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Catholic News

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob RollerBy Mark PattisonWASHINGTON (CNS) -- In the 40 years since the U.S. bishops approved their "Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons With Disabilities" in 1978, the landscape for persons with disabilities has changed both within the church and within society, and largely for the better."Some things have changed in the 40 years. If anything, disability is seen as part of a normal life. It's ordinary, not exceptional," said Jan Benton, executive director of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability, who has been part of the organization since its founding in 1982.Disability, she noted, is "part of the living process. People are born with disabilities, or have an accident, and (there's) aging. With the design (accommodations) and the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) and all, people recognize that it's a part of life and not unusual."That makes the bishops' statement "still as relevant and important a...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In the 40 years since the U.S. bishops approved their "Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons With Disabilities" in 1978, the landscape for persons with disabilities has changed both within the church and within society, and largely for the better.

"Some things have changed in the 40 years. If anything, disability is seen as part of a normal life. It's ordinary, not exceptional," said Jan Benton, executive director of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability, who has been part of the organization since its founding in 1982.

Disability, she noted, is "part of the living process. People are born with disabilities, or have an accident, and (there's) aging. With the design (accommodations) and the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) and all, people recognize that it's a part of life and not unusual."

That makes the bishops' statement "still as relevant and important as when it was issued in 1978," she said.

"Our role was to get it implemented around the country. Pastoral workers and families were pushing for it," Benton told Catholic News Service in an Oct. 31 telephone interview.

Persons with disabilities "have a life within the church and they were very important to the church," she added. "Way back then, the bishops were saying things that they're saying now, that everyone has gifts to bring to the church community. The community is lacking if people are missing. My favorite quote is, 'There can be no separate church for people with disabilities.'"

The ADA played an important role in furthering the bishops' statement, Benton said: "We influenced the ADA, but the ADA built a consciousness in people: 'Well, if I can go to a restaurant and go shopping, then I should be able to worship in my faith community.'"

Today, there is "even more emphasis on the giftedness that people bring to the table. ... Everybody needs the grace of the sacraments. There's even less of an emphasis on inclusion and a recognition of belonging," Benton told CNS. "You hear the word 'belonging' a lot in secular and Catholic circles," she added, because Catholics with disabilities belong "by virtue of their baptism. If you believe that, then you think differently in how you minister, how you set things up in the church."

Benton said, "There's more an emphasis on relationship than there is on programming. When people come to church, they want to be appreciated for who they are, and make friends."

One change is apparent even with the document itself. When first issued, it was titled "Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on Handicapped Persons," and the word "handicapped" was used again in 1988 in a 10th-anniversary reflection by the bishops on the original text.

Benton said Loyola Press is now in the sixth year of presenting an award to parishes that have exemplary practices for those with disabilities, with past awards going to parishes in the Archdioceses of Atlanta, Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington and the Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota.

However, a parish need not win an award to make all of its members feel included.

At the twice-yearly "Special Needs Mass" at Jesus the Divine Word Parish in Huntingtown, Maryland, in the Archdiocese of Washington, "we try to highlight the gifts of our special needs community. We invite them to be involved in whatever ministry they would like. They respond well," said Father John Dakes, the pastor. "We try to make sure they (liturgical ministers) are all from the special needs community."

The parish also has an "Everyone Belongs" ministry to foster inclusiveness in parish life, he added. Faith formation for those with special needs also is offered.

Father Dakes told CNS the effort has started slowly. "Families feel constrained by pressure or something to keep their kids at home. They don't want to cause distraction, they don't want to cause tension," he said. But it won't deter him because "anything worthwhile is worth continuing doing," the priest added. "I've been involved in this ministry in four parishes, three of which I've begun myself. In each it's taken off," including one that became its own nonprofit organization.

In Redford Township, Michigan, which hugs Detroit's northwest border, the former grade school at Our Lady of Loretto Church has become the home for the West Detroit Catholic Deaf community, which sponsors a weekly Mass with a deaf priest celebrating most Sundays.

Communication can be a problem, said Michelle Kulpa, community president. "We're both using different languages. Sign language is a foreign tongue, if you will, because most hearing folks don't really understand," she told CNS in a Nov. 1 telephone interview with the aid of an interpreter. "We don't really communicate too deeply unless we have access to an interpreter. If we have an interpreter, we can carry out some pretty nice communications.

