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Pope Francis: God works in mysterious ways – trust him

Vatican City, Jun 17, 2018 / 03:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday Pope Francis compared the action of grace to the growth of seeds planted in a garden, saying God often works in ways that are both unknown and surprising, but which always bring fruit, and because of this it is important to always trust and never lose faith.

In his June 17 Angelus address, the pope noted that if one looks back at history, it can seem like the world is going “in an opposite direction to the design of the heavenly Father, who wants justice, brotherhood and peace for all of his children.”

Catholics, he said, are invited to live these periods “as seasons of trial, hope and of vigilant waiting for the harvest.”

Pointing to the parable of the seeds in the day's Gospel reading from Mark, Francis explained that both in the past and today, the Kingdom of God “grows in the world in a mysterious and surprising way, awakening the hidden power of the small seed and its victorious vitality.”

“Inside the wounds of personal and social events which at times seem to mark the shipwreck of hope, we must remain confident and in the subdued but powerful action of God,” he said.

Because of this, when moments of darkness and difficulty come along, “we must not break down, but remain anchored to the fidelity of God and to his presence, which always saves...Remember this: God always saves, he's the savior..”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims present in St. Peter's Square during his Sunday Angelus address, in which he focused on the two parables Jesus told his disciples in the day's Gospel reading, the first being about a seed which is scattered and grows of its own accord, culminating with the gathering of the harvest.

The second parable is about the mustard seed, which is the smallest seed but which grows to be one of the biggest shrubs.

In the first parable, the message conveyed is that through Jesus' preaching and action,” the Kingdom of God is announced, he made it burst into the field of the world and, like the seed, it grows and develops on its own, with its own strength and according to criteria that are not humanly understandable.”

This growth and sprouting inside history, he said, is not dependent on the work of man, but is “expressed by the power and goodness of God.”

On the parable of the mustard seed, Francis noted how the small seed grows to become one of the biggest plants in the garden, which is “an unpredictable, surprising growth.”

“It's not easy for us to enter into this logic of the unpredictability of God and to accept it in our lives,” he said, explaining that Lord encourages each person to have “an attitude of faith which overcomes our own projects, our calculations, our provisions.”

This is an invitation to open oneself with greater generosity to God's plan on both a personal and community level, Francis said, adding that every community must pay special attention to “the small and the great opportunities for goodness that the Lord offers to us, allowing  us to be involved in his dynamics of love, of welcome, and of mercy toward all.”

The authenticity of the Church's mission, he said, is not measured “by success or the gratification of results, but by going forward with the courage of trust and the humility of abandonment to God.”

“It's the knowledge of being small and weak instruments, which in the hands of God and with his grace can fulfill great works, advancing his Kingdom, which is justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” he said, and prayed that Mary would help Catholics to be attentive to God and to collaborate in helping the Kingdom of God grow “in hearts and in history.”

After leading pilgrims in the traditional Marian prayer, Pope Francis offered prayers for Yemen, as fighting continues to escalate near the port city of Hudaydah. If the port closes, desperately needed food and other aid would be cut off from thousands of people who already face starvation in the country, increasing the already dire humanitarian situation.

Francis appealed to the international community on behalf of Yemen, asking that they bring conscience “to the table of discussions in order to avoid a worsening of the already tragic humanitarian situation.” He then led pilgrims in praying a Hail Mary.

He then kicked off the “Global Action Week,” which is part of the Share the Journey initiative of the papal charity organization Caritas International, urging governments to adopt the global U.N. compacts on migrants and refugees in order to “reach an agreement to ensure the assistance and protection of whoever is forced to leave their own home.”

Novena for North Korea sheds light on issues beyond denuclearization

Seoul, South Korea, Jun 16, 2018 / 03:58 pm (CNA).- Following two historic summits involving North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un, South Korea’s bishops are calling on Catholics to pray a novena for nine specific intentions for the Korean peninsula June 17 - 25.

The novena culminates on June 25, the annual “Day of Prayer for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People.”

