Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Update: Two auxiliaries for U.S. military archdiocese ordained at national shrine

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Jacob Comello

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Waves of eager chatter filled the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

Then, a triumphant organ chord pierced the air and the procession began. Knights of Columbus in neat sashes, priests and bishops in pristine white vestments, and three American cardinals paced prayerfully down the aisle and slowly ascended to the shrine's magnificent sanctuary in the Great Upper Church.

In their midst were Bishops-designate William J. Muhm and Joseph L. Coffey -- two men who would walk out of the church the same day with brand new miters and crosiers, and new responsibilities to their flock that is the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services.

Army and Navy families, as well as kin of the two to be ordained bishops, packed the middle of the national shrine and waved excitedly as their beloved priests walked by.

And so began the afternoon Mass March 25 celebrating the episcopal ordinations of the two men who would soon be officially auxiliary bishops.

Their ordination fills the spaces left by former Auxiliary Bishop Robert J. Coyle, who was transferred to the Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York, and Auxiliary Bishop Richard B. Higgins, who is retiring.

Fortuitously, the happy occasion fell on the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord.

The celebrant was Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, head of the military archdiocese, who delivered an impassioned homily asking Bishops-designate Coffey and Muhm to keep alive in their hearts in their new mission the example of Mary the mother of God in receiving God's will during the Annunciation.

Archbishop Broglio first illustrated the contrast between Ahaz, the king in the day's first reading who was too haughty to put his trust in God, and young Mary's humble acceptance of the divine will in her life. Upon God revealing his will to Mary, Archbishop Broglio said, "(she) simply states the obvious, that she is a virgin and then the words that have become a model of fidelity forever after: 'Be it done to me according to thy word.'"

"She makes no conditions, but opens herself completely to the will of God," Archbishop Broglio continued.

And like Mary's journey as the mother of God, there would be challenges for the new auxiliary bishops.

"Episcopal ministry in this global archdiocese is not easy. Travel dominates the weeks. Bureaucracy muddles the relationship between bishop and priest. Many masters compete for attention," Archbishop Broglio warned.

But, by breaking down the word "episcopal," Archbishop Broglio revealed the mindset with which a bishop can overcome these and other challenges.

Said Archbishop Broglio: "Pope Benedict XVI ... defined the ministry of a bishop in terms of the original Greek 'episcopos' that contains the verb 'to see.'... Seeing from God's perspective is seeing with love that wants to serve the other, wants to help him become truly himself."

"In seeing from God's viewpoint, one has an overall vision, one sees the dangers as well as the hope and possibilities" he declared.

Finally, Archbishop Broglio expressed his confidence that the two new auxiliaries would carry out their duties faithfully despite struggles: "No one can deny that you begin in a very challenging time when the past sins of some bishops and clergy have been widely publicized. ... I have watched you interact and minister to our people. You know what you are doing."

After the ordination ceremony and Communion, newly minted Auxiliary Bishops Muhm and Coffey stepped up to the ambo to thank those that had brought them to this point.

Voicing his gratitude to his parents, fellow priests, and even his pro-life friends in Philadelphia, Bishop Coffey remarked "It's been so great to serve alongside you in the great adventure of being a priest."

Bishop Muhm shared similar sentiments, remembering that the service of all those he had ministered to in the military archdiocese had reminded him of Mary's words "let it be done to me according to your will."

Bishop Coffey, 58, a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, has served since 2001 as a U.S. Navy chaplain, holding the rank of captain.

Bishop Muhm, 61, is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York and since November has served as administrator of Most Precious Blood Parish in Walden, New York. He served as a Navy chaplain from 2008 until last November.

 

- - -

Copyright © 2019 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.

Founder, editorial staff of Vatican women's magazine resign

IMAGE: CNS/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Claiming a lack of support for open dialogue and for an editorial line run by women, the director and editorial staff of a Vatican women's magazine have resigned.

But the editor of L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, which publishes the magazine, countered that he has given the staff "the same total autonomy and freedom" that have marked its work since it began.

