Briefs

This is a meditation with a St. Joseph candle from the “Advent Box” booklet by Banafsaj Christian Designs in Lebanon. The booklet comes with an accompanying set of the Holy Family figurine candles. (CNS photo/courtesy Banafsaj Christian Designs)

NATION
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CNS) – In the past several years, an increasing number of Providence College graduates have pursued a vocation with the Dominican order that runs the Rhode Island university. “During the five years I was in Providence, we had at least one student enter the novitiate at the end of each year,” said Dominican Father Michael Weibley, whose first assignment after ordination was as a chaplain and professor at Providence College. “An average of a novice a year like that is a tremendous blessing for the order,” said the priest, who this year was named pastor of SS. Phillip and James Parish in Baltimore. The increased number of vocations coming from the college emerges in a climate of declining rates of new vocations, particularly for religious orders: In the past 60 years, the total number of active religious priests in the United States has been reduced by more than half. In the past 20 years, the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, which comprises the Northeastern corner of the United States, has been reporting steadily increasing vocations, with many of the new recruits being drawn directly from Providence College. For the novices currently emerging from Providence College, the call to preaching seems to be coming at a much younger age. Seeing “younger and younger friars on campus or students your own age going directly into the novitiate after graduating” makes it “easier to envision yourself actually pursuing that lifestyle,” said Dominican Brother Nicodemus Thomas, a 2018 graduate.

VATICAN
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis told Italian students to “dream big” like St. John XXIII and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. about the world of peace and justice they would like to see. And at the same time, he wished them a good Advent journey “made up of many small gestures of peace each day: gestures of acceptance, encounter, understanding, closeness, forgiveness and service. Gestures that come from the heart and are steps toward Bethlehem, toward Jesus, who is the prince of peace.” Pope Francis met Nov. 28 with some 6,000 Italian schoolchildren, teens and their teachers, who have been participating in the program of the National Network of Schools for Peace. The program is focusing on the theme, “For Peace. With Care,” and Pope Francis told them that the second part is essential. “Usually, we talk about peace when we feel directly threatened, as in the case of a possible nuclear attack or a war being fought on our doorstep,” the pope said. And “we care about the rights of migrants when we have some relative or friend who has migrated.” But even when war is not near or threatening someone known, “peace is always, always about us! Just as it always concerns another, our brother or sister, and he or she must be taken care of,” the pope told the students.

WORLD
BEIRUT (CNS) – Violette Yammine aims to illuminate Advent and Christmas hope for Lebanese facing tough times. The graphic designer has launched an “Advent Box” that includes a “Meditations for Advent with the Holy Family” booklet, with an accompanying set of Holy Family figurine candles. Separately, there is also a children’s Christmas story. The two Christmas season family participation projects are the first offerings of Yammine’s Catholic design firm “Banafsaj,” which is how Violette is pronounced in Arabic. Yammine, a Maronite Catholic, considers her enterprise – Banafsaj Christian Designs – a way “to offer beautiful violets, and scents, to the Lord.” In Lebanon, she noticed, most Christian family-oriented publications are produced by evangelical churches. So, she decided “to put all my talent in the service of Christ.” The Advent booklet and accompanying Holy Family candles are intended for the three Sundays preceding Christmas. Yammine said she hopes it will spark “an Advent well spent in prayer.” The first Sunday reading concerns the Annunciation, intended for the Mary candle. The second Sunday reading is the revelation to Joseph, and thus the Joseph candle. The birth of Jesus is the third and final Sunday reading, with the candle of baby Jesus in the manger.
ACCRA, Ghana (CNS) – As Ghana’s national soccer team, the Black Stars, joins other national teams for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, some Ghanaian citizens have been talking about Iñaki Williams, who was named after a Catholic priest. His parents, Ghanaians Felix Williams and Maria (Mary) Arthuer, crossed the Sahara and, when they got to Morocco, jumped the border fence to Melilla, one of two Spanish cities in North Africa. The Guardian reported that, on the advice of a lawyer, they said they were from Liberia to apply for political asylum. They ended up in Bilbao, Spain. A Caritas volunteer, then-Deacon Iñaki Mardones, was instrumental in helping them when they arrived in Bilbao. “I went to pick them up at Abando (railway) station,” Father Mardones told La Provincia, a Spanish magazine. At the time, Maria was seven months pregnant. “I remember them with the suitcase and the uncertainty on their faces,” Father Mardones told La Provincia. The report on them said they understood Spanish, “but when I started to speak they looked at me without understanding anything. When I switched to English they sighed in relief.” He helped them to an apartment used by Caritas, and even helped them get to the hospital for their child’s birth.

Briefs

NATION
BALTIMORE (CNS) – The U.S bishops were encouraged to send participants to the African National Eucharistic Congress, slated for July 21-23 in Washington, and to come themselves. Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio L. Elizondo of Seattle, in a Nov. 16 address to the bishops, told them the congress, known as ANEC, would be “more engaging” beyond the workshops that are part and parcel of the multiday gathering. He said there would be Masses, a eucharistic procession, a rosary procession and cultural celebrations on the congress schedule. “The ANEC is the right ground for the new evangelization, an opportunity for all of us to engage – dioceses, parishes, religious congregations, associations and others – to address the pastoral needs of African Catholics in the United States,” he said. “Your presence will be a tremendous inspiration for those who will attend, and make the ANEC a success.” Next year’s African National Eucharistic Congress will be the fourth such gathering. It will be held on the grounds of The Catholic University of America in Washington. The congress is held every five years.

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Latinos may be changing American politics more than politics is changing Latinos. To hear speakers at a Nov. 16 Georgetown online forum, politics is trying harder to bring Latinos into the fold. Jens Manuel Krogstad of the Pew Research Center, in his work studying Latino demographics and politics, noted that Latinos do not identify as strongly with either the Democratic or Republican parties as do other Americans. “Latinos support for the two parties has ebbed and flowed over the decades,” Krogstad said during a forum sponsored by Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life on: “How Are Latinos Changing Politics and How Are Politics Changing Latinos?”

Democratic support peaked at 70% during the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, while GOP support got as high as 40% for George W. Bush and 38% for Donald Trump. “Latinos are not a monolith,” declared Olivia Perez-Cubas of the Winning for Women Action Fund, which recruits and gives financial backing to Republican women candidates. “The GOP depends on its ability to build a tent to diversify the party – which we’re not very good at but I think we’re working on – to speak to a diverse group of voters, and Latinos are very much a big part of that equation.” The upshot of the Nov. 8 midterm elections for Latinos is that “ the community is consequential – it is very consequential – in which party will control Congress, in which party will prevail in presidential elections,” said Julián Castro, a former U.S. secretary of housing and urban development.

