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Catholic News

IMAGE: CNS photo/Peter Finney Jr, Clarion HeraldBy Peter Finney Jr.NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- Despitegroundbreaking steps the U.S. Catholic Church has taken to prevent the sexualabuse of minors in the past 16 years, a potential "complacency" in followingsafety protocols could pose a challenge to those hard-won advances.Francesco Cesareo, chairman ofthe National Review Board, shared that view with diocesan safe environment andvictims' assistance coordinators attending the Child and Youth ProtectionCatholic Leadership Conference in New Orleans.The 13-member lay board advisesthe U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on safe environment protocols forchildren in Catholic parishes, schools and organizations.In his talk June 6, Cesareo thatbecause a large percentage of abuse claims deal with incidents that happenedmany years and even decades ago, the issue may appear now to be less urgent."The church has responded veryconcretely to this question and very proactively, but one of the issues now isth...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Peter Finney Jr, Clarion Herald

By Peter Finney Jr.

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- Despite groundbreaking steps the U.S. Catholic Church has taken to prevent the sexual abuse of minors in the past 16 years, a potential "complacency" in following safety protocols could pose a challenge to those hard-won advances.

Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board, shared that view with diocesan safe environment and victims' assistance coordinators attending the Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference in New Orleans.

The 13-member lay board advises the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on safe environment protocols for children in Catholic parishes, schools and organizations.

In his talk June 6, Cesareo that because a large percentage of abuse claims deal with incidents that happened many years and even decades ago, the issue may appear now to be less urgent.

"The church has responded very concretely to this question and very proactively, but one of the issues now is that because it is now historical -- you have newly ordained priests who were children when this broke out -- the urgency of it is not there," he said. "You have bishops who are new. They weren't there in 2002. The urgency is not there."

Cesareo, who is president of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, said he was pleased the church has shifted its conversation about sexual abuse of minors "from a legalistic approach to a more pastoral approach, which is very helpful in the process of healing and reconciliation and also in getting the church to understand the real pain that victims have felt and have experienced through the abuse."

But, he said, because the church has done such a good job dealing with sexual abuse in the past 16 years, "there is this notion that this is a problem in the past, 'we've dealt with it, we don't have to put as much attention on it, we have the policies in place.'"

"That's where the complacency comes in," Cesareo said. "It's like a hospital. You have the protocols in place and then suddenly someone dies in the operating room. All the protocols were followed, so why did this happen?

"We need to create a culture whereby the church is doing the same thing. Why did this happen? How do we prevent it? How do we strengthen what we're already doing? That's where the complacency issue is becoming problematic."

Cesareo cited encouraging statistics from the most recent audit of how individual dioceses are performing under the U.S. bishops' "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People": outreach and support was provided 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 the conference. "Yet, we are not finished. We can never be finished."

While some dioceses are going "above and beyond" the charter's guidelines, Cesareo said, "a number have fallen into a pattern of complacency regarding victim/survivor assistance and child protection efforts."

He said some dioceses had not completed background checks in a timely fashion and some had kept poor records, "which could potentially lead to unscreened individuals interacting with children."

Cesareo said accurate parish and school audits are vital in assessing compliance with the charter and also with diocesan policies. He suggested that individual diocesan review boards, which are called on to evaluate allegations of sexual abuse by clergy, should meet regularly -- at least annually and ideally four times a year -- even if no allegations have come forward.

Bishops can learn a lot by meeting regularly with the experts on the local review boards, Cesareo said.

"It is the belief of the (National Review Board) that diocesan review boards mitigate the risk that allegations will be mishandled and that possible offenders remain in ministry," Cesareo said.

No other organization in the U.S. has done a better job than the Catholic Church has in setting up safeguards to protect children, he said.

"Absolutely and without any doubt, even though we don't get the credit," Cesareo said. "That is clarified, No. 1, by the charter; No. 2, by the audit process that's in place; No. 3, by the policies and procedures that are in place. All the background checks, all the training that has taken place. There's no other organization that's doing what we're doing.

"Catholics in the pew should feel very confident that their children are safe in our schools and in our parishes, that the church is doing everything it can to ensure that kind of culture of safety and healing and that we are being proactive and not forgetting that this has to be always at the forefront of everything we do within the church."

The 13th annual conference, held June 3-6, drew more than 150 people from across the U.S. working in areas of safe environment, victims' assistance and pastoral care.

