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Catholic News

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican MediaBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The sin of grumbling and complaining is often triggered by a desire to avoid being challenged or upset by seeing Christ's unexpected mercy at work, Pope Francis said.The way Christ gave witness was "something new for that era," the pope said, because it was thought that being with sinners "made you impure, like touching a leper."That is why the "doctors of the law," scribes and Pharisees stayed far away from those who sinned and why they complained about Jesus' unusual ways, the pope said Nov. 8 in his homily during Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.They would read but never understand what God meant by "I desire mercy, not sacrifice," the pope said. But Jesus gives concrete witness to this mercy by the way he interacts with people, ending old practices and taking risks.The pope's homily looked at the day's Gospel reading of the parable of the lost sheep, according to St. Luke....

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The sin of grumbling and complaining is often triggered by a desire to avoid being challenged or upset by seeing Christ's unexpected mercy at work, Pope Francis said.

The way Christ gave witness was "something new for that era," the pope said, because it was thought that being with sinners "made you impure, like touching a leper."

That is why the "doctors of the law," scribes and Pharisees stayed far away from those who sinned and why they complained about Jesus' unusual ways, the pope said Nov. 8 in his homily during Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

They would read but never understand what God meant by "I desire mercy, not sacrifice," the pope said. But Jesus gives concrete witness to this mercy by the way he interacts with people, ending old practices and taking risks.

The pope's homily looked at the day's Gospel reading of the parable of the lost sheep, according to St. Luke.

When sinners drew close to Jesus to listen to him, the Pharisees and scribes "began to complain, saying, 'This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.'"

The scribes didn't say, "Oh look! This man seems good because he is trying to convert sinners," the pope said. Instead they start making negative comments to undercut Jesus' witness.

Rather than engaging in dialogue or "trying to resolve a conflicted situation, they secretly grumble, always in whispers because they have no courage to speak frankly," he said.

This negative reaction to the way someone gives witness or to "a person that I don't like" exists on all levels: in families, between individuals, in parishes and dioceses, even in nations and politics, he said.

"This is terrible -- when a government is not honest, and it tries to smear its adversaries with complaining, whether it be defamation, calumny," the pope said. Dictatorships, for example, take control of media outlets and, through them, "begin to grumble, to belittle all those who are a danger to the government."

Jesus, however, reacts to complaining not by condemning the scribes but by using the very same method they always employed against him -- by asking a question, the pope said. In the Gospel story Jesus asks, "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the 99 in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?"

The Pharisees and doctors of the law, Pope Francis said, figure it makes more sense to let the one go in order to keep the larger number safe.

"This is why they don't go speak with sinners, they don't visit tax collectors, they don't go because (they think), 'Better not get tarnished by these people, it's a risk.'"

"They are incapable of forgiving, of being merciful, of receiving," the pope said. "They choose the opposite of Jesus," who does seek out the one sheep and when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy.

That is the other thing the doctors of the law don't understand -- the joy and celebration of the Gospel, the pope said.

Giving witness to God's mercy attracts many people and "makes the church grow," the pope said. But it also provokes or irritates others, who start to grumble, using their complaints like a shield "so that this witness does not harm me."

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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/Mark Blinch, ReutersBy Dennis SadowskiWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Leaders and fundraisers at Catholic organizations are cautiously monitoring the level of donations and gifts as the end-of-the-year giving season approaches, hoping that the clergy sexual abuse scandal won't negatively affect their bottom line.While most of the professionals contacted by Catholic News Service said it is too early yet to see what effect, if any, the abuse crisis may have on giving, some are taking steps to reassure donors that money contributed to vital ministries is not going for settlements to abuse victims or payments to attorneys.The crisis is just one factor that concerns the leaders. There's also the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act. It's effect on giving remains a question mark. "People remain confused about it," said Franciscan Sister Georgette Lehmuth, president and CEO of the National Catholic Development Conference."The main thing is no one knows. It's way too early," ...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Mark Blinch, Reuters

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Leaders and fundraisers at Catholic organizations are cautiously monitoring the level of donations and gifts as the end-of-the-year giving season approaches, hoping that the clergy sexual abuse scandal won't negatively affect their bottom line.

While most of the professionals contacted by Catholic News Service said it is too early yet to see what effect, if any, the abuse crisis may have on giving, some are taking steps to reassure donors that money contributed to vital ministries is not going for settlements to abuse victims or payments to attorneys.

The crisis is just one factor that concerns the leaders. There's also the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act. It's effect on giving remains a question mark. "People remain confused about it," said Franciscan Sister Georgette Lehmuth, president and CEO of the National Catholic Development Conference.

"The main thing is no one knows. It's way too early," Patrick Markey, executive director of the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference, told CNS.

Beyond that, some organizations have offered the expertise of their members to individual dioceses and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in areas of communications and finances as the bishops prepare to publicly address the abuse crisis during their fall general assembly Nov. 12-14 in Baltimore.

One effort to prevent a drop off in donations has been initiated by Catholic Charities USA. Dominican Sister Donna Markham, the organization's president and CEO, sent a letter to all donors Oct. 31 expressing concern about calls to withhold donations to any Catholic institution.

"This concerns me deeply," Sister Markham wrote. "I am very worried about the consequent impact this will have on many children and families living in poverty or on the edges of poverty right now."

The letter continues, explaining that Catholic Charities agencies annually serve 10 million people nationwide with emergency food, health care and other services. "Catholic Charities donations do not fund the bishops to the dioceses and cannot be used for that purpose," the letter said.