"There is a return to the clerical self-referentiality and an abandonment of that 'parrhesia' (courage) so often asked for by Pope Francis," said Lucetta Scaraffia, founder and director of "Women-Church-World," a monthly supplement to L'Osservatore Romano.

In December, Pope Francis appointed Andrea Monda, an Italian journalist and religion teacher, to be editor of L'Osservatore Romano.

The new management at the newspaper has not shown support for the magazine's mission and has tried to "weaken" it by launching initiatives that "seem competitive, with the result of pitting women against each other, instead of encouraging open discussion," Scaraffia wrote in an editorial that was to be published in the supplement's April 1 issue.

Scaraffia sent Catholic News Service a copy of the editorial March 26 and a copy of an open letter to Pope Francis, explaining their resignation.

Monda's choice of new writers for L'Osservatore Romano and his suggestion of new writers for the supplement, Scaraffia said, suggests she and the editorial board are no longer seen as trustworthy and has closed the door to any chance of "true, free and courageous dialogue among women who love the church in freedom and with men taking part," she said in the editorial.

Responding in a note published by the Vatican press office, Monda said he never tried to weaken the magazine, underlining how its budget had been fully approved and translations guaranteed despite the need to cut costs within the curia.

"My commitment was and remains strengthening the daily edition of the Osservatore Romano, certainly not in terms of competition but of complementarity with the supplement," he wrote.

"In no way have I selected anyone, man or woman, according to the criterion of obedience. If anything, on the contrary, avoiding any interference with the monthly supplement, I pushed for the daily newspaper to create discussion that was truly free, not built on a dynamic of one side against another" or closed cliques, he wrote.

Monda added the monthly supplement will continue "without clericalism of any kind."

The publication began as a monthly insert in the Vatican newspaper seven years ago to give attention to women's voices. When it was relaunched in 2016 as a magazine, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said, "If we do not listen attentively to the voice of women in the great decisive moments in the life of the church, we would lose" the crucial contribution of the feminine genius in the church.

Scaraffia said the April 1 issue would be the last for her and the all-female editorial board, in order to "safeguard their dignity."

The publication, which had the support and encouragement of Popes Benedict XVI and Francis, she said, was founded to be autonomous and run by women.

In her letter to Pope Francis dated March 21, Scaraffia said they were "throwing in the towel because we feel surrounded by a climate of distrust and continuous delegitimization."

Because of their openness to exploring the world of women in the church and of other faiths, Scaraffia said they were able to cover and explore many new subjects and experiences, including the abuse of women religious.

"Now it seems that a vital initiative has been reduced to silence and returns to the antiquated and arid custom of choosing, from the top, under the direct control of men, women who are deemed trustworthy."

- - -

Copyright © 2019 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.

Women in Amazon take more prominent role in environmental protection

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In indigenous Kichwa communities, women like Patricia Gualinga have traditionally taken on the role of wife, mother and cultivator of the crops that families use to survive in Ecuador's Amazonian region of Sarayaku.

In recent years, however, as corporations and other entities looking to extract precious minerals and resources have entered indigenous communities' ancestral lands in the Amazon, that role has expanded to include community leader and defender of the environment for women like 49-year-old Gualinga.  

Women have increasingly participated as leaders at the national and international level in the Amazon's environmental activist circles, she said, in part because women -- in addition to experiencing firsthand environmental degradation and its impact on the family -- also experience abuse, exploitation and greater marginalization that has skyrocketed with the exploitation of the environment.

Others were not discussing those abuses, that's why women stepped up, Gualinga said in a March 22 interview with Catholic News Service, during an international "Integral Ecology" conference at Georgetown University in Washington. The conference was held in anticipation of an October Synod of Bishops on the Amazon at the Vatican.

Though the laity will not be able to vote at the synod, that does not mean women such as Gualinga, members of indigenous communities, and others won't have a voice or an impact at the Vatican gathering, said Cardinal Claudio Hummes. The Brazilian cardinal is president of the Pan-Amazonian Church Network (REPAM for its acronym in Spanish), one of the main players for the Vatican meeting that plans to raise awareness and an action plan to fight environmental degradation and its consequences, such as global warming and displacement of indigenous communities in the Amazon region.

