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The Gospel is spread by joyful, not bitter Christians, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bitter or boring evangelizers will not help the Gospel or the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said.

The church and the Gospel will only "move forward with evangelizers (who are) joyful, full of life," the pope said Jan. 28.

Christians must not be afraid or embarrassed to express the true joy that comes from having received the Word of God, the pope said at morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

The pope focused his homily on the day's first reading from the Second Book of Samuel, which describes the festive and joyous atmosphere that comes with the return of the ark of God.

The people celebrate, the pope said, because God is with them and even King David dances "before the Lord with abandon."

David loves the Lord and "expresses his joy without shame. It is the spiritual joy of the encounter with the Lord," Pope Francis said. David does not think a king should be apart or distant from his people and takes part unabashedly in the festivities.

However, David's wife, Michal, was angered and embarrassed by his dancing and criticized him for behaving like "a commoner" and not like a king should, the pope said.

She represents the disdain some feel against genuine religious sentiments, "the spontaneity of joy with the Lord," he said.

God punishes Michal by having her remain childless, which can be interpreted as indicating "when a Christian is without joy, that Christian is not fruitful. When joy is missing from our heart, there will be no fruit," he said.

The church and the Gospel "will not go forward with boring, bitter evangelizers," Pope Francis said.

Evangelizers must not be like Michal, and not be "Christians imprisoned by formality," he said.

They must be full of the life and joy that comes from being Christian and able to celebrate without embarrassment, he added.
 

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Copyright © 2020 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 [email protected]

Federal judge says abortifacients lawsuit can proceed against Notre Dame

IMAGE: CNS illustration/handout, Irish 4 Reproductive Health

By Ann Carey

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (CNS) -- A lawsuit to force the University of Notre Dame to provide free contraceptives and abortifacient drugs in its health plans will proceed after receiving a green light from a federal district court in South Bend.

Judge Philip Simon of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana denied motions by Notre Dame and the federal government to dismiss the case, Irish 4 Reproductive Health v. Department of Health & Human Services et al. He issued the ruling Jan. 16.

The lawsuit originally was brought in 2018 against the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury, and Notre Dame by a handful of women students calling themselves Irish 4 Reproductive Health, or I4RH.

The suit was filed for them by the National Women's Law Center, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The latter organization will honor the I4RH in March as "2020 Students of the Year."

The lawsuit alleges that the university had reached an "unlawful settlement" with the federal government that allowed it to "deny students, employees and their dependents insurance coverage of birth control guaranteed to them by the (2010) Affordable Care Act," better known as Obamacare.

President Barack Obama had promised conscience protection in his health plan, but when his Health and Human Services Department issued specific rules in 2011, only houses of worship were given an exemption from the mandate for employers to provide contraceptives in their employee insurance plans. Religiously affiliated schools, hospitals and other social service institutions were not included in that exemption.

Some Catholic entities, namely the Little Sisters of the Poor, refused to obey the mandate and have been fighting court battles ever since. Notre Dame did initially challenge the Obama-era mandate in two different lawsuits, but neither were successful. The university provided the mandated insurance to employees and students.

After President Donald Trump took office, he directed the secretaries of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services to draft amended rules to address conscience-based objections to the Obamacare contraceptive mandate. In October 2017, the departments did so, issuing interim final rules that went into effect while public input was invited.

Those rules granted exemption from the mandate to entities with "sincerely held religious beliefs" and to nonprofits and small businesses with nonreligious moral opposition.

Initially, Holy Cross Father John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, joined other Catholic leaders in praising the action and informed university employees Oct. 27, 2017, that the previously mandated contraceptive coverage would end Dec. 31 of that year.

Some small campus groups such as the Notre Dame Graduate Workers Collective and the ACLU of Notre Dame made their objections known, citing religious differences on campus. It is not clear how much these demonstrators influenced Notre Dame leaders, but just 10 days later, the university informed employees and students that a third-party health plan administrator would continue to provide the services free of charge.

A Notre Dame spokesman explained at the time that the administration reversed course after learning that the insurers would continue the coverage at no cost, so the university chose not to "interfere."

This action brought immediate objection from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who said he would continue to dialogue with Notre Dame leaders "in the context of fidelity of Notre Dame's Catholic mission."

Other objections came from the Notre Dame Chapter of University Faculty for Life, as well as many students and alumni, who noted particularly the availability of abortifacient drugs in the plan.

