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  • Smith dinner's tone lighthearted, but abuse crisis not ignored in remarks

    IMAGE: CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

    By Beth Griffin

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- In the current toxic environment where political rivals describe each other as "evil" and "enemies," it is imperative to remember that in America, "our political opponents are not evil, they are just our opponents," according to Ambassador Nikki R. Haley.

    The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was the keynote speaker at the 73rd annual dinner of the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Oct. 18 at the New York Hilton.

    Haley distinguished the heated rhetoric from the "true evil" she has witnessed in South Sudan, Syria and North Korea since she arrived at the United Nations in 2016.

    The Al Smith dinner honors the memory of the former governor of New York, who was the first Catholic nominated by a major political party to run for president of the United States. Proceeds from the $3,000-a-plate event help needy children in the greater New York area. The foundation distributed $3.4 million in grants after last year's dinner.

    The event drew 700 guests to the traditionally festive gathering of political, religious and philanthropic New Yorkers. Among those sharing the three-tiered dais were New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Sen. Chuck Schumer, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Jeff Glor, anchor of the "CBS Evening News."

    Comedian Jim Gaffigan was the dinner's master of ceremonies. He poked fun at the presumed wealth of the guests, whom he described as a "distinguished diverse group of rich, super-rich and Michael Bloomberg."

    Bloomberg, the billionaire former three-term mayor of New York, also was seated on the dais. Gaffigan said wearing a white bow tie and tails and looking at the sea of diners in formal attire made him feel "like I'm in an ugly episode of Downton Abbey."

    He introduced Haley as "the next president of the United States," in a nod to widespread speculation that the Oct. 9 announcement she will leave her U.N. post at the end of the year signifies her intention to run for the presidency. Haley, the Republican former governor of South Carolina, has denied that she will challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.

    She made light of the unexpected news of her departure. Haley said she asked Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, the event's host, if there was anything she could do to boost attendance at the dinner. "He said, "Why don't you resign as U.S. ambassador?'" she said.

    Haley joked that as a member of Trump's Cabinet, "it's a thrill to be out to dinner without being harassed."

    She said Trump, who spoke at the 2016 dinner with then-opponent Hillary Clinton, offered her advice about her speech. "He said if I get stuck for laughs, just brag about his accomplishments. It really killed at the U.N."

    Haley said she learned a lot during her tenure at the U.N. Despite the serious disagreements and differences among the 193 member nations, "at one point, every single one of them was paying Paul Manafort," she laughed.

    Haley said her parents emigrated from India "legally, but I keep them at an undisclosed location, just in case." She said when Trump heard she was an Indian American, "he asked if I was from the same tribe as Elizabeth Warren."

    Despite the lighthearted tone of the event, the clergy sex abuse scandal and its fallout hung in the air and were addressed head-on by the speakers. In his invocation, Cardinal Dolan, the dinner's host, asked God's mercy "on a church we have also blushed at" for its response to the issue.

    Haley said sexual abuse is not limited to the Catholic family and the church "recognizes its deep responsibility to address this moral failing."

    "It would be tragic to allow the abuse scandal to blind anyone to the amazing good works the Catholic church does every single day," Haley said. "In the last two years, I have been to some very dark places where human suffering is on a level hard for most Americans to imagine."

    She described a South American border area where church organizations are the sole providers of food and a refugee camp in central Africa where the church is on the forefront of those seeking change.

    "Just about everywhere I've been, I've come across the Catholic Church doing incredible work that lifts up millions of desperate people. It is serving God's will," she said.

    Gaffigan said 1928, the year Al Smith ran for president, "was a tough year to be a Catholic," as was 2018. Introducing himself, Gaffigan said, to applause, "Unlike many Catholics in America who were raised Catholic, I am still Catholic and I still go to church every Sunday. Mostly, I'm afraid to tell my wife I don't want to go."

    Gaffigan and his wife are both from large Catholic families. "She is one of nine and they do everything together," he said. A movie outing at Christmas included 30 people. "That's not a group, it's a flash mob. People thought we were from a church. To put in in perspective, Jesus only walked around with 12."

    The comedian said he and his wife "have recreated the chaos of our childhoods" by raising a young family of five in Manhattan. He said the real reason he accepted Cardinal Dolan's invitation to emcee the dinner was the optimistic hope that the cardinal would "write some recommendations" for his children.

    During the dinner, Lowell C. McAdam, chairman and former chief executive officer of Verizon Communications, received the Happy Warrior Award. The distinction recalls the nickname given to Al Smith by Franklin D. Roosevelt at the 1924 Democratic Convention. The award recognizes someone who epitomizes Gov. Smith's character, grace and leadership by making a positive impact on others.

    Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn offered the benediction.

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

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  • All six dioceses in Illinois sued over clergy sexual abuse allegations

    CHICAGO (CNS) -- Attorney Jeff Anderson, who has represented clergy abuse victims nationwide, filed a lawsuit Oct. 18 in Chicago against all six Catholic dioceses in Illinois and the Illinois Catholic Conference for what he described as an ongoing effort to cover up clergy sexual abuse. The lawsuit wants the state's dioceses to release all of their records on abusive priests. Anderson filed the suit along with three others who said they were sexually abused by priests. The lawsuit does not seek damages and only claims instances of abuse against children in three dioceses -- Rockford, Peoria and Springfield -- but according to Anderson, all of the dioceses have had a role in covering up clergy sexual abuse. The claims of abuse cited date from the early 1970s through the late 1990s. All of the dioceses issued statements in response to the suit. The Springfield Diocese said the lawsuit "visibly displayed the emotional and physical harm and long-suffering of victims of abuse by clergy, reminding us all of the vigilance and urgency with which we need to treat the issue of abuse by clergy." But it also said the suit's claims it has "failed to acknowledge this evil" and engaged in a cover-up is false. The other five dioceses also disputed some of the suit's claims; all six said they have been cooperating with the state attorney general and would continue to do so. Their statements have been posted on the website of the Illinois Catholic Conference, https://bit.ly/2J7Z74I.

    Bishops to vote on national directory for deacon formation, ministry

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops are slated to vote on whether to approve a revised national directory for permanent deacons when they meet Nov. 12-14 in Baltimore. The Vatican approval, known as a "recognitio," for directory currently in use was scheduled to expire in 2009, but the bishops have secured a pair of five-year extensions from the Vatican so the directory could be more closely scrutinized. The permanent diaconate was reinstituted in the United States 50 years ago, in 1968. The proposed version of the directory, which would be a second edition, was approved by the bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations in June, after revising the document based on recommendations of the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance and the Committee on Doctrine. The bishops' Administrative Committee meeting in September approved including consideration of the document on the fall general meeting agenda. The proposed directory, which would be effective for all U.S. Latin-rite dioceses, gives instruction on the formation, ministry and life of permanent deacons. "To the extent he is more present and more involved than the priest in secular environments and structures, he should feel encouraged to foster closeness between the ordained ministry and lay activities, in common service to the kingdom of God," it says.

    Bishops to consider translated hymn texts for Liturgy of the Hours

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops are set to consider 139 English translations of Latin hymn texts that can be used in praying the Liturgy of the Hours when they meet Nov. 12-14 in Baltimore for their fall general assembly. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops "approved a scope of work for a new translation of the breviary in November 2012," Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship, wrote in September to the USCCB's Administrative Committee, which approves placement of items on the agenda. "That plan (in 2012) directed ICEL (the International Commission on English in the Liturgy) to prepare English translations of the 291 Latin hymns of the typical edition, some of which have never been put into contemporary English," Archbishop Gregory said. The 139 translations are the completed portion of those hymns. "Pending a successful vote in November 2018, the remaining hymns will likely be presented to the full body in November 2019 or June 2020," he added. "Since this represents a significant change from the current breviary, the committee would like to arrange for the presence of a small choir to give a very brief demonstration of the way the new translations can be used with both Gregorian and familiar tunes."

    'Ugly cancer of racism' infects U.S., bishops say in proposed pastoral

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- "Despite many promising strides made in our country, the ugly cancer of racism still infects our nation," the U.S. bishops say in a proposed pastoral letter on racism. The proposed statement, "Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love -- A Pastoral Letter Against Racism," will be considered for approval during the bishops' Nov. 12-14 fall general meeting in Baltimore. "Racist acts are sinful because they violate justice. They reveal a failure to acknowledge the human dignity of the persons offended, to recognize them as the neighbors Christ calls us to love," the proposed pastoral letter says. "Every racist act -- every such comment, every joke, every disparaging look as a reaction to the color of skin, ethnicity or place of origin -- is a failure to acknowledge another person as a brother or sister, created in the image of God," it adds. "Racial profiling frequently targets Hispanics for selective immigration enforcement practices, and African-Americans for suspected criminal activity," it continues. "There is also the growing fear and harassment of persons from majority Muslim countries. Extreme nationalist ideologies are feeding the American public discourse with xenophobic rhetoric that instigates fear against foreigners, immigrants and refugees."

    Smith dinner's tone lighthearted, but abuse crisis not ignored in remarks

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- In the current toxic environment where political rivals describe each other as "evil" and "enemies," it is imperative to remember that in America, "our political opponents are not evil, they are just our opponents," according to Ambassador Nikki R. Haley. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was the keynote speaker at the 73rd annual dinner of the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Oct. 18 at the New York Hilton. Haley distinguished the heated rhetoric from the "true evil" she has witnessed in South Sudan, Syria and North Korea since she arrived at the United Nations in 2016. The Al Smith dinner honors the memory of the former governor of New York, who was the first Catholic nominated by a major political party to run for president of the United States. Proceeds from the $3,000-a-plate event help needy children in the greater New York area. The foundation distributed $3.4 million in grants after last year's dinner. The event drew 700 guests to the traditionally festive gathering of political, religious and philanthropic New Yorkers. Among those sharing the three-tiered dais were New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Sen. Chuck Schumer, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Jeff Glor, anchor of the "CBS Evening News."