This novena is by no means a new endeavor for the Korean bishops, who have been leading Catholics in prayer for the reconciliation and unity of the divided Korean peninsula for decades. According to Archbishop Kim Hee-joong of Gwangju, Korean Catholics have observed June 25 as a day of prayer the Korean peninsula since 1965.

The first documented novena for Korean reconciliation and unity was in June 1993, a time when North Korea was beginning its descent into a famine caused by the collapse of their Communist economy, which had formerly been sustained by a heavy reliance on the Soviet Union. It is estimated that 500,000 to 600,000 people died in North Korean famine from 1993 to 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

A novena is nine days of consecutive prayer for a particular intention, often appealing for the intercession of a saint. It is modeled after the nine days the apostles spent in prayer between the time of Jesus’ ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

This year’s nine prayer intentions capture the complexity of the issues facing the peninsula in 2018:

June 17: Pray for the healing of a divided nation

Nearly 3 million Korean people died, 10 percent of its overall population, in the brutal Korean War from 1950 to 1953. But the Korean peninsula is technically still at war, 65 years after the armistice signed in 1953.

Since the division of the Korean peninsula along the 38th parallel, the North and South have significantly diverged economically and culturally.

On April 27, the leaders of the two Koreas signed the Panmunjom Declaration in which they committed to pursue future meetings with the goal of declaring an official end to the Korean War.  

June 18: Pray for divided families

Hundreds of thousands of people were permanently separated from their families by the division of the Korean peninsula. According to South Korea’s Ministry of Reunification, fewer than half of South Koreans divided from their family members are still alive, and their average age is 81.

The North and South Korean governments have occasionally held tear-filled reunions for the divided families. At one reunion in 2015, an 85-year-old wife was reunited with her husband, whom she had not seen in 65 years. They had 12 hours to spend together before they had to return to their respective countries.

June 19: Pray for our North Korean brothers and sisters

Twenty-five million people live in North Korea, the country with one of the worst human rights records in the world. A United Nations investigation in 2014 produced a 372-page report that documented crimes against humanity, including execution, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, forced abortions, and knowingly causing prolonged starvation.

There are currently an estimated 80,000 to 120,000 people in North Korea’s six political prison camps, in which the U.S. State Department has found evidence of starvation, forced labor, and torture.

June 20: Pray for North Korean defectors

There are currently 31,530 North Korean defectors living in South Korea, according to the unification ministry. Nearly all North Korean defectors escape by crossing the northern border into China before embarking on another dangerous journey to escape China, which repatriates escaped North Koreans discovered on Chinese soil. Many women refugees have been sold into sex trafficking in China.

PTSD is common in North Korean defectors after surviving such a journey, and many struggle to adjust to the South, where they often face discrimination. Catholics have been working with North Korean defectors for years to help them adjust to South Korean society.

June 21: Pray for the leaders of North and South Korea

Kim Jong Un was 26 years-old when he became the leader of North Korea in 2011, following the death of his father Kim Jong Il. He is the third “Supreme Leader” in the Kim family dynasty begun by his grandfather Kim Il Sung.

Kim made history in 2018 by crossing the military demarcation line into South Korea to meet the South Korean president in April and then being the first North Korean leader to meet an American president in June. While it is unclear whether this is an indication of Kim’s willingness to make serious changes in North Korea, the South Korean bishops request prayers for Kim Jong Un.

Moon Jae-In became president of South Korea in May 2017 after his predecessor was impeached on corruption charges. Moon is a practicing Catholic, former human rights attorney, and the son of North Korean refugees. He prioritized peaceful diplomacy with the north at a time when tensions with North Korea were high.

June 22: Pray for the evangelization of North Korea

In 1945, there were about 50,000 Catholics registered in parishes in what is now North Korea, according to the Korean Bishops Conference, with more than double that number of Protestant Christians. Before the Korean War, Pyongyang was referred to as the “Jerusalem of the East” and was considered a center of Christianity in Northeast Asia.

Just before the Korean War broke in 1950, most of the priests who were in North Korea were captured, killed, or disappeared, according to the Korean Bishops Conference. The beatification process has begun for 40 monks and sisters of Tokwon Benedictine Abbey who were martyred by the Communists.