In an interview, Sister Markham said, "Anybody who is working in Catholic organizations right now is being hit by the fallout from the abuse crisis. We have been faced with some of our significant donors saying, 'No more money to Catholic Charities until the bishops straighten out this mess.'"

She said any impact will be known only after the holidays. "But people are calling us daily saying, 'Take me off your mailing list,'" she said.

"The issue here is that if anyone is really concerned or worried that somehow their donation will be misdirected and be used to fund the abuse situation, I think they need to be clear that we are not allowed to do that," Sister Markham added.

It's the devotion to mission that Sister Lehmuth holds up as key to helping the Catholic organizations weather any potential loss in donations.

She said her organization has urged development professionals at Catholic entities to "remind people how your money is being used."

"Don't wait until the end of the year," Sister Lehmuth said. "Keep reminding them what good your money is doing. And remind them of the good that the church is doing too."

Donations to the Catholic Near East Welfare Association have remained stable in recent years, but the organization is continuing to press how it is helping Christian communities in troubled areas of the world, according to Michael J. L. LaCivita, director of communications.

He said Catholic organizations are facing "a perfect storm" in the abuse crisis, the tax cut law and partisan political rancor in the U.S. that has caused people to carefully weigh where to send their money.

CNEWA has received letters from donors expressing anger about the bishops' failure to maintain moral authority over the church, LaCivita told CNS. He described the letters as "well thought out," offering carefully crafted words that express people's moral outrage.

"But the correspondence doesn't hold us responsible," LaCivita said, even though some writers have voiced concern that funds could be used for abuse legal settlements because bishops serve as the organization's trustees.

"People want answers and they want to have their anger heard," he added.

At The Catholic University of America, fundraising has continued to meet annual goals, said Scott Rembold, vice president for university advancement.

"We're not hearing a lot of people holding the university accountable for the crisis," Rembold told CNS, saying about 125 people had contacted the school since June when reports surfaced that Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick had allegedly abused seminarians years ago. Of those, about two dozen said they were not going to donate specifically because of the reports, he said.

The crisis has caused the university to put on hold a plan to build a residence for priests taking graduate level courses. Rembold said the project called for a new wing to be added to Curley Hall with a kitchen and chapel.

Because bishops were involved in raising money for the effort, university officials and the bishops on the board of trustees jointly felt it was best to put the project aside and that it could be reviewed in the future, Rembold said.

In a different path, two organizations have reached out to the bishops offering expertise and action steps to address the anger and concerns that people have.

Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, or FADICA, convened a working group to address the abuse crisis. Alexia Kelly, the organization's president and CEO, told CNS that members generated "ideas and questions and recommendations and opportunities for action either together or independently."

"Our members really feel they have a responsibility as donors and philanthropists not to perpetuate practices or lack of practices that may enable or perpetuate abuse," she explained.

FADICA members will convene in February for the organization's annual meeting to discuss its recommendations for member action. The recommendations also will be shared with the USCCB.

Donors want to ensure, Kelly said, "that adequate safeguarding practices and policies are in place in all the ministries they support inside or outside of the church, and they would continue to explore ways they as philanthropists can support a comprehensive culture of safety in all levels of the church."

Meanwhile, at the Leadership Roundtable, lay Catholic professionals from various fields have stepped up to offer their expertise to assist the bishops as they addressed the sex abuse crisis.

The organization formed after the 2002 sex abuse crisis emerged with the goal of providing dioceses with lay experts who could help institute best practices in offices and ministries to ensure trust.

Kim Smolik, Leadership Roundtable's CEO, said the organization has received calls from more than 50 dioceses seeking assistance since the August release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that examined a 70-year period, beginning in 1947, in six Catholic dioceses. The report said that in that time span there were claims that 300 priests and other church workers had abused about 1,000 minors. It also claimed the church covered up abuse allegations and brushed aside victims.

Roundtable participants are stressing to dioceses that communication is key, Smolik explained, adding that donors are unlikely to withdraw their gifts, but that they want to know that the church is addressing the root causes of the current scandal.

"Laypeople are looking for the church to be responsive and repentant and say what has gone wrong. They are looking for a plan forward, looking for the plan to be implemented and they are looking to be communicated with all along the way," Smolik said.

"Laypeople want to be part of the solution."

- - -

Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

 

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

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IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Christian Brothers of the MidwestBy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has recognized the martyrdom of De La Salle Christian Brother James Miller, who was born in Wisconsin and was shot to death in Guatemala in 1982.The recognition of the martyrdom of Brother James, or Brother Santiago as he also was known, clears the way for his beatification; the date and location of the ceremony were not immediately announced.Publishing news about a variety of sainthood causes Nov. 8, the Vatican said Pope Francis had recognized as "blessed" a 15th-century Augustinian brother, Michael Giedrojc.The recognition amounted to the "equivalent beatification" of Brother Giedrojc, who was born in Lithuania and died in Krakow. With the pope recognizing that over the course of centuries the brother has been venerated by thousands of Catholics, the normal process leading to beatification is not needed.Brother Miller, the U.S. martyr, was born Sept. 2...

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Christian Brothers of the Midwest

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has recognized the martyrdom of De La Salle Christian Brother James Miller, who was born in Wisconsin and was shot to death in Guatemala in 1982.

The recognition of the martyrdom of Brother James, or Brother Santiago as he also was known, clears the way for his beatification; the date and location of the ceremony were not immediately announced.

Publishing news about a variety of sainthood causes Nov. 8, the Vatican said Pope Francis had recognized as "blessed" a 15th-century Augustinian brother, Michael Giedrojc.

