Church must learn how to speak to young people

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN (CNS) – Too often when Catholics try to talk to young people about vocational discernment, “it’s as if we were speaking Esperanto to them, because they don’t understand a thing,” Pope Francis said.
Bishops, pastors, religious and other adults must learn to speak young people’s language and must avoid exercising undue pressure on young men and women to enter a seminary or join a religious order, the pope said June 6 at a gathering of people doing vocations work in Europe.
With the advent of new technologies and social media, he added, young people today know how to contact others, “but they do not communicate.” “Communicating is perhaps the challenge that we have with young people,” the pope said. “Communication; communion; we must teach them that computers are good, yes; to have some form of contact, but this isn’t language. This is a ‘gaseous’ language. The true language is to communicate, to speak.”
Participants in the Congress for the Pastoral Care of Vocations in Europe were in Rome to study ways to implement the recommendations made during the Synod of Bishops on young people and vocational discernment in October.
Departing from his prepared speech, the pope said he preferred to speak “a bit off the cuff with what comes from my heart.”
Citing the words of Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis said the “church grows through attraction, not proselytism” and recalled a time when several Italian religious orders went to the Philippines in the early 1990s to search for vocations to bring back to Italy.
Seeking vocations “isn’t about looking where to take people like those nuns” who would “go there and brought girls here,” he said. “I wanted to clear this up because the spirit of proselytism hurts us.” Instead, the church must help young people learn how “to dialogue with the Lord” and how to ask him, ‘What do you want from me?’”
“This is important, it is not an intellectual conviction,” the pope said. “No, the choice of a vocation must be born from dialogue with the Lord, no matter what their vocation is.”
Young people, he said, must be helped to get to the point where they can say, “The Lord inspires me to go forward this way in life, on this path.” Pope Francis said helping young people discern their vocation is tiring work and requires “so much patience and a great capacity to listen.”
“It isn’t easy, it isn’t easy, but you can’t go forward with preconceived notions or purely doctrinal impositions, in the good sense of the word: ‘You must do this!’” the pope said. “No, you must accompany, guide and help so that the encounter with the makes them see what their path in life is.”

(Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju)

Pope issues new norms on mandatory abuse reporting, bishop accountability

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis has revised and clarified norms and procedures for holding bishops and religious superiors accountable in protecting minors as well as in protecting members of religious orders and seminarians from abuse.
The new juridical instrument is meant to help bishops and religious leaders around the world clearly understand their duties and church law, underlining how they are ultimately responsible for proper governance and protecting those entrusted to their care. For this reason, the new document establishes a clearer set of universal procedures for reporting suspected abuse, carrying out initial investigations and protecting victims and whistleblowers.

