Providence, R.I., Sep 29, 2012 (CNA) - For the last few years, since learning he had entered the United States illegally as a young child, Luis Lucario has lived with the fear that at any time, he could be discovered and deported back to Mexico, separating him from his family here.
The 19-year-old is but one of a population of young, undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. estimated to number in the hundreds of thousands.
With the enactment of a new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services policy, he is facing perhaps the biggest challenge of his life, and he’s facing it with a broad, beaming smile.
Although in divulging his identity and status to the federal government he ultimately could risk being deported back to Mexico, Lucario, 19, welcomes the opportunity the new policy provides: temporary legal status and employment authorization for eligible young people meeting certain age, residency, and legal criteria.
“Throughout my whole life it never occurred to me that I wasn’t an American citizen,” says Lucario, who has no memory of the trek he made as a toddler across the desert border into Arizona with his mother, who was in search of a better life for her son.
Through a translator, Luis’ mother spoke of how the two had lived in their native Mexico City. A single mother, she had been forced to leave her young son with her parents during the week while she worked long hours outside the city in order to support him. Her eyes welling with tears, she recalled how the two had fled Mexico so that she could finally spend more time with her son and try to give him a chance at a better life.
In his teens, Luis was surprised to learn that he was in the country illegally, and therefore unable to apply for a job or to continue his education when he graduated high school.
“Personally, I feel like I’m an American,” says Lucario, who noted that no one ever questioned his nationality as he was growing up, and that his friends were truly surprised to eventually learn the truth about his past.
Lucario, a parishioner at St. John the Baptist, Pawtucket, speaks English fluently, and Spanish much less so. In an ironic twist, the Mexican native admits to often turning to Google in order to translate some words into Spanish when speaking with his mother.
Known as Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the immigration policy was created in June under an executive order signed by President Barack Obama.
The executive order gives undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 a chance to remain here to obtain employment and an education. It went into force on Aug. 15, with tens of thousands turning out at immigration offices across the country to sign up.
While U.S. immigration officials have made it clear that the new policy provides no path to citizenship, it does allow those who qualify to legally remain in the country without fear of deportation.
“Some people say it’s a great risk, but they don’t mind applying for Deferred Action because it’s a great opportunity for them,” said Luis Peralta, the lead case manager for the Office of Immigration Services in the Diocese of Providence.
The staff has also been visiting area parishes to inform individuals about the new policy and invite them to avail themselves of diocesan assistance with the application process.
“We shared information with about 150 people at Holy Spirit Parish in Central Falls, and more than 30 attended a second presentation at Scalabrini Dukcevich Center in Providence,” said Peralta.
According to Stella Carerra, coordinator of Refugee and Immigration Services for the diocese of Providence, the office has been inundated with calls for appointments from those needing help to navigate the maze of paperwork necessary to help make their dream of living and working legally in the U.S. a reality — and to keep families together.
The staff has been meeting with about 40 clients per week since the policy took effect, extending their office hours to nights and weekends to accommodate the demand.
They are finding that for many young immigrants whom they are assisting, the U.S. is the only country they have ever known.
One young applicant, who only wished to be identified by his first name, Hector, said he was elated that the new policy would allow him the opportunity to apply for college so he can study computer engineering.
Like several of the other applicants receiving assistance in filling out paperwork and registering to receive representation at immigration hearings from the diocese, Hector said he had no regrets, whatever the outcome of the process.
“When I found out, I didn’t think twice about applying,” said Hector, who lives with his mother and sisters.
He was 11 months old when his uncle guided both him and his mother across the border to start new lives.
“We came walking in to Arizona,” he said.
Posted with permission from The Rhode Island Catholic, official newspaper for the Diocese of Providence.
New Haven, Conn., Sep 29, 2012 (CNA) - Carl Anderson, the head of the Knights of Columbus, will focus his participation at the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the role of families and the laity in the New Evangelization.