"I can actually speak fairly well and sign, so I can communicate with people with my voice and read lips. I can't actually hear them speaking. So, I'm kind of like the liaison between the deaf world and the hearing world."

Kulpa said their usual priest, Oblate Father Michael Depcik, heads to a northeast suburb, Roseville, to celebrate a second Mass for deaf Catholics nearby. That Mass is live-streamed to allow those who cannot attend in person to still participate.

"My goal, if it's at all possible, is maybe suggest something for Pope Francis, to suggest for the cardinals that they go ahead and encourage the members so they watch the deaf Mass that we are providing. Then after they watch, they can get Communion," Kulpa said. "It makes things so much easier and meaningful."

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Follow Mark on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison

 

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican MediaBy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- World peace must begin in individuals' hearts and in their families by saying "no" to pride and rivalry, Pope Francis said."When we read news about wars -- think about the starvation of children in Yemen, which is a fruit of war -- 'it's far away, poor babies,' but why don't they have anything to eat?" the pope asked during his homily Nov. 5 during Mass in the chapel of his residence.The Mass was celebrated just days after news media reported the death of 7-year-old Amal Hussain, a Yemeni girl, whose photo by Tyler Hicks in the New York Times in mid-October brought renewed attention to the devasting impact the war in Yemen is having on innocent civilians."The same war that we make in our homes, in our institutions" by engaging in rivalry and gossip grows exponentially and leads to real wars that kill people, the pope said at his morning Mass."So," he said, "peace must beg...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- World peace must begin in individuals' hearts and in their families by saying "no" to pride and rivalry, Pope Francis said.

"When we read news about wars -- think about the starvation of children in Yemen, which is a fruit of war -- 'it's far away, poor babies,' but why don't they have anything to eat?" the pope asked during his homily Nov. 5 during Mass in the chapel of his residence.

The Mass was celebrated just days after news media reported the death of 7-year-old Amal Hussain, a Yemeni girl, whose photo by Tyler Hicks in the New York Times in mid-October brought renewed attention to the devasting impact the war in Yemen is having on innocent civilians.

"The same war that we make in our homes, in our institutions" by engaging in rivalry and gossip grows exponentially and leads to real wars that kill people, the pope said at his morning Mass.

"So," he said, "peace must begin there: in the family, in the parish, in institutions, at the workplace by always seeking unanimity and agreement and not one's own interests."

In the day's Gospel story from St. Luke, Jesus tells a leading Pharisee that when he hosts a banquet he should not invite his friends and relatives, who will feel obliged to repay him, but invite the poor and needy; "Blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you."

Jesus' point, the pope said, is to avoid acting only out of one's self interest and choosing friends only based on the benefits they can bring.

Thinking only of how a relationship can be a benefit is a form of selfishness, he said, while Jesus preached the exact opposite: gratuity, which "broadens one's horizons because it is universal."

In fact, he said: "Jesus came to us not to collect things or form an army. No, no. He came to serve us, to give us everything freely."

In the day's first reading, the pope said, St. Paul advised the Philippians to be "of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart," because choosing one's friends based on what one can gain always divides a community.

"Rivalry and vainglory," or excessive pride, are the two things that always run counter to harmony and agreement in a family or community, the pope said.

In families and even in parishes, he said, gossip often is born of rivalry because people think the easiest way to grow in importance in the eyes of others is to "diminish someone else through gossip."

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Jesolo Tourism OfficeBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Although sand castles and sculptures usually conjure up images of hot summers on the beach, the Vatican will unveil a massive Nativity scene made entirely of sand during the cold Roman winter.According to the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, the Nativity scene displayed in St. Peter's Square will feature a 52-foot wide sand sculpture from Jesolo, an Italian seaside resort town roughly 40 miles north of Venice.The intricate sculpture, along with a 42-foot-tall red spruce tree donated by the Diocese of Concordia-Pordenone in the northern Italian region of Veneto, will be unveiled at the Vatican's annual tree lighting ceremony Dec. 7.Bas-relief sand sculptures, like the one that will be featured in St. Peter's Square, are a tradition in Jesolo which, since 1998, has been the home of an annual sand sculpture festival.At the helm of the sculpture project, dubbed the "Sand Nativity," is U...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jesolo Tourism Office

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Although sand castles and sculptures usually conjure up images of hot summers on the beach, the Vatican will unveil a massive Nativity scene made entirely of sand during the cold Roman winter.