    Former nuncio claims vindication after Cardinal Ouellet's response

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano said he is convinced he was right to accuse Pope Francis and church officials of failing to act on accusations that then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick engaged in sexual misconduct and sexual harassment. Archbishop Vigano, the former nuncio to the United States, said an open letter released Oct. 7 by Cardinal Marc Ouellet confirmed many of the allegations he first made in late August, when he called on Pope Francis to resign. The archbishop's response to Cardinal Ouellet was published Oct. 19 by Italian blogger Marco Tosatti. "Cardinal Ouellet has written to rebuke me for my temerity in breaking silence and leveling such grave accusations against my brothers and superiors, but in truth his remonstrance confirms me in my decision and, even more, serves to vindicate my claims," Archbishop Vigano said. The archbishop had issued an open letter to Cardinal Ouellet in late September urging him to tell what he knew about now-Archbishop McCarrick. Archbishop Vigano's letter followed a massive statement in mid-August calling on Pope Francis to resign because, he claimed, Pope Francis had known there were sanctions on Cardinal McCarrick and not only did he lift them, he allegedly made Cardinal McCarrick a trusted confidante and adviser on bishops' appointments in the United States.

    Justice Department opens investigation into abuse claims in Pennsylvania

    PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has received a subpoena as part of a federal grand jury investigating allegations of child sexual abuse and a cover-up of such claims, church officials confirmed Oct. 18. The subpoena "requires the production of certain documents," said Ken Gavin, archdiocesan spokesperson, and the archdiocese "will cooperate with the United States Department of Justice in this matter." The same day, the Diocese of Harrisburg released a statement saying it "will cooperate fully with this inquiry, just as it has with the Office of Attorney General's investigation," which resulted in the release last summer of a statewide grand jury report on allegations of sex abuse by priests and other church workers. Among other diocesan reaction, the Allentown Diocese said it, too, would fully cooperate. News reports by the Associated Press say the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District, based in Philadelphia and led by William M. McSwain, had recently begun serving subpoenas in the new statewide probe. The Catholic Church in Pennsylvania consists of eight dioceses: the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the dioceses of Allentown, Altoona-Johnstown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton.

    Hypocrisy can be a leaven impeding spiritual growth, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Hypocrisy is the leaven that causes men and women to be self-centered and indifferent to the world around them, Pope Francis said. "This leaven is dangerous," the pope said Oct. 19 in his homily during Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. "It is a leaven that grows inward, a leaven that grows without a future because in selfishness, in looking inward, there is no future." The pope reflected on the day's Gospel reading from St. Luke in which Jesus warns his disciples to "beware of the leaven -- that is, the hypocrisy -- of the Pharisees. There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore, whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops," Jesus said. The Pharisees of the time, the pope explained, were those who were "closed in on themselves" and whose only concern was their own selfishness and security.

    Doctrine won't change, but LGBTQ Catholics need care, U.S. observer says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- One small group's discussions at the Synod of Bishops concerning the LGBTQ community focused on how the Catholic Church could best minister to people who already feel marginalized and attacked by the church itself, a U.S. synod participant said. Catholic Church "doctrine isn't going to change, we just need to find a way to make them feel that Jesus loves them," Yadira Vieyra said Oct. 19 at a Vatican briefing for reporters. Vieyra, 29, is a specialist in child development and works in Chicago, helping migrant families. She had told America Magazine an interview published Oct. 12 that issues concerning gender and sexuality were being "discussed extensively" in her small working group during the synod on youth, faith and discernment. "It was controversial, it was heated," she told the publication. A reporter at the briefing asked Vieyra to expand on her comments about what was happening at those discussions. "In terms of the topic of the LGBT community," Vieyra responded, "we were talking in terms of how do we better minister to a group that has been, that feels attacked."

    Documentation on 'Humanae Vitae' goes beyond polemics, cardinal says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In the long process of drafting a document on the regulation of births, St. Paul VI rejected a version that "was limited to a rigorous reaffirmation of doctrine to which Christians and all people were asked to adhere docilely and without reservation," said Cardinal Pietro Parolin. In conjunction with the canonization Oct. 14 of St. Paul VI and the 50th anniversary of his encyclical, "Humanae Vitae" ("Of Human Life"), Cardinal Parolin spoke at an event Oct. 18 at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The event focused on the book, "The Birth of an Encyclical: 'Humanae Vitae' in the Light of the Vatican Archives." Pope Francis gave Msgr. Gilfredo Marengo, a professor at Rome's Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences, access to still-closed archives to study the development of the encyclical and publish the book. The volume documents the consultation process that went into the encyclical's formulation and Pope Paul's insistence that couples who would struggle to follow the teaching be listened to, welcomed and treated with mercy, Msgr. Marengo said. The "debates and opposition" that followed the encyclical's publication in 1968, Cardinal Parolin said, made it impossible for many people to see its accent on mercy, notice the lengths it goes to understand the modern problems facing families, and discover Pope Paul's support for "the emancipation of women."

    March for Life in January will emphasize 'pro-life is pro-science'

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Next year's March for Life plans to fortify its pro-life message with science that proves life begins at conception and with a specific focus on stem-cell research. "Unique From Day One: Pro-Life Is Pro-Science" is the theme announced Oct. 18 by Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund. The annual march is scheduled for Jan. 18 to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide "Our DNA is present at the moment of fertilization," Mancini said at the Capitol Hill announcement. "Sadly, society tries to ignore or block these facts. When President Obama was asked, 'When does life begin?' he replied that was above his pay grade." She was referring to Barack Obama when he was running for president and was asked in 2008 during a Dallas forum with evangelical pastor Rick Warren: "When does a baby get human rights?" Obama replied, "Whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity ' is above my pay grade." "Science should always be at the service of life, not the reverse," Mancini said.

    Ukraine's war forms young Christian leaders, archbishop says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The horror of the ongoing war in Eastern Ukraine is shaping the moral compass of a generation of young Ukrainians and preparing them to be heroic Christian leaders, said the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. "Frequently, a young person that has suffered, that has gazed into the eyes of death on the field of battle or who has braved bombs to save the life of civilians, learning to preserve life in extreme conditions, understands the value of human life better than an arrogant priest or kleptocratic politician," Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk told the Synod of Bishops Oct. 18. Confronted by Russian "military aggression," young Ukrainians especially "are dying for our country," thus becoming the "principal protagonists of the transformation of our society," the archbishop told the synod, which is discussing "young people, the faith and vocational discernment." The Ukrainian Catholic Church, headed by Archbishop Shevchuk, survived almost total destruction by the Soviet Union in the 20th century and has since risen to an increasingly prominent role in national life and politics.

    Uganda investigates whereabouts of vehicles used in 2015 papal visit

    ARU, Congo (CNS) -- Authorities in Uganda are investigating the whereabouts and the cost of the special vehicles used to transport Pope Francis during his 2015 visit to the country. The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament Oct. 18 quizzed officials from the office of President Yoweri Museveni about the vehicles. The investigation stems from queries raised by the country's auditor general in a report of finances covering the 2015-2016 period. Members of parliament were irked to learn that the two vehicles, a Kia Soul hatchback and a Mitsubishi L200 pickup truck, which were purchased at $35,940 and $50,631, respectively, went missing at the time of the audit. "We want an explanation about the inflated cost of the vehicles," said Gerald Karuhanga, a member of parliament. "We are also interested in knowing where the vehicles are at the moment."

    Church must reach out to young non-Catholics, Venezuelan says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church must help not only its own young people but also non-Catholics to become active members in society and true disciples in a chaotic world, a Venezuelan observer told the Synod of Bishops. Maria Jose Rojas, executive director of the Venezuelan bishops' conference youth office, told synod members that, unfortunately, young Catholics working to ease the suffering of their fellow Venezuelans "are doing it alone." Under the administration of President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has suffered an economic meltdown due to hyperinflation that has driven up the cost of basic necessities and forced many citizens to search the garbage for food or starve. Nevertheless, the dire situation has mobilized young people in the church to join forces with "non-ecclesial" volunteer programs in universities and organizations to feed the hungry, visit the sick and collect clothes and medicine, Rojas told synod members Oct. 17. "We are betting on solidarity, fraternity and peace, but we are doing it alone, separated from other young people who, although they are not Catholics like us, also feel the desire to build a better world," Rojas said.

    Vietnam releases, then exiles jailed Catholic blogger

    HANOI, Vietnam (CNS) -- Vietnam has freed a well-known Catholic blogger and rights activist jailed two years ago for posting anti-government material on social media and forced her into exile in the United States. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known as "Mother Mushroom," was driven from Prison Camp No. 5 in Vietnam's northern province of Thanh Hoa to Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on Oct. 17, the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers said. "Security officers only allowed Quynh to speak to officials from the U.S. embassy in Hanoi at the airport for five minutes before putting her on a flight at noon," the network said in a statement. Quynh, 39, met her two children and mother, Nguyen Tuyet Lan, on the plane, which arrived in Houston the same day, ucanews.com reported. "Quynh was freed after 2 years and 7 days in jail in Vietnam. A new stage in the life of a woman who fights tirelessly for human rights, national sovereignty and environmental protection will begin," the network said.