Pope Francis prays in front of a candle in memory of victims of sexual abuse as he visits St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin Aug. 25, 2018. Pope Francis has revised and clarified norms and procedures for holding bishops and religious superiors accountable in protecting minors as well as in protecting members of religious orders and seminarians from abuse.
(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The new document, given “motu proprio,” on the pope’s own initiative, was titled “Vos estis lux mundi” (“You are the light of the world”), based on a verse from the Gospel of St. Matthew (5:14).
“The crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful,” the pope said in the document, released by the Vatican May 9. The norms go into effect June 1.
In order to stop all forms of abuse from ever happening again, not only is “a continuous and profound conversion of hearts” necessary, there must be “concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the church,” he wrote.
Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, said the new norms ascribe a new role to heads of dioceses by making them responsible for alerting the proper Vatican authorities of all forms of suspected abuse, including the possession, distribution or creation of pornography involving a minor.
He told Vatican News May 9 that the norms respond to Pope Francis’ continued insistence for concrete and effective measures to ensure bishops and religious superiors have a very clear understanding of what their obligations are and what they should and should not do when it comes to safeguarding.
It also requires all priests and religious to report suspected abuse or cover-ups and encourages any lay person to report through a now-mandated reporting “system” or office in each diocese.
How the office or “system” works will be up to each diocese, but “the idea is that anyone who has suffered abuse can have recourse to the local church, while being assured they will be well received, protected from retaliation, and that their reports will be treated with the utmost seriousness,” Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication, told Vatican News.
The new norms now stipulate:
– Procedures for the investigation of bishops, cardinals, patriarchs, religious superiors and all those who lead – even temporarily – a diocese or particular church, including personal prelatures and personal ordinariates.
– Leaders will be held accountable not only with suspected cases of committing abuse themselves, but also accusations of having interfered with, covered up or failed to address abuse accusations they were aware of.
– When the accused individual is a bishop, the metropolitan will receive a mandate from the Holy See to investigate or delegate a person in charge of the preliminary investigation. A status report must be sent to the Holy See every 30 days, and the investigation completed with 90 days with some exceptions. Vatican offices are also held to specific timeframes and prompt action.
– By June 2020, every diocese in the world must create an office or “public, stable and easily accessible systems” for reporting suspected abuse against a minor or vulnerable person, failure of compliance of abuse guidelines by bishops or superiors, and cases of interference or cover-ups in either a civil or canonical investigation of suspected abuse.
– All priests and religious that become aware of abuse or its cover-up must alert their bishop or religious superior promptly.
– A minor is anyone under the age of 18 and a vulnerable person is “any person in a state of infirmity, physical or mental deficiency, or deprivation of personal liberty which, in fact, even occasionally, limits their ability to understand or to want to otherwise resist the offense.”
– The definition of child pornography as any representation of a minor, regardless of the media used, “involved in explicit sexual activities, whether real or simulated, and any representation of sexual organs of minors for primarily sexual purposes.”
– Bishops and religious superiors will be accountable not just for protecting minors against abuse but also for protecting seminarians, novices and members of religious orders from violence and sexual abuse stemming from an abuse of power. The norms apply to reports of “delicts against the sixth commandment” regarding clerics or members of religious orders and “forcing someone, by violence or threat or through abuse of authority, to perform or submit to sexual acts.”
– Those who report abuse cannot be subjected to pressure, retaliation and discrimination or told to keep silent. The seal of confession, however, remains inviolable and is not affected by the new norms.
– Procedures for carrying out the preliminary investigation include the bishop immediately requesting from the Vatican that he or a delegate be assigned to begin the preliminary investigation. If he considers an accusation is unfounded, the papal nuncio is informed. The Vatican will have 30 days to respond to the request and the bishop sends a status report to the Vatican every 30 days.
– When the investigation is complete, the bishop sends the results to the proper Vatican office, which then follows existing canon law.
– The continued obligation to respect civil laws regarding mandatory reporting.
– Those who reported suspected abuse or cover-up will be told of the outcome of the investigation if they request to be informed.
– A fund can be set up by bishops’ conferences, synods and church provinces to cover the costs of investigations.
The document is a follow-up to Pope Francis’ 2016 document, “As a Loving Mother,” on transparency and accountability of bishops and religious superiors.
The two documents together are meant to correct what had been a lack of or unclear procedures for investigating the way a bishop complies with already established norms against abuse and clearly expressing the consequences of noncompliance or cover-ups.

Bishop Kopacz comments on papal motu proprio

We welcome and celebrate the universal law enacted by Pope Francis to strengthen and support the Church’s commitment to protect children and vulnerable adults throughout the world. The law, Vos estis lux mundi, contains many of the provisions already enacted through the Dallas Charter in the United States so the Diocese of Jackson has already implemented almost all of the provisions included.
The Diocese of Jackson has a system for reporting abuse. It publicizes the reporting protocol throughout the year. It has an independent review board which includes lay members. That board has a policy to report to civil authorities – recognizing that law enforcement agencies are the proper responders for these cases.
The diocese provides psychological and pastoral care to victim survivors, using certified trauma therapists. This diocese goes even further, providing ongoing formation to priests, parish leaders and staff in how to spot and prevent abuse. The Office of Child Protection conducts background screenings on everyone who serves in parishes and schools.
The diocese welcomes the new provision in this law, which calls for accusations against bishops to go to the archbishop of a province. In this diocese, that would be Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi in the Archdiocese of Mobile. The Archbishop released his own statement about implementing this new provision which can be found here:
We affirm our Promise to Protect and our Pledge to Heal the damage caused by the sexual abuse crisis in the Church. We rejoice in efforts to thoughtfully and prayerfully evaluate policies on the local and global level and will continue to do all we can to participate in this much-needed process.