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Finney is executive editor/general manager of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

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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/ReutersBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Talks between the leaders of theUnited States and North Korea are "truly historic" and bring hope forthe start of a new era of peace, said Pope Francis' ambassador to Korea.A "very important" new page has been turned, ArchbishopAlfred Xuereb, apostolic nuncio to South Korea and Mongolia, told Vatican NewsJune 12. "It marks the beginning of a still long and arduousjourney, but we are hopeful because the start has been very positive, verygood," he said. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President DonaldTrump met on Singapore's Sentosa Island for the historic summit June 12. It wasthe first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.Afterward, Trump said Kim would work to end North Korea'snuclear program. Trump promised to end joint military exercises with SouthKorea.After the summit, CardinalAndrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul, South Korea, and apostolic administrator of Pyeongyang, North Korea, cele...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Talks between the leaders of the United States and North Korea are "truly historic" and bring hope for the start of a new era of peace, said Pope Francis' ambassador to Korea.

A "very important" new page has been turned, Archbishop Alfred Xuereb, apostolic nuncio to South Korea and Mongolia, told Vatican News June 12.

"It marks the beginning of a still long and arduous journey, but we are hopeful because the start has been very positive, very good," he said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump met on Singapore's Sentosa Island for the historic summit June 12. It was the first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.

Afterward, Trump said Kim would work to end North Korea's nuclear program. Trump promised to end joint military exercises with South Korea.

After the summit, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul, South Korea, and apostolic administrator of Pyeongyang, North Korea, celebrated Mass in Myeongdong Cathedral to pray for prompt execution of the summit agreement.

"When I heard the news that there was a meaningful agreement between the two summits in their first meeting, I deeply thanked God to remember our prayers for reconciliation and union of the Korean people," Cardinal Yeom said in his homily. "I sincerely wish that the agreement can be promptly executed to achieve the common good not only for Korean people but for all people on the globe."

He also added prayers for the believers in North Korea to have the freedom of religion and be able to lead humane lives as soon as possible.

Archbishop Xuereb told Vatican News the rhetoric has gone from unleashing "fire and fury" against North Korea to more moderate language "that speaks of peace, of relations based on understanding, therefore, we are truly full of hope and confidence."

"You can imagine how anxiously the Korean people and the church here in Korea are experiencing this truly historic moment," the papal nuncio said.

"The Holy See wants to support whatever possible initiative that promotes dialogue and reconciliation" while also taking advantage of being able to take the Gospel message to everyone, he said.

Pope Francis led thousands of people in St. Peter's Square in prayer June 10, expressing hopes the summit would lead to lasting peace.

"May the talks," he said, "contribute to the development of a positive path that assures a future of peace for the Korean peninsula and the whole world."

 

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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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Pope Francis hasappointed the Rev. Msgr. Richard G. Henning as Auxiliary Bishop of RockvilleCentre and Rev. Msgr. Michael Fisher as Auxiliary Bishop of Washington. Monsignor Henning is a priest of theDiocese of Rockville Centre and currently serves as Rector of ImmaculateConception Seminary in Huntington, NY, and Director of the Sacred HeartInstitute for the Ongoing Formation of Clergy. Monsignor Fisher is a priest ofthe Archdiocese of Washington and currently serves as Secretary for MinisterialLeadership and Vicar for Clergy.Theappointments were publicized today in Washington, D.C, by Archbishop ChristophePierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.Rev. Msgr. Richard G. Henning wasborn October 17, 1964 in Rockville Centre, NY. He holds a Bachelor of Arts inHistory (1986) and a Master of Arts in History (1988) from St. John University,New York.  Heattended the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, and wasordained a priest on May 30, 1992 at St. Agnes Cathedral in Ro...

Pope Francis has appointed the Rev. Msgr. Richard G. Henning as Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre and Rev. Msgr. Michael Fisher as Auxiliary Bishop of Washington.

Monsignor Henning is a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre and currently serves as Rector of Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, NY, and Director of the Sacred Heart Institute for the Ongoing Formation of Clergy. Monsignor Fisher is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington and currently serves as Secretary for Ministerial Leadership and Vicar for Clergy.

The appointments were publicized today in Washington, D.C, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

Rev. Msgr. Richard G. Henning was born October 17, 1964 in Rockville Centre, NY. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in History (1986) and a Master of Arts in History (1988) from St. John University, New York.  He attended the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, and was ordained a priest on May 30, 1992 at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre. He received a licentiate in Biblical Theology in 2000 from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and a licentiate in Biblical Theology in 2007 from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum, in Rome.

Assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at St. Peter of Alcantara Church, Port Washington, New York, 1992-1997. He was assigned to graduate studies from 1997 to 2002. During this time, he served as weekend, summer and vacation help in a number of parishes including Our Lady of Miraculous Medal, Wyandanch, NY; Cathedral of St. Thomas More, Arlington, VA and; St. Patrick Parish in Washington, DC.

