Católicos unen esfuerzos para ayudar en Puerto Rico

Por Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON (CNS) – El huracán María fue un duro golpe para Puerto Rico en 2017. Luego vino la serie de terremotos y réplicas que comenzaron el 29 de diciembre, con uno de magnitud 6.4 el 11 de enero, que ha resultado en dos muertes y pérdidas incalculables en daños a la propiedad.
El arzobispo Roberto González Nieves, de San Juan dijo “Vi a varias personas en Ponce ahora con sus maletas y buscando un lugar para encontrar refugio”. El arzobispo González agregó que la gente duerme en tiendas de campaña y pasa la mayor parte de sus horas de vigilia al aire libre, notó, temiendo que una réplica pueda causar que más casas se derrumben. Otro temor es la gente que no sabe de dónde vendrá su próxima comida.

A woman in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, walks in front of a damaged church Jan. 9, 2020, after an earthquake struck the area two days earlier. (CNS photo/Marco Bello, Reuters)

Pope prays for dialogue as tensions mount between U.S., Iran

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis led pilgrims in prayers for peace as tensions between the United States and Iran escalated following the assassination of a top Iranian general.
Several days after Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, warned of “harsh retaliation” for the Jan. 3 U.S. drone attack that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the pope said that “a terrible air of tension is felt in many parts of the world.”
“War only brings death and destruction. I call on all parties to keep alive the flame of dialogue and self-control and avoid the shadow of enmity,” the pope said after praying the Angelus prayer with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square Jan. 5.
He then led the pilgrims in a moment of silent prayer so “that the Lord may give us the grace” of peace.
The drone strike, which killed Soleimani and six other people, including an Iraqi militia commander, caused a sharp escalation in already tense relations after President Donald Trump pulled out of nuclear deal with Iran last year.
In an interview with CNN, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended Trump’s decision and said that Soleimani “was actively plotting in the region to take actions, the big action as he described it, that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk. We know it was imminent.”

Mourners touch the casket of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani during his funeral procession in Tehran Jan. 6, 2020. The military leader was killed Jan. 3 in a U.S. drone airstrike at Baghdad International Airport. (CNS photo/Khamenei website handout via Reuters)

Shortly after the Iranian general’s death, the United States deployed an additional 3,000 troops to the Middle East to stave off any retaliatory attacks against forces in the region.
However, the attack was seen by world leaders as an unnecessary provocation that could further destabilize the Middle East.
Speaking to Vatican News Jan. 3, Archbishop Leo Boccardi, apostolic nuncio to Iran, said the assassination “creates apprehension and shows us how difficult it is to build and believe in peace.”
“The appeal is to lower tension, to call everyone to negotiation and to believe in dialogue knowing that, has history has always shown us, that war and weapons aren’t the solution to the problems afflicting the world today,” Archbishop Boccardi said.
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’No end in sight to the horror’: Australian bishops respond to fires

By Catholic News Service
CANBERRA, Australia – Saying that “there is no end in sight to the horror which confronts us,” Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said the bishops have implemented a national response to months of wildfires.
The bishops have set up a national network, connecting people affected by the fires with “people who can help with tasks such as preparing meals, clearing properties, rebuilding communities, as well as pastoral and counseling support.” They are collaborating with other religious agencies and their institutes and will take up a special collection the last weekend in January, when Australia Day is celebrated.

Charlotte O’Dwyer, daughter of Rural Fire Service volunteer Andrew O’Dwyer, kisses her father’s casket following his funeral Mass at Our Lady of Victories Catholic Church in Sydney Jan. 7, 2020. Andrew O’Dwyer, a member of the Horsley Park Rural Fire Brigade in Sydney, died Dec. 19 when the truck he was traveling in rolled off the road after a tree fell in the town of Buxton. (CNS photo/Dean Lewins, AAP via Reuters)

Archbishop Coleridge said people who do not want to wait to donate to their parish collections can donate to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, known in Australia as Vinnies.
“We have all seen the apocalyptic images, even if we are not in the areas most affected,” the archbishop said. “Lives have been lost, homes and towns have been destroyed, smoke has shrouded large swathes of our country.
“The efforts of firefighters have been heroic. The resilience of the communities affected has been extraordinary.”
At least 24 people have died in the fires, which began in August and now are in four states. CNN reported Jan. 7 that more than 2,000 homes in the state of New South Wales alone have been destroyed.
Archbishop Coleridge said the bishops were aware of “the huge amount being done” by governments and first responders and noted that local faith communities also were responding.
“This has been Australia at its best, and we all stand with those who have been most stricken and with those who are putting their lives on the line to fight the fires,” he said.
He also renewed his call for “insistent prayer for those stricken by drought and fire, for those who have lost their lives in the fires and their families, for rain to quench the parched land and extinguish the fires, and for urgent action to care for our common home in order to prevent such calamities in the future.”