Abuse protocols in place since ’02

JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz speaks to the media on Tuesday, March 19, about the release of the names of clergy and ministers accused of abuse. (Photos by Tereza Ma)

By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON – Surveys show that many Catholics are unaware of the steps that the bishops have taken since 2002 to prevent child abuse and to monitor its own performance.
In 2002, the U.S. bishops first approved their “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” to spell out protocols for how U.S. Catholic dioceses and eparchies must address sex abuse.
The charter, which is revised regularly, spells out strict procedures for removing from ministry those credibly accused of abusing minors. It also called for training children and all adults who work with them in church and school settings to recognize and appropriately handle possible sexual abuse, and created diocesan and national mechanisms for monitoring compliance.
The charter established the position of victim assistance coordinator in every diocese and eparchy “to coordinate assistance for the immediate pastoral care of persons who report having been sexually abused as minors by clergy or other church personnel.” The coordinator in the Diocese of Jackson is Valerie McClellan.
The charter directs action in:
– Creating a safe environment for children and young people.
– Healing and reconciliation of victims and survivors.
– Making prompt and effective response to allegations.
– Cooperating with civil authorities.
– Disciplining offenders.
The charter mandated the creation of the Office (now Secretariat) of Child and Youth Protection, which assists office assists “in the consistent application of principles” adopted by the charter and provides “a vehicle of accountability and assistance” to dioceses and eparchies. Vickie Carollo heads this office in the Diocese of Jackson.
In 2002, the bishops also established the lay-run National Review Board, to monitor implementation of the charter. Francesco Cesareo has been the board’s chairman since 2013. He is president of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.
The full text of the U.S. bishops charter can be found in English and Spanish, respectively, at and
Under the charter, each diocese and eparchy undergo an annual audit to ensure compliance with it. Each audit report includes recommendations for corrective action where shortcomings are discovered.
Last June, the 15th annual report on implementation of the charter showed a decrease in allegations of clergy sex abuse from the two previous years but also indicated the need for continued vigilance since charges were raised by more than 650 adults and 24 minors.
The audit also showed that dioceses/eparchies provided outreach and support to 1,905 victims/survivors; training on abuse prevention and safe environment was provided to more than 4.1 million children and more than 56,000 priests, deacons and candidates for ordination; and background checks have been administered to 97 to 99 percent of all adults serving in ministry with children.
“That’s no small feat,” Cesareo told attendees at the Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference in New Orleans last June. “Yet, we are not finished. We can never be finished.”
During the U.S. bishops’ general fall assembly in Baltimore in November, Cesareo called for broadening the scope of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” to include bishops. He also urged publishing complete lists of credibly accused clergy in all dioceses; improving the audit process; and enhancing accountability for bishops regarding cases of abuse.

Católicos en el Mundo

PANAMA CITY (CNS) – El Papa Francisco oró por encontrar una solución pacífica a la inestabilidad e incertidumbre que reina en Venezuela. (Por Junno Arocho Esteves)
CARACAS, Venezuela (CNS) – La conferencia episcopal venezolana dice que el nuevo gobierno de Nicolás Maduro es ilegítimo y ha pedido un cambio de gobierno. (Por Cody Weddle)
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Al no ser escuchados en su país, nicaragüenses piden ayuda de la OEA. (Por Rhina Guidos)
PINAR DEL RIO, Cuba – La Parroquia del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, en el poblado de Sandino fue inaugurada en febrero 27 y es una de las únicas tres iglesias que el Gobierno cubano ha autorizado construir.
CIUDAD DE MÉXICO (CNS) – La conferencia de obispos mexicanos confirmó que 152 sacerdotes en los últimos nueve años han sido suspendidos de su ministerio por abusar sexualmente de menores. En una declaración publicada el 12 de febrero, la conferencia publicó la figura preliminar, aunque prometió que: “En los siguientes meses se continuará con el esfuerzo por tener el diagnóstico completo de casos de abuso sexual infantil en México”. (Por David Agren)
CUCUTA, Colombia (CNS)—Iglesias en la frontera de Colombia trabajan para asistir a venezolanos desesperados. En Colombia, agencias de caridad católicas están haciendo todo lo posible para ayudar a los venezolanos que entran al país buscando medicina, comida, y trabajo. El comedor social de la Divina Providencia en Cucutá, proporciona unas 4,000 comidas diarias para migrantes y refugiados, cuatro veces más de lo que hacía cuando se abrió en 2017. (Por Manuel Rueda)

