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Catholic News

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Glenmary Home MissionersBy John StegemanCINCINNATI(CNS) -- God's ability to call vocations isn't limited by geography, and so avocation director must go wherever the Holy Spirit leads.ForBrother David Henley, a member of the Glenmary Home Missioners, it's led all around the world.TheColumbus native professed his first oath with Cincinnati-based Glenmary in2003. Knowing Glenmary's mission is to bring the Catholic Church to small townsand rural counties of Appalachia and the South, he figured his days oftraveling were limited.Withan increase of Hispanic immigrants in Glenmary's missions, Brother Davidquickly found himself in Mexico to learn the language. Since becoming vocationdirector in 2010, he has visited 39 states, Mexico again, Kenya and Uganda, allin search of vocation prospects."WhenI joined Glenmary, I thought I would have to give up traveling, but Godobviously had a different plan," Brother David told Glenmary Challenge magazine."I have realized my ...

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Glenmary Home Missioners

By John Stegeman

CINCINNATI (CNS) -- God's ability to call vocations isn't limited by geography, and so a vocation director must go wherever the Holy Spirit leads.

For Brother David Henley, a member of the Glenmary Home Missioners, it's led all around the world.

The Columbus native professed his first oath with Cincinnati-based Glenmary in 2003. Knowing Glenmary's mission is to bring the Catholic Church to small towns and rural counties of Appalachia and the South, he figured his days of traveling were limited.

With an increase of Hispanic immigrants in Glenmary's missions, Brother David quickly found himself in Mexico to learn the language. Since becoming vocation director in 2010, he has visited 39 states, Mexico again, Kenya and Uganda, all in search of vocation prospects.

"When I joined Glenmary, I thought I would have to give up traveling, but God obviously had a different plan," Brother David told Glenmary Challenge magazine. "I have realized my love to travel to new places and to meet new people has served Glenmary well. Guys are not lined up outside our door to sign up, so we have to go to where they are to meet them."

"Glenmary has seen a surge in vocation prospects contacting us from different parts the world," he added. "It is exciting that men from places that were once served by missionaries are feeling inspired to serve as missionaries themselves."

The international surge is real. Glenmary has three fully professed members from Kenya, two of whom made their final oath this year. Of the 10 men in Glenmary's formation program, one is from Ohio, the rest come from abroad. In all, six countries are represented in the group.

Despite the international flavor, Brother David's Glenmary vocation department spends most of its time seeking vocations in the United States. Brother David and vocation counselor Wilmar Zabala spend their days hosting "Come and See" events that take potential recruits to the missions, traveling to youth conferences, speaking at schools or otherwise reaching out, helping young men to hear God's call in their lives.

"Looking for vocation prospects has meant road trips across the USA, vocation events in different states and even traveling to other countries," Brother David said. "By joining Glenmary, I have gotten to see rural USA, which is so different from where I grew up in Columbus.

"I think my love for the people that I met on home mission trips helped to inspire me to become a Glenmary brother," he added. "I was responding to God's call, but I felt confirmed in my call to Glenmary because of my love for the mountains of Appalachia. Now as vocation director, getting to meet people all over the U.S. and in other countries when I make vocation visits has been a bonus."

Glenmary is a religious society of priests, brothers and lay co-workers dedicated to serving parts of small town and rural America that lack a formal Catholic presence.

Its founder, Father William Howard Bishop, was known for saying that people in what he termed "No Priest-Land, USA" were as entitled to missionaries as any overseas mission territory. He knew God would raise up men to answer this missionary challenge. Brother David said that's the reason behind all his travels.

"The notion that home mission communities are entitled to a Catholic presence," he said, "is precisely why Glenmary remains open to vocations from wherever the Spirit calls them."

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Stegeman is editor of Glenmary Challenge, quarterly magazine of the Glenmary Home Missioners.

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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 Anne CondodinaVATICANCITY (CNS) - To reach young people and teach them the faith, Catholics mustfirst show them that they are loved, "not just judged, discarded, orabused," said a 29-year-old observer at the Synod of Bishops.YadiraVieyra, who works with migrant families in Chicago, told Vatican News Oct. 8that the church needs to meet young people where they are. And while "agood portion" of the bishops at the synod are listening, she said, othersare "still focused on preaching the truth to our youth.""Yes,it's important to communicate the truth," she said, "but also you can'tjust communicate the truth without treating someone with love and care andattentiveness."Accordingto Vieyra, the church's message should be attentive to where youth are rightnow. It is important for the church to hear their needs and adapt its ministry so that they feel thechurch recognizes their humanity as well, she said.In her smallworking group at the synod, she said she remin...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Anne Condodina

VATICAN CITY (CNS) - To reach young people and teach them the faith, Catholics must first show them that they are loved, "not just judged, discarded, or abused," said a 29-year-old observer at the Synod of Bishops.

Yadira Vieyra, who works with migrant families in Chicago, told Vatican News Oct. 8 that the church needs to meet young people where they are. And while "a good portion" of the bishops at the synod are listening, she said, others are "still focused on preaching the truth to our youth."

"Yes, it's important to communicate the truth," she said, "but also you can't just communicate the truth without treating someone with love and care and attentiveness."

