Spring Hill College to offer

Spring Hill College’s Summer Institute of Christian Spirituality will offer a course on Walker Percy’s “Tarnished Woman of Grace” during our first session (June 5-9) on the campus in Mobile. The course will focus on Percy’s later book, “The Second Coming,” a book about suicide, testing God, faith and redemption (through the grace of a woman escaped from an insane asylum). The course will be 5 days, each morning from 9-11 a.m.

Walker Percy, born in Alabama, growing up in Mississippi, and living and writing in Louisiana, is one of the great Southern Catholic writers (He was an adult convert to Catholicism). He became known as a “Southern Catholic writer” when he wrote the essay “Stoicism in the South” in 1956 for Commonweal, condemning southern segregation and advocating a new kind of Christian philosophy in Southern life.

His most famous book, “The Moviegoer,” published in 1960 won the National Book Award. In 1989, the University of Notre Dame awarded Percy its Laetare Medal, which is bestowed annually to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church, and enriched the heritage of humanity.” Walker Percy was buried on the grounds of St. Joseph Benedictine Abbey in St. Benedict, LA.

About the course, Dr. Katherine Abernathy says, “I would say that Christians in the South should read Percy because they will find a fresh look at their faith. He is irreverent and hilarious, yet his response to spiritual despair is Catholic at its depth.”

Dr. Katherine Abernathy is an associate professor of English at the University of Mobile where she has taught since 1997. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Dallas in 2000. Her research interests have focused on Southern literature, especially Walker Percy and Caroline Gordon, and she is currently working on a study of the works of the modern Norwegian novelist Sigrid Undset.

For more information on the Summer Institute of Christian Spirituality at Spring Hill College go to www.shc.edu/sics or call (877) 857-6742.


Risen Christ calls all to follow him on path to life, pope says

By Cindy Wooden and Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Jesus is the risen shepherd who takes upon his shoulders “our brothers and sisters crushed by evil in all its varied forms,” Pope Francis said before giving his solemn Easter blessing.

With tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square April 16, the pope called on Christians to be instruments of Christ’s outreach to refugees and migrants, victims of war and exploitation, famine and loneliness.

For the 30th year in a row, Dutch farmers and florists blanketed the area around the altar with grass and 35,000 flowers and plants: lilies, roses, tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, birch and linden.

Preaching without a prepared text, Pope Francis began — as he did the night before at the Easter Vigil — imagining the disciples desolate because “the one they loved so much was executed. He died.”

While they are huddling in fear, the angel tells them, “He is risen.” And, the pope said, the church continues to proclaim that message always and everywhere, including to those whose lives are truly, unfairly difficult.

“It is the mystery of the cornerstone that was discarded, but has become the foundation of our existence,” he said. And those who follow Jesus, “we pebbles,” find meaning even in the midst of suffering because of sure hope in the resurrection.

Pope Francis suggested everyone find a quiet place on Easter to reflect on their problems and the problems of the world and then tell God, “I don’t know how this will end, but I know Christ has risen.”

Almost immediately after the homily, a brief but intense rain began to fall on the crowd, leading people to scramble to find umbrellas, jackets or plastic bags to keep themselves dry.

After celebrating the morning Easter Mass, Pope Francis gave his blessing “urbi et orbi,” to the city of Rome and the world.

Before reciting the blessing, he told the crowd that “in every age the risen shepherd tirelessly seeks us, his brothers and sisters, wandering in the deserts of this world. With the marks of the passion — the wounds of his merciful love — he draws us to follow him on his way, the way of life.”

Christ seeks out all those in need, he said. “He comes to meet them through our brothers and sisters who treat them with respect and kindness and help them to hear his voice, an unforgettable voice, a voice calling them back to friendship with God.”

Pope Francis mentioned a long list of those for whom the Lord gives special attention, including victims of human trafficking, abused children, victims of terrorism and people forced to flee their homes because of war, famine and poverty.

“In the complex and often dramatic situations of today’s world, may the risen Lord guide the steps of all those who work for justice and peace,” Pope Francis said. “May he grant the leaders of nations the courage they need to prevent the spread of conflicts and to put a halt to the arms trade.”

The pope also offered special prayers for peace in Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Congo and Ukraine, and for a peaceful resolution of political tensions in Latin America.

The pope’s celebration of Easter got underway the night before in a packed St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Easter Vigil began with the lighting of the fire and Easter candle in the atrium of the basilica. Walking behind the Easter candle and carrying a candle of his own, Pope Francis entered the basilica in darkness.

The basilica was gently illuminated only by candlelight and the low light emanating from cellphones capturing the solemn procession.

The bells of St. Peter’s pealed in the night, the sound echoing through nearby Roman streets, announcing the joy of the Resurrection.

During the vigil, Pope Francis baptized 11 people: five women and six men from Spain, Czech Republic, Italy, the United States, Albania, Malta, Malaysia and China.

One by one, the catechumens approached the pope who asked them if they wished to receive baptism. After responding, “Yes, I do,” they lowered their heads as the pope poured water over their foreheads.

Among them was Ali Acacius Damavandy from the United States who smiled brightly as the baptismal waters streamed down his head.

In his homily, reflecting on the Easter account from the Gospel of St. Matthew, the pope recalled the women who went “with uncertain and weary steps” to Christ’s tomb.

The pope said the faces of those women, full of sorrow and despair, reflect the faces of mothers, grandmothers, children and young people who carry the “burden of injustice and brutality.”

