‘Together Strong: Life Unites’ is theme of March for Life set for Jan. 29

By Kurt Jensen
The Sept. 10 announcement of the theme for the March for Life – “Together Strong: Life Unites” – made it clear the annual national event, in some form, will proceed next Jan. 29.
But details of how the march, rally and pro-life conference, which together have drawn as many as 100,000 participants in past years, will cope with COVID-19 self-quarantine restrictions in the District of Columbia were not part of the announcement.
Asked on EWTN’s “Pro-Life Weekly” program that evening about whether people should start making plans, Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, said: “You know, everybody has to make that decision on their own. You know, considering their own situations, et cetera.”

WASHINGTON – Pictured left to right, Cole Turner, Isabelle Comfort, Maggie Henderson and Alexia Balderas of the Catholic Campus Ministry of Mississippi State at the 2020 March for Life event. March for Life is set to take place on Jan. 29, 2021 with the theme ‘Together Strong: Life Unites.’ (Photo courtesy of Meg Ferguson)

She added, “But I certainly would be (making plans), and I obviously will be there this year. I think that standing for life and standing for inherent human dignity of every life from conception to natural death is all the more important this year when there is so much unrest, so much division in our country. We need to show that we are stronger together and that love and life unite us. They make us stronger.”
In July, Mancini had said “we will continue to discern throughout this year what steps should be taken,” regarding pandemic restrictions.
Social distancing and masks aren’t the issue. Washington health authorities require a 14-day self-quarantine for visitors “participating in nonessential travel” from high-risk areas. The quarantine is adjusted every two weeks, and as of Sept. 8, was extended to visitors from 30 states.
That’s a particular obstacle for the many high school and college groups who arrive on long-distance bus rides which have, over the decades, become the pulse of the event.
“If D.C. is still requiring a two-week quarantine for out-of-state travelers, I don’t see a way for us to attend,” said Ed Konieczka, assistant director of university ministry at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. “We are taking care of the details that we can, and recognizing which things are out of our control.”
The university typically sends around 200 students and staff members to the march, and in 2018, some 20 students flanked President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House when he addressed the Mall rally on a video link. This past January, Trump addressed the rally in person, becoming the first president to do so.
The alternative to a Washington trip, Konieczka said, will be a rally that day in Bismarck. “We have been approached by the Diocese of Bismarck with a request to coordinate efforts to have the biggest March for Life event ever at our state capital. We have a shared vision for a large event, where any of our students unable to travel to D.C. will join with members of the diocese.”
Planners of state marches face the same uncertainty. “Right now with COVID and the restrictions, we are playing it by ear in Chicago,” said Denise Zabor, office manager for Illinois Right to Life.
March for Life has taken place in Washington every January since 1974. It’s always held on a date near the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 rulings, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which legalized abortion on demand.

Pro-life advocates gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court Jan. 27, 2017, during the annual March for Life in Washington. Officials with the March for Life organization in Washington announced Sept. 10, 2020, the theme for the 2021 national rally and march marking the Roe anniversary will be “Together Strong: Life Unites.” The event will take place in some form Jan. 29. (CNS photo/Leslie E. Kossoff)

“I believe it’s the rallying point for all of pro-life America,” said Dave Bereit, the founder of 40 Days for Life, who co-hosted the theme announcement with Mancini.
The announcement video included a cameo from Vice President Mike Pence, a longtime supporter of the March for Life, who said: “Stand for life. Because life is winning.”
On Sept. 3, the Trump campaign, in a letter to a coalition calling itself “Pro-Life Voices for Trump,” cited how the president has been “transforming the federal judiciary” by appointing federal judges and Supreme Court justices “who would not legislate an abortion agenda from the bench.”
The letter also promised to work for the passage of what’s called the “pain-capable” abortion ban, which has criminal penalties for abortions performed when an unborn child is in at least the 20th week of gestation; supporters of the measure cite scientific research showing a fetus at that stage can feel pain. Passage has been blocked by House Democrats and the threat of a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.
Trump also expressed support for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act sponsored by Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, which would codify an end to federal funding for abortion such as that received by Planned Parenthood.