Women, including many from indigenous communities, have been invited to participate, including as auditors at the synod, allowing them to voice their growing concerns, said Cardinal Hummes.

"We recognize that when we speak about the church in the Amazon, women play a special part in it, a great part in it," Cardinal Hummes said during a March 20 news conference at Georgetown. "Many are at the forefront of their (church) communities in the absence of priests."

And increasingly, many are at the forefront of physical attacks against activists as conflicts over lands and resources grow. Last year, Gualinga's home was attacked with rocks and she was physically threatened following years of her objections and activism against extractive industries that threaten Kichwa communities and lands in Ecuador.

Though Gualinga filed a complaint about the attack, the perpetrator was never brought to justice.

To church leaders such as Cardinal Hummes, women play an important part in the "new paths" the church can pursue in greater cooperation with indigenous communities whose existence is at peril given environmental and other threats in their midst in places such as the Amazon.

Many women, along with indigenous communities, participated in the initial phase of consultations that took place in November to prepare for the synod, Cardinal Hummes said. The question of women's role in the church in the Amazon was "explicitly considered," with some discussion about ministries for them, Cardinal Hummes said, adding that it was hard to say at this point what those may look like, since the discussion is ongoing.

Because of the role laywomen, as well as of women religious in the Amazon, have played in the defense of the environment and in indigenous communities, the church "must open spaces" for them, said Gualinga.

"Many (women) are the ones who have paved the way," she said. "We are the ones who have confronted a lot of these trespasses ... in the Amazon."

 

- - -

Copyright © 2019 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.

Update: Pope accepts resignation of embattled Chilean cardinal

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Archdiocese of Santiago

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a Chilean cardinal who has faced widespread criticism for his handling of cases of clerical sexual abuse in the country.

The pope accepted the resignation of Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati of Santiago, the Vatican announced March 23; the Vatican did not give a reason for the cardinal stepping down. All bishops are required to offer their resignations when they turn 75; Cardinal Ezzati is 77.

The cardinal's is the eighth resignation Pope Francis accepted after almost every bishop in Chile offered to step down in May 2018 after a three-day meeting at the Vatican to discuss the clerical sexual abuse scandal. In each case where he accepted a resignation, the pope named an apostolic administrator to lead the diocese temporarily. For the administrator of Santiago, the pope chose Bishop Celestino Aos Braco of Copiapo, who will turn 74 April 6.

Chile has 27 dioceses and other church jurisdictions led by a bishop.

The announcement of the cardinal's resignation comes just over a week after a Chilean news outlet published a 2015 criminal complaint made against Cardinal Ezzati and the Archdiocese of Santiago that revealed a case of sexual abuse that occurred in the cathedral of Santiago and its subsequent cover-up.

Chilean prosecutors also are investigating an alleged sex-abuse ring in Rancagua as well as possible cover-ups of abuse cases in Santiago by senior members of the clergy, including Cardinal Ezzati and his predecessor, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz.

Cardinal Ezzati was subpoenaed in July 2018 after prosecutors conducted several raids of diocesan offices in Rancagua and Santiago.

Although Cardinal Ezzati had said that he would cooperate with authorities in their investigation, he invoked his right against self-incrimination when he appeared in court in October.

Responding to reporters' questions March 23, the cardinal said he will speak "at the appropriate time" and is consulting with his lawyers to make that happen. However, he also said, he leaves the archdiocese with "my head held high, sure that my innocence will be proven" and that people will recognize how much he has done to respond to abuse allegations.

Bishop Aos, celebrating Mass in the Santiago cathedral March 24, acknowledged how destructive the crime of abuse has been for the victims and for the whole church.

However, he said, "we are called not to get stuck brooding over the desolation, falling into doubt, fear and mistrust; we are called to move from being a church of the dejected, desolate, to a church that serves the many downtrodden who live alongside us."

