Browsing News Entries

Bishops' migration chairman asks for extension of immigration status

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The head of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Migration said some migrants from Honduras and El Salvador cannot safely return to their home countries in the near future and should have a special immigration permit extended.

The U.S. government will consider in early November whether to extend, for some migrants hailing from the two countries, what's known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. The designation is for those who come to the U.S. from certain countries because of a natural disaster, continuing armed conflict or other extraordinary conditions. The status for Honduras and El Salvador is set to expire in early 2018.

"There is ample evidence to suggest that current TPS recipients from Honduras and El Salvador cannot return safely to their home country at this time," said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration. He cited a report issued by bishops' Office of Migration and Refugee Services titled "Temporary Protected Status: A Vital Piece of the Central American Protection and Prosperity Puzzle."

The report recommends that the U.S. government extend TPS for some 257,000 people from El Salvador and Honduras in the U.S., who currently have a work permit and reprieve from deportation.

In a letter of introduction to the report, Bishop Vasquez said: "As you read this report, I urge you to keep the people of El Salvador and Honduras, including TPS recipients, in your thoughts and prayers. I encourage you to engage the administration in requesting a TPS extension for El Salvador and Honduras . . . and to reach out to your elected congressional leaders to request they support a legislative solution for TPS recipients who have been in the United States for many years."

Advocates worry because the Department of Homeland Security, under the Trump administration, has signaled reluctance to extend the status for other countries.

In mid-September, the Trump administration announced the end of TPS for nationals from the North African nation of Sudan, prompting outcry from Catholic groups who say they worry about the conditions the migrants will face upon their return. Though the administration said it is safe for them to return, the U.S. Department of State warned against travel to the country because of "risks of terrorism, armed conflict and violent crime."

Haitians who obtained TPS after the country's devastating 2010 earthquake, also are waiting to learn whether they'll have to return to an unstable country, since DHS also has signaled it plans to end TPS status for the Caribbean nation. Catholic groups and others have said it is not safe for them to return because of instability on the island.

In a similar way, the report says Honduras is a "fragile state" and unable to accommodate the return of a large number of its nationals. El Salvador, too, has a pervasive crime problem, as well as other social ills, and, too, would face hardship with a return of large numbers of nationals, it says.

The report is based on the findings of a delegation from the USCCB and MRS that visited Honduras and El Salvador Aug. 13-19 to examine conditions in those countries and whether they can "adequately receive and integrate the possible return of existing TPS recipients."

- - -

Editors: The full text of the report can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-policy/fact-finding-mission-reports/upload/el-salvador-honduras-report-20171016.pdf.

- - -

Copyright © 2017 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.

Faith brings hope even at moment of death, pope says

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians can find hope even at the hour of death, which faith teaches is not a closed door but a wide-open passage to a new life with Christ, Pope Francis said.

While all men and women are "small and helpless in front of the mystery of death," Jesus' victory over death assures Christians of the joy of the resurrection, the pope said Oct. 18 during his weekly general audience.

Despite chilly temperatures in Rome, thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square to greet the pope who rode around St. Peter's Square in the popemobile, stopping frequently to greet pilgrims and kiss babies.

Making sure one child was kept warm, the pope pulled up the hood of the baby's jacket before he was taken back to his parents.

Continuing his series of talks on Christian hope, Pope Francis reflected on death, which is "a reality that our modern civilization tends to eradicate" so completely that "when death comes to us or those around us, we are unprepared."

Past civilizations, however, "had the courage to look death in the face," he said, and viewed death not with fear but as "an inescapable reality that forced man to live for something absolute."

Death "shows us that our acts of pride, anger and hatred were vanity: pure vanity," the pope said. "We realize with regret that we have not loved enough and did not look for what was essential."

Before raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus' mourns his friend's death, the pope noted. Christ's behavior shows that despite hope in the resurrection, Christians can "feel sorrowful when a dear person passes away."

"Christian hope draws from the approach that Jesus takes against human death: if this (death) is present in creation, it is nevertheless a gash that disfigures God's plan of love, and the savior wants to heal us of it," the pope said.

In another instance, he continued, Jesus comforts Jairus after his daughter's death because "he knew that man was tempted to react with anger and desperation."