The recognition amounted to the "equivalent beatification" of Brother Giedrojc, who was born in Lithuania and died in Krakow. With the pope recognizing that over the course of centuries the brother has been venerated by thousands of Catholics, the normal process leading to beatification is not needed.

Brother Miller, the U.S. martyr, was born Sept. 21, 1944, in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He met the Christian Brothers at Pacelli High School there and, at the age of 15, entered the order's juniorate in Missouri. After the novitiate, he taught Spanish, English and religion at Cretin High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, for three years. He also was in charge of school maintenance and served as the football coach.

Some websites refer to him as "Brother Fix-it" and an icon featured on the website of the Christian Brothers of the Midwest shows him wearing overalls.

In 1969, he was sent to Nicaragua, where he taught and helped build schools. According to the De La Salle Brother's website, "His religious superiors ordered him to leave Nicaragua in July 1979 during the time of the Sandinista revolution. It was feared that since he worked for the Somoza government, he might be at risk."

Returning to the United States, he again taught at Cretin High School. But in January 1981, he was sent to Guatemala, where he taught at a secondary school in Huehuetenango and at a center that helped young indigenous people learn job and leadership skills.

While on a ladder making repairs to the building on the afternoon of Feb. 13, 1982, he was shot several times by three hooded men and died instantly. No one was ever arrested for his murder. Funeral services were held in Guatemala and in St. Paul before he was buried in Polonia, Wisconsin.

In other decrees published Nov. 8, Pope Francis recognized miracles attributed to the intercession of Edvige Carboni and Benedetta Bianchi Porro, meaning both Italian laywomen can be beatified. Carboni died in 1952; Porro died in 1964.

The pope also recognized the martyrdom of more victims of the Spanish civil war: Angel Cuartas Cristobal and eight of his classmates at the seminary in Oviedo, who were killed between 1934 and 1937; and Mariano Mullerat Soldevila, a physician, husband and father killed in 1936.

In 10 other causes for canonization, Pope Francis signed decrees recognizing that the candidates for sainthood lived the Christian virtues in a heroic way, which is the first step toward beatification. The decrees included the cause of Bishop Alfredo Maria Obviar of Lucena, Philippines, founder of the Missionary Catechists of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus. The bishop died in 1978.

 

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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/Mike Nelson, EPABy LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- After a shooting spree late Nov. 7 at a country-music bar in Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles from the heart of Los Angeles, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles asked people to "pray hard" for the victims and their families.Thirteen people, including the suspected gunman and a 29-year veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, died in shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill on what was college night, with lessons on country two-step dancing.The bar is popular with students at nearby California Lutheran University, and also attracts students from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Moorpark College in Moorpark and California State University-Channel Islands in Camarillo."Like many of you, I woke this morning to news of the horrible violence last night at the Borderline Grill in Thousand Oaks," Archbishop Gomez said in his Nov. 8 statement."Let us pray hard for all the families, for those who w...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Mike Nelson, EPA

By

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- After a shooting spree late Nov. 7 at a country-music bar in Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles from the heart of Los Angeles, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles asked people to "pray hard" for the victims and their families.

Thirteen people, including the suspected gunman and a 29-year veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, died in shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill on what was college night, with lessons on country two-step dancing.

The bar is popular with students at nearby California Lutheran University, and also attracts students from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Moorpark College in Moorpark and California State University-Channel Islands in Camarillo.

"Like many of you, I woke this morning to news of the horrible violence last night at the Borderline Grill in Thousand Oaks," Archbishop Gomez said in his Nov. 8 statement.

"Let us pray hard for all the families, for those who were murdered and those who were injured, and in a special way for the heroic officer, Sgt. Ron Helus, who lost his life defending people in the attack. May God grant perpetual light to those who have died and may he bring comfort to their loved ones and peace to our community."

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said Nov. 8 that the suspected gunman, Ian David Long, had legally purchased the weapon used in the shooting. It came less than two weeks after a gunman murdered 11 worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue, which was the largest mass murder in the United States since 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last Feb. 14.

According to the Associated Press, after Helus was shot multiple times and dragged outside the bar by his partner -- he died early Nov. 8 at a nearby hospital -- scores of police assembled outside and burst in later to find Long and 11 others dead. Long had been wearing a black hood during the spree.

 

- - -

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/Mark Blinch, ReutersBy Dennis SadowskiWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Leaders and fundraisers at Catholic organizations are cautiously monitoring the level of donations and gifts as the end-of-the-year giving season approaches, hoping that the clergy sexual abuse scandal won't negatively affect their bottom line.While most of the professionals contacted by Catholic News Service said it is too early yet to see what effect, if any, the abuse crisis may have on giving, some are taking steps to reassure donors that money contributed to vital ministries is not going for settlements to abuse victims or payments to attorneys.The crisis is just one factor that concerns the leaders. There's also the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act. It's effect on giving remains a question mark. "People remain confused about it," said Franciscan Sister Georgette Lehmuth, president and CEO of the National Catholic Development Conference."The main thing is no one knows. It's way too early," ...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Mark Blinch, Reuters

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Leaders and fundraisers at Catholic organizations are cautiously monitoring the level of donations and gifts as the end-of-the-year giving season approaches, hoping that the clergy sexual abuse scandal won't negatively affect their bottom line.

While most of the professionals contacted by Catholic News Service said it is too early yet to see what effect, if any, the abuse crisis may have on giving, some are taking steps to reassure donors that money contributed to vital ministries is not going for settlements to abuse victims or payments to attorneys.