The poor and the exploited, the lonely and the abandoned, and “immigrants deprived of country, house and family” suffer the heartbreak reflected on the faces of the women at the tomb who have seen “human dignity crucified,” he said.

However, the pope added, in the silence of death, Jesus’ heartbeat resounds and his resurrection comes as a gift and as “a transforming force” to a humanity broken by greed and war.

“In the Resurrection, Christ rolled back the stone of the tomb, but he wants also to break down all the walls that keep us locked in our sterile pessimism, in our carefully constructed ivory towers that isolate us from life, in our compulsive need for security and in boundless ambition that can make us compromise the dignity of others,” he said.

Pope Francis called on Christians to follow the example of the woman who, upon learning of Christ’s victory over death, ran to the city and proclaimed the good news in those places “where death seems the only way out.”

Presiding over the Stations of the Cross Good Friday, April 14, at Rome’s Colosseum, Pope Francis offered a prayer expressing both shame for the sins of humanity and hope in God’s mercy.

A crowd of about 20,000 people joined the pope at the Rome landmark. They had passed through two security checks and were watched over by a heavy police presence given recent terrorist attacks in Europe.

At the end of the service, Pope Francis recited a prayer to Jesus that he had composed. “Oh Christ, our only savior, we turn to you again this year with eyes lowered in shame and with hearts full of hope.”

The shame comes from all the “devastation, destruction and shipwrecks that have become normal in our lives,” he said, hours after some 2,000 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea. The shame comes from wars, discrimination and the failure to denounce injustice.

Turning to the sexual abuse crisis, Pope Francis expressed “shame for all the times we bishops, priests, consecrated men and women have scandalized and injured your body, the church.”

But the pope also prayed that Christians would be filled with the hope that comes from knowing that “you do not treat us according to our merits, but only according to the abundance of your mercy.”

Christian hope, he said, means trusting that Jesus’ cross can “transform our hardened hearts into hearts of flesh capable of dreaming, forgiving and loving.”

Pope Francis carries a candle as he arrives to celebrate the Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican April 15. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See POPE-EASTER-ROUNDUP April 16, 2017.

April recognized as Child Abuse Prevention month

JACKSON – April is recognized nationally as Child Abuse Prevention Month. The Catholic Church across America use this month as a way to reinforce the message that the Catholic Church is committed to protecting children. The following is from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and reflects both diocesan and national promise to protect and pledge to heal.

You Can Help

You can help prevent the abuse of children. Know the warning signs of offenders. They prefer to be with children. They go overboard touching, wrestling or tickling. They may give minors alcohol or drugs or show them pornography. They allow children to break the rules. Offenders act as if the rules do not apply to them.

If you observe an adult who is not behaving appropriately with children, speak up. Let someone know what you saw. You are not accusing anyone of anything. You are letting someone know you care, are watching, and are concerned that no harm is done to a child.

You Can Get Help

Abuse is never the fault of the person harmed. It is always the responsibility of the offender. The reality is that most victims of abuse know their abuser. One in four females and one in six males report being abused as a minor.

If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse there are things you can do, even if the abuse happened years ago. Call the police to report the abuse. If the abuser was in a position of authority in an organization, you should also report the abuse to that organization. If the abuse happened in a Catholic church or school, contact Valerie McClellan, Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese of Jackson, at 601-326-3728.

The Charter

In Dallas in June of 2002, the bishops of the United States adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Charter is the plan of action developed by the bishops to address the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

Part One- To Promote Healing and Reconciliation with Victims/Survivors of Abuse

The wording of the Charter is very clear on the importance the bishops place on their responsibility to help victims find healing and reconciliation. It states, “The first obligation of the Church with regard to victims is for healing and reconciliation.” Outreach takes a variety a forms including extensive therapy, apology meetings, spiritual retreats, and Masses for healing.

In 2016, outreach was provided to 1,760 victims and their families.

Part Two- To Guarantee an Effective Response to Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors

All dioceses are to report allegations of sexual abuse of minors to public authorities. All clergy who have been found guilty or admitted guilt are permanently removed from ministry. There are clear standards of behavior and appropriate boundaries for all clergy employees, and volunteers.

Part Three- To Ensure the Accountability of Our Procedures

The mission of the Bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People is to advise the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on all matters related to child and youth protection. The Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection was established in 2002 by the USCCB. The National Review Board is a consultative body that reviews the work of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and advises the president of the USCCB. In addition, each diocese has a review board to advise its bishop in his assessment of allegations and in his determination of a cleric’s suitability for ministry. To prove their commitment to accountability, dioceses undergo an annual audit conducted by an outside auditor.

Part Four- To Protect the Faithful in the Future

Dioceses train clergy, employees and volunteers to create and maintain safe environments for children. The backgrounds of clergy, employees, and volunteers are evaluated to determine if someone should be allowed around children and young people.

More than two million parish employees and volunteers, and 4.2 million children have been Safe Environment trained to recognize the behavior offenders and what to do about it. Training was also provided to 159,764 educators, 258,978 other employees, 35,475 priests, 16,294 deacons and 6,847 candidates for ordination.

Background evaluations have been conducted on more than 2 million parish volunteers and Church personnel who have contact with children. Seminary screening has been tightened and transfers among dioceses of clergy who have committed abuse against minors are forbidden.

