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Catholic News

IMAGE: CNS/Catholic Church of England and WalesBy Simon CaldwellMANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- Catholic bishops have expressed hope that Pope Francis will canonize Blessed John Henry Newman in 2019 after Vatican medics said the inexplicable healing of a U.S. mother was a miracle attributable to his intercession.The cardinal was beatified in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI in Birmingham, England, after the miraculous healing of Boston Deacon Jack Sullivan.Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham said the English and Welsh bishops were informed during their "ad limina" visit to Rome in September that the second miracle needed for the canonization of Blessed Newman had been found."I understand that the medical board responsible for assessing a second miracle has now delivered a positive assessment to the congregation," he told Catholic News Service in a Nov. 29 email.The archbishop said members of the congregation will meet early next year "to consider the medical boar...

IMAGE: CNS/Catholic Church of England and Wales

By Simon Caldwell

MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- Catholic bishops have expressed hope that Pope Francis will canonize Blessed John Henry Newman in 2019 after Vatican medics said the inexplicable healing of a U.S. mother was a miracle attributable to his intercession.

The cardinal was beatified in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI in Birmingham, England, after the miraculous healing of Boston Deacon Jack Sullivan.

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham said the English and Welsh bishops were informed during their "ad limina" visit to Rome in September that the second miracle needed for the canonization of Blessed Newman had been found.

"I understand that the medical board responsible for assessing a second miracle has now delivered a positive assessment to the congregation," he told Catholic News Service in a Nov. 29 email.

The archbishop said members of the congregation will meet early next year "to consider the medical board's assessment and to make its own recommendation" to Pope Francis, who will make the final decision and possibly set a date for the canonization ceremony.

Archbishop Longley said: "It is wonderful news that the process for canonization is now moving closer toward its conclusion, and I pray that we may witness the canonization of Blessed John Henry Newman within the coming year."

He said the canonization would be a "great joy," especially for the Catholics of Birmingham, the city where Blessed Newman founded his oratory.

"I am sure that Pope Benedict XVI, who came to our city to beatify Cardinal Newman, will be joining us as we continue to pray for Blessed John Henry's canonization in the near future," he said.

The second healing miracle involved a young law graduate from the Archdiocese of Chicago who faced life-threatening complications during her pregnancy but suddenly recovered when she prayed to Blessed Newman to help.

It was reported in the British media in early 2016 that a file on the healing had been passed from the archdiocese to the Vatican.

The news that the second miracle had been approved in Rome was revealed by Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth in a weekly newsletter in mid-November.

He told the people of his diocese that developments in the cardinal's cause meant that it "looks now as if Newman might be canonized, all being well, later next year."

In a Nov. 29 telephone interview with CNS, Bishop Egan described the progress of the cause as a "wonderful thing."

He said it would be "great" if it (the canonization) was in October next year because that was the month of Blessed Newman's conversion to the Catholic faith.

"It shows that it is possible to be an Englishman and holy," he said.

"It is an inspiration for anyone from England," he added. "I hope and pray that one day he will be made a doctor of the church, because there is so much in his teaching that is really rich."

Before he became a Catholic in the 19th century, Blessed Newman was an Anglican theologian who founded the Oxford Movement to try to return the Church of England to its Catholic roots.

Despite a life marked by controversy, he was renowned for his exemplary virtue and for his reputation as a brilliant thinker, and Pope Leo XIII rewarded him with a cardinal's red hat.

He died in Birmingham in 1890, and more than 15,000 people lined the streets for his funeral procession.

Scholars believe he was years ahead of his time in his views of the Catholic Church and its teachings.

 

 

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

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul HaringBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People who visit Catholic shrines must find a place of warmth and welcome, as well as good priests who enjoy being with and listening to the faithful, Pope Francis said."It is sad," he said, whenever visitors arrive and "there is no one there who gives them a word of welcome and receives them like pilgrims who have accomplished a journey, often a long one, to reach the shrine," and it is even worse if they find the place is closed."It cannot happen that more attention is paid to material and financial demands, forgetting that the most important part is the pilgrim. They are the ones who count," he said.The pope spoke Nov. 29 to hundreds of priests, religious and laypeople attending the first International Convention of Rectors and Pastoral Worker of Shrines, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. The convention, held in Rome Nov. 27-29, focused on the way shr...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People who visit Catholic shrines must find a place of warmth and welcome, as well as good priests who enjoy being with and listening to the faithful, Pope Francis said.

"It is sad," he said, whenever visitors arrive and "there is no one there who gives them a word of welcome and receives them like pilgrims who have accomplished a journey, often a long one, to reach the shrine," and it is even worse if they find the place is closed.

"It cannot happen that more attention is paid to material and financial demands, forgetting that the most important part is the pilgrim. They are the ones who count," he said.