According to Vieyra, the church's message should be attentive to where youth are right now. It is important for the church to hear their needs and adapt its ministry so that they feel the church recognizes their humanity as well, she said.

In her small working group at the synod, she said she reminded the bishops that young people are not the same everywhere in the world. "I have made it a point to bring them back to the reality that not all of our youth are the same and their lives are not the same, not just in the U.S. but in other parts of the world."

For example, Vieyra said, "In the U.S. not everyone is raised by a mother and a father, or in a heterosexual couple. And so, that's important for us to be mindful of, because that's where our youth are. And it's important to honor their experiences and, again, minister to what life is like for them now and find a way to make them understand that they are so deeply loved by God and that he is just so excited to embrace them"

Recognizing what life is like for young people will help the church "find ways to meet them, whether it's through social media, through more innovative, fun, happy catechesis," Vieyra told Vatican News.

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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/Tyler OrsburnBy Norma Montenegro FlynnWASHINGTON(CNS) -- As the world Synod of Bishops unfolds at the Vatican, thousands offaithful pilgrims get ready to witness the Oct. 14 canonization of Blessed OscarRomero, along with Blessed Paul VI and five other new saints.Amongthose preparing for the pilgrimage to Rome is Mercy Sister Ana Maria Pineda, atheologian, professor and author who has researched and studied the life andlegacy of Blessed Romero, an archbishop and martyr who spoke up on behalf ofthe poor and vulnerable during El Salvador's civil war."Hewas one of the most conscious followers of Jesus, he knew what that meant,and he knew what he was called to do," Sister Pineda said in an interview withCatholic News Service.ArchbishopOscar Arnulfo Romero was fatally shot while celebrating Mass at a chapel in ahospital March 24, 1980. Three years earlier, in 1977, Blessed Paul namedhim the archbishop of San Salvador, which provided him a national platform tospeak out in...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Norma Montenegro Flynn

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the world Synod of Bishops unfolds at the Vatican, thousands of faithful pilgrims get ready to witness the Oct. 14 canonization of Blessed Oscar Romero, along with Blessed Paul VI and five other new saints.

Among those preparing for the pilgrimage to Rome is Mercy Sister Ana Maria Pineda, a theologian, professor and author who has researched and studied the life and legacy of Blessed Romero, an archbishop and martyr who spoke up on behalf of the poor and vulnerable during El Salvador's civil war.

"He was one of the most conscious followers of Jesus, he knew what that meant, and he knew what he was called to do," Sister Pineda said in an interview with Catholic News Service.

Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero was fatally shot while celebrating Mass at a chapel in a hospital March 24, 1980. Three years earlier, in 1977, Blessed Paul named him the archbishop of San Salvador, which provided him a national platform to speak out in defense of the poor and against the violence and oppression attributed to the government at the time. He was beatified by Pope Francis in 2015.

He is considered an iconic figure and his legacy advocating for human rights is admired around the world. However, Sister Pineda advises not to see him as a superhero, but as a bright man with flaws and limitations. He was timid and at times felt insecure, and struggled with impatience and a bad temper.

But he also was a man who lived out the Gospel, sought God's will, and lived his Christian commitment to the ultimate consequence: martyrdom, she said.

"He had human limitations like all of us have, so it's a beautiful thing to see how he keeps making the effort every moment of his life to try and respond to what God was asking of him, and to try and do it as a better person."

He was a complicated figure in society and the church in El Salvador, Sister Pineda pointed out. And he often received criticism from some sectors in society, the government, and the church.

"This canonization is a validation by the church that the way he lived his life is an authentic sign of Christian commitment; that the way he lived his life is a genuine expression of how we are asked to follow Jesus," she added.

In a recent pastoral letter on Romero's life and ministry, Bishop John O. Barres of Rockville Centre, New York, urged Catholic scholars and theologians to further study the "archbishop's spiritual theology, missiology and approach to Catholic social justice teaching and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy."

Sister Pineda concurred that there is a need to continue studying Blessed Romero's legacy. "His homilies are densely filled with a lot of the church's teachings, Scriptures, and all that can still continue to teach us more, so there has to be more work done," she said.

Blessed Romero wrote his homilies with three levels in mind. He described the reality of what was happening at the time, the reflection of the word of God, and the application of what that would mean at the time, she added.

His life's journey led him to live out the mystery of the cross, where he as a pastor of a "suffering church" would share in the suffering, Sister Pineda said, adding that anyone can relate to his experiences even amid suffering.

"What I find consoling is that he is like I might be, a human being with frailties. But it teaches me something: that you try and work with it and you try to walk ahead, and that God helps you, God is with you and that you can overcome some of those personal difficulties. And you see it in his life, he becomes a martyr," although not by his own choice, she said.

"He was afraid of death, I don't think he went out to embrace death, but he knew that this could be the consequence of living out the truth, the Gospel's truth."

And even during his most difficult times, days before his death, Blessed Romero's prayers showed abandonment to God's will and embracing his cross.

"Because he had a sense that he was going to be killed or he was in danger, (he prays to God) 'if it happens to me, please be with me. And at the last moment, could I feel your embrace to help me at that moment,'" said Sister Pineda.