The crisis is just one factor that concerns the leaders. There's also the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act. It's effect on giving remains a question mark. "People remain confused about it," said Franciscan Sister Georgette Lehmuth, president and CEO of the National Catholic Development Conference.

"The main thing is no one knows. It's way too early," Patrick Markey, executive director of the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference, told CNS.

Beyond that, some organizations have offered the expertise of their members to individual dioceses and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in areas of communications and finances as the bishops prepare to publicly address the abuse crisis during their fall general assembly Nov. 12-14 in Baltimore.

One effort to prevent a drop off in donations has been initiated by Catholic Charities USA. Dominican Sister Donna Markham, the organization's president and CEO, sent a letter to all donors Oct. 31 expressing concern about calls to withhold donations to any Catholic institution.

"This concerns me deeply," Sister Markham wrote. "I am very worried about the consequent impact this will have on many children and families living in poverty or on the edges of poverty right now."

The letter continues, explaining that Catholic Charities agencies annually serve 10 million people nationwide with emergency food, health care and other services. "Catholic Charities donations do not fund the bishops to the dioceses and cannot be used for that purpose," the letter said.

In an interview, Sister Markham said, "Anybody who is working in Catholic organizations right now is being hit by the fallout from the abuse crisis. We have been faced with some of our significant donors saying, 'No more money to Catholic Charities until the bishops straighten out this mess.'"

She said any impact will be known only after the holidays. "But people are calling us daily saying, 'Take me off your mailing list,'" she said.

"The issue here is that if anyone is really concerned or worried that somehow their donation will be misdirected and be used to fund the abuse situation, I think they need to be clear that we are not allowed to do that," Sister Markham added.

It's the devotion to mission that Sister Lehmuth holds up as key to helping the Catholic organizations weather any potential loss in donations.

She said her organization has urged development professionals at Catholic entities to "remind people how your money is being used."

"Don't wait until the end of the year," Sister Lehmuth said. "Keep reminding them what good your money is doing. And remind them of the good that the church is doing too."

Donations to the Catholic Near East Welfare Association have remained stable in recent years, but the organization is continuing to press how it is helping Christian communities in troubled areas of the world, according to Michael J. L. LaCivita, director of communications.

He said Catholic organizations are facing "a perfect storm" in the abuse crisis, the tax cut law and partisan political rancor in the U.S. that has caused people to carefully weigh where to send their money.

CNEWA has received letters from donors expressing anger about the bishops' failure to maintain moral authority over the church, LaCivita told CNS. He described the letters as "well thought out," offering carefully crafted words that express people's moral outrage.

"But the correspondence doesn't hold us responsible," LaCivita said, even though some writers have voiced concern that funds could be used for abuse legal settlements because bishops serve as the organization's trustees.

"People want answers and they want to have their anger heard," he added.

At The Catholic University of America, fundraising has continued to meet annual goals, said Scott Rembold, vice president for university advancement.

"We're not hearing a lot of people holding the university accountable for the crisis," Rembold told CNS, saying about 125 people had contacted the school since June when reports surfaced that Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick had allegedly abused seminarians years ago. Of those, about two dozen said they were not going to donate specifically because of the reports, he said.

The crisis has caused the university to put on hold a plan to build a residence for priests taking graduate level courses. Rembold said the project called for a new wing to be added to Hurley Hall with a kitchen and chapel.

Because bishops were involved in raising money for the effort, university officials and the bishops on the board of trustees jointly felt it was best to put the project aside and that it could be reviewed in the future, Rembold said.

In a different path, two organizations have reached out to the bishops offering expertise and action steps to address the anger and concerns that people have.

Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, or FADICA, convened a working group to address the abuse crisis. Alexia Kelly, the organization's president and CEO, told CNS that members generated "ideas and questions and recommendations and opportunities for action either together or independently."

"Our members really feel they have a responsibility as donors and philanthropists not to perpetuate practices or lack of practices that may enable or perpetuate abuse," she explained.

FADICA members will convene in February for the organization's annual meeting to discuss its recommendations to the USCCB.

Donors want to ensure, Kelly said, "that adequate safeguarding practices and policies are in place in all the ministries they support inside or outside of the church, and they would continue to explore ways they as philanthropists can support a comprehensive culture of safety in all levels of the church."

Meanwhile, at the Leadership Roundtable, lay Catholic professionals from various fields have stepped up to offer their expertise to assist the bishops as they addressed the sex abuse crisis.

The organization formed after the 2002 sex abuse crisis emerged with the goal of providing dioceses with lay experts who could help institute best practices in offices and ministries to ensure trust.

Kim Smolik, Leadership Roundtable's CEO, said the organization has received calls from more than 50 dioceses seeking assistance since the August release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that examined a 70-year period, beginning in 1947, in six Catholic dioceses. The report said that in that time span there were claims that 300 priests and other church workers had abused about 1,000 minors. It also claimed the church covered up abuse allegations and brushed aside victims.

Roundtable participants are stressing to dioceses that communication is key, Smolik explained, adding that donors are unlikely to withdraw their gifts, but that they want to know that the church is addressing the root causes of the current scandal.

"Laypeople are looking for the church to be responsive and repentant and say what has gone wrong. They are looking for a plan forward, looking for the plan to be implemented and they are looking to be communicated with all along the way," Smolik said.

"Laypeople want to be part of the solution."