The pope spoke Nov. 29 to hundreds of priests, religious and laypeople attending the first International Convention of Rectors and Pastoral Worker of Shrines, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. The convention, held in Rome Nov. 27-29, focused on the way shrines are "an open door to the new evangelization."

Pilgrimages and visits to shrines are a key part of popular traditions, and Pope Francis told the group that keeping such popular piety alive was very important.

"It is the immune system of the church. It protects us from many things," he said.

Welcoming groups and visitors is very important, he said, so make sure they are made to feel "at home, like a family member who has been expected for a very long time and has finally come."

Sometimes visitors are people who have distanced themselves from the church, but they made the trip because they are attracted to the shrine's artistic treasures or its beautiful natural surroundings, the pope said.

"When they are welcomed, these people will become more willing to open their hearts and let them be shaped by grace. A climate of friendship is the fertile seed our shrines can toss on pilgrim soil, allowing them to rediscover that trust in the church" that might have been lost because of having been met with indifference, he said.

No one must ever feel like a stranger or an "outsider, above all when they get there with the burden of their own sins."

If the sacrament of reconciliation is offered at a shrine, the priests should be "well-formed, holy, merciful" and able to help the penitent experience "the true encounter with the Lord, who forgives," he added.

Shrines should be places of prayer, but also a place where an individual can pray in silence, he said. He added that priests serving the shrine must be ministers who love being with and understand the people of God. If not, "the bishop should give him another mission, because he is not suitable for this, and he will suffer greatly, and he will make the people suffer."

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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/Arnd Wiegmann, ReutersBy Jonathan LuxmooreWARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- As government delegations from across the globe prepare for a Dec. 2-14 U.N. conference on climate change, Catholic organizations are pledging to make the church's voice heard.CIDSE, a network of 17 Catholic development agencies from Europe and North America based in Brussels, joined other Catholic aid organizations in Katowice, Poland, for the 24th U.N. Climate Change Conference, which was expected to propose measures for restricting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius."Over the past year, there have been fears of a loss of energy -- that ambition and commitment are being deflated by the magnitude of the tasks ahead," said Josianne Gauthier, CIDSE secretary-general. "But we've been called out by the world's most vulnerable countries to make the bold changes needed to restrict global warming -- not by seeking the lowest common denominator, but by joining in courageous actions....

IMAGE: CNS photo/Arnd Wiegmann, Reuters

By Jonathan Luxmoore

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- As government delegations from across the globe prepare for a Dec. 2-14 U.N. conference on climate change, Catholic organizations are pledging to make the church's voice heard.

CIDSE, a network of 17 Catholic development agencies from Europe and North America based in Brussels, joined other Catholic aid organizations in Katowice, Poland, for the 24th U.N. Climate Change Conference, which was expected to propose measures for restricting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

"Over the past year, there have been fears of a loss of energy -- that ambition and commitment are being deflated by the magnitude of the tasks ahead," said Josianne Gauthier, CIDSE secretary-general. "But we've been called out by the world's most vulnerable countries to make the bold changes needed to restrict global warming -- not by seeking the lowest common denominator, but by joining in courageous actions."

The Canadian Catholic told Catholic News Service Nov. 26 that Catholic campaigners would press the conference to maintain a "comprehensive rights approach to climate change," rather than merely focusing on "technical questions."

Adriana Opromolla, international advocacy officer for Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based federation of 164 Catholic charities, said Catholic groups "want an open, transparent dialogue on the global common good, not just a preoccupation with the interests of certain countries."

"While governments have to comply with global emission reduction goals, actors below government level can also have a major impact with a shared vision for reversing current trends," said Opromolla. "What absolutely cannot happen is that we just continue with business as usual."

"We've seen a growing interest in the Catholic Church as a moral leader and globally recognized authority, so I've no doubt its voice will be listened to," she said.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for the Promoting Integral Human Development, will lead a delegation from the Holy See.

In an Oct. 26 statement, church leaders from five continents called for the conference to be a "milestone on the path set out in 2015," by encouraging "urgency, intergenerational justice, human dignity and human rights."

They added that Pope Francis had demanded "rapid and radical changes" in his 2015 encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for our Common Home." They called on countries with heavy carbon emissions to "take political accountability and meet their climate finance commitments."

The statement said the Catholic Church worldwide was now supporting a "shift toward more sustainable communities and lifestyles," including disinvestment from fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy, and was "rethinking the agriculture sector" to promote agro-ecology.

"We must resist the temptation to look for solutions to our current situation in short-term technological fixes without addressing the root causes and the long-term consequences," said the signers, who included Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, and Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Colombia, president of the Latin American bishops' council. Their counterparts from Europe, Africa and Oceania also signed the letter.

