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Catholic News

By Mark PattisonWASHINGTON(CNS) -- Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a "zero tolerance"policy for immigrants crossing illegally into the United States, resulting in children being separated from their families, the number of minorsin U.S. custody has grown by nearly 2,000.At the same time the federal government hasonly about 1,300 beds left before it has to tap into an existing network of 100shelters in 14 states."Thesituation is dire," said Jill Marie Bussey, advocacy director for the CatholicLegal Immigration Network.Sessionsannounced the policy May 7. As of April 29, there were 8,886 migrant childrenin U.S. custody. By May 29, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department figures putthe number at 10,773.Thesenumbers don't include the 1,475 children who had been placed with sponsorsbetween October and December 2017 but cannot be accounted for by HHS. While thegovernment made follow-up phone calls to the sponsors, not every sponsor couldbe contacted, or had returned ...

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a "zero tolerance" policy for immigrants crossing illegally into the United States, resulting in children being separated from their families, the number of minors in U.S. custody has grown by nearly 2,000.

At the same time the federal government has only about 1,300 beds left before it has to tap into an existing network of 100 shelters in 14 states.

"The situation is dire," said Jill Marie Bussey, advocacy director for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network.

Sessions announced the policy May 7. As of April 29, there were 8,886 migrant children in U.S. custody. By May 29, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department figures put the number at 10,773.

These numbers don't include the 1,475 children who had been placed with sponsors between October and December 2017 but cannot be accounted for by HHS. While the government made follow-up phone calls to the sponsors, not every sponsor could be contacted, or had returned a phone message.

There had been alarm expressed over the Memorial Day weekend that, with the imposition of the zero-tolerance policy, immigrant children arriving in the United States had been separated from their parents and promptly lost.

While that is not the case, HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan said May 28, the Cabinet agency's follow-up calls are not considered required. The HHS refugee office historically has said it is not legally responsible for children once they had been placed.

Bussey begged to differ. "They don't perceive themselves to be responsible for those children any longer, but the truth is we all are," she told Catholic News Service during a May 30 telephone interview from Tucson, Arizona, where CLINIC was sponsoring a conference.

Effects of the imposition of zero tolerance are being felt not just in the U.S. desert, but at ports of call, according to Jesuit Father Sean Carroll, executive director of the Kino Border Initiative, with dual offices in Nogales -- Arizona on the U.S. side of the border, Sonora state on the Mexico side.

"We have about 89 people at the port of entry Miguel, Sonora, waiting to be received by U.S. Customs. Most are from Guatemala. As of this morning, there were 89 people, and 57 of them were children," Father Carroll said May 30. "Some, the majority, are with their families; some are unaccompanied (minors)."

While Customs usually makes a near-immediate determination of the strength of asylum-seekers' cases, now "people are waiting," Father Carroll added. "The first people arrived on Friday (May 25). They've been waiting five days, going on six, to be received by U.S. Customs."

Sessions raised an uproar when he said, "If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law." He made the comments at the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies' spring conference May 7. "If you don't like that," he added, "then don't smuggle children over our border."

Father Carroll said some asylum-seekers near him have made the days-long trek by bus, some by car, others on foot. And what Sessions said has not seemed to filter down to them. "I haven't asked specifically, but most of them have little or no information" on the policy change, he said.

CLINIC's Bussey said there had been a federal policy in place called "family detention" "that's been carried out by administration after administration."

"Unfortunately," she continued, "what we're seeing is a zero-tolerance policy of every child is at risk of being separated from their parent or guardian. Over time we keep on hearing that separation is used as a tool for deterrence, but time after time we see children and their parents presenting themselves at the border because they're fleeing violence."

The mother of a 9-year-old child herself, Bussey said the government is ignoring the "push factors" that drive immigration. "If I'm the mother of 9-year-old and I live in the Golden Triangle (a region in northwest Mexico where the Sinaloa drug cartel has free rein), I know the gangs are going to kill my child. I'm going to take my child with me," she said.

"Seeking asylum is not illegal. What is illegal, what is not consistent or humane, is to turn them around," Bussey added. Instead, she said, federal immigration officials should "say that their lives would be in danger and to let them in."

Family separation is "not only needless and cruel, it threatens the mental and physical health of both the children and their caregivers," said a May 29 statement by American Psychological Association president Jessica Henderson Daniel.

"The longer that children and parents are separated, the greater the reported symptoms of anxiety and depression for the children. Negative outcomes for children include psychological distress, academic difficulties and disruptions in their development," Daniel said.

According to The Washington Post, the latest HHS figures already show an uptick in the amount of time minors are in federal custody without some kind of sponsor or foster-care agreement in place: now 57 days, up from 51 at the close of 2017.

Bussey also doubted Sessions' declaration that the government would criminally prosecute every illegal immigration case, whereas in the pass it had been a civil case.

"Our system is overloaded, period," she said. "Putting more people through a system that's overloaded is invariably trampling people's due process on a daily basis. I can't imagine putting more people through the process is going to make it any better."

