic city by visiting the temporary modular homes of dozens of families who lost everything when an earthquake struck the region in October 2016.

    Pope Francis arrived in the town early in the morning, and the first couple he visited insisted he try a pastry.

    "I had breakfast before I left," he explained. But the woman said she would be offended if he didn't try just one, so he did.

    A few doors down, a young woman holding a small, squirming dog told him, "I can't believe you are really here."

    The centerpiece of the pope's visit was the celebration of Mass in the small square outside the still-closed cathedral.

    In his homily, Pope Francis focused on the question from Psalm 8: "What is man that you are mindful of him?"

    "With what you have seen and suffered, with houses collapsed and buildings reduced to rubble," the pope said, it is a legitimate question for people to ask.

    Faith and experience, though, make it clear that God always is mindful of his human creatures, "each one is of infinite value to him," the pope said. "We are small under the heavens and powerless when the earth trembles, but for God we are more precious than anything."

    Visiting the families in temporary housing, Pope Francis kept urging them to keep hold of hope, and he did the same in his homily.

    "Earthly hopes are fleeting, they have an expiration date," the pope said. But the Christian virtue of hope, a gift of the Holy Spirit "does not expire because it is based on God's faithfulness."

    Such hope, he said, gives birth to "peace and joy inside, independently of what happens outside. It is a hope that has strong roots, one that no storm can uproot."

    Pope Francis told the people he wanted to visit just to show his closeness.

    At the same time, he said he knew that, after three years, media attention and the solidarity of other Italians has waned, promises of a speedy reconstruction seem to have been forgotten and frustration increases as residents watch more and more people move away permanently.

    He prayed that the Lord would prompt people "to remember, repair and rebuild and to do so together, without ever forgetting those who suffer."


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CNS News Briefs

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  • Don't let quake shake your hope, pope tells earthquake survivors

    CAMERINO, Italy (CNS) -- Wearing a firefighter's helmet painted white and gold for the occasion, Pope Francis entered the earthquake-damaged cathedral in Camerino and prayed before a statue of Mary missing the top of its head. The pope began his visit June 16 outside the historic city by visiting the temporary modular homes of dozens of families who lost everything when an earthquake struck the region in October 2016. Pope Francis arrived in the town early in the morning, and the first couple he visited insisted he try a pastry. "I had breakfast before I left," he explained. But the woman said she would be offended if he didn't try just one, so he did. A few doors down, a young woman holding a small, squirming dog told him, "I can't believe you are really here." The centerpiece of the pope's visit was the celebration of Mass in the small square outside the still-closed cathedral.

    Paris archbishop celebrates first Mass in Notre Dame since fire

    PARIS (CNS) -- The archbishop of Paris wore a hard hat as he celebrated the first Mass in Notre Dame Cathedral since a huge blaze devastated the landmark building in April. The Mass was celebrated in the Chapel of the Virgin June 15 by Archbishop Michel Aupetit to mark the anniversary of the consecration of the cathedral's altar, an event that usually takes place June 16 each year. About 30 invited guests -- mostly clergy, cathedral employees and building contractors -- wore protective headgear because of dangers of falling masonry, although the Virgin chapel, situated behind the choir, had been designated as safe. In his homily, Archbishop Aupetit did not mention the fire but stressed the purpose of Notre Dame as a place of Christian worship, and not an ornament of the secular state. He said the building could never be reduced to a cultural or "patrimonial good" and warned the congregation that if Jesus was removed as the cornerstone, it would collapse in a spiritual rather than a physical sense.

    Synod document raises possibility of married priests, roles for women

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church must find ways to reach indigenous Catholics deprived of the sacraments in the most remote areas of the Amazon rainforest, and that may include ordaining married elders, said the working document for the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon. "Affirming that celibacy is a gift for the church, in order to ensure the sacraments for the most remote areas of the region, we are asked to study the possibility of priestly ordination for elders -- preferably indigenous, respected and accepted by the community -- even though they have an established and stable family," said the document. Published by the Vatican June 17, the document also said the church should consider "an official ministry that can be conferred upon women, taking into account the central role they play in the Amazonian church." The document, drafted after input from bishops' conferences and local communities, acknowledged that in the church "the feminine presence in communities isn't always valued." Those responding to a synod questionnaire asked that women's "gifts and talents" be recognized and that the church "guarantee women leadership as well as increasingly broad and relevant space in the field of formation: theology, catechesis, liturgy and schools of faith and politics," the 45-page document said. The synod gathering in October 2019 will reflect on the theme "Amazonia: New paths for the church and for an integral ecology."

    Update: Mitigate global warming, spare further injustice to poor, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Faced with a climate emergency, the world must act immediately to mitigate global warming and avoid committing "a brutal act of injustice" on the poor and future generations, Pope Francis told a group of energy and oil executives and global investors. "Time is running out! Deliberations must go beyond mere exploration of what can be done and concentrate on what needs to be done from today onward," he said. "We do not have the luxury of waiting for others to step forward or of prioritizing short-term economic benefits. The climate crisis requires our decisive action, here and now," he said June 14 at the Vatican. The pope spoke to leaders taking part in a conference June 13-14 on "Energy Transition and Care for Our Common Home," sponsored by the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. It was the second private meeting -- the first was in June 2018 -- aimed at dialogue with invited executives of leading energy, petroleum and natural gas companies, global investment firms, climate scholars and academics. Organizers said that participants this year included CEOs from Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum, Occidental Petroleum, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips.

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  • California dioceses ask Catholics to urge lawmakers reject confession bill

    LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Using social media, preaching, newspaper columns and letters read at Mass, the Los Angeles Archdiocese and California's other Catholic dioceses planned a special push over the June 15-16 weekend asking Catholics to urge their representatives in the state Assembly to reject a confession bill. S.B. 360 -- which passed in the California Senate May 23 in a 30-2 vote -- would force priests to disclose information about child sexual abuse that they learn when they are hearing another priest's confession or when hearing the confession of a co-worker. The bill is expected to have a vote in the lower house, the California State Assembly, in September. "Our lawmakers have good intentions. They want to prevent child abuse," Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said in a letter he issued June 10 that is to be read at all June 15 and 16 Masses in the archdiocese. "But there is no evidence that this legislation will do that. Instead, it threatens a practice that is essential to our faith and religious identity." "We need your help to protect this sacrament of the church and to keep confession sacred," he said. The Catholic Church in California set up a new website,, which is a hub that gives people easy access to materials about S.B. 360 as well as a way to send emails to their legislators.

    Judge: Missouri's only abortion clinic can stay open at least until June 21

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A circuit court judge in St. Louis ordered the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services June 10 to allow the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, Missouri's only abortion clinic, to stay open at least until June 21, when he said the agency must decide if it will renew the facility's license. If it closes, Missouri would be the first state without an operating abortion facility since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling on Roe v. Wade in 1973. Women who want an abortion would have to go to the neighboring state of Illinois. Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer set a new hearing for the morning of June 21. His most recent ruling followed his earlier temporary restraining order he handed down to allow the clinic to remain open until June 4. That action came after the state health department said the facility would have to close May 31 because it failed to make changes the department said were necessary to have its license renewed. The state agency had informed Planned Parenthood May 20 that it might not renew the clinic's yearly license due to its failure to comply with regulations. Just hours before the license was to expire May 31, Planned Parenthood had requested a temporary restraining order from Stelzer. After a May 29 hearing on the matter, he issued the order, then set another hearing for June 4. His June 10 ruling followed that.

    Southern Baptist Convention wrestling with sex abuse crisis of its own

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CNS) -- As the U.S. Catholic bishops met in Baltimore to discuss new mechanisms to hold themselves accountable on sex abuse, the Southern Baptist Convention was wrestling with the same vexing issue at its annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama. Rocked by media reports that revealed Southern Baptist pastors, church employees and volunteers sexually abused more than 700 people, most of them children, over the last two decades, the nation's largest Protestant denomination took new steps to expel member churches that cover up or mishandle sexual abuse allegations. "This was a defining moment for the Southern Baptist Convention," said the Rev. J.D. Greear, the pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, who serves as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Greear told reporters that the Southern Baptist Convention wants to ensure that its member churches are safe environments for children and vulnerable people, and that the convention will consider "all solutions" that could include advocating for legislation to amend statute of limitations on sex abuse crimes. "We are going to be people who are marked by awareness, transparency, a willingness to own mistakes that are made and a desire to treat each other charitably," said Rev. Greear.

    Update: Border bishops address different kind of crisis involving children

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- While the sex abuse crisis consumed the June meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, prelates who work on the border, such as Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, have been facing a different crisis also involving children. In less than a year, at least six children are believed to have died while in the custody of immigration officials along the border. While immigration along the U.S. southern border once involved almost exclusively men looking for work, women with children or entire families are now the ones regularly making the dangerous trek, fleeing poverty and violence. "I know this gathering has been dominated by the question of abuse and we have to deal with (it)," Bishop Flores said in an interview with Catholic News Service June 12. "It has to be clear that this is something that will not be tolerated." However, he said, the church also must "express" itself more strongly about its teachings when it comes to migrants and the situation along the border is one affecting the most vulnerable in society, including many children. "I feel that as a (bishops') conference, we must express ourselves more strongly when it comes to the dignity of immigrants, to say that they are not criminals, that they are vulnerable families and we need to invite all the governments involved, not just the U.S., to defend the migrant as a human being, to not cast the person aside as someone who doesn't matter and is a problem," Bishop Flores said.

    Update: British government: Abortions in England, Wales hit record low last year

    MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- Abortions in England and Wales have hit a record level, according to statistics released by the British government. Figures published online June 13 by the Department of Health revealed that abortions in 2018 rose by 4 percent the previous year. The 205,295 abortions represented the first time that more than 200,000 have been carried out in a single year. The previous peak was about 198,000 recorded in 2007. Figures released earlier this year by the Scottish government showed that abortions in Scotland, with over 13,000 in 2018, were also at a 10-year high. The latest figures reveal significant trends, including a one-third drop in abortions among women under age 19 over a decade; for girls 16-17, the number decrease by half. Abortions in women ages 20-24 also declined, but the number rose slightly for women over 25, and more steeply for those over 30 years, with 19.9 women ages 30-35 having abortions in 2018 compared to 15.6 per 1,000 women in 2008. In women over 35, there was a rise from 6.7 abortions per 1,000 women in 2008 to 9.2 per 1,000 in 2018.