In 1988, the “Korean Catholic Association” created by the Communist government registered 800 members. This association is not recognized by the Vatican, but is one of three state-sponsored churches that operate in North Korea under strict supervision of the Communist authorities.

Mass is occasionally celebrated in Pyongyang's Changchung Cathedral when a foreign priest is on an official visit to the country, but on Sundays the liturgy of the word is usually celebrated by state-appointed layperson, explained Father Lee Eun-hyung in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need.

Persecution of Christians is worse in North Korea than anywhere else in the world, according to the World Watch List by Open Doors, who estimates that there could be as many as 300,000 Christians practicing their faith underground in North Korea. Christians within the atheist state have faced arrest, re-education in a labor camp, or, in some cases, execution for their faith.

Pastors who have traveled to North Korea with the hope of secretly evangelizing have been arrested, but Christian organizations in Seoul continue to broadcast the Gospel via radio into the North with the hope that someone will find a way to tune into the signal.

June 23: Pray for the various exchanges between North and South Korea

One part of the Panmunjom Declaration signed by both Korean leaders is a commitment to more cooperative exchanges between the two countries. In the past, these exchanges have been both cultural and economic. The theme of the South Korean bishops’ annual symposium this year will look at the future of Inter-Korean exchange and cooperation on June 21 at the Catholic University of Daegu.

On June 13, the South Korean ministry approved an official exchange program between students from Seoul National University and Kim Il Sung University, the leading universities of the two countries respectively.  

June 24: Pray for the true reconciliation of the North and the South

“Reconciliation” is a word that the South Korean bishops frequently use when discussing North Korea. “Until the day finally arrives when peace is permanently established on the Korean Peninsula and our divided people are united, the Catholic Church in Korea shall continue to accompany the journey towards the reconciliation and unity of the Korean people with one accord,” said Archbishop Kim Hee-joong on April 27.

Since the division, both countries have produced significant propaganda dehumanizing each other. The novena prayer (see below) includes this line, “Forgive us our slander and fighting with one another and heal the wounds of division, grant us the grace of reconciliation.”

June 25: Pray for the peaceful reunification of the Korean people

For many Korean Christians, the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula is the ultimate goal. “Just as the church in Germany took an important role in the reunification of East and West Germany, the Korean church will raise our voice for the peaceful co-existence of two Koreas,” said Father Timothy Lee Eun-hyeong, the secretary of the bishops’ Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People in 2017.

“The Korean nation is symbolic of a world divided and not yet able to become one in peace and justice,” said Saint John Paul II on a papal trip to South Korea in 1989, “yet there is a way forward. True peace – the shalom which the world urgently needs – springs eternally from the infinitely rich mystery of God’s love.”

The pope saint continued, “As Christians we are convinced that Christ’s Paschal Mystery makes present and available the force of life and love which overcomes all evil and all separation.”

 

Here is the English translation of the South Korean bishops’ novena prayer:

 

Novena prayer for reconciliation and unity of the Korean people

Lord, You have created us in Your own image and likeness.

Make us daily more like You.

You have made us one in love.

Strengthen our love for one another.

O Lord, Your desire is for peace among us.

May peace be restored on this peninsula.

Forgive us our slander and fighting with one another and heal the wounds of division, grant us the grace of reconciliation.

O Lord, You desire the unity of all people. Heal the pain of separation that divides us.

Make us aware of our mutual indifference and help us strive for unity as we share all we have with one another.

Help us to respect and love one another and so bring about peaceful reunification.

Give us faith, Lord, to believe in You and let the Kingdom of God reign in this land.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Mary, Queen of Peace, Pray for us!

All Korean Martyr Saints, Pray for us!

 

Pope says abortion of sick, disabled children reflects Nazi mentality

Vatican City, Jun 16, 2018 / 08:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a speech to a family association Saturday, Pope Francis again stressed that God's vision of the family is between a man and a woman, and compared the abortion of children who are sick or disabled to a Nazi mentality.