Pope Francis poses for a group photo with his cousins and their families after Mass and a luncheon in Asti, Italy, Nov. 20, 2022. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN
ASTI, Italy (CNS) – With several of his cousins and their children and grandchildren present, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the Asti cathedral, giving a nod to his family roots and drawing people’s attention to the root of Christian faith: the cross of Jesus. The Mass Nov. 20, the feast of Christ the King and World Youth Day, was the only public event during the pope’s weekend visit to the region from which his grandparents, Giovanni Angelo Bergoglio and Rosa Vassallo, and his father Mario immigrated to Argentina in 1929. The visit was timed to coincide with the 90th birthday of Carla Rabezzana, the pope’s second cousin. And, after landing in Portacomaro near Asti Nov. 19 and stopping for a prayer in a village church, Pope Francis headed straight to Rabezzana’s house for lunch. After lunch, the pope visited a nearby home for the aged and then headed to the little village of Tigliole to visit another second cousin, Delia Gai. The cousins and their families joined an estimated 4,000 people for Mass with the pope the next day in the Asti cathedral. In his homily, sprinkled with words in the Piedmont dialect his grandmother taught him, Pope Francis focused on how the kingship of Christ is different from any idea people usually have of a king. “He is not comfortably enthroned but hanging on a gibbet,” the pope said. “The God who ‘casts down the mighty from their thrones’ appears as a slave executed by those in power.”

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Vatican is willing to do whatever it takes to broker a cease-fire and bring an end to the war on Ukraine, Pope Francis said. “We are continually watching as the situation evolves” concerning ways the Vatican’s diplomatic efforts could help, he said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa. Vatican News published the interview Nov. 18. The Vatican Secretariat of State is working diligently every day, looking at every possibility and “giving weight to every opening that could lead to a real cease-fire and real negotiations,” he said. “The Holy See is willing to do everything possible to mediate and end the conflict in Ukraine. We are trying to develop a network of relationships that will foster a rapprochement between the parties, to find solutions. Also, the Holy See does what it must to help the prisoners,” he said, as well as provide humanitarian support “for the people of tormented Ukraine, whom I carry in my heart along with their suffering.” Asked about the prospects for reconciliation between Russia and Ukraine, the pope said, “I have hope. Let’s not resign ourselves, peace is possible. But we must all strive to demilitarize hearts, starting with our own, and then defuse, disarm violence. We must all be pacifists,” he said.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The centuries’ old silver fir tree that had been destined to become the centerpiece Christmas decoration in St. Peter’s Square will now live, perhaps to see another century. Forest service rangers arrived at the scene – a mountain grove in central Italy’s Monte Castel Barone – Nov. 14 to alert workers to halt preparations for felling the tree. When it emerged back in 2019 that the small village of Rosello in Italy’s central Abruzzo region was donating the tree to the Vatican for 2022, local activists started flagging problems, such as the lack of transparency concerning the donation and the failure to carry out an environmental impact study. Dario Rapino, a lawyer and nature photographer, even wrote to Pope Francis in 2020, pointing to his encyclical “Laudato Si’ on Care for Our Common Home” and the importance of avoiding any unnecessary human impact on the environment, according to local media reports. Even the World Wildlife Fund had put out a statement Nov. 7 saying, “cutting a tree of this size in the midst of a climate crisis is a debatable decision,” which required “greater transparency.” However, it wasn’t until Rapino recently tracked down the 98-foot-tree, that he discovered it was not located in Rosello, much less in the region of Abruzzo, but was, in fact, in a protected area in the nearby region of Molise in the township of Agnone, according to a report Nov. 12 by ChietiToday. The tree’s size, he said, also put it at around 200 years old.

WORLD
SÃO PAULO (CNS) – The Vatican has advanced the sainthood cause of the late Archbishop Hélder Câmara of Olinda and Recife, who may soon be called “venerable.” Archbishop Fernando Saburido of Olinda and Recife made the announcement during the closing ceremony of the 18th National Eucharistic Congress. Archbishop Camara, one of the founders of the Brazilian bishops’ conference, was named to Olinda and Recife in 1964, three weeks before the beginning of the military coup that started the 20-year dictatorship in Brazil. Days after the coup, the archbishop released a manifesto supporting the Catholic workers’ action in Recife. The new military government accused him of being a demagogue and a communist, and he was forbidden to speak publicly. “If I give bread to the poor, everyone calls me a saint. If I show why the poor have no bread, they call me a communist and a subversive,” the archbishop is said to have said during that time. Dom Hélder, as he was known, remained a strong critic of the regime, denouncing human rights violations committed by police authorities.

OXFORD, England (CNS) – European church leaders have urged awareness of human rights issues during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, amid continued criticism that the Gulf state was allowed to host the tournament. “Women continue to be held back in Qatar, while non-Islamic religions, including Christianity, are only granted limited freedom, and sexual minorities subjected to criminal prosecution. All of this expresses, not just from a Western viewpoint, a repressive state and social order,” said Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau, who heads Germany’s Catholic DJK Sportjugend sports association. He said questions were still asked about the 2010 decision by FIFA, the international soccer governing body, to award the tournament to Qatar, which has no soccer tradition. The bishop issued the statement Nov. 17 as final preparations were made for the 2022 World Cup, Nov. 20-Dec. 18. “Like other states on the Arabian peninsula, the Emirate of Qatar has been catapulted into a new era thanks to oil and gas wealth – today, a conservative-traditional Islamic society and economic hypermodern society coexist with each other,” Bishop Oster said. “Although it would be unfair to ignore this special situation when criticizing questionable conditions, it would also be inappropriate to keep silent about human rights restrictions.” The bishop said Qatar’s mostly foreign population was subject to “strict regulations,” while female domestic workers were often isolated and had trouble “upholding their rights against employers.” The situation had worsened, Bishop Oster said, during construction of stadiums and other sites for the World Cup. He said health and safety standards had been “catastrophic,” with “countless accidents and far too many deaths” among low-wage laborers.

Briefs

NATION
INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) – It was a time of Scripture, prayer, music and fellowship. It also was a night to honor the late co-founder of the National Black Catholic Men’s Conference. But for those teenagers and adults from across the United States in attendance, Franciscan Father Agustino Torres’ message Oct. 13 was simple, yet powerful: “The Lord has sent me to bless you.” Father Agustino, who ministers for his order in the New York borough of the Bronx and is founder of the Hispanic youth ministry Corazon Puro, was the keynote speaker on the first night of the four-day conference at St. Rita Church in Indianapolis. The gathering drew about 300 people. It was the first in-person gathering since 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The priest said he ministers to people in the inner city, and the heart of his mission is trying to bring them hope. With that hope he also delivers his blessing, much like the blessing he offered to the attendees. “This blessing is meant to be shared, this blessing is meant to be given, this blessing brings joy,” he said. “This blessing brings life, this blessing heals. … And I love sharing the blessing because someone has shared the blessing with me.”