According to the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, the Nativity scene displayed in St. Peter's Square will feature a 52-foot wide sand sculpture from Jesolo, an Italian seaside resort town roughly 40 miles north of Venice.

The intricate sculpture, along with a 42-foot-tall red spruce tree donated by the Diocese of Concordia-Pordenone in the northern Italian region of Veneto, will be unveiled at the Vatican's annual tree lighting ceremony Dec. 7.

Bas-relief sand sculptures, like the one that will be featured in St. Peter's Square, are a tradition in Jesolo which, since 1998, has been the home of an annual sand sculpture festival.

At the helm of the sculpture project, dubbed the "Sand Nativity," is U.S. sculptor Rich Varano from New Smyrna Beach, Florida. According to the city's website for the Nativity scene, Varano is an accomplished sand sculptor with over 40 years' experience and has organized various international sand sculpture festivals, including the annual event in Jesolo.

Varano is joined by 11 artists from around the world, including Damon Farmer from Kentucky and Canadian artist David Ducharme, who are assisting in creating the massive "Sand Nativity" before its December unveiling.

Jesolo mayor Valerio Zogga presented sketch designs of the project in December 2017 to Archbishop Francesco Moraglia of Venice. The process of creating the sculptures involves compressing sand and water into blocks that are then sculpted to life-size figures.

Unlike the sand castles vacationers often see disintegrate by a single touch or the occasional passing wave, the compression allows for a more durable sculpture that is able to withstand light rain.

The "Sand Nativity" scene and tree will remain in St. Peter's Square until the feast of the Lord's Baptism Jan. 13, L'Osservatore Romano reported.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul HaringBy Cindy WoodenROME (CNS) -- The Mass for the feast of All Souls is "realistic, concrete" in calling Catholics to remember the people and events of their past, to consider how they live today and to hope for eternal life with God and their loved ones who preceded them, Pope Francis said.Celebrating an outdoor Mass Nov. 2, the feast of All Souls, in Rome's Laurentino cemetery, the pope said remembering "those who walked before us" is not only about the beloved dead, but also about remembering that each person has a history, a family and is part of something larger than themselves."Remembering is what strengthens a people because they feel rooted," they have an identity and history, he said. "Memory reminds us that we are not alone. We are part of a people."With hundreds of people gathered at the windy cemetery where their loved ones are buried, Pope Francis pointed to the tombstones and the mausoleum behind the crow...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) -- The Mass for the feast of All Souls is "realistic, concrete" in calling Catholics to remember the people and events of their past, to consider how they live today and to hope for eternal life with God and their loved ones who preceded them, Pope Francis said.

Celebrating an outdoor Mass Nov. 2, the feast of All Souls, in Rome's Laurentino cemetery, the pope said remembering "those who walked before us" is not only about the beloved dead, but also about remembering that each person has a history, a family and is part of something larger than themselves.

"Remembering is what strengthens a people because they feel rooted," they have an identity and history, he said. "Memory reminds us that we are not alone. We are part of a people."

With hundreds of people gathered at the windy cemetery where their loved ones are buried, Pope Francis pointed to the tombstones and the mausoleum behind the crowd, noting that they represent "the many people who have shared part of our journey."

"It is not easy to remember," the pope said. "Often we tire at the thought of looking back, of asking 'What happened in my life, my family, my people,' but today is a day for remembering."

Obviously, the feast day is more difficult for some people, including a weeping young couple the pope met before Mass when he visited the children's section of the cemetery and the "Garden of Angels," an adjoining section for the unborn; parents who have experienced a miscarriage can opt to have their children buried there rather than having a hospital dispose of the remains.

Pope Francis walked slowly between the small tombstones decorated with stuffed animals, pinwheels and balloons, and he left flowers on several of the graves.

But, the pope said in his homily, the feast day is also "a day of hope," and the day's second reading from the Book of Revelation "describes what awaits us: a new heaven and a new earth."

The image of the new, heavenly Jerusalem, he said, tells believers that "beauty awaits us."

Faith gives sure "hope that we will meet again, hope that we will arrive where there is that love that created us, where love awaits us, the love of the Father."

The feast of All Souls also includes a call to follow God's path in order to live eternally with him. That path, the pope said, is outlined in the Beatitudes in St. Matthew's Gospel.