Trump vows to keep fighting for travel ban blocked again by courts

WASHINGTON (CNS) – The U.S. Department of Justice issued a brief notice March 17 that it will appeal a Maryland federal judge’s ruling that blocked President Donald Trump’s new executive order on a temporary travel ban.
An appeal of the March 16 decision by U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland sends the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which is based in Richmond, Virginia.
A day before Chuang ruled, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu blocked the revised order, which called for stopping refugee resettlement programs for 120 days and banning citizens of six Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The new order leaves out Iraq, which was in his first order.
Both judges said the temporary ban, which was to have taken effect at midnight March 16, violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which says the government can pass no law that establishes religion or prohibits the free exercise of religion.
If the Department of Justice had decided to appeal Watson’s order, the case would have gone to the 9th Circuit, the court that upheld several lower court rulings that blocked Trump’s first executive order.
Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., or CLINIC, applauded both judges for blocking implementation of the latest Trump administration travel and refugee policies.
“As both judges said, the March 6 executive order is clearly a religion-based test and it should be stopped,” said Jeanne Atkinson, executive director of CLINIC, which is based in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland. “The language of this order may differ somewhat from the earlier version – which was also blocked by several federal courts – but it is no improvement on the core problem with the ban.”
“In the United States, we do not base our laws about who may come here to visit, work or study, let alone who may immigrate, on religious beliefs,” she said in a March 16 statement. “There is too much evidence that animus toward Muslims is at the heart of both versions of these travel bans.”
In their decisions, Watson and Chuang both pointed to anti-Muslim comments made by Trump during his presidential campaign and such comments made by others associated with Trump as evidence that the ban discriminated against a certain religion.
In her statement, Atkinson said: “We stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters, who would be affected disproportionately by the ban on travel from six predominantly Muslim countries.”
Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said the organization looked forward “to defending this careful and well-reasoned decision in the appeals court.” The ACLU was one of the groups that filed suit against the executive order.
Trump’s temporary travel ban “has fared miserably in the courts, and for good reason – it violates fundamental provisions of our Constitution,” Jadwat added in a statement.
In her statement, Atkinson said Chuang and Watson were “correct to stop such misguided policies.”
“The United States is better than this,” she added.
President Donald Trump, during a campaign rally in Nashville, vowed to fight the latest court ruling blocking his executive order temporarily suspending immigration from six Muslim-majority countries and refugee resettlement all the way to the Supreme Court.
“We’re going to fight this terrible ruling,” the president told a crowd of cheering supporters in Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium March 15. “The danger is clear. The law is clear. The need for my executive order is clear.”
Before the rally, the president visited the Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson, and laid a wreath at his grave in honor of the 250th anniversary of the seventh president’s birthday.
During the Nashville rally, the president said his administration is “working night and day to keep our nation safe from terrorism. … For this reason, I issued an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration from places it cannot safely occur.”
“They best way to keep … radical Islamic terrorists from attacking our country is to keep them from coming to our country in the first place,” Trump said. “This ruling makes us look weak, which we no longer are.”

Inmigrante detenida después de aparición pública enfrenta futuro incierto

JACKSON – Pastores, abogados, inmigrantes y defensores de los inmigrantes se reunieron en el alcaldía el miércoles 1 de marzo para expresar sus preocupaciones sobre las redadas recientes de inmigración e invitar a la comunidad en general a asistir a un foro para discutir las contribuciones de los inmigrantes
Daniela Vargas, una joven de 22 años, fue detenida por agentes de la Agencia de Inmigración y Aduanas de los Estados Unidos (ICE). Aunque liberada de la custodia federal el 10 de marzo, el futuro estatus de Vargas aún está en el aire. Vargas se convirtió en el principal ejemplo de cómo son realmente complejas las cuestiones de inmigración cuando fue detenida después de hablar en la conferencia. Pasó varios días en un centro de detención en Louisiana pero todavía está bajo supervisión. Los agentes no han decidido cómo proceder, pero los abogados son esperanzados que ella será permitida permanecer en este pais.

Daniela Vargas habla en una rueda de prensa sobre los pasos del Ayuntamiento de Jackson. Vargas habló como un receptor de DACA cuyo padre y hermano enfrentan posible deportación. Inmediatamente después de la conferencia de prensa, los agentes federales la llevaron en custodia. (Foto de Tereza Ma.)

Daniela Vargas habló como una receptora de DACA. Inmediatamente después de la conferencia de prensa, los agentes federales la llevaron en custodia. (Foto de Tereza Ma.)