    Album of saints has many young ones and room for more, cardinal says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- All saints are exceptional, but the canonization of 19-year-old St. Nunzio Sulprizio wasn't, if one considers how many young people officially have been recognized by the Catholic Church, said the cardinal who leads the Vatican office in charge of documenting holy lives. Cardinal Angelo Becciu is prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, an office that was established in 1588 to standardize the process used to determine which holy men and women would be recognized as saints and have their feast days added to the church's calendar. St. Nunzio Sulprizio was canonized Oct. 14 in the same ceremony that proclaimed the holiness of St. Paul VI, who was pope from 1963 to 1978, and St. Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, who was assassinated in 1980 while celebrating Mass. In the 430 years since his office was established, Cardinal Becciu told the Synod of Bishops Oct. 17 that about 160 young people -- under the age of 30 -- have been canonized and another 733 have been beatified or declared "blessed," which is the step before they are recognized as saints.

    Synod final document must include scandal of trafficking, cardinal says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The scandal of human trafficking, which affects millions of young people in the world, needs to be included in the Synod of Bishops' final document, one synod father said. It is estimated that more than 40 million people are held in some form of slavery "and the vast majority of those are young people," British Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster told the synod Oct. 18. Traffickers and criminals often take advantage of the insecurity or poverty of young people as they seek to find employment or embark on "dangerous journeys" in search of a better life, he said in his talk. The "horrific crime of modern-day slavery and human trafficking" is, as Pope Francis has said, "an open wound in the body of humanity," said the cardinal, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. Trafficking touches every country in the world and everybody, he said, explaining how the batteries powering the mobile phones in people's pockets are manufactured using cobalt, which "children in forced labor in central Africa dig out of the earth with their bare hands."

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

  • Bishop: Sudanese diocese strained with influx of South Sudanese refugees

    NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- As war continues in South Sudan, a neighboring diocese in Sudan is housing more than 200,000 South Sudanese refugees, its bishop said. Bishop Yunan Andali of El Obeid, Sudan, said 200,000 is the number registered -- many have not registered. More than half of the registered refugees are Catholics, which presents a pastoral challenge for church leaders, who are offering humanitarian as well as spiritual assistance. South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011. However, over the past several years, a civil war has escalated to what the U.N. Refugee Agency calls a "full-blown humanitarian emergency." "The total number of South Sudanese refugees has now passed 2 million; it is the largest refugee crisis in Africa, and the third-largest in the world," said the website of the UNHCR. It notes that 65 percent of South Sudanese refugees are under the age of 18. Uganda is hosting more than 1 million South Sudanese refugees. Bishop Andali said some in Uganda are not receiving religious services. The El Obeid Diocese is one of the two dioceses that remained Sudan after the split with South Sudan. El Obeid serves much of Darfur and the Nuba Mountain regions.

    Scalabrini shelter in Guatemala swamped by Hondurans seeking safety

    MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- A Scalabrini migrant shelter in Guatemala City has served 1,700 Hondurans heading north as part of a caravan seeking to reach the U.S. border. Carlos Lopez, a shelter official, told Catholic News Service the Scalabrini facility in Guatemala normally serves up to 80 guests at a time, but the number of migrants arriving from Honduras has forced the shelter to offer lodging in a nearby school. Resources, he added, are strained and "staff are exhausted," having worked 48 hours nonstop. Rain is also making life miserable for migrants traveling mostly on foot and sometimes forced to sleep outside. "We have a soccer field full of people, in the dining room, in every nook and cranny. They're on the bleachers, in the school gym," he said Oct. 18. "The problem now is feeding people and hygiene. ... We're experiencing chaos right now." A caravan of Hondurans departed the city of San Pedro Sula Oct. 13, but its ranks swelled as it crossed into Guatemala. Lopez said no one was certain of the caravan's exact size, but he compared it to a "snowball going downhill" and estimated it at more than 5,000 participants.

    Priest urges families of accident victims to put 'faith, trust in Jesus'

    AMSTERDAM, N.Y. (CNS) -- A tragic limousine crash in Schoharie that took the lives of 20 people just the week before has changed "our lives, our community" forever, Peter Rose said in welcoming the congregation at the funeral Mass for eight of the victims Oct. 13 at St. Stanislaus Church in Amsterdam. "In a time of so much darkness, so much pain, you will leave here today enfolded in the love of Jesus and the love of this community," he said. Rose, of Betz, Rossi, Bellinger and Stewart Family funeral homes, spoke of how the community would continue to support one another in love, "because we are Amsterdam strong." About 800 people filled the church as family, friends and community members all gathered to offer their condolences and support. Prayer intentions mentioned not just the victims and their loved ones, but the first responders and all those present. Remembered in prayer were the four King sisters, their husbands and the brother of one of the husbands: Mary King Dyson and Robert Dyson, Allison King, Abigail King Jackson and Adam Jackson, Amy King Steenburg and Axel Steenburg, and Richard Steenburg Jr. The accident also took the lives of Patrick Cushing and his girlfriend, Amanda Halse; newlyweds Erin Vertucci McGowan and Shane McGowan; Amanda Rivenburg; Rachael Cavosie; Matthew Coons; Savannah DeVonne Bursese; Michael Ukaj; and pedestrians Brian Hough and his father-in-law, James Schnurr. The driver of the limousine, Scott Lisinicchia, was also killed.

    Indian diocese near China border sees faith increase, violence decrease

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In one remote corner of India, a nation where Hindu nationalists control the government and have been accused of stoking intolerance and violence against religious minorities, the Catholic Church is faring quite well. In the Diocese of Miao, in Arunachal Pradesh state in extreme eastern India near the Chinese border, the Catholic faith is growing, said Bishop George Pallipparambil. Catholics make up about 20 percent of the relatively new diocese's population, said Bishop Pallipparambil, who was in Washington Oct. 17 on the second week of a U.S. trip to raise funds to support the diocese and to thank donors. Bolstering education and the economy, decreasing violence and giving greater dignity to girls and women have proven key, Bishop Pallipparambil said, and the trends show continued growth within the diocese. The India-born bishop, 65, who was ordained a priest of the Salesians of Don Bosco, had one of his first assignments in Miao. It was a five-day journey just to get to Miao, whose current population is about 25,000. "There were tribes. There were headhunters. There was much violence throughout," he said. "India and China fought a border war over the land, and the (Indian) military runs it as a state within a state," he said.

    Australian students, alumni urge synod not to use 'ambiguous language'

    SYDNEY (CNS) -- More than 200 Australian Catholic university students and alumni told the Synod of Bishops that young Catholics cannot be well formed in their faith when prelates create confusion by using "ambiguous language" on key issues "despite Christ's clear teaching, the church fathers and the clear dogma of the church." Among the matters they specified were being treated ambiguously were the church's teaching on contraception, sexuality, Communion for divorcees and non-Catholics, married priests and female ordination. "Such ambiguity is neither charitable nor desired by the youth and needs to be addressed by this synod," they wrote in the letter to the Synod of Bishops on young people and vocations. The letter was signed by 217 students and alumni, including virtually all officeholders and leaders of the Australian Catholic Students' Association. "Some of the synod fathers wish to avoid a church of 'rules' which fail to encourage a personal relationship with Jesus Christ," they wrote. "However, these rules lead us to Christ, they always have. We need the church to explain why and how this is." They urged the synod not to fall into the trap of adopting "policy speak" as opposed to clarity in speaking to young Catholics throughout the world.

    Longtime Catholic journalist, Gary Morton, dies at age 68

    WILMINGTON, De. (CNS) -- Gary Morton, longtime editor and staff writer of The Dialog, newspaper of the Wilmington Diocese, died Sept. 29 after a brief illness. He was 68. A funeral Mass was celebrated at Resurrection Church in Wilmington Oct. 6 followed by a private burial. Morton, a Texas native, who came to work at The Dialog in 1996, was described by many as the Southern gentleman of the news operation for his easygoing and likeable ways. He spent 50 years in journalism, first working in mainstream news with the Fort Worth Press, Waco Tribune and Abilene Reporter News. He then aligned his work with his faith, working for The Florida Catholic and The Dialog, diocesan newspapers. He was a longtime member of the Catholic Press Association. He was also a contributing writer in the development office in the Wilmington Diocese. "He was a man of integrity and deep faith," said Deborah Fols, diocesan development director. "When you encountered him, he made you feel very comfortable and you walked away feeling like you knew him for many years. He took pride in his work and he was happy to match that with his faith."

    Synod about learning from Christ, not producing document, bishop says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The point of the Synod of Bishops on young people is not primarily to produce a document, but instead is to learn from Christ how to "bring God's mercy into the world," Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, said in a homily at the synod. "We have come to sit at the feet of the 'Divine Physician' and learn from him how to become physicians of broken hearts, among youth, young adults, and all God's people," the bishop said Oct. 18. Each day a different bishop is chosen to give a homily during midmorning prayer at the synod. Speaking on the feast of Saint Luke, Bishop Caggiano began by asking, "How can one heal a broken heart? It is a question that no disciple of the Lord can avoid asking, since it was to heal broken hearts that our savior came among us," he said. The young physician, Luke, was among the many doctors who sought to "remedy the brokenness of life" with their own skills and tools. But he learned that there was a better way to heal after the Holy Spirit inspired him: He unlocked the power of divine mercy, the bishop said.

    Women's voice needed to fight clericalism, 'macho' culture, cardinal says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The church needs to further integrate women into ecclesial life to confront the problems of clericalism and an exaggerated sense of masculinity, a Vatican official told the Synod of Bishops. In his address to the synod members Oct. 18, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, said he agreed with the working document's assertion that there sometimes is "an ecclesial inability to recognize, welcome and foster the creativity of the 'feminine genius.' The participation of authoritative women in the discussion has shown us that it is possible and necessary to accelerate the processes of struggle against the 'machista' culture and clericalism, to develop respect for women and the recognition of their charisms as well as their equal integration in the life of society and the church," the cardinal said. The importance of women, as well as a proposed Synod of Bishops "on the theme of the woman in the life and mission of the church," were discussed in-depth during the March 6-9 plenary meeting of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, the cardinal recalled.