"These beatitudes -- meekness, poverty in spirit, justice, mercy, pureness of heart -- are lights that accompany us so that we do not take the wrong path," the pope said.

"Let us ask the Lord today," he said, "to give us the grace to never lose or hide the memory" of loved ones, the grace to continue to hope and the grace "to understand what are the lights that can accompany us on the journey so that we do not err and so we can arrive where they await us with such love."

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS illustration/courtesy Detroit CatholicBy Mike StechschulteDETROIT (CNS) -- What began as a rallying cry for the Archdiocese of Detroit is slowly building into a full-fledged missionary movement called "Unleash the Gospel."Inspired by Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron's 2017 pastoral letter on the missionary transformation of the archdiocese, the movement was being launched at parishes in southeast Michigan the weekend of Nov. 3-4.It is serving to help the faithful continue in what diocesan leaders called a journey of transformation and spiritual renewal centered on Jesus and the life-changing message of the Gospel.Hundreds of volunteers were to be dispatched to all 218 parishes. The volunteers were commissioned to encourage parishioners to take up the mission of renewal through a six-day challenge.The challenge, which includes a digital component, asks Catholics to devote five minutes per day to learn and pray about what it means to be a church on mission fil...

IMAGE: CNS illustration/courtesy Detroit Catholic

By Mike Stechschulte

DETROIT (CNS) -- What began as a rallying cry for the Archdiocese of Detroit is slowly building into a full-fledged missionary movement called "Unleash the Gospel."

Inspired by Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron's 2017 pastoral letter on the missionary transformation of the archdiocese, the movement was being launched at parishes in southeast Michigan the weekend of Nov. 3-4.

It is serving to help the faithful continue in what diocesan leaders called a journey of transformation and spiritual renewal centered on Jesus and the life-changing message of the Gospel.

Hundreds of volunteers were to be dispatched to all 218 parishes. The volunteers were commissioned to encourage parishioners to take up the mission of renewal through a six-day challenge.

The challenge, which includes a digital component, asks Catholics to devote five minutes per day to learn and pray about what it means to be a church on mission filled with joyful, missionary disciples.

"We have heard the Holy Spirit speak clearly of God's missionary plan for our archdiocese. We are called to go back to the original mission of the church and to share the good news of the Gospel -- to unleash the Gospel -- throughout southeast Michigan and beyond," Archbishop Vigneron said in a statement.

"It is with a renewed spirit of hope and faith in the Lord Jesus that I invite the faithful throughout the archdiocese to embrace this mission and walk with us this path to the kingdom of God," he said.

At the core of the initiative, which follows the 2016 archdiocesan synod on evangelization, is the need to make the message of salvation readily accessible and available to a culture that often seems to have forgotten Jesus, said Father Stephen Pullis, archdiocesan director of evangelization, catechesis and schools.

"'Unleash the Gospel' really is a missionary movement of the Holy Spirit that seeks to invite people to consider how God might be active in our age," Father Pullis said. "It's not enough to simply say we believe in Christ. We need to equip evangelizers by inviting people to become joyful, missionary disciples and learning how to share that message with others."

In a sense, he explained, the movement is about returning to the church's roots of proclaiming the "kerygma," or the initial, basic message of salvation: that humans were created in God's image, man and woman betrayed God's friendship through sin, and Jesus Christ was sent to repair that relationship through his saving death and resurrection.

The initiative also was designed to teach people to live that basic message of salvation as being true -- which includes sharing that Gospel with others.

The archdiocese planned to do that through a multi-pronged effort that includes an overhaul of the way the church communicates and engages with the faithful, said Edmundo Reyes, director of communications.

"'Unleash the Gospel' is a movement," Reyes said. "Think about what a movement is. At its core, a movement is when something is wrong that needs to be right, and enough people know about it and are willing to do something about it."

In introducing the initiative and its digital components, 550 volunteers were to visit parishes. Reyes said it was crucial to meeting people on the "digital continent."

In addition, the archdiocese rolled out a new digital news service and website Oct. 29. Called Detroit Catholic, the service includes daily email, video, audio and social components.

It succeeds the archdiocese's newspaper, The Michigan Catholic.

In 2019, the archdiocese plans to launch a separate magazine and online evangelization and faith-formation platform centered on "Unleash the Gospel."

The archdiocese also planned to introduce a podcast in November and make resources available to parishes to help parishioners becoming bold Christian witnesses.

