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Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations Expresses Gratitude for Letter from Pope Francis to Priests on the 160th Anniversary of the Death of St. John Vianney

WASHINGTON-On August 4, 2019, Pope Francis marked the 160th anniversary of the death of the Curé of Ars, St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, by addressing a letter to all priests throughout the world. In the letter, the Holy Father acknowledges the pain and suffering that the Church has experienced because of the sexual abuse scandals and cover-up, while expressing his solidarity with priests who may find themselves angry and tempted to despair.  

Pope Francis also underscores his gratitude for faithful priests, those who continue to image Christ, the Good Shepherd in their everyday work and ministry. The Holy Father urges his brothers to remain hopeful and encourage one another with hope grounded in the Lord’s redemptive sacrifice on the Cross and united in prayer with Mary, the Mother of all Priests, who is always interceding for her children.

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, issued the following statement in response to Pope Francis’ letter:

“The Holy Father’s letter to all priests is a most welcome gift, coming, as it does, at a particularly difficult time for the Church. Amid the pain, ugliness, and anger, it is possible for the Church, and especially those who are priests, to fall into despair – the opposite of hope. Instead, the Holy Father reminds us that we must never lose sight of those “luminous moments when we experienced the Lord’s call to devote our lives to his service”. That sort of memory recalls the many moments of gratitude and encouragement offered to us from the Lord and from others. While working to protect all of God’s people, especially the innocent and vulnerable, from the evil of the abuse of power, we should not become blind to how the joy and hope of Christ “are constantly born anew.” Speaking as a priest and bishop in the United States, I thank the Holy Father for his wonderful letter to us.”

Pope Francis’ letter to priests can be read in its entirety at the following links:

English: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2019/documents/papa-francesco_20190804_lettera-presbiteri.html

Spanish: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/es/letters/2019/documents/papa-francesco_20190804_lettera-presbiteri.html
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, Death of St. John Vianney  

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Media Contact:
Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

After US mass shootings, Mexican bishops denounce hate speech, xenophobia

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 6, 2019 / 03:53 pm (CNA).- In a recent statement, the Mexican bishops’ conference voiced “great sorrow” at recent acts of violence in both the U.S. and Mexico, which they said were “provoked by intolerance, xenophobia and discrimination.”

Last week, a Mexican police officer shot and killed a Salvadoran man waiting to hop a freight train to the U.S. The prosecutor’s office said the man attacked the officer, but the local migrant center contested this account.

On Saturday Aug. 3, an armed man opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, TX. He killed 22 people and injured more than two dozen others before he was taken into police custody.

The alleged shooter reportedly published a four-page document online in the hours before the attack, detailing his hatred toward immigrants and Hispanics. He also reportedly described the weapons he would use in the shooting.

Less than 24 hours later, a 24-year-old man fired an assault rifle in downtown Dayton, Ohio, killing nine people and injuring more than two dozen others. Within one minute, Dayton police arrived and killed the shooter.

The Mexican bishops' conference offered “prayers for the relatives of those who lost a loved one in these fateful events or who were injured.”

They said that “with sadness we see these acts of violence are increasing, encouraged by those who create divisions, who close their hearts to their fellow human beings, and don't recognize the human dignity that every person possesses, regardless of the color of their skin or nationality.”

Warning that “hate speech only engenders aggression and death,” the bishops called for both government officials and citizens in the United States and Mexico to “foster a discourse in accord with peace, equality, fraternity and collaboration, since both nationals and foreigners that reside in a country make a nation greater and stronger.”

In addition, they encouraged prayers for all victims of hatred and violence, that they may “find the consolation of faith and peace in Jesus Christ Our Lord.”

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

 

This former abortion nurse encountered Christ through the Missionaries of Charity

San Sebastian, Spain, Aug 6, 2019 / 09:59 am (CNA).- María Martínez Gómez is a former abortion nurse in Bilbao who used to go by the name “Amaya.” An unexpected experience in the most unexpected of places prompted Gomez to change not only her name, but also her entire outlook on life.

Gomez shared her testimony and conversion story in late May at a conference in San Sebastian. There, she explained what convicted an abortion nurse who hated everything for which the Catholic Church stood, to become a devout Catholic revert.