"To me, that is maybe the part that is most powerful. It's not to think of him as a superhero, but a man who tried faithfully to live out what Jesus was asking of him, what God was asking of him."

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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/Theresa Laurence, Tennessee RegisterBy Mark PattisonWASHINGTON(CNS) -- With the clock toward the Nov. 6 midterm elections ticking away, thereare some parallels between the findings of a Sept. 26 Pew Research Centersurvey on issues of key concern to voters and issues outlined in the U.S. bishops' "Forming Consciences for FaithfulCitizenship," a document meant to provide a moral framework Catholic voters can use to analyze issues.Theeconomy? Check. Immigration? Check. The environment? Check. Terrorism? Check.Abortion? Check. Health care? Check. Discrimination? Check. Social Security?Check.SupremeCourt appointments -- an issue few could have foreseen -- topped all comers inthe Pew survey, with 76 percent calling it very important. Voters in the Pewsurvey also ranked as very important, at rates between 66 and 69 percent, gunpolicy, Medicare and taxes. Issues garnering between 53 and 60 percent interestwere the federal budget deficit, trade policy and drug addiction.Thebishop...

IMAGE: CNS/Theresa Laurence, Tennessee Register

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- With the clock toward the Nov. 6 midterm elections ticking away, there are some parallels between the findings of a Sept. 26 Pew Research Center survey on issues of key concern to voters and issues outlined in the U.S. bishops' "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," a document meant to provide a moral framework Catholic voters can use to analyze issues.

The economy? Check. Immigration? Check. The environment? Check. Terrorism? Check. Abortion? Check. Health care? Check. Discrimination? Check. Social Security? Check.

Supreme Court appointments -- an issue few could have foreseen -- topped all comers in the Pew survey, with 76 percent calling it very important. Voters in the Pew survey also ranked as very important, at rates between 66 and 69 percent, gun policy, Medicare and taxes. Issues garnering between 53 and 60 percent interest were the federal budget deficit, trade policy and drug addiction.

The bishops also noted as among their chief concerns physician-assisted suicide, materialism, same-sex marriage, religious freedom both at home and abroad, the promotion of peace, marriage and family life, Catholic education, media issues, and global solidarity.

In "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," traditionally issued a year in advance of a presidential election but applicable to the midterms, the bishops noted the contradictions in American life.

"We are a nation founded on 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,' but the right to life itself is not fully protected, especially for unborn children, the terminally ill, and the elderly, the most vulnerable members of the American family. We are called to be peacemakers in a nation at war. We are a country pledged to pursue 'liberty and justice for all,' but we are too often divided across lines of race, ethnicity and economic inequality," they said.

"We are a nation of immigrants, struggling to address the challenges of many new immigrants in our midst. We are a society built on the strength of our families, called to defend marriage and offer moral and economic supports for family life. We are a powerful nation in a violent world, confronting terror and trying to build a safer, more just, more peaceful world. We are an affluent society where too many live in poverty and lack health care and other necessities of life."

The Pew survey indicated that, with higher interest in this midterm election, Democratic voters' overall interest ranks above that of Republicans.

Health care had slipped as a top voter issue in recent years, according to Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity, who is head of the Catholic Health Association, but the concern now is lawmakers' "efforts at undermining the Affordable Care Act, while they (politicians) haven't destroyed it, they have made it difficult. And they have done things that caused the cost of insurance to go up."

"We finally got people in this country to be able to be calm when they had, or their children had, serious diseases," Sister Keehan said. "Because before, it was 'pre-existing conditions,' so if you changed insurance companies, you would get insurance for everything except for what you need it for. Changing insurance is just as deadly to your economic security as it is to your health."

She lamented the catch-22 facing many American families. "You think of the family that's able to get Medicaid because of the Medicaid expansion, or the family that's able to get insurance," she said, "and all of a sudden, you can't get insurance anymore. ... These are not rich people" who are being affected, Sister Keehan added, "and you have a Justice Department that says even though there's a law, we're not going to defend the law."

Sister Keehan said, "It's no way to treat an American family. ... It's particularly vicious given the massive tax break we gave to the top 1 percent" last year.

Mallory Quigley, vice president of communications for the Susan B. Anthony List, which promotes pro-life politicians, talked about her groups efforts in an Oct. 3 phone interview with Catholic News Service.

"We are active in states where President Trump won by an overwhelming margin and where Democratic senators are up for re-election," Quigley said, mentioning Florida and West Virginia. "Voters are very much absolutely motivated by pro-life issues."

Quigley spoke of targeting "unreliable pro-life voters -- people who are pro-life, but typically don't go out to vote in nonpresidential election years. It gives them another reason to vote for the pro-life challenger." She said her organization also is "talking to Democratic groups like Hispanics and women who identify as moderate on pro-life issues."

When told that Democrats rated abortion an even higher concern than did Republicans in the Pew survey, Quigley's initial response was, "Interesting." "I think a lot of that has to do with what we are hearing right now -- the Supreme Court confirmation a battle," she added.

Gun violence has persisted in the headlines since the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, followed by near-weekly mass shootings, including an incident in early October in which seven South Carolina police officers were shot, one of them fatally.