Matthew Hunt, a youth minister at St. Isidore Parish in Macomb, was to be among the volunteers visiting parishes. He said he is excited about the possibilities the initiative creates.

"Not everyone knows what Unleash the Gospel is, but if we do this right, it's going to be huge," Hunt told Detroit Catholic.

Susan Wit of St. Hubert Parish in Harrison Township said it is inspiring to see the Catholic Church taking a lead in using modern communication tools.

"It seems like we're always two steps behind because there's always something new that the young people are into that we don't know about yet," said Wit, another volunteer. "I think it's a good starting point to get people interested and aware. We're the jumper cables to get people excited about it."

Reyes said part of the weekend's challenge is helping people to see "Unleash the Gospel" not as a letter, which will unavoidably age with time, but as a Spirit-led transformation of the archdiocese.

"That's the difference between a pastoral letter and a movement: You read a pastoral letter, but you join a movement," he said. "A movement grows stronger the more people join. We need to go all in."

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Stechschulte is editor-in-chief of Detroit Catholic, the digital news service of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

 

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Darrell Sapp, courtesy Pittsburgh Post-GazetteBy Mark PattisonWASHINGTON (CNS) -- When Father David Poulson of the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty Oct. 17 to felony counts in connection with sexual assaults against one boy and the attempted assault of another boy, Jim VanSickle was there to witness it.VanSickle, 52, said Father Poulson assaulted him when he was a teenager."It was very rewarding for me in the sense that I was able to look at him (and) watch him plead guilty to sexual charges," VanSickle told Catholic News Service in an Oct. 31 telephone interview from Pittsburgh, where he now lives.According to VanSickle, Father Poulson was one of just two priests -- out of 301 clerics and other church workers named in the August Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sex abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses -- to be subject to criminal charges for abuse committed within the state's statute of limitations.VanSickle said his own abuse o...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Darrell Sapp, courtesy Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When Father David Poulson of the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty Oct. 17 to felony counts in connection with sexual assaults against one boy and the attempted assault of another boy, Jim VanSickle was there to witness it.

VanSickle, 52, said Father Poulson assaulted him when he was a teenager.

"It was very rewarding for me in the sense that I was able to look at him (and) watch him plead guilty to sexual charges," VanSickle told Catholic News Service in an Oct. 31 telephone interview from Pittsburgh, where he now lives.

According to VanSickle, Father Poulson was one of just two priests -- out of 301 clerics and other church workers named in the August Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sex abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses -- to be subject to criminal charges for abuse committed within the state's statute of limitations.

VanSickle said his own abuse occurred 37 years ago.

This is why he wants reform of the state's statute of limitation when it comes to sexual abuse. Pennsylvania's eight Catholic dioceses, as well as the state Senate, have backed the creation of a victims' compensation fund for abuse claimants whose assaults took place before the statute of limitations.

VanSickle told CNS the fund may be of help to some victims who have financial problems or who don't want to endure a civil trial. But a fund, he said, "would not expose the information pertaining to each one of these predators, and that information could possibly bring light to other victims or abusers, so we would not want that being suppressed."

The other argument against a compensation fund, VanSickle added, is that 'It doesn't give us our day in court, and that's not about money."

VanSickle said he was 15 when Father Poulson abused him, adding the Pennsylvania statute of limitations prohibits both criminal charges from being filed or a civil suit being brought against Father Poulson.

Under state law, victims who were over age 18 at the time of the abuse have two years to file civil cases. Victims who were under the age of 18 when the abuse occurred have 12 years after their 18th birthday to file civil suits.

The Pennsylvania bishops have argued a statewide compensation program is better than lifting the statutes of limitation on claims, even for a one- or two-year period, to allow suits to be filed for current time-barred civil claims would "inevitably result in bankruptcy for dioceses."

"Bankruptcy would cripple the ability of a diocese to provide compensation and healing for survivors, while vastly reducing or eliminating social service programs that greatly benefit all Pennsylvanians by serving some of the most at-risk people in our communities," they said in a recent statement.

VanSickle said he supports a one-time, two-year window for survivors of past child sexual abuse who were previously blocked from seeking civil damages to seek redress in the courts.

Also backing the change is the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. Statutes of limitation, it argues on its website, "imposed arbitrary time limits which do not provide the time, distance and personal healing from sexual trauma that many survivors require before they are able to pursue justice and accountability from the individuals who harmed them, and in some cases, institutions that protected the perpetrators."