Jesus' invitation to "not be afraid," he said, is a call for all Christians to guard the "small flame" of faith within that keeps them from falling into "the precipice of fear" that comes at the moment of death.

Departing from his prepared remarks, Pope Francis asked pilgrims to close their eyes and "think about our own death and imagine the moment that will come when Jesus will take us by the hand and say, 'Come, come with me, get up.'"

"There hope will end and it will be a reality, the reality of life," Pope Francis said. "Jesus himself will come to each of us and take us by the hand with his tenderness, his meekness, his love."

- - -

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

- - -

Copyright © 2017 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.

Pope condemns deadly terrorist attack in Somalia

IMAGE: CNS photo/Feisal Omar, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis prayed for the victims of a terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia, that left hundreds dead and countless wounded in one of the deadliest attacks in the country's history.

Before concluding his weekly general audience Oct. 18, the pope expressed his sorrow and denounced the "massacre which caused more than 300 deaths, including several children."

"This terrorist act deserves the fiercest condemnation, especially because it victimizes people that are already so tried," the pope said.

Mogadishu erupted into chaos Oct. 14 when a minivan and a truck carrying military grade explosives exploded near a security checkpoint. Investigators believe the attackers were targeting a heavily guarded compound that housed many embassies, United Nations' offices and African Union peacekeeping forces.

The second explosion caused a nearby fuel truck to ignite, causing a massive fireball to erupt in the area.

While no group has taken responsibility for the attack, government officials believe the militant terrorist group, al-Shabab, is responsible, the Associated Press reported.

Pope Francis prayed for the innocent victims and their families as well as for the conversion of the perpetrators of the deadly massacre.

"I pray for the conversion of the violent and encourage those who, with great difficulty, work for peace in that martyred land," the pope said.

- - -

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

- - -

Copyright © 2017 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.

Pope at General Audience: 'Jesus came to save us from death'

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday reminded Christians that Jesus came to heal us and to save us from death. He also prayed for the over 300 victims of a deadly bombing in Somalia's capital Mogadishu and condemned the terrorist attack that falls on an ravaged tortured nation. 

He was addressing the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Wednesday General Audience, during which he continued his catechesis on Christian Hope.

Noting that death is a reality that modern civilization “tends, more and more, to set aside” and not reflect upon, Pope Francis said that for believers death is actually “a door” and a call to live for something greater.  

For those “in doubt”, he added, it contains a glimmer of light that shines through a slightly open threshold.

For all of us, he continued, in the mystery of death is a grace and that light will shine for everyone.

Prepare for death

The pope invited those present to think of the moment of their death and imagine the time when Jesus will take us by hand and say: “come, rise and come with me”.

In that moment, he said, hope will end and it will become reality.

Often, he continued we find ourselves unprepared to face death, and yet for centuries past civilizations had the courage to face this inevitable reality. Older generations taught the younger to see that inescapable event as a call to live for something enduring, greater than themselves.  

Pointing out that our days, no matter how many they are, pass like a breath, Francis said “death lays bare our lives” forcing us to acknowledge that all those actions born from pride, anger and hatred” were useless and vain.

To the contrary, he said, it highlights how all the good things that we have sown have germinated and now “hold us by the hand”. 

Jesus will take us by the hand

Jesus, the Pope explained, is the one who ultimately helps us to confront the mystery of death. He shows us that it is natural to weep and to mourn the loss of a loved one, just as he wept at Lazarus’ death.  

But he did not only mourn, he also prayed to the Father and called Lazarus from the tomb pointing out that “Here is our Christian hope: Jesus has come to heal us, to save us from death”.

Recalling the gospel story of Jairus who turned to Jesus in faith asking him to save his sick daughter, and Jesus’s exhortation: “Do not fear, only believe”, the Pope urged Christians not to be afraid, but to keep the flame of faith burning.

Jesus, Francis said, puts us on this “ridge” of faith: every time death comes to tear us away from the fabric of live and our earthly ties, Jesus is there reminding us that He is the resurrection and the life.

We are all small and defenseless before the mystery of death, Pope Francis concluded, but if we keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts, Jesus will take us by the hand, just as he did with Jairus’ daughter when he said: "Talitha cum" which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise. To each of us, he concluded, he will say: “I say to you, arise.”   