    The men in black habits show knack for making great beer at new brewery

    MOUNT ANGEL, Ore. (CNS) -- It's a brand-new brewery with a tradition reaching back 1,500 years, its charisms including welcoming visitors and giving the monks involved a way to earn a living for Mount Angel Abbey. "It's part of our tradition of hospitality," said Benedictine Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, who greeted one friend after another -- some for the first time -- at the Benedictine Brewery's grand opening. He noted that while meeting a priest in a church might create an uncomfortable atmosphere for some visitors, the brewery offered a chance to relax and see the monks at work. "It's like buckshot: It's a chance to talk with people, not necessarily about God, but to share a good beer, and then who knows?" Benedictine Father Martin Grassel is brewmaster, something he'd never planned for. He was already a priest when he began brewing beer, something that, as it turned out, he was good at. Abbot Jeremy decided that a brewery had a place "on the hill," or rather, at the foot of the hill just a couple hundred feet shy of Abbey Drive, which leads to Mount Angel Abbey.

    Synod of Bishops aims at peripheries with letter to world's young people

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops wanted to speak to the world's young people with a special letter that was to be drafted by a commission representing the global church. The eight-person commission is made up of four bishops, two young women -- one from the United States -- the leader of the Taize community and an Italian priest, all of whom are taking part in the synod. During the proceedings of the synod on young people, the faith and vocational discernment, some synod members had proposed crafting a letter addressed to all young people around the world, the Vatican said Oct. 18. With Pope Francis' consent, an international commission was set up to draft the text, which was then to be reviewed by the synod participants.

    Russian Orthodox says ecumenical cooperation can help young people

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Firm in their faith in Jesus and working together, Orthodox and Catholic young people can resist forces trying to remove all traces of faith from society and even could reverse that trend, Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk told the Synod of Bishops. Speaking to the synod Oct. 18 as one of the "fraternal delegates" or ecumenical observers at the gathering, Metropolitan Hilarion said that, since the fall of communism, young people have been returning to the Orthodox Church in Russia. And, he said, "the upbringing of youth in the Christian spirit is a project that we, the Orthodox, are willing to implement together with the Catholics." Since 2015, the Moscow Patriarchate and the Vatican have cooperated to promote exchange programs for their seminarians and young clergy. The Orthodox visit the Vatican and the Catholics spend time in Russia, which "helps us to overcome misconceptions, enriches us spiritually and lays the foundation for cooperation between our churches."

    Mary Anne Castranio recalled for devotion to faith, Catholic journalism

    ATLANTA (CNS) -- One of Mary Anne Castranio's biggest joys came only after facing her fears. Castranio hated to fly but still boarded an airplane for a life-altering trip in June 1998. Then in her early 40s, she traveled to China to be united with her daughter, Amy, whom she adopted. Marking the 20th anniversary of the adoption this year, she wrote on her Facebook account, "The very best, most wonderful baby girl became my daughter. The joy continues on." From that experience, she fostered tight-knit friendships with families with children adopted from China. "Mary Anne was the kindest of souls. She never met a stranger. She was very loving. Her faith for God always shone through in everything she did. Amy was the light of her life," said Karen Campbell, a longtime friend who also adopted her daughter from China. Castranio, executive editor of The Georgia Bulletin, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, died Oct. 12. She was 61. She had traveled to Washington for a meeting with Catholic Press Association and Catholic News Service colleagues when she collapsed.

    Report: Immigrant aid agencies urge end to family separation policies

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A report from two leading faith-based agencies serving immigrants entering the United States from Mexico and Central America called on the federal government to end a policy of separating children from their families and help families comply with immigration law. The report details the collaboration in July between the U.S. bishops' Office of Migration and Refugee Services and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service to assist more than 1,200 families to reunite after children were separated from adults under the U.S. Department of Justice's "zero tolerance" policy. The policy caused a crisis at the border in the spring and summer months this year as federal agents jailed adults crossing into the U.S. and placed the children who had accompanied them in detention centers, largely in Texas, Arizona and California. The faith-based agencies mobilized in July to assist the departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services reunify separated families and provide shelter, food, clothing, counseling and case management. Dozens of Catholic Charities and Lutheran social service agencies throughout the country also were involved in the reunification effort.

    Pope, meeting South Korean leader, says he's open to visiting North

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis, at a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said he is willing to visit North Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had asked Moon to tell the pope of the invitation. According to Yonhap, the Korean news agency, Moon's press secretary told reporters the pope said he would accept "if an (official) invitation arrives and I can go.'" Meeting the South Korean president Oct. 18, the pope praised Moon's efforts to promote peace in the Korean peninsula. "Move forward without stopping. Do not be afraid," the pope told Moon according to Yonhap. In a statement released after the meeting, the Vatican said Pope Francis and Moon discussed the church's role in promoting "dialogue and reconciliation between Koreans. Strong appreciation was expressed for the common commitment to fostering all useful initiatives to overcome the tensions that still exist in the Korean Peninsula, in order to usher in a new season of peace and development," the Vatican said.

    Even church-going young people need to know Jesus, archbishop says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While young Catholics know God's name, many of them have not encountered Jesus as their Lord and savior, said Polish Archbishop Grzegorz Rys of Lodz. "It is not their fault, it is our fault surely: the God they know is just a name, a word, a catechetical definition, an abstract -- but not a person -- living and important enough to ask him questions!" Archbishop Rys told the Synod of Bishops Oct. 16. The archbishop focused his speech on the importance of "kerygma," the Greek term for the initial proclamation of salvation in Christ and call to conversion. "It is fundamental," Archbishop Rys said. "It is the reason for our existence as the church." At a retreat last Lent in his diocese, he said, he realized that young people do not experience "kerygma" or fully understand the importance of a personal relationship with the Lord. The telltale sign, he said, came when the 7,000 young people, aged 16 to 19, were asked what question they would like to ask God. "More than 2,000 of them responded: 'I have no question for God!'" the archbishop said.

    Synod: Church must help young people be ethical citizens, politicians

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The importance of helping young people become ethical, active citizens who are unafraid of taking part in politics was a topic brought up by two members of the Synod of Bishops Oct. 16. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, told the synod it was "urgent" to help form young people so they become active citizens or active in politics, driven by the commandment to love, which includes building a more just society. The current crisis in democracy in the West, he said, is rooted in a lack of these values to the point that many people today consider "the miracle of unselfish love" as being "absurd." This skepticism also can be seen in the way immigrants are treated, in the ongoing problems of violence and poverty, the lack of solidarity and people's indifference toward the law and justice, the cardinal said. "Such an emergency requires giving a response," he said. It is not enough for that response to be played out in the "private" sphere, on a personal level of loving one's own neighbor, he said. It demands that everyone also fulfill their responsibilities on a social, political and institutional level as well, he added.

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  • Update: Bishop Cistone, sixth bishop of Saginaw, dies at 69

    SAGINAW, Mich. (CNS) -- Bishop Joseph R. Cistone of Saginaw, 69, died in his home during the night, according to a diocesan statement Oct. 16. According to local news reports in Michigan, officials responding to an emergency call Oct. 16 at his residence found the bishop was deceased. The Saginaw Diocese confirmed the death of Bishop Cistone, saying he died the previous night. He had been scheduled for a medical procedure Oct. 16 to relieve the symptoms of lung cancer, the diocese said. Bishop Cistone's funeral Mass will be celebrated Oct. 23 at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption in Saginaw. Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit will be the main celebrant, and the homily will be given by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia. Visitation will take place during the day Oct. 21 and 22 at the cathedral. There will be an evening vigil liturgy, also at the cathedral. Last February Bishop Cistone announced that he had begun treatment for lung cancer. Last February, the bishop was optimistic about what was to be a six-month treatment. He had experienced a persistent cough and labored breathing since September 2017, and he sought tests that diagnosed the cancer. On Oct. 17 the Saginaw Diocese announced that Pope Francis has appointed retired Bishop Walter A. Hurley of Grand Rapids as apostolic administrator, effective immediately.

    Catholic deaf group re-energized with Masses, social media, youth

    PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- Even in the solitude of her room at a retirement center, Anita Jazowick prays in sign language. She said she tells God her hopes and that she looks forward to seeing him. Jazowick is part of the Catholic Deaf Community of the Archdiocese of Portland, formed 60 years ago and recently energized with Masses in sign language each Sunday, a website, social media and a youth group. In addition to traveling to various churches in western Oregon, the ministry has found a home at St. Peter Parish in Portland. There, a chapel was outfitted with a semicircle of chairs and bright lights, both optimal for people worshipping in sign language. Jazowick became deaf as a child in Canada. At Mass with hearing people, everyone just waved and smiled. No one seemed to want to know her. That changed when she found St. Peter Chapel. Worshipping with other deaf Catholics feels like home for Jazowick. She signs prayers and responses with others and communicates after Mass with peers who understand. "Everybody is deaf here," Jazowick signed. "It is so nice to just communicate straight. I look forward to this every week. I learn so much. There is definitely so much happiness, an abundance of happiness."