The bishops' statement was welcomed as a "strong indication" of global Catholic commitment to climate justice by Tomas Insua, director of the Boston-based Global Catholic Climate Movement, who said he counted on political leaders to "take up the challenge" when "every notch in the global thermometer is a tragedy for the most vulnerable."

Gauthier also welcomed the statement's support for "deep societal change," adding that Catholic experts would work with representatives of other religions at Katowice to "make noise and instill hope" around the shared goals of "justice, dignity and care for creation."

"I think there's a thirst for another kind of discourse now, something less technical and with a more human face. This is where churches and religious communities can offer vital help," she added.

A U.N. website statement said the conference's main objective would be to adopt implementation guidelines for the 1.5-degree limit adopted under a 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

It added that the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had recently warned net carbon dioxide emissions must reach zero by 2050 to meet the Paris target, thus reducing "the risks to human well-being, ecosystems and sustainable development."

In a Nov. 22 report, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization said levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, had reached a new record high, driving increases in sea levels, ocean acidification and more extreme weather, with "no sign of a reversal in the trend."

A separate Nov. 27 emissions report by the U.N. Environment Programme tracked policy commitments by countries to reduce emissions and said these were trailing behind official targets.

 

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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/ By James RamosHOUSTON (CNS) -- Laredo's Bishop James A. Tamayo is calling church leaders and lay faithful to "extend the compassion of Christ" to those who come to Catholic churches in need.Bishop Tamayo leads the youngest diocese in Texas and the U.S. The south Texas city of Laredo borders the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, and local Catholic leaders are "preparing to help in any way ... should the caravan come to our doorsteps," he said.His comments come as tensions with tear gas and violence rise on the far west part of the U.S.-Mexico border in Baja California. Thousands of people with a caravan from Central America began arriving in Tijuana, Mexico, Nov. 13, and more continue to arrive.Bishop Tamayo said his diocesan and social services staff have met with local and national border officials to ensure that the position of the Catholic Church on immigration is known.The government knows of the church's respect of the nation's laws, he said, &...

IMAGE: CNS photo/

By James Ramos

HOUSTON (CNS) -- Laredo's Bishop James A. Tamayo is calling church leaders and lay faithful to "extend the compassion of Christ" to those who come to Catholic churches in need.

Bishop Tamayo leads the youngest diocese in Texas and the U.S. The south Texas city of Laredo borders the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, and local Catholic leaders are "preparing to help in any way ... should the caravan come to our doorsteps," he said.

His comments come as tensions with tear gas and violence rise on the far west part of the U.S.-Mexico border in Baja California. Thousands of people with a caravan from Central America began arriving in Tijuana, Mexico, Nov. 13, and more continue to arrive.

Bishop Tamayo said his diocesan and social services staff have met with local and national border officials to ensure that the position of the Catholic Church on immigration is known.

The government knows of the church's respect of the nation's laws, he said, "but also of our desire if some (migrants) come in need of health care, if some come to try to reunite with family members, we want to help them through the legal process or if they're at our door and they need food, they need medical care and attention, they want to tell their story and seek asylum from violence and from the governmental structures of their own country, they should be heard."

Respect is key to the process of dialogue with local and national officials, Bishop Tamayo told the Texas Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

"We need to respect them because they have policies and guidelines," he continued. "When we can tell them we know what you must do or what your policies state, we need to help you to see where the church stands too. We respect all of that but in turn we ask you to come to know us. Our church is composed of the people of the community."

Bishop Tamayo said church leaders tell border officials that "as you stand at the border following your law of safeguarding the frontier, we stand too at a border to see that everyone that comes, knocks, that travels across or desires to travel across is respected, is assisted with their questions, their concerns, their immediate needs."

Still, with this "there is a spirit of collaboration," he said.

In Brownsville, Bishop Daniel E. Flores has directly dealt with the federal government.

At a recent lecture in Houston, Bishop Flores described the U.S. government's attempt to survey land owned by the Diocese of Brownsville with goals to eventually build a wall there. While he denied the request and the government has since filed suit, Bishop Flores said he had several "amicable discussions" with federal officials.

"I have great respect for border security agents," he said. "I know many of them personally. Still, I decided not to consent to this request on the grounds that it limits the freedom of the church and is a counter-sign to her mission."

A border wall is not an intrinsic evil, but it is a prudential social disaster, according to Bishop Flores.

"I am a realist," he said. "The government has virtually unlimited resources, the Diocese of Brownsville does not. If in the end the wall is not built on our property, then we have defended our principled position; but, if in the end the barrier is built; it will not be because the church signed a permission. This, would, in fact, speak for itself."

Of the caravan of asylum seekers, Bishop Flores said that "to seek asylum at terrible moments of life is a human right recognized by the laws of the United States as well as of the Republic of Mexico. To ask for asylum is not a crime, and ought to be an orderly process and proceed in a way respecting the laws of each nation."