Three months later, on Feb. 7, 2018, Father Jenkins informed the campus community that after further thought and with additional information, the university would take steps "based on Catholic principles that nevertheless provide access to some coverage that members of our community seek." He said that the university would stop the government-funded range of drugs and instead provide coverage for "simple contraceptives (i.e., drugs designed to prevent conception)."

Bishop Rhoades at that time praised the decision to stop the government-funded insurance, but "strongly" disagreed with the decision to continue the birth control coverage, writing in a statement: "The Catholic Church clearly teaches that contraception is an immoral action that contradicts the truth of marital love."

Nevertheless, the new Notre Dame insurance was scheduled to go into effect in July 2018 for employees and in August for students.

On June 27, 2018, the I4RH filed suit against Notre Dame for terminating coverage for abortifacient drugs and for charging a co-pay for birth control pills. The group also included the federal government in the suit, claiming the HHS final rules are illegal.

Notre Dame and the federal government filed for dismissal of the lawsuit, but Judge Simon denied the motions to dismiss. He allowed five counts in the complaint to go forward, but did dismiss two counts, writing that the Constitution provides no "established" or "fundamental" right to subsidized contraceptives, as the I4RH claimed.

The five claims allowed to proceed all involve the legality of the HHS final rules. Those claims are similar to claims in two lawsuits against the Little Sisters of the Poor, who had appealed lower court decisions on those cases to the Supreme Court.

Ironically, on Jan. 17, the day after Simon refused to dismiss the "Irish 4" lawsuit, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the Little Sisters' appeal.

Depending on how the Supreme Court rules this summer on the Little Sisters' case, the lawsuit against Notre Dame could fall apart.

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Carey writes for Today's Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

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Update: Remembering Holocaust is 'a duty,' pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Yad Vashem Archives via Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis said remembering the millions of men, women and children who perished in the Holocaust is a call for the world today to reflect and commit to not repeating the atrocities of the past.

Speaking to pilgrims in St. Peter's Square Jan. 26, the pope said that "in the face of this immense tragedy, this atrocity, indifference is inadmissible, and remembering is a duty."

"We are all called to have a moment of prayer and reflection, each one saying in his or her own heart, 'Never again, never again!'" the pope said.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed around the world Jan. 27, which marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland.

Operated from 1940 to 1945, Auschwitz was the Nazi's largest camp and consisted of three parts: Auschwitz I, where many were imprisoned and murdered; the Birkenau extermination camp -- also known as Auschwitz II -- and Auschwitz III (Auschwitz-Monowitz), an area of auxiliary camps that included several factories.

In 1942, Auschwitz became the site of the mass extermination of over 1 million Jews, 23,000 Roma, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war and thousands of Polish citizens of different nationalities.

The Nazi's systematic persecution and genocide led to the deaths of 6 million Jews in Europe.

During his visit to Poland in 2016, the pope visited the Auschwitz death camp, where he prayed in silence and met with survivors of the Holocaust.

The pope has also denounced anti-Semitism and violence against Jewish people, including in November when reports surfaced of an escalation in anti-Semitic violence and vandalism across Europe.

During his weekly general audience Nov. 13, the pope said that the world has "seen so many brutalities done against the Jewish people, and we were convinced that this was over."

"But today the habit of persecuting Jews is beginning to be reborn," he said. "Brothers and sisters: this is neither human nor Christian; the Jews are our brothers and sisters and must not be persecuted! Understood?"

Two organizations representing the bishops of Europe also issued a joint statement to mark the anniversary of the liberation of the death camp.

The Council of European Bishops' Conferences and the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union said "Auschwitz has become a symbol of all German concentration camps, and even of all such extermination sites."

"Here, the Nazis took the power to decide who is human and who is not. Here, euthanasia met with eugenics," they said. "Auschwitz-Birkenau is a result of the system based on the ideology of national socialism, which meant trampling the dignity of man who is made in the image of God. Another totalitarianism, namely communism, acted quite similarly, also reaching a death toll of millions."

The bishops said they wished to "appeal to the modern world for reconciliation and peace, for respect for each nation's right to exist and to freedom, to independence, to maintain its own culture."

"We cannot allow the truth to be ignored or manipulated for immediate political needs," said the Jan. 26 statement. "This appeal is extremely important now, for -- despite the dramatic experience of the past -- the world in which we live is still exposed to new threats and new manifestations of violence."