WASHINGTON (CNS) – For the world-renowned emblems of the Catholic faith, such as St. Teresa of Kolkata, elevation to sainthood comes fairly quickly following their deaths. For many others, the sainthood cause is a slow process that sometimes lurches to a stop. One example is Venerable Nelson Baker, the Buffalo, New York, priest who died in 1936 and is the only Civil War veteran with a sainthood cause. Father Baker, who served at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Buffalo after his ordination in 1876, was beloved in his lifetime for his charitable efforts for the poor, including serving thousands of meals during the depths of the Great Depression. Dubbed by local newspapers as “the padre of the poor,” he built the Basilica of Our Lady of Victory in Lackawanna, New York, an orphanage, a maternity hospital, a trade school and a home for infant care. The charitable work he began exists today as OLV Charities. Our Lady of Victory institutions include Homes of Charity, Baker Victory Services and Our Lady of Victory Elementary School. Born in 1842, Father Baker entered the priesthood after operating a successful feed and grain business with a partner. Before that, he served in the 74th Infantry of the New York State Militia, a unit that organized in the summer of 1863 and was stationed in Central Pennsylvania, although it didn’t see combat.

VATICAN
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – During the month of November, Pope Francis is asking people to pray for children who are suffering because of poverty, war and exploitation. “Let us pray for children who are suffering, especially for those who are homeless, orphans and victims of war. May they be guaranteed access to education, and may they have the opportunity to experience family affection,” the pope said in a video released Oct. 31. In the video message released by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, the pope explained his November prayer intention: “For children who suffer.” “An abandoned child is our fault,” the pope said in the message. “Each marginalized child, abandoned by his or her family, without schooling, without health care, is a cry! A cry that rises up to God and shames the system that we adults have built,” he insisted. Pope Francis noted that there are millions of boys and girls around the world living “in conditions very similar to slavery.”

Catholics and members of a Peruvian community living in Chile attend the procession of El Señor de los Milagros (The Lord of the Miracles), Peru’s most revered Catholic religious icon, in Santiago, Chile, Oct. 30, 2022. (CNS photo/Ivan Alvarado, Reuters)

WORLD
LIMA, Peru (CNS) – The church in Latin America and the Caribbean is called to be a missionary church that heeds the cry of the poor and excluded; a synodal church where women, young people and laypeople have greater roles; and a church that is evangelized even as it evangelizes, according to the final document of the church’s First Ecclesial Assembly held a year ago in Mexico. The document of reflections and pastoral challenges resulting from the assembly was released by leaders of the Latin American bishops’ council, CELAM, Oct. 31 during a news conference at the Vatican. The conference was livestreamed on various platforms. The publication reflects a desire for a church that “goes out to the periphery … a Samaritan church … a church that builds fraternity, which is grounded in love, in the encounter with those who suffer most,” Archbishop José Luis Azuaje of Maracaibo, Venezuela, president of Caritas in Latin America and the Caribbean, said in a video message at the presentation. The document is the fruit of a monthslong process that included a “listening” period from April to August 2021, during which some 70,000 people throughout the region provided input, followed by the weeklong assembly Nov. 21-28. That process, which echoed the methodology used for the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon in October 2019, made the ecclesial assembly “a practical laboratory” for the Synod of Bishops on synodality, which began with listening sessions this year, to be followed by meetings in Rome in 2023 and 2024, said Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos of Trujillo, Peru, CELAM president.

BANGKOK, Thailand (CNS) – Catholic bishops in Asia have committed themselves to engage with governments, nongovernmental agencies and civil organizations to respond to issues affecting the church and society in their work for a better Asia. “We believe that peace and reconciliation is the only way forward. We have envisaged new pathways for our ministry based on mutual listening and genuine discernment,” the bishops said in a statement issued Oct. 30, at the end of a two-week general conference. Ucanews.com reported the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences organized its first general conference as a part of its golden jubilee celebrations that brought together 20 cardinals, 120 bishops, 37 priests, eight nuns, and 41 laypeople. The conference, with the theme “Journeying Together as Peoples of Asia,” sought to reaffirm the federation’s work of the past 50 years aiming to “revitalize the church and envision new pathways of service.” One of the paths they identified was “bridge-building” among religions and traditions and also “principled engagement with governments” and nongovernmental agencies on issues of human rights, eradication of poverty, human trafficking, care of the earth, and other common concerns. “The escalating violence and conflicts” in Asia call “for dialogue and reconciliation,” the bishops said without naming any issue or any nation.

Briefs

NATION
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Pope Francis has appointed Father John-Nhan Tran, a priest in the Archdiocese of New Orleans and pastor of Mary Queen of Peace in Mandeville, Louisiana, as auxiliary bishop of Atlanta. Bishop-designate Tran, 56, was born in Vietnam and escaped with his family to the United States after the Vietnam War as a refugee when he was 9. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1992. His appointment was announced Oct. 25 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States. The bishop-designate attended Don Bosco College in Newton, New Jersey, and St. Joseph Seminary College in St. Benedict, Louisiana. He earned a master of divinity in theology from Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. He has served at eight parishes in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Father Michael Pfleger, a popular Chicago priest and outspoken advocate against gun violence, gangs, poverty and racism, has stepped aside from his ministry after the Chicago Archdiocese said it received an allegation that the priest had sexually abused a minor more than 30 years ago. Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich announced the decision in an Oct. 15 letter to Father Pfleger’s parishioners at the Faith Community of St. Sabina in Chicago. The 73-year-old priest has led the historically African American parish since 1981 and is currently its senior pastor. The priest strongly denied the accusation, which comes on the heels of a similar accusation against him in January 2021 where he also temporarily stepped aside from his ministry until an archdiocesan review found “insufficient reason” to suspect the priest was guilty of abuse allegations said to have taken place 40 years ago. Father Pfleger was reinstated at his parish in June of that year. In a current letter to parishioners, posted on the parish website, Father Pfleger said: “The process of the archdiocese today is that a priest is presumed guilty until proven innocent. Priests are vulnerable targets to anyone at any time. So once again, I have been removed from all public ministry while they investigate again.”