Although Gomez was baptized Catholic, she did not practice the faith and describes herself as “about to apostate.” She had worked in an abortion clinic as a nurse, where she would prepare women for surgical abortions. Working in the clinic, she said, would require her to lie to herself about what she was doing. One time, she asked a colleague if what she was looking at was in fact a fetal foot--and she managed to convince herself that it was simply a blood clot.

The stress of the job caused her hair to fall out.

Gomez said the abortion clinic purposely took steps to ensure that women would not change their minds prior to their abortions. Women would be isolated from their partners, to “remove them from reality,” before their surgeries, and it would be Gomez’s job to hold their hands and keep them calm while the abortion was happening.

Afterwards, she said that sometimes the women were so traumatized by what they had experienced, they thought they had not yet undergone an abortion and begged her to stop it from happening. It was Gomez’s job to inform them that they had in fact already had an abortion.

She described the environment as one that was motivated entirely by money and greed.

Gomez eventually left the abortion industry, and went to school for physiotherapy.

Eventually, Gomez’s marriage collapsed, and she moved to Nepal to assist with the recovery efforts from the 2017 earthquake. It was there, in a country that is over 80 percent Hindu and less than one percent Christian, where she encountered Christ.

In Kathmandu, Gomez encountered the Missionaries of Charity. Initially, she was not pleased to meet these women, and she said that she did not want to talk with them as she hated Mother Teresa. A chance encounter on the street, where one of the sisters grabbed her arm and said “come with me” struck Gomez. She eventually realized she was to go to their convent.

At first, the sisters turned her away, because their only sister who spoke Spanish was not around. They told her to come back at 6 a.m. for Mass. After some protest, she returned for morning Mass, fully intending to mock the affair.

The Mass was said in English, a language Gomez did not speak well, and she was not paying attention. Then said she heard a voice, in Spanish, saying “welcome home.” At first, Gomez said she was confused, and then heard the voice again, when it said, “Welcome home. How long it took you to love me.”

“It was the cross of Christ talking to me,” she explained.

At that moment, she said she felt as though “The Good Shepherd, in his infinite mercy, decided to call the lost sheep, the most miserable, which was me.”

She said that she instantly felt forgiven for all of her sins, and laid on the floor, sobbing – for three hours. The experience left her feeling blessed, loved, and brought back to life. The sisters, who were praying alongside her for the entire time, told her that she was, from that point on, to be called Mary.

The sisters went on to explain to her that they had been praying for the entire year for a physiotherapist volunteer to come to Kathmandu, and that the sister who grabbed her on the street that day had received a message from the Holy Spirit that Gomez was “the one” for whom they had been waiting.

“What they did not know was that Mother Teresa was playing a two-sided game,” said Gomez. “She granted them a physiotherapist, and in return, they helped me to change and heal my heart. They didn’t know they were going to witness a meeting between a prodigal son and his father.”

Gomez stayed with the Missionaries of Charity for four months, helping a sister with a hurt back and another with an injured wrist to recover. She also taught the children cared for by the sisters how to do basic rehabilitation and physical therapy for the sisters.

In time, Gomez’s visa expired and she returned to Spain, after much prayer. She found herself among the Poor Clares on St. Clare’s Day, and underwent spiritual direction from one of the sisters.

“I was a dry bone in that valley, that He decided to revive,” said Gomez. “That is the Mercy of God.”

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation Has Released a New Agreed Statement on the Vocation and Mission of the People of God

WASHINGTON— The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation has released a new agreed statement entitled, The Vocation and Mission of the People of God: “A Chosen Race, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation”. The document was finalized at the most recent meeting of the Consultation which took place in late May of this year at the Saint Methodios Faith and Heritage Center in Contoocook, New Hampshire. The Consultation is co-chaired by Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, the Catholic Archbishop of Newark, and by Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios of Boston. 
 
More than five years in the making, this new text is an example of a different approach to ecumenical dialogue: instead of addressing together an issue that has prevented full communion between the churches, here the Catholic and Orthodox theologians examine together challenges that affect both churches, in this case the role of the laity in the two traditions and the problem of clericalism.