A damaged church is seen Jan. 28, 2019, the day after a tornado ripped through a neighborhood in Havana. An EF3 tornado and pounding rains smashed into the eastern part of Cuba’s capital, toppling trees, bending power poles and flinging shards of metal roofing through the air. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Papa remueve a ex-carnenal McCarrick. Cumbre en Vaticano

Por Carol Glatz Catholic
CIUDAD DEL VATICANO (CNS) – El Papa Francisco ha confirmado la remoción del sacerdocio de Theodore E. McCarrick, el ex cardenal y arzobispo de 88 años. El Vaticano anunció la decisión el 16 de febrero, diciendo que McCarrick fue declarado culpable de “solicitud en el sacramento de confesión y pecados contra el Sexto Mandamiento con menores y con adultos, con el factor agravante del abuso de poder”.
Al ordenar el “despido del estado clerical” de McCarrick, la decisión significa que McCarrick pierde todos los derechos y deberes asociados con ser sacerdote, no puede presentarse como sacerdote y está prohibido a celebrar los sacramentos.
La única pena de la iglesia que es más severa que ésta es la excomunión, que le habría prohibido recibir los sacramentos.
El castigo de McCarrick es el más duro dado a un cardenal por el Vaticano en los tiempos modernos.

CIUDAD DEL VATICANO (CNS) – Todos los ojos y oídos estarán en el Vaticano durante una reunión sin precedentes del 21 al 24 de febrero para hablar sobre la protección de los menores en la Iglesia Católica con los presidentes de todas las conferencias de obispos del mundo, los jefes de las iglesias católicas orientales, de líderes de las órdenes religiosas de hombres y mujeres y jefes de las principales oficinas del Vaticano. ¿Qué deben esperar las personas de la reunión de cuatro días?
1. Lo primero y más importante será crear conciencia, el abuso no es un problema “occidental”, sino que ocurre en todos los países.
2. Escuchar a víctimas y líderes para adoptar una cultura de responsabilidad y transparencia.
3. Una “asamblea paralela” con sobrevivientes y grupos de defensa para pedir mayor responsabilidad, acción y reforma.

(Cindy Wooden en Roma, contribuyó con esta historia).