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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/Paul HaringBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To promote healing after reports of sexual abuse and cover-ups, PopeFrancis will send Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta and Father JordiBertomeu Farnos back to Chile.  Both will visit the Diocese of Osorno "with the aim of advancing the process ofreparation and healing of abuse victims," the Vatican said in a statement May31.Abuse survivors have alleged that Bishop Juan Barros ofOsorno -- then a priest -- had witnessed their abuse by his mentor, FatherFernando Karadima. In 2011, Father Karadima was sentenced to a life of prayerand penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys.Archbishop Scicluna, who is president of a board of review handling abusecases within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and FatherBertomeu, an official of the doctrinal congregation, will depart "in thenext few days," the Vatican said.The Vatican also announced that "the pope will send thepresident o...

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To promote healing after reports of sexual abuse and cover-ups, Pope Francis will send Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta and Father Jordi Bertomeu Farnos back to Chile.  

Both will visit the Diocese of Osorno "with the aim of advancing the process of reparation and healing of abuse victims," the Vatican said in a statement May 31.

Abuse survivors have alleged that Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno -- then a priest -- had witnessed their abuse by his mentor, Father Fernando Karadima. In 2011, Father Karadima was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys.

Archbishop Scicluna, who is president of a board of review handling abuse cases within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Father Bertomeu, an official of the doctrinal congregation, will depart "in the next few days," the Vatican said.

The Vatican also announced that "the pope will send the president of the Chilean bishops' conference a letter written personally by him and addressed to all the people of God, as he had promised the bishops."

During his visit to Chile in January, the pope sparked controversy when he pledged his support for Bishop Barros and said: "The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I will speak. There is not one piece of evidence against him. It is calumny."

He later apologized to the victims and admitted that his choice of words wounded many.

A short time later, the pope sent Archbishop Scicluna and Father Bertomeu to Chile to listen to people with information about Bishop Barros.

Not all of the 64 witnesses spoke about Father Karadima and Bishop Barros; several of them gave testimony about abuse alleged to have occurred at a Marist Brothers' school.

Their investigation resulted in a 2,300-page report that was given to the pope.

After reading their report, Pope Francis apologized for underestimating the seriousness of the sexual abuse crisis and acknowledged he made "serious mistakes in the assessment and perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information."

After a "careful reading" of the testimonies, "I believe I can affirm that all the testimonies collected speak in a brutal way, without additives or sweeteners, of many crucified lives and, I confess, it has caused me pain and shame," the pope said in an April 11 letter to the bishops of Chile.

He also summoned the bishops to Rome May 15-17, which resulted in most of the Chilean bishops offering their resignations to the pope.

In a document leaked by Chilean news channel Tele 13 before the meeting with the bishops, Pope Francis said he was concerned by reports regarding "the attitude with which some of you bishops have reacted in the face of present and past events."

The pope also said he was "perplexed and ashamed" after he received confirmation that undue pressure by church officials was placed on "those who carry out criminal proceedings" and that church officials had destroyed compromising documents.

Those actions, Pope Francis said, "give evidence to an absolute lack of respect for the canonical procedure and, even more so, are reprehensible practices that must be avoided in the future."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul HaringBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has named as apostolicvisitor to Medjugorje the Polish archbishop he had initially sent to the townas his personal envoy to study the pastoral needs of the townspeople and of thethousands of pilgrims who flock to the site of the alleged Marian apparitions.The pope appointed Archbishop Henryk Hoser, the retired archbishop ofWarsaw-Praga, Poland, to be apostolic visitor to Medjugorje,Bosnia-Herzegovina, for an indefinite period, the Vatican announced May 31."The mission of the apostolic visitor has the aim ofassuring a stable and continuous accompaniment of the parish community ofMedjugorje and of the faithful who go there in pilgrimage, whose needs requirespecial attention," the Vatican announcement said.Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, toldjournalists that Archbishop Hoser "will reside in Medjugorje" andthat his mission does not involve investigating the authenticity of the allege...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has named as apostolic visitor to Medjugorje the Polish archbishop he had initially sent to the town as his personal envoy to study the pastoral needs of the townspeople and of the thousands of pilgrims who flock to the site of the alleged Marian apparitions.

The pope appointed Archbishop Henryk Hoser, the retired archbishop of Warsaw-Praga, Poland, to be apostolic visitor to Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, for an indefinite period, the Vatican announced May 31.

"The mission of the apostolic visitor has the aim of assuring a stable and continuous accompaniment of the parish community of Medjugorje and of the faithful who go there in pilgrimage, whose needs require special attention," the Vatican announcement said.

Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, told journalists that Archbishop Hoser "will reside in Medjugorje" and that his mission does not involve investigating the authenticity of the alleged apparitions.

Archbishop Hoser's mission "is strictly pastoral and not doctrinal," Burke said.

The Polish archbishop was appointed in February 2017 as the pope's special envoy to study the pastoral situation in Medjugorje.

At a news conference following his first visit, Archbishop Hoser said that although he has no authority or expertise to discuss the authenticity of the alleged apparitions, it was clear that "there is a special spiritual climate" in Medjugorje.

"The biggest miracle of Medjugorje are the confessions" of hundreds of people each day, Archbishop Hoser told reporters in April 2017

In 1981, six young people claimed that Mary had appeared to them. Some of the six say Mary still appears to them and gives them messages each day, while others say they see her only once a year now.

