Synod calls for more church roles for women, but stops short of diaconate

By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Members of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon asked that women be given leadership roles in the Catholic Church, although they stopped short of calling for women deacons.
In the Amazon, like in the rest of the world, the essential roles women play within the family, the community and the church should be valued and recognized officially, members of the synod said in their final document. The document, which synod members voted on Oct. 26, included a call for the creation of “the instituted ministry of ‘woman community leader,'” something they said would help meet “the changing demands of evangelization and community care.”
Speaking after the vote on the document, Pope Francis said the synod’s discussion on women “falls short” of explaining who women are in the church, particularly “in the transmission of faith, in the preservation of culture. I would just like to underline this: that we have not yet realized what women mean in the church,” but instead “we focus on the functional aspect, which is important,” but is not everything.
Synod members also asked Pope Francis to revise St. Paul VI’s 1972 document on ministries, “Ministeria Quaedam” (“Some Ministries”), so that women could be installed formally as lectors and acolytes and in any new ministries to be developed.
The final document also asked that “the voice of women be heard, that they be consulted and participate decision making” in the church. “It is necessary for the church to assume with greater strength their leadership within the church and for the church to recognize and promote it by strengthening their participation in the pastoral councils of parishes and dioceses, or even in instances of government,” the document said.
While noting that a “large number” of participants in the pre-synod consultations asked for women deacons and that several members of the synod itself made such a call, the final document did not include an explicit request for such a move.
In his post-vote talk to synod members, the pope gave the same explanation, but promised that he would have the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “reconvene the commission or perhaps open it with new members.”
Quoting a speech from Pope Paul in 1965, the final document said, “The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of woman is being achieved in its fullness.”
When many women are “victims of physical, moral and religious violence, including femicide, the church commits to defense of their rights and recognizes them a protagonists and guardians of creation,” synod members said. Without specifying further, the document said that “it is urgent for the church in the Amazon to promote and confer ministries for men and women in an equitable manner.”

Proposed Amazonian rite centered on Christ

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Addressing concerns about a proposed Amazonian rite in the Catholic Church, an indigenous participant at the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon called on Catholics to soften their hearts and understand the needs of Catholics in the region.
At a synod briefing Oct. 24, Delio Siticonatzi Camaiteri, a member of the Ashaninka people and a professor from Peru, said that fears about the proposal are unwarranted because indigenous people seek unity and not division.

Pope Francis accepts a plant during the offertory as he celebrates the concluding Mass of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon at the Vatican Oct. 27, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“Do we (want to) have our own rites? Yes, we do! But those rites must be incorporated with what is central, which is Jesus Christ. There is nothing else to argue about on this issue! The center that is uniting us in this synod is Jesus Christ,” he said.
Throughout the synod, members discussed the possibility of incorporating local traditions and cultural elements in the liturgy. While there are nearly two dozen different rites in the Catholic Church, those critical of the proposal fear that it would introduce so-called pagan elements into the liturgy.
Speaking to journalists at the briefing, Siticonatzi said that he noticed those present seemed “a bit uncomfortable” and did not “understand what the Amazon truly needs” when it comes to establishing a new rite.
Nevertheless, he added, there are many who are “doubtful of this reality that we are looking for as indigenous people. Do not harden your hearts! Soften your hearts; that is what Jesus invites us to do,” he said. “We live together. We all believe in one God! “
Mexican Father Eleazar Lopez Hernandez, a member of the Zapotec community and an expert on indigenous theology, told journalists that the churches in Latin America also “need to be able to express our faith within our own framework.”

Delio Siticonatzi Camaiteri, a member of the Ashaninca indigenous people in Peru, and Sister Mariluce dos Santos Mesquita, a member of the Barassana people in Brazil, attend a news conference after a session of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon at the Vatican Oct. 24, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“This is what the Amazonian rite is based on,” Father Lopez said. “We can no longer continue living within frameworks that are foreign to our people. This is alienation.”
When it comes to the liturgy, he continued, Christians have a responsibility to know the difference between “what is substantial in the Christian perspective and what is secondary, what is cultural.”

(Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju)

Divine intervention: Papal tweet of support for ‘Saints’ goes viral

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – A hashtag mix-up caused a papal tweet meant to give thanks for the Catholic Church’s newest saints to be read as Pope Francis showing support for the New Orleans Saints’ football team.
After the Oct. 13 canonization of five new saints, the pope’s official Twitter account, @Pontifex, tweeted: “Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new #Saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession.”
However, the Twitter hashtag automatically uploaded a fleur-de-lis, the official logo of the National Football League team. Needless to say, the tweet caught the attention of many Saints’ fans, who interpreted the tweet as invoking divine intervention for their team’s game that day against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Pope Francis, tweeting about the new saints he recognized Oct. 13, inadvertently used a hashtag connected to the New Orleans Saints football team. But fans appreciated it, as did the team. (CNS photo)