Great expectations: Vatican abuse summit has key, realistic goals

By Carol Glatz (CNS)
VATICAN CITY – All eyes and ears will be on the Vatican during an unprecedented gathering set for Feb. 21-24 to discuss the protection of minors in the Catholic Church.
When Pope Francis announced the international meeting in September, it sparked an optimistic note that the global problem of abuse finally would be tackled with a concerted, coordinated, global effort.
The breadth of the potential impact seemed to be reflected in the list of those convoked to the meeting: the presidents of all the world’s bishops’ conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches, representatives of the leadership groups of men’s and women’s religious orders and the heads of major Vatican offices.
But the pope tried to dial down what he saw as “inflated expectations” for the meeting, telling reporters in January that “the problem of abuse will continue. It’s a human problem” that exists everywhere.
Many survivors and experts, too, have cautioned that it was unrealistic to assume such a brief meeting could deliver a panacea for abuse and its cover-up.
So, what should people expect from the four-day meeting? The following five points hit the highlights:
1. It will be first and foremost about raising awareness, including that the scandal of abuse is not a “Western” problem, but happens in every country.
To make that point clear, the organizing committee asked every participating bishop to sit down with a survivor of abuse before coming to Rome and hear that “Me, too,” from a person of his own country, culture and language.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, who is moderating the meeting, said there would be between 160 and 180 participants. He told reporters Feb. 12 to expect the presidents of about 115 bishops’ conferences, a dozen heads of Eastern churches, prefects of Vatican congregations directly involved with Vatican norms regarding abuse and negligence, eight delegates from the men’s Union of Superiors General, 10 delegates from the women’s International Union of Superiors General, three members of the pope’s Council of Cardinals who are not presidents of their bishops’ conference and four members of the organizing committee.
Everyone invited will be expected to learn what his or her responsibilities are as a leader or a bishop and to know the church laws and procedures that already exist to protect the young.
2. Organizers hope that by listening to victims and leaders who have learned things the hard way, participants will be inspired to adopt a culture of accountability and transparency.
Hearing what abuse and negligence have done to people has the power to transform the listener, “to truly open the mind and heart,” Jesuit Father Hans Zollner told reporters Feb. 12.
Just to be sure those voices are heard, the meeting will also feature testimonies from survivors from countries where the reality of abuse is still largely ignored, said the priest, an abuse expert who is part of the meeting’s organizing committee.
He said the word “accountability” doesn’t even exist in many languages, which often means that culture might lack a clear or coherent understanding of this key concept.
For that reason, the summit will devote a day to discussing accountability and “what structures, procedures and methods are effective” and viable in the Catholic Church, he said.
Church leaders must know what the norms are, he said, but the meeting also will stress that the procedures themselves “will not magically solve a problem.”
For example, he said, it was “a source of delusion” for U.S. Catholics when the 2002 Dallas Charter did not fix everything.
In fact, the meeting will not be about producing any documents, but pushing people to take the needed steps toward greater transparency and accountability, Father Lombardi said.
Those steps already are spelled out, he said, in Pope Francis’ 2016 document, “As a Loving Mother,” on the accountability of bishops and religious superiors.
“It must be put into practice effectively,” he said, adding that he was “convinced and firmly hope that this meeting will give a push in that direction.”
3. There will be a kind of “parallel assembly” as large numbers of survivors and advocacy groups converge on Rome to call for greater accountability, action and reform.
A variety of events are planned, including an evening “Vigil for Justice” near the Vatican and a “March for Zero Tolerance” to St. Peter’s Square, but a major focus will be media outreach and getting the voice and recommendations of laypeople and victims – many who had gone unheard for years – listened to.
4. Pope Francis will be present throughout the meeting, which will include plenary sessions, working groups, prayer, a penitential liturgy and a closing Mass.
In letters to the bishops of Chile and the United States, Pope Francis has made clear what he thinks the church needs to do to respond to the abuse crisis.
Administrative solutions involving new policies and norms are not enough, he has said.
He told Chile’s bishops that abuse and its cover-up “are indicators that something is bad in the church body.”
Therefore, they must not only “address the concrete cases,” but also “discover the dynamics that made it possible for such attitudes and evils to occur.”
Those attitudes are driven by the temptation “to save ourselves, to save our reputation,” he told the Chilean bishops.
In his letter to the U.S. bishops, he warned against the tendency to play the victim, to scold, discredit, disparage others and point fingers.
5. Expect the meeting to be one critical step along a very long journey that began decades ago and must continue.
Further measures will be taken after the meeting, Father Zollner has said. For instance, a task force made up of child protection experts “will probably be instituted in the various continents” to help bishops create, strengthen and implement guidelines.
The different “teams” of the task force should be able to help “for years to come to measure the success of this exercise of realizing own’s own responsibility, even on the global level, in the face of public expectations,” he told the Vatican newspaper in January.
Even though the church is well aware of larger, related problems of abuses of power, conscience and abuse and violence against seminarians, religious women and other adults, the meeting will focus exclusively on protecting minors from abuse, Fathers Zollner and Lombardi said.
The idea is that the attitude and spirit needed to protect the most vulnerable of the church’s members are the same that will protect and promote respect for the integrity and dignity of everyone.
In fact, Father Lombardi said, “I see this as a test of the profundity of the reform” of the church called for by Pope Francis.
In other words, the pope wants people “to examine how we live out our mission, with what coherence and how we can convert our attitudes, both in regard to our attention and compassion for those who suffer, as well as our consistent witness to the dignity of children, of women, and so on.”

(Contributing to this story was Cindy Wooden in Rome.)