"In a special way," the bishop said, "we will attend to and serve those who suffer the abuse of their dignity" as a result of the "absolutely unjustifiable and absolutely intolerable" crime of sexual abuse by clergy. Superficial changes "are not enough; we need reforms and profound changes, changes that start from the heart of each one of us who has to seek truth and justice."

Survivors of abuse have been critical of Cardinal Ezzati and the country's bishops not only for mishandling cases of abuse, but also for allegedly misinforming the pope about the reality of sexual abuse in the country.

Among the cardinal's most vocal critics is Juan Carlos Cruz, who along with fellow survivors Jose Andres Murillo and James Hamilton, were invited to meet with the pope last April at the Vatican.

Speaking to journalists May 2, Cruz said he told the pope how he was demonized by Cardinals Ezzati and Errazuriz in an email that was later leaked.

"They called me a 'serpent,' they called me everything. I told the Holy Father, and he said he was hurt," Cruz said.

In a message to Catholic News Service March 23, Cruz applauded the pope's decision to accept the cardinal's resignation saying that "the pope knows what he is doing" and expressing hope that the pope would "find someone who will lead Santiago on the right path."

Cruz also expressed his support of Bishop Aos in the difficult task of leading the archdiocese back "to what is true, to its source."

"With all my heart, I wish Bishop Aos all the best. Anything is better than Cardinal Ezzati. We must also support Bishop Aos so that he can unite the clergy, so that he can unite what has been destroyed," Cruz told CNS. "He doesn't have an easy task ahead of him, but obviously, we must support him."

- - -

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

 

 

- - -

Copyright © 2019 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.

Mary inspires, assists those seeking their vocation, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Yara Nardi, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Signing his document dedicated to young people, faith and discernment, Pope Francis said Mary, the mother of God, is a source of inspiration and strength for everyone who seeks to understand their vocation and remain faithful to it.

Greeting some 10,000 people, many of them families and young people, in Loreto, Italy, on the feast of the Annunciation, the pope said Mary can help all believers dedicate themselves to "the path of peace and fraternity, founded on welcoming and forgiving, on respect for others and on love as a gift of oneself."

"Mary is the model of every vocation and the inspiration of every vocational pastoral program: Young people who are seeking or questioning their future can find Mary to be the one who helps them discern God's plan for them and find the strength to follow it."

The pope chose to visit the Italian seaside town of Loreto on the March 25 feast day to sign his postsynodal apostolic exhortation -- titled in Spanish, "Vive Cristo, esperanza nuestra," ("Christ, Our Hope, Lives").

The document, based on discussions and input garnered from the world Synod of Bishops on "young people, faith and vocational discernment," was to be released to the public April 2, the anniversary of the death of St. John Paul II. The intention was "to connect two pontificates, so loved and close to the younger generations," said Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office.

The pope signed the document at the altar inside the small, one-room Holy House of Loreto, which tradition holds is where Mary was born and raised and where the Holy Family was thought to have lived when Jesus was a boy. It also is held to be the place where Mary received the angel's annunciation and conceived the Son of God through the Holy Spirit.

In his talk to those gathered in the square in front of the basilica housing the sanctuary, the pope said he wanted to sign the document on the date and at the place of the Annunciation to highlight how the Annunciation reveals what is necessary in the vocational process: listening to God's word and God's will, inquisitive discernment and bold decision-making.

God always makes the first move, offering people the gift of his love, Pope Francis said.

"One must be ready and willing to listen and welcome God's voice," which is hard to recognize if life is too "noisy" or agitated, he said. Quiet and extended reflection is necessary, he said, if one is going to be able to go below the surface and discover the "moral and spiritual forces" at work in one's life.

And God is always at work, giving and providing for his disciples no matter how "poor and small" they may be, he added.

Because young people and families are not two separate realities, he said, pastoral programs and outreach must be dedicated to both at the same time because "very often young people are what their family gave them with their upbringing."