“I've heard that it's fashionable, or at least usual, that when in the first few months of pregnancy they do studies to see if the child is healthy or has something, the first offer is: let's send it away,” the pope said June 16, referring to the trend of aborting sick or disabled children.

This, he said, is “the murder of children...to get a peaceful life an innocent [person] is sent away...We do the same as the Nazis to maintain the purity of the race, but with white gloves.”

“It's an atrocity but we do the same thing,” he said, according to Italian media.

Pope Francis spoke to members of the Forum of Family Associations, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

His words on abortion come just days after his home country of Argentina voted June 14 in favor of a bill that would legalize abortion as early as the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The comments also come just over a month ahead of his Aug. 25-26 trip to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, which will feature Jesuit Fr. James Martin as a keynote speaker on how to be welcoming to the LGBT community.

During his speech, Francis tossed his prepared remarks, telling participants that a prepared text “seems a bit cold,” according to Italian newspaper La Stampa.

The pope, the paper reported, said it is “painful” to think that society would accept the killing of children simply because they are sick or disabled, but this is the current mentality.

On the family, he noted that in modern society “one speaks of different types of family,” defining the term in different ways.

“Yes, it's true that family is an analogous word, yes one can also say 'the family of stars,' 'the family of trees,' 'the family of animals,'” he said, but stressed that “the family in the image of God is only one, that of man and woman...marriage is a wonderful sacrament.”

Turning to his 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis said that some have reduced the document to “you can, you can't,” referring to the debate surrounding access to the sacraments for the divorced and remarried in the document's eighth chapter.

“They have understood nothing,” he said, explaining that his exhortation “does not hide problems,” but goes beyond mere case studies. To understand the text, he said, one must read chapter four on the spirituality of everyday life, which he said is the “is the core” of the document.

Francis then pointed to the emphasis placed on marriage preparation in Amoris Laetitia, saying the family “is a beautiful adventure and today, I say it with pain, we see that many times we think of starting a family, getting married, as if it were a lottery. We go and if it works, it works, if not we end it and start again.”

What is needed, he said, is “a catechumenate for marriage...men and women are needed who help young people to mature.”

And this begins with small things, such as marriage preparation, he said, adding that “it's important to love each other and receive the sacrament, and then have the party you want.” However, it is never acceptable for “the second to take the place of the most important.”
 
He also spoke about the importance of educating one's children, but noted that this is not easy for parents, especially in a virtual world, which “they know better than us.”

The pope also pointed to the increasing difficulty for families to spend time with their children, especially in times of social and economic crisis.

“To earn money today one has to have two jobs, the family is not considered,” he said, and encouraged parents to take up this “cross” and the excessive hours of work, while also spending time playing with their children.

“Children are the greatest gift,” he said, even when they are sick. Children, he said, must be “received as they come, as God sends them.”

However, alluding to the growing trend to be “childless by choice,” Francis noted that there are people who simply don't want children, and pointed to a couple who did not want to have kids, but who instead had three dogs and two cats.

Francis closed his speech talking about the need for patience in married life, saying “there are life situations of strong crisis, terrible, and even times of infidelity come.”

“There are many women – but also at times men  – who in silence wait, looking the other way, waiting for their husband to return to being faithful.” This, he said, is “the holiness that forgives because it loves.”

Christian law school loses religious freedom claim at Canadian Supreme Court

Ottawa, Canada, Jun 16, 2018 / 03:43 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Friday that law societies in the country could deny licensing to a proposed Christian law school because the school adheres to Biblical teaching on sexuality.

“We are deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision,” said Paul Coleman, executive director for ADF International.

“Freedom of religion and association is not only essential for faith-based organizations, but for the functioning of democracy itself. Following this ruling, that vital freedom is now in jeopardy,” Coleman continued in a June 15 press release.

ADF International, which represented multiple groups in the case, emphasized that religious schools should be granted freedom to operate according to the faith to which they adhere.