Originalmente de Argentina, Vargas trasladó a los Estados Unidos con su familia cuando tenía siete años y estaba cubierta por el programa Acción Diferida por Llegadas de la Niñez (DACA). Pero debido a razones financieras, su estado había caducado ya que esas solicitudes deben renovarse cada dos años. Bajo DACA, los jóvenes que vienen a este país antes de cumplir los 16 años de edad pueden solicitar el estatus de acción diferida. Estos jóvenes deben permanecer fuera de problemas legales, estar en la escuela o haber graduado de la escuela secundaria o servir en el ejército de los Estados Unidos, así como reaplicar el estatus de acción diferida.
Éste no fue su primer encuentro con ICE. Los agentes arrestaron a su padre y a su hermano en su casa a principios de este año mientras ella se escondía en un armario. Agentes ICE allanaron la casa y la detuvieron por un corto tiempo, pero la liberaron cuando ella indicó que había vuelto a aplicar para DACA. Su hermano está esperando audiencias de deportación.
“Cuando tenía siete años mis padres sacrificaron todo lo que habían conocido para llevar a mi hermano y yo a este pais para establecer un mejor estilo de vida. Mis padres comenzaron a trabajar en plantas de pollos donde la mayoría de los días el frío era insoportable“, dijo en la conferencia de prensa. “Sabiendo que estaban haciendo este sacrificio por nosotros, puse todos mis esfuerzos en mi educación y mis talentos. Sueño de ser profesora universitaria de matemáticas, pero ahora no estoy tan segura de que mi sueño se desarrolle“, agregó Vargas.
Nathan Elmore representa a Vargas. Dijo que su caso es complicado, pero sabe que ICE tiene discreción en sus casos y espera que los agentes lo ejerzan. Vargas, señaló, no cae bajo las ‘deportaciones prioritarias’ delineadas por la administración Trump. Ella no tiene antecedentes penales, es elegible para una renovación DACA y no estaba cometiendo un crimen cuando fue recogida.
El obispo Joseph Kopacz escribió una carta en apoyo a Vargas diciendo: “Algunos han expresado su gran preocupación en todos los niveles de gobierno y de la sociedad que los receptores de DACA pueden ser especialmente vulnerables en la transición de una administración a la siguiente, pero el Presidente Trump ha declarado que él honrar el estado de todos los destinatarios de DACA. Espero que las dependencias locales de nuestro Servicio de Inmigración y Aduanas mantengan la letra y el espíritu de la ley con respecto al estatus legal de los receptores de DACA “.
Elmore dijo que la atmósfera actual en la comunidad inmigrante es de miedo, especialmente entre las familias con niños. “Este fin de semana, yo y varios miembros de mi equipo de abogados fuimos a Morton, Mississippi, donde hicimos un evento de divulgación donde hablamos con gente como Daniela. Esta gente estaba asustada. Están preocupados de que ‘¿qué pasa si me recogen, quién va a cuidar a mi hijo?’ Esta fue la pregunta número uno que enfrentamos cuando hablamos con estas personas … y es una pregunta difícil para responder,” él dijo.
Amelia McGowan, abogada del Catholic Charities Migrant Resource Center, hizo eco de ese sentimiento. “A menudo un tema que no se discute es que muchos inmigrantes que vienen a los Estados Unidos – documentados o indocumentados – tienen hijos ciudadanos estadounidenses, o tal vez no ciudadanos, pero que han vivido toda su vida aquí en los Estados Unidos. Las incursiones forzadas de inmigración no sólo ponen a los niños en peligro inmediato de retirar a sus padres, sino que también los coloca en un constante temor, que puede volver a traumatizarlos si han sufrido un pasado traumático de sus países de origen “, dijo McGowan.
El Padre Redentorista Michael McAndrew está de acuerdo. Ha estado abogando por familias inmigrantes en los Estados Unidos por casi tres décadas. Hoy en día, es parte de una comunidad redentorista en Greenwood sirviendo a la comunidad hispana en todo el Delta. Señaló que la deportación es más complicada de lo que parece cuando los niños están involucrados. “Por supuesto, la ley de inmigración establece que los niños ciudadanos pueden permanecer en este país, pero los derechos de los niños deben proteger más que sólo el derecho de los niños a estar aquí. El último orador, Jim Evans, presidente de la Alianza para los Derechos de los Inmigrantes de Mississippi (MIRA por sus siglas en inglés), dijo que los derechos de los niños no son abusivos o les causan daño “, dijo el padre McAndrew. , Trajo el Evangelio a llevar en su desafío a los líderes estatales y miembros de la comunidad de fe. “El evangelio de Jesucristo habla a estos sufrimientos en nuestro medio, no como quienes son, sino como quienes somos y cómo atendemos a ellos, no establecen quiénes son, sino que lo hace claro y revela quiénes somos”. él dijo. La conferencia de prensa fue organizada por la Asociación Latinoamericana de Negocios, ONE Church y MIRA. El grupo todavía espera ser anfitrión de un foro comunitario para mostrar las contribuciones de los inmigrantes a Mississippi y abrir un diálogo con los departamentos locales de aplicación de la ley. El foro está programado para el martes, 11 de abril, a las 6 pm, en la Iglesia de Fondren en State Street en Jackson.

Trump promete seguir luchando por la prohibición de viajar bloqueada

Por Andy Telli y Theresa Laurence
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (CNS) – El presidente Donald Trump, durante una manifestación de campaña en Nashville, prometió luchar contra la última sentencia judicial bloqueando su orden ejecutiva suspendiendo temporalmente la inmigración de seis países de mayoría musulmana y el reasentamiento de refugiados hasta la Corte Suprema .
“Vamos a luchar contra este fallo terrible”, dijo el presidente a una multitud de simpatizantes en el Auditorio Municipal de Nashville el 15 de marzo. “El peligro es claro, la ley es clara y la necesidad de mi orden ejecutiva es clara”.
Antes de la manifestación, el presidente visitó Hermitage, el hogar del presidente Andrew Jackson, y colocó una corona de flores en su tumba en honor al 250 aniversario del cumpleaños del séptimo presidente.
Más temprano en el día, el juez Derrick Watson de Hawaii emitió una orden de restricción temporal contra la prohibición de viajar de Trump. En su orden, el juez dictaminó que el gobierno no había demostrado que la prohibición era necesaria para proteger al país de los terroristas que trataban de infiltrarse en el país a través de la inmigración legal o el programa de refugiados.
La prohibición de viajar habría prohibido a los ciudadanos de Irán, Libia, Somalia, Sudán y Siria entrar a los Estados Unidos durante 90 días y todos los refugiados durante 120 días. Fue el segundo intento de la administración Trump de implementar una prohibición de viajar. Después de que la primera orden fue bloqueada por un juez, Trump emitió una nueva orden que eliminó a Irak de la lista de países.
El orden nuevo fue bloqueado por un segundo juez federal. El juez del distrito estadounidense, Theodore Chuang, de Maryland, dictaminó que la orden de Trump estaba destinada a prohibir a los musulmanes y por lo tanto violó la Primera Enmienda.