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (CNS) – The world still has not learned “the essential lesson” of the Cuban Missile Crisis that “the only way to eliminate the nuclear danger is through careful, universal, verifiable steps to eliminate nuclear weapons,” said Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico. “It is the very nature of these weapons that the possession of any nuclear weapons is an existential danger to all,” he said. “And Pope Francis has been explicitly clear that ‘the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral.’” He renewed his call “for dialogue on the existential issue of eliminating nuclear weapons” and said New Mexico’s congressional delegation should help lead this dialogue,” given that the federal government spends billions in the state on weapons production while New Mexico “remains mired at the bottom of numerous socioeconomic indicators.” Archbishop Wester made the comments in an Oct. 14 reflection on the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, “regarded as the closest that humanity has ever come to global nuclear annihilation,” he said. A month earlier, he took his summons to begin meaningful conversations to achieve full nuclear disarmament to the annual United Nations prayer service in New York. In August, he apologized for the atomic bombings of Japan in 1945 and to Indigenous New Mexicans, uranium miners and scientists suffering from ill health related to the nuclear weapons industry in the state.

VATICAN
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Completing a project to repatriate human remains held in the Vatican Museums’ ethnological collection, the Vatican and the government of Peru signed an agreement Oct. 17 to return to Peru three mummies sent to the Vatican in 1925. Cardinal Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, and César Landa Arroyo, foreign minister of Peru, signed an agreement Oct. 17 in the Vatican Museums for the return of the mummies. The three human remains are thought to be several centuries old, but their exact age will not be known until after thorough studies are conducted in Peru. They were found at an altitude of more than 9,800 feet in the Peruvian Andes along the Ucayali River. The mummies are assumed to be Incan. The mummies were part of the Vatican Museums’ Anima Mundi ethnological collection, which features thousands of pieces of Indigenous art and artifacts from around the world. The mummies, like many of the pieces of art and cultural artifacts from the peoples of Australia and Oceania, the Americas, Africa and Asia, were sent to the Vatican for the 1925 Holy Year opened by Pope Pius XI. The celebration included a major exposition on Catholic missionary activity around the world. With a conviction that human remains are not works of art or collectibles, in 2010 the Vatican Museums began a project to return human remains in its collection to their countries of origin. The first remains, a mummy from Ecuador, were returned in 2014. Three years later, the museums returned to Ecuador a tsantsa, a specially treated head used in ceremonies.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Reviewing one’s life is an essential step in discerning God’s call because it helps one see places where God was at work, even in small things, and also helps one recognize “toxic” thoughts of self-doubt, Pope Francis said. A daily review of one’s actions and feelings is not mainly about acknowledging one’s sins – “we sin a lot, don’t we,” the pope said. Instead, regularly reviewing the day educates one’s perspective and helps one recognize “the small miracles that the good God works for us every day.” At his weekly general audience Oct. 19 in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis continued his series of audience talks explaining the key steps in spiritual discernment, focusing on how a daily practice of review and introspection trains a person how to look at the bigger picture of his or her life in order to discern God’s call. Learning to see that God was at work even in small things, “we notice other possible directions” that can be taken and that “strengthen our inner enthusiasm, peace and creativity,” the pope said. “Above all, it makes us freer from toxic stereotypes,” such as thinking, “I am worthless” or “I will never achieve anything worthwhile.”

WORLD
KOCHI, India (CNS) – Laypeople in an archdiocese of India’s Syro-Malabar Catholic Church have begun a round-the-clock vigil to stop the Vatican-appointed administrator from gaining entry into the archbishop’s house. Lay leaders in the Kochi-based Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese say Archbishop Andrews Thazhath, the apostolic administrator, unilaterally revoked the dispensation that had allowed priests to celebrate Mass facing the people, reported ucanews.com. The protesting groups want to continue with the traditional Mass in which the priest faces the congregation throughout, despite a rule that took effect in 2021. Under that rule, devised as a compromise, the Syro-Malabar synod ruled that the priest “will face the congregation until the eucharistic prayer, and then again from Communion to the end of the Mass. From eucharistic prayers until Communion, the priest will face the altar.” The vigil at the Kochi residence was launched Oct. 16, and teams of laypeople from different parishes were assigned to ensure a 24-hour watch, ucanews.com reported. “We no longer want the apostolic administrator to get inside our archbishop’s house,” Riju Kanjookaran, spokesman for the Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency, told ucanews.com Oct. 17.

LVIV, UKRAINE (CNS) – After Ukrainian women were released in a prisoner swap with Russia, the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church said their stories “simply break the heart, make the blood run cold in your veins. This war will go down in history as one in which Russia uses sexual violence as a weapon against Ukraine,” said Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych. On Oct. 17, more than 100 Ukrainian women were released from Russian captivity. Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, said it was the first female-only exchange, and he called it “especially emotional and truly special. Mothers and daughters, whose relatives were waiting for them, were held captive,” Yermak said. On Oct. 18, Archbishop Shevchuk thanked God that the women were able to return to their families. “Let us wrap these women together today with our attention, love and prayer, and warm them up with our national warmth,” he said.

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) – Eritrean authorities are continuing to detain Catholic Bishop Fikremariam Hagos Tsalim of Segheneity, who was arrested at the Asmara International Airport Oct. 15. After the Catholic Church queried about the situation and his whereabouts, government authorities confirmed the bishop, who turns 52 Oct. 23, is in their custody. Bishop Tsalim was picked up soon after returning from a trip to Europe, but as of Oct. 18, government authorities had not given any reasons for his detention. Fides, news agency of the Pontifical Mission Societies, said Bishop Tsalim and two other priests were being held at Adi Abeto prison. “We have received this ominous news (of the arrest) with immense pain and bewilderment at what is happening in our country,” Father Mussie Zerai, a Catholic priest of Eritrean origin who works with migrants, told Catholic News Service. “Our hope (is) that all priests and the bishop currently in custody will be released as soon as possible.” On Oct. 11, security agents arrested Father Mihratab Stefanos, the priest in charge of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in the diocese. Another Catholic priest, identified as Capuchin Abbot Abraham, was detained in the western town of Teseney.

Católicos ayudan a venezolanos expulsados a México

Por David Agren

CIUDAD DE MÉXICO (CNS) – Los católicos que trabajan con migrantes se han movilizado para ayudar a los venezolanos que están llegando a la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México en cantidades récord, pero que están siendo expulsados ?? a México debido a las restricciones sanitarias de la era de la pandemia.

Las sucursales mexicanas del Servicio Jesuita a la Migración y el Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados, junto con el Instituto Fronterizo Hope, también expresaron su pesar por la decisión de Estados Unidos y México de expulsar a los venezolanos que cruzan irregularmente la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México bajo el Título 42, diciendo que deja a los migrantes desprotegidos y viola su derecho a solicitar asilo.

Un funcionario del Servicio Jesuita de Migración dijo que algunos venezolanos expulsados ??regresan a México confundidos y con poca información.