The case, which spread across various provinces and has been years in the making, involved Trinity Western University – an evangelical school in Langley which encourages its students to uphold biblical moral teachings on sexuality, reserving sexual relations for marriage between one man and one woman.

Trinity Western had proposed opening a law school in 2012 and was seeking to ensure accreditation, ultimately receiving approval from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the province’s Ministry of Advanced Education.

However, law societies challenged the merits of the Christian university’s proposed law school and its accreditation, saying its position on sexual morality was discriminatory against the LGBT community.

The Supreme Court heard two appeals from Ontario and British Columbia, after a high court in British Columbia originally said Christian schools could not be denied accreditation merely based on its beliefs about sexual morality.

On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that law societies could refuse to license graduates from Trinity Western University on the grounds that their views on sexuality are discriminatory to the LGBT community.

Out of the nine justices, two – Russell Brown and Suzanne Cote – ruled in favor of Trinity Western. They cast their decisions based on the view that “legislatively accommodated and Charter-protected religious practices, once exercised, cannot be cited by a state-actor as a reason justifying the exclusion of a religious community from public recognition.”

“Approval of [Trinity Western University’s] proposed law school would not represent a state preference for evangelical Christianity, but rather a recognition of the state’s duty… to accommodate diverse religious beliefs without scrutinizing their content,” the justices said.

Trinity Western released a statement on June 15, saying they would be reviewing the ruling and considering next steps.

“We feel this is a lost opportunity for Canadians, many of whom do not have affordable access to justice,” said Earl Philips, executive director of the proposed law school.

“The TWU law school would have offered a specialty in charity law. Because Canada has the second largest charitable and non-profit sector in the world, this loss stands to impact Canadians coast to coast,” Philips continued.
 
 

 

Jeff Sessions says the Bible justifies family separation. Does it?

Washington D.C., Jun 15, 2018 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- The Trump administration has pointed to the Bible in justifying its “zero-tolerance immigration policy,” which includes the separation of immigrant children from their parents.

According to one Catholic theology professor, though, scripture has much more to say on the topic of immigration.

On June 14, Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred to Romans 13 in a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” said Sessions.

When asked about the attorney general’s statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders provided further Biblical interpretation.

“I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law.  That is, actually, repeated a number of times throughout the Bible,” said Sanders in a press conference on June 14.

The statement comes at a time when many Catholic bishops have been critical of the current U.S. practice of separating migrant children from their parents at the border. On June 5, the United Nations condemned the practice as “a serious violation of the rights of the child.”

“The Attorney General cites a famous passage in the theological tradition,” said theology professor Dr. Joseph Capizzi, who teaches moral theology and ethics at The Catholic University of America.

In the New American Bible translation, Romans 13:1 reads, “Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God.”

“Essentially Paul is encouraging those who follow Christ to have a disposition of respect to those in political authority because, in essence, they are there by providence,” Capizzi told CNA. “It does not, by any means, license a blanket support for all laws that are made by those in political authority.”

“The obvious connection here for Catholics is the way we think about abortion,” explained Capizzi, who said that Catholics should not simply follow abortion laws because they are the law, but seek to change them because they are not moral laws.

Scripture is “legitimate as a source of wisdom to draw on” in the public square, continued Capizzi, who said that the Bible can “help us inform the way we think about things, maybe to deepen or challenge certain kind of thoughts we have about politics.”

But the Bible has a lot more to say about immigration than the attorney general’s “clumsy invocation of Paul’s letter to the Romans,” he said.

“The whole story of the Hebrew Scriptures is the story of a people that has been exiled and persecuted,” Capizzi told CNA. The Israelites are wandering, stateless and homeless, and yet they understand that they are called by God to “welcome those who are strangers among them.” Scripture calls everyone, even those who are themselves migrants, to welcome the vulnerable, he said.

The U.S. bishops for years have called for comprehensive immigration reform. They have recognized the importance of national security and border protection, but have also stressed the human rights and dignity of immigrants, the need to address root causes of migration, and the importance of family unity.

Earlier this week, on June 11, Sessions released a ruling stating that domestic abuse and gang violence claims alone should not be considered grounds for asylum claims. This decision also drew strong criticism from the bishops.