Diocesan commissions studied the alleged apparitions in 1982-1984 and again in 1984-1986, and the then-Yugoslavian bishops' conference studied them from 1987 to 1990. All three commissions concluded that they could not affirm that a supernatural event was occurring in the town.

In 2010, retired Pope Benedict XVI established a papal commission to study the alleged apparitions; the commission was chaired by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, retired papal vicar of Rome.

The commission's report has not been made public, although some of its points were revealed after Pope Francis spoke about the commission's work.

Pope Francis acknowledged that pilgrims to the Marian site deserve spiritual care and support, but he also expressed doubts about claims of the continuing apparitions of Mary in Medjugorje.

During his flight to Rome from Fatima, Portugal, in May 2017, the pope told journalists that, regarding the Medjugorje commission's work, "three things need to be distinguished."

"About the first apparitions, when (the 'seers') were young, the report more or less says that the investigation needs to continue," the pope said, according to the English translation posted on the Vatican website.

"Concerning the alleged current apparitions, the report expresses doubts," he said. Furthermore, "personally, I am more 'mischievous.' I prefer Our Lady to be a mother, our mother, and not a telegraph operator who sends out a message every day at a certain time -- this is not the mother of Jesus."

Pope Francis said his "personal opinion" is that "these alleged apparitions have no great value."

The "real core" of the commission's report, he said, is "the spiritual fact, the pastoral fact" that thousands of pilgrims go to Medjugorje and are converted. "For this there is no magic wand; this spiritual-pastoral fact cannot be denied."

After the pope made his remarks, Servite Father Salvatore Perrella, a member of the commission, told Catholic News Service, "The commission did not make a definitive pronouncement." However, he said, in discussing the apparitions that supposedly began June 24, 1981, and continue today, the commission opted to distinguish between what occurred in the first 10 days and what has occurred in the following three decades.

"The commission held as credible the first apparitions," he said. "Afterward, things became a little more complicated."

The Medjugorje commission recommended that Pope Francis lift the ban on official diocesan and parish pilgrimages to Medjugorje and that he designate the town's parish Church of St. James as a pontifical shrine with Vatican oversight, the Servite said.

Such decisions would be "an intelligent pastoral choice," Father Perrella said, and they could be made whether or not the church officially recognizes the apparitions as "worthy of belief." Allowing pilgrimages and designating the church as a shrine would be a recognition of the prayer, devotion and conversion millions of people have experienced at Medjugorje.

At the same time, he said, it would ensure that "a pastor and not a travel agency" is in charge of what happens there.

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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/Marco Garcia, ReutersBy Anna WeaverHONOLULU(CNS) -- Paul and Rose Utes, members of Sacred Heart Parish in Pahoa, had toleave their home when lava from the Kilauea eruptions moved into their sectionof the Leilani Estates subdivision in Puna on the Big Island.Atthe time they heard the mandatory evacuation order, the couple, who own BlackRock Cafe in Pahoa, were prepping to cater food for Honolulu Bishop LarrySilva's parish visit that first weekend in May.Whilethe Utes were at their house retrieving their belongings, a fissure opened upacross the street, sending a lava fountain shooting into the air. They laterreturned to get some of their dogs that had run off after the fissure explosionand a few more things. But with the road to their home fairly inaccessible,they haven't been back recently."It'sjust frustrating not knowing what's going on around your house," Paul said May23 in a telephone interview with the Hawaii Catholic Herald, Honolulu'sdiocesan newspaper.YetPau...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Marco Garcia, Reuters

By Anna Weaver

HONOLULU (CNS) -- Paul and Rose Utes, members of Sacred Heart Parish in Pahoa, had to leave their home when lava from the Kilauea eruptions moved into their section of the Leilani Estates subdivision in Puna on the Big Island.

At the time they heard the mandatory evacuation order, the couple, who own Black Rock Cafe in Pahoa, were prepping to cater food for Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva's parish visit that first weekend in May.

While the Utes were at their house retrieving their belongings, a fissure opened up across the street, sending a lava fountain shooting into the air. They later returned to get some of their dogs that had run off after the fissure explosion and a few more things. But with the road to their home fairly inaccessible, they haven't been back recently.

"It's just frustrating not knowing what's going on around your house," Paul said May 23 in a telephone interview with the Hawaii Catholic Herald, Honolulu's diocesan newspaper.

Yet Paul said they haven't accepted much relief support beyond temporarily staying in a friend's home because they feel there are other people who need it more. Their business hasn't been much affected by the eruptions so far. And they have insurance, though they still have to pay the mortgage on a house they can't live in.

The Utes, who have lived in Leilani Estates since 1991, now need to find a long-term place to stay.

"I don't want these houses. I want my house," Paul recalled his wife saying sadly as they drove around looking at potential rental properties that would allow their six dogs.

"If everybody could just keep all the people affected in their prayers," Paul asked. "I know a lot of people that lost their houses and need help. And they're devastated. And I know quite a few people who didn't have insurance and lost their houses."

Sacred Heart parishioners Richard and Nancy Robbins also live in Leilani Estates, but are four or five streets north of the current lava activity.

"God has looked out after us," Richard said.