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God's word brings light to life's dark corners, pope says at Mass

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God's saving word doesn't seek pristine and safe places to reside but instead goes in search of the dark corners of people's lives that it can brighten, Pope Francis said.

By taking his ministry to the "periphery" of Galilee, Jesus proves that God "wants to visit the very places we think he will never go," the pope said in his homily Jan. 26 during Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

Jesus "is not afraid to explore the terrain of our hearts and to enter the roughest and most difficult corners of our lives. He knows that his mercy alone can heal us, his presence alone can transform us and his word alone can renew us," he said.

The Mass marked the first Sunday of the Word of God, an annual celebration Pope Francis has set for the third Sunday in Ordinary Time.

In his Sept. 30 declaration of the day, the pope said it would be devoted "to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God," which will help the church "experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world."

Before the Mass ended, the pope handed copies of the Bible to people representing various professions and states of life, including cardinals, religious leaders, refugees, children and men and women with disabilities.

In his homily, the pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading in which Jesus preaches in Galilee, calling on the people to repent and inviting Sts. Peter and Andrew to follow him.

Jesus' call for people to "repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," is a reminder that "God is not far from us" and that he "has torn down walls and shortened distances," the pope said.

"We ourselves did not deserve this: he came down to meet us. Now this nearness of God to his people is one of the ways he has done things since the beginning, even in the Old Testament," he said. "And this nearness became flesh in Jesus."

God, he continued, did not take on "our human nature" out of duty but out of love because "one embraces what one loves."

While Christ also chooses to enter the darkest recesses of one's heart, the pope said that many times, "we are the ones who close the door, preferring to keep our confusion, our dark side and our duplicity hidden. We keep it locked up within, approaching the Lord with some formal prayers, wary lest his truth stir our hearts. And this is concealed hypocrisy."

Nevertheless, he added, Jesus enters the hearts of men and women in the same way he passed through the "varied and complex region" of Galilee in order to heal and call people to follow him.

"To follow Jesus, mere good works are not enough; we have to listen daily to his call," Pope Francis said. "He, who alone knows us and who loves us fully, leads us to put out into the deep sea of life. Just as he did with the disciples who heard him."

After celebrating Mass, the pope greeted pilgrims in St. Peter's Square for his Sunday Angelus address.

Volunteers from UNITALSI, an Italian Catholic pilgrimage association that brings the sick and volunteers together for prayer and pilgrimages to Lourdes and other Marian shrines, handed free bibles to the pilgrims.

The pope thanked the volunteers, as well as local dioceses and communities who proposed initiatives to promote "the centrality of Holy Scripture in the life of the church."

The Sunday of the Word of God, Pope Francis said, was instituted "to better celebrate and receive always the gift of the word that God has made and gives daily to his people."

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Update: Trump tells March for Life crowd he welcomes their commitment

IMAGE: CNS photo/Leah Millis, Reuters

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- President Donald Trump credited attendees at the 47th annual March for Life for their commitment to protect the life of unborn and born children.

"Together we are the voice for the voiceless," Trump told tens of thousands of people gathered at a noontime rally Jan. 24 on the National Mall.

"You stand for life each and every day. You provide housing, education, jobs and medical care for the women that you serve," the president said.

Trump was the first president to speak in person in the 47-year history of the March for Life. He spoke for about 10 minutes at the start of the rally and before attendees began their march to the Supreme Court.

"Today, as president of the United States, I am truly proud to stand with you. We're here for a very simple reason: to defend the right for every child, born and unborn, to fulfill their God-given potential," Trump said.

He also credited the young people who made up a large portion of the crowd for their commitment to life, saying they were "the heart of the March for Life."

"It's your generation that is making this a pro-life nation," the president said, adding, "You are powered by prayer and motivated by pure unselfish love."

Trump's speech before the largely supportive crowd was punctuated by applause and cheers. Calls of "Four more years" welcomed him to the podium.

The pro-life movement has been buoyed by Trump's appointment of two conservative justices to the Supreme Court. Their goal has been a reversal of the court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion.

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, addressed the rally in a video recorded in Rome prior to Trump's arrival at the rally. Pence met with Pope Francis earlier in the day.

He said in the video that he thanked the pope "for all that he and Catholic Americans have done to defend the sanctity of human life in the history of this movement."