Msgr. Henning served as Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture, Immaculate Conception Seminary, 2002-2007; Full Professor of Sacred Scripture, Immaculate Conception Seminary, 2007-2012; and was the Formation Adviser at Immaculate Conception Seminary, from 2002-2012. Monsignor Henning also serves as a weekend assistant, St. Patrick Church, Bay Shore, NY, 2002-present. He also was weekend assistant (Spanish Language), St. Mary Church, Roslyn, NY, 2002-2016; weekend assistant (Spanish Language) at St. Matthew Church, Dix Hills, NY. Since July 2015 to present, Rev. Msgr. Henning has been an Administrator at Our Lady of the Magnificat, Ocean Beach, Fire Island, NY. He has also received Papal Honors of Chaplain to His Holiness (2008) and Knight of the Holy Sepulcher (2012).

Currently he is a Consultor and a Trustee at St. Joseph Seminary, Dunwoodie, NY; adjunct professor of Sacred Scripture at St. Joseph Seminary in Dunwoodie, NY; and Episcopal Vicar, Central Vicariate of Rockville Centre.

Rev. Msgr. Michael Fisher was born March 3, 1958, in Baltimore, Maryland. He was ordained a priest on June 23, 1990, in the Archdiocese of Washington. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting (1985) from University of Maryland, College Park and M. Div., and M.A., in Church History from Mt. St. Mary Seminary, Emmitsburg, MD (1990).   

Assignments after ordination include: Parochial Vicar at Sacred Heart Parish in La Plata, MD, (1990-1995); Pastor, Sacred Heart in Hillcrest Heights, from 1995-1999. Msgr. Fisher was then Pastor of St. John Neumann Parish in Gaithersburg (1999-2005). From 2005-2006, he was Vicar General (residing in St. Mark Parish, Hyattsville, MD). Since 2006 to present, he has served as Vicar for Clergy and Secretary for Ministerial Leadership for the Archdiocese.

In 2005, Msgr. Fisher was named Chaplain of His Holiness, with title of Monsignor. He has been a member of Priest Retirement Board, Priest Council, College of Consultors Diaconate Review Board, Deacons Council, Formation Board, Continuing Formation Board, Priest Convocation Board and Chairman of the Clergy Personnel Board.

In 2006, Msgr. Fisher was Ecclesiastical Consultor to members of the Foundation Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice. Since 2016, he has also served on the Redemptoris Mater Seminary Pastoral Council.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre is comprised of 1,198 square miles in the state of New York and has a total population of 2,889,841 of which 1,524,639 or 52 percent, are Catholic.

Bishop John O. Barres, is the current bishop of Rockville Centre.

The Archdiocese of Washington is comprised of 2,104 square miles in the District of Columbia and Montgomery, Prince George's, St. Mary's, Calvert and Charles Counties in Maryland. It has a total population of 2,980,005 of which 655,601 or 22 percent, are Catholic.

Donald Cardinal Wuerl, is the current Archbishop of Washington.

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IMAGE: REUTERSBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Leading thousands of people in prayer, PopeFrancis said he hoped the upcoming summit between the United States and North Koreawould lead to lastingpeace.After praying the Angelus with an estimated 20,000 people in St. Peter's Square June 10, the pope said he wanted to convey "a special thoughtto the beloved Korean people," and he asked the crowd to pray the "HailMary" so that "Our Lady, Queen of Korea, may accompany thesetalks.""May the talks that will take place in the next fewdays in Singapore contribute to the development of a positive path that assuresa future of peace for the Korean peninsula and the whole world," PopeFrancis said. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump were to meet on Singapore's SentosaIsland for the historicsummit June 12. Itwas to be the first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a NorthKorean leader. Before leading the crowds in praying for the summit, thepope refl...

IMAGE: REUTERS

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Leading thousands of people in prayer, Pope Francis said he hoped the upcoming summit between the United States and North Korea would lead to lasting peace.

After praying the Angelus with an estimated 20,000 people in St. Peter's Square June 10, the pope said he wanted to convey "a special thought to the beloved Korean people," and he asked the crowd to pray the "Hail Mary" so that "Our Lady, Queen of Korea, may accompany these talks."

"May the talks that will take place in the next few days in Singapore contribute to the development of a positive path that assures a future of peace for the Korean peninsula and the whole world," Pope Francis said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump were to meet on Singapore's Sentosa Island for the historic summit June 12. It was to be the first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.

Before leading the crowds in praying for the summit, the pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading in which Jesus confronts "two types of misunderstandings" from the scribes and his relatives.

By accusing Jesus of being possessed and using the power of the "prince of demons" to cast out demons, the scribes fell into a great sin of "denying and blaspheming God's love that is present and works in Jesus," he said.