"The challenge with any justice issue is to keep people engaged and mobilized even when the news cycle moves on," said an Oct. 4 email to CNS from John Gehring, the Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, an advocacy group based in Washington.

"Many people pay attention to gun violence when there is a high-profile shooting and then interest can fade, but we continue to work with faith-based activists and clergy who know that gun violence is a pro-life issue. Election cycles come and go, but long-term organizing builds capacity for change."

In rural America, the key issues are an amalgam of the economy, the environment, health care, trade and drug addiction, according to James Ennis, executive director of Catholic Rural Life.

There's still a farm bill waiting to be approved, Ennis noted. The old one expired Sept. 30, and Congress passed a continuing resolution to extend it to Dec. 7.

"Underneath this is a bigger issue, and that's the farm crisis, especially among dairy farmers ... who are struggling to make ends meet," he said. "One of the related issues is tariffs, and the soybean farmers. Congress can argue that it's not that large a part of the economy and not a big deal, but to soybean farmers it is a big deal," Ennis added. "Already prices have dropped once news of the tariffs was announced."

Access to health care is "a real challenge because of the economics of hospitals closing due to not being able to make it in rural communities," he said. "The other related piece to that is the opioid crisis.

"The Senate passed a large bill, a great bill (Oct. 3), and that matters. But it's a crisis in rural communities. So many people know relatives, friends, children who are addicted. There are many drug overdoses," Ennis added. "I would argue that it's a symptom of the environment in rural communities that makes opioids a diversion" to their physical, emotional and financial straits.

Environmental concerns persist in rural America, Ennis said. "We're talking now about water contamination with high nitrate levels. A report just came out of the increase in nitrate levels in both groundwater and surface water in communities that are near agriculture. There's a significant level of nitrates due to fertilizer and runoff. This is happening not only in Minnesota but Iowa, New York and Delaware."

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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/Claudio Peri, EPABy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God wants couples to live out their marriagefaithfully and not abandon hope when things go awry, Pope Francis said. "A love with mutual self-givingsustained by Christ'sgrace" is what allows couples to remain united in marriage, the pope saidOct. 7 during his Sunday Angelus address. But "ifindividual interests -- one's own satisfaction -- prevail in spouses, thentheir union will not endure," he said. The pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St.Mark, in which the Pharisees test Jesus by asking him if it is "lawful fora husband to divorce his wife.""What God has joined together, no human being mustseparate," Jesus replied to them. Jesus' teaching, the pope explained, is "very clear anddefends the dignity of marriage" as a union between man and woman"that implies fidelity."Nevertheless, the Gospel story also realistically recognizesthat couples called to "live the experience of relationship and l...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Claudio Peri, EPA

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God wants couples to live out their marriage faithfully and not abandon hope when things go awry, Pope Francis said.

"A love with mutual self-giving sustained by Christ's grace" is what allows couples to remain united in marriage, the pope said Oct. 7 during his Sunday Angelus address.

But "if individual interests -- one's own satisfaction -- prevail in spouses, then their union will not endure," he said.

The pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St. Mark, in which the Pharisees test Jesus by asking him if it is "lawful for a husband to divorce his wife."

"What God has joined together, no human being must separate," Jesus replied to them.

Jesus' teaching, the pope explained, is "very clear and defends the dignity of marriage" as a union between man and woman "that implies fidelity."

Nevertheless, the Gospel story also realistically recognizes that couples called to "live the experience of relationship and love can painfully do things that put it in crisis," he said.

While Jesus doesn't set out to label "everything that leads to the failure of a relationship," the pope said, he takes the opportunity to confirm God's plan "where the strength and beauty of the human relationship stand out."

"On the one hand, the church does not tire of confirming the beauty of the family as given to us by Scripture and tradition," he said. "But at the same time, she makes an effort to make her maternal closeness felt by those who live the experience of relationships that are broken or carried out in a painful and tiring way."

Pope Francis said that when faced with couples in troubled marriages, the church is called to be present with love, charity and mercy to "lead wounded and lost hearts back to God."

"God's way of acting with his unfaithful people -- that is, with us -- teaches us that wounded love can be healed by God through mercy and forgiveness," the pope said.

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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/Simon CaldwellBy Simon CaldwellCHESTER,England (CNS) -- A court in Pakistan has reached a decision on whether aCatholic woman will become the first person to hang to death under the country'scontroversial blasphemy laws.Aspecial bench of the Supreme Court, sitting in Islamabad, reached a verdictOct. 8 on the fate of Asia Bibi, but publication has been deferred until alater, unspecified date, according to the British Pakistani Christian Association.Inan Oct. 8 news release sent by email to Catholic News Service, Mehwish Bhatti,an officer of the BPCA who was in the courthouse during the proceedings, said thethree judges "have come to a decision, but it has been reserved."Christiansin Pakistan are conscious of the threat of an outbreak of rioting by Muslimmobs if Bibi is acquitted by the court, the BPCA said in an Oct. 7 pressrelease, even though they are praying ardently for her release.Bibihas been held in solitary confinement since November 2010, when she wassentenc...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Simon Caldwell

By Simon Caldwell

CHESTER, England (CNS) -- A court in Pakistan has reached a decision on whether a Catholic woman will become the first person to hang to death under the country's controversial blasphemy laws.