According to Hawaii County Civil Defense, 82 structures to date have been destroyed by lava in this latest outflow from Kilauea Volcano, erupting continuously since 1983. Lava so far has covered more than 2,223 acres.

While Hawaii County issued an evacuation order to subdivision residents, some residents like the Robbinses have gone back to living in their homes. They moved from Miami to Hawaii 19 years ago and love Leilani. Now they regularly drive around the subdivision checking on the homes of friends and neighbors.

"It's one thing hearing about it, one thing seeing pictures on TV," Richard said, but another to be there. "We got halfway down a street and we realized that (the rest of the) street didn't exist anymore."

Richard said fellow parishioners have been wonderful. One couple offered their deployed son's home as a temporary residence. The parish food bank asked if they needed food. A non-Catholic local friend has also offered their home further away on the island for Richard and Nancy if and when they might need to leave Leilani again.

"We aren't in any need, but it's nice to hear people ask you, even if you don't need it," Richard said.

"Leilani is a very, very tight community," he added. "I'm just hoping we can survive. I don't want to have to leave Hawaii."

At Sacred Heart Parish in Pahoa town, you might not know there's major volcanic activity going on just a few miles away if not for the busy parking lot full of news crews and aid workers, said Lindbergh Marzo, Sacred Heart's pastoral council president.

The parish, which is 3.5 miles from the eruption, has allowed media and relief workers to use the church's lot and office bathrooms. At one point the parish hall was a temporary crisis information center. Other parishes have been dropping off donations there as well.

St. Joseph Parish in Hilo filled a 15-person passenger van with food, water, blankets, pillows, clothing, gift cards and other items for Puna evacuees and dropped it off at Sacred Heart May 22. Parishioners also raised a $3,224 cash donation for a local relief fund.

Father Paul Li, vicar forane of the diocese's East Hawaii vicariate, said the parishes in the vicariate took up a second collection for volcano aid during Masses May 19 and 20, which was Pentecost Sunday.

Father Li's parish of St. Theresa in Mountain View, which is about 18 miles from Pahoa, and Holy Rosary Mission in Keaau collected $1,164 in their second collection and also delivered blankets, tarps, towels and other items to Sacred Heart for distribution to those displaced residents that need them.

"Some people are grateful for where they are and some people have a lot of anxiety," Marzo said of the people he knows displaced by the volcano activity.

Leilani Estates is a rural subdivision with large lots on a 22-mile grid. The smaller nearby Lanipuna Gardens also is affected. At least 24 fissures have opened up since May 3, spewing molten rock on what used to be a quiet subdivision, forming a lava lake, sending magma to the ocean and expelling poisonous sulfur dioxide gas.

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Editor's Note: The Honolulu Diocese's three social service agencies -- Office of Social Ministries, HOPE Services Hawaii and Catholic Charities Hawaii -- are helping those affected by the volcanic activity. For information on how to donate to the agencies go to http://hopeserviceshawaii.org or https://www.catholiccharitieshawaii.org.

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Weaver writes for the Hawaii Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Honolulu.

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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/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPABy Paul McMullenBALTIMORE (CNS) -- For thesecond time in three years, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore willcelebrate a Mass at St. Paul Church in the historic town of Ellicott City, whereresidents are again taking stock after another devastating flash flood.Weekend worship for the feast ofthe Most Holy Trinity had concluded by the afternoon of May 27, when sustained,torrential rains turned Main Street below the church into a raging river thatwashed away automobiles, buildings and human life -- just as it had July 31,2016.Archbishop Lori will celebrate MassJune 2 at St. Paul, which was established in 1838, 66 years after the milland railroad town was founded at was then a strategic location along thePatapsco River.St. Paul is situated relativelysafely above the Main Street thoroughfare, which once again produced remindersof the destructive power of nature, documented on social media as many preparedto observe Memorial Day.A courthouse that da...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA

By Paul McMullen

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- For the second time in three years, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore will celebrate a Mass at St. Paul Church in the historic town of Ellicott City, where residents are again taking stock after another devastating flash flood.

Weekend worship for the feast of the Most Holy Trinity had concluded by the afternoon of May 27, when sustained, torrential rains turned Main Street below the church into a raging river that washed away automobiles, buildings and human life -- just as it had July 31, 2016.

Archbishop Lori will celebrate Mass June 2 at St. Paul, which was established in 1838, 66 years after the mill and railroad town was founded at was then a strategic location along the Patapsco River.

St. Paul is situated relatively safely above the Main Street thoroughfare, which once again produced reminders of the destructive power of nature, documented on social media as many prepared to observe Memorial Day.

A courthouse that dated to 1840 was among the structures destroyed in the historic town, which is part of the Baltimore metropolitan area and the county seat of Howard County.

Eddison Hermond, a National Guardsman from Severn, was enjoying lunch with friends when he went to the aid of a woman and was washed away, toward the Patapsco. Two days later, search and rescue teams located his body on the Baltimore County side of the river.

After the flash flood of 2016, St. Paul served as an emergency shelter. According to Father Warren Tanghe, pastor, the loss of water to all of its buildings and power in some of them precluded it from serving that function this time.