Blasphemy, the pope said, "is a sin against the Holy Spirit and the only unforgivable sin because it comes from a closure of the heart to God's mercy that acts in Jesus."

Pope Francis told Christians they should go to confession immediately when they are tempted to speak ill of another person because "this attitude destroys families, friendships, the community and even society."

"Here there is a truly mortal poison: the premeditated malice one uses to destroy the good reputation of the other. May God free us from this terrible temptation," he said.

Another misunderstanding described in the Gospel reading, the pope continued, comes from Jesus' family who believed his "new itinerant lifestyle seemed like madness."

In the Gospel, after Jesus was told that his mother and his brothers and sisters were asking for him, he responds, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."

Jesus' response, the pope explained, is not a lack of respect toward his mother but instead it is "the greatest recognition, because she is precisely the perfect disciple who obeyed God's will in everything."

Pope Francis said that Christ's answer also showed that Christians are united not by family bonds but by their "faith in Jesus."

"Welcoming Jesus' words makes us brothers and sisters, it makes us members of Jesus' family," the pope said. "Speaking ill of others, destroying other people's reputations, makes us part of the devil's family."

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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/courtesy John F. Kennedy Library and Museum via ReutersBy Carol ZimmermannWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Recollections and tributes to Robert F.Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination have mainly highlightedhis charisma and determined advocacy for social and racial justice.Butunderlying these tributes to the former attorney general, U.S. senator, Democraticpresidential candidate and father of 11, also is an unmistakable connection tohis Catholic faith.Inevitablereferences to Kennedy's faith come up when mentioning his Irish Catholic familyor his funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, but there also are plentyof anecdotes in biographies mentioning that he was an altar server or wore aSt. Christopher medal. And then there are his speeches, which often echoCatholic social teaching without coming right out and saying it.ANewsweek tribute to Kennedy describes one of his speeches as "typicallypeppered with erudition and an almost ecclesiastic, Catholic compass...

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy John F. Kennedy Library and Museum via Reuters

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Recollections and tributes to Robert F. Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination have mainly highlighted his charisma and determined advocacy for social and racial justice.

But underlying these tributes to the former attorney general, U.S. senator, Democratic presidential candidate and father of 11, also is an unmistakable connection to his Catholic faith.

Inevitable references to Kennedy's faith come up when mentioning his Irish Catholic family or his funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, but there also are plenty of anecdotes in biographies mentioning that he was an altar server or wore a St. Christopher medal. And then there are his speeches, which often echo Catholic social teaching without coming right out and saying it.

A Newsweek tribute to Kennedy describes one of his speeches as "typically peppered with erudition and an almost ecclesiastic, Catholic compassion."

That particular speech asked what reason people have for existing "unless we've made some other contribution to somebody else to improve their own lives?"

Historians and biographers alike have not shied away from Kennedy's Catholicism, often saying he was the most Catholic of the Kennedy brothers and that he wasn't afraid to express his faith.

Larry Tye, author of "Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon" in 2016, said Kennedy's faith helped him as he grieved the 1963 assassination of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, noting that he kept a missal beside him in the car and thumbed through it to prayers he found consoling.

And instead of just attending Sunday Mass, Tye said, Kennedy was "in the pew nearly every day. His faith helped him internalize the assassination in a way that, over time, freed his spirit."

Peter Edelman, a Georgetown University law professor who was a legislative aide to Kennedy from 1964 until his death, can attest to this.

He described Kennedy as "assiduous in his practice of his Catholicism" and said his "values and work were certainly based significantly in his faith."

When asked to explain this more, he told Catholic News Service that when he and Kennedy were in New York City, Kennedy often stopped for a few minutes to go into a church to pray while Edelman said he stayed outside because he is Jewish.

"Robert was the Kennedy who took his Catholicism most seriously. He attended Mass regularly, and prayed with his family before meals and bed," said Jerald Podair, a history and American studies professor at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Podair, who is currently writing a book about the politics of the 1960s and its links to the rise of President Donald Trump, said Kennedy always wore a St. Christopher medal too, but he said his Catholicism was not limited to his personal life but also showed up in his politics.

As he put it in an email to CNS, Kennedy viewed his faith "as a summons to heal the world, making it a more equal and just place. An example was his strong support for Cesar Chavez's United Farm Workers movement, one that itself was steeped in Catholic liturgy and morals."

Podair said Kennedy was drawn to the farmworkers' cause -- when few other mainstream politicians were -- "largely because of its links to Catholicism." He noted that when Kennedy sat with Chavez as he took Communion at an outdoor Mass after the end of his March 1968 hunger strike, it was a public expression of Kennedy's firmly believed Catholic view that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.

The historian also said it was no coincidence that when Kennedy lay dying on the floor of the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel after he was shot, a rosary was placed on him by the Mexican-American busboy who had just shaken his hand.