    Bishops' actions at spring meeting called a 'work in progress'

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The gathering of U.S. bishops June 11-13 in Baltimore was anything but business as usual. "The spring meetings are usually more pastoral, and the November meeting has a heavier agenda," said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, who said this meeting had a "sense of urgency" and momentum to it, both in the smaller group gatherings and when the bishops were all together. "We were here for specific task ... and by God's grace we will move forward," he said during a June 12 news conference. The bishops typically meet twice a year as a body. The spring meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is usually in June at different locations each year, and sometimes it is a retreat. The fall meeting in recent years has always been in Baltimore. This year's spring meeting was switched somewhat last minute to the Baltimore location where the bishops were not the only ones in the hotel space but were adjacent to other conference gatherings. The other time a spring bishops' meeting was almost entirely devoted to the church crisis was the 2002 meeting in Dallas, just months after the church was reeling from a clergy sexual abuse crisis that made headlines in The Boston Globe. But where that meeting focused on misconduct by priests, this year's meeting looked at responding to the misconduct of some bishops and the failure of some bishops to properly address abuse.

    Coadjutor says church's highest priority to help 'people encounter Christ'

    SEATTLE (CNS) -- As the Catholic Church continues to grapple with the clergy abuse crisis and the failures of leadership, its members must face the issue but also move beyond anger, Archbishop Paul D. Etienne said in his homily at a June 7 Mass of reception for him as Seattle's coadjutor. He said the day's Gospel reading, John 21:15-19, holds lessons for the faithful. In the passage, Christ asks Peter three times, "Do you love me?" Peter is hurt but responds three times that he does in fact love him. Three times Jesus tells Peter to take care of his sheep. "My friends, Jesus' love for Peter as intimately portrayed in the Gospel today," the archbishop said, "is teaching us that we cannot allow ourselves to remain at surface level anger, disappointment and resentment about failures of leadership in the church today. Nor can we simply skirt the issue." He told the congregation that "Jesus did not allow his disappointment in Peter to cause him to abandon Peter, nor to abandon his plans for Peter. Jesus did not let Peter's failures stir anger and resentment within him, or if it did -- Jesus moves beyond those surface emotions to the central question of love. And, in asking Peter if he loves him, Jesus clearly is not skirting the issue at hand, either," he said.

    Salvadoran authorities arrest sacristan as suspect in priest killing

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A 34-year-old sacristan is in the custody of Salvadoran authorities in connection with the May killing of a Salvadoran priest. Abraham Heriberto Mestizo made an initial court appearance June 14 after being formally accused by officials in Sonsonate of being involved in the killing of 35-year-old Father Cecilio Perez Cruz, found fatally shot May 18 at home. In a press release, El Salvador's National Civil Police said Mestizo was the sacristan at San Jose La Majada parish in Juayua, in the western part of El Salvador, where the priest was the pastor, but the statement did not explain why he was linked to the crime. Some initially suspected the priest had been killed by gangs, a common crime in the Central American country. The Archdiocese of San Salvador and other members of the Catholic Church voiced suspicions that the priest had been killed because of his support of the environment; he had recently criticized the cutting of trees nearby. In a short video clip disseminated by various online news sites on June 14, Mestizo appears before cameras saying: "Let justice be done, whoever did these things." Outside the place where he was being held, a crowd of parishioners from San Jose de La Majada prayed in the street and said the sacristan was innocent, Salvadoran news agencies reported. Police said he had been captured June 10 but did not face formal charges until four days later.

    Mexican Catholic leaders decry insecurity, plead for peace after murders

    MEXICALI, Mexico (CNS) -- The Mexican bishops' conference issued a plea for peace and Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes asked priests to celebrate Masses "for all the victims of violence in the country" after a pair of kidnappings and killings in the national capital provoked outrage and worsened perceptions of insecurity. "We have experienced situations of terrible violence, which have been a true ordeal for citizens and many families in diverse parts of the country, (and) for which we don't see an end," the bishops' conference said in a statement. "We are experiencing an environment of grave insecurity and fear, for which we again call on the authorities to attend to this wave of insecurity growing in our country," the statement continued. "To our faithful and the society in general, we ask them not to be indifferent to the pain of others and to continue building peace. As a church, we pray and work incessantly for the reconstruction of the social fabric." Hugo Leonardo Avendano Chavez, 29, was found murdered June 12 after being abducted in southern Mexico City, according to his family. His body was found in his car with signs of torture and asphyxiation. Avendano had just completed a master's degree in psychotherapy at Intercontinental University, run by the Guadalupe Missionaries, according to the Archdiocese of Mexico City. He was about to start a PhD and planned to enter the seminary, the archdiocese said.

    Update: Bishops affirm diocese's effort for Michigan man's sainthood cause

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops, after being consulted about the sainthood cause of a man who, except for service in World War II, spent his life in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, gave vocal assent June 12 for the Diocese of Marquette to continue to pursue the cause. Hearing no nays in the voice vote, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston declared the vote on the cause of Irving "Francis" C. Houle to be unanimous. The current bishop of Marquette, John F. Doerfler, said he had talked to Houle's widow about her husband. And the former bishop of the diocese -- Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Oregon -- had met Houle as a clergyman in northernmost Michigan. Archbishop Sample said Houle came into the rectory of a church where a confirmation ceremony had just concluded. "At first, I didn't know who he was," the archbishop recalled. But as the conversation continued, Archbishop Sample said he might have gotten a whiff of "the odor of sanctity ... I could definitely smell a rose." Then, he added, "I was glancing at his hands," and at this point Archbishop Sample, while recalling the encounter to his fellow bishops, was rubbing his hands as if he were lathering them with soap. "Then I saw the bandages on his hands, and I knew who he was."

    Philippine bishops among critics of China after fishing boat incident

    MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- At least three Philippine Catholic bishops have joined growing protests in Manila against what they described as China's "continuous bullying of the Philippines." Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said the sinking of a Philippine fishing boat and the abandonment of its crew by a Chinese vessel last week was a "manifestation" of China's lack of respect of Philippine sovereignty, reported "They have no respect for our territory, nor respect for Filipino lives," said the bishop. On June 9, a Philippine fishing boat sank near the Reed Bank in the South China Sea after a Chinese fishing vessel reportedly hit it while it was at anchor. The Chinese vessel allegedly sailed away, leaving the 22 Filipinos aboard the sinking ship. A Vietnamese fishing vessel later rescued the crew. reported Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said the incident showed that China "could not be trusted, and they really have selfish, vested interests" in the South China Sea's contested waters and islands. "If they are really our friends and neighbors who propagate common peace and prosperity among Asians, they should have avoided provocation, maintained restraint and helped our 22 fishermen," said the prelate.

    Lay groups cautious about bishops' actions to boost accountability

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Representatives of lay organizations expressed caution over the steps taken by U.S. bishops to boost accountability and transparency in dealing with clergy sexual abuse, saying future actions by the bishops will determine how successful the initiatives ultimately will be. Full collaboration with laypeople will be the key to the success of the measures adopted by the bishops, they said in a series of statements following the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' spring general assembly in Baltimore June 11-13. "Catholics are looking for robust actions and long-term solutions to the twin crises of abuse and leadership failures," Kim Smolik, CEO of the Leadership Roundtable, said in a June 13 statement. "While the bishops took important initial steps, more remains to be done to address the root causes and create a new culture of leadership that values accountability, transparency and co-responsibility with clergy and laity," she said. The Leadership Roundtable was founded in the wake of the 2002 abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston. It was officially formed in 2005 by lay, religious and ordained leaders to help the church address the abuse crisis and promote best practices and accountability in all areas. It has been working since then to help dioceses address leadership and governance issues. The bishops approved four measures during their assembly including the operation of an independent third-party reporting system to accept abuse allegations and the implementation of Pope Francis' norms, "Vos Estis Lux Mundi" ("You are the light of the world"), to safeguard church members from abuse and boost accountability of church leaders.

    Update: Retired Wyoming bishop to face Vatican trial on abuse allegations

    CHEYENNE, Wyo. (CNS) -- Retired Bishop Joseph H. Hart of Cheyenne will face a Vatican trial for allegations that he sexually abused several minors years ago. Cheyenne Bishop Steven R. Biegler announced June 12 that such a trial of the retired prelate would take place. Bishop Biegler included Bishop Hart's name in a list of all Catholic clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons for whom the diocese had files and who were in active ministry from 1950 to the present in the Diocese of Cheyenne. Bishop Hart is one of 11 clergy on the list published on the diocesan website,, and in the June online issue of the Wyoming Catholic Register, Cheyenne's diocesan newspaper. After the prelate's name, the listing states: "Pope Francis imposed restrictions and authorized a penal process." Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office, confirmed June 13 with Catholic News Service in Rome that "an administrative penal process by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, authorized by the Holy Father, has begun regarding Bishop Hart." Bishop Biegler in a letter to the diocese about the published list of credible claims called clergy sex abuse "an appalling sin and a reprehensible crime" that contradicts everything priests "stand for."

    Chilean steps down just before ordination as bishop

    SANTIAGO, Chile (CNS) -- Just three weeks after Pope Francis named him to be an auxiliary bishop of Santiago, Father Carlos Irarrazaval Errazuriz declined the position in the wake of concern over comments he made about the sex abuse crisis, women and Jewish tradition. The Archdiocese of Santiago announced June 13 that Pope Francis had accepted Father Irarrazaval's resignation from the "ecclesiastical office for which he had been elected." His ordination as a bishop had been scheduled for July 16. "The decision was the fruit of dialogue and joint discernment, in which Pope Francis valued the spirit of faith and humility of the priest, in favor of the unity and good of the church," the archdiocese's announcement said. While not going forward with his ordination as a bishop, it said, Father Irarrazaval will continue as pastor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus parish, also known as the parish community of "El Bosque." Pope Francis expelled the previous pastor, Fernando Karadima, from the priesthood after multiple accusations of sexual abuse. Father Irarrazaval caused a storm in the media and on social media with comments he made to the newspaper El Mercurio and later to CNN Chile.

    Three churches agree to more renovations at Church of the Holy Sepulcher

    JERUSALEM (CNS) -- Following the successful cooperation on the 2016 restoration of the Edicule in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the leaders of the three churches who serve as guardians of the holy site have signed an agreement to continue with restorations, this time on the pavement and foundations around the tomb. The Edicule shrine is revered by Christians as the site of the remains of the cave where Jesus was buried and rose from the dead. During its 10-month restoration, it was determined that the 19th-century structure remained endangered because of the humidity of the soil beneath the foundations the church, and further work was needed to stabilize it. The Greek Orthodox, Catholics and Armenian Orthodox agreed to the floor project. Two Italian academic and scientific institutions will undertake the two-stage project under the supervision of a joint committee of the three communities. The previous restoration work was led by Greek experts. According to the Franciscan Terra Sancta magazine, the current pink stone pavement rests on a metal structure damaged by rust; condensed moisture from leaking underground pipes -- some dating back to the Ottoman Empire -- and runoff rainwater have accumulated in the underground space. Restoration work would also help shed light on various archaeological discoveries found in the last century by Father Virgilio Corbo, a Franciscan archaeologist. He discovered the remains of the basilica built by Emperor Constantine beginning in 324; the remnants of the earlier foundations of the Temple of Hadrian, constructed in 135; and first-century tombs near Calvary as well as the graves of Crusader knights, according to the magazine.