"It is necessary to rediscover God's plan for the family," he said, which is "founded on marriage between a man and a woman," and to emphasize the family's "great and irreplaceable" role in serving life and the community.

The pope prayed that God, through Mary's intercession, would help the faithful bring the "Gospel of peace and life to our peers, who are often distracted, caught up in material interests" or surrounded by a spiritual desert.

"There is a need for people who are simple and wise, humble and courageous, poor and generous. In other words, people who, taught by Mary, welcome the Gospel without reservation into their life."

The pope began his visit to the sanctuary with a long moment of quiet prayer seated inside the Holy House. He venerated the statue of Our Lady of Loreto, which in 1922 was carved out of cedar trees from the Vatican Gardens to copy the 14th-century figure destroyed in a fire.

He then celebrated a private Mass inside the Holy House with a small number of people, while thousands watched on large screens inside the basilica and outside in the square.

When Mass was over, the pope signed the postsynodal document on the altar, under the image of Mary, so as to entrust to her the document and its fruitful pastoral outcome. The pope also placed a gift on the altar -- a golden stem of roses in a small silver urn.

- - -

Copyright © 2019 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.

Prayer, dialogue, enthusiasm are key to making good choices, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Archdiocese of Santiago

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When it comes time for young people to make an important decision in life, if the possibilities do not create excitement and trepidation, "it's better to go to bed" and think about it some other time, Pope Francis told middle school and high school students.

"Passion in the life of a young person is important. A life without passion is like plain pasta without salt," the pope said March 23 during a meeting at the Vatican with students and staff from the Barbarigo Institute school in Padua.

Three students were chosen to ask Pope Francis questions, and all three queries had to do with making important choices in life.

In responding, the pope told the young people that prayer, dialogue, enthusiasm and service to others are key to making the right choices about what school to attend, what career to pursue and what vocation God is calling them to.

"You will find the most important point of reference for your choices inside yourself; it is the reference of your own conscience," which becomes clearer through prayer, the pope said.

Authentic education, he said, prepares students for their vocation and their adult life in the world by giving them information and teaching them to think, but also by helping them recognize how the reality around them makes them feel and by showing them the action they can take to help others.

"Intellect is valid and necessary, but it is only one of the languages that you must have," Pope Francis said. The others are having a heart capable of feeling and hands able to provide concrete help.

The students serve at a soup kitchen in Padua, an experience Pope Francis told them was an important part of their education because it helps them "draw close to a problem that is real, not theoretical." The experience, he said, should make the students question why they are so fortunate and what they can do to fight hunger.

And, as far as figuring out vocations and careers, Pope Francis said talking to God in prayer -- "not like parrots, 'blah, blah, blah,' but from the heart" -- is essential.

But the pope warned the young people not to fool themselves into thinking that making life choices is easy. "In the face of a decision there is always a moment, a space of solitude. One cannot make a life decision in someone else's name; each person must do it for him- or herself."

"Do not be afraid of these moments of solitude," the pope told the young people, because struggling with a decision while feeling alone or alone with a potential future spouse will later give "the certainty that you chose well."

And as for a career choice, he said, focusing on the likely job market and earning potential is the wrong way for a Christian to approach the question. "Do not forget that your future work must be a service to society, a service that depends not only on what you do, but on the example you give."

 

- - -

Copyright © 2019 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.

Update: Pope sends aid to southeast Africa after cyclone

IMAGE: CNS photo/Siphiwe Sibeko, Reuters

By

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As an immediate sign of his concern and an encouragement to other donors, Pope Francis has sent $50,000 each to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi to assist with initial emergency relief efforts after a cyclone hit the region and caused massive flooding.

As of March 22, at least 300 people were known to have died, thousands have been injured and hundreds of thousands left homeless, according to the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The dicastery, which will distribute the aid from the pope through the Vatican nunciatures in each country, said the week of torrential rain in the region has "razed to the ground tens of thousands of homes and public buildings" and made major roads impassable.

The water and electricity distribution systems have been compromised and there is a growing concern about the spread of diseases, particularly through unclean water.

