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Archive of August 15, 2013

Most Americans would find immigration wait 'unthinkable'

Colorado Springs, Colo., Aug 15, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - While undocumented immigrants often face blame for circumventing U.S. law, American immigration policy is so broken that it produces wait lists of inconceivable length, says a migrant advocate.

“People have to wait 10, 20 years before immigrating to the U.S., and it's just unthinkable for Americans that we would have to wait that long,” Corey Almond, vice president of family immigration services at Catholic Charities of Central Colorado, told CNA Aug. 13.

“I don’t think that's a concept we get, as Americans, because we go anywhere we want mostly.”

Almond explained that without a family or an employee sponsor, “the opportunities to immigrate legally to the U.S. can be very limited.” And even when seeking family unification, the immigration process “can be very difficult, and oftentimes very long.”

Employee sponsorship is limited 5,000 people per year for lower-skilled workers, meaning that it is “not a reality” for poorer migrants who are less educated.

The small number of available visas for temporary or agricultural workers is a small fraction of “the demand that we have in our economy for the immigrant labor that we use,” Almond said.

“There isn't a way for 'just anybody' to come to the U.S.”

Americans are privileged enough to live in a culture which fosters the idea that “if you work really hard and have a goal” you can accomplish anything – and can therefore easily think that anyone with a good work ethic will have a legal path to immigrating here.

“But that's just not true,” he noted.

Unless an American works in immigration services or has immigrated themselves, “it's very difficult to understand how hard it is to immigrate in a legal way to the U.S.,” said Almond.

Almond's office helps immigrants with their documentation, as they seek green cards, citizenship, or deferred action for childhood arrivals. Unfortunately, he said, “there are many people we're not able to help immigrate in a legal way” because they lack “doors,” legal routes, to living and working in the U.S.

Catholic Charities of Central Colorado sees many migrants who are well educated, yet could not support their families in their home country because “jobs in their field were scarce.” There are also many Christians who have sought asylum or refugee status who had been persecuted for their religion.

“It's also true that there's a lot of violence, escaping gang violence, from south of the border, and in those cases, it's not easy to find humanitarian relief through the immigration system,” Almond explained. “The qualifications for being a refugee or asylee do not necessarily cover everyone who's trying to leave an unsafe situation for their family.”

The “incredibly complicated” legislation and regulation governing immigration today means that “the way people immigrated at the time of our founding as a country was much different than it happens now.”

It was “largely the case,” Almond said, until the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, that there were nearly no limits on who could immigrate to the U.S., or how many immigrants would be allowed.

“The situation of people immigrating today is very different than it was for our ancestors,” he said, speaking of Anglos and other European descendents. “We need to understand that when we talk about the policy.”

Migrating is “a hardship,” Almond emphasized, saying that while “people might think … it's a fun thing, or an exciting adventure, to come to the U.S.,” but that when people are “forced” to migrate, whether by persecution, violence, or economic destitution, “it's not a comfortable move.”

“It's not what we might be used to. When we travel, many of us Americans are somewhat in luxury, knowing where we're going to, having arranged the living situation, having the travel and finances figured out.”

“For many migrants,” on the other hand, “it's a leap of faith.”

Migration is a feature of the human condition “from time immemorial,” Almond said, and as Catholics, we need to ensure that our response to immigration “fits with our Catholic teaching.”

“The U.S. bishops have advocated for comprehensive reform, and that's what would be the best approach to tackling some of the issues right now.”

At the end of June, the Senate passed a bipartisan-backed bill for comprehensive immigration reform that would provide a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S., as well as a new worker visa program and border security investment.

The Republican-controlled House is in the midst of a five-week recess, but House GOP leaders have indicated they are unlikely to support the Senate's bill, and may focus on border security “triggers” ahead of the legalization of undocumented migrants.

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Suspended Vatican accountant linked to suspect spiritual group

Vatican City, Aug 15, 2013 (CNA) - The Vatican accountant who was recently suspended for allegedly trying to smuggle $26 million had been part of a group known as “The Flock,” which has supposed Mafia connections.

Monsignor Nunzio Scarano is currently under arrest in Italy for an alleged plan to transfer 20 million Euro from Switzerland to Italy aboard an Italian government airplane.

Italian newspaper “Il Mattino” reports that Msgr. Scarano was entrusted with the management of a network of real estate activities for the spiritual family “L'opera del gregge del Bamin Gesù,” or “The works of the flock of the infant Jesus.”

“The Flock,” as it is known, was a sort of spiritual family formed in Salerno by a group of priests aged 40-50 who gathered around a visionary known by his first name, Caterina.

Msgr. Scarano is known to have been a member of The Flock, which was officially an association of prayer yet acted primarily as a private limited company managing a series of economic activities.

The companions of The Flock, including Msgr. Scarano, bought these properties with the aim of founding a true gathering of people who could live together in community.

According to sources who spoke to CNA Aug. 12 and asked for anonymity, a portion of the real estate properties were sold to The Flock by Benito Imposimato, an builder whose properties and activities were involved in a Mafia investigation.

The Flock also controlled a co-op called Maris Stella, which sought mortgages to build houses and wished to buy a chapel in the town of Pagliarone, about 12 miles from Salerno, which they could add on to, to make a sort of convent.

The economic activity of the small community did not pass unobserved.