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  • Pro-lifers decry Illinois governor signing into law 'extreme' abortion bill

    CHICAGO (CNS) -- Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law an abortion bill that Illinois' Catholic bishops said eliminates "even minimal limitations on abortions under previous law" and whose passage by the legislature marked "a sad moment in our history as a state." Pritzker signed the legislation June 12 in a ceremony at the Chicago Cultural Center. His action "drew enthusiastic whoops and cheers from the crowd," The Washington Times reported. Across the country in Vermont June 10, Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed a similarly expansive abortion measure into law. Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of the statewide Diocese of Burlington had said the law "goes far beyond Roe v. Wade." In Illinois, as the abortion bill made its way through the Illinois House and Senate, the state's Catholic bishops called it the "misnamed 'Reproductive Health Act.'" Catholic Conference of Illinois, the public policy arm of the state's Catholic bishops, labeled it "an extreme measure" because it allows "for the abortion of unborn life at any stage of pregnancy and for any reason." The conference said lawmakers' passage of the legislation was "a grave tragedy and a collective moral failing."

    Bishops on Facebook Live talk about laity's anger, frustration over abuse

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the U.S. bishops met in Baltimore for their spring general assembly, social media users had the opportunity to pose questions to bishops the evenings of June 11 and June 12 via the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Facebook Live sessions. On June 12, the panelists were Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Indiana, who is the chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre of Philadelphia, and Deacon Bernard Nojadera, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection. They resumed the conversation begun the evening before regarding the sexual abuse crisis within the church and emphasized how the laypeople have been affected. Bishop McIntyre commented, "They have every right to be angry, frustrated and hurt." He believes, however, that one should move past these emotions. "At the same time, I think it's important for any one of us not to be stuck there, to stay there, to remain there, to know that in the midst of all of this first of all that Christ is with us," said Bishop McIntyre. Deacon Nojadera noted that the anger and mistrust expressed by the laity and at other levels within the church are natural but necessary. "Those are good. It's causing folks to act and to do something about it," said Deacon Nojadera. He stated that he has noticed an increase of parish groups wanting to get involved and find a solution. "Folks are reaching out because they love the church," he said.

    More than a few fans prayed for St. Louis Blues to win Stanley Cup

    ST. LOUIS (CNS) -- Before the St. Louis Blues beat the Boston Bruins in Game 7 on June 12 to win the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup for the first time in the team's 52-year history, Twitter was alive with hopes for a little divine intervention for such a victory -- maybe even from St. John Paul II. Many a tweet recalled a Jan. 26, 1999, visit the pontiff paid to St. Louis and just how comfortable he looked holding a hockey stick given to him by young people gathered for a rally at the arena that is home to the Blues, then called the Kiel Center. At the end of the rally, which drew a crowd of 20,000, the pope also received a special jersey in the Blues' colors -- bearing the name "John Paul II'' and the number "1." When the Blues headed to the Stanley Cup Final, Catholics of the Archdiocese of St. Louis were praying hard for their team, said a May 23 editorial in the St. Louis Review, the archdiocesan newspaper. "Our city has caught Blues fever with fervor," it said. "Even Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, not a native of St. Louis but no stranger to hockey as a Minnesota native, exclaimed at the end of his May 22 State of the Archdiocese address to employees: 'Go Blues!'"

    Update: Bishops vote to revise U.S. catechism's capital punishment section

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops voted June 13 to revise what the U.S. church teaches its adult members about the death penalty in a passage on the issue in the U.S. Catechism for Adults. The full body of bishops approved the revised passage by a vote of 194 to 8 with three abstentions. It now will need the approval, or "recognitio," of the Vatican. The passage was the work of the bishops' Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, chaired by Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles. On the first day of the bishops' spring assembly in Baltimore, Bishop Barron said June 11 that wording emphasizes the dignity of all people and the misapplication of capital punishment. Discussion of this wording was not meant to be a debate on the death penalty overall, he added. The material given to bishops about the additional passage points out that last year, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released the pope's revision to the teaching on the death penalty in the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church. In response to that action, the bishops' Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis made plans to replace its current text in the U.S. adult catechesis with a revised statement. The goal is to "keep our treatment of the death penalty in the U.S. Catechism for Adults in alignment with the revised universal catechism," Bishop Barron said.

    Bishops give go-ahead to developing priorities, plans for the early 2020s

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops June 12 gave a provisional OK to development of a new set of strategic priorities to guide the work of their conference from 2021 through 2024. The 213-8 vote, with four abstentions, paves the way for the committees, secretariats and departments of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to continue work on how to carry out the priorities. A new vote will be taken when the bishops meet again in November, with an expectation the 2021-24 priorities would receive a final vote for implementation at the USCCB's November 2020 meeting. A working group of bishops under the aegis of the USCCB Committee on Priorities and Plans -- following two rounds of consultations with the bishops, one round with the USCCB's National Advisory Council, with recent input from five USCCB standing committees -- identified four priorities: "Evangelization: Form a joyful band of missionary disciples"; "Life and dignity of the human person: Serve the common good as the leaven in a free society"; "Protect and heal God's children: Restore integrity, foster virtue"; "Vocations: Equip all Christ's disciples for mission."

    Update: Church should focus on getting 'nones' back, Bishop Barron says

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Although the U.S. bishops' spring assembly in Baltimore was mostly devoted to responding to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, the bishops also considered something described as the second-most important issue currently facing U.S. church leaders: How to get religiously unaffiliated, or "nones," particularly young people, back to the Catholic Church. This is a top priority for our church, said Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, who is known for his website, "Word on Fire," and for hosting the documentary series "Catholicism." In a June 11 presentation, the bishop said a group of experts who've examined why young people are leaving the faith in increasing numbers recently spoke with his committee about this and will share their findings during a lunch presentation at the bishops' fall assembly in Baltimore. "How many are leaving? The short answer is: a lot," the bishop said, noting the sobering statistic he said many in the room probably were aware of -- that 50% of Catholics 30 years old and younger have left the church. "Half the kids that we baptized and confirmed in the last 30 years are now ex-Catholics or unaffiliated," he said, and "one out of six millennials in the U.S. is now a former Catholic."

    USCCB president, other bishops meet with survivors of clergy sexual abuse

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Indiana, chairman of the bishops' Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, and Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Richmond, Virginia, met with three survivors of clergy sexual abuse late June 12. The meeting took place as the U.S. bishops were gathered in Baltimore for their spring general assembly June 11-13 where they focused on implementing bishop accountability measures in response to the abuse crisis in the church. In a statement released after the meeting, Cardinal DiNardo said he and his fellow bishops were "grateful for the opportunity to meet with a group of survivors. Their testimony reminds us of the unfathomable pain they have endured, and the need for vigilance in extinguishing the evil of sexual abuse from our church once and for all." He said that, during their spring assembly, the bishops sought to "expand and intensify existing policies in order to care for victims and prevent future instances of these crimes, holding not only clergy accountable but also ourselves as bishops. Our work will not conclude until the number of sexual abuse cases is zero."

    Bishop sees need to renew covenant with the faithful in response to abuse

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- As the U.S. bishops have developed their response to the renewed clergy sexual abuse crisis over the last year, Bishop Steven R. Biegler of Cheyenne, Wyoming, has reflected long and hard on what that response should entail. He realized that along with new policies and procedures designed to head off any potential abuse in the future and investigate allegations of past abuses, the bishops had just as much need to focus on being pastors who must renew the spiritual covenant with the people of God. "Some people really feel that the covenant's been betrayed," he told Catholic News Service June 12. "People feel like their pastors have not been pastors." Bishop Biegler reflected on that covenant during his homily at morning Mass for the bishops early June 12, the second day of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' spring general assembly in Baltimore. Similar thoughts have been expressed in his comments and questions on the floor of the past two bishops' assemblies in which he has focused on the pastoral work that lies ahead for all bishops.

    As Ghana diocese celebrates, bishop worries about Catholics leaving faith

    AKATSI, Ghana (CNS) -- Launching 25th anniversary celebrations for the Diocese of Keta-Akatsi, Bishop Gabriel Akwasi Ababio Mante of Jasikan said he was worried how charismatic and Pentecostal movements are affecting Catholics in Ghana. "For Catholics who remain Catholics and yet keep running after Jesus, from one to another crusade or fellowship or prayer camp, I am afraid their faith can only be described as a mirage," he said June 10. "We hope Catholics who have abandoned their faith and left the church to join these movements are following the dictates of their conscience," the bishop said. Bishop Gabriel Edoe Kumordji of Keta-Akatsi noted the anniversary was a celebration that would last more than a year, during which parishes would have spiritual and social activities. In November 2020, the diocese will host the plenary gathering of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference. But Bishop Mante, guest speaker at the diocesan celebrations, said he was worried that some of the youth in Ghana are easily enticed by their non-Catholic friends to leave the Catholic Church. This often means young people leave their faith behind in their hometowns when they leave home, and many are leaving home because of unemployment.

    Update: Bishops OK plan to implement 'motu proprio' on addressing abuse

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops approved a plan to implement the "motu proprio" "Vos Estis Lux Mundi" ("You are the light of the world") issued in May by Pope Francis to help the Catholic Church safeguard its members from abuse and hold its leaders accountable. The "motu proprio" was one of the measures that came out the Vatican's February Vatican summit on clergy sexual abuse attended by the presidents of the world's bishops' conferences. The implementation plan passed 281-1, with two abstentions, June 13, the last day of the bishops' June 11-13 general meeting in Baltimore. Directives for implementing the new juridical instrument in the U.S. church were formally presented to the bishops June 11. "Vos Estis Lux Mundi" established "procedures for reporting complaints of sexual abuse of minors or of vulnerable persons by clerics or by members of institutes of consecrated life or societies of apostolic life," said Bishop Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, in introductory remarks June 11 before he presented the plan. "The 'motu proprio' likewise holds church leaders accountable for actions or omissions relating to the handling of such reports," he added.

    Update: Bishops pass 10-point plan to acknowledge 'episcopal commitments'

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops approved a 10-point statement, "Affirming Our Episcopal Commitments," June 13 during their general meeting in Baltimore in which the bishops hope to regain "the trust of the people of God." The 217-1 vote, with two bishops abstaining, was applauded by the bishops gathered in Baltimore for the meeting. Approval was needed by two-thirds, or 180, of all U.S. bishops. The bishops were scheduled to discuss the statement at last November's general meeting, but a vote was put on hold after the Vatican asked the bishops to not pass any proposals regarding clerical sexual abuse until it had had sufficient time to review those proposals. In 2002, the bishops approved a "Statement of Episcopal Commitment," in which they declared that the provisions of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" applied to them as well. But a stronger response was called for after last summer's revelations of the decades-long abuses committed by Theodore McCarrick, a former cardinal who was laicized earlier this year, and the release in August of a Pennsylvania grand jury report on a months-long investigation into abuse claims against clergy and other church workers in six Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses dating back to 1947.