Karen Pence thanked attendees for their witness and compassion for the unborn. "Thank you for standing for life," she said. "We cannot be more proud to be on this journey with you."

The vice president called Trump the "most pro-life president in American history" and a "champion for the movement."

"So keep standing strong and stand with that love and compassion that has always defined the movement for life," Pence said.

Not all participants in the rally agreed with the single-issue stance of Trump and Pence. A group of Franciscan friars and their supporters held signs aloft outside of the security barrier with messages reading "I am 100% Pro-Life." "Care for the Unborn." "Protect the Earth" and "Seek Justice for the Poor."

Franciscan Father Jud Weiksnar, pastor of Sts. Columba Brigid Parish in Buffalo, New York, said he attended the March for Life to encourage people to embrace a wider call in support of life, including care for the environment and peace.

"I'm very deeply convinced that my religious calling calls me to something like the March for Life," he told Catholic News Service in a phone call from a point just off the Mall.

His group included about 20 people, among them priests, men in formation and laypeople.

His friend, Franciscan Father Jacek Orzechowski of Maryland, said he joined the march and rally "to remind others about what it means to be authentically pro-life."

"It's not enough to say that a person is against abortion, but especially about other concerns at this time when we as humanity are standing on the verge of ecological catastrophe," he explained. "I'm not willing to fall into a false choice in caring four our common home or caring for the unborn."

Rally-goers also heard from members of Congress and several other speakers, including women who survived attempted abortions, over the course of an hour following the president's appearance.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, urged the audience to support the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act that has been introduced in Congress. The bill would ensure that any child born alive after an abortion received medical care. It would also institute penalties for doctors who allow such infants to die or who intentionally kill a newborn.

He said he is working to bring the bill to a vote in the House of Representatives by filing a discharge petition, meaning it would by pass committee action and go directly to the full House. He said 204 House members have signed the petition -- all 197 Republicans and seven Democrats -- and that he is working to gain 14 more Democrats to gain a majority that would force a vote on the bill. He encouraged those at the rally to contact their member of Congress to express support for the petition and the bill.

At times the rally turned to politics as speakers called on rally-goers to vote for pro-life candidates in the upcoming presidential election. They also complimented Trump for his appointment of 187 federal conservative judges who are more likely to support restrictions on abortion.

"We are at a pivotal moment for the pro-life movement and this great nation," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life education organization, in crediting legislative efforts nationwide to limit abortion.

She encouraged the crowd to "go for the win" and "put the will of the people into law" in an effort to overturn Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court in the November election. "It's the most consequential for the cause of the unborn," she said.

In brief remarks, Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, noted how there have been incremental steps to end abortion throughout the nation.

"We're making progress," Smith said. "Be very encouraged. With the help of ultrasound imaging, we will tirelessly struggle to ensure that unborn children are no longer invisible, trivialized, mocked, dehumanized and killed."

Smith, who co-chairs the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, credited the crowd for their activism that has resulted in "countless" women and babies who have been spared "the violence of abortion and today live, love and thrive."

Others addressing the rally included Elisa Martinez, founder of New Mexico Alliance for Life and co-chair of Native Americans for Life, and Democratic Louisiana State Rep. Katrina Jackson.

 

 

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Update: Pope, Pence meet at the Vatican

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After Pope Francis and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met privately for nearly an hour at the Vatican, Pence told the pope that his Roman Catholic mother will be pleased with the visit.

"Thank you, Your Holiness. You have made me a hero," said Pence, who was raised Catholic but became an evangelical Christian.

The vice president, along with his wife Karen and daughter-in-law Sarah, arrived 10 minutes early for the meeting with the pope Jan. 24. They were welcomed by Msgr. Leonardo Sapienza, regent of the papal household.

As the pope and Pence sat down in the papal library of the Apostolic Palace, the vice president relayed greetings from U.S. President Donald Trump, who met with the pope in 2017.

"I wanted to extend the warmest greeting on behalf of President Donald Trump who so enjoyed his visit here," Pence told the pope before reporters were ushered from the room.

After speaking with Pence for 59 minutes, with interpreters present, the pope greeted those accompanying the vice president on his visit, including Callista Gingrich, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See; her husband, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; and Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, Pence's national security adviser.

Pence then presented the pope with a wooden cross "made from a tree at the vice president's residence."

"Every other vice president since Walter Mondale has lived" at the residence, he told the pope.