The Vatican described Pope Francis' donation as a "first contribution" and "an immediate expression of his feeling of spiritual closeness" to the people impacted.

In addition, it noted, the contribution is only "part of the aid that is being gathered throughout the Catholic Church" from bishops' conferences and charitable organizations.

In Washington, the chairmen of the U.S. bishops' subcommittee on Africa and their international policy committee said March 22 that Catholic Relief Services has set up an emergency relief initiative to collect resources to provide humanitarian aid "and begin the longer-term recovery efforts" in the three African countries.

"It is with profound shock, horror and sadness that we learn about the devastation and massive loss of life that has occurred ... due to Cyclone Idai. The magnitude of the cyclone and the scope of its damages are almost beyond belief," said Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, and Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services.

They wrote to the Catholic bishops' conferences of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi as the chairmen, respectively, of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee on the Church in Africa and the Committee on International Justice and Peace.

The two prelates expressed sorrow and solidarity over the lives lost by the cyclone and offered prayers for recovery efforts.

- - -

Copyright © 2019 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 criticizes 'faith-filled' Catholics who spread fear of Muslims

IMAGE: CNS photo/Irish Catholic

By

DUBLIN (CNS) -- An Irish bishop has criticized Catholics who identify as "faith-filled" while spreading fear and mistrust of immigrants, particularly those who are Muslims.

Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin, chairman of the Council for Life of the Irish bishops' conference, told The Irish Catholic newspaper: "I've found that people who would classify themselves in some cases as traditional Catholics and faith-filled people seem to, in relation to migration and care of asylum-seekers and stuff, they'll say 'oh well these Muslims are putting our civilization at risk and they pose a threat to us.'"

Bishop Doran spoke in the wake of what he described as a "savage attack" on two mosques in New Zealand that left at least 50 people dead.

"All of us, of whatever religious tradition, can identify with what that might mean for a congregation gathered to worship," the bishop said.

Bishop Doran said it was wrong of people to demonize Muslims for the actions of terrorism claiming to be inspired by Islam.

"To define a whole category of people, or a whole nation, or a whole religious group as being in some way more prone to terrorism than any other group is irresponsible," he said.

In his experience, he said, Muslim people living in Irish society do so "peacefully and participate fully."

"We have large numbers of Muslim children in our Catholic schools, and they contribute to the ethos in many ways.

"One of the interesting things about Muslims is while they are of a different faith, they tend to have a level of commitment to faith that in many ways we might well sit up and pay attention to," he said.

In February, Bishop Doran spoke out after a disused hotel slated to house refugees was damaged in an apparent arson attack.

He said the alleged arson had caused "significant upset to parishioners," adding "it is all the more disturbing since it is suggested that the fires are a response to the proposed use of the hotel to house refugees."

"Militant opposition, expressed in the destruction of property, is simply not consistent with the Gospel."

 

- - -

Copyright © 2019 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.

Catholic social teaching guides advocates in push for a 'moral' budget

IMAGE: CNS photo/Joshua Roberts, Reuters

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The White House delivered a record $4.75 trillion "Budget for a Better America" for fiscal year 2020 to Congress March 11 and it continued a defining trend to boost military spending and border security while making deep cuts in most other federal agencies.

It was quickly dismissed by many members of Congress as being unrealistic. Congress routinely shapes the budget to reflect priorities that usually differ from the chief executive, although a president's preferences have not always been ignored.

With divided government -- Democrats in charge in the House and Republicans in the Senate and White House -- the budget debate from now through the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1, and perhaps later, may become contentious as congressional committee hearings shape how tax dollars are spent.

However it unfolds, Catholic advocates plan to be part of the process.

Regular visitors to Capitol Hill expressed concern to Catholic News Service over the recent trend to promote Pentagon spending while reducing appropriations for environmental protection, housing, education, nutrition, foreign development and humanitarian aid, and other human needs.

They stressed that they plan to advocate for a budget that promotes human dignity -- as they consistently have for decades.