    Update: Protocol approved on restrictions on bishops facing claim of abuse

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops overwhelmingly approved a measure that would enable bishops to apply restrictions in the life and ministry of retired bishops accused of sexual abuse or who failed to take necessary measures to prevent abuse. The 212-4 vote, with one abstention, was taken June 13, the last day of the bishops' June 11-13 meeting in Baltimore. The measure required 180 bishops, or two-thirds of all U.S. bishops, for passage. If a credible accusation of sexual misconduct has been reported against a retired bishop, his successor may act to limit the retired bishop's scope of ministry, including the celebration of the sacraments and the right to be buried in the diocesan cathedral. The "Protocol Regarding Available Non-Penal Restrictions on Bishops" was scheduled to be voted on when the bishops met last November. However, the Vatican requested they delay a vote until after the Vatican held a February meeting for presidents of bishops' conferences worldwide to discuss the abuse crisis. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Administrative Committee had decided last September that the development of a such a protocol would be helpful, said Bishop Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance. With the delay of any possible vote on the document last fall, bishops had more time to offer suggestions on the document.

    Church wounded by internal tensions, pope tells Jesuits in Romania

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis told Jesuits in Romania that tensions and struggles within the church have left it wounded and that the only path forward is through humble dialogue, not futile arguments. "I think of the church as a field hospital. The church is so wounded, and today it is also so wounded by tensions within it," the pope told the Jesuits during a meeting May 31 in Bucharest. "Meekness, it takes meekness! And it takes a lot of courage to be meek! But you have to go forward with meekness," the pope said. "This is not the time to convince, to have discussions. If someone has a sincere doubt, yes, one can dialogue, clarify. But don't respond to the attacks." As has become customary when the pope meets Jesuits during a foreign trip, a transcript of his remarks was released weeks later by the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica. According to the text published June 13, Pope Francis told the 22 Jesuits that in moments of "tribulation and fury," Christians must imitate Jesus who "didn't argue with the Pharisees and the Sadducees as he had done before when they tried to set traps." Instead, "Jesus remained silent."

    Ignoring the poor falsifies the Gospel, pope says in message

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians must not underestimate the importance of embracing and assisting the poor, oppressed and outcast, Pope Francis said. Not only did Jesus entrust his disciples with the task of continuing his ministry on earth by giving hope to the poor, but "the credibility of our proclamation and the witness of Christians depends on it," the pope said in a message for the World Day of the Poor. "Faced with countless throngs of the poor, Jesus was not afraid to identify with each of them" and tell his disciples "whatever you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did to me," the pope said. "If we refuse to make this identification, we falsify the Gospel and water down God's revelation," he said. "If the disciples of the Lord Jesus wish to be genuine evangelizers, they must sow tangible seeds of hope," he said in the message, released by the Vatican June 13, the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, patron saint of the poor. The World Day of the Poor -- marked each year on the 33rd Sunday of ordinary time -- will be celebrated Nov. 17 this year and, based on Psalm 9:19, will focus on "The hope of the poor shall not perish forever."

    Be men of God, not luxury-seeking diplomats, pope tells nuncios

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Apostolic nuncios are called to be men of faith focused on proclaiming the Gospel and shunning the power and corruption that can come from the luxurious trappings of their diplomatic status, Pope Francis said. The pope met June 13 with more than 100 Vatican diplomats, who serve either as nuncios -- ambassadors -- or as the Holy See's permanent observers at U.N. and other international agencies. The nuncio represents the pope and while the nuncio, like anyone, may have "reservations, sympathies or antipathies," a good nuncio cannot be a "hypocrite" and engage in back-stabbing, Pope Francis said in his prepared remarks. "It is irreconcilable, therefore, to be a pontifical representative while criticizing the pope behind his back, to have a blog or even unite with groups hostile to (the pope), the Curia or the church of Rome," the text said. The pope's words came several days after The Washington Post published an interview with Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former nuncio to the United States who published a long document in 2018 criticizing the pope and other members of the Curia.

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  • Bishops approve third-party reporting system; to be in place by May 31

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- A nationwide third-party system for receiving confidential reports of "certain complaints" against bishops took a step closer to being implemented during the spring general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In a series of three votes June 12, the bishops voted overwhelmingly to authorize the implementation of a system that would allow people to make reports through a toll-free telephone number as well as online. The system, which would be operated by an outside vendor contracted by the USCCB, would be in place no later than May 31, 2020, under the proposal accepted by the bishops. The plan met with widespread support during a 35-minute discussion on the second day of the spring assembly. The full body of bishops voted on three separate measures governing the implementation of the system. Anthony Picarello, USCCB associate general secretary, presented the proposal to the assembly at the request of Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, conference president. Picarello said the reporting system would fall in line with the requirements of Pope Francis' "motu proprio" "Vos estis lux mundi" ("You are the light of the world"), issued in May. Among its mandates, the document requires dioceses and eparchies worldwide to establish "one or more public, stable and easily accessible systems for submission of reports." It set June 1, 2020, as a deadline.

    During online event, young bishops call for openness, lay involvement

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Transparency and honesty are key elements of restoring the trust of the laity, especially young people, said two bishops who participated in a Facebook Live event sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during its spring general assembly. Auxiliary Bishop Adam J. Parker of Baltimore and Bishop William A. Wack of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, answered questions submitted during the live social media broadcast, seen by more than 6,300 people June 11. Both have been bishops for less than three years and are among the youngest of the 441 active and retired bishops in the U.S. Bishop Wack, 51, said that, for the most part, the church had been dealing well with the clergy sexual abuse crisis since the passage of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002. "But we have to go back, we have to keep going, keep being transparent and open up more and more things. ... It's what has happened in the past, but going forward it won't define us," he said. The church needs the laity to be part of the dialogue to help reform the church structures, he added. Laypeople can and should be involved at the local level, Bishop Parker, 47, said, noting that the Archdiocese of Baltimore has had a strong Independent Review Board since 1993.

    Update: Bishops approve update of texts of rites for clergy ordinations

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops voted to update texts last changed in 2003 for the ordination of clergy. The 210-5 vote, with one abstention, took place June 12, the second day of the bishops' general meeting in Baltimore. The proposal needed at least 167 votes -- a two-thirds majority of Latin-rite bishops -- to pass. The action still requires confirmation by the Vatican. In presenting the proposal to the bishops June 11, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Washington, chairman of the Committee on Divine Worship, noted that the first post-Vatican II rites for bishops, priests and deacons, were first advanced in 1968. A more definitive version, formulated by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy -- a commission set up by a number of episcopal conferences in English-speaking countries -- was published in 1978 and "continues to be used in some countries," Archbishop Gregory said in prefatory remarks to the proposed new texts. Another translation effort in the 1990s was characterized by much back-and-forth between ICEL and the Vatican before the Vatican rejected it in 1997, he added. Further modifications -- some made before the Vatican document "Liturgiam Authenticam" was issued in 2001, and others after -- were made and approved by the U.S. bishops in 2002, with subsequent Vatican confirmation and publication in 2003. A Vatican version with two more changes was published in 2012.

    Update: Bishops approve new edition of national diaconate directory

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops approved a revised national directory on formation and ministry for permanent deacons June 12, the second day of their June 11-13 spring general assembly in Baltimore. The vote was 217-5, with two abstentions. A two-thirds majority vote of 180 bishops was needed for passage. The Vatican approval, known as a "recognitio," for directory currently in use was scheduled to expire in 2009, but the bishops had secured a pair of five-year extensions from the Vatican so the directory could be more closely scrutinized. St. Paul VI restored the permanent diaconate in 1967. The Vatican approved it for the United States in 1968 at the request of the bishops. The proposed version of the directory, which would be a second edition, has already received the approval of the bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations and been reviewed by the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance and the Committee on Doctrine. The bishops' Administrative Committee gave its approval last September for it to be included on the agenda for last fall's general assembly. However, "given the extraordinary circumstances of the church in the United States in the fall of 2018, the Administrative Committee decided to postpone the discussion and vote," said Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, in introductory remarks to the directory.

    In Israel, Philippine workers facing deportation find solace in faith

    JERUSALEM (CNS) -- A group of Philippine mothers and children facing imminent deportation from Israel are finding some solace in their faith, with weekly prayer meetings and counseling from their parish priest and nuns. Most of the mothers arrived legally in Israel to work as caretakers for the elderly, but remained in the country even after their work visas had expired and have lived in Israel for up to 20 or more years. They have created a life for themselves in Israel, which they believe is better than they could have in the Philippines. Sister Regina Cobrador of Our Lady of Valor Parish for migrant workers and asylum-seekers in Tel Aviv said several of the mothers who have deportation orders belong to the parish, and they have been coming every Wednesday to the church, where a special group prayer is held for them. "My heart goes out to them, but sometimes I don't know what to counsel them. They speak of their fears and concerns for their children who know only the Israeli culture, and the fear about their difficult economic situation," Sister Cobrador said. "But I also tell them that, from the legal laws of Israel, their children can't get citizenship, even if they were born here. Israel is very small, so if they would take all the migrant workers who are living here, it would be very difficult." Most of the Filipinas are Catholic, and the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has created a Vicariate for Migrants and Asylum Seekers to see to their pastoral needs. Father Rafic Nahara said the vicariate is trying to be available to those with deportation orders to counsel them about their concerns. However, they are in the country illegally, so there is little more the vicariate can do but help them prepare to return if they are deported, he said.

    AMA applauded for reaffirming its opposition to doctor-assisted suicide

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The chairman of the U.S. bishops' pro-life committee praised a June 10 decision by the American Medical Association to reaffirm its long-standing policy against physician-assisted suicide. "The practice and promotion of assisted suicide poses grave consequences for our entire society but particularly for persons living with illness, disabilities or socioeconomic disadvantages," said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities. "The AMA was right to reaffirm its long-standing view that physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as healer," he said in a June 11 statement. MedPageToday, an online news outlet that covers health care, said the vote came during the AMA's annual meeting in Chicago. At last year's meeting, "after impassioned testimony from both sides," it said, the AMA's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs was asked to further examine the issue of physician-assisted suicide. It presented its findings at the Chicago meeting and recommended the AMA retain its current opposition to the practice.

    African cardinal calls for restraint in Sudan's dealings with protesters

    NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- A prominent African cardinal has called for restraint in Sudan, as the ruling junta cracks down on peaceful protesters in the capital city, Khartoum. Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, said African religious leaders rejected the brutal response to the protests. He said the use of live ammunition, attacks on medical centers and arrests of activists were unacceptable. "We firmly reject and condemn the response of the transitional government to the peaceful protesters," Cardinal Onaiyekan said in an African Council of Religious Leaders statement. He co-chairs the group with Uganda's top Muslim leader, Sheikh Shaban Mubbaje. "We call upon the military apparatus in Sudan to use restraint and halt attacks on medical centers and further allow safe access and passage to all health services." Since June 3, tensions have escalated in the northeast African country, after security forces violently dispersed hundreds of peaceful protesters in Khartoum. The protesters had camped outside the army headquarters for one week, demanding the departure of the ruling junta. In the ensuing crackdown, more than 100 people were killed, with 40 bodies being pulled out of the Nile River, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors. Ministry of Health officials have put the number of dead at more than 60.