The pope then presented a medallion, describing it as "angel of peace" conquering "the demon of war."

Additionally, he gave Pence copies of several of his documents, which he jokingly called "a Vatican library." The documents included "The Joy of the Gospel" on evangelization, "Amoris Laetitia" on the family, and "Laudato Si,'" on the environment.

Pope Francis also gave the vice president a copy of his message for World Peace Day 2020.

"Here, I prepared for you the message for peace," the pope said. "I signed it personally for you."

Neither the Vatican nor the vice president's office were expected to issue a statement on the issues discussed in their private meeting. However, Pence tweeted that the two discussed "today's March for Life, Venezuela, and displaced religious minorities in the Middle East."

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Pope Francis 'has our backs' on pro-life cause, says archbishop

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis "has our backs" in the pro-life cause, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, said to applause in his Jan. 23 homily at the opening Mass of the National Vigil for Life.

During an "ad limina" meeting with bishops from Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska the week before, Archbishop Naumann said Pope Francis had told them, "If we do not defend life, no other rights matter."

"The Holy Father said that abortion is first a human rights issue," added Archbishop Naumann in his homily, delivered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

"Pope Francis was aware of the March for Life in the United States and was delighted to know the anticipated large numbers of pilgrims, especially the participation of so many young people," said Archbishop Naumann, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

Although the "ad limina" meeting was confidential so that the pope and the bishops could speak freely, Pope Francis "encouraged me -- I dare say, ordered me -- 'Please tell the pilgrims at the March for Life and the entire pro-life community: The pope is with you! He is praying for you!'" the archbishop said.

"God and 14 other bishops are my witnesses that Pope Francis was passionate in support of the church's pro-life efforts. The successor of Peter has our backs."

Archbishop Naumann dwelt mainly in his homily on what he called a "moral 'Twilight Zone,'" based on an episode of the old television science-fiction series in which surgeons worked time and again to repair a young woman's disfigured face through plastic surgery. After the final operation, he recalled, the bandages were removed from the woman's face and she is "stunningly, drop-dead beautiful."

Surprisingly, the surgical team apologizes for their failure. "They remove their own surgical masks revealing their own grotesquely hideous appearance," Archbishop Naumann said. "You begin to realize that in this fictional 'Twilight Zone' world, beautiful is ugly and the hideous is gorgeous."

Such it is with abortion in American society, he asserted. "The killing of one's child is exalted as heroic and brave," he said. "Abortion was described by early feminists Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul as the ultimate exploitation of women, but in this ethically topsy-turvy twilight zone, it is now hailed as the cornerstone of women's rights."

He told the worshippers, estimated at 10,000, inside the basilica, "Jesus never promised that discipleship would be easy. He told his first disciples that in order to follow him they must be willing to take up their cross."

Archbishop Naumann added, "In this cultural, moral twilight zone to stand for the sanctity of the lives of unborn children, you may face ridicule and social exclusion. You may be penalized in the academy and workplace."

But he cited "signs of hope," garnering applause when he talked about "our nation's youth being more pro-life than their parents." Archbishop Naumann said, "There is also reason to hope the United States Supreme Court, which imposed by judicial fiat our current liberal abortion policy, may be poised to return to states a greater ability to protect the lives of unborn children" through the reversal of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that allowed legal abortion virtually on demand.

Archbishop Naumann also heralded the 25th anniversary of St. John Paul II's encyclical "The Gospel of Life," St. John Paul "did not make reference to any 'Twilight Zone' episodes," he noted, but he said in the encyclical, "When conscience, this bright lamp of the soul, calls evil good and good evil, it is already on the path to the most alarming corruption and the darkest moral blindness."

"Freedom separated from truth," Archbishop Naumann warned, "in the end creates a tyrant state that allows and even encourages the disposal of life when it is weakest."

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Bishops express sorrow, support after U.S. firefighters die in Australia

IMAGE: CNS photo/AAP Image, Coulson Aviation via Reuters

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Representatives of the U.S. bishops expressed sorrow after three U.S. firefighters died in an air crash while fighting bushfires in Australia.

"As the people of Australia continue to endure terrible fires, let us renew our prayer and generosity. Today, the suffering was brought even closer to home with the loss of three brave American crew members who died in the crash of a tanker airplane used in fighting wildfires in Australia. We join in prayerful solidarity with their families and with all the people of Australia and all those in regions affected by these terrible fires," said a statement from Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace.