"We look at it (the budget) through the lens of Catholic social teaching, not by the issue. We look at the moral and ethical components of issues, how they affect the well-being of human beings and how they impact the poor," explained Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

"A budget is a moral document," he continued. "We've said that lots of times. There's a human dimension to the budget and sometimes we forget that."

Bishop Dewane and others representing the USCCB plan to testify at budget hearings and send letters to key House and Senate committee chairmen in the coming months to ensure that the Catholic Church's stances are known.

Bishop Dewane cautioned that the budget must not simply become "a math exercise."

"It's one of human promotion. It should be about recognizing the human person. Human dignity is not something we grant. Every person has human dignity and the budget is a way to recognize and not squelch or destroy the human dignity of God's creation," the bishop said.

The church's position has met with push back at times, largely from members of Congress who have said the U.S. must address its growing $22 trillion debt and the best way to do that is to cut spending.

Still, the USCCB and other organizations have challenged that view, noting that the drive to increase military and homeland security spending continues to the detriment of other important federal programs that face deep cuts.

"What we do say and what the bishops' conference says is if you are concerned about the growing national debt, you can't balance the budget on the backs of the poor," said Bill O'Keefe, executive vice president for mission, mobilization and advocacy at Catholic Relief Services.

O'Keefe told CNS the same principle applies in providing humanitarian and development assistance around the world.

"Because as a Catholic community we value the human dignity of all people, we want to see the moral appropriation of foreign assistance, the type that CRS and the USCCB are advocating for, to grow and meet the need and not to shrink," O'Keefe said.

Foreign assistance programs total about 1 percent of the federal budget.

Others, including Lucas Swanepoel, vice president of social policy at Catholic Charities USA, said the nation faces a moral choice as it mulls how it respond to human needs.

"We can invest in things that destroy, divide and kill or I think we can invest in things that educate, heal and feed people. It's what we're called to do in Matthew 25," Swanepoel said.

Matthew 25 recounts three parables told by Jesus including one about how to respond to "the least of these," including the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the imprisoned and the stranger.

Beyond working with members of Congress, Catholic Charities and other organizations regularly share information with people in parish pews about the benefits of programs that address human needs from disaster aid to elderly services. Despite a growing economy and rising stock markets, the need remains significant in the U.S.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported 39.7 million Americans, about 12.7 percent of the population, remained in poverty in 2017, the most recent year statistics are available.

It's not just church-affiliated organizations that advocate to legislators and share information on budget concerns. Nonprofits such as the Coalition on Human Needs and Network, the Catholic social justice lobby, have invested significant resources and time to address widespread unmet needs.

"If we see church and ourselves as people of faith, we will be dedicated to the best of our church, which is Catholic social teaching," said Presentation Sister Richelle Friedman, director of social policy at the Coalition on Human Needs. "If we remind ourselves that Catholic social teaching calls us to respect the dignity of every person, we remember that our first priority needs to go to people who are poor and vulnerable."

While Sister Friedman isn't tasked with representing church teaching when she visits congressional offices, the positions the coalition takes largely align with that teaching.

At Network, Sister Simone Campbell, executive director, posed a simple question when describing federal spending priorities: How does a particular appropriation promote "the good of the community?"

"What the federal budget should be about is the quality of life in the United States and our relationships around the world," she told CNS.

Sister Campbell, a member of the Sisters of Social Service, said she finds inspiration for her work in Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," in which he stated that all of humanity has "a claim on all of the resources in our amazing world."

"It's not just the few, it's all," she said. "And the disproportionate attention to increasing the wealth of the few over the needs the many in the budget is clearly immoral."

Such questions are not easy to resolve. Shelley Inglis, executive director of the Human Rights Center at the University of Dayton in Ohio, urged members of Congress to remember the country's core values, which are reflected in Catholic social teaching.

"We are all responsible for contributing to the greater good of everyone," she said. "We can't lose sight of that concept.

"The discussion around the budget is an important way we can go back to basic thinking about where our values lie and what those values mean in decisions in how we invest in people globally and in our own social capital, our own people and our own society for the common good."