"Ours is the poverty of a discourse that is governed by mutually exclusive and insufficiently nuanced narratives," he said. "This is abundantly evident in the current discussion about the 'caravan.' Are they a band of marauders, or are they the poor fleeing from marauders? Realistically, I have little reason to doubt that criminal elements infiltrate caravans of immigrants who are in the great majority the poor, who are themselves fleeing from criminal elements controlling vast parts of their native countries."

But there are "just ways" governments can collaborate on to differentiate people and families escaping from "humanly intolerable circumstances" and those "criminal elements that seek to infiltrate and manipulate the vulnerable condition of the immigrant."

Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, who is the chair of the U.S. bishops' migration committee, recently told another Houston audience that caring for immigrants is "rooted in the Gospel" and part of the original religious identity of Catholics. He also strongly faulted the polarized political climate for blurring Church teaching on immigration and dividing God's people.

"As Catholics, we must respect, love and protect the immigrant," Bishop Vasquez said, noting that he was not speaking politically but as a pastor concerned for persons and the well-being of souls.

He described immigration as "one of the most critical challenges the church faces in our hemisphere," with millions of vulnerable people on the move, forced from their homelands by violence and extreme poverty. Millions more live amid crippling fear in the U.S. with serious consequences that Bishop Vasquez said he has witnessed in his own Austin Diocese.

He said an ignorance of church teaching and deep political ideologies are creating hostility around the issue and have cowed some in church leadership from speaking out; nonetheless, he said, "We cannot allow the world to dictate to the church how she understands herself, her role, her mission."

"We need to help our people and our leaders to examine their conscience in light of these principles of Catholic social teaching," Bishop Vasquez said. "Dialogue is needed. Very, very clearly it is evident that dialogue is not taking place."

Bishop Vasquez said immigration issues the church is currently working on include advocating for immigration reform; a permanent solution for the status of "Dreamers," as beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are known, and of other individuals brought into the U.S. illegally as children; and an end to family separation at the border.

"We must remember that they are human beings that are in many instances escaping persecution, targeted by violence and running away from threats," he said. "We must help them to be treated humanely."

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Ramos is a staff writer and designer for the Texas Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

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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/ Kim Kyung-HoonBy David AgrenMEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The chaotic scene in Tijuana Nov. 25 -- when migrants, including women and children, were repelled from the U.S. border with tear gas -- prompted the closure of one of the world's busiest border crossings. It also showed the increasing impatience and despair of thousands of caravan participants, who could spend months in an uncomfortable camp as they wait to present asylum claims to U.S. officials.And while some Catholic migrant advocates criticized U.S. reaction as excessive, some who work with migrants through a network of shelters stretching the length of the country said they tried warning the caravan participants and a migrant advocacy group accompanying it, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, that -- unlike past years, when smaller caravans would cross Mexico -- times had changed. Resources for sustaining thousands of migrants in Tijuana are stretched thin and the current U.S. government has showed few signs of speeding up t...

IMAGE: CNS photo/ Kim Kyung-Hoon

By David Agren

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The chaotic scene in Tijuana Nov. 25 -- when migrants, including women and children, were repelled from the U.S. border with tear gas -- prompted the closure of one of the world's busiest border crossings. It also showed the increasing impatience and despair of thousands of caravan participants, who could spend months in an uncomfortable camp as they wait to present asylum claims to U.S. officials.

And while some Catholic migrant advocates criticized U.S. reaction as excessive, some who work with migrants through a network of shelters stretching the length of the country said they tried warning the caravan participants and a migrant advocacy group accompanying it, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, that -- unlike past years, when smaller caravans would cross Mexico -- times had changed. Resources for sustaining thousands of migrants in Tijuana are stretched thin and the current U.S. government has showed few signs of speeding up the process for accepting asylum applications.

Press reports from Tijuana described a peaceful protest, in which the migrants planned to present their case: that they had come only to work and save their own lives. But the protest was met by a wall of Mexican police officers, prompting the migrants to detour the barricade and head to a train border crossing.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a tweet that some migrants "threw projectiles." In response, "Border Patrol agents deployed tear gas to dispel the group because of the risk to agents' safety. Several agents were hit by the projectiles."

The caravan has crossed closed borders and pushed past police barricades since departing San Pedro Sula, Honduras, in mid-October. Parishes have assisted the original caravan and several subsequent caravans as they passed through southern Mexico; a group of religious offered medical attention, and dioceses have taken up collections.

But now the migrants have run up against the U.S. border and a U.S. administration that has warned that the caravan will not enter the country. The U.S. has allowed fewer than 50 claims to be made daily, even as thousands wait their turn in Mexico.