    Faith-centered primary care clinic takes place of Iowa abortion facility

    BETTENDORF, Iowa (CNS) -- Before Planned Parenthood of the Heartland opened its Bettendorf clinic in 1999, pro-life advocates prayed fervently against construction of the facility and dropped religious medals into the earth on which it would be built. For the next two decades, they prayed unceasingly for closure of the clinic where abortions were performed. Prayers have been answered in what pro-life advocates call "The miracle on Happy Joe Drive." The Planned Parenthood building where unborn babies' lives were ended has been cleansed, cleaned and transformed into a faith-centered primary care clinic and a pregnancy support and resources center. While helping to paint the building's interior in calming cool colors, a painter told someone that she felt a sense of peace. Twenty years earlier, she had traveled to an abortion provider elsewhere but decided against having an abortion. She is grateful to be a mother to a young adult she chose to give birth to and nurture, pro-life advocates said. The figure-eight-shaped building that was Planned Parenthood now is home to Life & Family Medical Clinic, a faith-centered primary care clinic, and the Women's Choice Center, which provides support for pregnant women, new parents and their families. Both are pro-life ministries of Life & Family Educational Trust. Board members anticipate opening the new, direct primary care medical clinic in early 2019.

    Chinese provincial official: Vatican will interfere in religious affairs

    HONG KONG (CNS) -- The Vatican is still planning to interfere in affairs of the Catholic Church in China, a provincial religious affairs official told local Catholic representatives at a government seminar. The Vatican and China signed a provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops in September. But PowerPoint slides prepared by Xiong Huaqi, deputy director of the Hubei Provincial Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee, included one that stated, "Vatican's attempt to interfere with our Catholic affairs has not changed," reported ucanews.com. The PowerPoint presentation accused some Catholics of having "lost their minds" because they did not know whether to be loyal to China or the Vatican. It said they were "confused" over the principle of the church in China having to be self-administered and independent of foreign pressures. It asserted that advocacy by the Vatican and negative speeches would not stop, only become "more subtle and more diversified in the future." More than 80 priests, nuns and lay representatives from the province participated; some spoke to ucanews.com.

    'Every parish, rectory in hurricane zone' suffering, says church official

    MIAMI (CNS) -- The physical impact of Hurricane Michael and the anticipated recovery period for parts of the Florida Panhandle appear to be on a scale of last year's Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, according to the church's top emergency management specialist in Florida. "The devastation is so large that we looking at couple of years at least in recovery," said Gabe Tischler, who is working full time on the Hurricane Michael response for the Tallahassee-based Florida Catholic Conference following the storm's Oct. 10 landfall. The event brought near Category-5 strength winds when it came ashore at Mexico Beach, Florida, near Panama City in the Florida Gulf Coast. "Every parish and rectory in the hurricane zone has suffered damage, and we are working to get RV units in place so the clergy can move out of the damaged rectories," said Tischler. As a resident of Tallahassee, he had to evacuate his residence and is now working remotely coordinating relief and volunteer efforts from regional dioceses, private individuals and corporate donors and state and federal authorities along with Catholic Charities agencies. Scarcity of lodging and housing -- both for residents and emergency responders pouring into the region -- are among the most daunting needs of the recovery efforts, he said.

    Delegates from U.S. offer their perspectives at synod

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Young people today are telling Catholic leaders that if they want to persuade the young to follow Christ and pursue a vocation, church leaders must be models of Gospel behavior, said the head of the De La Salle Christian Brothers. Members of the Synod of Bishops have made repeated references to the story of Jesus and the rich young man in the Gospel -- how Jesus told him to sell everything and follow him; several synod members have cited the passage to affirm that Jesus continues to place tough demands on young people. But Philadelphia-born Brother Robert Schieler, superior general of the brothers, suggested another way of looking at the story. He asked members of the synod to consider "that we, the church, are the rich young man." When the story is about Jesus' demands on the church, rather than on young people today, he said, then it becomes a challenge to the church "to embrace risk, to be willing to leave our individual and collective comfort zones and to trust in divine providence." Young people who challenge the church in that way, he said, "are trying to tell us: 'If you are inviting me to consider a Christian vocation, I expect you to model for me Gospel behavior.'" Brother Schieler was one of several U.S. synod members to address the gathering Oct. 16 and Oct. 17.

    Actress says film captured St. Romero's humanity, inner struggle, courage

    SAN DIEGO (CNS) -- Over the years, Ana Alicia has seen her past television and film work rebroadcast, introducing the actress to new generations of fans. But something feels different this time. The 1989 film "Romero," based on the life of martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero, has been remastered and released on DVD and digital-downloading in a special collector's edition. "I'm proud of my work in the shows that I've done," said Alicia, who starred on the prime-time 1980s soap opera "Falcon Crest. "But this particular project is happening at a time when this man is being recognized by his church for what he did," she said in a telephone interview with The Southern Cross, newspaper of the Diocese of San Diego. The film stars the late Raul Julia as Archbishop Romero, who was canonized by Pope Francis Oct. 14 at the Vatican. When appointed archbishop of San Salvador in 1977, he was initially believed to be apolitical. But he soon became a vocal critic of El Salvador's repressive right-wing government and ultimately paid for his outspokenness with his life. He was assassinated while celebrating Mass March 24, 1980. "Romero" was the first feature film produced by Paulist Pictures, a production company founded by Paulist Father Ellwood "Bud" Kieser.

    Synod briefing: Bishops optimistic about digital outreach to young people

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church and digital media was one theme that had not been getting much press attention at the Synod of Bishops, but finally emerged during the third week of talks dedicated to accompaniment. "Digital" pastoral care or how the church can more effectively use social media and digital platforms to reach and guide young people was discussed in several presentations at the synod's general congregations Oct. 16 and 17, Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, told reporters Oct. 17. Since so many young people are on social media and mobile devices, "how can the church be in the digital world in an official way and in a consistent way and offer accompaniment there, too," was just one example of the kind of questions being asked, he said. Slovakian-born Bishop David Tencer of Reykjavik, Iceland, told reporters he was surprised to discover that older synod fathers -- those in their 60s, 70s, even 90s -- were so receptive and optimistic about the digital world. "The secular world is more conservative," said the 55-year-old Capuchin, describing how often the media give doomsday reports about how devices "will destroy our youth."

    Young Salvadorans embrace St. Romero

    SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (CNS) -- Raul Cardona, 20, considers St. Oscar Romero a hero in his native El Salvador. To show his appreciation, he attended the Mass celebrated outside the Metropolitan Cathedral just prior to St. Romero's Oct 14 canonization in Rome. But he kept his attendance a secret from his conservative family -- telling only his mother -- figuring they would disapprove. "They see him as a guerrilla, as a rebel. It's something that's totally polarized," he said of his family members, who support the right-wing ARENA alliance. A U.N. truth commission named ARENA's founder as the intellectual author of St. Romero's slaying. "As a Salvadoran, as a Catholic ... I've read a lot about him," said Cardona, who studies engineering in a Jesuit university. "What he said wasn't political. It was Christian." Salvadorans widely celebrated St. Romero as the Central American country's first saint. St. Romero was assassinated while celebrating Mass in March 1980 and remains a reviled figure for some on the political right. But he's become a national hero for many in the nearly four decades since his assassination. His image adorns everything from barrio murals to passport stamps to political ads.

    Young people, even those far away, are 'ours,' Salesian says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Whether or not they are practicing Catholics, young people need to know that they belong to and are welcome in the church, the superior general of the Salesians told the Synod of Bishops. Young men and women "must hear us say that we love them and that we want to walk along the path of life and faith together with them," Salesian Father Angel Fernandez Artime told the synod members Oct. 17. "They need to feel that we neither want to run their lives nor dictate how they should live but rather that we want to share with them the best that we have, which is our Lord Jesus Christ," Father Fernandez said. The Salesian superior general began his talk by recalling a couple he met after leaving the synod hall several days earlier. The young couple, he said, politely asked him, "Why there were people with colored sashes walking around with something on their heads." Realizing that they knew little to nothing about the church or its bishops, Father Fernandez explained to them what the Synod of Bishops was and why Pope Francis called a meeting to discuss young people, the faith and vocational discernment.

    West Virginia cathedral hosts Forty Hours devotion for church healing

    WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- Participants at a Forty Hours devotion at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling were urged to pray for the church in the diocese, the United States and the world. The cathedral's rector, Msgr. Kevin M. Quirk, urged said those who had gathered at the start of the "Forty Hours in Reparation for Sins and for Healing of the Church" Oct. 7 to pray "for reparation for those times that each of us has not loved Christ as much as we could or loved one another as well as we could." He also encouraged them to pray in reparation for the "sins of those who, within the church, have harmed others -- especially children" and to pray for the diocesan church and the appointment of its new bishop. The priest also encouraged those at the Mass at the start of the devotion to "find some time here or there each day to visit the church in a quiet moment, spend that time with Christ" during the three days of prayer. The opening Mass ended with a eucharistic procession led by the Knights of Columbus Carroll Council of Wheeling that went through the cathedral's neighborhood. The three days of prayer included adoration, praying the Angelus, mid-afternoon prayers and evening and night prayers as well as opportunities for confession and specific litanies and novenas.

    Call to follow Jesus includes call to embrace the cross, cardinal says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston used his episcopal motto -- "Hail O cross, our only hope" -- as the title of his speech to the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment. "The central event for our faith and life is recognizing, interpreting and choosing the invitation to embrace the cross," he told his fellow bishops Oct. 16. As the Catholic Church and its members strengthen their commitment to reaching out to young people, helping them "by dialogue to discern their way in the world and the church for a deeper, more human life," they cannot ignore the cross, the cardinal said. "Jesus asks everyone he meets to 'Follow me,'" he said. "His invitation is strong, not weak; decisive, not anemic." As members of the synod discussed the assembly's working document, making suggestions for how sections should be amended or altered for the gathering's final document, Cardinal DiNardo said the cross and the meaning of Christ crucified were the key missing pieces.