The document begins with a summary of earlier statements by the Consultation on these and similar themes. It goes on to develop an ecclesiology that sees the sacrament of Baptism as the foundation of the vocation and ministry of every Christian, clergy and laity alike. Thus all the People of God together constitute a single community. Some members have received a special role of leadership within the community, but all of the members have received specific charisms that are to be exercised for the building up of the whole body. Within this context, the ordained clergy are set apart from the body of believers but are not above or separate from that body. All of this is expressed most clearly in the celebration of the Eucharist where the diversity of gifts and roles is made clear in the gathered community’s single act of praise.  

The document goes on to reflect on the mission of the laity in the Church, and the implications of this ecclesiology for the practice of synodality at all levels of the Church’s life.  In a final section, the agreed statement considers certain challenges to the People of God, namely clericalism, individualism and ecumenical reunion. The Consultation concludes that “our focus in thinking about the Church, and in celebrating its reality, must be on the unity of the People of God that is grounded in our common baptism and on a corresponding understanding of the diversity of roles and charisms within that radically united people.”

Like most dialogue agreed statements, this new text does not speak officially for either Church. However, it has been drafted by a highly competent group of theologians from both traditions and submitted to all the members of both Churches for their prayerful reflection and discussion. The full text can be found here http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/ecumenical/orthodox/vocation-and-mission.cfm
   
The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation is sponsored jointly by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the USCCB, and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Since its establishment in 1965, the Consultation has issued some 30 agreed statements on various topics. All these texts are available on the website of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops at: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/ecumenical/orthodox/index.cfm and on the web site of the Orthodox Assembly of Bishops at http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/ministries/dialogue/orthodox-catholic/

Another body, the Joint Committee of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops, has been meeting annually since 1981 to discuss pastoral issues between the two churches.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, The Vocation and Mission of the People of God, Committee For Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs,

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Media Contact:
Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

Honorees receive the People of Life award at Diocesan Pro-Life Conference for their contribution to the pro-life cause

WASHINGTON- Three champions of the pro-life cause were honored on August 5 at the 2019 People of Life awards for their lifetime contributions to the movement.

The awards were presented during the annual Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference taking place in Louisville, Kentucky. This year's honorees are Cheryl Holley, Marian Desrosiers, and Chuck Donovan. Approximately 125 diocesan Catholic pro-life leaders and guests attended the private awards dinner, including Archbishop Joseph Naumann, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The People of Life award recognizes Catholics who have answered the call outlined by Pope Saint John Paul II in The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae, 1995) by dedicating themselves to pro-life activities and promoting respect for the dignity of the human person. It is bestowed in honor of their significant and longtime contributions to the culture of life.

Over the past three decades, awardee Cheryl Holley has led the way in uniting pro-life communities through ecumenical and multicultural efforts. Holley is the Director of the Josephite Pastoral Center and she is a board office of the Gabriel Network, serving pregnant women and children throughout Maryland and Washington, DC. Holley says her passion is “to work with teenage pregnant mothers and to share with them their God-given dignity.” She believes that “education and the knowledge of God’s unending love are the keys to eliminating abortions and sexually transmitted diseases,” which has led her to coordinate two conferences on women’s sexuality and life issues with the Archdiocese of Washington.

Awardee Chuck Donovan—a native of Louisville—is the President of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the education and research arm of pro-life PAC Susan B. Anthony List. Donovan has been a guiding force in the pro-life movement for four decades, as Legislative Director of the National Right to Life Committee from 1979-1981, in leadership at the Family Research Council, and as co-chair of the Heritage Foundation’s Religious Liberty Working Group. Donovan, a prolific author and speaker, was honored for his tireless dedication to developing critical public policy protections for conscience rights and the rights of unborn children.

Awardee Marian Desrosiers was honored for her joyful and dedicated pro-life service in the Diocese of Fall River. In addition to her time as the diocesan pro-life director, she also spent 25 years leading the diocese’s Project Rachel Ministry, which provides pastoral care for individuals who have been involved in an abortion. Desrosiers today is the Director of Advancement at Bishop Connolly high school and continues to serve women and their children in her diocesan Women’s Transitional Home.

The awardees join 34 other People of Life award recipients since the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities established the award in 2007.

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Keywords: Pro-Life, Secretariat of Pro-Life, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, People of Life Award, Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference,

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Media Contact:
Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

Catholic church vandalized in Liverpool

Liverpool, England, Aug 5, 2019 / 03:23 pm (CNA).- Merseyside Police are investigating the vandalization of St. Oswald's, a church in inner city Liverpool that had windows smashed and graffiti painted on it Saturday.