A special bench of the Supreme Court, sitting in Islamabad, reached a verdict Oct. 8 on the fate of Asia Bibi, but publication has been deferred until a later, unspecified date, according to the British Pakistani Christian Association.

In an Oct. 8 news release sent by email to Catholic News Service, Mehwish Bhatti, an officer of the BPCA who was in the courthouse during the proceedings, said the three judges "have come to a decision, but it has been reserved."

Christians in Pakistan are conscious of the threat of an outbreak of rioting by Muslim mobs if Bibi is acquitted by the court, the BPCA said in an Oct. 7 press release, even though they are praying ardently for her release.

Bibi has been held in solitary confinement since November 2010, when she was sentenced to hang for insulting Muhammad, the founder of Islam.

Ashiq Masih, her husband, told Catholic News Service in an Oct. 5 interview that if Bibi is released she and her family will immediately seek sanctuary in one of several countries that have offered them exile, because it was too dangerous for them to remain in Pakistan.

Ashiq, a builder from Sheikhupura, Pakistan, was in England with his and Bibi's youngest daughter, Eisham Ashiq, 18, as guests of Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity helping persecuted Christians.

They said when they visited Bibi in Multan Prison Oct. 1 that she was in good health, contrary to speculation that she was developing dementia.

During the interview at St Columba's Church, Ashiq said Bibi was praying constantly and that she deeply believed she would win her freedom.

"She is psychologically, physically and spiritually strong," Ashiq told CNS. "Having a very strong faith, she is ready and willing to die for Christ. She will never convert to Islam.

"She also wanted to deliver a message to the international community that they must remember her in their prayers. These prayers will open the door of the prison, and she will be released very soon," he said.

"She is spending her life praying with a very strong faith and is reading the Bible every day. She feels when she is praying, Jesus is encouraging and supporting her," he continued, adding that she also received Communion in jail Oct. 1.

In June 2009, Bibi, who worked as a farmhand, was accused of blasphemy against Islam after Muslim women objected to her drinking from a common water supply because she is a Christian. To have her charged with blasphemy, they took their complaint to an imam, who did not see the incident.

Eisham Ashiq told CNS that, as a 9-year-old girl, she witnessed her mother being severely beaten by a Muslim mob in the aftermath of the accusation.

"I believe in God and I believe she will be released, but she can't live in Pakistan once she has been released -- simple as that," she said.

Bibi was rescued by police, only to be sentenced to death for violating Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which makes insulting Muhammad a capital offense.

No one has been executed under the law so far, but Christians who are falsely accused often are lynched or spend many years in prison.

Bibi's final appeal represents her last chance at avoiding a death sentence for blasphemy. If the court has upheld the execution order, the only option open to her lawyers will be a direct appeal for clemency to President Imran Khan.

Father Emmanuel Yousaf, national director of Pakistan's Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, who was accompanying Bibi's family on their U.K. tour, told CNS in an Oct. 6 telephone interview that the family remained hopeful of her release.

"We have been waiting for this day for a very long time and thankfully it has finally arrived," he said. "We are praying continuously for Asia Bibi and we are confident of her acquittal."

Bibi's case has divided Pakistan, with millions of Islamic militants reportedly willing to kill her to obtain a reward of 500,000 rupees offered by a Muslim cleric for her murder; some moderate Muslims have called for her release.

Among those who called for her release was the governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, who was assassinated in January 2011 after he said he would fight for her freedom.

Two months later, Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, was gunned down after he said he would seek the reform of the blasphemy laws to stop them being abused to persecute innocent Christians.

Now-retired Pope Benedict XVI is among those to have publicly called for Bibi's release and, in February, Pope Francis received Ashiq and Eisham at the Vatican, while the Coliseum was bathed in red light to highlight the suffering of contemporary martyrs.

Ashiq said: "The pope encouraged us and said to us, 'Don't let your mind be disturbed' and said 'Pass on my encouragement to Asia Bibi and bless her as well.' He said he is praying for her and that he believed she would be freed very soon.

"By meeting him, our faith was boosted," he said. "We were already believing and have a strong faith, but listening to him really encouraged us."

"Remember us in your prayers and support us as much as you can so that Asia Bibi can be released very soon," Ashiq said. "When she is free, she will able to answer questions in person."


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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 president of the U.S. bishops' conferencewelcomed Pope Francis' pledge to fight attempts to cover up cases of sexualabuse and to stop offering special treatment to bishops who have committed orcovered up abuse."On behalf of my brother bishops in the United States,I welcome the statement of Oct. 6 from the Holy See which outlines additionalsteps Pope Francis is taking to ensure the faithful are protected from the evilof sexual assault," Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo said in a statementreleased Oct. 7 in Rome.The cardinal, president of the USCCB, is in Rome for theSynod of Bishops. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, conference vicepresident, also is in Rome for the synod, and the two U.S. leaders wereexpected to meet privately with Pope Francis Oct. 8 as questions continue overthe handling of years of allegations of sexual misconduct by former CardinalTheodore E. McCarrick of Washington.In a statement Oct. 6, the Vatican...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) -- The president of the U.S. bishops' conference welcomed Pope Francis' pledge to fight attempts to cover up cases of sexual abuse and to stop offering special treatment to bishops who have committed or covered up abuse.