Alonso Márquez es abrazado por su padre y su madre en el Río Grande entre El Paso, Texas y Ciudad Juárez, México, el 15 de octubre de 2022, después de no verse en persona durante 10 años. Participaron en una reunión de reunificación para familiares separados por deportación e inmigración llamada “Hugs, Not Walls”. (Foto CNS/José Luis González, Reuters)

En un comunicado del 13 de octubre, dijeron las tres organizaciones. “La ampliación del Título 42 para cubrir a los venezolanos es un abuso de una orden de salud pública para disuadir a quienes son solicitantes de asilo o necesitan protección sin ninguna base legal o moral”. El comunicado fue emitido en la ciudad fronteriza de Ciudad Juárez, México, al otro lado del Río Grande desde El Paso, Texas.

“Exhortamos a los gobiernos de ambos países a actuar de inmediato, destinar todos los recursos humanos, económicos y de infraestructura adecuada para garantizar su alojamiento, información clara y asesoría legal sobre su situación migratoria, así como servicios de alimentación y primeros auxilios psicológicos”.

Las organizaciones dijeron que habían trabajado con unos 330 venezolanos que estaban siendo expulsados.

Los venezolanos expulsados recibieron un documento de los funcionarios de inmigración mexicanos; les dice que tienen 15 días para salir del país a través de la frontera sur de México con Guatemala y Belice.
“Pero este documento no les otorga un estatus migratorio que les permita viajar seguros por México”, dijo María Elena Hernández, coordinadora en Ciudad Juárez del Servicio Jesuita de Migración. “Quedan en un estado de desprotección, y muchos de ellos no tienen pasaporte u otra identificación, y no pueden asistir a sus consulados porque algunos han sido perseguidos políticamente” por el gobierno venezolano.

La decisión del 12 de octubre de expulsar a los venezolanos a México ocurre en un momento cuando los venezolanos llegan a la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México en cantidades récord. El gobierno de los EE. UU. anunció por separado un programa para permitir que 24,000 venezolanos ingresen a los Estados Unidos siempre que tengan un patrocinador y pasen los exámenes de salud y seguridad. El programa excluye a los venezolanos que ingresaron a México o Panamá de manera irregular o que tengan residencia permanente en un país que no sea Venezuela.

Mundo en Fotos

La gente pasa junto a una calabaza inflable mientras asisten a un festival de otoño en Manorville, Nueva York, el 16 de octubre de 2022. (Foto de CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)
Van Tran limpia afuera de su casa dañada luego de graves inundaciones en Melbourne, Australia, el 17 de octubre de 2022. El primer ministro australiano, Anthony Albanese, recorrió partes de Melbourne afectadas por las inundaciones, mientras tres estados del sureste continúan lidiando con una crisis de inundaciones después de días de fuertes inundaciones. lluvia. (Foto del CNS/Sandra Sanders, Reuters)
Los trabajadores descansan mientras descargan bolsas de granos como parte de los alimentos de ayuda enviados desde Ucrania en el almacén del Programa Mundial de Alimentos en Adama, Etiopía, el 8 de septiembre de 2022. Con motivo de la celebración del Día Mundial de la Alimentación de la ONU, el 16 de octubre, el Papa Francisco dichos actos de amor y solidaridad son clave para combatir el hambre. (Foto del CNS/Tiksa Negeri, Reuters)
La gente compra linternas en un mercado en Mumbai, India, el 28 de octubre de 2021, antes de Diwali, el festival hindú de las luces, que este año comienza el 24 de octubre en la mayoría de los países. (Foto del CNS/Niharika Kulkarni, Reuters)
Rishi Sunak, nuevo líder del Partido Conservador de Gran Bretaña, camina frente a la sede de la campaña conservadora en Londres el 24 de octubre de 2022. Sunak se convertirá en la primera persona de color del Reino Unido en ocupar el cargo de primer ministro. (Foto del CNS/Hannah McKay, Reuters)

Briefs

NATION
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Catholic immigration advocates are emphasizing that the Oct. 5 ruling by a federal appeals court – finding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is unlawful – sends another signal that permanent legislation is needed to protect young immigrants from deportation and put them on a path to U.S. citizenship. A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans affirmed a lower court’s ruling last year that said the Obama administration did not have the legal authority in 2012 to create DACA in the first place. This appeals court decision, similar to the ruling last summer from a federal judge in Texas, prevents the Biden administration from enrolling new participants in the program. The new court decision continues to leave DACA in limbo. It did not say the program had to completely shut down or stop processing renewal applications, but it leaves in place last year’s order from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen that said DACA could continue only for current recipients with no new participants. The 5th Circuit also returned the case to the lower court asking the judge to review new DACA regulations the Biden administration announced in August and set to go into effect Oct. 31. “DACA, like asylum, the border – immigration policy writ large – doesn’t belong in the courts,” Dylan Corbett, executive director of Hope Border Institute, tweeted after the ruling was announced. “Congress and the White House need to pass legislation that honors our values, the rights and dignity of those who migrate, and the contributions of those who make America home.”

WASHINGTON (CNS) – A federal court in Indiana sided with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and one of its Catholic high schools in a lawsuit filed by a former guidance counselor who said her contract was not renewed because of her same-sex union. The Sept. 30 ruling in Fitzgerald v. Roncalli High School and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, relied on previous Supreme Court rulings that have emphasized a ministerial exception protecting a religious school’s hiring and firing practices from government intrusion. The recent decision echoes a nearly identical ruling from a year ago based on a lawsuit filed against the same school and archdiocese from another school counselor whose contract was similarly not extended due to her same-sex union. The decisions in both cases were issued by U.S. District Judge Richard Young for the Southern District of Indiana. Young said the Indianapolis Archdiocese and its schools can select, retain or dismiss faculty according to their religious standards, something he also stressed a year ago. The current case involved Shelly Fitzgerald, former co-director of guidance at Roncalli High School for 15 years. Her employment was terminated in 2018 after she confirmed to the school that she was in a same-sex union and the school declined to renew her contract for the following year. School officials said her conduct was prohibited by the agreement she signed with the school.

VATICAN
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The refusal to help desperate migrants “is revolting, it’s sinful, it’s criminal,” Pope Francis said as he canonized a bishop dedicated to assisting migrants and a Salesian brother who had immigrated with his family to Argentina. “The exclusion of migrants is criminal. It makes them die in front of us,” the pope said Oct. 9, referring to the deaths of migrants and refugees crossing dangerous seas in search of freedom and a dignified life. At the beginning of the liturgy in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis formally recognized the holiness of St. Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, an Italian who founded the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo to care for migrants, and St. Artemide Zatti, an Italian immigrant in Argentina who became a Salesian brother, pharmacist and nurse. The prayers at the Mass included one for “those forced to leave their homeland,” and asking God to teach people to share “his welcoming gaze toward all people” and “heal the throwaway culture of indifference.” Pope Francis focused much of his homily on the day’s Gospel reading about the 10 lepers healed by Jesus and, therefore, allowed back into society. “When we are honest with ourselves, we realize that we are all sick at heart, all sinners in need of the Father’s mercy,” the pope said. “Then we stop creating divisions on the basis of merit, social position or some other superficial criterion; our interior barriers and prejudices likewise fall. In the end, we realize once more that we are brothers and sisters.” Pope Francis asked the estimated 50,000 people at the Mass to think about whether in their families, at work and in their parishes, they are willing to walk with others and listen to them, “resisting the temptation to lock ourselves up in self-absorption and to think only of our own needs.”