(Editor’s Note: The March for Life website, https://marchforlife.org, provides visitors to the site a way to sign up for updates on the Jan. 29 event.)

Annual audit shows more than 4,400 allegations of clergy abuse reported

By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) – More than 4,400 allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy were reported during the year ending June 30, 2019, a significant jump from the previous auditing period, according to a report on diocesan and eparchial compliance with the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”
Released June 25, the 17th annual report from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection states that 4,220 child sexual abuse survivors filed 4,434 allegations. In the 2017-2018 audit period, 1,381 survivors filed 1,451 allegations.
While the number jumped, the report said only 37 allegations involved current minors. Of these, the report said, eight allegations were substantiated, seven were unsubstantiated, six were unable to be proven, 12 remained under investigation, three were referred to religious orders and one was referred to another diocese.
The report attributed 37% of the new allegations to lawsuits, the introduction of victim compensation programs by dioceses and eparchies, and bankruptcies. An additional 3% of allegations emerged after a review of clergy personnel files, according to the report.
The allegations involved 2,982 clerics, including 2,623 priests, 46 deacons, 260 unknown persons and 53 others.
A breakdown of the allegations shows that 1,034 were substantiated, 147 were unsubstantiated, 1,434 were unable to be proven and 956 remained under investigation. Another 863 allegations were classified as “other,” meaning they were referred to a provincial superior when involving a cleric from a religious order or their status was “unknown.”
Conducted by StoneBridge Business Partners of Rochester, New York, the report covers the year from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019. The firm’s auditors visited 64 dioceses and eparchies and collected data from 130 more.
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, based at Georgetown University in Washington, gathers data for the annual audit report.
The report comes as the U.S. bishops have taken steps in response to Pope Francis’ “motu proprio” “Vos Estis Lux Mundi” (“You are the Light of the World”), which was issued after the first global meeting of bishops to discuss the protection of minors in February 2019.
The papal document set new rules and procedures to hold bishops and religious superiors are accountable for abuse allegations made against them for committing abuse or mishandling abuse claims.
The U.S. bishops at their fall general assembly in November affirmed their episcopal commitment to hold themselves accountable for the handling of abuse claims. They have since implemented the Catholic Bishops Abuse Reporting Service to accept sexual misconduct allegations against bishops and eparchs.
The mechanism incorporates a website and a toll-free telephone number through which individuals can file reports regarding a bishop.
Despite such steps, Francesco Cesareo, chair of the all-lay National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People, noted that questions remain about whether the “audit is sufficiently adequate to determine if a culture of safety within dioceses has taken root.”
In a letter to Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, USCCB president, that accompanied the report, Cesareo said revelations of episcopal wrongdoing, the establishment of compensation programs for abuse survivors, and a growing desire among laity for greater involvement in addressing clerical abuse led to questions arising about the audit process.
He said evidence in the audits also shows continuing “signs of complacency and lack of diligence on the part of some dioceses.”
Cesareo also commended 27 of the dioceses visited by StoneBridge auditors for conducting parish and school audits, a step that is not required under the charter.
He said review board members continue to believe such audits are important. “Until this occurs and every diocese implements parish audits, it is difficult to conclude that a diocese has indeed established a culture of safety,” he wrote.
In a preface to the report, Archbishop Gomez, apologized to everyone who has “endured abuse at the hands of someone in the church” and said a “pastoral commitment” remains for “helping every victim-survivor find healing and hope.”