The three Americans were among eight firefighters and 31 people total who have died in the wildfires since September.

The Americans, all military veterans, were identified as Capt. Ian H. McBeth, 44, of Great Falls, Montana; First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson, 42, of Buckeye, Arizona; and Flight Engineer Rick A. DeMorgan Jr., 43 of Navarre, Florida. They died when the C-130 aerial water tanker they were in crashed in New South Wales.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those who are suffering from this tragedy and from the disaster these dedicated professionals were fighting. In our prayer, we recall in trust that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, offering himself to us and calling us to himself even in our hardest hour," said the statement from Archbishop Coakley and Bishop Malloy.

They also encouraged Catholics "and all appropriate parties to be generous in their financial support of these recovery efforts. We pray for the safety and well-being of those affected and those fighting the fires, and hope for the eventual restoration of the homes and natural habitats that have been destroyed."

Catholic parishes in Australia were set to take a special collection the weekend of Jan. 25-26, with proceeds going to the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Australia. The Vinnies, as they are known, also set up an online site for donations -- https://bit.ly/37pSfLc -- with assurances that credit cards from other countries could be used.

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Archbishop Chaput says successor is 'exactly the man our church needs'

IMAGE: CNS photo/Sarah Webb, CatholicPh

By Matthew Gambino

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- Proclaiming his successor as "exactly the man our church needs," Archbishop Charles J. Chaput introduced Bishop Nelson J. Perez, whom Pope Francis named as the next archbishop of Philadelphia, at a Jan. 23 news conference in Philadelphia.

He will be installed as archbishop Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. in the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.

The pope had announced the appointment while accepting the resignation of Archbishop Chaput, who last September turned 75, the age at which canon law requires that bishops turn in their resignation to the pope.

Anticipation for his successor had been building intensely in the archdiocese since that time, and judging by the applause in the room filled with more than 100 archdiocesan staff, it was a warm welcome home for Archbishop Perez, 58, currently the bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland.

He described his appointment as a "surreal moment" for a former priest of the archdiocese to be named its new shepherd.

Archbishop Perez is the first archbishop of Philadelphia of Hispanic heritage; his parents emigrated from Cuba and he was born in Miami in 1961. He also is the first native son to be archbishop of Philadelphia since Archbishop (later Cardinal) Dennis Dougherty in the early 20th century.

And at 58, he is the youngest archbishop since Cardinal John Krol arrived in Philadelphia in 1961 at age 50.

Cleveland and Philadelphia also share a renewed bond in that the new archbishop led that diocese and Cardinal Krol was an auxiliary bishop there before being appointed to Philadelphia.

Archbishop Perez was ordained a priest for the archdiocese in 1989 and one of his ordination classmates joined him at the news conference: Father Gary Pacitti, pastor of St. Basil the Great in Kimberton. Archbishop Perez referred to him not only as a friend but "like my brother."

It was a sentiment that he extended to all his brother priests of the archdiocese and he would mention the strong priestly fellowship here several times during his remarks.

"You know, once a Philadelphia priest, always a Philadelphia priest," he said. "So the part of me that has that identity inside of me cannot wrap its head around being the Archbishop of Philadelphia. It doesn't compute. But it is what the Lord wants and what the Holy Father wants."

He said it is "awesome" to return Philadelphia with people who are faith-filled, who love the Lord, love the church. So I'm grateful to the Holy Father for placing this huge trust in me that I really don't deserve."

After studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and his priestly ordination, then-Father Perez served at St. Ambrose Parish in Philadelphia, worked in ministry to Hispanic Catholics of the archdiocese and led two parishes, St. William in Philadelphia and St. Agnes in West Chester, before he was ordained an auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Rockville Center, New York.

In 2017, he was named bishop of Cleveland and at the news conference he praised the people of that diocese, especially its Catholic young adults who "were a great source of joy" for him. He added that he "hoped to reach out to the young adults here" in Philadelphia.

Archbishop Perez also singled out praise for Archbishop Chaput, whom he called a friend and mentor.

Acknowledging the challenges of the past eight years in Philadelphia ranging from parish and school closures to financial crises to a wounded morale for both clergy and laity due to the sexual abuse crisis, Archbishop Chaput confronted them "with great courage and steadfastness," Archbishop Perez said.