    Pope: God wants change in church stricken by perversion of clericalism

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholics need to help the church along a path of "deep spiritual renewal," Pope Francis told Jesuits from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. "I believe the Lord wants a change in the church," which is afflicted by the "perversion" of clericalism, the pope told the Jesuits during a meeting Sept. 23 in Vilnius, Lithuania. As is customary when the pope meets Jesuits during a foreign trip, a transcript of his remarks to the 28 Jesuits he met during his trip to the Baltics Sept. 22-25 was published by the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica after the pope had approved the text; it was released Oct. 17. A young Jesuit priest asked the pope what they could do to help him. Thanking the priest, the pope said, "I don't know what to ask from you specifically. But what needs to be done today is to accompany the church in a deep spiritual renewal," specifying that "a perversion of the church today is clericalism."

    Truth is inseparable from mercy, Vatican doctrinal chief tells synod

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church must guide young men and women toward a healthy discernment that not only distinguishes between good and evil, but does not judge those who fall into sin, said the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Addressing the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that whenever a judgment is pronounced in the light of faith in Jesus, it must be "expressed through closeness to a brother or sister. Truth and mercy are inseparable. Without one, the other falls," Cardinal Ladaria said Oct. 15. In his speech, the head of the Vatican's doctrinal office reflected on the section of the synod's working document that focused on the importance of education in discovering one's vocation "to be witnesses to human maturity." Cardinal Ladaria said that the importance of forming consciences as well as the acceptance of correction is crucial in helping young people mature, especially in their ability to discern between good and evil or truth and lies.

    Inspire young people to be 'everyday saints,' archbishop says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To "capture the imagination" of young people and inspire them, church leaders should offer them the example of modern saints and call young people to be "everyday saints, each in his or her own way," said Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles. "We need to show young people what holiness looks like by living the Gospel we preach, proclaiming Jesus Christ by the way we live. We need to call young people to be saints -- and we need to be saints ourselves," Archbishop Gomez said in his speech Oct. 16 to the Synod of Bishops. The "urgent priority of all our resolutions from this synod," he said, should be to proclaim Jesus Christ and to call young people to conversion and new life in Christ. Western societies, Archbishop Gomez said, offer young people "alternatives for self-creation rooted in the restless consumption of material comforts" instead of calling them "to goodness or beauty or truth. Young people today do not know how to live authentic human lives because the adults of our secular society have not shown them the way," he said.

    Bishops call for better religious education, preparation for mission

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Improved religious education and a stronger sense of belonging to a community were some of the topics touched upon as the Synod of Bishops moved into its final round of speeches. Accepting Pope Francis' invitation for bishops to be bold at the synod, Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Dowd of Montreal told the assembly Oct. 16, "If I was pope -- I know I'm not, but if I was -- I'd write an encyclical on four basic questions" all human beings ask in one way or another. The four, he said, are: "Who is God? If God is good, why is there evil in the world? If God is good but there is evil in the world, what has God done about it? If God is good but there is evil in the world and God is doing something about it, how can we be part of it?" The 48-year-old Canadian bishop told synod members that his own religious education in Catholic schools and parishes was "an abysmal failure," an education that "just gave us pieces and no overall picture." The church needs to renew its religious education programs, he said, and should start by trying to respond to the four questions, which "haunt the heart of every person, religious or not." Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, also acknowledged the "critical situation of the transmission of the faith today" and insisted the best way to combat it is by being better examples for young people and encouraging them to be examples for their peers.

    Young migrants bring vitality, need support, synod members say

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Helping young migrants hold fast to their cultural and religious identity, especially in situations where they are a minority, was a recurring topic at the Synod of Bishops. Blessed Sacrament Father Robert Stark, director of the Office for Social Ministry for the Diocese of Honolulu and regional coordinator for the Vatican's Migrant and Refugees Section, offered synod members very practical advice for assisting young people on the move. First, he said Oct. 16, church workers must listen to young people thinking about leaving their homelands and inform them of the dangers. Second, the church should offer food, shelter and safety to young people in transit. And, when they arrive at their destination, the young should be helped with legal assistance and language classes. "At each phase of their journey, young migrants pass through different dioceses but -- from beginning to end -- they can be in the same loving, caring church," Father Stark told the synod. Archbishop Ilario Antoniazzi of Tunis, representing the North African bishops' conference, told the synod that many of the dioceses of Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco are thriving today because of the young African Catholics who come to their countries for university studies or while awaiting an opportunity to migrate to Europe.

    Indifference, hatred is the first step to murder, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Hurling insults and being indifferent to other people's lives is the first step along the winding path that leads to killing them, at least figuratively, Pope Francis said. By warning that "whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment," Jesus equates hatred with murder, the pope said Oct. 17 during his weekly general audience. "Indifference kills. It's like telling someone, 'You're dead to me,' because you've killed them in your heart. Not loving is the first step to killing; and not killing is the first step to loving," he told thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter's Square. Continuing his series of talks on the Ten Commandments, the pope reflected on Christ's explanation of the Fifth Commandment, "Thou shall not kill."

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  • Washington Archdiocese releases names of priests accused of abuse

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of Washington has voluntarily released the names of abusive priests and stated that there have been no credible claims of abuse made against archdiocesan priests in almost 20 years. On Oct. 15, church officials posted on the archdiocesan website, https://bit.ly/2OqpWqF, the names of 28 former clergy of the archdiocese who were credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors from 1948 onward. The list also includes three religious order priests who served in temporary roles in archdiocesan parishes or schools. The list was assembled as part of a comprehensive review of the archdiocese's archives ordered in 2017 by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl as Washington's archbishop. "This list is a painful reminder of the grave sins committed by clergy, the pain inflicted on innocent young people, and the harm done to the church's faithful, for which we continue to seek forgiveness," Cardinal Wuerl said in a statement. "Our strong commitment to accompany survivors of abuse on their path toward healing is unwavering, but it is also important to note that to our knowledge there has not been an incident of abuse of a minor by a priest of the archdiocese in almost two decades," he said. "There is also no archdiocesan priest in active ministry who has ever been the subject of a credible allegation of abuse of a minor."

    Update: Baltimore Archdiocese, Catholic Charities help launch Parish ID

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- This generation of immigrants to Baltimore will continue to find a haven in the Catholic Church. That was the message Oct. 10 from the steps of Sacred Heart of Jesus-Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, where Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, Archbishop William E. Lori and Catholic pastors who minister to those from foreign countries attended the announcement of the establishment of a Parish ID program. The program's priority is "focused on helping residents to feel comfortable interacting with the Baltimore City Police Department," according to BUILD, or Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, which helped organize the initiative. Even though the enforcement of immigration laws falls primarily under federal jurisdiction rather than municipal jurisdiction, many the city's immigrants who are living in the U.S. without legal documents remain hesitant to report crimes committed against them, for fear of their own arrest, and possible deportation and separation from their families. "No one should be a victim because they're afraid of calling police," said Pugh, who backed the initiative at a town hall in June.

    Indiana attorney general asks high court to reverse block on abortion law

    INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- Indiana's attorney general Oct. 15 petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review and reverse a ruling by a lower court declaring unconstitutional an Indiana law that makes it illegal for women in the state to have an abortion solely based on the race, gender or disability of a fetus. Signed in March 2016 by then-Gov. Mike Pence, the Dignity for the Unborn law also requires clinics and/or other health care facilities in possession of aborted or miscarried fetuses to dispose of them either by cremation or interment. The law was to have gone into effect July 1, 2016, but the day before, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction on enforcement of the law. The ruling was upheld by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, or PPINK, had filed the request for the injunction. "Nothing in the Constitution prohibits states from requiring health facilities to provide an element of basic human dignity in disposing of fetuses," Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill Jr. said in a statement. "These tiny bodies, after all, are in fact human remains."

    Ethnic minority army expels 8 priests, nuns, teachers from Myanmar

    MANDALAY, Myanmar (CNS) -- Catholic clergy and laypeople have been expelled from Myanmar's northern Shan state by a China-backed ethnic minority army. Two Salesian priests, three nuns from the Missionary Society of St. Paul and three lay teachers were ordered by the United Wa State Army to leave the Wa Hills, which border China, reported ucanews.com. Salesian Father Raymond Than, one of the expelled who arrived in Lashio town Oct. 15, said that, three days earlier, Wa officials issued the expulsion order for clergy who arrived in the region after 1992. They were only allowed to take what they could carry and were told that a local boarding school and chapel were being cordoned off, Father Than told ucanews.com. Local Christians were being forbidden from worshipping, even in their own homes. The clergy and laypeople had been providing education and health care services for locals and had not done anything wrong, said Father Than, who has served in Wingko parish since 2016. "We are not problem-makers," he added.

    Update: Many implications of Orthodox split remain unknown, says Catholic expert

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Russian Orthodox Church's decision to sever ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople will affect ecumenical dialogue, but long-term implications remain unknown. Paulist Father Ron Roberson, associate director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said the split reveals disagreements on some "pretty significant issues" among more than a dozen Orthodox churches. At issue is the role of the ecumenical patriarch in the Orthodox Church. The patriarch -- currently Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople -- has always been recognized as first among equals, with the authority to organize pan-Orthodox activities like international dialogue with the Catholics. However, Russian Orthodox Church leaders do not believe Patriarch Bartholomew has the authority to interfere in the internal affairs of individual Orthodox churches. They say that is what he did when he granted canonical recognition to two independent Ukrainian Orthodox churches. "It could be the beginning of a schism that would be long-lasting" if others follow the lead of Moscow, Father Roberson told Catholic News Service Oct. 16, the day after the decision was announced.