"On behalf of my brother bishops in the United States, I welcome the statement of Oct. 6 from the Holy See which outlines additional steps Pope Francis is taking to ensure the faithful are protected from the evil of sexual assault," Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo said in a statement released Oct. 7 in Rome.

The cardinal, president of the USCCB, is in Rome for the Synod of Bishops. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, conference vice president, also is in Rome for the synod, and the two U.S. leaders were expected to meet privately with Pope Francis Oct. 8 as questions continue over the handling of years of allegations of sexual misconduct by former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington.

In a statement Oct. 6, the Vatican said Pope Francis had ordered a thorough review of the archives of Vatican offices to study how the allegations were handled.

"The Holy See is conscious that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues. However, as Pope Francis has said: 'We will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead,'" the Vatican statement said.

Cardinal DiNardo, who earlier had requested a full investigation, said, "The truth will ensure the terrible sins of the past are not repeated. The courage of abuse survivors who first brought the horrific truth of sexual abuse to light must continue to be matched by our courage as pastors to respond in justice."

The U.S. cardinal's statement was published the same day Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, responded to allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former nuncio to the United States, that Pope Francis knew about and ignored the allegations against then-Cardinal McCarrick.

Cardinal Ouellet called Archbishop Vigano's accusations a "political" ploy that had wounded the unity of the church.

"Out of respect for the victims and given the need for justice, the inquiry currently underway in the United States and in the Roman Curia should provide a comprehensive and critical study of the procedures and the circumstances of this painful case in order to prevent something like it from ever happening in the future," Cardinal Ouellet said.

Cardinal DiNardo said he and all the U.S. bishops "offer our prayers and solidarity for the Holy Father. We urge all in the church, particularly the bishops, to reaffirm our communion with Pope Francis who is the visible guarantor of the communion of the Catholic Church."

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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/Alessandro Bianchi, ReutersBy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrickof Washington had been told by Vatican officials to withdraw from public lifebecause of rumors about his sexual misconduct, said Cardinal Marc Ouellet,prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.However, because they were only rumors and not proof,then-Pope Benedict XVI never imposed formal sanctions on the retired Washingtonprelate, which means Pope Francis never lifted them, Cardinal Ouellet wroteOct. 7 in an open letter to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former Vaticannuncio to the United States.The archbishop had issued an open letter to Cardinal Ouelletin late September urging him to tell what he knew about now-ArchbishopMcCarrick. Archbishop Vigano's letter followed a massive statement inmid-August calling on Pope Francis to resign because, he claimed, Pope Francishad known there were sanctions on Cardinal McCarrick and not only did he liftthem, he allegedly ma...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington had been told by Vatican officials to withdraw from public life because of rumors about his sexual misconduct, said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

However, because they were only rumors and not proof, then-Pope Benedict XVI never imposed formal sanctions on the retired Washington prelate, which means Pope Francis never lifted them, Cardinal Ouellet wrote Oct. 7 in an open letter to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former Vatican nuncio to the United States.

The archbishop had issued an open letter to Cardinal Ouellet in late September urging him to tell what he knew about now-Archbishop McCarrick. Archbishop Vigano's letter followed a massive statement in mid-August calling on Pope Francis to resign because, he claimed, Pope Francis had known there were sanctions on Cardinal McCarrick and not only did he lift them, he allegedly made Cardinal McCarrick a trusted confidante and adviser on bishops' appointments in the United States.

Addressing Archbishop Vigano as "dear brother," Cardinal Ouellet said, "I understand how bitterness and disappointments have marked your path in the service of the Holy See, but you cannot conclude your priestly life this way, in an open and scandalous rebellion."

Archbishop Vigano's letters, he said, "inflict a very painful wound" on the church, "which you claim to serve better, aggravating divisions and the bewilderment of the people of God!"

"Come out of hiding," Cardinal Ouellet told Archbishop Vigano, who left Rome as soon as his mid-August missive was published, claiming that it was for his own safety.

"Repent of your revolt," the cardinal wrote before asking, "How can you celebrate the holy Eucharist and pronounce his (the pope's) name in the canon of the Mass?"

Cardinal Ouellet's letter, written with the approval of Pope Francis, was published the day after the Vatican said the pope had ordered a "thorough study of the entire documentation present in the archives of the dicasteries and offices of the Holy See regarding the former Cardinal McCarrick in order to ascertain all the relevant facts, to place them in their historical context and to evaluate them objectively."

The statement added that "the Holy See is conscious that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues."

Archbishop Vigano had claimed he personally informed Pope Francis in June 2013 that in "2009 or 2010," after Cardinal McCarrick had retired, Pope Benedict imposed sanctions on him because of allegations of sexual misconduct with and sexual harassment of seminarians. Archbishop Vigano later explained that Pope Benedict issued the sanctions "privately" perhaps "due to the fact that he (Archbishop McCarrick) was already retired, maybe due to the fact that he (Pope Benedict) was thinking he was ready to obey."