    Bishops urged to do more for immigrants, spiritually and otherwise

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Catholic bishops urged their fellow prelates to do more to support the suffering of immigrant families, to be with them spiritually as pastors and to voice support for legal measures to help them. "It's so important that our works match our words on this issue," said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, commenting June 11 after a presentation by the working group on immigration issues for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Two bishop members of the group, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles and Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, gave an update of what the U.S. church is doing at the national level and in certain regions of the country when it comes to immigration issues. The spoke on the first day of the USCCB's spring general assembly in Baltimore June 11-13. "I ask you, brothers, to reach out to senators and encourage them to support legislation" endorsed by the USCCB's Committee on Migration, said Bishop Vasquez, the committee's chairman. One includes a bill that recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives that proposes a path toward permanent legal status for youth brought to the country as children illegally and for beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status, popularly known as TPS. The status grants a work permit and a reprieve from deportation to certain people whose countries have experienced natural disasters, armed conflicts or other exceptional situations.

    Cardinal DiNardo calls bishops to be trustworthy like Barnabas

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo focused on the feast of St. Barnabas in his homily June 11 during a Mass at the end of the first day of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' spring meeting. The archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the USCCB, Cardinal DiNardo noted that the Acts of the Apostles tells about the life of the first Christian community, in which early followers witnessed to the Resurrection and shared their gifts in common. "The church lives in glorious beauty and freedom for one chapter -- until they start fighting in chapter six over the distribution" of the goods in the community. He said that Barnabas and Paul were often linked in Scripture because Barnabas first introduced Paul to the Apostles. "The newly converted Paul is coming to Jerusalem, but the disciples are afraid of Paul. They stand aside. Who's the one person who goes and gets Paul? It's Barnabas." Later, the pair come down Jerusalem for the Council of Jerusalem, where the community wants Barnabas. "They listen to Paul, but it's Barnabas they trust," the cardinal said.

    Hong Kong Diocese urges city not to rush bill on extradition to China

    HONG KONG (CNS) -- The Diocese of Hong Kong has made a rare foray into politics, issuing a statement urging the city's government to "not to rush to amend" the city's controversial extradition treaty. The June 11 statement came amid continuing street protests, which on June 12 were broken up by police using tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets. Afterward, the diocese issued a second statement, noting the dispute over the legislation "has now come to a violence and bloodshed stage. Therefore, once more we make an urgent appeal, that the SAR government and the general public exercise restraint and seek a solution to the current dilemma through peaceful, rational channels." The extradition legislation, officially called the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019, would see mainland China have extradition rights for the first time over any city resident, including foreign nationals as well as tourists, thus submitting residents to China's notoriously opaque and politically driven legal systems. Church leaders have noted this would involve Catholics and other Christians involved in ministry on the mainland subject to rendition to the mainland for questioning or trial. Lawyers, social justice groups and students and regular Hong Kong citizens have criticized the legislation.

    Nuncios' first mission is to love, says Vatican secretary of state

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Whether the Catholic Church is operating in full freedom or under severe restrictions, no one can prevent its ministers and members from following the supreme law of Christ, which is to love others, said Cardinal Pietro Parolin. "The work of the church can be promoted in one place or strongly opposed others, but nothing and no one can stop us from loving," the Vatican secretary of state told more than 100 Vatican diplomats, mostly nuncios, serving around the world. The first mission of the archbishops sent as Vatican ambassadors or representatives is the same mission of any Christian, he said: "A passionate love for Christ and his church, a generous love for people, for the populations to whom we are sent and, most of all, for the poor." Cardinal Parolin presided over and gave the homily at a Mass June 12 opening a three-day meeting of Vatican diplomats. As representatives of the church and the pope, he said, the nuncios must be "the first custodians and observers" of both church law and the civil laws of the country where they are serving.

    Pope advances sainthood causes for U.S. priest, Spanish martyrs

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis advanced the sainthood cause of Father Augustus Tolton, who was the first African American diocesan priest in the United States and founder of the first black Catholic parish in Chicago. Signing decrees issued by the Congregation for Saints' Causes June 11, Pope Francis also formally recognized the martyrdom of three Catholic laywomen who were nurses for the Red Cross and were killed during the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War. The decree for Father Tolton's cause recognizes that he lived a life of heroic virtue. Father Tolton had been born into slavery in 1854 on a plantation near Brush Creek, Missouri. After his father left to try to join the Union Army during the Civil War, his mother fled with her three children by rowing them across the Mississippi River and settling in Quincy in the free state of Illinois. There, he was encouraged to discern his vocation to the priesthood by the Franciscan priests who taught him at St. Francis College, now Quincy University. However, he was denied access to seminaries in the United States after repeated requests, so he pursued his education in Rome at what is now the Pontifical Urbanian University.

    Unity is first sign of true Christian witness, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church gives an authentic witness of God's love for all men and women only when it fosters the grace of unity and communion, Pope Francis said. Unity is part of "the DNA of the Christian community," the pope said June 12 during his weekly general audience. The gift of unity, he said, "allows us not to fear diversity, not to attach ourselves to things and gifts," but "to become martyrs, luminous witnesses of God who lives and works in history. We, too, need to rediscover the beauty of giving witness to the Risen Lord, going beyond self-referential attitudes, renouncing the desire to stifle God's gifts and not yielding to mediocrity," he said. Despite the sweltering Roman heat, thousands of people filled St. Peter's Square for the audience, which began with Pope Francis circling the square in the popemobile, occasionally stopping to greet pilgrims and even comfort a crying child.

    Update: Mexican bishops on migrants: 'We cannot turn ourselves into that wall'

    MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The Mexican bishops' conference questioned the details of a deal in which Mexico will strengthen security along its southern border with Guatemala and impede the path of migrants fleeing poverty, violence and food insecurity. "We express our concern for the lack of a truly humanitarian reception for our brother migrants, which reflects our convictions regarding the protection of the rights of all human beings equally," the bishops said in a statement June 10. "Our brother migrants must never be a bargaining chip. No negotiations should be placed above what the church and civil society have defended for years: not criminalizing migrants nor the defenders of human rights," the statement said. "If we have rejected as Mexicans the construction of a (border) wall, we cannot turn ourselves into that wall," which would stop migrants in southern Mexico. Mexico and the United States struck a deal June 7 after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to slap tariffs of 5 percent on Mexican imports and increase the tariffs until migration through Mexico stopped. In the deal, Mexico agreed to send 6,000 members of its newly formed militarized police to patrol its porous border with Guatemala. It also agreed to take back more asylum-seekers, who would wait in Mexican border cities as their claims proceed in U.S. courts.

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  • Group protests outside Baltimore hotel, objects to proposals on abuse

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- As has been the case for years now, a small group of protesters dismissive of the U.S. bishops' efforts to enact reforms in their handling of sexual abuse cases gather outside the Baltimore hotel where they conduct their general meeting. This spring is no different, save for the far more pleasant weather of mid-June than the typically chilly weather that greets them in November. A group of no more than 10 protesters stood in largely silent protest June 11, demanding more from the bishops -- specifically, by having them report abuse claims first to law enforcement. That was one suggestion by Becky Ianni of Burke, Virginia, a director of the Washington-area for the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, who says she was sexually abused by a priest. "We don't think the church can police themselves," Ianni told Catholic News Service. If reporting is done strictly in-house in a process controlled by the church, she added, "how do we learn if they've ever gone to the police?" Ianni urged all U.S. dioceses to report the names of accused clergy. Currently, she claimed, about 50 dioceses have not done so.

    USCCB's election year document to be supplemented by letter, videos

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops' quadrennial document that provides guidance to voters on Catholic social teaching during a presidential election year won't change for 2020 but will be supplemented by a brief letter and four 90-second videos that reflect the teaching of Pope Francis. The document, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility," will be distributed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops beginning early next year after the new materials are developed. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles updated the status of the supplementary materials in a brief report June 11, the first day of the USCCB's spring general assembly in Baltimore. "These two new (additions) are not mainly to inform but to inspire," explained Archbishop Gomez, USCCB vice president, who chairs a working group developing the new materials. "The existing document already does plenty to explain church teaching and will remain untouched. These two new documents will motivate people to act on that teaching." The letter will be limited to 750 words, at the urging of communication consultants. The videos will address different issues addressed by Catholic social teaching and they can be combined into one longer video, the archbishop said.

    U.S., English bishops welcome Vatican document on gender ideology

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic bishops in the U.S., England and Wales welcomed the Vatican's statement that gender ideology is opposed to faith and reason, and that Catholic schools and parents must help teach children that gender is fixed from birth. Bishop Michael Barber, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee for Catholic Education, noted the complexity of the issue. "The clarity of church teaching, rooted in the equal dignity of men and women as created by God, provides the light of truth and compassion that is most needed in our world today," Bishop Barber said in a statement released June 11. The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales also issued a statement praising the document as a complement to its 2018 statement, which expressed concern for the increasing confusion gender ideology was causing. The Vatican document resolved the English and Welsh bishops' concerns and is "a welcome contribution to developing Catholic thought on gender," said a spokesman for the conference. In a document published June 10, the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education said the intention behind gender ideology is "laudable" in its concern for fighting discrimination and respecting differences, and that the Catholic Church encourages all to respect and care for those who "live situations of sexual indeterminacy."

    Update: Judge OKs $60 million settlement in Haitian orphanage abuse case

    HARTFORD, Conn. (CNS) -- A $60 million settlement to be paid by Fairfield University and several Catholic organizations and individuals will go to as many as 170 Haitian children at a Catholic orphanage who were abused by convicted pedophile Douglas Perlitz. U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny issued an order in early June that would allow the settlement to take effect Aug. 27 if there are no successful challenges. He had tentatively approved the agreement in January. In addition to the university, the settlement would be paid by the Society of Jesus of New England; the Order of Malta, American Association, USA; Haiti Fund Inc; Jesuit Father Paul E. Carrier; and Hope E. Carter. Jayne Conroy, an attorney who represented the children, said the settlement was a long time in coming. "It's life changing for the kids ... Haiti is a very difficult place. We are so anxious to finalize this settlement and find some justice for these kids," Conroy said.