The caravan also risks becoming unwelcome in Tijuana, where hostile attitudes have already been expressed, border closures hurt the economy and the local government warned resources were running low.

Taking that many people to one border crossing and organizing a march "can't be a good idea. It's a horrific one," said Father Alejandro Solalinde, who operates a migrant shelter in southern Oaxaca state. "But there is no control there whatsoever."

"I ... gave them this advice, but they ignored it because the leaders (the activists) taking them made them believe that they were going to be able to do it, when in reality, it wasn't like that," said Father Solalinde.

Jorge Andrade, coordinator of a collective of Catholic-run migrant shelters, called the U.S. response "excessive." In the spring, Andrade said caravan organizers "have good intentions, but they're exposing (the migrants) to danger."

"Unfortunately, there are groups (of migrants) there that want to cross the border under these circumstances," he said in late November.

Father Andres Ramirez, who works with migrants in Tijuana, called the response "unprecedented" and said such a border closure as occurred Nov. 25 had not happened since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Father Solalinde has refused to accompany migrants farther north than Mexico City, saying the road poses risks such as kidnap. He recounted how one group of migrants, who were evangelicals, and told him: God will take care of us and "touch the heart" of president Donald Trump.

"They truly thought that God was going to move the heart of this person, but no! no! no! It wasn't like that," Father Solalinde said. He added that some in that group of 250 migrants had gone missing since setting out from Mexico City for Tijuana.

"They wouldn't take into account the current political climate, the (Dec. 1 presidential) transition in Mexico, the bad organization that they had, because they didn't see the opportunity for people to help them," Father Solalinde said, speaking to the haste of many to rush to the border and not fully consider the opportunity to work in Mexico or apply for asylum there.

"These are difficult times (but) it's as if they have this chip, 'They have to go north' and they think that it was going to be the same as the previous times, but it's not like that."

The Mexican government said in a Nov. 25 statement it had detained 98 migrants who were involved in scuffles with police and tried to cross the border at Tijuana.

It added more than 7,400 migrants from various caravans were currently in the border state of Baja California, while 11,000 migrants had been repatriated or deported to Central America since Oct. 19.

The Washington Post reported Nov. 24 the United States and Mexico's incoming government had reached an agreement known as "Remain in Mexico," in which asylum seekers would wait south of the border while their claims are processed in U.S. courts. Incoming Mexican Interior Minister Olga Sanchez Cordero later denied the story, but did not disavow her comments to the Post confirming a deal.

She also denied Mexico would become a "safe third" country, which would mean migrants in Mexico would be considered to have already found safety.

In effect, "Remain in Mexico is the configuration of Mexico as a safe third country," said Andrade.

 

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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/David MaungBy WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The archbishop who chairs the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities cheered news that the abortion rate in the United States continues to shrink, as does the number of abortions overall."I am gratified that the number of abortions in the United States continues to decline," said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, in a Nov. 26 statement. "The reduction in the number of abortions is due to many factors, from declining rates of sexual activity, especially among teens, to pro-life legislative gains."According to a report issued Nov. 21 by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the drop in both abortions overall and the abortion rate has declined each year for a decade.The CDC said the abortion rate in 2015 -- the last year for which statistics are available -- is at 11.8 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44. The rate has dropped eight of the past nine years since...

IMAGE: CNS photo/David Maung

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The archbishop who chairs the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities cheered news that the abortion rate in the United States continues to shrink, as does the number of abortions overall.

"I am gratified that the number of abortions in the United States continues to decline," said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, in a Nov. 26 statement. "The reduction in the number of abortions is due to many factors, from declining rates of sexual activity, especially among teens, to pro-life legislative gains."

According to a report issued Nov. 21 by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the drop in both abortions overall and the abortion rate has declined each year for a decade.

The CDC said the abortion rate in 2015 -- the last year for which statistics are available -- is at 11.8 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44. The rate has dropped eight of the past nine years since 2006's rate of 15.9; the rate of 15.6 held steady in 2008.

"The efforts of the staff and volunteers at crisis pregnancy centers, as well as pro-life educational efforts, are to be commended," Archbishop Naumann said in his statement.

The overall number of abortions also continued to slide. The 2015 number of reported abortions was 638,169, about one-fourth less than the 852,385 reported in 2006. It is down 2 percent from 2014's figure of 652,639.

"At the same time, we cannot be content with hundreds of thousands of abortions occurring annually in our nation," Archbishop Naumann added.

Over the past decade, the ratio of abortions to live births has also trended downward. The ratio rose slightly from 2007 to 2008, and held steady in 2010 based on 2009's figures, but has declined from 2006's 233 abortions per 1,000 live births to 2015's 188 abortions per 1,000 live births.

The number of legal abortions in the United States peaked in the 1980s before beginning a slow but steady decline, interrupted only by the slight rise in, or holding steady of, numbers in the late 2000s.