In his open letter, Cardinal Ouellet told Archbishop Vigano, "You say you informed Pope Francis on June 23, 2013, of the McCarrick case in an audience he granted to you like many other papal representatives he met for the first time that day."

"Imagine the enormous quantity of verbal and written information he received that day regarding many people and situations," the cardinal wrote. "I strongly doubt that McCarrick interested him as much as you would like us to believe, given the fact that he was an 82-year-old archbishop emeritus who had been without a post for seven years."

As for the written instructions the Congregation for Bishops prepared for Archbishop Vigano in 2011 when he was to begin his service as nuncio to the United States, "they say nothing at all about McCarrick." However, the cardinal added, "I told you verbally of the situation of the bishop emeritus who was to observe certain conditions and restrictions because of rumors about his behavior in the past."

Cardinal McCarrick "was strongly exhorted not to travel and not to appear in public so as not to provoke further rumors," Cardinal Ouellet said, but "it is false to present these measures taken in his regard as 'sanctions' decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and annulled by Pope Francis. After re-examining the archives, I certify that there are no such documents signed by either pope."

And, unlike what Archbishop Vigano claimed, there are no documents from Cardinal Ouellet's predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, saying that then-Cardinal McCarrick was ordered to live a life of withdrawal and silence under the threat of canonical penalties.

The reason such measures were not taken then and were only taken in June by Pope Francis, Cardinal Ouellet said, was because there was not "sufficient proof of his presumed guilt."

"His case would have been the object of new disciplinary measures if the nunciature in Washington or any other source would have furnished us with recent and decisive information about his behavior," the cardinal told the former nuncio.

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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/Simon CaldwellBy Simon CaldwellCHESTER, England (CNS) -- Thefirst Catholic woman to be condemned to death under Pakistan's blasphemy lawswill discover her fate later this month, her family told Catholic News Service.Asia Bibi, who has been held insolitary confinement since November 2010, when she was sentenced to hang forinsulting Muhammad, the founder of Islam, will learn the outcome of herappeal to the Pakistan Supreme Court later in October, her husband, AshiqMasih, told CNS Oct. 5.If Bibi is released, hesaid, she and her family will immediately seek sanctuary in one of severalcountries that have offered them exile, because it was too dangerous for them toremain in Pakistan.Ashiq, a builder fromSheikhupura, Pakistan, was in England with his and Bibi's youngest daughter,Eisham Ashiq, as guests of Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charityhelping persecuted Christians.They said when they visited Bibiin Multan Prison Oct. 1 that she was in good health, contrary t...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Simon Caldwell

By Simon Caldwell

CHESTER, England (CNS) -- The first Catholic woman to be condemned to death under Pakistan's blasphemy laws will discover her fate later this month, her family told Catholic News Service.

Asia Bibi, who has been held in solitary confinement since November 2010, when she was sentenced to hang for insulting Muhammad, the founder of Islam, will learn the outcome of her appeal to the Pakistan Supreme Court later in October, her husband, Ashiq Masih, told CNS Oct. 5.

If Bibi is released, he said, she and her family will immediately seek sanctuary in one of several countries that have offered them exile, because it was too dangerous for them to remain in Pakistan.

Ashiq, a builder from Sheikhupura, Pakistan, was in England with his and Bibi's youngest daughter, Eisham Ashiq, as guests of Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity helping persecuted Christians.

They said when they visited Bibi in Multan Prison Oct. 1 that she was in good health, contrary to speculation that she was developing dementia.

During the interview at St Columba's Church, Ashiq said Bibi was praying constantly and that she deeply believed she would win her freedom.

"She is psychologically, physically and spiritually strong," said Ashiq. "Having a very strong faith, she is ready and willing to die for Christ. She will never convert to Islam.

"She also wanted to deliver a message to the international community that they must remember her in their prayers. These prayers will open the door of the prison, and she will be released very soon," he said.

"She is spending her life praying with a very strong faith and is reading the Bible every day. She feels when she is praying, Jesus is encouraging and supporting her," he continued, adding that she also received Communion in jail Oct. 1.

In June 2009 Bibi, who worked as a farmhand, was accused of blasphemy against Islam after Muslim women objected to her drinking from a common water supply because she is a Christian.

Eisham told CNS that, as a 9-year-old girl, she witnessed her mother being severely beaten by a Muslim mob in the aftermath of the accusation.

"I believe in God and I believe she will be released, but she can't live in Pakistan once she has been released -- simple as that," she said.

Bibi was rescued by police, only to be sentenced to death for violating Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which makes insulting Muhammad a capital offense.

No one has been executed under the law so far, but Christians who are falsely accused often are lynched or spend many years in prison.

Bibi's final appeal will be heard by a special three-judge bench. The hearing represents her last chance at avoiding a death sentence for blasphemy. If the court upholds the execution order, the only option open to her lawyers will be a direct appeal for clemency to President Imran Khan.

Father Emmanuel Yousaf, national director of Pakistan's Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, who is accompanying the Bibis on their U.K. tour, confirmed in an Oct. 6 telephone interview with CNS that the hearing would start on Oct. 8.