    Most U.S. adults don't think abuse is more common among Catholic leaders

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Despite the slew of abuse allegations and cases surfacing within the Catholic Church, most U.S. adults actually do not think that sexual abuse of children is more common among Catholic priests and leadership than it is among any other adult groups. The abuse crisis also has caused some Catholics to attend Mass less often and decrease donations to the church, although some personally supported their local parish priest. The Pew Research Center released a report June 11 revealing statistics about what Americans, and particularly American Catholics, believe about abuse in the Catholic Church. According to the Pew survey, 57 percent of U.S. adults believe that sexual abuse of children is equally as common among Catholic clergy as it is among other adults who work with children. However, when surveying only non-Catholics, Pew found that only 44 percent believe that sexual abuse is equally as common among Catholic leaders as other adults working with children. Further, among Catholics, 68 percent believe this is not a uniquely Catholic problem. Of all U.S. adults, 92 percent have heard about the scandal and 79 percent believe it reflects an ongoing problem, while only 12 percent believe that it is in issue of the past.

    Cesareo repeats call for greater lay involvement as church tackles abuse

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- National Review Board chairman Francesco Cesareo offered the U.S. bishops meeting in Baltimore a series of recommendations that he said will strengthen the church's response to the ongoing clergy sexual abuse crisis. The recommendations made June 11 during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' spring general assembly in Baltimore included a call for a greater role for laity in investigating allegations of abuse or reaction to reports of abuse against bishops. Cesareo also said National Review Board members recommend a thorough review of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" and a revision in the audit process regarding diocesan implementation of the charter, which governs the church's response to clergy abuse allegations. Strong measures are necessary to show that while progress has been made since the charter's adoption in 2002, the bishops would demonstrate that they are serious in their response to clergy abuse in response to the mistrust and serious questions laypeople still harbor. "My hope is that they will seriously consider the recommendations we made on the four action items come to recognize that the proposals that we've made are only going to strengthen their response," Cesareo told Catholic News Service after his address.

    Youth look at ways Ukrainian Catholic Church can welcome newcomers

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Youth of the Ukrainian Catholic Church agreed at a conference in Washington that their faith poses roadblocks to potential converts in North American and to current North American members who do not speak Ukrainian. Together, they brainstormed solutions to these problems. Seven young Ukrainian Catholics spoke on a youth panel June 6 at a conference on the future of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in North America, hosted by The Catholic University of America as part of daylong conference on the future of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in North. The panel included priests, deacons, seminarians and laypeople. Panelist after panelist cited the same three problems within the Ukrainian Catholic Church. They said that the church's dependence on the Ukrainian language creates barriers both to non-Ukrainians and non-fluent members, that the church lacks necessary heart-to-heart connections among its members in North America, and that it lacks a clear identity. The panelists agreed that all of these problems result in a disunity between the worldwide church and its members in North America, and discourage non-Ukrainians from exploring the faith. Julian Hayda, a journalist from Chicago and the son of a Ukrainian Catholic priest, cited a study that said only 12 percent of third-generation immigrants speak the language of their grandparents, and only 2 percent of fourth-generation immigrants speak anything but English at home. "In our church, we hang a lot of our ethnicity and church belonging on language," Hayda said, highlighting the problem those statistics pose to the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

    Order of Malta's leader reminds members: Tridentine Mass not allowed

    ROME (CNS) -- The grand master of the Sovereign Order of Malta has reminded members that all liturgical celebrations within the order must be celebrated according to the ordinary form of the Roman rite, not the extraordinary form, known as the Tridentine rite. In a letter dated June 10 and addressed to leaders of the worldwide order, Fra' Giacomo Dalla Torre said it was his duty to ensure the communion that unites all members of their religious family "is present in every aspect of our order's life. Among all the elements which constitute out spiritual life, the question of the liturgy to use in our celebrations has a particular significance," he wrote. When Pope Benedict XVI eased restrictions on use of the 1962 Roman Missal, known as the Tridentine rite, in 2007, the papal instruction permitted the major superior to decide the matter for religious institutes or societies. "I have thus decided, as supreme guarantor of the cohesion and communion of the order ... that henceforth all the liturgical ceremonies within our order must be performed according to the ordinary rite of the church -- rite of St. Paul VI -- and not the extraordinary rite -- Tridentine rite," Fra' Dalla Torre wrote.

    Nuncio's message to bishops: 'Unity prevails over conflict'

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Recalling "there were some expressions of 'dissent'" by some U.S. bishops when the bishops met last November over the Vatican's request that they postpone voting on agenda items related to the reemergent clergy sexual abuse crisis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican's nuncio to the United States, reminded them that "unity prevails over conflict. Working together provides us with the opportunity to speak and to listen," said the message from Archbishop Pierre. Bishops, he added, "must be able to able to speak honestly and without hesitation." The archbishop's message was read by Msgr. Walter Erbi, charge d'affaires at the Vatican's nunciature in Washington, June 11, the first day of the U.S. bishops' June 11-13 general meeting in Baltimore. Archbishop Pierre was at the Vatican for a meeting of all nuncios. "Even in these differences, it is important not to lose sight of the profound unity that we share," the archbishop's message said. "The Holy Spirit keeps the church united even amid honest disagreements." There may be a temptation by bishops whose view is in the minority to "walk away or isolate ourselves in our own dioceses," Archbishop Pierre said, rather than "search for a constructive way forward."

    Vatican bank reports decreased profits in 2018

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Institute for the Works of Religion, often referred to as the Vatican bank, made a profit of 17.5 million euros (about US$19.8 million) in 2018, just over half the profit reported in the previous year, according to its annual report. The bank, which had made a profit of 31.9 million euros in 2017, said the decrease was due "to the strong turbulence of the markets throughout the year and the persistence of interest rates which are still very low." The institute held assets worth 5 billion euros (US$5.6 billion) at year's end, which included deposits and investments from close to 15,000 clients -- mostly Catholic religious orders around the world, Vatican offices and employees, and Catholic clergy. In a statement released by the Vatican June 11, the institute said it continued to provide financial services to the Catholic Church present in the whole world and Vatican City State. According to the report, the bank's assets are worth 637 million euros (US$721 million), placing its tier 1 capital ratio -- which measures the bank's financial strength -- at 86.4 percent compared to 68.3 percent in 2017. The increased ratio, the bank said, "is a testament of its elevated solvency and its low-risk profile."

    Christians are called to serve, not use others, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians who use others, rather than serve others, greatly harm the church, Pope Francis said. Christ's instructions to his disciples to "cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and drive out demons" are the path to "a life of service" that all Christians are called to follow, the pope said June 11 in his homily during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae. "Christian life is for service," the pope said. "It is very sad to see Christians who, at the start of their conversion or their awareness of being Christians, serve, are open to serving, serve the people of God and then end up using the people of God. This does so much harm, so much harm to the people of God. The vocation is to 'serve,' not to 'use.'" In his homily, the pope said that while Christ's instruction to give freely what has been given freely is for everyone, it is meant especially "for us shepherds of the church." Members of the clergy who "do business with the grace of God," the pope warned, cause a lot damage to others and especially to themselves and their own spiritual lives when they attempt "to bribe the Lord."

    Six months after crash, Indian police exhume bishop's body for autopsy

    BHOPAL, India (CNS) -- Police in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh have exhumed the body of a Catholic bishop after suspicions were raised that his death in a December car accident could have been the result of foul play. reported the body of Bishop Thomas Thennatt of Gwalior was exhumed June 10 after a court ordered police to investigate the prelate's death. The court order was in response to a complaint lodged by Dolly Theresa, a local Catholic, who claimed that police refused to investigate what she called were the "suspicious" circumstances surrounding the so-called accident in which the bishop died and three other occupants of the car escaped unhurt. In her complaint, she also said the 65-year-old bishop's body was buried without a mandatory post-mortem being carried out after his car reportedly skidded off the road and overturned. She has demanded an investigation to establish why it was only the bishop who died in hospital of head injuries, while the three others -- a priest, a deacon and the driver -- walked away with none. Father Joseph Munthalakuzhi, who was in the car with the bishop when the accident occurred, admitted to that he and two others were left unscathed, but said that should not be the basis for suspecting them of murder.

    Update: Dutch priest critical of 'euthanasia death' reports of teen

    OXFORD, England (CNS) -- A senior Dutch priest criticized media reports on the death of a teenager experiencing depression, accusing foreign media of "sensationalizing euthanasia" in his country. "It's difficult to comprehend how anyone could abandon life so tragically," said Msgr. Hans Pauw, episcopal vicar for youth affairs in the Diocese of Utrecht. "But it raises issues about helping young people with psychological problems, not about euthanasia. It's important to treat such cases seriously, without rhetorical simplifications." The priest was reacting to reports on the death of Noa Pothoven, a 17-year-old from Arnhem who some media initially reported had been euthanized. "Certainly, we have a liberal government and our church's voice isn't always heard here," Msgr. Pauw told Catholic News Service June 7. "But it's hurtful when such terrible things are claimed about the Netherlands. Some people seem to believe everyone here is now dying from euthanasia." Pothoven died June 2 after describing in a 2018 book, "Winning or Learning," how she had attempted suicide while suffering post-traumatic stress, anorexia and depression after being sexually harassed beginning at age 11 and raped by two men at age 14.

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  • Nuncio discusses migration, religious freedom, faith in a changing society

    PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- Pope Francis follows closely the news related to immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, Archbishop Christophe Pierre said in May 30 interview in Pittsburgh. But the pope also knows that migration is a global issue, not just an American, Mexican or Central American problem, said the apostolic nuncio to the United States. Archbishop Pierre addressed migration and other topics during an extended, wide-ranging interview with the Pittsburgh Catholic, the diocesan newspaper, while he participated in the 2019 Convening of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. The 73-year-old archbishop, who is from Rennes, France, has served in the Vatican diplomatic corps for 42 years. He has worked in New Zealand, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Brazil and Switzerland, and been papal nuncio in Haiti, Uganda and, most recently, in Mexico (2007-2016). Archbishop Pierre was appointed the papal representative to the United States by Pope Francis in April 2016. He said that all of his assignments have provided some important insights into migration worldwide. "Now it has become a very European problem," he said. "But you know, the problem in America is small comparing, for example, to the Middle East."

    Update: Ukrainian Catholics discuss future of their church in North America

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Ukrainian Catholics in North America continue to struggle to develop ways to maintain their Ukrainian religious and ethnic identity amid a larger majority culture that beckons with the siren song of assimilation. The answer may lie in young people, according to Metropolitan Archbishop Borys Gudziak, the newly enthroned archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, during a June 6 conference on the future of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in North America that he convoked at The Catholic University of America in Washington. "It is time to give voice to our young people, to hear them," Archbishop Gudziak said in introductory remarks during the conference, which was part of an eight-day celebration of his June 4 enthronement in Philadelphia. His words were echoed by Susan Timoney, an associate professor in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at Catholic University. "Young people are fully invested members of our community today," not at some point in the future, Timoney said. One takeaway from last October's Synod of Bishops on "young people, faith and vocational discernment" at the Vatican, was that "our parishes are rightly placed (with) exactly what our young people are searching for," although "we don't always use the same language," she said, adding that "if Jesus were preaching and teaching today, we might think of him as that millennial hipster with some crazy ideas."