- - -

Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

 

- - -

Copyright © 2019 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.

To protect Earth, change lifestyles, say church, indigenous leaders

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Guatemalan Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini said he notices when he visits family in the U.S. that almost anywhere he goes, the lights seem to be on -- even in the daytime, even if there's enough natural light to illuminate a space.

To him, it signals a culture that he says has to change. Bishop Ramazzini and others who gathered at Georgetown University March 19-21 said the planet can no longer deal with the environmental disruptions such actions produce, leaving vulnerable populations reeling from their adverse consequences. And soon, they said, if nothing is done to curb those actions, no one will escape the consequences that result from such a culture of waste.

Bishop Ramazzini, along with other church leaders, members of indigenous communities, and environmental organizations related to the Catholic Church and other faith-based institutions, gathered in Washington in mid-March ahead of the October Synod of Bishops on the Amazon at the Vatican. Prelates and others at the synod will consider environmental situations in the Amazon and chart a plan of action.

Much of the work will keep in mind Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical "Laudato Si'," which speaks of consumerism and the environmental degradation it causes, such as global warming and displacement of indigenous communities, and calls people to action.

Patricia Gualinga, a member of the Kichwa indigenous community of Sarayaku, Ecuador, told those gathered not to say "those poor people," when referring to indigenous communities or disenfranchised groups such as the poor, who are now facing the consequences of environmental problems.

"Think of yourselves," she warned, because "those poor people" may refer to them and their neighbors someday soon when environmental problems arrive at their doorstep.

Participants at the Washington gathering looked at some of the data showing what can happen if places such as the Amazon keep experiencing deforestation at the current rate. The Amazon serves as the "world's lung," where global emissions of carbon dioxide can be turned into oxygen. Its deforestation is not just displacing indigenous communities who have long called the region home but may also accelerate the warming of the globe, leading to extreme weather patterns everywhere.

The church cares about such issues, said Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, because part of being a Christian means considering "the suffering of our brothers and sisters" and how they might be affected by people's own actions or habits.

Bishop Ramazzini offered as an example the manufactured need for the newest lines of smartphones, which render products released just a year earlier obsolete. The consumer does not stop to consider who might be sacrificing him or herself in another part of the world to manufacture those types of object others want, but do not need.

It's fair to question, then, whether a person who does not care about the well-being of others can be in communion with the church, Archbishop Hollerich said.

In terms of the environment and its relationship to God, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, said Christians must consider the environment as more than nature.

"It's creation. There is a Creator, and that Creator has given this (Earth) to us out of love," he said.

Caring for the planet carries out the culture of life that the church upholds, he said, and yet "we treat the earth, human beings, as if we're the owners, so we can dispose as we like."

Participants called for a shift, an "ecological conversion," that leads to a change of mind, but also a change of lifestyle, one that keeps the stewardship of the planet's resources in mind. They discussed a wide range of topics, including the role of women in the environmental movement; how the church can help indigenous populations facing violence during efforts to maintain their ancestral homes; poverty; and the social exclusion linked with environmental degradation; but also why these questions should matter to Christians and those who care about building a culture of life.

At least eight cardinals attended the Washington gathering, including Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, president of the Pan-Amazonian Church Network, which spearheaded the effort in Washington. The organization based in South America links indigenous communities and Catholic organizations in nine countries to respond to challenges facing those who live in the Amazon.

During a March 20 press conference at Georgetown, Cardinal Hummes said the synod is expected to yield concrete actions and indicate new paths of action.

Communities want action, he said, not just documents that will sit on bookshelves. They want a church that will walk with them, one that is close to them, and an effort to help the planet and humanity requires exactly that kind of solidarity, Cardinal Hummes said.

Yes, sometimes it feels as if such an effort is much like David facing Goliath, especially given the resources, and the grip a consumerist culture has on the world, Cardinal Hummes said.

"But there's an important detail: David won," he said.

 

 

- - -

Copyright © 2019 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.