El presidente estadounidense Donald Trump firma una orden ejecutiva revisada para una prohibición de viajar a Estados Unidos el 6 de marzo en el Pentágono en Arlington, Virginia. La orden ejecutiva prohíbe temporalmente a los refugiados de ciertos países musulmanes mayoritarios y ahora excluye a Irak. (Foto del CNS / Carlos Barria, Reuters)

El presidente estadounidense Donald Trump firma una orden ejecutiva revisada para una prohibición de viajar a Estados Unidos el 6 de marzo en el Pentágono en Arlington, Virginia. La orden ejecutiva prohíbe temporalmente a los refugiados de ciertos países musulmanes mayoritarios y ahora excluye a Irak. (Foto del CNS / Carlos Barria, Reuters)

El 16 de marzo en Washington, el secretario de prensa de la Casa Blanca, Sean Spicer, confirmó los planes de la administración Trump de apelar las sentencias de los dos jueces.
Durante el manifestación de Nashville, el presidente dijo que su administración está “trabajando noche y día para mantener a nuestra nación a salvo del terrorismo … Por esta razón, emitió una orden ejecutiva para suspender temporalmente la inmigración de lugares que no puede ocurrir con seguridad”.
“El mejor modo de evitar que los terroristas islámicos radicales ataquen nuestro país es impedirles que vayan a nuestro país en primer lugar”, dijo Trump. “Esta decisión nos hace parecer débiles, lo que ya no somos”.
La prohibición de viajar fue uno de varios temas que el presidente abordó en su discurso, que abordó una amplia gama de temas y fue muy similar al estilo de sus manifestaciones de campaña durante la campaña presidencial de 2016.
El presidente alineó su agenda con la de Jackson. “Él entendió que el liderazgo real significa poner a Estados Unidos primero”.
“Hemos estado poniendo mucha nuestra agenda de America First en acción”, dijo Trump. “Acabamos de empezar, espera hasta que veas lo que viene, amigos.”
Antes de que se anunciara la decisión sobre la prohibición de viajar, se esperaba que el presidente hablara en apoyo de la Ley Americana de Cuidado de la Salud, el proyecto de ley republicano que derogaría y reemplazaría la Ley del Cuidado de Salud a Bajo Precio, conocida como Obamacare. Pero fue casi 30 minutos en el discurso antes de que Trump trajo la revocación de los republicanos y reemplazar el esfuerzo.
A principios de la semana, la Oficina de Presupuesto del Congreso publicó su análisis del proyecto de ley, que proyectaba que el proyecto de ley reduciría el déficit federal en 337.000 millones de dólares en 10 años, pero dejaría 24 millones menos de personas cubiertas por el seguro de salud para 2026. Eliminar el mandato individual que obliga a las personas a comprar un seguro de salud o pagar una multa de impuestos y también poner fin a la expansión del programa de Medicaid bajo la Ley de Cuidado de Salud a Bajo Precio.
Los cambios en el programa de Medicaid en virtud de la Ley de Atención de Salud estadounidense daría lugar a 14 millones de personas más sin seguro, de acuerdo con la oficina de presupuesto.
A pesar del feroz debate sobre el proyecto de ley entre los republicanos en el Congreso, el presidente predijo que pasaría. “Y luego vamos a la reducción de impuestos, que me gusta.”
Trump abordó varias otras áreas de su agenda, incluyendo la reducción de las regulaciones gubernamentales sobre las empresas, recortar el presupuesto, aumentar el gasto en defensa, sacar a Estados Unidos de varios acuerdos comerciales y construir un muro a lo largo de la frontera sur del país.
La aparición en el Auditorio Municipal fue organizada y pagada por la campaña presidencial de reelección, que se lanzó a mediados de febrero.
Mientras el presidente hablaba dentro del Auditorio Municipal, miles de manifestantes salieron a las calles del centro de Nashville para defender causas en las que creían, incluyendo acceso a servicios de salud, derechos de inmigrantes y refugiados, derechos de los trabajadores y más.
Junto con anarquistas vestidos de negro, los partidarios de Planned Parenthood en sombreros de color rosa brillante y Y de otros manifestantes de Trump, la gente de fe estaba en la mano protestando las políticas de Trump. Bobbi Negron estaba allí con su esposo y niño pequeño. Es profesora en la Academia St. Bernard en Nashville y cofundadora de Workers ‘Dignity, una organización sin fines de lucro que ayuda a trabajadores de bajos salarios, muchos de los cuales son latinos, a enfrentarse al robo de salarios ya los abusos en el lugar de trabajo. “Estamos aquí porque nuestros vecinos y amigos viven con miedo, no saben si serán recogidos y deportados”, dijo al diario Tennessee Register, diario de la diócesis de Nashville. Como puertorriqueña, Negron dijo que sentía que era su deber resistir a los inmigrantes, especialmente a los musulmanes y los que estaban en el país sin documentos, que se sienten especialmente apuntados en este momento. “Practicamos lo que creemos”, dijo. Tienes que salir y aparecer. – – – Telli es redactora y Laurence es escritora del Tennessee Register, diario de la Diócesis de Nashville