The crimes to which Father Poulson pleaded guilty in a county courthouse in Brookville, Pennsylvania, were corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children -- both of which are third-degree felonies under state law. Father Poulson took the boys, who were between the ages of 8 and 18, to a remote cabin -- on acreage co-owned by the priest and a Pennsylvania State Police sergeant -- between 2002 and 2010.

Father Poulson, who has been ordered by Bishop Lawrence T. Persico of Erie to not present himself as a priest, is scheduled to be sentenced in mid-January. VanSickle said he plans to be in court then, too.

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Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison

 

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul HaringBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Saints are not just the well-known men, women and young people on the liturgical calendar, Pope Francis said on the feast of All Saints.They include simple people "from next door, our relatives and acquaintances who now are part of that 'immense multitude'" in heaven, he said, which makes the Nov. 1 feast of All Saints "a family celebration.""Saints are close to us, rather they are our truest brothers and sisters. They understand us, they love us, they know what is truly good for us, they help us and wait for us. They are happy and they want us to be happy with them in paradise," he said.Before reciting the Angelus Nov. 1 with people gathered in St. Peter's Square, the pope talked about God's call to holiness and happiness, which entails following the beatitudes. Thousands of people braved the uncertain weather to join him as scattered showers alternated with torrential downpours."The...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Saints are not just the well-known men, women and young people on the liturgical calendar, Pope Francis said on the feast of All Saints.

They include simple people "from next door, our relatives and acquaintances who now are part of that 'immense multitude'" in heaven, he said, which makes the Nov. 1 feast of All Saints "a family celebration."

"Saints are close to us, rather they are our truest brothers and sisters. They understand us, they love us, they know what is truly good for us, they help us and wait for us. They are happy and they want us to be happy with them in paradise," he said.

Before reciting the Angelus Nov. 1 with people gathered in St. Peter's Square, the pope talked about God's call to holiness and happiness, which entails following the beatitudes. Thousands of people braved the uncertain weather to join him as scattered showers alternated with torrential downpours.

"The Gospel says, 'Blessed are the poor,' while the world says, 'Blessed are the rich.' The Gospel says, 'Blessed are the meek, while the world says, 'Blessed are the bullies.' The Gospel says, 'Blessed are the pure of heart,' while the world says, 'Blessed are the cunning and pleasure-seekers,'" the pope said.

But those who are the true victors in the end are the saints, not the world, and the saints "exhort us to choose their side, the side of God who is holy," he said.

"Let's ask ourselves which side are we on? Heaven or earth? Do we live for the Lord or for ourselves? For eternal happiness or for some immediate gratification?" he asked.

People need to ask themselves whether they really want to be holy or are they content being Christians who believe in God and respect others, "but without going overboard."

The pope said that the Lord, "who asks everything of us," offers in return true life and the happiness for which people were created.

"Therefore, either holiness or nothing!" he added.

From their place in heaven, the saints are "cheering for us so that we choose God, humility, meekness, mercy, being pure of heart, so that we develop a passion for heaven rather than the world," he said.

The saints also want people not just to listen to the Gospel, but to put it into practice by "walking the path of the beatitudes," which does not require doing "extraordinary things, but to follow every day this path that brings us to heaven, to family, back home."

After praying the Angelus, the pope greeted the many men and women who ran in the annual 10-kilometer Race of the Saints, praising the "beautiful initiative" celebrating the feast day.

 

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Nancy WiechecBy TULSA, Okla. (CNS) -- Halloween is an opportunity for Catholics "to express in every detail of our observance the beauty and depth of the feast of All Saints," said Bishop David A. Konderla of Tulsa.It is important to maintain "the Catholic meaning and purpose of all holy days, especially those which have been adopted and adapted by the culture around us," he said in a recent memo posted on the diocesan website, https://dioceseoftulsa.org.Also known as All Hallows' Eve, Halloween is the eve of All Saints' Day, Nov. 1, which is a holy day of obligation for Catholics. All Souls' Day is Nov. 2. The word "hallows" means "holy ones" or "saints," noted the bishop."The custom of dressing up for Halloween is devotional in spirit," he added. "By dressing up as the saints whom we most admire, we imagine ourselves following their example of Christian discipleship.""This practice," h...