"It meant that he would die as he had lived," Podair said.

That hotel is long gone, but today in its place is a school and memorial bearing Kennedy's words, which read in part: "Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, it sends out a tiny ripple of hope."

The book, "Robert Kennedy: His Life," written by Evan Thomas in 2002, described Kennedy as a "a romantic Catholic who believed that it was possible to create the kingdom of heaven on earth," and notes that although Kennedy at times may have lost the certainty of his faith, he never lost the hope.

He also said Kennedy was an altar server when he was growing up and who would even serve that role as an adult if he saw there was no altar server at Mass.

The basics of Catholicism -- prayers, Mass and crosses or saint statues in the house -- were part of Kennedy's life with Ethel and their children as well, ranging in age from 16- to not-yet-born when he died.

In a 2008 interview with the Boston Globe, Kennedy's daughter Kerry Kennedy, the seventh child, who was 8 when her father died, said faith was central to her upbringing -- especially prayers before and after meals, an out loud Bible reading and Sunday Mass.

Kerry Kennedy, who established the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights in New York, said her faith was influenced by both of her parents, noting that her father thought about being a priest and her mother considered being a nun.

In a June 6 tweet the day of a 50th anniversary memorial service for her father at Arlington National Cemetery, Kerry Kennedy said: "I miss my father every day, but I am strengthened to know the causes he believed in are still championed by brave activists today. His legacy and work are timeless."

That service, which included numerous tributes and people quoting Kennedy's own words, began fittingly with an opening invocation by a priest echoing the hope Kennedy so often expressed.

"We are gathered here in a spirit not of mourning, but of hope," said Jesuit Father Matt Malone, editor of America magazine.

He also added: "Bobby Kennedy still lives in millions of hearts that seek a newer world."

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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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 Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If Pope Francis ever plans anapostolic trip to space, he's all set after receiving a custom-made blue flightsuit with patches of the Argentine flag, his papal coat of arms and a pair ofangel wings with his crew name, Jorge M. Bergoglio.The outfit also came with add-on white mantle, or shortcape, just so there would be no mistaking he was still the pope.The gifts were presented to the pope June 8 by Italianastronaut Paolo Nespoli and four other astronauts, who returned from theInternational Space Station in two groups, one in December and one in February. The delegation from the Expedition 53 Mission alsoincluded Commander Randy Bresnik from Fort Knox, Kentucky; Joe Acaba fromInglewood, California; Mark Vande Hei from Falls Church, Virginia; SergeyRyazanskiy from Moscow; and some of their family members. They had requested an audience with the pope during theirpost-flight tour of Italy, so they could meet him face-to-...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If Pope Francis ever plans an apostolic trip to space, he's all set after receiving a custom-made blue flight suit with patches of the Argentine flag, his papal coat of arms and a pair of angel wings with his crew name, Jorge M. Bergoglio.

The outfit also came with add-on white mantle, or short cape, just so there would be no mistaking he was still the pope.

The gifts were presented to the pope June 8 by Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli and four other astronauts, who returned from the International Space Station in two groups, one in December and one in February.

The delegation from the Expedition 53 Mission also included Commander Randy Bresnik from Fort Knox, Kentucky; Joe Acaba from Inglewood, California; Mark Vande Hei from Falls Church, Virginia; Sergey Ryazanskiy from Moscow; and some of their family members.

They had requested an audience with the pope during their post-flight tour of Italy, so they could meet him face-to-face after speaking with him via satellite last October, Bresnik told Catholic News Service.

Recalling that conversation from space, Bresnik, who is a Baptist, said, "It was interesting seeing the Catholics on our crew, the Eastern Orthodox crew members, to see everybody energized by talking with the pope, with what he represents."

It was wonderful to have been able to tell the pope during the link-up what it was like to see "God's creation from his perspective and how beautiful and fragile it is," Bresnik said.

The view of earth from space also shows a world without borders, he said. "There aren't any clashes. You just see this little tiny atmosphere that is the difference between life and death on this planet."

"It touches people in their soul, I think. I think nobody comes back without a sense of a higher being. Most come back thinking, 'Hey, God did an amazing job," Bresnik said.

When asked if he was surprised so many crew members were people of faith and ask how faith fit into their work in the field of science, he said, "it seems the more we learn about science, the more it strengthens your faith because it shows what we don't know and how complex it is."

Bresnik's son Wyatt, 12, showed reporters his Bible; his father had taken it to space, and Wyatt had the pope sign it during their private audience.

Acaba told CNS he believes the international cooperation necessary on the International Space Station can help humanity in its pursuit of peace.