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope addresses “Religions for Peace”‎ delegation

(Vatican Radio)  “Religions, with their spiritual and moral resources, have a specific and ‎unique role to play in building ‎peace,” Pope Francis said on Wednesday.  “They cannot be neutral, much less ‎ambiguous, where peace is concerned,” he ‎told a delegation of 80 members of “Religions for Peace”, who met him in the Vatican. 

Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition that advances common action among the world’s religious communities to transform violent conflict, advance human development, promote just and harmonious societies, and protect the earth.

Peace and justice

Noting that “peace is both a divine gift and a human achievement,” the Pope said “believers of all religions are called to implore peace and to intercede ‎for it.”  He stressed that “peacemaking and the pursuit ‎of justice go together,‎” and said that “all men and women of good will, particularly those in positions of ‎responsibility, are summoned to work for peace with their hearts, minds and ‎hands.” 

Violence in God’s name

Pope Francis once again denounced violence in the name of religion saying, “they gravely offend God, ‎who is peace and the source of peace, and has left in ‎human beings a reflection of his wisdom, power ‎and beauty.”

Care for creation

The Pontiff expressed appreciation for the efforts of Religions for Peace, saying “religions are ‎bound by their very nature to promote peace ‎through justice, fraternity, ‎disarmament and care for creation.‎”  He said there is a “need for a common and cooperative effort on the part of the ‎religions in promoting an ‎integral ecology.”  Religions, he noted have the “wherewithal to further a moral ‎covenant ‎that can promote respect for the dignity of the human person and care for ‎creation.”  The Pope expressed satisfaction that there are many examples of the power of interreligious cooperation around the world  that oppose violent ‎conflicts, advance sustainable development and ‎protect the earth.  

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope’s condolence for death of Philippine Cardinal Ricardo Vidal

Pope Francis has expressed his condolence for Philippine Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, who passed away in Cebu on Wednesday.  The 86-year old prelate who was Archbishop of Cebu for nearly 3 decades until his retirement in 2010, died of complications from pneumonia. 

Pope Francis sent a telegram to Archbishop Jose S. Palma of Cebu, expressing gratitude for Cardinal Vidal’s  “untiring and devoted service to the Church, and for his constant advocacy of dialogue and peace for all the people in the Philippines”.

Please find below the text of the Pope’s condolence telegram: 

The Most Reverend Jose S. Palma

Archbishop of Cebu

Deeply saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, I extend my sincere condolences to you, and to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Cebu.  Joining with you in expressing profound gratitude for the late Cardinal’s untiring and devoted service to the Church, and for his constant advocacy of dialogue and peace for all the people in the Philippines, I commend his soul to the infinite love and mercy of our heavenly Father.  As a pledge of consolation and hope in the Lord, to all who mourn his passing in the certain hope of the Resurrection, I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing

                                                                       FRANCISCUS PP.

Cardinal Ricardo J. Vidal, Archbishop emeritus of Cebu (Philippines), was born on 6 February 1931 in Mogpoc, Philippines. He did his studies at the minor seminary of the Most Holy Rosary (which later assumed the title of Our Lady of Carmel) and at the seminary of San Carlo.

He was ordained on 17 March 1956. The Bishop of Lucena entrusted him as spiritual director of the local seminary of Mount Carmel. He then became superior of the same institute and was dedicated to the formation of the young candidates to priesthood until 10 September 1971, when he was named Coadjutor Bishop of Malolos, Bulacan, and was elected to the titular church of Claterna. He received episcopal ordination on 30 November 1971. On 22 August 1973 he was named Archbishop of Lipa in Batangas.

On 13 April 1981 he was named Coadjutor with the right of succession to the Archbishop of Cebu, Cardinal Julio Rosales. He was named Archbishop on 24 August 1982.

He served as president of the Bishops’ Commission for Vocations within the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. He was also vice-president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and then president from 1985 to 1987.

He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in the Consistory of 25 May 1985,with the Title of Ss. Pietro e Paolo in Via Ostiense (Sts. Peter and Paul in Via Ostiense, Rome).