Trump signs new executive order on refugees, excludes Iraq from ban

By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON (CNS) – President Donald Trump’s new executive order temporarily banning refugees from certain majority-Muslim countries, signed March 6, now excludes Iraq from the ban.
Iraq had been one of seven nations in the original order, issued Jan. 27 but the implementation of which was blocked in the courts. The new order will not take effect until March 16.
Citizens of four of the countries still part of the ban – Iran, Libya, Somalia and Syria – will be subject to a 90-day suspension of visa processing. This information was given to Congress the week prior to the new executive order. The other two countries that remain part of the ban are Sudan and Yemen.
Lawful permanent residents – green card holders – are excluded from any travel ban.
While the revised executive order is intended to survive judicial scrutiny, those opposed to it have declared plans to mobilize their constituencies to block it. Church World Service and the National Council of Churches announced March 2, that they will unveil a new grass-roots ecumenical initiative in support of refugees.
Catholic immigration advocates were on tenterhooks waiting for the revised executive order, the issuance of which had been long promised but slow in coming.
Bill O’Keefe, vice president for government relations and advocacy at Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ international aid agency, told Catholic News Service that he had seen communications from “senior White House officials” that would retain the ban, but indicated the indefinite ban on Syrians would be lifted.
Religious preferences found in the would be original order would be erased, but green-card holders would be exempt from the ban. O’Keefe said. The halt of refugee admissions to “determine additional security vetting procedures” would stay in place, he added, and the number of refugee admissions would be cut for the 2017 fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30, from 110,000 to 50,000; an estimated 35,000 have already been admitted since October, according to O’Keefe.
“Some will argue that simply sectioning out the seven Muslim-majority countries is a form of religious discrimination,” O’Keefe said. “What is clear here is that’s it’s within the prerogative of the president to lower the threshold of refugee admissions.”
One effect of the order would be to further strain the refugee-processing system at its biggest point. “The bulk of the system and the biggest part of it are those countries like Lebanon, Turkey, which are taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees,” O’Keefe said. “When we don’t do our part, it’s tough for us to tell other countries to make the sacrifices we need to play their part. The risk of the system collapsing and of governments that are already strained not being willing to keep their doors open is very serious, and we’re very worried about that.”
In Syria, he added, “some people have been (refugees there) for five, six years. They’ve had the hope of resettlement in the United States as one of the things that keeps them going.”
Kim Pozniak, CRS’ communications director, spent a week in mid-February in Amman, Jordan, where untold thousands of refugees are living – two and three families at a time – in small apartments in the city.
“I’ve met with people that are worse off than they were three years ago (when she last visited), simply because they’ve started losing hope,” Pozniak told CNS. “One woman, for example, said they’re so bad off they’re considering moving back to Syria.” Pozniak said the woman’s sister, who still lives in Syria, told her “Look, even if it’s so bad that you have to eat dirt, don’t come back here.”
Even without a ban, the uncertainty can eat away at people, Pozniak said. “I talked with one 74-year-old woman who together with her son has been in the resettlement process in the United States. They had the interview with UN (High Commissioner for Refugees), the interview with the Embassy, had the iris scan taken, now they have no idea when they’ll be resettled. They’re never given an answer as to when, where, how, and that’s the really frustrating part – being in limbo and not knowing where you’re going to be next.”
A Pew Research Center poll released Feb. 27 found Catholics opposing the ban, 62 percent-36 percent. White Catholics were very narrowly in favor, 50 percent-49 percent, while Hispanic and other minority Catholics opposed the ban 81 percent-14 percent.
Members of black Protestant churches (81 percent) and religiously unaffiliated Americans (74 percent) also opposed the ban. Protestants overall supported the ban, 51 percent-46 percent, with 76 percent support from white evangelicals. The Pew survey interviewed 1,503 adults by phone Feb. 7-12.
(Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison.)

Immigrant – detained after public appearance faces unclear future

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Pastors, attorneys, immigrants and immigrants’ advocates gathered at City Hall Wednesday, March 1, to express their concerns about recent immigration raids, seek dialogue with law enforcement representatives and invite the community at large to attend a forum to discuss the contributions immigrants make to Mississippi.
Immediately after the news conference, one of the immigrants who spoke at it was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

Daniela Vargas speaks at a press conference on the steps of the Jackson City Hall. Vargas spoke as a DACA recipient whose father and brother face possible deportation. Immediately after the news conference, federal officers took her into custody. (Photo by Tereza Ma.)

Daniela Vargas speaks at a press conference on the steps of the Jackson City Hall. Vargas spoke as a DACA recipient whose father and brother face possible deportation. Immediately after the news conference, federal officers took her into custody. (Photo by Tereza Ma.)