"There's always politics going on" back on earth, "but the space station is important to a lot of countries so we all learn to work together to keep that project going," he said. "I think if we can do that for the space station that is an example of what we can do for other things we find to be important."

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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/Paul HaringBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICANCITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church must discover new ways to provide theEucharist and pastoral support to the people of the Amazon, especiallyindigenous people threatened by forced displacement and exploitation, a newdocument said. The Vatican released the preparatory document for thespecial Synod of Bishops on the Amazon June 8. The synod gathering in October2019 will reflect on the theme "Amazonia: New paths for the church and foran integral ecology."The connection between care for the environment and thepastoral care of the people who live in the region is highlighted throughoutthe document, because, it said, "protecting indigenous peoples and theirlands represents a fundamental ethical imperative and a basic commitment tohuman rights.""Moreover," it continued, "it is a moralimperative for the church, consistent with the approach to integral ecologycalled for by 'Laudato Si'."The document ended with 30 questions about how the ch...

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church must discover new ways to provide the Eucharist and pastoral support to the people of the Amazon, especially indigenous people threatened by forced displacement and exploitation, a new document said.

The Vatican released the preparatory document for the special Synod of Bishops on the Amazon June 8. The synod gathering in October 2019 will reflect on the theme "Amazonia: New paths for the church and for an integral ecology."

The connection between care for the environment and the pastoral care of the people who live in the region is highlighted throughout the document, because, it said, "protecting indigenous peoples and their lands represents a fundamental ethical imperative and a basic commitment to human rights."

"Moreover," it continued, "it is a moral imperative for the church, consistent with the approach to integral ecology called for by 'Laudato Si'."

The document ended with 30 questions about how the church should respond to specific challenges in the region such as injustice, violence and discrimination, particularly against the area's indigenous people. Responses to the questions will provide material for the synod's working document.

The questions also sought to identify solutions for a variety of pastoral challenges, particularly the region's shortage of priests, which means the "impossibility of celebrating the Eucharist frequently in all places."

Rich in biodiversity, natural resources and cultures, the Amazon rainforest is the largest in the world, covering more than 2.1 million square miles in South America. The rainforest includes territory in Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Suriname, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Guyana and French Guiana.

The region has experienced significant deforestation, negatively impacting the indigenous populations in the area and leading to a loss of biodiversity.

The document's preamble states that "new paths for evangelization must be designed for and with the people of God" who live in the Amazon, an area that is in "deep crisis" due to "prolonged human intervention in which a 'culture of waste' and an extractivist mentality prevail."

Using the method of "see, judge and act," the document began with a description of how the region's rich biodiversity, which provides food and resources for the indigenous population, "is being threatened by expansive economic interests."

Those threats include logging, contamination of rivers and lakes due to toxins, oil spills and mining, as well as drug trafficking.

The destruction of the land and pollution of the rivers have forced many people to move. The indigenous people who are forcibly dislocated, the document said, often are met with "an attitude of xenophobia and criminalization" that leads to their exploitation. Women are particularly vulnerable to being trafficked for "sexual and commercial exploitation," it said.

The preparatory document's section on promoting "pastoral and ecological conversion" highlighted the need to proclaim the Gospel and to "accompany and share the pain of the Amazonian people and to collaborate in healing their wounds."

"Today the cry of the Amazonia to the Creator is similar to the cry of God's people in Egypt," the document said. "It is a cry of slavery and abandonment, which clamors for freedom and God's care."

By focusing on the indigenous people and the care for their land, the church is "strengthened in its opposition to the globalization of indifference and to the unifying logic promoted by the media and by an economic model that often refuses to respect the Amazonian peoples or their territories," the document's third section said.

It also emphasized "relaunching the work of the church" in the Amazon region "in order to transform the church's precariously thin presence" through new ministries that respond "to the objectives of a church with an Amazonian face and a church with a native face."

This includes, it said, fostering "indigenous and local-born clergy" as well as ministerial roles for women in the church.

"Along these lines, it is necessary to identify the type of official ministry that can be conferred on women, taking into account the central role which women play today in the Amazonian church," the document said.

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, told journalists June 8 that although the church has "a magisterium and a discipline that is already established" restricting priestly ordination to men only, the synod offers a space to freely discuss other ministerial roles for women.

"The emphasis on women -- that they should have a space in the church -- doesn't come from" the preparatory document, Cardinal Baldisseri said. "We can listen to the pope who said that there must be space for women in the church at all levels."

The document does not mention the possibility of allowing married "viri probati" -- men of proven virtue -- to become priests, a question that Pope Francis has expressed a willingness to study.

"We have to study whether 'viri probati' are a possibility. We then also need to determine which tasks they could take on, such as in remote communities, for example," the pope said in a March 2017 interview with German newspaper Die Zeit.