“At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life. The Attorney General's recent decision elicits deep concern because it potentially strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston-Galveston, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, in a statement on June 13.

The cardinal also condemned family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma...Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”

Humanae Vitae fifty years later

You’ve heard the expression: “wisdom comes with age.” It testifies to the reality that the truth becomes clearer over time. Just ask anyone over 50 to share how decades of experience have clarified their thinking and sharpened their ability to spot the truth. At the risk of revealing my age, I want to share a […]

The post Humanae Vitae fifty years later appeared first on Catholic Life - The Roman Catholic Diocese of La Crosse.

Bishops Vote on Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, Revisions to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, and Action Items at June General Assembly

FORT LAUDERDALE—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved several action items today at their Spring General Assembly taking place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, June 13-14.

The full body of bishops voted to approve the revised Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People by a vote of 185-5-1. The revisions are a culmination of work by the USCCB Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, the National Review Board, the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, General Counsel, and the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. The revisions seek to build upon the work of dioceses in the United States to prevent the sexual abuse of minors, and to provide outreach and healing to victims/survivors of abuse.

The bishops also voted to approve the formal statement Encountering Christ in Harmony: A Pastoral Response to Our Asian and Pacific Island Brothers and Sisters by a two-thirds majority vote of 187-2-2. The pastoral response provides a framework that dioceses and parishes can use as guidelines to create or integrate into their own pastoral plans addressing the pastoral ministry to and among Asian and Pacific Island (API) Catholics in the United States. The vote will now allow for publication and implementation of Encountering Christ in Harmony by the bishops' Cultural Diversity Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Island Affairs. The committee will begin distributing the pastoral response widely throughout Catholic dioceses of the United States.

The Latin Church members today also approved by a two-thirds majority vote of 177-4-2 in favor of the ICEL Gray Book translation of the 2014‐2016 Roman Missal and Liturgy of the Hours Supplement for use in the dioceses of the United States. The Latin Church members of the USCCB also voted 175-6-2 in favor of the ICEL Gray Book translation of the Liturgy of the Hours: Proper of Time for use in the dioceses of the United States. The vote required two-thirds of the Latin Church members with subsequent confirmation by the Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.

The bishops also approved by majority vote, the revised text of Part Six of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services by a vote of 183-2-2. The vote will implement modifications to Part Six of the Ethical and Religious Directors for Catholic Health Care Services regarding collaborating with non-Catholic partners.

The bishops also authorized the production of two new and additional elements: (1) a short letter to inspire prayer and action regarding public life and (2) a short video and other secondary resources—to complement, rather than to replace, the existing Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship document and to apply the teaching of Pope Francis to our day. The authorization passed with a simple majority vote of 144-41-2.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, General Assembly, Fort Lauderdale, Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Encountering Christ in Harmony, Roman Missal, Liturgy of the Hours, Ethical and Religious Directives, Catholic Health Care Service, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops Hear Updates on V National Encuentro, Share the Journey Campaign, Synod on Young People and World Youth Day at Annual Spring General Assembly

FORT LAUDERDALE—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), gathering June 13-14 in Fort Lauderdale, for their annual Spring General Assembly heard reports today on a variety of topics including updates on the V National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry and the Share the Journey campaign. The full body of bishops also heard presentations on the Synod on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, as well as World Youth Day taking place in 2019.

Bishop Nelson Pérez of Cleveland, Chairman of the USCCB's Cultural Diversity Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs, offered the bishops an update on the V National Encuentro, that will take place September 20-23 in Grapevine, Texas.

Under the theme of "Missionaries Disciples, Witnesses of God's Love", the V Encuentro will seek to establish ways in which the Catholic Church can respond to the Hispanic presence in parishes and promote the New Evangelization. It is also an opportunity to listen carefully to the needs, challenges and aspirations faced by the Hispanic population in everyday life.