The CDC's numbers are not complete. They do not include California, Florida, Maryland, New Hampshire and Wyoming because they either "did not report, did not report by age, or did not meet reporting standards," the CDC said.

The abortion rate is highest for women in their 20s. Women ages 20-24 had an abortion rate of 19.9, and women ages 25-29 had an abortion rate of 17.9 per 1,000 women in their age group. Together, they accounted for close to 60 percent of all abortions.

White women had an abortion rate close to one-fourth that of black women. White women accounted for an abortion rate of 6.8, while black women had an abortion rate of 25.1. The CDC report, though, noted that abortion rates, ratios and numbers have gone down among all racial and ethnic groups.

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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) -- People would be wise to think about Judgment Day and wonder what God will see when he examines their lives, Pope Francis said."If the Lord were to call me today, what would I do? What will I say? What harvest will I show him?" the pope asked during Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae Nov. 27.In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's reading about the end of the world in the Book of Revelation, in which St. John uses the image of the Lord and angels armed with sharp sickles, reaping the harvest.With the liturgical year coming to a close and the readings focused on the end of time, the pope said it would be good for people to examine their lives and reflect on how they might be judged when their hour has come."We don't like to think about the end," he said. "We always put this thought aside," especially when people are young, "but look how many young people go, how many are called....

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People would be wise to think about Judgment Day and wonder what God will see when he examines their lives, Pope Francis said.

"If the Lord were to call me today, what would I do? What will I say? What harvest will I show him?" the pope asked during Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae Nov. 27.

In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's reading about the end of the world in the Book of Revelation, in which St. John uses the image of the Lord and angels armed with sharp sickles, reaping the harvest.

With the liturgical year coming to a close and the readings focused on the end of time, the pope said it would be good for people to examine their lives and reflect on how they might be judged when their hour has come.

"We don't like to think about the end," he said. "We always put this thought aside," especially when people are young, "but look how many young people go, how many are called. Nobody's life is guaranteed."

No one is on this earth forever; everyone's life will come to an end, he said, and God will want to see what has been harvested -- "the quality of our life."

This examination of conscience will help people understand what things they must fix in their lives and what things should be continued because they are good, the pope said.

"Yes, there will be an end, but that end will be an encounter, an encounter with the Lord. It's true there will be accounting for what I have done, but it will also be an encounter of mercy, of joy, of happiness," he said.

"Thinking about the end, the end of creation, the end of one's life, this is wisdom, the wise ones do it," he said.

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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 Carol ZimmermannWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Sister Annie Demerjian has seen a lifetime of suffering in Aleppo, Syria, over the past seven years. Now, as conflict is beginning to die down, her ministry is no longer about getting emergency supplies to those in need as buildings collapsed and food, water and electricity were scarce. The current challenge is to help people begin to rebuild their lives."We are now living the consequences" of years of civil war, she said.As the Syrian city finds its way out of the rubble, Sister Annie and three other Sisters of Jesus and Mary are at work, reopening garment factories and helping people find jobs and develop job skills."Before, we were living day by day or minute by minute," she said, stressing that she and the other sisters never knew when bombs would fall or who would die next."It was a big fear," the 52-year-old sister said in Washington Nov. 27. She was visiting to attend a Nov. 28...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Sister Annie Demerjian has seen a lifetime of suffering in Aleppo, Syria, over the past seven years. Now, as conflict is beginning to die down, her ministry is no longer about getting emergency supplies to those in need as buildings collapsed and food, water and electricity were scarce. The current challenge is to help people begin to rebuild their lives.

"We are now living the consequences" of years of civil war, she said.

As the Syrian city finds its way out of the rubble, Sister Annie and three other Sisters of Jesus and Mary are at work, reopening garment factories and helping people find jobs and develop job skills.

"Before, we were living day by day or minute by minute," she said, stressing that she and the other sisters never knew when bombs would fall or who would die next.

"It was a big fear," the 52-year-old sister said in Washington Nov. 27. She was visiting to attend a Nov. 28 prayer service -- sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need-USA -- honoring today's Christian martyrs at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. She planned to speak to the congregation about enormous suffering in the region and the task of rebuilding.

"Every part of my country has a story to tell, a story that reveals wounds that only time and God's mercy can heal," she said, stressing that the current situation primarily involves "recovering from this heavy burden." Many are mourning those who died and those who fled; children, in particular, have witnessed horrific violence or lost limbs due to explosions and face the "long process of healing."

The death toll from this war is staggering. Earlier this year, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 511,000 people had been killed since fighting began in Syria in March 2011.

The U.N. Refugee Agency said 5.6 million Syrians have left the country and 6.6 million are internally displaced since the war began.