    Update: Overflow crowd attends enthronement of Ukrainian Catholic archbishop

    PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- If we, as the people of God, "come together and open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, we will see miracles," Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak, the new head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States. He made the comments during the June 4 hierarchical Divine Liturgy and enthronement ceremony officially installing him as the seventh metropolitan-archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, succeeding Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka, who resigned for health reasons in April 2018. Philadelphia's spacious Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was filled to capacity for the Divine Liturgy and enthronement, with an overflow crowd of approximately 2,500 participating through television screens outside. A liturgical procession into the cathedral ahead of the Divine Liturgy included bishops from the Ukrainian Catholic Church, other Eastern Catholic churches, the Latin Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as well as 125 priests, 11 deacons and 70 members of religious orders. Presiding at the liturgy were Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, Ukraine, patriarch of the Ukrainian Catholic Church worldwide, and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the United States.

    Mother church of Washington's black Catholics called 'holy ground'

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As they have ever since free men and women of color -- including some people emancipated from slavery -- founded their parish in 1858, members of St. Augustine Parish gathered inside their church to praise God at Mass June 2. But on that day, the mother church of African American Catholics in the nation's capital literally opened its doors to history, as it often has in its past. And when new Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory appeared in the doorway of St. Augustine Church to celebrate the Mass, people offered a spontaneous standing ovation and shouts of joy. The nearly 50 voices in the combined St. Augustine Gospel Choir and Chorale sang a soaring opening hymn, "Let Heavenly Music Fill This Place," and Archbishop Gregory smiled broadly as he held his crosier and blessed the congregation while he processed to the altar. As he walked by, many people in the congregation took photos of him with their cellphones. "It is with great pleasure and gratitude to God that we welcome you to the parish of St. Augustine," Father Patrick Smith, St. Augustine's pastor, said moments later, and the congregation again offered loud applause. He noted how the parish on that day had "the privilege and honor to welcome you as the first African American archbishop of Washington." Archbishop Gregory, who appeared profoundly moved by the parish's welcome and by the opening hymn, offered a gesture of thanks.

    Former NBA referee makes spiritual call to be permanent deacon

    PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- If 30 years ago anyone told Steve Javie he would become a permanent deacon, he probably would have said, "No way." Sure, he came from a solid Catholic family with Mass every Sunday, confession every two weeks need it or not, and his uncle Msgr. Anthony Jaworowski was one of the most respected priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, but all of that was ancient history as far as Javie was concerned. Sports was really in his blood. His dad, Stan Javie, was an NFL football referee who worked four Super Bowls. Steve played baseball, football and basketball at La Salle College High School, outside of Philadelphia, and at Philadelphia's Temple University he continued with baseball, which was his first love. After getting his degree in business administration, Javie signed on as a pitcher in the Baltimore Orioles' farm system, but his dreams of baseball stardom were cut short after one year because of an arm injury. In college, he'd done some refereeing and umpiring to pick up a little money, which he then considered making his career. He first worked as baseball umpire but ultimately switched to basketball, which from an officiating standpoint has more action. After five years officiating in the Continental Basketball Association, Javie was hired by the NBA in 1986, and he remained there for the rest of his 20-plus-year career. When he retired from the NBA in 2011, he said he was looking for a way to give more time serving the Lord. "It was the Holy Spirit -- the word 'deacon' just popped into my head," he told, the news outlet of the Philadelphia Archdiocese. He went to his pastor, Msgr. Michael Picard, who advised him to go for it. On June 8, Javie joined six other men who were ordained as deacons for the Philadelphia Archdiocese at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.

    New York court says archbishop's remains must be transferred to Peoria

    PEORIA, Ill. (CNS) -- The Peoria Diocese said Bishop Daniel R. Jenky "is overjoyed and elated" that the remains of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen will be coming home to the diocese following a ruling by the state of New York's highest court. The New York Court of Appeals June 7 rejected a final appeal from the Archdiocese of New York and the trustees of St. Patrick's Cathedral, who sought to keep the remains of the famed orator and media pioneer interred at St. Patrick's, where they have rested since after his death Dec. 9, 1979. According to published reports in The New York Times and other media outlets, the archdiocese said it will now work with Joan Sheen Cunningham -- Archbishop Sheen's niece and closest living relative -- and the Diocese of Peoria to arrange for a respectful transfer of the remains to St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria. In 2016, Cunningham filed a legal complaint seeking to have her uncle's remains moved to the cathedral in Peoria, a factor the Diocese of Peoria has maintained is critical for a hoped-for future beatification. Twice, the Manhattan Supreme Court ruled in her favor and twice the New York Archdiocese appealed, halting the transfer. After an evidentiary hearing last year clarifying what Archbishop Sheen's wishes would have been, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arlene Bluth again agreed with Cunningham's request.

    Update: New Syriac Catholic bishop hopes Christianity will thrive again in Iraq

    BEIRUT (CNS) -- Syriac Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Nizar Semaan begins his new mission in Iraq with hope "that Christianity will flourish again" in his homeland. Bishop Semaan chose the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Qaraqosh, Iraq, his birthplace, as the site of his episcopal ordination June 7. Still scarred from the Islamic State group and not yet fully restored, the church, Bishop Semaan said, is "a symbol of what happened to our cities and villages in 2014 until the liberation (in 2017) from ISIS." It's also the church where the new bishop was ordained a priest in 1991. Located in the Ninevah Plain, Qaraqosh was the largest Christian city in Iraq. Its 50,000 residents -- all of them Christian -- were expelled by Islamic State forces in a single night during the summer of 2014. They were among 120,000 Christians uprooted from Mosul and the Ninevah Plain that summer. Of his new mission as a bishop, Bishop Semaan told Catholic News Service his ministry is "all about challenges: political challenges, economical challenges, spiritual challenges, social challenges." Yet he is optimistic. "I'm sure with the help and prayers of many people who are interested in the Christians of Iraq, we will carry our mission and we will go ahead for a brighter future," he said.

    On the fly: Airport chaplains have special ministry, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- From pilots and passengers to refugees and fast-food workers, the people airport chaplains meet each day all deserve a kind word and an invitation to a relationship with God, Pope Francis said. "Technological advances, a frenzied pace of activity and a constant flow of people all tend to create an atmosphere of anonymity and indifference in airports," Pope Francis told more than 90 airport chaplains -- priests, deacons, religious and laypeople -- meeting in Rome June 10-13. Pope Francis told the chaplains the story of a businessman he knew who said he had gone into an airport chapel looking for an outlet to charge his computer. The lay chaplain asked if he needed anything and when the businessman explained why he was there, the chaplain told him he was welcome since the electricity, "like the energy of God," was there for everyone. As the two kept talking, "that man felt something change in his heart," the pope said. He bought a Bible and still today, "years later," continues to read it "to encounter again that Jesus he met in the airport."

    Nuncios from around the world to meet with pope

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has called Vatican nuncios to countries around the world and permanent observers at the U.N. and other agencies to a meeting in Rome June 12-15. Following similar gatherings in 2013 and 2016, the Vatican press office said the convocation is a way for Pope Francis to "consolidate" the practice of the Vatican diplomats meeting every three years. Since the previous meeting, Pope Francis added a third section -- the Section for Diplomatic Personnel -- to the Vatican Secretariat of State; the section, established in 2017, prepared the June meeting. The Vatican press office said June 10 that 103 diplomats were expected to take part -- 98 nuncios and five permanent observers. In addition, 46 retired nuncios were invited to join the others June 15, the day Pope Francis will celebrate Mass with the nuncios and host a luncheon for them. Pope Francis was scheduled to address the diplomats June 13. Their schedule also was to include meetings with the top leadership of the Secretariat of State as well as conferences updating them on current church issues, international collaboration and interreligious dialogue, the press office said.

    Catholic education key to fighting indifference, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Individualism and consumerism undermine the most basic rules of coexistence and challenge the principles of cooperation and mutual understanding promoted by Catholic education, Pope Francis said. "The culture of indifference, which envelops relations between individuals and peoples, as well as the care of the common home, also corrodes the sense of humanism," the pope said in a June 8 video message to participants at a three-day conference sponsored by the International Office for Catholic Education. A "synergy of the various educational realities" is needed to confront this challenge, the pope said, and particularly requires working with families where one "learns to come out of one's self and place oneself in front of the other, to listen, to share, to support, to respect, to help, to coexist." The international congress focused heavily on Pope Francis' encyclical "Laudato Si'" and "on the contribution of the Catholic schools of the world to educate to solidarity, humanism and the safeguarding" of creation.

    Gender ideology is opposed to faith, reason, Vatican office says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholic schools must help parents teach young people that biological sex and gender are naturally fixed at birth and part of God's plan for creation, said the Congregation for Catholic Education. In a document published June 10, the congregation said the Catholic Church and those proposing a looser definition of gender can find common ground in "a laudable desire to combat all expressions of unjust discrimination," in educating children to respect all people "in their peculiarity and difference," in respecting the "equal dignity of men and women" and in promoting respect for "the values of femininity." And while great care must be taken to respect and provide care for persons who "live situations of sexual indeterminacy," those who teach in the name of the Catholic Church must help young people understand that being created male and masculine or female and feminine is part of God's plan for them. The document, "Male and Female He Created Them: Toward a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education," was signed by Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the education congregation, and Archbishop Angelo Zani, congregation secretary. The document recognized a distinction between "the ideology of gender," which it said tries to present its theories as "absolute and unquestionable," and the whole field of scientific research on gender, which attempts to understand the ways sexual difference is lived out in different cultures.

    Be witnesses of love, pope tells charismatic movement

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Service, charity and love must be the hallmarks of the charismatic renewal movement, Pope Francis said. Addressing participants at a gathering of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service, also known as "Charis," the pope said June 8 that through their "baptism in the Holy Spirit, unity in the body of Christ and service to the poor," the movement's members can bear witness to God's love and evangelize the world. However, without love, establishing evangelization offices or implementing carefully planned programs "is useless," he added. "An evangelization that is not proselytism but first and foremost a witness: a witness of love. 'See how they love one another.' That was what impressed those who encountered the first Christians. 'See how they love one another,'" the pope said. Unfortunately, he said, when outsiders look at some church communities, they say, "See how they gossip about one another!" Pope Francis said. "This does not come from the Holy Spirit."

    Holy Spirit 'brings order to our frenzy,' pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a world of conflict and division and a culture of insult, people need to live filled with the Holy Spirit, who is the only one capable of bringing harmony and unity to diversity, Pope Francis said. "Those who live by the Spirit ... bring peace where there is discord, concord where there is conflict," he said during a Pentecost Mass in St. Peter's Square. "Those who are spiritual repay evil with good. They respond to arrogance with meekness, to malice with goodness, to shouting with silence, to gossip with prayer, to defeatism" with a smile, he said during his homily at the Mass June 9. "In today's world, lack of harmony has led to stark divisions. There are those who have too much and those who have nothing, those who want to live to be 100 years old and those who cannot even be born," and there are those who, the more they use social media, the less social they become, he said. "We need the Spirit of unity to regenerate us as church, as God's people and as a human family," he said.