In his presentation, Bishop Pérez recognized all who have been supporting and participating in the process of the V Encuentro over the past 18 months. The process has led to the celebration of 145 Diocesan Encuentros, as well as Encuentros in 14 episcopal regions, with the participation of over 100 bishops and more than 5,500 regional delegates. The Bishops' initiative has motivated unprecedented levels of engagement and already born much fruit in thousands of parishes, ecclesial movements and other Catholic organizations and institutions across the U.S.

Bishop Pérez also noted that more than 2,800 delegates and over 100 bishops are expected to attend the V National Encuentro gathering. The Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, along with Dr. Guzmán Carriquiry, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America at the Vatican, will be in attendance. Bishop Juan Espinoza, General Secretary of CELAM (the Latin American Council of Episcopal Conferences), as well as representatives of more than 100 U.S. Catholic organizations are also anticipated to participate.

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of USCCB Committee on Migration; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, of Oklahoma City, representing Catholic Relief Services; and Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh, Episcopal Liaison of Catholic Charities USA, offered the U.S. Bishops an update on Share the Journey, a campaign launched by Pope Francis on September 27, 2017.

Share the Journey is a two-year, global campaign to build empathy and awareness on the plight of migrants and refugees through encounters and education. The campaign is managed by Caritas Internationalis and implemented by other Caritas members around the world. The first year of the campaign saw the launch of a new website in support of the campaign, more than 200 media stories and millions of impressions on social media sites.

Highlights of the second year of the campaign will include a virtual pilgrimage which will encourage people in their communities to walk a combined 24,900 miles, equivalent to one trip around the earth, as they share the journey with their brothers and sisters in need. Dioceses, parishes, universities, and schools will be asked to pray, walk, and bear public witness to our solidarity with migrants and refugees. Catholic leaders are encouraged to work in partnership with both interfaith and ecumenical groups.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R. Archbishop of Newark, Archbishop Charles Chaput O.F.M.Cap., of Philadelphia, and Bishop Frank Caggiano, of Bridgeport, also reported on the Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment, including sending young adult delegates to the March 2018 Pre-Synod Gathering in Rome. The bishops also heard about plans for the international and stateside celebrations of World Youth Day in Panamá and across the USA in January 2019, as well as the visit of the WYD Cross and Marian Icon to several locations across the United States in August 2018.

The bishops also heard from the three young adult delegates from the Pre-Synod Gathering in Rome: Ms. Katie Prejean McGrady of Lake Charles, Louisiana; Mr. Nicholas López of Dallas, Texas; and Br. Javier Hansen, FSC, of the Lasallian Christian Brothers originally from northern California. The young adults shared their experience interacting with other young people from around the world at the Pre-Synod and meeting with Pope Francis. They also gave highlights from the Pre-Synod Summary Document on the needs and hopes of youth and young adults in the twenty-first century.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, V National Encuentro, Share the Journey, World Youth Day (WYD), Marian Icon, Bishop Nelson Pérez, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop Paul Coakley, Bishop David Zubik, Cardinal Joseph Tobin C.Ss.R, Archbishop Charles Chaput O.F.M.Cap., Bishop Frank Caggiano, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio, Dr. Guzmán Carriquiry, Bishop Juan Espinoza.

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200


President of U.S. Bishops Conference Appoints Three New Members of National Review Board for the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People

FT. LAUDERDALE — Three new members have been appointed to serve on the National Review Board (NRB) by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The NRB advises the bishops' committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, and the Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection at the USCCB. The NRB was established by the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People, which the bishops adopted in 2002.

As Cardinal DiNardo said in a letter sent to all newly appointed members, "The National Review Board plays a vital role as a consultative body assisting me and the bishops in ensuring the complete implementation and accountability of the Charter… The whole Church, especially the laity, at both the diocesan and national levels, needs to be engaged in maintaining safe environments in the Church for children and young people."