Cardinal Baldisseri told journalists that the synod preparatory document leaves room for discussion on finding solutions to the lack of priests in the area but does not center on "viri probati" as the only answer to the problem.

"I understand the interest but there are many ministries," the cardinal said. "It isn't that those that already exist are definite. The church can also have other ministries. Ministries is an ample word that ranges from the ministry of acolyte to the priesthood."

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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/Stephen Lam, ReutersBy Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The bishop of Cleveland said a recent immigrationraid at an Ohio gardening and landscape company "makes clear that ourcurrent immigration system contributes to the human suffering of migrants andthe separation of families."In a June 6 statement from the Diocese of Cleveland, BishopNelson J. Perez said he felt "a great sadness" for the families affected by theraid and whose lives have been disrupted. According to news reports, about 200 agents from U.S. Immigrationand Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, surrounded two locations of Corso'sFlower and Garden Center and arrested more than 100 workers in north-central Ohio June 5. A Washington Post storyJune 6 said that "families of the arrested workers gathered at St. PaulCatholic Church in Norwalk, Ohio, seeking answers as to the whereabouts oftheir loved ones."On Facebook, the immigrant advocacy group Hola Ohio postedphotos June 6 of some of the children who had a...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Stephen Lam, Reuters

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The bishop of Cleveland said a recent immigration raid at an Ohio gardening and landscape company "makes clear that our current immigration system contributes to the human suffering of migrants and the separation of families."

In a June 6 statement from the Diocese of Cleveland, Bishop Nelson J. Perez said he felt "a great sadness" for the families affected by the raid and whose lives have been disrupted.

According to news reports, about 200 agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, surrounded two locations of Corso's Flower and Garden Center and arrested more than 100 workers in north-central Ohio June 5. A Washington Post story June 6 said that "families of the arrested workers gathered at St. Paul Catholic Church in Norwalk, Ohio, seeking answers as to the whereabouts of their loved ones."

On Facebook, the immigrant advocacy group Hola Ohio posted photos June 6 of some of the children who had a parent or both parents taken in the raid and who had gathered at St. Paul. In the Facebook post, Veronica Dahlberg, the organization's executive director, said families were "distraught, crying, frightened, missing loved ones and at a loss for what to do." Via Twitter, she said some children remained in day care after the raid.

In the statement from the Cleveland Diocese, Bishop Perez said he offered "prayers, and ask the prayers of all people of goodwill, that the families affected will not be separated in the days and weeks to follow."

He said the bishops of the Catholic Church have a duty to point out the moral consequences of a broken system.

"The church is advocating for comprehensive and compassionate reform of our immigration system so that persons are able to obtain legal status in our country and enter the United States legally to work and support their families," he said. "Since this is a responsibility of our Congress, I would encourage you to speak with your legislators advocating for reform of our present system."

On June 7, the Toledo Immigrant Alliance and Rapid Response Network -- a coalition of activists, community leaders, and local organizations -- gathered for a news conference to speak about the immigration raid in its environs, and its effects on the community.

One of the speakers was a retired Catholic priest, Father Tony Gallagher, who asked those who belonged to faith communities to act, and implored others to put themselves in the shoes of migrants and to "understand their humanity."

"As believers, will we walk the talk of faith-filled people?" Father Gallagher asked. "And consequently actively address the virulent injustice and clear absence of respect and compassion toward our sisters and brothers who doggedly come to our border (fleeing) tyranny and destitute living conditions, seeking only a humane life for themselves and their children?"

The division of families cannot be tolerated by any person of faith, he said, adding that going to the temple, to church, to a mosque or any other place or worship, or waving an American flag, or singing hymns doesn't do any good, if a person does not address the needs of immigrants in a just and compassionate manner.

"Those efforts are only a charade, unless we act," he said. "If we do not act, we are religious phonies and ungrateful citizens."


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IMAGE: CNS photo/Kenny Katombe, ReutersBy Jonathan LuxmooreOXFORD, England (CNS) -- TheCatholic Church in Congo said emergency measures will remain indefinitely in placein parishes at risk of Ebola, and urged effective action against the disease bythe government of President Joseph Kabila."Although Masses arecontinuing, sacraments such as baptism and confirmation have had to besuspended," said Msgr.Jean-Marie Bomengola, secretary of the church's Social CommunicationsCommission."Since we can't foresee how thedisease will develop, we can't set out any timescale. But the crisis needs realcontainment measures, and we're counting on the government to providethem," he said.Health care workers toiled to headoff a feared epidemic in the Equateur province in northwest Congo, where atleast 25 people have died of the almost-always fatal disease.Msgr. Bomengola told Catholic NewsService June 7 that at least 1,000 people had been vaccinated and that measureswere in place to prevent "any persona...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Kenny Katombe, Reuters

By Jonathan Luxmoore

OXFORD, England (CNS) -- The Catholic Church in Congo said emergency measures will remain indefinitely in place in parishes at risk of Ebola, and urged effective action against the disease by the government of President Joseph Kabila.