Of those who remain, millions need humanitarian assistance and health care. More than 86,000 lost limbs. Sister Annie said children in particular are suffering, especially the 3 million born during the war who only know of violent destruction. More than 20,000 children were killed in the war, and 2.8 million children have been uprooted from their family homes, she added.

When the fighting first began, Sister Annie and four other sisters in Aleppo who were teaching at the time were told by their provincial that they could leave. They chose to stay, saying they had lived there in good times and would stay during bad times.

"For us it's been a very painful experience, but to be present makes a difference for us and our people," she told Catholic News Service.

And now, she said, the focus is on "supporting our people and letting them stand in dignity to start a new life," stressing that the easier part is the physical rebuilding. "Rebuilding the heart and soul" is the bigger challenge.

She also knows that news about the war in Syria has fallen off the radar for many people.

"At the beginning the news was all about Syria; now there is no news about Syria. It seems like it's finished," she said, stressing, "It's not finished, of course."

In prepared remarks for the vespers service, Sister Annie likened the situation in Syria to someone recovering from a serious operation.

"One thing is the actual experience of the surgery; another thing is the long period of time needed to recover. Syria and its people are, we hope and pray, about to enter the recovery period. It will be long and challenging. It will need much help from friends and neighbors; it will need much patience from the people themselves and the determination to rebuild their lives."

She told CNS that she feels more people need to be aware of the current situation in Syria. She compared it to the words of St. Paul when he said: "If one part of the body is suffering, the whole body is suffering."

"We need to be aware," she said. "We can't just turn the channel" and look away.

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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/Sivaram V, ReutersBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The International Union of Superiors General has called on women religious who have suffered abuse to come forward and report it to their congregations and church and state authorities."If the UISG receives a report of abuse, we will be a listening presence and help the person to have the courage to bring the complaint to the appropriate organizations," it added in a statement published on its website Nov. 23.The group -- whose members are 2,000 superiors general of congregations of women religious across the world, representing more than 500,000 sisters -- said it wished to express "deep sorrow and indignation over the pattern of abuse that is prevalent within the church and society today.""Abuse in all forms: sexual, verbal, emotional or any inappropriate use of power within a relationship, diminishes the dignity and healthy development of the person who is victimized," it added.&...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Sivaram V, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The International Union of Superiors General has called on women religious who have suffered abuse to come forward and report it to their congregations and church and state authorities.

"If the UISG receives a report of abuse, we will be a listening presence and help the person to have the courage to bring the complaint to the appropriate organizations," it added in a statement published on its website Nov. 23.

The group -- whose members are 2,000 superiors general of congregations of women religious across the world, representing more than 500,000 sisters -- said it wished to express "deep sorrow and indignation over the pattern of abuse that is prevalent within the church and society today."

"Abuse in all forms: sexual, verbal, emotional or any inappropriate use of power within a relationship, diminishes the dignity and healthy development of the person who is victimized," it added.

"We stand by those courageous women and men who have reported abuse to the authorities. We condemn those who support the culture of silence and secrecy, often under the guise of 'protection' of an institution's reputation or naming it 'part of one's culture.'"

"We advocate for transparent civil and criminal reporting of abuse whether within religious congregations, at the parish or diocesan levels, or in any public arena," it said.

"We commit ourselves to work with the church and civil authorities to help those abused to heal the past through a process of accompaniment, of seeking justice, and investing in prevention of abuse through collaborative formation and education programs for children, and for women and men," it said.

Representatives of the UISG had been invited along with the men's Union of Superiors General, presidents of bishops' conferences and others to a February summit called by Pope Francis to address the protection of minors and vulnerable people.

The statement also comes months after police arrested an Indian bishop and charged him with raping a nun.

An Indian nun had accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, India, of raping her in 2014 and then sexually abusing her multiple times over the following two years. Bishop Mulakkal claims the accusations are baseless. He was arrested Sept. 21 after police investigated.

The nun had made numerous complaints, including to the Vatican, but claimed she had gotten no church response to her allegations at the time. Pope Francis accepted the bishop's request to be relieved of his duties Sept. 20.

The nun had explained in a letter that her abuse had gone on for so long because "I had tremendous fear and shame to bring this out into the open. I feared suppression of the congregation and threats to my family members."

She had said many women and nuns suffer clerical abuse. Silence and inaction on the part of church officials to stem clerical abuse will have a "very adverse effect" on women and result in the church losing its credibility, she said.