"Our facilities are not suitable for community service," Father Tanghe said May 28 in an interview with the Catholic Review, Baltimore's archdiocesan news outlet.

A day later, he reported that "all our buildings now have power and water, and our electronics are up."

St. Paul is being used as a staging area for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. crews that are restoring utilities.

The flood was felt at Resurrection-St. Paul School, north of old Ellicott City. According to Karen Murphy, principal, one of her teachers "lost" his residence on Main Street.

"I have eight other staff members and dozens of families who bailed out basements this weekend, but are grateful that's all they had to do," Murphy said. "Our theme this year has been 'Be Strong, Be Courageous.' ... That's appropriate for right now."

To the north of downtown Ellicott City, the Our Lady's Center Marian Shrine was closed Memorial Day for what a message on its website described as "some cleaning of debris," but noted that it "escaped damage" thanks to improvements made to its grounds after the 2016 flood.

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McMullen is managing editor of the Catholic Review, the news website and magazine of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

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

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IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- That only men can be validly ordainedto the priesthood is a truth that is part of the Catholic faith and will notand cannot change, said Cardinal-designate Luis Ladaria, prefect of theCongregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."It gives rise to serious concern to see that in somecountries there still are voices that put in doubt the definitive nature ofthis doctrine," the cardinal-designate wrote May 29 in the Vaticannewspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.St. John Paul II, confirming the constant teaching andpractice of the church, formally declared in 1994 that "the church has noauthority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that thisjudgment is to be definitively held by all the church's faithful."Cardinal-designate Ladaria said some people continue toquestion the infallibility of St. John Paul's declaration in the document"Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" because "it was not defined 'excathedra'" or formally, solemnly p...

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- That only men can be validly ordained to the priesthood is a truth that is part of the Catholic faith and will not and cannot change, said Cardinal-designate Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

"It gives rise to serious concern to see that in some countries there still are voices that put in doubt the definitive nature of this doctrine," the cardinal-designate wrote May 29 in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

St. John Paul II, confirming the constant teaching and practice of the church, formally declared in 1994 that "the church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the church's faithful."

Cardinal-designate Ladaria said some people continue to question the infallibility of St. John Paul's declaration in the document "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" because "it was not defined 'ex cathedra'" or formally, solemnly proclaimed as infallible. The argument, the cardinal-designate wrote, is that "a later decision by a future pope or council could overturn it."

But "sowing these doubts creates serious confusion among the faithful not only about the sacrament of orders as part of the divine constitution of the church, but also about how the ordinary magisterium can teach Catholic doctrine in an infallible way," he wrote.

A teaching of the church is infallible not only when it is solemnly pronounced by a council or by a pope speaking "ex cathedra," he said. A teaching is recognized as infallible also when it is "the ordinary and universal teaching of bishops spread throughout the world when, in communion among themselves and with the pope, they propose Catholic doctrine that is to be held definitively."

That is what St. John Paul did, he said. "He did not declare new dogma, but with the authority conferred on him as successor of Peter, he formally confirmed and made explicit -- to remove any doubt -- that which the ordinary and universal magisterium had considered as belonging to the deposit of faith throughout the history of the church."

"Christ willed to confer this sacrament on the 12 apostles -- all men -- who, in turn, communicated it to other men," Cardinal-designate Ladaria wrote. "The church always has seen itself as bound to this decision of the Lord, which excludes that the ministerial priesthood can be conferred validly on women."

In response to questions, he said, the doctrinal congregation "has repeated that this is a truth belonging to the deposit of the faith."

That a candidate for the priesthood must be male, he said, belongs to the "substance of the sacrament" and cannot be changed because the sacrament was instituted by Christ.

Just because women cannot be ordained, he said, does not imply "subordination, but a mutual enrichment."

The exalted role of Mary in the church, even though she was not one of the 12 apostles, shows the importance of both the feminine and masculine in the church, he said, which is a challenge to modern culture that "struggles to understand the meaning and goodness of the difference between man and woman."

Cardinal-designate Ladaria noted that Pope Francis also has reaffirmed the teaching on an all-male priesthood.

In "The Joy of the Gospel" in 2013 he wrote, "The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion."

And, responding to a reporter's question on a trip to Sweden in 2016, he said, "As for the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the last, clear word was given by St. John Paul II, and this holds."

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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/Aprille Hanson, Arkansas CatholicBy Aprille HansonLITTLEROCK, Ark. (CNS) -- An Arkansas Catholic priest is taking his ninja name "FatherFlex" national as a contestant on the new season of the NBC reality show "American Ninja Warrior," debuting May 30.FatherStephen Gadberry, pastor of St. Mary Church in Batesville and St. CeciliaChurch in Newport, applied last December to be on the show, which allowseveryday "warriors" to show off their skills in a series of challengingobstacle courses.Competitorsadvance from city qualifying and finals to regional finals and finally nationalfinals in Las Vegas. The grand prize winner receives $1 million.FatherGadberry, 32, received a call in mid-February to compete in Dallas for a spot asa contestant. Tryouts were held during Holy Week.OnPalm Sunday, March 25, the priest was running, jumping and launching throughthe air on an obstacle course. Surrounded by friends, family and fellowreligious, including sisters and brother priests, Fa...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Aprille Hanson, Arkansas Catholic

By Aprille Hanson

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CNS) -- An Arkansas Catholic priest is taking his ninja name "Father Flex" national as a contestant on the new season of the NBC reality show "American Ninja Warrior," debuting May 30.