“Big Guy telling you something for this afternoon,” a Twitter user said, sharing the pope’s tweet. “Adjust your bets accordingly, Vegas.”
Other fans were elated that Christ’s vicar on earth was in their corner. “Pope Francis told 18 million followers that he was #WhoDatNation. I love it,” another Twitter follower wrote, referring to the New Orleans football team’s “Who Dat” chant.
But the reaction of the day came from the New Orleans Saints’ own Twitter account after their 13-6 victory over the Jaguars.
“Couldn’t lose after this,” the Saints’ account tweeted after sharing the papal tweet. “#Blessed and highly favored.”
A Vatican official confirmed Oct. 14 that use of the hashtag to trigger the “hashflag” – the fleur-de-lis – was a case of “accidental evangelization,” but hoped that “maybe someone who didn’t know will become aware that there are other ‘saints’ to pay attention to.”

Church must seek new paths in Amazon

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Synod of Bishops for the Amazon will help the Catholic Church make its presence felt and voice heard in a region that is dangerously approaching “a point of no return,” said the special secretaries of the synod.
“It is a great and continuing challenge for the Catholic Church to make the original Amazonian peoples feel part of it and contribute to it with the light of Christ and the spiritual richness that shines in their cultures,” Cardinal-designate Michael Czerny and Bishop David Martinez De Aguirre Guinea wrote in an article published Sept. 12 in La Civilta Cattolica, the Jesuit journal.
Cardinal-designate Czerny, undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugee Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and Bishop Martinez, apostolic vicar of Puerto Maldonado, Peru, said the synod will take place at a time when “both human and natural life are suffering serious and perhaps irreversible destruction.”
The synod, scheduled for Oct. 6-27, will focus on “Amazonia: New paths for the church and for an integral ecology.”
The Amazon rainforest includes territory belonging to nine countries in South America and has experienced significant deforestation, negatively impacting the indigenous populations in the area and leading to a loss of biodiversity.
As special secretaries, Cardinal-designate Czerny and Bishop Martinez will assist Brazil’s Cardinal Claudio Hummes, synod relator general, in providing a comprehensive outline of the synod’s theme at the beginning of the meeting and summarizing the speeches of synod members before work begins on concrete proposals for the pope.
In the article, titled “Why the Amazon merits a synod,” the prelates said that the synod for the Amazon is an effort to implement “’Laudato Si’ in this fundamental human and natural environment.”
Much like Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical “Rerum Novarum” recognized the exploitation of workers in the early days of the industrial revolution, Pope Francis’ observations on the “gross inequality and cruel marginalization” caused by financial and consumerist greed call “for a new attitude toward nature and the social environment.”
“This new synthesis is a wake-up call to the entire world, to all of humanity,” they wrote. “But it also suggests a new socio-pastoral orientation and dynamic for the church, which must understand the challenges faced by individuals and families and groups within these various dimensions.”
However, Cardinal-designate Czerny and Bishop Martinez wrote that the church “cannot give spiritual guidance and pastoral care if people are understood in isolation from – i.e. not integrated with – how they live and function within the actual natural, economic and social conditions that they face.”
They also noted that the crisis facing the region is not limited only to environmental problems such as pollution, privatization of natural goods and trafficking.
“Mercantilism, secularization, the throwaway culture and the idolatry of money” coupled with decreasing numbers of priests and religious “is endangering the presence of the Catholic Church among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon.”
Such challenges, they added, require a response that moves from a “ministry of visits to a ministry of presence.”
“This is why, during the October Synod, the entire world should walk with the people of the Amazon; not to expand or divert the agenda, but to help the synod to make a difference,” the prelates wrote. “The Amazon region is huge, and its challenges are immense. If destroyed, the impacts will be felt worldwide.”

(Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju)

Community comes together

CARTHAGE – With approximately 80 families affect in the parish of St. Anne, the community and those touched by the plight around the country are coming together to face coming challenges brouch on by the ICE raids on Wednesday, Aug. 7.
St. Anne Carthage has been collecting food and supplies to distribute to families directly impacted by the raids until the community stabilizes.
When visiting for assistance, those affect have been able to meet with attorneys to help guide them through the legal process.
Father Odel Medina is worried about how the families will survive and belies it could take up to six months before affected families find work again.