- - -

Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

 

- - -

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) -- Life is for loving, not amassing possessions, Pope Francis said.In fact, the true meaning and purpose of wealth is to use it to lovingly serve others and promote human dignity, he said Nov. 7 during his weekly general audience.The world is rich enough in resources to provide for the basic needs of everybody, the pope said. "And yet, many people live in scandalous poverty and resources -- used without discernment -- keep deteriorating. But there is just one world! There is one humanity.""The riches of the world today are in the hands of a minority, of the few, and poverty -- indeed, extreme poverty, and suffering -- are for the many," he told those gathered in St. Peter's Square.The pope continued his series of talks on the Ten Commandments, focusing on the command, "You shall not steal," which reflects respect for other people's property.However, he said, Christians should also read the co...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Life is for loving, not amassing possessions, Pope Francis said.

In fact, the true meaning and purpose of wealth is to use it to lovingly serve others and promote human dignity, he said Nov. 7 during his weekly general audience.

The world is rich enough in resources to provide for the basic needs of everybody, the pope said. "And yet, many people live in scandalous poverty and resources -- used without discernment -- keep deteriorating. But there is just one world! There is one humanity."

"The riches of the world today are in the hands of a minority, of the few, and poverty -- indeed, extreme poverty, and suffering -- are for the many," he told those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

The pope continued his series of talks on the Ten Commandments, focusing on the command, "You shall not steal," which reflects respect for other people's property.

However, he said, Christians should also read the commandment in the light of faith and the church's social doctrine, which emphasizes the understanding that the goods of creation are destined for the whole human race.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the "primordial" universal destination of goods does not detract from people's right to private property, he said. However, the need to promote the common good also requires understanding and properly using private property.

"No one is the absolute master over resources," he said, which reflects the "positive and wider meaning of the commandment, 'Do not steal.'"

Owners are really administrators or stewards of goods, which are not to be regarded "as exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself," the pope said, citing the catechism.

Being in possession of material goods brings with it much responsibility, the pope said.

If hunger exists in the world, the pope said, it is because the needs of the economic market come first, for instance, when keeping prices up means demanding that food be destroyed or thrown away.

What is lacking, he said, is "a free and farsighted business sense that assures adequate production and fair planning, which ensures fair distribution."  

The pope underlined the importance of viewing possessions and wealth from the Christian perspective of gift and generosity, saying "what I truly possess is what I know how to give."

"If I know how to give, I am open, I am rich," not only in possessions but in generosity, knowing it is a duty to give so everyone can have a share, he said. "In fact, if I am unable to give something it is because that thing owns me, I am a slave, the thing has power over me."

The devil always enters people's lives "through the pockets" with money, the pope added. "First comes the love for money, the scramble to own, then comes vanity" and bragging about one's wealth, he said, "ending with pride, arrogance. This is how the devil operates in us."

Instead, ownership must be an opportunity to multiply those goods "with creativity and use them with generosity and that way grow in charity and freedom," he said.

While the world breathlessly seeks to have more and more, God -- rich in mercy -- redeemed the world by making himself poor, paying a priceless ransom on the cross, he said.

"What makes us rich are not goods, but is love," the pope said. "Life is not a time for owning things but for loving."

For Christians, the full sense of "Do not steal" means loving with what one owns, taking advantage of one's means as a way to love others as best one can, the pope said. "This way your life becomes good and ownership truly becomes a gift."

 

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler OrsburnBy Mark PattisonWASHINGTON (CNS) -- What could have been another senseless murder in a society with too many of them already was transformed into restorative justice for the killer and healing for the victim's parents.Kate Grosmaire and her husband, Andy, then in deacon formation, had been to Palm Sunday Mass at their parish in Pensacola, Florida, in 2010 and returned home to work in their garden. They heard the doorbell ring -- an unusual occurrence in their neighborhood, Kate recalled in a Nov. 5 presentation sponsored by the Catholic Mobilizing Network, which advocates for restorative justice and an end to the death penalty.At the door was a victim's assistance coordinator and a county sheriff's deputy with the grim news: "Your daughter's been shot." Ann Grosmaire was just 19 years old. Kate said their first impulse was to get in touch with her boyfriend, Conor McBride, to tell him the news. Then came the gut punch: "Conor's the one w...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- What could have been another senseless murder in a society with too many of them already was transformed into restorative justice for the killer and healing for the victim's parents.

Kate Grosmaire and her husband, Andy, then in deacon formation, had been to Palm Sunday Mass at their parish in Pensacola, Florida, in 2010 and returned home to work in their garden. They heard the doorbell ring -- an unusual occurrence in their neighborhood, Kate recalled in a Nov. 5 presentation sponsored by the Catholic Mobilizing Network, which advocates for restorative justice and an end to the death penalty.

At the door was a victim's assistance coordinator and a county sheriff's deputy with the grim news: "Your daughter's been shot." Ann Grosmaire was just 19 years old. Kate said their first impulse was to get in touch with her boyfriend, Conor McBride, to tell him the news. Then came the gut punch: "Conor's the one who shot her."

What followed was a Holy Week unlike any the Grosmaires or their parish had ever experienced. Ann lay in a hospital in grave condition while her parents grieved. "It's a miracle she's alive," one doctor had told them. "We didn't see the miracle," Kate said, although in hindsight, noted Andy, now a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, "we got to say our goodbyes to her."

Unexpected moments of grace took place. "I saw a spontaneous rosary outside" the hospital, Deacon Grosmaire remembered. Realizing they needed cat litter, the Grosmaires told someone and by the time they returned home one night, 40 pounds of it had been put on their front porch. Another day, four clergy stopped by to visit, one after the other, none of them acting in concert with each other.

Most surprising of all: Everyone in jail gets to select four people who can visit them. Conor McBride put Kate Grosmaire's name on his list.