Father Stephen Gadberry, pastor of St. Mary Church in Batesville and St. Cecilia Church in Newport, applied last December to be on the show, which allows everyday "warriors" to show off their skills in a series of challenging obstacle courses.

Competitors advance from city qualifying and finals to regional finals and finally national finals in Las Vegas. The grand prize winner receives $1 million.

Father Gadberry, 32, received a call in mid-February to compete in Dallas for a spot as a contestant. Tryouts were held during Holy Week.

On Palm Sunday, March 25, the priest was running, jumping and launching through the air on an obstacle course. Surrounded by friends, family and fellow religious, including sisters and brother priests, Father Gadberry and other ninja hopefuls competed from 10 p.m. until 7:45 a.m. the next morning.

"Hold on tight, breathe, concentrate, focus. Really in the heat of the moment it's just survive. Just keep moving forward one more step, one more step, that's what was going through my mind, just one more step," he told the Arkansas Catholic, newspaper of the Little Rock Diocese.

"It was crazy, but it fed in perfectly into Holy Week," he said. "On the obstacle course, you have to identify the obstacle, you've got to plan to attack it and to go on knowing that it's going to be kind of hard, but knowing that there's an end in sight.

"It's the same with the Triduum -- recognizing the struggle of sin and death but knowing that that's not the end, facing it and go walking with the Lord to Easter. So it was a good spiritual shot of caffeine."

His passion for CrossFit, as both an exercise regimen and now as a certified trainer, prepared him well.

The priest's parishioners think it's fun that he tried out for the show, but it's more about "sharing the joy of being Catholic," he said.

"What they're excited about is that the church that they're a part of is doing things that people usually wouldn't imagine. So their church is going to the peripheries is what Pope Francis says," he said.

"They're telling all these other people of different faiths and denominations that 'my church is not one that is stuck in a box. My church is one that can go and do crazy stuff. Come check it out,'" Father Gadberry added.

He said the camaraderie with his fellow competitors was a highlight, along with meeting Sean Bryan, known as the "Papal Ninja" from season nine of "American Ninja Warrior." The two first met on social media and met a few times in Dallas. Bryan offered the priest some tips and advice.

"His greatest tip was just to have fun. And that helped me to stay calm through it," Father Gadberry said.

Confirmation students at St. Mary Church eagerly offered up various nicknames for his time on the show. Father Gadberry said his favorite was "Father Flex." It fits nicely with his often-used hashtag "jesusismyhomie" on Instagram.

"Father Flex is not just muscles. ' With all this stuff I want to invite people to take it to the next level, go to the spiritual level," he said.

"We can flex our spiritual muscle too whenever you really got to lift some heavy spiritual weights and love somebody that you don't want to love or forgive somebody you don't want to forgive," he added. "Or really walk a walk with somebody that's very challenging. Very much the same way spiritually, you've got to build that muscle up."

Father Gadberry has no intention of becoming a reality star. It's all about using a larger platform -- last year the show averaged 6 million viewers per episode - to "proclaim the Gospel using the talents that God has given me."

Part of spreading the Gospel is breaking the priest stereotype.

"So many of my brother priests have amazing talents," from music to athleticism, "so anyone reading this, their pastor has an amazing talent or two or three. Ask them about it, because it reveals the human side of us," he said.

"We are really the image of Christ in the church and it's easy to think of God as this being who is way out there," he continued, "but Jesus came to be like one of us so hopefully the priest can be somebody at the altar who people look up to, but at the same time be one of the people, and that's what it means to be Christ as a priest."

For him, physical and spiritual well-being are parallel. Little Rock Bishop Anthony B. Taylor encourages all priests to "always be learning and he really supports all of us studying things that we're passionate about," Father Gadberry said.

"The spiritual life is important, but the soul needs a body. And that body must be a stable place where the soul can reside. We have to take care of our body; it's the temple of the Holy Spirit as Paul says. This is just a way of continuing my education/formation so then I can be better equipped to catechize people through that hobby of mine," he said.

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Hanson is associate editor of Arkansas Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock.

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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/Alex Fraser, ReutersBy Michael KellyDUBLIN (CNS) -- Voters in Ireland have optedto remove the right to life of the unborn from the country's constitution,paving the way for abortion on demand up to 12 weeks.Results from the nationwide referendum showed that 66.4 percent of citizensopted to remove the Eighth Amendment from the constitution, while 33.6 percentvoted to retain it. Turnout was 64.5 percent.Voters inserted the original amendment inthe constitution in 1983 by a margin of 2-1, and it "acknowledges theright to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life ofthe mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, byits laws to defend and vindicate that right."That text will now be deleted and replacedwith an article stating that "provision may be made by law for theregulation of termination of pregnancy."Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limericktold Massgoers May 26 that the result "is deeply regrettable and chillingfor those of...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Alex Fraser, Reuters

By Michael Kelly

DUBLIN (CNS) -- Voters in Ireland have opted to remove the right to life of the unborn from the country's constitution, paving the way for abortion on demand up to 12 weeks.