Saint Oswald King and Martyr Catholic Church was vandalized Aug. 3, the Liverpool Echo reports.

The church and its presbytery had six windows broken, and “beast” written in chalk on the outside, according to the Liverpudlian daily. The area where the windows were damaged have been boarded up.

The damage was reported to police shortly before noon, and the police believe the damage to have been inflicted earlier that morning.

A spokesman for Merseyside Police encouraged everyone to share information with the authorities on the crime or the criminals involved.

The current St. Oswald's building was built in the 1950s. This replaced a building from the 1840s designed by Augustus Pugin, of which only the west steeple survives.

The presbytery dates to 1847, and was designed by E. W. Pugin.

White roses fall inside Roman basilica to mark 4th century Marian miracle

Rome, Italy, Aug 5, 2019 / 10:09 am (CNA).- White rose petals fell from the ceiling of St. Mary Major Basilica Monday, as Romans celebrated the anniversary of a 4th century Marian miracle.

The miracle, which inspired the construction of the papal Marian basilica, involved a miraculous snowfall in Rome on Aug. 5 in the year 358.

According to tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared to both a nobleman named John and to Pope Liberius (352-366) in a dream foretelling the August snow and asking for a church to be built in her honor on the site of the snowfall. The church was rebuilt by Pope Sixtus III (432-440), after the Council of Ephesus in 431 declared Mary to be the Mother of God.

Cardinal Stanislsw Rylko, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, celebrated the Mass to mark the 1,661th anniversary of this “miracle of the snow.”

“On the occasion of this great feast of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Jesus Christ also addresses us, each one of us, this phrase: 'Here is your Mother'. This invitation suggests having confidence in her, without fear, and listening to her, to let yourself be guided by her,” Rylko said in his homily Aug. 5.

“Christ continues to entrust His mother to each of us, 'Here is your Mother' and we, like the apostle John, are called to take Mary to our house, to allow her to enter our lives, to make her a part of our joys, of our problems, of the challenges we face everyday,” he said.

Among the four major papal basilicas in Rome, St. Mary Major is the only one that maintained its original structure. Mosaics dating back to the 5th century can be seen in the central nave of the basilica, which also houses the relic of the Holy Crib from the birth of Christ.

The dedication of St. Mary Major is celebrated each year on Aug. 5 with a Mass in which white rose petals fall from the ceiling as the “Gloria” is sung. The feast is preceded by a triduum of prayer at the basilica Aug. 2-4.

This year there will also be a light and laser show in the piazza in front of the basilica at 9 p.m. to celebrate the feast. The show will be dedicated to Notre Dame Cathedral, which was damaged by a fire in April. It will also recognize the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death this year.

“Let us not forget the words of the Virgin during the wedding at Cana. Our Mother today, as then, continues to say to each one of us: ‘Do whatever Jesus tells you,’” Cardinal Rylko said at the Mass.

 

President of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice Issued a Statement After a Tragic Shooting in Dayton, Ohio

WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, and President of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane, of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development have issued the following statement in response to the tragic shooting last night in Dayton, Ohio.

Full statement follows:

“We extend our condolences to the families and friends of those murdered in Dayton last night. The lives lost this weekend confront us with a terrible truth. We can never again believe that mass shootings are an isolated exception. They are an epidemic against life that we must, in justice, face. God’s mercy and wisdom compel us to move toward preventative action. We encourage all Catholics to increased prayer and sacrifice for healing and the end of these shootings. We encourage Catholics to pray and raise their voices for needed changes to our national policy and national culture as well. We call on all relevant committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to outline a reinvigorated policy agenda and pastoral campaign to address ways we can help fight this social disease that has infected our nation. The Conference has long advocated for responsible gun laws and increased resources for addressing the root causes of violence. We also call upon the President and Congress to set aside political interests and find ways to better protect innocent life.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Galveston-Houston, Dayton, Ohio, Bishop Frank Dewane, Venice, Domestic Justice

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Media Contact:
Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3202

 

President of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Domestic Justice Chairman issued a Statement Following Shooting in El Paso

WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement in response to the tragic shooting at the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas.