The three new NRB members include those with expertise in law, victim advocacy and child protection and they are as follows:

Ms. Stacie LeBlanc is the Executive Director of the New Orleans Children's Advocacy Center and the Director of the Audrey Hepburn Children at Risk Evaluation (CARE) Center of Children's Hospital in New Orleans. She began her career as a child abuse prosecutor and is the former chief of the Felony Child Abuse Division in Louisiana. LeBlanc obtained a master's degree in Early Childhood Development and her Juris Doctorate from Loyola University New Orleans. She designed two educational programs, Teens, Sex and the Law, and Painless Parenting, and has trained an average of 8,000 people annually on these and other mandatory reporting programs. To battle child abuse, LeBlanc developed a social media campaign, Dear Parents, and launched No Hit Zones at Children's Hospital and its subsidiaries to raise awareness of the harms of corporal punishment, which is the most prevalent risk factor for child physical abuse. She has been recognized for 11 successful legislative amendments and named the Champion for Children for Policy and Legislation by Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana. She has received a Victims and Citizens Against Crime Lifetime Achievement Award, the FBI Directors and Community Leadership Award, Outstanding Prosecutor Award, recognition as Catholic Graduate of the Year and City Business' Health Care Hero Award. LeBlanc is currently the President of the Louisiana Alliance of Children's Advocacy Centers and the Vice President of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC).

Ms. Theresa Simak is an Assistant State Attorney in the 4th Judicial Circuit of Florida. She has been with the State Attorney's Office since 2003 and was made a Division Chief in 2009. Simak

has spent most of her career focused on the prosecution of sexual assault, child abuse and domestic violence offenses. She is active in the community of Jacksonville and serves as chair of the University of Florida Child Protection Team Community Advisory Council and serves on their Operations Advisory Council. Simak currently serves on the State Forensic Interview Protocol Task Force to help develop a standardized protocol for forensic interviews of children suspected of having been abused. She also works closely with the sexual assault and domestic violence centers in Northeast Florida to include Hubbard House, Quigley House and the Women's Center of Jacksonville. Simak received the Mayor's Judicial Victim Advocate Award for outstanding service to victims in 2014 and received the State Attorney's Office Distinguished Service Award for dedication and outstanding performance in 2015. Simak is married, and she and her husband have three children.

Ms. Jan Slattery served as the Director of the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth in the Archdiocese of Chicago from 2003-2015. Previously she was the Director of Ministry in Higher Education for the Archdiocese of Chicago. Prior to working in the Archdiocese, Slattery was an administrator at Loyola University Chicago. She has been a consultant for various religious denominations on child abuse prevention and has been a frequent presenter on child abuse prevention. She gave a presentation on pornography at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 2012 and is co-author of Conversations, a program that addresses loneliness and life issues in diocesan priesthood. She was a member of the USCCB Higher Education Committee and Chairperson of the Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administrators.  While Director of the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, she partnered with the Children's' Advocacy Center in Chicago and Prevent Child Abuse America to further awareness of child abuse.  Slattery currently serves on the Review Board for three religious communities. She has an MA in Higher Education Leadership and Policy from Loyola University Chicago.  

Details regarding the National Review Board, its functions and other members can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/about/child-and-youth-protection/the-national-review-board.cfm

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, National Review Board (NRB), Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, sexual abuse, child and youth protection, Charter for Protection of Children and Young People

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

2020-541-3200

 

A Statement from Daniel Cardinal DiNardo

Fort Lauderdale, FL—"At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life. The Attorney General's recent decision elicits deep concern because it potentially strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection. These vulnerable women will now face return to the extreme dangers of domestic violence in their home country. This decision negates decades of precedents that have provided protection to women fleeing domestic violence. Unless overturned, the decision will erode the capacity of asylum to save lives, particularly in cases that involve asylum seekers who are persecuted by private actors. We urge courts and policy makers to respect and enhance, not erode, the potential of our asylum system to preserve and protect the right to life.

Additionally, I join Bishop Joe Vásquez, Chairman of USCCB's Committee on Migration, in condemning the continued use of family separation at the U.S./Mexico border as an implementation of the Administration's zero tolerance policy. Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Spring General Assembly, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Galveston-Houston, Bishop Joe Vásquez, Committee on Migration, U.S./Mexico border, asylum, families, family separation, children, right to life

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200