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – As thousands of people sat in the dark in St. Peter’s Square, they watched fish jump from the facade of the basilica, saw the word “no” form and dissolve three times and heard an actor reciting the part of St. Peter speak about the overwhelming love and mercy of Jesus. They also heard tenor Andrea Bocelli sing four songs, including “The First Noel” from the soon-to-be released Christmas album he made with his children Matteo and Virginia. The nighttime event Oct. 2 was the premiere of “Follow Me,” an eight-minute film about the life and faith of St. Peter. Using “video mapping,” images of St. Peter from the basilica’s collection and that of the Vatican Museums were turned into 3D video clips and projected onto the facade of the basilica, which is built over the presumed tomb of the apostle. The film was to be shown every 15 minutes between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. until Oct. 16.

Projected images detailing the life of St. Peter the Apostle are seen on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 2, 2022. Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli sang for thousands in St. Peter’s Square as the Vatican inaugurated a two-week showing of a short film about the life of St. Peter. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

WORLD
FULDA, Germany (CNS) – The president of the German bishops’ conference demanded an apology from a Swiss cardinal at the Vatican over comments that brought up Germany’s Nazi past. Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops’ conference, demanded an apology from Cardinal Kurt Koch, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, who seemed to compare what is underlying the German bishops’ Synodal Path process with a mistaken Christian ideology that underpinned the rise of Nazism. Cardinal Koch said he had been misunderstood. At the end of the German bishops’ plenary assembly Sept. 29, Bishop Bätzing said that, with his remarks, Cardinal Koch had “disqualified himself from the theological debate” about the Synodal Path. “If a public apology does not happen immediately, I will file an official complaint with the Holy Father,” Bishop Bätzing said. Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch apologized for offending people and said he never intended to imply that supporters of the German church’s Synodal Path were doing something similar to what a group of Christian supporters of the Nazis did in the 1930s. At a meeting Oct. 4 in Rome with Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops’ conference, “Cardinal Koch expressly emphasized that it was completely far from him to want to impute the terrible ideology of the 1930s to the Synodal Path,” said a statement published the next day by the bishops’ conference. “Cardinal Koch asks for forgiveness from all those who feel hurt by the comparison he made,” the statement continued.

MEXICO CITY (CNS) – Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega blasted Catholic leaders as a “gang of murderers,” in comments amping up persecution of the church and scorning Pope Francis’ call for dialogue in the Central American country. In a fiery address, Ortega took aim at Nicaragua’s Catholic bishops for promoting democracy as an exit from the country’s political crisis, alleging without proof that they called on protesters to kill him during the 2018 protests – which his regime violently repressed. He called the bishops and Pope Francis “the perfect dictatorship,” then asked, accusatorially, “Who elected the bishops, the pope, the cardinals?” He continued in the Sept. 28 speech marking the 43rd anniversary of the National Police: “With what moral authority do they speak of democracy? Let them start with the Catholic vote. … Everything is imposed. It’s a dictatorship, the perfect dictatorship. It’s a tyranny, the perfect tyranny.” Catholic clergy in Nicaragua have remained mostly silent as Ortega – who won elections in 2021 after disqualifying and imprisoning opposition candidates – has persecuted priests and bishops speaking out on issues of human rights and democratic deterioration. The government also has closed church-run charitable and education initiatives, along with Catholic radio stations, and expelled priests and nuns, including the Missionaries of Charity. Ortega claimed in his comments that he was Catholic, but did not feel “represented,” partly because, “We hear talk of democracy, and they don’t practice democracy.”

Briefs

NATION
WASHINGTON (CNS) – House sponsors of a new bill to protect pregnancy centers said the measure would require the Biden administration to publicly disclose how it is handling the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators of violent attacks on pregnancy resource centers around the country. “My goal is to foster an environment where no woman feels like their only option is abortion, and I am committed to supporting women and children at every stage of life,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., who co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. “The violent attacks on pregnancy centers in Washington state and across the country are reprehensible and only endanger and intimidate the women who depend on them for critical medical care, education and other resources,” Rodgers said in a statement Sept. 20, the day she and Smith introduced the bill. The Protect Pregnancy Care Centers Act of 2022 quickly garnered 28 co-sponsors. “I believe all extreme and hateful acts of violence should be condemned, which is why I’m helping lead this legislation to hold President (Joe) Biden accountable for his failure to respond to this threat with the urgency it deserves,” Rodgers said. Nearly 70 acts of violence against such centers have been recorded since May, when a draft opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case was leaked.

NEW YORK (CNS) – “Little Amal,” a giant puppet that is on a worldwide pilgrimage to raise awareness about the plight of unaccompanied refugee minors, made a stop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Sept. 18. The 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl met migrant families who recently arrived in New York City from Ecuador, Afghanistan and Myanmar; Father Enrique Salvo, the cathedral’s rector; and representatives from Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. “For immigrants and refugees around the world, New York is seen as a place of opportunity and promise – but there’s a tension running through U.S. history that suggests not everyone is welcome here,” said playwright/director Amir Nizar Zuabi, the artistic director of this “public art project” called “The Walk” and starring Amal, whose name means “hope.” “Amal will experience the wonder of New York and also the apprehension of arriving in a strange new place,” Zuabi said in a statement issued in advance of several New York events featuring the puppet. “This is a crucial moment to explore these themes. How will she be welcomed here? Who will do the welcoming?” The cathedral stop was one of 55 New York events welcoming the puppet over a three-week period that began Sept. 14 and ends Oct. 2 and is titled “Little Amal Walks NYC.”