Results from the nationwide referendum showed that 66.4 percent of citizens opted to remove the Eighth Amendment from the constitution, while 33.6 percent voted to retain it. Turnout was 64.5 percent.

Voters inserted the original amendment in the constitution in 1983 by a margin of 2-1, and it "acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right."

That text will now be deleted and replaced with an article stating that "provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy."

Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick told Massgoers May 26 that the result "is deeply regrettable and chilling for those of us who voted 'no.'"

He said "the final result of the referendum is the will of the majority of the people, though not all the people."

"It is a vote, of course, that does not change our position. Our message is one of love: love for all, love for life, for those with us today, for those in the womb," he said.

Referring to Pope Francis' Aug. 25-26 visit, Bishop Leahy said: "In August, we will unite as a family, to renew that sense of family when the World Meeting of Families comes here. We have the privilege of Pope Francis coming, and today I cannot think of his visit being more timely: to come here and remind us of the importance of family, of the love we have of family, of the reality that, yes, families get bruised sometimes, but they should never be broken."

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said he would introduce legislation that would allow abortion on demand up to 12 weeks, up to 24 weeks on unspecified grounds for the health of the mother, and up to birth where the child is diagnosed with a life-limiting condition that means he or she may not live long after birth.

An exit poll conducted by the Ireland's national broadcaster RTE asked voters what motivated them to opt for either "yes" or "no." Among "yes" voters, the most important issues were the right to choose (84 percent), the health or life of the woman (69 percent), and pregnancy as a result of rape (52 percent).

Among "no" voters, they cited the right to life of the unborn (76 percent), the right to live of those with Down syndrome or other disabilities (36 percent), and religious views (28 percent).

John McGuirk, spokesman for Save the Eighth, which campaigned for a "no" vote, described the outcome as "a tragedy of historic proportions."

"The Eighth Amendment did not create a right to life for the unborn child -- it merely acknowledged that such a right exists, has always existed and will always exist," he said, insisting that "a wrong does not become right simply because a majority support it."

"We are so proud of all of those who stood with us in this campaign -- our supporters, our donors, our families and our loved ones," he said. "This campaign took a huge personal toll on all of us who were involved, and we have been so grateful for their support."

Insisting that pro-life campaigners will continue their efforts, McGuirk told Catholic News Service: "Shortly, legislation will be introduced that will allow babies to be killed in our country. We will oppose that legislation. If and when abortion clinics are opened in Ireland, because of the inability of the government to keep their promise about a (general-practitioner-led health) service, we will oppose that as well.

"Abortion was wrong yesterday. It remains wrong today. The constitution has changed, but the facts have not," he said.

Ruth Cullen of the LoveBoth campaign insisted that the organization will try to ensure that the Irish prime minister, or Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, is true to his pledge that the government will work to ensure that abortions are rare.

"We will hold the Taoiseach to his promise that repeal would only lead to abortion in very restrictive circumstances. He gave his word on this, now he must deliver on it. No doubt many people voted for repeal based on the Taoiseach's promises in this regard," she said.

Commenting on the campaign, Cullen said: "We are immensely proud and grateful to all our volunteers throughout the country who worked tirelessly over recent months to ensure unborn babies would not be deprived of legal protections.

"The campaign to protect unborn babies will endure," she said.

Eamonn Conway, a theologian at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, told Catholic News Service he was "greatly saddened" by the result. However, he pointed out that "the truth is that the Irish Constitution merely recognized the right to life that is antecedent to all law. This most fundamental of all human rights is not extinguished or diminished because our constitution no longer acknowledges it. What is diminished is our constitution," he said.

Conway said he believes "the task facing the Catholic Church now is to ensure that it makes every effort to accompany with the healing compassion of Christ everyone caught up in the tragic circumstances that surround an abortion ... from grieving parents to medical practitioners."

Archbishop Eamon Martin, primate of All-Ireland, was expected to address the referendum outcome during a homily at the country's national Marian shrine at Knock, County Mayo, May 27.

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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/Alex Fraser, ReutersBy Michael KellyDUBLIN (CNS) -- Voters in Ireland have optedto remove the right to life of the unborn from the country's constitution,paving the way for abortion on demand up to 12 weeks.With votes counted from 30 of Ireland's 40 constituencies,results from the nationwide referendum showed that 67.3 percent of citizensopted to remove the Eighth Amendment from the constitution, while 32.7 percentvoted to retain it. Turnout was 64.5 percent.Voters inserted the original amendment inthe constitution in 1983 by a margin of 2-1, and it "acknowledges theright to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life ofthe mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, byits laws to defend and vindicate that right."That text will now be deleted and replacedwith an article stating that "provision may be made by law for theregulation of termination of pregnancy."Minister for Health Simon Harris has said hewould introduce...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Alex Fraser, Reuters

By Michael Kelly

DUBLIN (CNS) -- Voters in Ireland have opted to remove the right to life of the unborn from the country's constitution, paving the way for abortion on demand up to 12 weeks.