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TULSA, Okla. (CNS) -- Halloween is an opportunity for Catholics "to express in every detail of our observance the beauty and depth of the feast of All Saints," said Bishop David A. Konderla of Tulsa.

It is important to maintain "the Catholic meaning and purpose of all holy days, especially those which have been adopted and adapted by the culture around us," he said in a recent memo posted on the diocesan website, https://dioceseoftulsa.org.

Also known as All Hallows' Eve, Halloween is the eve of All Saints' Day, Nov. 1, which is a holy day of obligation for Catholics. All Souls' Day is Nov. 2. The word "hallows" means "holy ones" or "saints," noted the bishop.

"The custom of dressing up for Halloween is devotional in spirit," he added. "By dressing up as the saints whom we most admire, we imagine ourselves following their example of Christian discipleship."

"This practice," he continued, "allows the lay faithful in festive celebration to become 'living icons' of the saints, who are themselves 'icons' or 'windows' offering real-life examples of the imitation of Christ. In dressing up as saints we make Christian discipleship our own in a special way, following the exhortation of St. Paul, 'Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ' (1 Cor 11:1)."

Even Halloween's appeal to the "frightful" has "a devotional meaning in the Catholic tradition," Bishop Konderla said. "Props such as skulls and scythes have historically recalled our mortality, reminding us to be holy because we are destined for judgment (Heb 9:27, Rev. 14:15). Visible symbols of death thus represent a reminder of the last things -- death, judgment, heaven and hell."

The "Gothic" aspect of the day is even a reminder of Christian teaching "about the resurrection of the dead," he said, but secular culture "often represents this in a distorted manner. ... Separated from Catholic teaching, grim or ghoulish or 'Gothic' costumes can furthermore be mistaken as a celebration or veneration of evil or of death itself, contradicting the full and authentic meaning of Halloween."

The bishop also advised Catholics to "intentionally avoid" Halloween images contrary to the faith that have become popular in the secular adaptation of the celebration.

"Turning to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we want to refrain from glamourizing or celebrating anything involving superstition, witches, witchcraft, sorcery, divinations, magic, and the occult. ... We want to be good models of Christian virtue for those we serve and make clear distinctions between that which is good and that which is evil," he said.

He urged all Catholics "to express in every detail of our observance the beauty and depth of the feast of All Saints" this Halloween.

"Let us make this year's celebration an act of true devotion to God, whose saints give us hope that we too may one day enter into the kingdom prepared for God's holy ones from the beginning of time," he added.

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Editor's Note: The full text of Bishop Konderla's memo can be found at https://bit.ly/2qkFU7b.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, ReutersBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Sixth Commandment's mandate against adultery is a call to fidelity that applies not only to married couples, but to all Christians called to love others through their vocation, Pope Francis said.Married men and women, priests and those in religious life are ultimately called to live out their vocation faithfully and follow the "path of love that goes from receiving care to the ability to offer care, from receiving life to the ability to give life," the pope said Oct. 31 during his weekly general audience."Every Christian vocation is spousal because it is the fruit of the bond of love in which we are all renewed, the bond of love with Christ," he said. "Starting from (Christ's) fidelity, his tenderness, his generosity, we look with faith at marriage and at every vocation, and we understand the full meaning of sexuality."Among the pilgrims present at the audience...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Sixth Commandment's mandate against adultery is a call to fidelity that applies not only to married couples, but to all Christians called to love others through their vocation, Pope Francis said.

Married men and women, priests and those in religious life are ultimately called to live out their vocation faithfully and follow the "path of love that goes from receiving care to the ability to offer care, from receiving life to the ability to give life," the pope said Oct. 31 during his weekly general audience.

"Every Christian vocation is spousal because it is the fruit of the bond of love in which we are all renewed, the bond of love with Christ," he said. "Starting from (Christ's) fidelity, his tenderness, his generosity, we look with faith at marriage and at every vocation, and we understand the full meaning of sexuality."

Among the pilgrims present at the audience were the members of the Together in Hope choir, an ecumenical choir comprised of Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, Reformed, evangelical, and nonreligious people based in Minneapolis.

Accompanying the choir was Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and Lutheran Bishop Ann Svennungsen, head of the Minneapolis Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, who were greeted by Pope Francis after the audience.

During the audience, the pope continued his series of talks on the Ten Commandments, reflecting on the command, "Thou shall not commit adultery," which he said was a "call to love that is manifested in fidelity acceptance and mercy."