“I would hope to make a contribution in both those aspects, the importance of family and the importance of the laity,” Anderson told CNA in a Sept. 27 interview.
Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have said “the role of the laity can be decisive in the new evangelization,” he recalled.
As for the family, Anderson explained, it is both an “evangelizing subject and object”: families can both proclaim the good news, and the gospel is proclaimed to and within the family.
The gathering of 200 bishops, experts and observers from around the globe will take place at the Vatican Oct. 7-28 under the title of “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.”
Anderson was invited to participate in the synod as an auditor by Pope Benedict, which means his primary task is to offer counsel and contribute to the discussions of the synod.
He said the forthcoming gathering is “tremendously important” in the Church's life because “the new evangelization is the way for the Church to move forward … in Europe and in the Western Hemisphere especially.”
Anderson, who has already participated in three synods, described the day to day structure of a Vatican synod as “pretty filled with work.” He said the day begins usually with a general session, “in which there are interventions by various members of the hierarchy and experts,” with “discussion of various drafts and papers that are presented.”
There are then working groups, to which individuals are assigned based on their language abilities. These groups, he explained, offer the opportunity for discussion and “really in-depth analysis of various questions that are presented to the synod.”
After the synod wraps-up, the recommendations and ideas that come out of it are sent to a committee that drafts a working document which is presented to the Pope.
He then writes a post-synodal apostolic exhortation based on his reflection, which “takes into account much of the deliberation of the synod and the work of the bishops who are there.”
The Supreme Knight also took time to discuss the role of his fraternal organization in the New Evangelization.
Anderson recalled that Pope Benedict described the Knights as “pioneers in the lay apostolate” in his message to their international convention in August.
“The lay apostolate in our lifetime, I believe, is the New Evangelization; and the New Evangelization is about Christian witness and an authentic Catholic identity,” Anderson stated.
“It is about being able to articulate the faith in a convincing way, but equally and perhaps more importantly, living the faith in an authentic and convincing way.”
He noted that the Knights have had 130 years' experience doing just that, confidently living out the Christian life and reaching out to the community and parishes to make them “more vibrant.”
Anderson said that “the most important role of the Knights of Columbus will be in the daily activity of our councils, and the work of our 1.8 million members and their families.”
Washington D.C., Sep 29, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
At a recent conference in Illinois, former abortion workers told the stories of the work that they once thought was helping women, and how they were converted to the pro-life position.
“We wanted to better understand the mindset of people who work in the abortion industry,” said conference planner Ann Scheidler, who serves as the vice president of the Pro-Life Action League.
She told CNA that the purpose of the “CONVERTED: From Abortion Provider to Pro-Life Activist” conference was to hear what former abortion workers had to say about why they entered the abortion industry and what led them to leave it.
While abortion doctors and clinic workers are sometimes viewed as heartless by pro-lifers, some are actually “extremely compassionate people” who are misguided and believe that they are “helping women,” she explained.
“It’s very good for us to understand where these people are coming from,” she said.
The Sept. 22 conference was held Crowne Plaza O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont, Ill., and featured eight former abortion workers who told their personal stories of conversion.
Scheidler said that each one had a different story, but they shared the experience of realizing, “This isn’t what I thought.”
The decision to leave can be “difficult,” she continued. They often find that “everybody they know is pro-abortion,” so leaving their job means finding an entirely new community and peer group.
“That’s asking a lot,” she said. “That’s hard to do.”
While the lack of resources has made this transition especially difficult in the past, a new ministry by former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson is now helping those who wish to leave the abortion industry but are struggling in their decision to do so.
Johnson spoke about her ministry, And Then There Were None, which has had contact with 30 abortion workers in recent months.
Drawing about 100 attendees, primarily pro-life advocates who talk to women outside abortion clinics and sometimes speak with clinic workers, the conference was deemed a success by organizers.
One presenter, Dr. John Bruchalski, is currently a pro-life OB/GYN in northern Virginia. However, he performed abortions during his first two years of residency.