Daniela Vargas is a 22-year-old Argentine native, but America is the only home she has ever known. She was covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but those applications have to be renewed every two years. She reapplied late because she had trouble getting together the money for the application, so her coverage had lapsed. The car in which she was riding was pulled over by federal agents as she left.
This was not her first run-in with ICE. Agents arrested her father and brother at her home earlier this year while she hid in a closet. ICE agents eventually raided the house and detained her for a short time, but released her when she indicated that she had reapplied for DACA. Her father and brother are awaiting deportation hearings.
“When I was seven-years-old my parents sacrificed everything they had ever known to bring my brother and I into the country to establish a better lifestyle. Both my parents began working in poultry plants where most days the cold was unbearable,” she said at the news conference. “Knowing that they were making this sacrifice for us, I put in all my efforts into my education and my talents. I dream of being a university math professor, but now I am not so sure my dream will develop,” Vargas added.
Nathan Elmore represents Vargas. He said her case is a complicated one, but he knows ICE has discretion in its cases and he hopes agents will exercise it. Vargas, he pointed out, does not fall under the ‘priority deportations’ outlined by the Trump administration. She has no criminal record, she is eligible for a DACA renewal and she was not committing a crime when she was picked up.
Bishop Joseph Kopacz wrote a letter in support of Vargas saying, “Some have expressed grave concern at every level of government and society that DACA recipients may be especially vulnerable in the transition from one administration to the next, but President Trump has stated that he will honor the status of all DACA recipients. I would hope that local branches of our Immigration and Customs Service will uphold the letter and spirit of the law with respect to the legal status of DACA recipients.”
ICE executed a series of raids in the state Wednesday, Feb. 22, detaining 55 people, according to the Clarion-Ledger. The raids targeted Asian restaurants in Jackson, Flowood, Pearl and Meridian and officials said they were the result of a yearlong investigation and not part of any new effort to round up undocumented immigrants.
Elmore is also representing some of the people being detained in the restaurant raids. He said he has been searching the court database to find out if his clients have been charged or appeared before a judge, but even a week after the raid, he can find no record of them anywhere.
Elmore said the current atmosphere in the immigrant community is one of fear, especially among families with children. “This weekend me and several members of my law firm went to Morton, Mississippi, where we did an outreach event where we talked to people just like Daniela. These folks were scared. They’re worried that ‘what if I get picked up, who’s going to take care of my child?’ That was the number one question that we faced as we talked to these people … and that’s a hard question for me to answer for them,” he said.

Amelia McGowan, attorney for the Catholic Charities

Amelia McGowan, attorney for the Catholic Charities

Amelia McGowan, attorney for the Catholic Charities Migrant Resource Center, echoed that sentiment. “Often a topic that goes undiscussed (is that) many immigrants who come to the United States – documented or undocumented – do have U.S. citizen children, or perhaps who are not citizens, but who have lived their entire lives here in the United States. Forced immigration raids not only puts the children in immediate danger of potentially removing their parents, removing their caregivers from the United States, but it also places them in a constant state of fear, which can re-traumatize them if they have suffered a traumatic past from their home countries,” said McGowan.
Redemptorist Father Michael McAndrew agrees. He has been advocating for immigrant families across the U.S. for almost three decades. Today, he is part of a Redemptorist community in Greenwood, Miss., serving the Hispanic community throughout the Mississippi Delta. He pointed out that deportation is more complicated than it may seem when children are involved.
“Of course, immigration law states that citizen children can remain in this country, but the rights of children must protect more than just the children’s right to be here. A more important right of the child is to be raised by his or her parents when their parents are not abusive or doing harm to them,” said Father McAndrew.
The last speaker, Jim Evans, president of the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA), brought the gospel to bear in his challenge to state leaders and members of the faith community. “The gospel of Jesus Christ speaks to these suffering in our midst – not as who they are but as who we are and how we attend to them don’t establish who they are, but it makes it clear and reveals who we are,” he said.
The news conference was organized by the Latin American Business Association, ONE Church and MIRA. The group still hopes to host a community forum to showcase the contributions immigrants make to Mississippi and open a dialogue with local law enforcement departments. The forum is set for Tuesday, April 11, at 6 p.m., at Fondren Church on State Street in Jackson.

Corned beef conundrum: Some dioceses give St. Patrick’s Day dispensation

By Carol Zimmermann
WASHINGTON (CNS) – When St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday, as it does about every seven years, the Lenten rule requiring Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays collides with the long-held tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage.
The two occasions meet this year. March 17 marks the celebration of St. Patrick – known as the Apostle of Ireland for his years of missionary work there – and it also is a celebration of all things Irish and even green. This March 17, since it falls on a Friday in Lenten, also is a time of penitence.
The timing has not gone unnoticed by some U.S. bishops. Before Lent even started, many of them – including Bishop Joseph Kopacz of the Diocese of Jackson – issued dispensations for Catholics in their dioceses allowing them to eat meat on St. Patrick’s Day.
The dispensation does not take Catholics totally off the hook. Many bishops advised Catholics older than age 14, who are required to abstain from meat on Friday, to do an extra act of charity or penance in exchange for eating meat.
Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, took it a step further. In a statement, he said Catholics should also “exercise due moderation and temperance in festivities and celebrations of the memorial of St. Patrick, in keeping with the solemnity and honor that is due to so great a saint and his tireless efforts to inspire holiness in the Christian faithful.”
He tempered that by also saying the day should “foster a joyful and reverent devotion to that great saint” and should also “honor the patrimony of the Irish people to whom he first preached the good news of salvation.”
As of Feb. 27, the following dioceses or archdioceses had announced giving the clear for Catholics to eat meat March 17: Jackson, Miss., Baltimore; New York; Milwaukee; St. Paul and Minneapolis; Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia; Omaha, Nebraska; and Jefferson City, Missouri.
The bishops primarily announced the one-day lifting of the church rule in statements posted on their diocesan websites.
Omaha Archbishop George J. Lucas granted a dispensation from the meat observance but those who eat meat on St. Patrick’s Day must abstain the next day, March 18.
New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan sent archdiocesan pastors a letter in late January notifying them of the dispensation and asking them to let their parishioners know about it.
Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki noted that abstaining from meat on Fridays in Lent is an “important dimension of the penitential nature of the season,” but he said Catholics in the archdiocese that day would not be required to give up meat “given the many celebrations that occur on this day,” which in the archdiocese also includes the ordination of two auxiliary bishops that afternoon.
Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis received a letter in late February from Susan Mulheron, chancellor of canonical affairs, saying the dispensation for St. Patrick’s Day had been issued by Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda after consulting archdiocesan leaders.
She said the archbishop considered past practice and present circumstances and decided the dispensation “would serve the common spiritual good.”
“As a general rule, a request for a dispensation from the obligation of abstinence on Fridays of Lent will not be considered unless some serious reason is present,” she wrote, adding that St. Patrick’s Day has “traditionally been an occasion for joy-filled celebrations in this archdiocese.”
Archbishop Hebda hinted he might grant the dispensation when he spoke at a Theology on Tap gathering Feb. 8 in St. Paul. When someone in the crowd asked him about the possibility of eating meat on St. Patrick’s Day, the archbishop asked for a show of hands of those who wanted to eat corned beef to honor St. Patrick.
“When you get a dispensation – and I think it’s coming – you should do penance on another occasion,” he told the crowd. “So, it’s like a get-out-of-jail-free card, but you have to pay sometime.”