“Little Amal,” a 12-foot-tall puppet of a young Syrian refugee girl, greets migrant families who have recently arrived in New York City from Ecuador, Afghanistan and Burma at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York Sept. 18, 2022. “Little Amal” has become a globally recognized symbol of human rights, especially for immigrants, refugees and other marginalized people. (CNS photo/courtesy DKC)

VATICAN
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – As the October deadline approaches for the extension of the Vatican’s agreement with the Chinese government, the newly appointed editor of the news agency of the Dicastery for Evangelization said the deal has been instrumental in allowing Catholics to practice their faith openly and in communion with the church. In an editorial published Sept. 22, Gianni Valente, who was appointed earlier in the month as editor of Fides news agency, also said recent statements by Pope Francis and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, “hinted at a positive intention on the part of the Holy See to continue the process of negotiation.” The agreement, he wrote, has allowed for Chinese Catholics to “experience the adventure of confession of faith in Christ in today’s China as it is, without privileges, without being pointed at and perceived as a foreign body, as exotic guests or representatives of distant cultures.” First signed in Beijing Sept. 22, 2018, the Vatican and the Chinese government agreed in 2020 “to extend the experimental implementation phase of the provisional agreement for another two years.” The provisional agreement, the text of which has never been made public, outlines procedures for ensuring Catholic bishops are elected by the Catholic community in China and approved by the pope before their ordinations and installations, according to news reports at the time.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Marking World Alzheimer’s Day Sept. 21, Pope Francis asked people to pray for all those affected by the illness, including families and caregivers. Alzheimer’s disease “affects so many people, who are often pushed to the margins of society because of this condition,” the pope said at the end of his general audience talk in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 21. “Let us pray for those suffering from Alzheimer’s, for their families, and for those who lovingly care for them, that they may be increasingly supported and helped,” he said. He also asked that people pray for men and women facing hemodialysis, dialysis or an organ transplant. September is also World Alzheimer’s Month, which is an initiative by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) to raise awareness, challenge the stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s and dementia, and garner more support for those affected. Dementia is a general term for a group of symptoms that negatively impact memory, and Alzheimer’s is a specific disease that is the most common cause of dementia.

WORLD
DUBLIN (CNS) – More people in Northern Ireland now identify as Catholic than Protestant for the first time in the history of the jurisdiction, new census figures reveal. The data has led to calls for a referendum for voters to decide whether to remain part of Britain or join with the rest of Ireland and form a new country. It comes 101 years after Northern Ireland was established in the six northeastern counties on the island of Ireland, remaining part of Britain when the 26 southern counties won independence from British rule. The founders of Northern Ireland drew the boundaries of the state along lines that they hoped would guarantee a permanent Protestant majority. Traditionally, Protestants have supported being part of Britain, whereas the Catholic community has traditionally supported unity with the rest of the island to form a single independent Ireland. The first prime minister of Northern Ireland, Sir James Craig, famously addressed the legislature describing it as a “Protestant parliament for a Protestant people,” and the Catholic minority complained of discrimination in terms of jobs, housing and voting rights. The proportion of the resident population that is either Catholic or brought up Catholic is 45.7%, compared to 43.5% Protestant.

MOSCOW (CNS) – A senior Russian priest dismissed President Vladimir Putin’s threats of nuclear war as “just words,” but said many young Catholics now fear being forcibly conscripted with their priests to join the war against Ukraine. “Although I’m not a military person, I don’t think the Russian army could even use nuclear weapons – and if it did, this would be much more dangerous for Russia itself than anyone else,” said the priest, who asked not to be named. “People are certainly frightened here, particularly since Catholic parishioners and clergy could now be called up, beginning with those who’ve done military service. But I don’t think there’s much to fear from Putin, who’s just coming out with words.” Street protests erupted in Russia after Putin’s Sept. 21 order for a nationwide call-up of 300,000 reservists after setbacks in the Ukraine war. The priest told Catholic News Service Sept. 21 students and young people had “reacted very emotionally” to the mobilization order, with many debating its practical consequences. He added that there had been “no consultation” with Russia’s minority churches and said he had consulted lawyers about the order’s implications for church personnel. “Some young Catholics have already left the country, and more are doing so now,” the priest told CNS.

U.S. synod report finds participants share common hopes, lingering pain

By Dennis Sadowski
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Catholics across the country continue to feel wounded by the clergy abuse crisis, seek a more welcoming church in which their “lived reality” is prioritized over rules and regulations, and desire lifelong spiritual, pastoral and catechetical formation as disciples, according to a report synthesizing the 10-month synodal process in dioceses.

Participants in the process also expressed concern that the U.S. Catholic Church is deeply divided and that a lack of unity exists among the bishops, spoke of a desire to “accompany with authenticity” LGBTQ+ individuals and their families, and voiced hope that laypeople’s gifts would be more widely utilized in a spirit of collaboration throughout the church, the report said.

Released Sept. 19 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the report summarizes the concerns, hopes, pains and desires voiced by an estimated 700,000 participants who joined thousands of listening sessions and other events during the diocesan phase in the lead-up to the Synod of Bishops on synodality in October 2023.

There are roughly 66.8 million Catholics in the U.S., according to the report, meaning more than 1% of Catholics participated in the listening sessions.
“The listening is an opening movement toward a wise discernment locally, regionally and nationally about what our deepest concerns, our deepest hopes are right now at this moment in time,” Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, who is overseeing the U.S. involvement in the synodal process, told Catholic News Service.

Bishop Flores, who chairs the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine, said the process that has unfolded since October – and led to the 16-page synthesis report sent to the Vatican – enabled people to respectfully listen to each other and develop a new understanding of what life in the church can be.

Titled “National Synthesis of the People of God in the United States of America for the Diocesan Phase of the 2021-2023 Synod,” the report was prepared in advance of the Synod of Bishops called by Pope Francis.

The synod’s theme is “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.” The report is the synthesis of 290 documents received by the USCCB from various contributors. The report said the documents “represent over 22,000 reports from individual parishes and other groups” that emerged from more than 30,000 opportunities to join the synodal process.

The national synthesis report draws from the 14 intermediate syntheses submitted by teams from each of the geographic regions of the U.S. church. All 178 Latin dioceses and archdioceses submitted syntheses that were incorporated into the regional reports.
For the process, the USCCB created a 16th “region” for the numerous Catholic national ministries, universities, associations and organizations working throughout the country. Those organizations submitted 112 summary reports.

In a letter introducing the report, Bishop Flores described the document as “an attempt to synthesize and contextualize the common joys, hopes and wounds called forth with the help of the Holy Spirit in the unfolding of the synod.”

“While not a complete articulation of the many topics and perspectives shared in the listening process, this synthesis is an attempt to express the broader themes that seemed most prevalent in the dioceses and regions of our country,” he wrote.

The report is divided into four themes: “Enduring Wounds,” “Enhancing Communion and Participation,” “Ongoing Formation for Mission” and “Engaging Discernment.” Each section summarizes common observations raised in the listening sessions.

It includes directly quoted descriptions of common concerns, hopes and desires from individual regional reports raised in the local listening sessions.