Cartaghe – photos by Joanna King

Forest – photos by Rebecca Haris

ICE raids – how to help click here

Bishops of four Mississippi churches condemn ICE raid, roundup of workers

By Catholic News Service
JACKSON – Mississippi’s Catholic bishops joined with the state’s Episcopal, Methodist and Lutheran bishops in condemning the Trump administration’s Aug. 7 raid on seven food processing plants in the state to round up workers in the country illegally.
Such raids “only serve to … cause the unacceptable suffering of thousands of children and their parents, and create widespread panic in our communities,” the religious leaders said in an Aug. 9 statement quoting Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, from a July letter he sent to President Donald Trump.
“We, the undersigned, condemn such an approach, which, as he (Cardinal DiNardo) rightly states, ‘has created a climate of fear in our parishes and communities across the United States,’” they said.
Signing the statement were Catholic Bishops Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson and Louis F. Kihneman III of Biloxi; Episcopal Bishop Brian R. Seage of Mississippi; Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church; and Bishop H. Julian Gordy, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s Southeastern Synod.
In what is the biggest sweep in a decade, ICE arrested and detained nearly 680 people. About 300 were released that evening; another 380 people remained in custody.
“These are not new laws, nor is the enforcement of them new,” ICE’s acting director, Matt Albence, said in a statement Aug. 7. “The arrests today were the result of a yearlong criminal investigation. And the arrests and warrants that were executed today are just another step in that investigation.”
He said the employers could be charged with knowingly hiring workers who are in the county illegally and will be probed for tax, document and wage fraud, Albence said.
Investigators told The New York Post daily newspaper that six of the seven processing plants were “willfully and unlawfully employing illegal aliens;” many of the workers used false names and had fake Social Security numbers, according to the newspaper.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Aug. 11, Albence acknowledged the timing of the sweep “was unfortunate,” coming just days after the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, where the alleged shooter said he was targeting Hispanics.
In their joint statement, the Mississippi bishops wrote: “To say that immigration reform is a contentious and complex topic would be an understatement.”
“As Christians, within any disagreement we should all be held together by our baptismal promises. Our baptism, regardless of denomination calls us to unity in Jesus Christ,” they said. “We are his body and, therefore, called to act in love as a unified community for our churches and for the common good of our local communities and nation.”
They also said their churches stand ready to assist immigrants with their immediate needs following the ICE raid.
“We can stand in solidarity to provide solace, material assistance, and strength for the separated and traumatized children, parents and families,” the bishops said. “Of course, we are committed to a just and compassionate reform to our nation’s immigration system, but there is an urgent and critical need at this time to avoid a worsening crisis.”
Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Jackson was directly assisting families and also was accepting donations for its outreach at
In other reaction to the ICE sweep in Mississippi, Lawrence E. Couch, director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, called the enforcement actions “outrageous” and “out of order in this land of freedom and welcome.”
He called on the Trump administration to release all the workers.
“The United States government is becoming increasingly heavy-handed in its tactics and is becoming increasingly less recognizable to its citizens and all peoples around the world,” Couch said. “Why has the current administration declared war on our neighbors who are helping to put food on our tables?”
He called the ICE raid “part of a malicious campaign to paint immigrants as criminals and rapists who have ‘invaded’ our country.”
The workers who were arrest “had no criminal record,” he said. “Many have lived and worked in the United States for several years. This action has created a catastrophe for the families and is spreading fear throughout the immigrant community. Children were left homeless and traumatized by having their parents torn from them. It is unknown if some children remain alone.”
Instead of arresting “these hardworking people (who) have lived and worked in our country for many years, raised their families, and contributed their talents and resources to our communities,” Couch added, they should be given a path to citizenship.
Other Catholic agencies offering help to the families in need in Mississippi after the arrest of their breadwinner include Chicago-based Catholic Extension, which announced Aug. 8 it would send help immediately but also would begin fundraising through its “Holy Family Fund,”
Catholic Extension is the leading national supporter of missionary work in poor and remote parts of the United States. The Jackson Diocese, one of the poorest in the country, has long been supported by the organization, including some of it parishes in towns where the raids took place.

To read Joint Statement of Bishop Kopacz, Kihneman, Seage, Swanson and Gordy click here

Leadership changes with Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity

MANITOWOC, WI – The Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, Manitowoc, WI, re-elected Sister Natalie Binversie as Community Director on June 24, 2019. Bishop David Ricken, of the Diocese of Green Bay, presided over the election. Sister Natalie, from St. Gregory Parish in St. Nazianz, served one six-year term from 2013 to 2019. Previous to being Community Director, she was a teacher in the primary grades and Novice Directress.
Four Sisters were elected to serve on the General Administration Council. First Councilor is Sister Myra Jean Sweigart and the Treasurer General for the Congregation. Sister Myra Jean, from Cambridge, OH, served one six year term and was re-elected for another six years. Sister also has a background in elementary education as teacher and principal.
Second Councilor is Sister Theresa Feldkamp from Wrightstown, WI, who was re-elected for a second six-year term. Sister Theresa served as an elementary school teacher and principal before being elected to Community leadership.