"We have been waiting for this day for a very long time and thankfully it has finally arrived. We are praying continuously for Asia Bibi and we are confident of her acquittal."

He said that it was likely that Ashiq and Eisha will cut short their tour of the U.K. and return to Pakistan as soon as possible but would make their decision only after they had consulted their lawyers.

Bibi's case has divided Pakistan, with millions of Islamic militants reportedly willing to kill her to obtain a reward of 500,000 rupees offered by a Muslim cleric for her murder; some moderate Muslims have called for her release.

Among those who called for her release was the governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, who was assassinated in January 2011 after he said he would fight for her release.

Two months later, Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, was gunned down after he said he would seek the reform of the blasphemy laws to stop them being abused to persecute innocent Christians.

Now-retired Pope Benedict XVI is among those to have publicly called for Bibi's release and, in February, Pope Francis received Ashiq and Eisham at the Vatican, while the Coliseum was bathed in red light to highlight the suffering of contemporary martyrs.

Ashiq said: "The pope encouraged us and said to us, 'Don't led your mind be disturbed' and said 'Pass on my encouragement to Asia Bibi and bless her as well.' He said he is praying for her and that he believed she would be freed very soon.

"By meeting him, our faith was boosted," he said. "We were already believing and have a strong faith, but listening to him really encouraged us."

"Remember us in your prayers and support us as much as you can so that Asia Bibi can be released very soon," Ashiq said. "When she is free, she will able to answer questions in person."

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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 Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Promising a thorough review of how theVatican handled allegations of sexual misconduct by former Cardinal Theodore E.McCarrick, the Vatican acknowledged that what happened may fall short of theprocedures that are in place today."The Holy See is conscious that, from the examinationof the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were takenthat would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues.However, as Pope Francis has said: 'We will follow the path of truth whereverit may lead,'" the Vatican said in statement released Oct. 6.Renewing its commitment to uncovering the truth, the Vaticanalso said that information gathered from its investigation as well as "afurther thorough study" of its archives regarding the former cardinal willbe released "in due course.""Both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be toleratedand a different treatment for bishops who have committed or covered up abuse,in fact represents...

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Promising a thorough review of how the Vatican handled allegations of sexual misconduct by former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the Vatican acknowledged that what happened may fall short of the procedures that are in place today.

"The Holy See is conscious that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues. However, as Pope Francis has said: 'We will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead,'" the Vatican said in statement released Oct. 6.

Renewing its commitment to uncovering the truth, the Vatican also said that information gathered from its investigation as well as "a further thorough study" of its archives regarding the former cardinal will be released "in due course."

"Both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated and a different treatment for bishops who have committed or covered up abuse, in fact represents a form of clericalism that is no longer acceptable," the Vatican said.

According to the statement, the pope ordered a preliminary investigation by the Archdiocese of New York after an allegation that Archbishop McCarrick abused a teenager 47 years ago; the allegation subsequently was found to be credible.

Pope Francis, the Vatican said, accepted Archbishop McCarrick's resignation from the College of Cardinals after "grave indications emerged during the course of the investigation."

In the weeks after the allegations were made public, another man came forward claiming he was abused as a child by Archbishop McCarrick and several former seminarians have spoken out about being sexually harassed by the cardinal at a beach house he had.

The Vatican statement comes more than a month after Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former nuncio to the United States, released an 11-page "testimony" claiming that church officials, including Pope Francis, failed to act on the accusations of abuse by Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick.

In his statement Aug. 25, Archbishop Vigano said the Vatican was informed as early as 2000 -- when he was an official at the Secretariat of State -- of allegations that Archbishop McCarrick "shared his bed with seminarians." Archbishop Vigano said the Vatican heard the allegations from the U.S. nuncios at the time: Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, who served from 1998 to 2005, and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who served from 2005 to 2011.

A 2006 letter obtained by Catholic News Service Sept. 7 suggested that then-Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, the former Vatican substitute for general affairs, acknowledged allegations made in 2000 by Father Boniface Ramsey, pastor of St. Joseph's Church Yorkville in New York City, concerning Archbishop McCarrick.

Archbishop Vigano had claimed that Pope Benedict XVI later "imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis."

"I do not know when Pope Benedict took these measures against McCarrick, whether in 2009 or 2010, because in the meantime I had been transferred to the Governorate of Vatican City State, just as I do not know who was responsible for this incredible delay," he said.

Then-Cardinal McCarrick, he claimed, "was to leave the seminary where he was living" which, at the time, was the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Hyattsville, Maryland, and was also "forbidden to celebrate Mass in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance."

However, photos and videos during the time of the alleged sanctions gave evidence that Archbishop McCarrick appeared in public with Archbishop Vigano and continued to concelebrate at large public Masses and visit the Vatican and Pope Benedict himself.

Almost a week after issuing his original accusations, Archbishop Vigano modified his claim and said Pope Benedict made the sanctions private, perhaps "due to the fact that he (Archbishop McCarrick) was already retired, maybe due to the fact that he (Pope Benedict) was thinking he was ready to obey."

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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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