This is the cover of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection annual report on dioceses’ compliance with the USCCB’s “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” It was released June 25, 2020. (CNS photo/USCCB)

Citing the 37 allegations from current minors, Archbishop Gomez described that a key finding of the report is that “new cases of sexual misconduct by priests involving minors are rare today in the Catholic Church in the United States.”
Three dioceses were found in noncompliance with the charter:
– The Diocese of Oakland, California, for failing to evaluate the background of a visiting priest; the diocese later addressed the shortcoming.
– The Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia for not having a functioning review board; the archeparchy addressed the issue by naming new members and convening the body.
– The St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy, based in Chicago, for not having a working review board.
Three other entities chose not to participate including the Syro-Malankara Catholic Eparchy of St. Mary Queen of Peace of the U.S. and Canada, based in New York; the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle, based in El Cajon, California; and the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Nicholas of Chicago.
Under canon law, dioceses and eparchies cannot be required to participate in the audit, but it is strongly recommended that they do.
The audit collected information regarding the gender of those reporting abuse, the age when abuse is alleged to have started and the year an alleged offense occurred or began.
The data show that 82% of survivors were male and 18% were female. For 22% of survivors, the alleged abuse began at age 9, 59% from age 10 to 14, 19% from 15 to 17.
When the time frame of an alleged incident could be determined, auditors found that 57% of new accusations occurred or began before 1975, 41% occurred from 1975 to 1999 and 2% have occurred since 2000.
In addition, 88% of alleged perpetrators were priests who had been ordained for the diocese or eparchy in which the abuse was alleged to have occurred. And 57% of the 1,391 priests and deacons identified as alleged offenders had already been identified in reports from previous years, the report said.
Dioceses, eparchies and religious institutes reported paying out $281,611,817 for costs related to allegations during the audit year. The amount includes payments for allegations reported in previous years. The payout figure is just under the amount reported the previous year.

(Editor’s Note: The full annual report on compliance with the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops can be found online at https://bit.ly/2Ns8XkH.)
 

Knights ‘praying for years’ for beatification

By Kurt Jensen
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Father Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus, may be an ideal prospective saint for the current age, said Carl A. Anderson, supreme knight of the international fraternal order.
“We’ve been praying for years for this to occur, and finally this day has arrived,” he told Catholic News Service May 27.
First, he’s a pro-life hero. The miracle recognized by the Vatican paving the way for his beatification occurred in 2015 and involved an U.S. baby, still in utero, with a life-threatening condition that, under most circumstances, could have led to an abortion.
He was found to be healed after his family prayed to Father McGivney. “The Vatican likes to be the one to discuss more details than that,” Anderson said.
The Vatican announced early May 27 that Pope Francis, who met with the board of directors of the Knights of Columbus in February, had signed the decree recognizing the miracle through the intercession of Father McGivney. Once he is beatified, he will be given the title “Blessed.”
Father McGivney (1852-1890), ordained a priest for what is now the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut, founded the Knights of Columbus at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1882. The fraternal order for Catholic men has become the largest lay Catholic organization in the world with 2 million members and sponsors a wide range of educational, charitable and religious activities.

Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, clearing the way for his beatification. Father McGivney is pictured in an undated portrait. (CNS file photo)

The initial work on his sainthood cause began in 1982 on the Knights’ centenary. His cause was formally opened in Hartford in 1997, and he was given the title “servant of God.” In March 2008, the Catholic Church recognized the priest heroically lived the Christian virtues, so he was given the title “venerable.”
His beatification ceremony will be held in Connecticut sometime this fall – like all other events, scheduling is uncertain because of the COVID-19 pandemic – “and sometime after that, we’ll be looking for another miracle,” Anderson said.
Generally, two miracles attributed to the candidate’s intercession are required for sainthood – one for beatification and the second for canonization.
Father McGivney, who will be the first American parish priest to be beatified and has long been a hero of working-class Catholics, can be viewed as a martyr of a pandemic. When he died from pneumonia complications at age 38 in 1890, it was during an outbreak of influenza known as the Russian flu in Thomaston, Connecticut. Some recent evidence, according to the Knights, indicates the outbreak may have been the result of a coronavirus.
Anderson praised Father McGivney’s modesty and “dedication to charity and unity and the way he embodied the good Samaritan” after founding the Knights of Columbus, originally a service organization to help widows and orphans, in New Haven. At the time, Father McGivney, the son of Irish immigrants, who was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, was an assistant pastor at St. Mary’s Parish. He is buried in New Haven.
“Father McGivney did not want to be the leader of the Knights of Columbus,” Anderson observed. “He was at first the group’s secretary and then the chaplain.”
Further, Father McGivney’s legacy also includes “the empowerment of the laity” through service projects, Anderson said. “His work anticipated the Second Vatican Council. He created a universal call to holiness that gave the laity a way to be more faithful Catholics. He provided a mechanism for them to go into society and make a difference.”