Kate, who was part of her parish's healing ministry, was preparing to tell McBride that she loved him and forgave him. "What do you want me to tell him for you?" she asked her husband. Deacon Grosmaire said he had "heard" Ann telling him, "Forgive him, forgive him" -- an instruction he was prepared to brush off like so many favors teenagers seek from their parents.

Later, though, Deacon Grosmaire saw a vision of Jesus next to Ann in the bed, which he interpreted as a sign that Ann was going to be with Jesus in heaven. He relented. "Tell him I love him, too," Deacon Grosmaire told his wife.

When the respirator keeping Ann alive was turned off -- on Good Friday, at 3 p.m. -- the next stage began.

The Grosmaires said the state's attorney explained to them that "we wouldn't have to do anything," Kate said, as the judge would offer a jury a choice of first- or second-degree murder. The attorney, Paul Campbell, said until the case reached the court, his office had "flexibility," including filing manslaughter charges that could net a five-year prison sentence.

Although Campbell offered that as a hypothetical outcome, the Grosmaires seized on the possibility, but didn't know how to articulate it until an Episcopalian minister pointed to restorative justice as a possibility. "You Catholics are all about restorative justice," he told them.

Restorative justice asks three basic questions, according to Caitlin Morneau, director of restorative justice for the Catholic Mobilizing Network: "What harm was done? Who was harmed? How can we as a community work to repair the harm as best as possible?"

It took a lot of doing, but the Grosmaires persuaded Campbell to conduct a restorative justice circle in which McBride, his parents, the Grosmaires, the state's attorney and the judge would all participate to come up with a sentence acceptable to all, another tenet of restorative justice. The Grosmaires insisted McBride not be brought to the circle in shackles, as was jail policy -- a request allowed by the jail.

It took time to prepare all the participants; it was 14 months after the shooting before the circle was convened. "It was the first time restorative justice was ever tried in Florida for a capital crime -- and maybe in the whole nation," Kate Grosmaire said.

It was then that the Grosmaires heard the circumstances behind the shooting.

Ann and McBride, himself only 20, had been arguing as of late. That morning was another fight. "It blew up into a breakup fight," Deacon Grosmaire said. "Conor said he couldn't go on like this, so he went back into the house to get his father's shotgun. He was going to shoot himself." Ann, who had gotten into her car, "followed him back into the house," he added. McBride turned and fired one shot through one of Ann's eyes. "He was immediately sorry for what he did and called the police."

Hearing the story was "the one time I physically hurt," Deacon Grosmaire told Catholic News Service after the talk at the St. John Paul II Shrine.

In the circle, Deacon Grosmaire said Michael McBride, Conor's father, made a revelation of his own: "It's my fault. I've been angry for five years (after a brother of Conor's had died), and I made Conor angry, too."

"Paul Campbell said he would never have thought about talking to the McBrides at all," said Kate Grosmaire, who, two years ago, put their family story into words in the book "Forgiving My Daughter's Killer: A True Story of Loss, Faith and Unexpected Grace."

What, the judge asked, would be a just sentence? Kate suggested five to 10 years in prison, plus 10 years of probation. Deacon Grosmaire suggested 10-15 years plus 10 of probation. The McBrides said, "We agree with them." "I don't know how they could," the deacon said, "because we couldn't agree with each other."

Campbell recommended, and the judge accepted, a prison term of 20 years and 10 years' probation, plus other conditions stipulated by the Grosmaires: taking anger management classes (McBride did so); talking about relationship violence (McBride made a public service announcement on the subject); and McBride committing to work on the issues closest to their daughter Ann's heart that she would have pursued had she lived.

"We didn't push for a lighter sentence," Kate Grosmaire said. "We wanted to push for a more meaningful sentence."

Deacon Grosmaire told CNS there is "both" the feeling of pain of having to relive Ann's murder with each talk and a feeling of release when talking about it. The couple underwent counseling; "more than 90 percent of couples divorce after a child dies," he said.

There is room for more restorative justice efforts, Deacon Grosmaire added. With Florida's tendency to put more prisons in its rural panhandle to create more jobs in the region, he said, "we've got more prisoners than Catholics" in the diocese, where Catholics number 65,211.

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Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob RollerBy Dennis SadowskiWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The National Review Board chairman called for changes to the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" to "make it a less ambiguous document" because despite nearly every diocese meeting its standards in third-party audits, some bishops are facing scrutiny about their handling of reports of wayward priests.Francesco Cesareo, the board's chairman since 2013, told Catholic News Service Nov. 5 that board members have raised concerns for "a long time ... that the audit instrument may not be getting at information that we need to get."He also expressed "frustration" that new questions have surfaced about how some bishops responded to clergy sex abuse, especially after pledging openness and transparency after the 2002 crisis exploded."This is much more of a crisis of a failure of leadership," he said."It is frustrating because on the one hand, you know t...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The National Review Board chairman called for changes to the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" to "make it a less ambiguous document" because despite nearly every diocese meeting its standards in third-party audits, some bishops are facing scrutiny about their handling of reports of wayward priests.

Francesco Cesareo, the board's chairman since 2013, told Catholic News Service Nov. 5 that board members have raised concerns for "a long time ... that the audit instrument may not be getting at information that we need to get."

He also expressed "frustration" that new questions have surfaced about how some bishops responded to clergy sex abuse, especially after pledging openness and transparency after the 2002 crisis exploded.

"This is much more of a crisis of a failure of leadership," he said.