Although Bruchalski grew up in a Catholic household, he lost his faith in the 1970s and '80s. Wanting to be a “great” doctor, he felt that he needed to perform abortions, which he believed would help women to be “happier” and “healthier.”
It was a combination of factors that changed his mind, he told CNA. Part of it was the experience of performing abortions.
“As you do the procedure, you begin to kill another human being up close,” he said, describing the experience of watching “the life drain from them” from just inches away.
“That reality goes through your hand and into your heart,” he reflected.
Performing abortions “hardens your heart every time,” because you have to continually justify your actions to yourself, he explained.
In addition, he said that there was more and more emerging data showing that abortion and contraception were not healthy for women, but had some “pretty significant side effects,” both physically and psychologically.
There was also a relational aspect to his conversion, as a neonatologist whom he worked with challenge him to re-think his ideas.
Finally, he said that he experienced a spiritual renewal, brought about in part by two pilgrimages he attended.
“All those pieces came together in 1989,” he said, explaining that he was forced to “adjust my heart and my whole outlook.”
Now, he tries to witness to others, helping them to see the reality of abortion. In 1994, he founded Tepeyac Family Center, a pro-life practice in Fairfax, Va.
“If it’s so darn good, why do so few doctors perform abortions?” he asks medical students when he gives talks.
Bruchalski said that he knows other former abortion doctors who have converted, and each has a different story. He believes that God speaks to each person in his or her own way.
“He spoke to me in a language that I intrinsically understood,” he said.
Vatican City, Sep 29, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The trial of the Pope Benedict XVI’s former butler began this morning at the Vatican as the 46-year-old Paolo Gabriele faced charges that he stole confidential Vatican documents.
Gabriele made no plea and remained silent throughout his appearance before a panel of three judges in the Vatican courtroom on Sept. 29. Wearing a light grey suit, eyewitnesses say Gabriele’s demeanor varied from tense to jovial.
The hearing lasted for just over two hours before being adjourned until Tuesday, Oct. 2. The trial could be dealt with in as little as four sessions.
The Vatican court typically deals with around 30 cases a year but they involve minor crimes like bags being stolen or other crimes that target tourists. The last major crime for the Vatican was the 1998 murder of the commander of the Swiss Guard and his wife. The alleged killer, a fellow Swiss Guard, was never brought to trial because he committed suicide just after shooting the pair.
Gabriele was charged in May with the “the “aggravated theft” of documents, including private papal correspondence. His arrest followed several months of so-called Vatileaks in which numerous sensitive internal Vatican papers were passed on to the Italian media.
The court heard that, in total, 82 crates of documents and other material were removed from Gabriele’s apartment and the Pope’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo during the police investigation.
It was revealed that 13 people are scheduled to appear as witnesses during the trial, including the Pope’s private secretary, Monsignor Georg Gänswein, and the head of the Vatican Gendarmerie, Domenico Giani.
The court also decided to separate the trial of Gabriele from his alleged conspirator, Vatican computer expert Claudio Sciarpelletti.
Earlier this year, Pope Benedict XVI gave the task of finding those responsible for the leaks to both the Vatican Gendarmerie and a special commission of three cardinals chaired by Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz.
Today the court decided that the trial of Gabriele would only admit evidence amassed by the Gendarmerie but not material gathered by the cardinals.
Paolo Gabriele is an Italian father of three who worked in the Papal Household under both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. He was one of very few individuals who had daily access to the Pope. Within the close-knit family atmosphere of the Papal Apartment, Gabriele is affectionately nicknamed “Paoletto” or “little Paul.”
If he is found guilty, a prison sentence of up to four years in an Italian jail awaits him.
No television cameras are allowed into the Vatican courtroom. Instead, group of eight Vatican-accredited journalists were selected to observe the case first-hand. They then briefed the rest of the press after the court proceedings finished for the day.