The full statement follows:

“This Saturday, less than week after the horrific instances of gun violence in California, yet another terrible, senseless and inhumane shooting took place, this time at a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas.

Something remains fundamentally evil in our society when locations where people congregate to engage in the everyday activities of life can, without warning, become scenes of violence and contempt for human life. The plague that gun violence has become continues unchecked and spreads across our country. 

Things must change. Once again, we call for effective legislation that addresses why these unimaginable and repeated occurrences of murderous gun violence continue to take place in our communities. As people of faith, we continue to pray for all the victims, and for healing in all these stricken communities. But action is also needed to end these abhorrent acts.”

 

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal DiNardo, Bishop Dewane, shooting, Cielo Vista Mall, El Paso

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Media Contact:

Miguel Guilarte

202-541-3202

 

 

 

Chesterton sainthood cause will not advance, Bishop Doyle says

Denver, Colo., Aug 2, 2019 / 03:15 pm (CNA).- A cause for the canonization of the pipe-smoking, plain-talking, mustachioed and beloved Catholic author Gilbert Keith (GK) Chesterton will not be opened, announced Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton, the late Chesterton's home diocese.

Despite Chesterton’s inspirational writings and his role in the Catholic revival in England during the early 20th century, several obstacles stand in the way of advancing the author’s cause for canonization, Doyle said in a letter read to the opening session of the American GK Chesterton Society conference.

The three concerns cited by Doyle are that Chesterton lacks a “cult” of local devotion, the lack of a “pattern of personal spirituality” that could be discerned through his writing, and charges of anti-Semitism in his writing.

“I am very conscious of the devotion to GK Chesterton in many parts of the world and of his inspiring influence on so many people, and this makes it difficult to communicate the conclusion to which I have come,” the bishop said, according to the Catholic Herald in the U.K.

Chesterton was born in 1874, and became a prolific writer and staunch Catholic apologist after his conversion to the faith. He is renowned for writing apologetic classics such as “Orthodoxy” and “The Everlasting Man”, as well as for his fictional “Father Brown” series, among many other works. He died in 1936.

Doyle praised “Chesterton’s goodness and his ability to evangelize” but said he could not open the cause at this time.

“...I am unable to promote the cause of GK Chesterton for three reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, there is no local cult. Secondly, I have been unable to tease out a pattern of personal spirituality. And, thirdly, even allowing for the context of G K Chesterton’s time, the issue of anti-Semitism is a real obstacle particularly at this time in the United Kingdom,” he said in the letter.

In an interview with Alfa y Omega, a Spanish Catholic weekly, Doyle said that while Chesterton was staunchly against the Nazis, he stereotyped Jewish people in concerning ways in some of his writings.

As an example, Alfa y Omega noted, in The New Jerusalem, a book written in 1920 by Chesterton, he argued that Jewish people needed to have a separate nation in order to “live, as far as possible, in a Jewish society ruled by the Jews.” He also advocated that Jews wear distinctive clothing in public to set them apart.

The Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton argues that the charge of anti-Semitism against Chesterton is false, given that the man  once said “The world owes God to the Jews,” and “I will die defending the last Jew in Europe.”

Chesterton was “a man who hated racism and racial theories and who fought for human dignity and always affirmed the brotherhood of all men,” the society states on its website.

Fr. John Udris, who served as the investigator for Chesterton’s cause, told the Catholic Herald that he “(doesn’t) envy Bishop Peter having to make a decision with such huge implications.”

“Of course it’s a disappointment. But the investigation was an enormous privilege. Getting to know Chesterton better has certainly changed me for good (I hope in both senses!),” he added.

Fr. Benedict Kiely, a priest who claims Chesterton’s intercession helped cure his mother of sepsis, said that the decision shows that the English Catholic hierarchy is in a “fog of mediocrity,” a phrase first applied to the group by English author Hilaire Belloc. 

“The decision of the current Bishop of Northampton not to pursue the cause of G.K. Chesterton’s canonisation indicates the fog has yet to clear,” Kiely told the Catholic Herald.

According to his interview with Alfa y Omega, Doyle said that it is possible that his successor could re-open the cause. Doyle is 75 and has presented his resignation for consideration to Pope Francis, as he is the customary retirement age for a bishop.

"And I would not want to be an obstacle to this, beyond stating the conclusions I have reached," he said.