Catholic, Christian, Muslim voices condemn knife attack on N.Y. rabbi

By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON – A host of voices from throughout the religious spectrum condemned the Dec. 28 knife attack at the suburban New York City home of a Hasidic rabbi that wounded five, one of them critically.
The suspected attacker was later arrested and held in lieu of $5 million bond.
“Such acts must be condemned completely and without reservation as totally contrary to everything that people of faith stand for,” said a Dec. 29 statement from Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York. “An attack on any individual or group because of his or her religious beliefs is an attack on us all. This hatred has no place in our city, state, or nation, or anywhere else on our planet.”
Cardinal Dolan added that during Mass Dec. 29, he “prayed in a special way in solidarity with the victims of these heinous acts of violence” and urged all people “to come together in a spirit of unity to reject such hatred and bigotry wherever it occurs.”
Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, vice president of the U.S. bishops, in a Dec. 29 statement, voiced his “outrage in learning of the violent attack on a Jewish household in New York during their celebration of Hanukkah.” He added: “We are particularly disturbed that this crime comes as only the latest of such vile acts of anti-Semitism in our nation.”
The archbishop asked pastors in the archdiocese to offer special prayers on Jan. 1, the liturgical feast of Mary, Mother of God, for “the protection of our Jewish brothers and sisters and the eradication of anti-Semitism from our society” and to “reaffirm … that all forms of anti-Semitism are evil and have no place in our community.”

People gather at Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg’s residence in Monsey, N.Y., Dec. 29, 2019. A machete-wielding man attacked the residence during a Hanukkah celebration the night before. (CNS photo/Jeenah Moon, Reuters)

“This past week, which should have been a holy celebration of lights, has been marked with tragedy and violence against our Jewish brothers and sisters,” said a Dec. 29 statement by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, New York. “We also remember the recent attacks at a Jersey City kosher market that left three dead.”
Bishop DiMarzio added, “Hate like this has no place in a civil society. Today we are reminded it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. Let us be that light as we pray for peace and practice tolerance today and always.”
“This is yet one more reminder to us how important it is to promote a culture of life everywhere,” said

Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany, New York, in a Dec. 29 statement. My own faith is one of many that teaches that every human person is to be respected and loved as a child of God, a human being of ultimate moral worth.”
Citing nine anti-Semitic attacks in New York in a nine-day span, Bishop Scharfenberger said, “Such acts must be condemned in the name of God who loves all of humanity and, indeed, humanity itself.”
In a Dec. 30 statement, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago called the attack in Monsey, New York, “an unspeakable act of depravity. This violent act exhibits a level of depravity that many of us believed to be unimaginable.”
The council added, “This creeping religious intolerance gripping our nation can no longer be ignored. … Members of the diverse faiths in the United States must renounce any ideology that seeks to justify violence against any group of people based upon their faith. Fear-mongering must be challenged, and civility must dominate our social interactions.”
“Even as we witness a rising tide of religious hatred and terrorist extremism in our country, we must – with more urgency and vigor – support and defend all people of faith from those who worship nothing but death and destruction,” said a Dec. 30 statement by Archbishop Elpidophoros of the New York-based Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
“Such hateful acts of violence damage us all, and we all have a duty – both civic and religious – to respond with love and compassion for all those afflicted,” Archbishop Elpidophoros added.
The Rev. Jennifer Butler, a Presbyterian minister who is CEO of Faith in Public Life, a national network of clergy and faith leaders, took note of both the stabbing attack and the Dec. 29 shooting at a Texas church near Fort Worth that killed two congregants and the gunman.
“All people of faith must unite to defeat anti-Semitism and end gun violence targeting religious communities. Everyone must be free and safe to celebrate and live out their faith,” Rev. Butler said in a Dec. 30 statement. ” I pray that we build a society where every person can attend a holiday party or a worship service without fear. My faith demands we not rest until that hope is a reality.”
In mid-December, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, issued a statement about the Dec. 10 attack at a kosher deli in Jersey City, saying it and other such attacks highlight the need to publicly condemn “any and all forms of anti-Semitism whether in thought, word or action.”
The bishop said the Catholic Church “has an irrevocable commitment to the Jewish community” and acknowledges that “anti-Semitism is anti-Christian and should not be tolerated in any form.”

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.”

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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.”

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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 https://catholiccharitiesjackson.org.
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,” https://bit.ly/2ZEO7mK.
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