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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/ Kim Kyung-HoonBy David AgrenMEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The chaotic scene in Tijuana Nov. 25 -- when migrants, including women and children, were repelled from the U.S. border with tear gas -- prompted the closure of one of the world's busiest border crossings. It also showed the increasing impatience and despair of thousands of caravan participants, who could spend months in an uncomfortable camp as they wait to present asylum claims to U.S. officials.And while some Catholic migrant advocates criticized U.S. reaction as excessive, some who work with migrants through a network of shelters stretching the length of the country said they tried warning the caravan participants and a migrant advocacy group accompanying it, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, that -- unlike past years, when smaller caravans would cross Mexico -- times had changed. Resources for sustaining thousands of migrants in Tijuana are stretched thin and the current U.S. government has showed few signs of speeding up t...

IMAGE: CNS photo/ Kim Kyung-Hoon

By David Agren

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The chaotic scene in Tijuana Nov. 25 -- when migrants, including women and children, were repelled from the U.S. border with tear gas -- prompted the closure of one of the world's busiest border crossings. It also showed the increasing impatience and despair of thousands of caravan participants, who could spend months in an uncomfortable camp as they wait to present asylum claims to U.S. officials.

And while some Catholic migrant advocates criticized U.S. reaction as excessive, some who work with migrants through a network of shelters stretching the length of the country said they tried warning the caravan participants and a migrant advocacy group accompanying it, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, that -- unlike past years, when smaller caravans would cross Mexico -- times had changed. Resources for sustaining thousands of migrants in Tijuana are stretched thin and the current U.S. government has showed few signs of speeding up the process for accepting asylum applications.

Press reports from Tijuana described a peaceful protest, in which the migrants planned to present their case: that they had come only to work and save their own lives. But the protest was met by a wall of Mexican police officers, prompting the migrants to detour the barricade and head to a train border crossing.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a tweet that some migrants "threw projectiles." In response, "Border Patrol agents deployed tear gas to dispel the group because of the risk to agents' safety. Several agents were hit by the projectiles."

The caravan has crossed closed borders and pushed past police barricades since departing San Pedro Sula, Honduras, in mid-October. Parishes have assisted the original caravan and several subsequent caravans as they passed through southern Mexico; a group of religious offered medical attention, and dioceses have taken up collections.

But now the migrants have run up against the U.S. border and a U.S. administration that has warned that the caravan will not enter the country. The U.S. has allowed fewer than 50 claims to be made daily, even as thousands wait their turn in Mexico.

The caravan also risks becoming unwelcome in Tijuana, where hostile attitudes have already been expressed, border closures hurt the economy and the local government warned resources were running low.

Taking that many people to one border crossing and organizing a march "can't be a good idea. It's a horrific one," said Father Alejandro Solalinde, who operates a migrant shelter in southern Oaxaca state. "But there is no control there whatsoever."

"I ... gave them this advice, but they ignored it because the leaders (the activists) taking them made them believe that they were going to be able to do it, when in reality, it wasn't like that," said Father Solalinde.

Jorge Andrade, coordinator of a collective of Catholic-run migrant shelters, called the U.S. response "excessive." In the spring, Andrade said caravan organizers "have good intentions, but they're exposing (the migrants) to danger."

"Unfortunately, there are groups (of migrants) there that want to cross the border under these circumstances," he said in late November.

Father Andres Ramirez, who works with migrants in Tijuana, called the response "unprecedented" and said such a border closure as occurred Nov. 25 had not happened since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Father Solalinde has refused to accompany migrants farther north than Mexico City, saying the road poses risks such as kidnap. He recounted how one group of migrants, who were evangelicals, and told him: God will take care of us and "touch the heart" of president Donald Trump.

"They truly thought that God was going to move the heart of this person, but no! no! no! It wasn't like that," Father Solalinde said. He added that some in that group of 250 migrants had gone missing since setting out from Mexico City for Tijuana.

"They wouldn't take into account the current political climate, the (Dec. 1 presidential) transition in Mexico, the bad organization that they had, because they didn't see the opportunity for people to help them," Father Solalinde said, speaking to the haste of many to rush to the border and not fully consider the opportunity to work in Mexico or apply for asylum there.

"These are difficult times (but) it's as if they have this chip, 'They have to go north' and they think that it was going to be the same as the previous times, but it's not like that."

The Mexican government said in a Nov. 25 statement it had detained almost 500 migrants who tried to cross the border at Tijuana.

It added more than 7,400 migrants from various caravans were currently in the border state of Baja California, while 11,000 migrants had been repatriated or deported to Central America since Oct. 19.

The Washington Post reported Nov. 24 the United States and Mexico's incoming government had reached an agreement known as "Remain in Mexico," in which asylum seekers would wait south of the border while their claims are processed in U.S. courts. Incoming Mexican Interior Minister Olga Sanchez Cordero later denied the story, but did not disavow her comments to the Post confirming a deal.

She also denied Mexico would become a "safe third" country, which would mean migrants in Mexico would be considered to have already found safety.

In effect, "Remain in Mexico is the configuration of Mexico as a safe third country," said Andrade.

 

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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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