(Editor’s Note: The Knights have set up a new website for Father McGivney’s sainthood cause: https://www.fathermcgivney.org.)

Bishops ‘sickened’ by Floyd’s death, say racism ‘real and present danger’

By Julie Asher
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The U.S. Catholic bishops said May 29 they “are broken-hearted, sickened and outraged to watch another video of an African American man being killed before our very eyes.”
“What’s more astounding is that this is happening within mere weeks of several other such occurrences. This is the latest wake-up call that needs to be answered by each of us in a spirit of determined conversion,” they said in a statement about the May 25 death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.
In recent weeks, Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old African American man in Georgia, was fatally shot ,and three white men were arrested and are facing murder charges in his death. In March, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American woman, died at the hands of white police officers when they entered her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Racism is not a thing of the past or simply a throwaway political issue to be bandied about when convenient,” the bishops said. “It is a real and present danger that must be met head on.”
“As members of the church, we must stand for the more difficult right and just actions instead of the easy wrongs of indifference,” they said. “We cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities and yet still try to profess to respect every human life. We serve a God of love, mercy and justice.”
“Indifference is not an option,” they emphasized and stated “unequivocally” that “racism is a life issue.”
The statement was issued by the chairmen of seven committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism; Archbishop Nelson J. Perez of Philadelphia, Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell of Los Angeles, Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development; and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph N. Perry of Chicago, Subcommittee on African American Affairs.
Floyd, 46, was arrested by police on suspicion of forgery. Once he was handcuffed, a white officer pinned him down on the street, putting his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes. A now widely circulated video shows Floyd repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe.” He appears to lose consciousness or die and was later declared dead at the hospital.
The next day, hundreds of people protested at the intersection where police officers subdued Floyd, demanding justice for him and the arrest of the four officers involved. The officers were fired May 26 and as of midday May 29, local prosecutors filed criminal charges against at least one of the now former officers: The one seen putting his knee on Floyd’s neck, identified as Derek Chauvin, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
The federal Justice Department promised a “robust” investigation into the circumstances surrounding Floyd’s death.
Protests in Minneapolis have turned to violent demonstrations and lasted several days, prompting Gov. Tim Walz to bring in the National Guard May 29. The protests sparked similar rioting in at least a dozen U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, New York, Louisville, and Columbus, Ohio.
The bishops in their statement pointed to their “Open Wide Our Hearts” pastoral against racism approved by the body of bishops in 2018. In it, they said: “For people of color some interactions with police can be fraught with fear and even danger. People of good conscience must never turn a blind eye when citizens are being deprived of their human dignity and even their lives.”
In their May 29 statement, the committee chairmen called for an end to the violence taking place in the wake of the tragedy in Minneapolis but also said they “stand in passionate support of communities that are understandably outraged.”
They joined with Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis in praying for the repose of the soul of Floyd “and all others who have lost their lives in a similar manner.”
In anticipation of the feast of Pentecost, May 31, they called on all Catholics “to pray and work toward a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit” and pray to “to rid ourselves of the harm that bias and prejudice cause.”
“We call upon Catholics to pray to the Holy Spirit for the spirit of truth to touch the hearts of all in the United States and to come down upon our criminal justice and law enforcement systems,” the bishops said urged every Catholic, regardless of ethnicity, to “beg God to heal our deeply broken view of each other, as well as our deeply broken society.”
Here is the full text of their statement:
We are broken-hearted, sickened and outraged to watch another video of an African American man being killed before our very eyes. What’s more astounding is that this is happening within mere weeks of several other such occurrences. This is the latest wake-up call that needs to be answered by each of us in a spirit of determined conversion.
Racism is not a thing of the past or simply a throwaway political issue to be bandied about when convenient. It is a real and present danger that must be met head on. As members of the Church, we must stand for the more difficult right and just actions instead of the easy wrongs of indifference. We cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities and yet still try to profess to respect every human life. We serve a God of love, mercy, and justice.
While it is expected that we will plead for peaceful nonviolent protests, and we certainly do, we also stand in passionate support of communities that are understandably outraged. Too many communities around this country feel their voices are not being heard, their complaints about racist treatment are unheeded, and we are not doing enough to point out that this deadly treatment is antithetical to the Gospel of Life.
As we said eighteen months ago in our most recent pastoral letter against racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts,” for people of color some interactions with police can be fraught with fear and even danger. People of good conscience must never turn a blind eye when citizens are being deprived of their human dignity and even their lives. Indifference is not an option. As bishops, we unequivocally state that racism is a life issue.”