Briefs nation and world

Catholic Charities USA leaders outline immediate, long-term goals
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Two top Catholic Charities USA leaders outlined some of the short-term and long-term goals for the organization and its affiliates throughout the country Feb. 3 during the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington. Catholic Charities is in the midst of a five-year strategic plan to more sharply identify areas where it believes it can make a difference, said Brian Corbin, executive vice president of member services. One of those areas is refugee resettlement and immigration policy. Corbin said it has worked with Migration and Refugees Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to place 16,000 refugees across the country in collaboration with local Catholic Charities affiliates that have located sponsor families to help resettle those refugees. It also has partnered with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Corbin said, on issues surrounding the continued migration of Latin Americans to the United States. Affordable housing is another of Catholic Charities USA’s strategic priorities. “In your own town, you probably know there are housing issues,” Corbin said. “Catholic Charities as an institution is the largest nonpublic provider of housing after the government. We are there. We will continue to be there,” he said to applause. Catholic Charities’ commitment extends to shelters, domestic-violence shelters, transitional housing and permanent housing, he said.

House members introduce bipartisan measure to ban abortions at 20 weeks
WASHINGTON (CNS) – U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, was joined by more than 100 other members of the House Jan. 24 in introducing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act of 2019, a measure that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. Smith, a Catholic, who is co-chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus, is the lead sponsor of the bill, which cites research showing that unborn babies “can feel agonizing pain” at 20 weeks of development. “The majority of Americans — some 59 percent according to a recent poll — support legal protection for pain-capable unborn children,” Smith said in introducing the bill. He was referring to results of an annual poll of Americans’ views on abortion conducted by the Marist Poll at Marist College and sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. The poll also showed that 75 percent of respondents want “substantial” restrictions on abortion access even as more than half of respondents describe themselves as “pro-choice.” The poll was conducted Jan. 8-10 and the results were released ahead of the Jan. 18 March for Life. “Today we know that unborn babies not only die but suffer excruciating pain during dismemberment abortion — a cruelty that rips arms and legs off a helpless child,” Smith said. “This tragic human rights abuse must end.”

Priest who was former national Renew leader and beloved pastor dies
TUCSON, Ariz. (CNS) – Msgr. Robert D. Fuller, an Arizona priest who was a national leader of the Renew movement in the early 1980s and a beloved pastor in the Tucson Diocese, died Jan. 23. He was 88. “We are privileged from time to time to meet a living giant,” said retired Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, who worked with Msgr. Fuller for most of the last two decades. “I experienced that when I met Msgr. Fuller. He was an outstanding priest, a great preacher and a person of deep faith. He now enjoys the fulfillment of what he preached.” Tucson Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger will be the main concelebrant of a funeral Mass Feb. 1 for Msgr. Fuller at St. Augustine Cathedral in Tucson, followed by interment at Holy Hope Cemetery. Ordained a priest for the Tucson Diocese April 25, 1956, his assignments included serving as director of the Bureau of Information, which later became the diocesan Communications Office. He was appointed editor and business manager of the Arizona Register, as the diocesan newspaper was called, on June 7, 1963, after serving as assistant editor in 1961-63. Msgr. Fuller left Tucson for five years, from 1981 to 1986, to work for Renew, which is based in Newark, New Jersey. Renew fosters spiritual renewal in the Catholic tradition at the parish level by empowering individuals and communities to encounter God in everyday life.

Bishop tells Covington Catholic High School community he stands with them
COVINGTON, Ky. (CNS) – You could literally hear a pin drop as the faculty, staff and student body of Covington Catholic High School waited in the gym Jan. 23 for the arrival of Covington Bishop Roger J. Foys. The bishop was there to address the students about the events that took place Jan. 18, after the March for Life in Washington, where a student standing face-to-face with a Native American elder was captured on video and ignited a firestorm on social media — making headlines around the world. Bob Rowe, principal, opened with a prayer and introduced Bishop Foys, who said: “These last four days have been a living hell for many of you, for your parents, for your relatives, for your friends and it certainly has been for me.” He told the assembly they are “under all kinds of pressure from a lot of different people, for a lot of different reasons.” The bishop also told the assembly that the contingent of students who went to the March for Life represented the best of the church and the diocese by standing up for life. Bishop Foys said an independent third party is investigating the Jan. 18 events that followed the march and he asked everyone to stay off of social media with regard to those events until the matter is resolved. “Regardless of what you heard or what you’ve read or what you think, I am on your side. I want you to come out of this in a positive light,” he said.