Bishop, advocates oppose sanctuary cities bill

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – A bill that would keep agencies, cities and college campuses in Mississippi from offering sanctuary to unauthorized immigrants would not keep communities safe and goes against the Christian tenet of caring for those in need, said Bishop Joseph Kopacz of Jackson.
He issued a statement Feb. 15 opposing S.B. 2710, also known as the “sanctuary cities” bill, which passed the state Senate in a 32-16 vote Feb. 9. The bill goes to the state House for consideration.
The measure would prohibit cities and institutions of higher learning from declaring themselves sanctuary cities. There are currently no sanctuary cities in the state, although the city of Jackson proposed such a declaration last year.
“As Christians we are called to welcome the stranger and care for those in need. As citizens, we are called to keep our communities strong and safe. We feel that the so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ bill being debated right now in the Mississippi Legislature damages both of those efforts,” wrote Bishop Kopacz.
In a sanctuary city, local law enforcement would not be forced to act as federal immigration agents, like the officers of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In fact, they would be prohibited from asking a person they detained about his or her immigration status. S.B. 2710 would prohibit cities from enacting sanctuary policies.
The bill’s opening statement says it would apply to entities such as “a state agency, department, political subdivision of this state, county, municipality, university, college, community college or junior college, or any agent, employee or officer thereof.”
Immigrant advocates said the bill raises several concerns.
Amelia McGowan, an immigration attorney for the Catholic Charities Migrant Resource Center based in Jackson, said the vague language, especially in relation to schools, opens up a number of potential problems.
“The first provision is potentially extremely dangerous. It could allow any state official, or anyone working for the state government to report any individual to federal immigration authorities. In other words, it prevents the state and local agencies from prohibiting its employees from reporting an individual to ICE,” said McGowan in an email to the Mississippi Catholic, newspaper of the Jackson Diocese.
“That means, undocumented – or suspected undocumented – individuals seeking services in any state or local agency – courts, police protection, K-12 education, higher education, state hospital, state health and mental health agencies – could be reported to ICE by a disgruntled employee,” McGowan explained.
It also means an agency “could not prohibit its employees from doing so,” she continued. “Now, presumably that person may be protected in some cases by privacy laws, but I am afraid that this provision would prevent individuals from seeking state services, which include reporting violent crimes to the police.”
According to Christy Williams, an attorney at the headquarters of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, known as CLINIC, in Silver Spring, Maryland, the provision also opens up municipalities to potential liability. A school employee who discloses a student’s immigration information could be violating federal privacy laws and the school could be held liable.
If any officer reports a person they suspect is in the country without legal permission but that person turns out to have a valid legal status, the local agency can be sued. CLINIC highlighted one example from Allentown, Pennsylvania, when officers arrested a U.S. citizen for alleged drug crimes.
“He had both his driver’s license and Social Security card with him at the time of the arrest and was eventually found innocent,” according to a CLINIC document about sanctuary cities. “During his time in custody, the police called ICE based on the presumption that, because of his race, he was undocumented.
“Despite being documented, the citizen was held for three days after posting bail based on an ICE detainer. He was released only after an ICE agent interrogated him and confirmed his citizenship. The U.S. citizen sued local and county officials in 3rd District Federal Court, leading to verdicts in his favor and settlement costs totaling nearly $150,000,” the document said.
When a local agency reports someone to ICE, the federal agents may ask the local agency to detain the suspect. The local agency has to absorb the cost of housing, feeding and caring for the person until ICE can process the case. That money is rarely reimbursed to state and local agencies.
Critics of the Mississippi bill say that because it is vague, it also could erode the relationship first responders have with their communities. If immigrants, even those in the country legally, believe police officers, medical personnel or firefighters are going to report them to immigration officials, they may hesitate to call for much-needed help.
McGowan said she thinks if the bill becomes law, it “would have a chilling effect on individuals seeking state services” such as medical care, mental health care and police protection,” and would negatively affect immigrants’ educational opportunities. She also thinks it would subject victims of violent crimes and/or abuse “to greater danger.”
President Donald Trump has pledged to strip federal funds from jurisdictions that declare themselves “sanctuary cities.”
“We urge lawmakers and advocates to oppose S.B. 2710,” Bishop Kopacz said in his statement. “We will, as a Catholic community, continue to work with immigrants and refugees – welcoming their contributions to our community and culture – even as we pray for a just solution to the challenges of immigration and security.”
(Editor’s note: the full text of the statement is available here.)