While the commandment refers to fidelity in marriage, the pope said it is not only addressed to spouses but is a "paternal word of God addressed to every man and woman."

Being mature is being able to "take upon oneself someone else's burden and to love without ambiguity," he said.

On the other hand, the pope said, adulterers and those who are unfaithful are "immature" people who interpret situations according to their own "well-being and satisfaction."

"In order to be married, it's not enough to celebrate the wedding! We need to make a journey from the 'I' to the 'we,' from thinking for yourself to thinking for two, from living by yourself to living with another person," the pope said. "It is a beautiful path; when we decentralize ourselves, then every act is spousal."

Priests and those who live chaste consecrated lives, he said, must also follow this path and live it "faithfully and joyfully as a spousal and fruitful relationship of motherhood and fatherhood."

"The church does not need aspirants to the role of priests, but rather men whose hearts have been touched by the Holy Spirit with an unreserved love for the bride of Christ," Pope Francis said. "In the priesthood, we love the people of God with all the paternity, tenderness and strength of a spouse and a father."

Pope Francis said that the call to not commit adultery is a reminder of the Christian duty to love as Christ loves and to respect one another.

"The human body is not an instrument of pleasure but the place of our call to love," the pope said. "And in authentic love, there is no room for lust and its superficiality. Men and women deserve more!"

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

 

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IMAGE: CNS photo/SRahat Dar, EPABy ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNS) -- Pakistan's Supreme Court has set aside the death sentence of Asia Bibi, a Catholic convicted of blasphemy, and ordered her release from prison.A three-member court bench announced the verdict Oct. 31. The apex court ruled that Bibi be released from death row immediately if she had no other case registered against her, reported ucanews.com.Members of Tehreek-e-Labaik, an extremist group, initiated protests and blocked roads after the verdict.Khadim Rizvi, leader of the group, recently warned the judges, the government and local as well as international nongovernmental organizations of "dire" consequences if Bibi was set free. He also threatened Bibi's lawyer."We will hold massive protests and not let the government function if it releases Asia Bibi to appease the United States," said Rizvi.Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010 on charges of making derogatory remarks about the prophet Muhammad during an ...

IMAGE: CNS photo/SRahat Dar, EPA

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNS) -- Pakistan's Supreme Court has set aside the death sentence of Asia Bibi, a Catholic convicted of blasphemy, and ordered her release from prison.

A three-member court bench announced the verdict Oct. 31. The apex court ruled that Bibi be released from death row immediately if she had no other case registered against her, reported ucanews.com.

Members of Tehreek-e-Labaik, an extremist group, initiated protests and blocked roads after the verdict.

Khadim Rizvi, leader of the group, recently warned the judges, the government and local as well as international nongovernmental organizations of "dire" consequences if Bibi was set free. He also threatened Bibi's lawyer.

"We will hold massive protests and not let the government function if it releases Asia Bibi to appease the United States," said Rizvi.

Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010 on charges of making derogatory remarks about the prophet Muhammad during an argument with a Muslim farm worker.

The Supreme Court reserved its judgment on the blasphemy case Oct. 8 and had barred media from covering the issue until the decision was announced by the court.

Samson Salamat, the Christian chairman of the interreligious Movement for Tolerance, issued a statement after the verdict.

"This is a highly tense and threatening situation for religious minorities, especially for Pakistani Christians, and there is fear of persecution of Christians and attacks on their churches and other properties," he said. He also called for a ban on "extremist groups who are involved in hate speech and use religion as a tool to promote violence in society."

Tenzin Dorjee, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, welcomed the verdict and said the case "illustrates the extent to which blasphemy laws can be exploited to target minority communities. These laws seek to protect entire religions rather than the individual, as should be the case under international human rights standards. It is deeply troubling that Bibi's case even reached this level, where she almost became the first person in Pakistan's history to be executed for the crime of blasphemy."

The commission also called on Pakistan to release the 40 individuals imprisoned on blasphemy charges and to repeal its blasphemy laws.

The USCIRF and Amnesty international noted that two other people who supported Bibi were killed. In January 2011, Salmaan Taseer, governor of Punjab, was assassinated by his own bodyguard, who shot him 27 times. In March 2011, Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian Cabinet minister at the time, was assassinated outside his mother's home in Islamabad.

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Editors: The original story can be found at https://www.ucanews.com/news/pakistan-acquits-asia-bibi-on-death-row/83759.

 

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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