    Update: In video, archbishop overseeing West Virginia probe expresses regret

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- After a major newspaper published a story about alleged financial and sexual misconduct by a West Virginia bishop, a prelate overseeing the investigation for the Vatican expressed regret that he redacted his name out of documents detailing financial aspects of the scandal. In an 8-minute video released June 7, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, who was tasked with overseeing the investigation in West Virginia, said mistakes were made and one of them was redacting his name, along with the names of other bishops and high-ranking church officials who received personal financial "gifts" from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston's former bishop, Bishop Michael J. Bransfield. Archbishop Lori, who was appointed apostolic administrator of the West Virginia diocese after Bishop Bransfield resigned last fall amid allegations of sexual and financial misconduct, said in the video that transparency requires admitting mistakes. "If I had to do it over again, especially at a time when we're trying to create greater transparency and accountability, the report would have included the names of those bishops who received gifts, including my own, with some notation that there was no evidence to suggest that those who received gifts reciprocated in any way that was inappropriate."

    Pope says he wants to visit Iraq in 2020

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Announcing his desire to visit Iraq in 2020, Pope Francis called for a peaceful resolution to crises in the Middle East. He also warned that God would unleash his wrath on hypocritical leaders who liked to talk about peace while selling weapons to warring nations. "People escaping, crowded on boats, they cry out, seeking hope, not knowing which ports will be able to welcome them in a Europe which opens its ports to vessels that have to load sophisticated and costly weapons, capable of wreaking havoc that doesn't even spare children," he said. The pope made his comments during a meeting June 10 with a Vatican coalition of funding agencies, known by its Italian acronym ROACO. Coordinated by the Congregation for Eastern Churches, ROACO assists Eastern-rite churches around the world as well as the Latin-rite church in North Africa and the Middle East. It was holding its annual general meeting at the Vatican. Pope Francis said their meetings with experts, including papal diplomats, would help them "hear the cry of the many who have been robbed over these years of hope."

    All Catholics must be missionaries, pope says in message

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- By virtue of their baptism, all Catholics are called to be missionaries, sharing the good news of salvation in Jesus by their actions and their words, Pope Francis said. "The importance of renewing the church's missionary commitment and giving fresh evangelical impulse to her work of preaching and bringing to the world the salvation of Jesus Christ" is the focus of Pope Francis' message for World Mission Sunday Oct. 20 and for the special celebration in 2019 of October as "Missionary Month." The pope's message, "Baptized and sent: the church of Christ on mission in the world," was published by the Vatican June 9. The special "Missionary Month" will mark the 100th anniversary of Pope Benedict XV's 1919 apostolic letter "Maximum Illud" on the church's missionary activity. The document, Pope Francis said, has two key messages that Catholics need to hear today: every Christian has a responsibility to share the Gospel; and the universality of salvation in Jesus means that all people are children of God and brothers and sisters to each other, which means rejecting "all forms of nationalism and ethnocentrism or the merging of the preaching of the Gospel with the economic and military interests of colonial powers."

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  • Catholic veteran of D-Day invasion buried at Arlington on 75th anniversary

    ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- As World War II veterans and world leaders gathered at the American cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy, France, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day June 6, the same day one highly decorated veteran who took part in that Allied invasion was laid to rest in an American cemetery half a world away. At Arlington National Cemetery just outside of Washington, Carl Mann Sr., a lifelong Catholic from Evansville, Indiana, was buried with full military honors as his family and friends gathered around. He died March 30 at age 96. He requested his burial take place at Arlington on the D-Day anniversary. As an Army sergeant, Mann was among the troops who stormed Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day June 6, 1944. He was awarded three Purple Hearts and seven Bronze Stars for his service in the 5th Infantry Division of Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army. He was involved in all five major battles of the European Theater. "While many have served their nation admirably, Sgt. Mann shed his blood for the freedoms we put so much trust in today," Father Joseph Adams, an Army chaplain with the rank of captain, said during the service. "Therefore, he should forever be revered by his country."

    Bishop bars Illinois Catholic lawmakers who back abortion from Communion

    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CNS) -- Springfield Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki issued a decree June 6 stating that Catholic lawmakers in the Illinois Legislature "who promoted or voted for extreme abortion legislation" cannot receive Communion in churches in his diocese. He specifically named House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, "due to their leadership roles in promoting the evil of abortion by facilitating the passage of Senate Bill 25 this legislative session and House Bill 40 in 2017." Other Illinois Catholic lawmakers who voted for either of these abortion bills, he said, also are not to "present themselves to receive holy Communion." The decree comes as the legislative leaders "have shown obstinate and persistent support of extreme abortion legislation," said a news release about Bishop Paprocki's decree. S.B. 25 is the "misnamed 'Reproductive Health Act,'" as the state's Catholic bishops referred to it in earlier statements opposing the measure as it made its way through both legislative chambers. Close to midnight May 31, the Senate passed it in a 34-20 vote; the state House OK'd it May 28 in a 64-50 vote. The measure is now on the desk of Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who has pledged to sign it.

    Author's memoir: A journey from music clubs to churches

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Dawn Eden Goldstein, rock-music-historian-turned-theology-professor, isn't afraid to say where she's been. She does this in her new memoir, "Sunday Will Never Be the Same: A Rock & Roll Journalist Opens Her Ears to God." The book, published this year by Catholic Answers, chronicles Goldstein's spiritual path from Reform Judaism to Protestantism to Catholicism and her career moves from headline writing for the New York Post and music writing for publications such as Mojo, Billboard and the Village Voice. It ends in 2009 when she is beginning to study theology, three years after becoming Catholic and writing her first book, "The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On." Followers of Goldstein, especially from her long-running blog, "The Dawn Patrol," know what happens where the book leaves off. Years later, under the pen name Dawn Eden, she wrote two other books: "My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints" and "Remembering God's Mercy: Redeem the Past and Free Yourself from Painful Memories." In the wake of the recent sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, she has become a sought-after voice in interviews and talks about how the church might find its way forward since she wrote about her own experience of being abused by a janitor in a synagogue when she was a child and how eventually her Catholic faith helped her find healing.

    U.S. archbishop stands with Burkina Faso church after recent attack

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace offered condolences to the Catholic Church in Burkina Faso following a wave of attacks on churches there. Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services said the U.S. church stands in solidarity with the Burkinabe people in a letter to Archbishop Paul Yembuado Ouedraogo of Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Burkina Faso and Niger. "I join the Holy Father in his statements and expressions of condolences and support in reaction to these church attacks and add my own following the most recent attack on a Catholic church 26 May in Toulfe that killed four people," Archbishop Broglio said in the letter released June 7. He acknowledged how Burkina Faso has "struggled to build a democratic country where Christians and Muslims" can live side by side in peace. He said he hoped that the Burkinabe people "will persevere and protect liberty, democracy, and the right to freedom of religion." Overall, at least 400 people have died in attacks on churches, schools and government buildings in Burkina Faso, whose mostly Muslim-inhabited northern provinces have been targeted by extremists since the October 2014 ouster of President Blaise Compaore.

    CLINIC convening focuses on how to gain justice for immigrants, refugees

    PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- Almost every American has a story to tell about how their ancestors came to this country. It's often a tear-stained tale of hardship, desperation and sacrifice. Similar scenarios are playing out today along the U.S.-Mexico border and other entry points across the land. As with the harrowing stories of generations ago, many of the current situations have the real possibility of violence and death if those emigrating choose to stay home. Members of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network shared stories of success and heartache during their May 29-31 Convening 2019 in downtown Pittsburgh. The faith-based network, which is known by its acronym CLINIC and based in Silver Spring, Maryland, partners with 373 affiliates to provide a wide range of services including advocacy for low-income immigrants, technical assistance and pro bono legal representation. The annual CLINIC gathering offers intensive legal training, and professionals who attended certain sessions received continuing education credits. Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, gave a keynote speech May 29 and concelebrated a morning Mass May 30 for the feast of the Ascension of the Lord.

    Fellow bishops clear Indian cardinal of wrongdoing in real estate deals

    COCHIN, India (CNS) -- An Indian cardinal who faces multiple investigations for allegedly selling church land and incurring a multimillion-dollar loss has been cleared by his fellow bishops even though the Vatican has yet to rule on the case. The action by the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council regarding Cardinal George Alencherry of the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, India, has angered some members of the Eastern-rite church who have accused the bishops of attempting to influence civil and Vatican investigations. The Kerala bishops' council, which met June 4-5 at its Cochin headquarters, found no merit in the allegations against the cardinal, reported. The council issued a summary of its conclusion June 6 to Catholics and parishes. Archbishop Soosa Pakiam of Trivandrum, India, council president, said in the document that "our discussions have proved that the kind of corruption alleged in the land deal did not seem to have occurred." The document expressed concern that "fissures within the church have led to controversies and given rise to apprehensions among the faithful. Measures have been taken to address the apprehensions and allegations pertaining to the land deals involving the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese within the church itself," it noted.

    Celebrate Pentecost by rejecting racism, Italian bishops say

    ROME (CNS) -- Disciples of Jesus must reject any attitude or language that could increase intolerance or racism, especially in current social and political discussions about welcoming and integrating migrants, said the bishops of Italy's Lazio region. Bishops from the region, which includes the Diocese of Rome, issued a public letter for Pentecost, noting how the feast celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit's gift of allowing people of every nation and language to hear the Gospel. If Catholics celebrate Pentecost in church, they should be consistent enough to recognize its implications in their social and political lives, the bishops said in the letter, which was to be read at Pentecost Masses June 9. "Unfortunately, in the past few months, social tensions connected to the worrying increase in poverty and inequality have reached alarming levels in our territory," the bishops said. And it seems to be "in fashion" to say things that could give rise to new "seeds of intolerance and racism, which as disciples of the Risen Lord we must reject with force." The biblical account of Pentecost tells how when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles, people "from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem" heard the disciples speaking in their own language.

    Update: Vatican News to launch news program, podcast in Latin

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A weekly news program about the pope and the Vatican will now be offered in Latin, the official language of the Holy See. The five-minute news flash "will be an actual, real news broadcast with news and news reports," said Andrea Tornielli, editorial director for the Dicastery for Communication. The program is not meant as "a nostalgic look at the past, but as a challenge toward the future," giving new life to the Catholic Church's official language, he said on Vatican News June 6. The program, "Hebdomada Papae" (The Pope's Week), will be aired, starting June 8, every Saturday and rebroadcast Sundays on Vatican Radio's Italian channel. It also will appear as a podcast on the website. Msgr. Waldemar Turek, head of the Latin section at the Vatican Secretariat of State, told Vatican News the program will hit the highlights of the pope's activities and what is happening at the Vatican. His office is the one in charge of translating all official papal texts and the pope's Latin Twitter account @Pontifex_ln.

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