In a message, Cebu archdiocese’s spokesman Msgr. Joseph Tan said the prelate died due to infection leading to septic shock at the city’s Perpetual Succour Hospital where he was hospitalized on Oct 11 when he became seriously ill. 

Requesting prayers for the prelate’s soul, Tan said the details of funeral rites will be made available as soon as possible.

A native of Mogpog, Marinduque, Vidal was ordained a priest in 1956 by Bishop and Servant of God Alfredo Maria Aranda Obviar.

Then Pope John Paul II appointed Vidal head of the Cebu archdiocese in 1982. He retired in 2011.

In a statement released shortly after Vidal’s death, CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas stressed Vidal’s legacy will live on despite his passing.

“Cardinal Vidal cannot die. He who has always shared in the dying and rising of the Lord daily in his priestly life cannot die. He now joins the immortal ones who served the Lord faithfully here on earth. His wisdom and his humility, his love for priests and his devotion to the Virgin Mary must live on in us whom he has left behind,” he said. Archbishop Villegas also expressed hope in Cardinal Vidal’s intercession for the faithful. “Rest well Eminence. Pray for us in the Father’s House.”

Meanwhile Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo praised Card Vidal for being a “true servant-leader rather than a ‘prince.’”

“For me his legacy is his own outstanding character. Some of these are: Humility, low profile style; Simplicity and Approachability; Ability to listen even to opposing views; Prudence in political issues; Courage in presenting and defending the CBCP position leading to the 1986 People Power; Charity for those considered as ‘enemies,’” he said in a message to CBCPNews.

With the death of Card. Vidal, the number of cardinals worldwide now stands at 219, of whom 120 are ‎below the age of 80, hence are eligible to vote for a new pope.  Ninety-nine are non-voters.  ‎

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis deplores Mogadishu terror attack

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has condemned the terrorist attack that killed over 300 people, including children, in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Speaking during the weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said he wished to express his sorrow for the massacre that took place on Saturday.

“This terrorist act , he said, deserves to be most strongly deplored, also because it falls on a population that is already suffering deeply”.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:

The Pope said he is praying for the dead, for the wounded, for their families and for the whole people of Somalia.

“I implore the conversion of those who are violent and send my encouragement to those, who with enormous difficulties, are working for peace in that tortured land” he said.

On the ground in Mogadishu nearly 70 people are still missing  from Saturday's bomb blast that killed more than 300 people in one of the world's deadliest attacks in years

The death toll of 302 is expected to rise. 

Somalia’s government has blamed the attack on the al-Shabab extremist group, which has not commented.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope General Audience: English Summary

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday reminded Christians that Jesus came to heal us and to save us from death.

He was addressing the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience, during which he continued his catechesis on Christian Hope.

Please find below the English Summary of the Pope’s catechesis: 

Dear Brothers and Sisters: this morning I wish to reflect on Christian hope and the reality of death, a reality which our modern world so often leaves us unprepared to face.  Past civilizations had the courage to face death, and older generations taught the younger to see that inescapable event as a call to live for something enduring, greater than themselves.  For our days, no matter how many they are, pass like a breath.  It is Jesus, however, that ultimately helps us to confront this mystery.  He shows us that it is natural to mourn the loss of a loved one.  For he too wept at Lazarus’ death.  But he did not only mourn; he also prayed to the Father and called Lazarus from the tomb.  Here is our Christian hope: Jesus has come to heal us, to save us from death. He says: “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25); if we believe in him, even if we die, we will live.  In the face of our sorrow, Jesus invites us to faith in him.  This is our hope: when we mourn, we know that Christ remains always close to us.  And one day, when we too face death, we will hear Jesus’s voice: “I say to you, arise” (Mk 5:41).   

(from Vatican Radio)

Waiting for God: How to Keep Listening When God Seems Silent

Waiting for God: How to Keep Listening When God Seems Silent

I’m not a patient person. Little frustrations like sitting in a traffic jam or standing in line at the bank have me grinding my teeth…

The post Waiting for God: How to Keep Listening When God Seems Silent appeared first on Busted Halo.