    Latin American bishops say young want a sincere, welcoming church

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bishops from Chile and Puerto Rico told the Synod of Bishops that the church must do more to help young people live out their faith and involve them in the life of the church rather than leaving them to find guidance elsewhere. Bishop Moises Atisha Contreras of San Marcos de Arica, Chile, told synod members Oct. 16 that young people have not stopped believing in God, and they continue to search for the transcendent "in other places and experiences. There are studies that indicate an increasing dissatisfaction among young people within the ecclesial institutional experience because it does not respond to their most profound seeking," Bishop Atisha said. The 49-year-old Chilean bishop said young people need a sincere accompaniment that gives them a true experience of being loved as they are "without condition, without prejudices and freely. Bishop Atisha made several suggestions for how the church could respond to the needs of young men and women, especially their longing for a church that is "a place of refuge and care for the excluded."

    'Watering down' church teaching won't attract young people, cardinal says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Just because some young people disagree with Catholic moral teaching, including in the area of sexuality, does not mean the church's teachings are unclear or should change, Cardinal Robert Sarah told the Synod of Bishops. The church and its pastors should "courageously propose the Christian ideal corresponding to Catholic moral doctrine and not water it down, hiding the truth to attract young people to the bosom of the church," the cardinal told the synod Oct. 16. Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, noted how in preparation for the synod, some young people asked the church to be clear in presenting its teaching on "some questions that are particularly close to their hearts: freedom across the board and not only in sexual relations, nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation, equality between men and women, including in the church, etc." Others, however, "demand not only a discussion that is open and without prejudice, but also a radical change, a real and true U-turn by the church in its teaching in these areas," he said.

    Update: Washington state's Supreme Court strikes down death penalty

    SEATTLE (CNS) -- The Catholic bishops of Washington state Oct. 11 applauded the unanimous decision of the state Supreme Court striking down the death penalty as unconstitutional. The court ruled its use is arbitrary and racially biased and converted the sentences for the state's eight death-row inmates to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Executions have been rare in Washington. Five prisoners have been put to death in recent decades. In 2014, the governor imposed a moratorium blocking its use. "The bishops have long been on record as opposing capital punishment," said a statement issued by the Washington State Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the bishops. "Today's decision by the Supreme Court indicates a move toward greater justice and greater respect for life at all stages. "The Catholic Church's consistent belief is that every human life is sacred from conception until natural death -- it is this principle that has energized our efforts for decades to abolish the death penalty," said Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle. In an Oct. 16 statement, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. bishops' domestic policy committee, echoed Washington's bishops in applauding the court's unanimous ruling. He also reiterated the Catholic Church's call to end the death penalty.

    Synod groups focus on need for qualified accompaniment

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In their second round of reports to the Synod of Bishops, a number of working groups called for qualified and, in some way, supervised spiritual mentors or directors, recommended including more female figures from the Bible as examples and role models for young people, and praised having the inspiring input of young people during the gathering. The second week of discussions centered on discernment, vocations and accompaniment, and the 14 working groups, which are divided by language, each came up with a number of suggestions, critiques and recommendations for the synod's final document. The Vatican released the reports Oct. 16. The working group English-A, which includes bishops from the United States, Australia, Ireland and England, said the synod "came alive" when young people gave their interventions, with one bishop in the group commenting, "I never realized a synod could be so much fun!" The group recommended the final document present "a clear definition of vocation," keeping in mind it should be speaking not only to practicing Catholics, but also to the "nones." The group also suggested including in the final document "a distinct treatment of the response of Mary to God's call" and seeing her as the "archetypal disciple.

    Lack of progress fighting hunger is shameful, pope says

    ROME (CNS) -- At a time of technological and scientific progress, "we ought to feel shame" for not having advanced in "humanity and solidarity" enough to feed the world's poor, Pope Francis said. "Neither can we console ourselves simply for having faced emergencies and desperate situations of those most in need. We are all called to go further. We can and we must do better for the helpless," the pope said in a message to world leaders attending a meeting of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. The World Food Day ceremony Oct. 16 marks the date the organization was founded in 1945 to address the causes of world hunger. The theme for 2018 is "Our actions are our future: A zero hunger world by 2030 is possible." The 2030 agenda seeks to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. Local programs are just as important as global commitments to ending hunger, Pope Francis said in his message.

    Update: Superiors general see no reason why women shouldn't have vote at synod

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Although bishops should make up the majority of voting members at a Synod of Bishops, the fact that the body is only consultative means women should be included as full members just as priests and religious brothers are, said three priests who are voting members. The superiors general of the Dominicans, the Jesuits and the Conventual Franciscans -- all priests who are voting members of the synod -- spoke to reporters at a Vatican briefing Oct. 15. When the men's Union of Superiors General chose two religious brothers to be among their 10 voting delegates at the Synod of Bishops, they consciously made the choice to emphasize that men's religious orders include both priests and laymen, the minister general of the Conventual Franciscans said. "Obviously, it wasn't an accident" that two brothers were elected, Father Marco Tasca, the minister general, told Catholic News Service after the briefing. "Consecrated life is made up of priests and laypeople, so it is only right that there also be lay superiors general at the synod." When the superiors elected a brother to the 2015 synod, he said, "there were some doubts about whether or not the synod office would accept him, but the pope intervened and said, 'Let him come.' Case closed. "This time we didn't ask," Father Tasca said.

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  • New film tells true story of broken marriage restored by God's grace

    SAN DIEGO (CNS) -- Most people will never know firsthand what it's like to see their real-life marital struggles played out on the big screen. But Darren and Heather Turner do and, as Darren freely admits, "It is surreal, for sure." As he watched the new film "Indivisible," which opens in theaters Oct. 26, he couldn't help appraising the actors' performances. At some points, he remembered things playing out a bit differently; at others, the re-enactment was astonishingly, perhaps uncomfortably, accurate. Adding to the surrealism of it all was the fact that the events depicted onscreen all took place about a decade ago, and the couple and their relationship have changed dramatically since then. "We're different people (now); we've grown," Darren Turner said in a telephone interview he and his wife had this summer with The Southern Cross, newspaper of the San Diego Diocese. "I definitely don't want to repeat a lot of what you saw in the movie." "Indivisible" recounts Darren's experiences as an Army chaplain during the Iraq War, how the pressures of that ministry led to the unraveling of his marriage, and ultimately how that relationship was healed as the couple began to cooperate with God's grace.

    Houston panel explores effects, causes of why people migrate

    HOUSTON (CNS) -- When Edrina Villagomez's parents came to the United States illegally, they achieved the dream of her grandfather: to come to "El Norte," the North, and live and work in the U.S. A college senior majoring in international studies, Villagomez understands the sacrifices her family had to make to realize the dream. The family's situation, involving a complex web of international and local factors, was the focus of a Sept. 25 forum on immigration hosted by the University of St. Thomas campus ministry and co-sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops. Among the panelists was Jennifer Carr Allmon, executive director of the state Catholic conference. In her remarks, Allmon focused on Catholic social teaching, noting that the Texas bishops' position is "rooted in human dignity" and believes enforcement should be targeted, proportional and humane. Enforcement efforts should not divide families, abridge any basic rights, or risk danger to immigrants or enforcement officers, she said. Another panelist, Elise Griesmyer, who is supervising attorney for Catholic Charities of Galveston-Houston's St. Frances Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance, encouraged the audience to maintain empathy for immigrants and to open their hearts and minds when discussing the issues facing people on the move.

    Ukrainian archeparchy pledges cooperation with Pennsylvania grand jury

    PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- Saying that the sexual abuse of children and adults by Catholic clergy "never should have happened," the apostolic administrator of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia told Catholics he would cooperate with a Pennsylvania grand jury's continuing inquiry into such offenses. Auxiliary Bishop Andriy Rabiy said in a three-page open letter dated Oct. 10 that the archeparchy had "not had an incident or allegation made against our clergy." "This is not to be proud that we are better than others," Bishop Rabiy wrote. "It is a time to reflect and to be grateful." He invited parishioners to report any alleged incidents of abuse of which they are aware. In response to a grand jury subpoena, Bishop Rabiy said files from the archeparchy would be shared at a court hearing Oct. 24 "as requested and with no exceptions." "The archeparchy and I will fully cooperate with the law enforcement agencies," he added. He said the divine nature of the church calls for its members "to weed out the evil in our midst." The bishop also pointed out that the Catholic Church in the U.S. and in Pennsylvania in particular "has undertaken significant measures to insure the past not be repeated again," adding that the grand jury report is about past abuse claims. "The church is different today than it was in the recent past," he emphasized.

    USCCB leaders ask for prayers, donations for hurricane victims

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Two U.S. Catholic leaders have called on Catholics to pray for victims of Hurricanes Michael and Florence, along with responders to these storms, and to donate to recovery efforts in the impacted areas. "Let us respond with prayer and personal generosity," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in an Oct. 13 statement. He said in the wake of these two recent hurricanes, "people across the southeast now face the long process of recovery. May God's mercy comfort family and friends who have lost loved ones and sustain those rebuilding their homes and businesses." The cardinal said Catholics will "remain with our brothers and sisters throughout their journey," adding that he was grateful that so many had helped in the recovery efforts by volunteering or donating. Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, similarly said: "Prayers and generosity are greatly needed at this time." Information about the USCCB's Office of National Collections and its support of emergency relief efforts can be found at https://bit.ly/1DV1RGH. Donations also can be made directly to Catholic Charities at www.catholiccharitiesusa.org or Catholic Relief Services at www.crs.org

    Masses, celebrations in U.S. mark canonization of St. Romero

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- With a Mass, processions and fellowship, about 800 people, mostly immigrants, gathered at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart Church in Washington Oct. 14 to celebrate the canonization of St. Oscar Romero. The modern-day Salvadoran martyr who advocated for the poor and oppressed was one of seven saints canonized by Pope Francis just hours before the celebration at the shrine. "This is a great honor, he is a saint who comes from the poorest places where he accompanied those who suffered," said Maria Quintero, from Hyattsville, Maryland. The entrance procession for the Mass included people carrying flags to the altar representing about two dozen countries, mostly from Latin America, reflecting the diversity of the parish community and the world reach of Saint Romero's message. Capuchin Franciscan Father Urbano Vazquez, who celebrated the noon Mass in Spanish, reminded parishioners that "Monsenor Romero," as he was popularly known in El Salvador, was "someone who left all earthly possessions to follow God and receive eternal life." He also was an evangelizer as Pope Francis calls everyone to be. "He visited the sick, the suffering, those in the slums," the priest said.