The report cites several “enduring wounds” expressed during the sessions. In addition to the still unfolding effects of the sexual abuse crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exact a toll on the sense of community people felt before the virus swept around the world in 2020.

“The pandemic itself ‘has led to the fraying of our communities in some ways, accelerating a trend toward disengagement and intensifying the isolation and loneliness of many, youth and elderly in particular. A large number of faithful have not yet returned to worship,’” the report said, quoting the Region 12 submission from Northwestern states.

Divisiveness and polarization in the church was a concern expressed in multiple regional reports. The Region 9 report covering four Midwestern states said division over the celebration of the Eucharist is disconcerting, particularly when it comes to the pre-Vatican II Mass.

“The limited access to the 1962 missal was lamented; many felt that the difference over how to celebrate the liturgy ‘sometimes reach the level of animosity. People on each side of the issue reported feeling judged by those who differ from them,’” the national synthesis report said quoting the Region 9 submission.

Other concerns were expressed by people who feel marginalized. The report said marginalized people fall into two broad groups.

One made up of those who are vulnerable by their lack of social or economic power, including those with disabilities, the mentally ill, immigrants, ethnic minorities, people in the U.S. without documents, the unborn and their mothers, and those living in poverty, who are homeless, are incarcerated or living with an addiction.

The second group includes women, “whose voices are frequently marginalized in the decision-making processes of the church,” the report said. Others in the group include those who are marginalized “because circumstances in their own lives are experienced as impediments to full participation in the life of the church” including members of the LGBTQ+ community and people who are divorced and may have remarried, and those civilly married.

“The synodal consultations around the enduring wounds caused by the clergy sexual abuse scandal, the pandemic, polarization and marginalization have exposed a deep hunger for healing and the strong desire for communion, community, and a sense of belonging and being united,” the national synthesis report said.

Under the theme of “Enhancing Communion and Participation,” the sacramental life of the church and the spirit of welcome within the church were addressed. The report found that the wounds expressed among participants in listening sessions could be addressed by the church being more welcoming to those not in the mainstream.

Quoting the Region 13 report from Southwestern states, the synthesis report said participants were concerned with “obstacles to community within their parishes, partly due to the divisive political climate and resulting polarization within the country.”

People in the region also identified the centrality of the Eucharist as a “source of hope for greater unity.” They said in addition that “receiving Eucharist does bring them more closely in solidarity with the poor,” according to the synthesis report.

Concerns about racism within the church and the lack of welcome to diverse cultural and ethnic communities emerged in listening sessions. The elderly, the report said, were particularly hurt by the departure of young people from church life.

“Young people themselves voiced a feeling of exclusion and desired to participate more fully as members of the parish community,” the synthesis report said.

The synthesis report also included the observation that “nearly all synodal consultations shared a deep appreciation for the powerful impact of women religious who have consistently led the way in carrying out the mission of the church.”

Participants in listening sessions expressed a “desire for stronger leadership, discernment and decision-making roles for women – both lay and religious – in their parishes and communities.”

The synthesis report said a common hope that emerged nationwide was the “desire for lifelong spiritual, pastoral and catechetical formation as disciples.” Discussions in the sessions “made clear the importance of evangelization as we continue to live out the church’s mission, which requires stronger formation.”
Steps would include accompaniment with families in their formation as people long for a closer encounter with Jesus.

Suggestions also emerged on the need to “journey together” in the formation of clergy. The Region 5 intermediate report from Southern states suggested such formation was needed to better understand human and pastoral needs, cultural sensitivity, stronger emphasis on social justice, how to include laypeople in decision-making and “learning to speak with empathy, creativity and compassion.”

Laypeople, the synthesis report said, also expressed hope that a genuine appreciation for their gifts and talents would grow into a “relationship of collaboration” with pastors.

The final theme, “Engaging Discernment,” concluded that the diocesan phase of the synodal process was the first step in a church rooted in synodality, or walking together.

The synthesis report said the process enabled thousands of people to reengage “in the simple practice of gathering, praying together and listening to one another.”

It invited people to commit to “ongoing attentive listening, respectful encounter and prayerful discernment.”

Going forward, the report called for continued engagement with communities that did not participate broadly in the listening sessions particularly Indigenous people, ethnic communities and immigrants.
“Engaging and discerning with our sisters and brothers who experience the woundedness of marginalization, as well as those whose voice were underrepresented within the synodal process, will be essential for the unfolding of the synodal journey in our dioceses and in our country,” the report said.

The next phase in preparation for the Synod of Bishops is being called the continental phase. It will find teams gathering by continent to synthesize the reports submitted to the Vatican thus far. Synod officials will prepare the “instrumentum laboris,” or working document, to guide continental or regional ecclesial assemblies that will take place by March.

The North American report will be submitted by the U.S. and Canada. Bishop Flores said some preliminary outreach has already occurred among the teams from the two nations. Other continental reports will involve significantly larger gatherings of teams from individual ecclesial assemblies.

Those assemblies will produce another set of documents that will help in the drafting of a second working document for the Synod of Bishops in October 2023.

The synod is expected to produce a final document on how synodality can be practiced throughout the church.

El Mundo en Fotos

ITALIA – Una niña lanza flores mientras una procesión eucarística pasa por la calle durante el Congreso Eucarístico Nacional de Italia en Matera, Italia, el 24 de septiembre de 2022. (Foto CNS/Paul Haring)
CANADA – Casas destruidas a lo largo de la costa en Port Aux Basques, Terranova y el corte del suministro eléctrico son productos de la devastación de Fiona, que azotó las provincias atlánticas del país como una tormenta postropical, el 25 de septiembre de 2022, (Foto del CNS/John Morris, Reuters)
FILIPINAS – Una mujer vadea a través de las inundaciones hasta el pecho, el 26 de septiembre de 2022, después que el tifón Noru azotara Bulakan, Filipinas. Noru dejó un rastro de destrucción en las provincias del norte de Filipinas y se dirigía hacia Vietnam. (Foto del CNS/Eloisa López, Reuters)
NEW YORK – La “pequeña Amal”, una marioneta de 12 pies de altura de una joven refugiada siria, saluda a las familias migrantes que llegaron recientemente a la ciudad de Nueva York desde Ecuador, Afganistán y Birmania, en la Catedral de San Patricio en Nueva York el 18 de septiembre de 2022. La “pequeña Amal” se ha convertido en un símbolo mundialmente reconocido de los derechos humanos, especialmente para inmigrantes, refugiados y otras personas marginadas. (Foto de CNS/cortesía de DKC)
PAKISTAN – Las personas desplazadas debido a las inundaciones se reúnen para recibir alimentos en un campamento en Sehwan, Pakistán, el 20 de septiembre de 2022. (Foto del CNS/Reuters)