Protesters in Minneapolis gather at the scene May 27, 2020, where George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was pinned down by a police officer kneeling on his neck before later dying in hospital May 25. (CNS photo/Eric Miller, Reuters)

We join Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis in praying for the repose of the soul of Mr. George Floyd and all others who have lost their lives in a similar manner. We plead for an end to the violence in the wake of this tragedy and for the victims of the rioting. We pray for comfort for grieving families and friends. We pray for peace across the United States, particularly in Minnesota, while the legal process moves forward. We also anticipate a full investigation that results in rightful accountability and actual justice.
We join our brother bishops to challenge everyone to come together, particularly with those who are from different cultural backgrounds. In this encounter, let us all seek greater understanding amongst God’s people. So many people who historically have been disenfranchised continue to experience sadness and pain, yet they endeavor to persevere and remain people of great faith. We encourage our pastors to encounter and more authentically accompany them, listen to their stories, and learn from them, finding substantive ways to enact systemic change. Such encounters will start to bring about the needed transformation of our understanding of true life, charity, and justice in the United States. Hopefully, then there will be many voices speaking out and seeking healing against the evil of racism in our land.
As we anticipate the Solemnity of Pentecost this weekend, we call upon all Catholics to pray and work toward a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray for a supernatural desire to rid ourselves of the harm that bias and prejudice cause. We call upon Catholics to pray to the Holy Spirit for the spirit of truth to touch the hearts of all in the United States and to come down upon our criminal justice and law enforcement systems. Finally, let each and every Catholic, regardless of their ethnicity, beg God to heal our deeply broken view of each other, as well as our deeply broken society.

Editor’s Note: The full text of the bishops’ 2108 pastoral against racism, Open Wide Our Hearts,” can be found online at https://bit.ly/2XLbpYv.

Noticias

NACIÓN
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Dos encuestas separadas muestran que los estadounidenses confían más en su fe para ayudar a perseverar durante la pandemia de coronavirus. El Centro de Investigación Pew, en una encuesta publicada el 30 de abril, mostró que casi un cuarto de todos los estadounidenses dice que su fe se ha fortalecido durante la pandemia, mientras que solo el 2% dijo que se había debilitado.
NUEVA ORLEANS (CNS) – Citando las crecientes preocupaciones sobre el impacto financiero de resoluciones extrajudiciales por abuso sexual del clero y la pandemia de coronavirus, la Arquidiócesis de Nueva Orleans solicitó el Capítulo 11 la reorganización de las finanzas de sus oficinas administrativas el 1 de mayo en el Tribunal de Bancarrota de los Estados Unidos para el Distrito Este de Luisiana.
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Con las colecciones del ofertorio de la misa dominical prácticamente inexistentes durante la pandemia de coronavirus, las diócesis ayudan a las parroquias a encontrar ingresos, incluidos los fondos PPP, en fuentes de ingresos para ayudar a evitar que una crisis se convierta en una segunda crisis, en medio de la pandemia. La última indicación es que alrededor de 8,000 de las 17,000 parroquias de los Estados Unidos han solicitado préstamos con éxito.