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

    PENSACOLA, Fla. (CNS) -- In the wake of Hurricane Michael, which ravaged the Florida panhandle, the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, whose territory was smack in the path of the Category 4 storm, has moved from prayer to action. While the diocesan website still urges prayer for the hurricane's victims, it also is encouraging people to donate much-needed items to those whose lives were upended by Michael. In conjunction with Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida, the diocese is accepting cash donations at https://bit.ly/1kRR0Er. Goods urgently needed include water, tarps, nonperishable food items, cleaning supplies and gloves, pet supplies, and baby food and diapers. The diocesan pastoral center in Pensacola was accepting these items through Oct. 15, while St. Mary Church in Fort Walton Beach was conducting a weekend collection for those items Oct. 13-14. As of Oct. 15, civil authorities confirmed 18 people had died but the death toll could go higher as at least 30 people were still missing. More than 250,000 people were still without power and could remain so for weeks. "So many people have lost everything: homes, property and even their livelihood. The scenes of destruction are heart-wrenching, knowing that when we see a place where there once was a house, a family used to live there and are now homeless," Bishop William A. Wack of Pensacola-Tallahassee said in an Oct. 12 letter to the diocese.

    Catholic leaders welcome PEPFAR reauthorization in Congress

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Two Catholic leaders applauded congressional committees for reauthorizing the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, opening the door for final passage of a bill to keep the program in place for another five years. Citing how the 15-year-old program has saved millions of lives around the world and prevented millions of new infections, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, said in a statement Oct. 15 the program ensures U.S. leadership in the campaign against HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Funds under the program, known as PEPFAR, support numerous services such as providing free antiretroviral medicines for eligible patients, support for families devastated by AIDS, after-school programs for children whose parents died from the disease and their caregivers, transportation for health services and counseling. Callahan and Archbishop Broglio said the program is worthwhile even though they hold "principled concerns" about some aspects of PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS through which funds are funneled that are inconsistent with Catholic teaching. Therefore, they said, church agencies do not implement such activities or or advocate for them.

    American pastor freed after two years in Turkey returns to U.S.

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Rev. Andrew Brunson, an evangelical Presbyterian pastor who had been jailed by Turkish authorities for nearly two years, returned to U.S. soil Oct. 13 after being freed the day before by Turkey. Rev. Brunson, who had been held without charges for a year, was convicted Oct. 12 on a charge of aiding terrorism and sentenced to time served. After his captivity brought an outcry from religious freedom circles in the United States and elsewhere, he was moved to house arrest, and the Trump administration placed sanctions on the Turkish officials deemed responsible for holding Rev. Brunson. During an Oct. 13 meeting at the White House with Rev. Brunson, President Donald Trump said he welcomed his release, but added no deal had made with Turkey to secure it. He also rejected the notion that Rev. Brunson's release had anything to do with Turkey wanting the United States to back up its assertion that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul earlier in October. Rev. Brunson and his wife, Norine, who had been in Turkey 23 years, were seeking permanent residency status in Turkey at the time of his arrest Oct. 7, 2016. Norine Brunson also had been arrested and held for 13 days before being released. The pastor led a small congregation called Resurrection Church in the ancient city of Izmir.

    Lori: Catholics living out their God-given vocations will help church heal

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (CNS) -- Healing of the church can be brought about by all faithfully living their God-given vocations, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore told Catholics in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston during a visit to the statewide diocese in early October. As apostolic administrator, the archbishop has made a commitment to traveling around the diocese to learn about and understand its pastoral workings and its Catholics. He celebrated Mass at the Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston Oct. 6. The day before he was in Morgantown where he addressed roughly 450 diocesan Catholic school principals and teachers attending a professional development day. Everyone -- lay faithful and clergy -- can help rebuild and heal the church as it deals with the abuse crisis, the archbishop said in his homily at Mass. They can do this by living faithfully their God-given vocations, which for many is marriage and family, he said. "By living the vocation to marriage and family with fidelity and generosity," he explained, "your homes become what are called 'domestic churches,' 'little churches,' holy places where young people are brought into the world, where they are nurtured, formed in faith and virtue, and equipped to embrace their God-given vocations."

    Indian court grants bail, with limits, to bishop accused of raping nun

    COCHIN, India (CNS) -- A court in India's southern Kerala state granted bail to Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was arrested almost a month earlier and charged with raping a Catholic nun. The Kerala High Court granted bail Oct. 15 on condition that the bishop, based in northern Jalandhar City, should not enter Kerala state other than to report once a fortnight to investigating police, reported ucanews.com. The prelate was also told to surrender his passport to the court to stop him from any attempt to leave the country. His lawyer, Vijay Bhanu, told ucanews.com that securing bail was a "victory" for the bishop. Bishop Mulakkal was arrested Sept. 21 after a 48-year-old member of the Missionaries of Jesus, a diocesan congregation under the prelate, complained that he raped her multiple times between 2014 and 2016 while he was visiting her convent in Kerala. The bishop denied the allegations. On Sept. 24, the bishop was taken into judicial custody. On Oct. 3, the state court rejected his bail application because of "reasonable evidence" against him and the fact that police were not yet to complete their investigation. The court found that bail might allow him to attempt to influence witnesses.

    L'Arche founder Jean Vanier receives spiritual solidarity award

    BEIRUT (CNS) -- Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche, is the recipient of the Spiritual Solidarity Award from Adyan, a foundation for interreligious studies and spiritual solidarity based in Lebanon. The now 90-year-old Canadian Catholic philosopher, theologian and humanitarian founded L'Arche in 1964. In an atmosphere of compassion, people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them share their lives together in L'Arche communities, which have spread to more than 37 countries. L'Arche ("the ark" in French) stresses the dignity and value of human life. Father Fadi Daou, Adyan president, and Nayla Tabbara, the foundation's director of citizenship and diversity management, presented the award to Vanier Oct. 6 in the French town of Trosly. In the official letter to Vanier accompanying the prize, Father Daou said Vanier's "testimony, as well as that of L'Arche communities throughout the world and throughout diverse religions and cultures, shows that the values of diversity, solidarity and human dignity are truly a path of communion and peace. L'Arche has shown the world how human weakness and disability can carry a new meaning for what it is to be human."

    Salvadoran archbishop asks pope to make Romero 'doctor of the church'

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas of San Salvador asked Pope Francis to proclaim St. Oscar Romero the church's first Latin American "doctor of the church." "I wish to take this occasion to implore you, Holy Father, in the name of the shepherds and the people of God, in the most attentive, humble and respectful way, to authorize the opening of the process so that St. Oscar Arnulfo Romero be declared 'doctor of the church,'" Archbishop Escobar said Oct. 15. The Salvadoran archbishop's request was met with cheers and applause from an estimated 5,000 Salvadoran pilgrims during an audience with the pope the day after the martyred St. Romero became El Salvador's first saint. If St. Romero is declared a "doctor of the church," it would indicate that the newly canonized saint's writings are considered to offer key theological insights for the faith. Archbishop Escobar said St. Romero's "invaluable teachings and his witness of life" would bring light to a world overcome by the darkness that comes from "a lack of faith," as well as from "serious social injustices that have caused very grave violations of human rights and the dignity of people."

    Update: Limousine crash 'heartbreaking, gut-wrenching' for N.Y. community

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

    Religions that do not pursue peace are a contradiction, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Religions, which are meant to build bridges, contradict their very nature if they stop pursuing the path of peace, Pope Francis said. "Our differences, therefore, must not pit us one against the other; the heart of a true believer seeks to open paths of communion always and everywhere," the pope said in a written message to an annual international gathering of religious and cultural leaders. The Vatican released the pope's message Oct. 14 as the international "Bridges of Peace" meeting was beginning; the meeting was organized by the Rome-based lay Community of Sant'Egidio and hosted by the Archdiocese of Bologna. The meeting, the pope said, was an opportunity to create connections and ideas for "overcoming conflicts and brutalities." In today's globalized world, where unfortunately it seems easier to dig trenches that divide and "hole up inside one's own self-interests, we are called to dedicate ourselves to joining together individuals and peoples," he said.

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  • El Salvador celebrates its first saint, whose legacy continues

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

    St. Romero's brothers rejoice at his canonization

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

    Relics offer physical reminder that saints were real people

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Pope expels two Chilean bishops from priesthood

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

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  • Children of Salvadoran TPS holders gain support from Pope Francis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Ecumenical delegates join synod discussion on young people, faith

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

    Cameroon bishops deplore election fraud amid attacks on Catholic clergy

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

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

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

    Synod already leading to some changes, bishops report

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

    New documentary reveals rare interview of Blessed Oscar Romero

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

    Theater program helps young Kenyans develop critical thinking skills

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

    Washington bishops urge voters to carefully weigh clean air initiative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Campus ministry report stresses need for collaboration, more outreach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Working alongside migrant laborers prepares seminarians for priesthood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Florida dioceses offer prayers for those in hurricane's path

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

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

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

    Texas dioceses will release names of clergy credibly accused of abuse

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

    Meeting the challenge: Bishops say synod can make a difference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Vatican releases list of synod members drafting final report

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

    New saints shared a close friendship, professor says

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

    Chinese bishop says agreement is sign that universal church is one

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

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

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

    Vocation not limited to religious life, youth minister tells synod

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

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

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

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

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

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