MANITOWOC, WI – Sister Leonette Kochan, Sister Myra Jean Sweigart, Sister Jane Kinate, Sister Theresa Feldkamp and Sister Natalie Binversie. (Photo courtesy of Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity)

Sister Leonette Kochan, originally from Francis Creek, WI, was elected Third Councilor. Sister Leonette was missioned in Tucson, AZ where she served as principal of Santa Cruz Catholic School and most recently was Coordinator of the Office of Human Life and Dignity in the Diocese of Tucson.
The Fourth Councilor elected is Sister Jane Kinate from Wrightstown, WI. Sister Jane has been in the field of education all of her life and a teacher at Roncalli High School in Manitowoc for the past 20 years.
Installation services for the General Administration of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity were held on July 21, 2019 at Holy Family Convent in Manitowoc. The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity were founded 150 years ago on November 9, 1869 in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The Sisters presently serve at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School and Parish in Greenwood, Mississippi. Missions where the Sisters serve outside of Mississippi are located in Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Burning church

WESTPHALIA, TEXAS – A statue of Mary is seen amid flames through a window in the Church of the Visitation in Westphalia, Texas, July 29, 2019. The nearly 125-year old wooden church with bell towers on each side, burned to the ground that morning. Since 1883 the parish has served the Catholic community of southwestern Falls County, many of whom are descendents of immigrants from the northwest German region of Westphalia. (CNS photo/courtesy Nathan Wilde)

50 aniversario de Misión de Saltillo

JACKSON – El obispo Joseph Kopacz y el obispo Louis Kihneman viajaron, del 11 al 15 de julio, a la Diócesis de Saltillo para celebrar el 50 aniversario de la relación de las Diócesis de Jackson y Biloxi con las misiones de allí. Los obispos visitaron San Miguel, Ranchos Notillas, San José, Garambullo, Rancho La Brecha, Rancho La Ventura y Rancho Rocamotes donde bendijeron al centro comunitario Padre Quinn, quien fué un misionero irlandés que se dedicó a ayudar a los pobres, en la parte rural de Saltillo, y que hoy es venerado por generaciones.
Los obispos concelebraron Misas en la Divina Misericordia, Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro y Garambullo, la Misa de dedicación de una nueva iglesia en La Brecha y las Misas de confirmación en San Miguel y la Iglesia de San José en La Brecha. Los obispos Kopacz y Kihneman estuvieron acompañados en el viaje por Msgr. Michael Flannery, Dr. Charles Caskey (Jackson St. Richard), Msgr. Michael Thornton y el padre Sergio Balderas de la Diócesis de Biloxi, así como, Terry Dickson y Juliana Skelton de la oficina de comunicaciones de la Diócesis de Biloxi.


Papa nombra a siete mujeres como miembros de una congregación para religiosos

Por Cindy Wooden
CIUDAD DEL VATICANO (CNS) – El papa Francisco nombró a seis superioras de órdenes religiosas de mujeres, una mujer laica consagrada y el superior de los Hermanos de la Doctrina Cristiana de La Salle para ser miembros de pleno derecho de la Congregación para los Institutos de Vida Consagrada y Sociedades de Vida Apostólica.
Anteriormente, los miembros habían sido siempre hombres: cardenales, unos cuantos obispos y varios sacerdotes que eran superiores de grandes órdenes religiosas de hombres.

En esta foto de archivo de 2016, una religiosa es vista en la Universidad Católica de America en Washington. (CNS foto/Tyler Orsburn)

Los nombres de las mujeres nombradas por el papa fueron anunciados por el Vaticano el 8 de julio: la hermana Kathleen Appler, norteamericana, superiora de las Hijas de la Caridad; Yvonne Reungoat, superior de las Hermanas Salesianas; Francoise Massy, superiora de las Hermanas Misioneras Franciscanas de María; Luigia Coccia, superiora de las Hermanas Combonianas; Simona Brambilla, superiora de las Hermanas Misioneras de la Consolata; Rita Calvo Sanz, superiora de la Compañía de Nuestra Señora, y Olga Krizova, directora general de los Voluntarias de Don Bosco, un grupo de personas laicas consagradas.
El hermano Robert I. Shieler, norteamericano, superior de los Hermanos de la Doctrina Cristiana de La Salle, también fue nombrado miembro de la congregación, junto con los superiores generales de los jesuitas, los scalabrinianos, los carmelitas descalzos, agustinos, capuchinos y el abad presidente de la Congregación Benedictina de Subiaco Cassinese.
La lista de nuevos miembros anunciada por el Vaticano también incluía a cinco obispos y cuatro cardenales: los cardenales Angelo De Donatis, vicario papal de Roma; Kevin J. Farrell, prefecto del Dicasterio para los Laicos, la Familia y la Vida; Luis Ladaria Ferrer, prefecto de la Congregación para la Doctrina de la Fe, y Ricardo Blázquez Pérez de Valladolid, España.