"Although Masses are continuing, sacraments such as baptism and confirmation have had to be suspended," said Msgr. Jean-Marie Bomengola, secretary of the church's Social Communications Commission.

"Since we can't foresee how the disease will develop, we can't set out any timescale. But the crisis needs real containment measures, and we're counting on the government to provide them," he said.

Health care workers toiled to head off a feared epidemic in the Equateur province in northwest Congo, where at least 25 people have died of the almost-always fatal disease.

Msgr. Bomengola told Catholic News Service June 7 that at least 1,000 people had been vaccinated and that measures were in place to prevent "any personal contact" among Catholics.

"All precautions are being taken to ensure people don't come too close. It's a highly abnormal situation," he said.

"The church provides a key framework for communication and cooperation, and is at the very center of events, mobilizing preventive initiatives and providing transport and medical care," he added.

UNICEF said June 5 that nearly 300,000 people had been screened since the Ebola outbreak was confirmed May 8 by the World Health Organization.

Archbishop Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, co-adjutor archbishop of Kinshasa who previously served in the Diocese of Mbandaka-Bikoro, where the outbreak occurred, decided to suspend administering sacraments to protect churchgoers from contracting the disease.

He said the ban would extend to anointing the sick, exchanging the sign of peace and other acts involving physical contact, adding that a June 3 ordination Mass also had been canceled.

The archbishop added that clergy would dispense Communion to hands rather than mouths and would ensure sacred objects were disinfected before and after every Mass.

The Ebola outbreak coincides with political tension in Congo over preparations for long-postponed December elections as well as violence by armed groups in several provinces.

Msgr. Bomengola told CNS Ebola had "made everything more difficult for the population," adding that there were fears the disease could spread down the Congo River from the trading hub of Mbandaka to Kinshasa, a city of 10 million.

"We're trying to instill a calm hope for better things, to maintain the faith and prevent despair," he said.

"But we also rely on the government to take every effective step to end insecurity and stop this disease. Despite all the anger and hostility around us, normal life has to continue."

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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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By Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The bishop of Cleveland said a recent immigrationraid at an Ohio gardening and landscape company "makes clear that ourcurrent immigration system contributes to the human suffering of migrants andthe separation of families."In a June 6 statement from the Diocese of Cleveland, BishopNelson J. Perez said he felt "a great sadness" for the families affected by theraid and whose lives have been disrupted. According to news reports, about 200 agents from U.S. Immigrationand Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, surrounded two locations of Corso'sFlower and Garden Center and arrested more than 100 workers in north-central Ohio June 5. A Washington Post storyJune 6 said that "families of the arrested workers gathered at St. PaulCatholic Church in Norwalk, Ohio, seeking answers as to the whereabouts oftheir loved ones."On Facebook, the immigrant advocacy group Hola Ohio postedphotos June 6 of some of the children who had a parent or both parents taken inthe r...

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The bishop of Cleveland said a recent immigration raid at an Ohio gardening and landscape company "makes clear that our current immigration system contributes to the human suffering of migrants and the separation of families."

In a June 6 statement from the Diocese of Cleveland, Bishop Nelson J. Perez said he felt "a great sadness" for the families affected by the raid and whose lives have been disrupted.

According to news reports, about 200 agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, surrounded two locations of Corso's Flower and Garden Center and arrested more than 100 workers in north-central Ohio June 5. A Washington Post story June 6 said that "families of the arrested workers gathered at St. Paul Catholic Church in Norwalk, Ohio, seeking answers as to the whereabouts of their loved ones."

On Facebook, the immigrant advocacy group Hola Ohio posted photos June 6 of some of the children who had a parent or both parents taken in the raid and who had gathered at St. Paul. In the Facebook post, Veronica Dahlberg, the organization's executive director, said families were "distraught, crying, frightened, missing loved ones and at a loss for what to do." Via Twitter, she said some children remained in day care after the raid.

In the statement from the Cleveland Diocese, Bishop Perez said he offered "prayers, and ask the prayers of all people of goodwill, that the families affected will not be separated in the days and weeks to follow."

He said the bishops of the Catholic Church have a duty to point out the moral consequences of a broken system.

"The church is advocating for comprehensive and compassionate reform of our immigration system so that persons are able to obtain legal status in our country and enter the United States legally to work and support their families," he said. "Since this is a responsibility of our Congress, I would encourage you to speak with your legislators advocating for reform of our present system."

- - -

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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