"It is frustrating because on the one hand, you know that the church has put in place all of these policies and procedures, which have definitely made a difference. All of these allegations are historic. (There are) very few new ones," he said.

"What's frustrating is that there's been this collapse in leadership," Cesareo continued. "That's the real frustrating part. There hasn't been a recognition to the level of responsibility that needs to be taken on the part of leadership to address this in a way that minimizes this from possibly happening in the same way again."

Cesareo's concerns came in response to a report published Nov. 4 by The Boston Globe and The Philadelphia Inquirer newspapers that examined ways it said the U.S. bishops have failed to police themselves even since their 2002 gathering in Dallas about clergy sex abuse when they adopted the charter.

The all-lay National Review Board, established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002, oversees compliance by dioceses with the charter. It has no role in oversight of bishops.

Under the charter, each diocese and eparchy undergo an annual audit to ensure compliance with it. Each audit report includes recommendations for corrective action where shortcomings are discovered.

Cesareo described a section of the charter that outlines the audit process as "ambiguous in some ways" because at times the auditing firm must make judgments "when things are not exactly clear." The charter also allows bishops to respond that they are "doing minimally what the audit requires" when questions are raised, he said.

"There's clearly a loophole," he said.

"It points out that they (bishops) need to come up with a new instrument that is going to get at information that we're currently not getting," he added. "We need to go back to the charter and revisit it again to make it a less ambiguous document so there's some clarity in terms of what must and must not be done in terms of compliance."

StoneBridge Business Partners is the current company conducting the audits of dioceses and eparchies. The auditing firm based in Rochester, New York, has been doing them since 2011 and is under contract to conduct audits through 2019. The USCCB is seeking applications from firms to conduct the audit for the next three-year cycle beginning in 2020.

Cesareo, president of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, said he will outline the National Review Board's concerns during a report at the bishops' fall general assembly Nov. 12-14 in Baltimore.

Cesareo pointed to another ambiguity in the charter: the requirement for a diocesan review board to meet regularly.

"Well, what does that mean?" Cesareo asked. "In some dioceses that means only when there's an allegation. That may not be for several years. And if the review board is not meeting, then the bishop is not getting the information he needs."

Cesareo also would like to see the charter revised to include a requirement that all sex abuse allegations go before a diocesan review board.

"If the bishop himself or his gatekeeper can decide which allegations can go to the review board and which don't, that's another way that a bishop can protect a perpetrator priest," he said.

Cesareo recommended making the charter more "prescriptive to include bishops" and called for revising the statement on episcopal commitment "with something that has teeth in it."

The commitment statement, found at the end of the charter, includes a paragraph that obliges bishops and eparchs to "apply the requirements of the charter also to ourselves, respecting always church law as it applies to bishops."

It also commits a bishop or eparch who is accused of sexual abuse of a minor to inform the apostolic nuncio in Washington. Likewise, it calls for any bishop who becomes aware of sexual abuse of a minor by a fellow bishop to notify the nuncio.

Cesareo told CNS that the audit concerns have been discussed jointly in meetings among three members of the review board and the bishops' Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People. He said it was too early for recommendations to be presented to the bishops at their Baltimore assembly.

The assembly is an opportunity for the bishops to begin restoring trust among the faithful by taking steps to demonstrate that they are serious about addressing sex abuse within the church, whether cases are decades old or new, Cesareo said.

"We do have to recognize that there are many bishops who understand that change has to take place," he said. "I think they will be a driving force not only next week in Baltimore but going forward."

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

 

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IMAGE: CNS/ReutersBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The world will not have peace without people having mutual trust and respecting each other's word, the Vatican said as it announced Pope Francis' 2019 World Peace Day message would focus on "good politics.""Good politics is at the service of peace" will be the theme for the Jan. 1 commemoration and for the message Pope Francis will write for the occasion, said a Vatican communique published Nov. 6, the day midterm elections were being held in the United States to determine the political makeup of Congress for the next two years as well as a number of posts for state governors and city mayors.The pope's full message for World Peace Day, traditionally released by the Vatican in mid-December, is sent, through Vatican diplomats, to the leaders of nations around the world.The Vatican said Pope Francis' message will underline how political responsibility belongs to all citizens, especially those given the mandate &...

IMAGE: CNS/Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The world will not have peace without people having mutual trust and respecting each other's word, the Vatican said as it announced Pope Francis' 2019 World Peace Day message would focus on "good politics."

"Good politics is at the service of peace" will be the theme for the Jan. 1 commemoration and for the message Pope Francis will write for the occasion, said a Vatican communique published Nov. 6, the day midterm elections were being held in the United States to determine the political makeup of Congress for the next two years as well as a number of posts for state governors and city mayors.

The pope's full message for World Peace Day, traditionally released by the Vatican in mid-December, is sent, through Vatican diplomats, to the leaders of nations around the world.

The Vatican said Pope Francis' message will underline how political responsibility belongs to all citizens, especially those given the mandate "to protect and to govern."

"This mission consists in safeguarding law and in encouraging dialogue among stakeholders in society, between generations and among cultures," the Vatican said.

"There is no peace without mutual trust. And the first condition for trust is respecting one's word," it said.

Political involvement is one of the loftiest expressions of charity, it said, and it brings with it a concern for "the future of life and the planet, of the young and the least, in their thirst of fulfillment."

When people's rights are respected, then they will start to feel their own "duty to respect the rights of others," the Vatican note said.

The rights and responsibilities of each person help foster people's awareness of belonging to the same community with others and with God, it added.

"We are thus called to bring and proclaim peace as the good news of a future where every living being will be respected in its dignity and rights."