Vatican underlines support of universal health care coverage
GENEVA (CNS) – The Vatican supports efforts to build stronger and sustainable essential health care services on the way toward achieving universal health coverage, a Vatican official said. The Catholic Church is part of this effort in providing primary care to people in need and always “with due recognition to the sacredness of human life, from conception to natural death,” said Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva. Speaking to the executive board of the World Health Organization Jan. 28, the archbishop noted the organization’s call for a renewal of primary health care and the Sustainable Development Goals’ target of universal health coverage to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. The Holy See affirms the call to mobilize all stakeholders to take joint action to build stronger and sustainable primary health care toward achieving universal health coverage,” he said in a brief address. In fact, over the course of 2018, “Catholic-inspired organizations provided health care at 5,287 hospitals and 15,397 dispensaries, 15,722 residential programs for the elderly and for persons living with debilitating chronic illnesses and other disabilities in all parts of the world,” he said.

Pope arrives in Abu Dhabi, praying for nearby Yemen
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – The sun had set long before Pope Francis arrived in Abu Dhabi Feb. 3, but Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince, and Egyptian Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar, still went to the airport to welcome him. It had been a rare rainy day on the southeast coast of the Arabian peninsula, which, the pope told reporters traveling with him, was seen as a sign of blessing by the people of the United Arab Emirates. Since the pope arrived at almost 10 p.m. local time, the official welcoming ceremony was scheduled for the next day. But there was a brief greeting inside the President’s Airport. The pope then went to Al Mushrif Palace, the government’s guesthouse for visiting foreign dignitaries.

Obituario. Obispo Howze. EPD

Bishop Howze

Por Terrance P. Dickson (CNS)
BILOXI – El obispo Joseph Lawson Howze, obispo fundador de la Diócesis de Biloxi y primer obispo negro de los Estados Unidos en el siglo XX, fue puesto a descansar el miércoles, 16 de enero. Falleció el 9 de enero a la edad de 95 años.
El arzobispo Thomas Rodi, de la Arquidiócesis de Mobile y ocho obispos, incluido el obispo Joseph Kopacz de la Diócesis de Jackson, presidieron este funeral junto con otros 50 sacerdotes y miembros de su familia. “Mientras estamos tristes por la muerte del obispo Joseph Lawson Howze, nos regocijamos en su vida”, dijo el obispo Louis F. Kihneman III de Biloxi. “Fue una vida bien vivida en servicio fiel a Dios todopoderoso y al pueblo de Misisipi, como obispo auxiliar de la Diócesis de Natchez-Jackson y como primer obispo de Biloxi de 1977 a 2001”.
El Obispo Kihneman dijo que el Obispo Howze estaba “muy orgulloso y que “siempre estuvo agradecido a la gente de la diócesis por su infalible generosidad de tiempo, talento y tesoro”. El obispo Kopacz comentó sobre el legado del obispo Howze como líder y evangelizador en la comunidad católica negra a nivel local y nacional.

(Dickson es editor de Gulf Pine Catholic, periódico de la Diócesis de Biloxi. Maureen Smith contribuyó con este reportaje).