With votes counted from 30 of Ireland's 40 constituencies, results from the nationwide referendum showed that 67.3 percent of citizens opted to remove the Eighth Amendment from the constitution, while 32.7 percent voted to retain it. Turnout was 64.5 percent.

Voters inserted the original amendment in the constitution in 1983 by a margin of 2-1, and it "acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right."

That text will now be deleted and replaced with an article stating that "provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy."

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said he would introduce legislation that would allow abortion on demand up to 12 weeks, up to 24 weeks on unspecified grounds for the health of the mother, and up to birth where the child is diagnosed with a life-limiting condition that means he or she may not live long after birth.

An exit poll conducted by the Ireland's national broadcaster RTE asked voters what motivated them to opt for either "yes" or "no." Among "yes" voters, the most important issues were the right to choose (84 percent), the health or life of the woman (69 percent), and pregnancy as a result of rape (52 percent).

Among "no" voters, they cited the right to life of the unborn (76 percent), the right to live of those with Down syndrome or other disabilities (36 percent), and religious views (28 percent).

John McGuirk, spokesman for Save the Eighth, which campaigned for a "no" vote, described the outcome as "a tragedy of historic proportions."

"The Eighth Amendment did not create a right to life for the unborn child -- it merely acknowledged that such a right exists, has always existed and will always exist," he said, insisting that "a wrong does not become right simply because a majority support it."

"We are so proud of all of those who stood with us in this campaign -- our supporters, our donors, our families and our loved ones," he said. "This campaign took a huge personal toll on all of us who were involved, and we have been so grateful for their support."

Insisting that pro-life campaigners will continue their efforts, McGuirk told Catholic News Service: "Shortly, legislation will be introduced that will allow babies to be killed in our country. We will oppose that legislation. If and when abortion clinics are opened in Ireland, because of the inability of the government to keep their promise about a (general-practitioner-led health) service, we will oppose that as well.

"Abortion was wrong yesterday. It remains wrong today. The constitution has changed, but the facts have not," he said.

Ruth Cullen of the LoveBoth campaign insisted that the organization will try to ensure that the Irish prime minister, or Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, is true to his pledge that the government will work to ensure that abortions are rare.

"We will hold the Taoiseach to his promise that repeal would only lead to abortion in very restrictive circumstances. He gave his word on this, now he must deliver on it. No doubt many people voted for repeal based on the Taoiseach's promises in this regard," she said.

Commenting on the campaign, Cullen said: "We are immensely proud and grateful to all our volunteers throughout the country who worked tirelessly over recent months to ensure unborn babies would not be deprived of legal protections.

"The campaign to protect unborn babies will endure," she said.

Eamonn Conway, a theologian at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, told Catholic News Service he was "greatly saddened" by the result. However, he pointed out that "the truth is that the Irish Constitution merely recognized the right to life that is antecedent to all law. This most fundamental of all human rights is not extinguished or diminished because our constitution no longer acknowledges it. What is diminished is our constitution," he said.

Conway said he believes "the task facing the Catholic Church now is to ensure that it makes every effort to accompany with the healing compassion of Christ everyone caught up in the tragic circumstances that surround an abortion ... from grieving parents to medical practitioners."

Archbishop Eamon Martin, primate of All-Ireland, was expected to address the referendum outcome during a homily at the country's national Marian shrine at Knock, County Mayo, May 27.

- - -

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

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican MediaBy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Continuing his occasional series of"Mercy Friday" visits, Pope Francis surprised the students at aschool renamed in March in honor of a student who died of leukemia at the ageof 11.For the visit May 25 to the Elisa Scala ComprehensiveSchool, which includes students from the age of 3 to 14, the pope also broughtbooks for the school library. The Vatican did not provide the titles of thebooks or give any other details about them.Before the city of Rome and the Italian department ofeducation allowed the whole school to be named after Elisa, the library was.Her parents, Giorgio and Maria, said their daughter loved to read and, after shedied in 2015, they started the library, which now holds more than 20,000volumes, all of which were donated. The couple gave the pope a guided tour of the shelves.Pope Francis arrived at the school after classes had endedfor the day. But more than 200 students were there preparing for a yea...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Continuing his occasional series of "Mercy Friday" visits, Pope Francis surprised the students at a school renamed in March in honor of a student who died of leukemia at the age of 11.

For the visit May 25 to the Elisa Scala Comprehensive School, which includes students from the age of 3 to 14, the pope also brought books for the school library. The Vatican did not provide the titles of the books or give any other details about them.

Before the city of Rome and the Italian department of education allowed the whole school to be named after Elisa, the library was. Her parents, Giorgio and Maria, said their daughter loved to read and, after she died in 2015, they started the library, which now holds more than 20,000 volumes, all of which were donated.

The couple gave the pope a guided tour of the shelves.

Pope Francis arrived at the school after classes had ended for the day. But more than 200 students were there preparing for a year-end show featuring dance, sport and theater. After five months of rehearsals, they sang for the pope.

The pope began the "Mercy Friday" initiative during the Holy Year of Mercy in 2015-16 to highlight the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Among other places, the visits have taken him to hospitals and rehabilitation centers, a group home for children, a L'Arche Community, a halfway house for women inmates with small children and a home for women rescued from forced prostitution.

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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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