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Leah Millis, ReutersBy Zoey MaraistARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- When describing life-altering decisions and brave moments of selflessness, former Army Staff Sgt. and Medal of Honor recipient Ronald Shurer speaks succinctly and matter-of-factly, as if his actions were the most natural thing in the world.Why did he enlist after 9/11? It didn't seem right not to, he replied.Why did he become a medic? To take care of the troops.What was going through his mind during a mission gone wrong in Afghanistan? His first and only prayer was that his wife and infant son, Cameron, would be OK if he died. And for the next several hours, he focused on one thing at a time while caring for the soldiers being shot all around him. Service is second nature for him.Shurer was born on the anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor -- Dec. 7, 1978, in Fairbanks, Alaska. His parents met in the Air Force, and his father continued to serve while Shurer was growing up. After graduating from Washingt...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Leah Millis, Reuters

By Zoey Maraist

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- When describing life-altering decisions and brave moments of selflessness, former Army Staff Sgt. and Medal of Honor recipient Ronald Shurer speaks succinctly and matter-of-factly, as if his actions were the most natural thing in the world.

Why did he enlist after 9/11? It didn't seem right not to, he replied.

Why did he become a medic? To take care of the troops.

What was going through his mind during a mission gone wrong in Afghanistan? His first and only prayer was that his wife and infant son, Cameron, would be OK if he died. And for the next several hours, he focused on one thing at a time while caring for the soldiers being shot all around him. Service is second nature for him.

Shurer was born on the anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor -- Dec. 7, 1978, in Fairbanks, Alaska. His parents met in the Air Force, and his father continued to serve while Shurer was growing up. After graduating from Washington State University, Shurer applied to join the Marines but was rejected due to an old injury.

"Boy, that was a bad mistake. But they made up for it, right?" President Donald Trump noted during a ceremony Oct. 1 at the White House to award Shurer the Medal of Honor for actions he took while serving in 2008 in Afghanistan.

Shurer was studying economics in graduate school when terrorists hijacked four planes and killed thousands of Americans on 9/11. The attack on American soil, reminiscent of the Japanese assault he learned about as a child, inspired Shurer to reapply to the military. In 2002, he was accepted into the U.S. Army. He later became a Green Beret.

Why join the Special Forces? "It seemed liked another challenge, another way to push, to do a little bit more," he told the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Arlington Diocese.

Shurer and his wife, Miranda, met online in 2004. They married a year and half after they began dating, weeks before he deployed to Afghanistan. It was during his second tour, in April 2008, that the harrowing battle occurred.

"It started just like every other mission," said Shurer. Their job that day was to capture or kill targets of Hezeb Islami al Gulbadin, or HIG, a large faction of the anti-coalition militia that operated in the Shok Valley of eastern Afghanistan.

"Everybody (got) up really early; we'd usually go out with 100 Afghan commandos and our team, roughly about a dozen Americans. We got up on helicopters, flew 30, 45 minutes. The helicopters flew away and it was very cold, very quiet. We were in a little river valley just looking up at the mountains."

The lead team of their group was working its way up the mountain when they were attacked with guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Shurer moved from the rear to the front and began to treat the injured, returning fire when he could.

"I was 100 percent convinced I was going to die. It was six and a half hours of being shot at," he said. "It was just a series of moments ' trying to figure out which one of the wounded guys needs the most care. What's the best thing I could be doing right now?"

One bullet went through his team sergeant's arm and hit Shurer on the helmet.

"It felt like I got hit in the head with a baseball bat," he said. He was so covered in other's people's blood he wasn't sure if he was hurt. But his friend Dillon said he was all right and he continued providing life-saving medical care. When he returned to base later that night, he discovered a bullet had grazed his arm.

Many of the men were so injured they couldn't walk down the mountain. So Shurer and others wrapped nylon tubing under the arms of the wounded and lowered them down a cliff.

"All that time, bombs are still going off," he said. Eventually, all the men and the bodies of an Afghan interpreter whom Shurer knew as CK and an Afghan commander were loaded onto the helicopters. "We weren't leaving them," said Shurer.

About a month later, Shurer returned to the States. Today, he is a Secret Service special agent. "It seemed like a good way to continue to serve. I like the mission," he said.

In 2011, he and his wife had a second son, Tyler Edris, whose middle name is the real name of the Afghan interpreter who was killed in action. "(CK's) dream was to come to America and to join the Army," said Shurer. "It was important to (Miranda and I) that a little piece of him did make it over here."

Shurer said his Catholic faith plays an important role in his life and in his family's life, especially since he was diagnosed with lung cancer last March.

Since the diagnosis they have spent a lot of time with Father Robert C. Cilinski, pastor of the Church of Nativity in Burke, "just processing all this," he said. "He's an important part of our family."

Shurer is undergoing chemotherapy but is able to work on the operations side of guarding the president. "Now I make sure someone else is always protecting him," he said.

Being chosen as a Medal of Honor recipient came as a complete shock to the unassuming veteran. Shortly after the battle, he and several of his teammates were awarded the Silver Star, the third highest award for valor in combat.

At the White House ceremony for the Medal of Honor, Trump put the blue ribbon and golden star around his neck in front of his family, teammates and members of the armed services.

"Cameron, Tyler, we stand in awe of you father's courage," said Trump in his remarks. "He's the best dad and role model two boys could ever ask for."

As Shurer stood to applause, he looked stoically around the room, and then gave a quick smile and wink to the boys in the front row.

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Maraist is a staff writer at the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Arlington.

 

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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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