"I watched it from afar (and) learned from him, how steadfast he was and with profound faith that while things were tough, that God would make a way, that somehow, someway all things happen for the good of those who love God, as St. Paul said."

Even in the midst of criticism, "I saw him make tough decisions, many times like a father. He made calls that today have placed the archdiocese in a way better place. We owe him a profound debt along with our gratitude (and) our love," Archbishop Perez said, inviting everyone to applaud his predecessor.

After the installation Mass, Archbishop Chaput will begin his retirement. For the first three months, he will have no public appointments as he takes up residence at St. Edmond's Home for Children, an archdiocesan facility in Rosemont for children with intellectual and physical disabilities.

After that period, he said, he will assist Archbishop Perez as needed and accept some writing and speaking engagements.

In his remarks Archbishop Perez offered a special greeting in Spanish to the Hispanic Catholics of the archdiocese, encouraging them in "a missionary church, in the life of our community and in the truth of the Gospel," he said.

He had previously served in diocesan-wide ministry to Latino Catholics in the 1990s and as pastor led two archdiocesan parishes with significant Hispanic populations.

He did not leave the clergy sexual abuse scandal unaddressed. "I and we continue to pray for your healing," he said of victims abused by members of the church, "and we hold deep within our hearts those who have been hurt. It never should have happened, and we are sorry."

Archbishop Perez appeared to describe his vision for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as he cited the words of Pope Francis, calling for "a community of missionary disciples" that will be "ever vibrant and powerful in the church here in Philadelphia," a community that "takes initiative" and is "engaged in the world around it, accompanies with the truth of the Gospel, is fruitful and is joyful."

Acknowledging the challenges of the present and the future that he may face in Philadelphia, Archbishop Perez said he was not afraid to "do what needs to be done for the good of the family."

Although the church has "gone through difficult moments in the last two decades, heart-wrenching moments ... the church is still here because the church is Christ. We (members of the church) come and go. The mystical body of Christ, the church, has to deal with us in our humanity, and we're complex human beings. But God works through us. So I have great hope for the church, despite everything you read."

He offered an encouragement to his listeners at the news conference and those watching it livestreamed on the internet: "Never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit working in you, through you, and despite you," he said.

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Gambino is director and general manager of CatholicPhilly.com, the news website of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

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Update: Archbishop Chaput retires; pope names Bishop Perez successor

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia and has appointed Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Cleveland as his successor.

Archbishop Chaput, who has headed the Philadelphia Archdiocese since 2011, turned 75 last September, the age at which canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation to the pope. Archbishop Perez, 58, was installed as the 11th bishop of Cleveland Sept. 5, 2017.

The resignation and appointment were announced in Washington Jan. 23 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

The new archbishop said he was looking forward to returning to the archdiocese where he was ordained as a priest.

"I am deeply grateful to the Holy Father for this appointment and his confidence in me," Archbishop Perez said in a statement released by the Diocese of Cleveland. "It is with great joy tinged with a sense of sadness that I accept the appointment -- joy that I will be returning to serve the archdiocese in which I was ordained to the priesthood ... and sadness that I will be leaving an area and the incredible people in Northeast Ohio I have come to love deeply."

Archbishop Perez will be installed in ceremonies set for 2 p.m., Feb. 18 at at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.

He was born in Miami June 16, 1961, to David and Emma Perez and is the brother of the late Dr. David Perez and Louis Martin Perez. He was raised in West New York, New Jersey and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Montclair State University in 1983.

After entering St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, he earned Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in theology degrees in 1988 and 1989, respectively. He was ordained a priest for Philadelphia May 20, 1989.

He ministered as a parochial vicar at St. Ambrose Parish in Philadelphia; was assistant director of the archdiocesan Office for Hispanic Catholics; founding director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization; pastor of St. William Parish in Philadelphia; and pastor of St. Agnes Parish in West Chester.

His work in education included teaching psychology and religious studies at La Salle University and developmental psychology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

Named a monsignor by St. John Paul II in 1998 and a prelate of honor by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, he was ordained an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, in 2012.

As a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Perez is chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church and formerly chaired the Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs. He also served as the lead bishop for the V Encuentro process for the USCCB and is a former member of the Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

He currently serves as a member of the Administrative Committee and the religious liberty committee for the USCCB. In November 2018, he began a three-year term as the bishop liaison for the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry.

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Matthew Gambino in Philadelphia contributed to this story.

 

 

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Copyright © 2020 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 [email protected]