Prayer involves recognizing self as God’s beloved child

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN (CNS) – Christians are not better than other people, but they do know that God is their father and they are called “to reflect a ray of his goodness in this world thirsting for goodness, waiting for good news,” Pope Francis said.
Leading his first general audience of 2019, the pope continued a series of talks he has been giving about the Lord’s Prayer. But he also welcomed artists from CirCuba, the national circus of Cuba, who were performing in Rome over the holidays.
One of the performers even had a very willing pope help him with his act by balancing a spinning ball on his finger. At the end of the audience Jan. 2, the pope praised the performers for their hard work and for the way they lift people’s spirits with their shows.
In his main audience talk, Pope Francis explained how the Gospel of Matthew presents the Lord’s Prayer as part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which also includes the Eight Beatitudes.
Proclaiming the beatitudes, the pope said, Jesus affirms the blessedness and happiness of “a series of categories of people, who – in his time, but also in ours – are not particularly esteemed. Blessed are the poor, the meek, the merciful, the humble of heart. This is the revolution of the Gospel! Where the Gospel is, there is revolution because the Gospel does not leave things as they were.”
With the beatitudes, he said, Jesus is telling people that those “who carry in their hearts the mystery of a God who revealed his omnipotence in love and pardon” are those who come closest to understanding him.
The core of the Sermon on the Mount, he said, is: “You are sons and daughters of your Father who is in heaven,” which is why Jesus then teaches the crowd to pray the Our Father.
Summarizing his talk in Spanish, Pope Francis said, “God does not want to be appeased with long streams of adulation, as the pagans did to win the benevolence of the deity; it is enough to talk to him like a father who knows what we need before we even tell him.”
“The Christian is not someone who tries to be better than others, but one who knows he or she is a sinner,” the pope said. A Christian knows how to stand before God with awe, to call upon him as Father and try to reflect his goodness in the world.
Jesus urges his followers not to be like the hypocrites who pray just to be seen, the pope said. “How often have we seen the scandal of those people who go to church, spend the whole day there or go every day and then they live hating others or speaking badly of others – this is a scandal. It would be better not to go to church.”
“If you go to church, live like a child (of God) and like a brother or sister” to others, Pope Francis said.
In teaching the Our Father, Jesus was helping his followers learn the essence of prayer and the importance of not thinking that using more words makes for a better prayer, he said. “The pagans thought that by speaking, speaking, speaking, they were praying.”
Praying isn’t like being “a parrot,” who repeats an endless stream of words, the pope said. “No, praying comes from the heart, from inside.”
“It even could be a silent prayer,” he said. “Basically, it is enough to put yourself under God’s gaze, recognize his fatherly love – and that’s enough to be heard.”
“How beautiful it is to think that our God does not need sacrifices to win his favor. He needs nothing,” the pope said. “He asks only that we keep open a channel of communication with him to discover continually that we are his beloved children.”

Defend church from those who seek to destroy it

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – As the Synod of Bishops finished its work, Pope Francis called on all Catholics to defend the church from those who are influenced by the “great accuser” seeking to destroy it.
After thanking the synod members, observers and experts following the vote on the final document Oct. 27, the pope said that although church members are sinful, “our mother (the church) is holy,” but “because of our sins, the great accuser always takes advantage.”
While in some parts of the world, Christians suffer persecution because of their faith in Jesus, there is “another type of persecution – continuous accusations – in order to dirty the church. The church cannot be dirtied. The children, yes, we are all dirty, but not the mother. Therefore, this is the time to defend the mother,” he said.
“It is a difficult moment,” he continued, “because through us, the great accuser wants to attack the mother. And no one touches the mother!”
Before concluding the synod’s final meeting, Iraqi Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako of Bagdad, the Chaldean Catholic patriarch and synod president-delegate, said the synod “was a gift for us and for the whole church.”
Cardinal Sako also appealed to the pope, the synod members and young people to not forget about the plight of Christians in the Middle East.
“If the Middle East is emptied of Christians, Christianity will be left without its roots,” he said. “We need your humanitarian and spiritual support as well as your solidarity, friendship and closeness until the storm passes.”
The patriarch also reiterated the support of the world’s bishops for Pope Francis. Citing an Arab saying, Cardinal Sako told the pope that “the fruitful tree is struck with stones.”
“Go forward with courage and trust,” he told the pope. “The barque of Peter is not like other ships. The barque of Peter, despite the waves, remains firm because Jesus is inside, and he will never leave it.”
Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, also expressed the assembly’s “filial affection and profound adherence to your Petrine ministry.”
Addressing the young people who served as synod observers, Cardinal Baldisseri thanked them for “their presence, their contributions, their interventions and their suggestions. They have show us the freshness of their youth, their generosity, imagination and resourcefulness.”
In his off-the-cuff remarks, Pope Francis also thanked the young men and women at the synod “who brought their music here to us in the hall.”
“Music is the diplomatic word for uproar,” he said to laughter and applause.
The synod, he said, “is not a parliament” but rather “a protected space for the Holy Spirit to act.”
The fruit of the synod, he added, is not just a final document for Catholics around the world, but a work of the Spirit that must first “do something in us, it must work in us.”
“We are the recipients of the (final) document. It is primarily for us. Yes, it will help many others, but we are the first recipients. The Holy Spirit did this among us. Do not forget this, please,” Pope Francis said.
“It is the Holy Spirit who gave us this document, for all us including myself, to reflect on what he wants to tell us.”