COVID-19 coronavirus in USA, 100 dollar money bill with face mask. Coronavirus affects global stock market. World economy hit by corona virus outbreak and pandemic fears. Crisis and finance concept.

VATICANO
CIUDAD DEL VATICANO (CNS) – El Papa Francisco en sus misas matutinas ha estado rezando por:
• Periodistas y miembros de los medios de comunicación que, a pesar de los riesgos, trabajan incansablemente para informar al público de la pandemia en curso.
• Los sacerdotes y los médicos que dieron su vida cuidando el bienestar espiritual y físico de los demás durante la pandemia de coronavirus son como Jesús, el buen pastor, que dio su vida por su rebaño.
• Familias de todo el mundo que han sido restringidas a sus hogares debido a la pandemia de COVID-19, el Papa Francisco incluyó la mención de víctimas de violencia doméstica.
• Los trabajadores, especialmente a aquellos pagados injusta o virtualmente esclavizados en la fiesta de San José el Trabajador, celebrada también como el Día Internacional de los Trabajadores y como el Día del Trabajo en muchos países.
MUNDO
CIUDAD DE MÉXICO (CNS) – Caritas Honduras ha pedido transparencia en la distribución de la asistencia COVID-19, que, de acuerdo con un creciente aumento de las acusaciones, se ha utilizado con fines políticos en el país empobrecido y plagado de corrupción. El padre German Calix, director de Caritas Honduras, dijo a Catholic News Service que el brazo caritativo de la iglesia quería una investigación para “probar o refutar” las acusaciones de suministros médicos que se compran a precios inflados y de funcionarios locales, responsables de proporcionar alimentos a las personas en cuarentena, que solo ofrecen asistencia a los afiliados al partido político en el poder.

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – La vendedora callejera Marisol Maradiaga, que vive en la calle después de no poder seguir pagando el alquiler, juega con sus hijos en el 23 de abril de 2020, durante la pandemia de COVID-19. (Foto del CNS/Jorge Cabrera, Reuters)

SAO PAULO (CNS) – La conferencia de los obispos brasileños elogió un fallo de la Corte Suprema de que las mujeres infectadas con el virus Zika no podían abortar. “No corresponde a ninguna autoridad pública reconocer selectivamente el derecho a la vida, asegurándolo a algunos y negándolo a otros”, dijeron los obispos.
LIMA, Perú (CNS) – Los líderes católicos advierten que a medida que la pandemia de coronavirus se extienda a la cuenca del Amazonas, la región podría enfrentar una “tragedia humanitaria y ambiental”. Las personas indígenas que sufren violencia por sus esfuerzos para defender sus tierras contra mineros, madereros y acaparadores de tierras también corren un gran riesgo debido a COVID-19, según un comunicado de la Red de Iglesias Pan-Amazonas, REPAM. “El dolor y el lamento de la gente y la tierra se unen en un solo grito”, escribieron en la declaración, fechada el 18 de mayo.

A nurse adjusts an oxygen tank next to a tent for COVID-19 patients in the parking lot of a hospital in Lima, Peru, April 16, 2020. As coronavirus cases surge in Peru’s two largest LIMA, Perú – Una enfermera ajusta un tanque de oxígeno junto a una carpa para pacientes con COVID-19 en el estacionamiento de un hospital el 16 de abril de 2020. A medida que aumentan los casos de coronavirus en las dos ciudades amazónicas más grandes de Perú, Iquitos y Pucallpa, los líderes católicos estan luchando por encontrar formas de proporcionar a los enfermos la necesidad de salud más básica, oxígeno vital. (Foto del CNS/Sebastián Castaneda, Reuters).

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.
Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

’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.”