Groups settle in lawsuit against HHS contraceptive mandate

IMAGE: CNS photo/Aaron P. Bernstein, Reuters

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Dozens of Catholic groups that challenged the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act have reached a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, they announced late Oct. 16.

The groups, including the Archdiocese of Washington and the Pennsylvania dioceses of Greensburg, Pittsburgh and Erie, were represented by the Cleveland-based law firm Jones Day.

Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl wrote an Oct. 16 letter to archdiocesan priests saying the "binding agreement" ends the litigation challenging the Health and Human Services' mandate and provides a "level of assurance as we move into the future."

The Washington Archdiocese was one of dozens of groups challenging the mandate, which went to the Supreme Court last year in the consolidated case of Zubik v. Burwell. Although it was most often described as the Little Sisters of the Poor fighting against the federal government, the case before the court involved seven plaintiffs and each of these combined cases represented a group of schools, churches or church-sponsored organizations.

Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik, whom the case is named for, said he was grateful for the settlement, which he described as an "agreement with the government that secures and reaffirms the constitutional right of religious freedom."

In an Oct. 17 statement, the bishop said the diocese's five-year-long challenge to the mandate "has been resolved successfully" allowing Catholic Charities in the diocese and other religious organizations of different denominations to be exempt from "insurance coverage or practices that are morally unacceptable."

He said the settlement follows the recent release of new federal regulations that provide religious organizations with a full exemption from covering items that violate their core beliefs.

On Oct. 6, the Trump administration issued interim rules expanding the exemption to the contraceptive mandate to include religious employers who object on moral grounds to covering contraceptive and abortion-inducing drugs and devices in their employee health insurance. The same day, the U.S. Department of Justice issued guidance to all administrative agencies and executive departments regarding religious liberty protections in federal law.

Cardinal Wuerl said in his letter to priests that the new guidelines and regulations were extremely helpful but that the "settlement of the Zubik litigation adds a leavening of certainty moving forward. It removes doubt where it might otherwise exist as it closes those cases."

"The settlement adds additional assurances," he added, "that we will not be subject to enforcement or imposition of similar regulations imposing such morally unacceptable mandates moving forward."

The cardinal thanked the Jones Day law firm for its legal representation in the case and thanked Catholics for their prayers and support for the petitioners in the long legal fight.

Thomas Aquinas College of Santa Paula, California, one of the groups that fell under the Washington Archdiocese's challenge of the HHS mandate to the Supreme Court, similarly thanked the law firm Jones Day for representing the school pro bono.

The school's president, Michael McLean, said in an Oct. 16 statement that as part of the settlement, the government will pay a portion of the legal costs and fees incurred by the law firm.

He said the college welcomed the broadening of the exemption from the HHS mandate by the Trump administration in early October but he similarly said the settlement of the case provides "something even better: a permanent exemption from an onerous federal directive -- and any similar future directive -- that would require us to compromise our fundamental beliefs."

"This is an extraordinary outcome for Thomas Aquinas College and for the cause of religious freedom," he added.

The school's statement said according to the terms of the settlement, the government concedes that the contraceptive mandate "imposes a substantial burden" on the plaintiffs' exercise of religion and "cannot be legally enforced" under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The contraceptive mandate, in place since 2012, required all employers to provide contraceptive coverage in their employer insurance. Last year when opposition to this mandate came to the Supreme Court, the justices unanimously returned the case to the lower courts with instructions to determine if contraceptive insurance coverage could be obtained by employees through their insurance companies without directly involving religious employers who object to paying for such coverage.

Erie Bishop Lawrence T. Persico, representing one of the groups that challenged the mandate, said in an Oct. 17 statement that it has been "difficult for people to understand that this lawsuit was not just about contraceptives.

"The real issue," he said, "was the government attempting to narrow the definition of freedom of religion, using the HHS mandate to exempt only a small subset of religious employers. Churches were declared exempt, but their hospitals, Catholic Charities agencies, schools, and universities were not."

The bishop said he was pleased with the settlement particularly because the church continues to assert that all of its ministries "are inextricably tied to the practice of our faith."

- - -

Mark Zimmermann, editor of the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Washington Archdiocese, contributed to this report.

- - -

Follow Carol Zimmermann on Twitter:@carolmaczim.

- - -

Copyright © 2017 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.