Archbishop Gerardo Pierro, then the Archbishop of Salerno-Campagna-Acerno wrote a letter to both the Vatican Secretariat of State and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2007, reporting about The Flock's activities.

In the letter, Archbishop Pierro, who is now 78 and retired, accused the community of “proselytism” and described it as “a sect conflicting with the life and spiritual and pastoral needs of the diocesan priesthood.”

Archbishop Pierro then asked that all The Flock's members sign a declaration of obedience to their diocesan curia. Msgr. Scarano agreed to sign this declaration, and left The Flock.

At that time, he was already working in the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, and was proposed as a mediator between The Flock and the Diocese of Salerno-Campagna-Acerno, according to a source in the diocese who spoke with CNA Aug. 13.

Italian investigators suppose that Msgr. Scarano’s business in Salerno has its roots in his past experience in The Flock. It has been found that the monsignor invested most of his funds in his hometown of Salerno.

He is also being investigated by the public prosecutor in Salerno for supposedly laundering 560,000 Euros ($742,500) he took from his account in the Institute for Religious Works – the so-called Vatican bank – to pay off the mortgage of a house.

Salerno's prosecutor has already submitted an international request to the Vatican for information about Msgr. Scarano's involvement with the Institute for Religious Works.

Investigators believe Msgr. Scarano opened other accounts under his own name and put them at the disposal of his friends in Salerno. They would then use the accounts to launder their own money before transferring it to a foreign country.

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Film tour hopes to reignite devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Denver, Colo., Aug 15, 2013 (CNA) - The promotional tour of a recent film on the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe has helped reawaken devotion to the Patroness of the Americas, while inspiring a deeper conversion among Catholics.

“We need things that are artistic, that leave impressions, that will help guide people back to our faith,” Tim Watkins, director of 'The Blood and the Rose', told CNA on Aug. 13.

The film centers around three major aspects of the apparition of the Virgin Mother to St. Juan Diego: the historical background; the apparition itself and Mary’s message; and the scientific analysis of the image on the tilma.

“Even though this image was made in 1531, there are still things that we found in the twentieth century that made us go, ‘Oh wow,’” Watkins explained. “It begs the question: what else is in this image that hasn’t been discovered yet?”

Careful study and inspection of the image throughout recent history has yielded surprising discoveries about the image, such as the tiny human figures and faces that appear in the life-like eyes of the Virgin and the way the stars on her mantle match the constellations at the winter solstice of 1531.

In promoting his film, Watkins hopes Catholics will be strengthened in their faith while growing bolder in proclaiming the Gospel.

While researching the film, Watkins said he discovered more about the apparition than he could have imagined – something he hopes viewers will experience when they see the film.

“They know bits and pieces, but they don’t know the fascinating totality of the story,” he said. “There’s something in (the film) that people do not know.”

While the film is meant to be a work of art inspired by the apparition, it also explores the humble sanctity of St. Juan Diego, the faithful messenger to whom the Virgin Mother appeared.

“I’m not worthy to touch the tassels of Mary’s gown, but what I am capable of doing is achieving the kind of life Juan Diego lived.”

The saint, Watkins added, is an example of “humble, childlike faith,” whom we can all emulate.

“What we try to do with the film is inspire people to be like Juan Diego, the servant who heard the word and spread it.”

To that end, Watkins has established the Messenger Eagle Foundation – an organization dedicated to catechizing Catholics and helping them spread the Gospel in their parts of the world. The name is taken from St. Juan Diego’s native name, Cauthatlatohuac, which means “the eagle who speaks.”

The film, which was released in January, has been shown to audiences nationally as well as in several different countries, including Brazil, where the film was shown to World Youth Day audiences.

At each showing, a reflection on St. Juan Diego and the work of a special local charitable organization is given before the film. Following that is a reflection from the local bishop or a priest.

“Hopefully it becomes a fulcrum to an awakening to get us out of being pacifists in the pews to a point where we’re helping our priests succeed by getting their message to a bigger community,” Watkins reflected.

To learn more about the film, or to request a screening in your area, visit thebloodandtherose.com.

 

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Denver archdiocese: World Youth Day launched spiritual revolution

Denver, Colo., Aug 15, 2013 (CNA) - In 1992, Denver was one of three American cities that had been vying to host World Youth Day the following year.

That Palm Sunday, Pope John Paul II announced the fourth international gathering of Catholic youth would take place not in Buffalo, N.Y., or St. Paul, Minn., but in Denver.

Organizers could begin their work.

So why Denver?

“Ultimately the choice was due to the inscrutable will of God,” Cardinal J. Francis Stafford of Rome, former Denver Archbishop, told the Denver Catholic Register. “The contingencies are dependent on his choice.”

Pope John Paul II made the final decision. He wanted the event, which had started as a youth rally in the Diocese of Rome and had become international, to be better organized and publicized, so he turned to the U.S. bishops feeling Americans excelled in organization and media.

“Denver and the West spoke of youthfulness and its closeness to the Rocky Mountains gave it international appeal,” said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, R.S.M., director of media relations for the U.S. bishops in Washington D.C., who served as communications director for WYD 1993.

Local pastor Msgr. Edward Buelt, who served as executive director and vice president for logistics for Denver’s WYD, recalled that in 1992 Denver was celebrating the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of the Americas, which had begun with Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the Dominican Republic in 1492.

“The Holy Father, I think, sensed that Denver was geographically and existentially more attuned to that anniversary since evangelization of the U.S. … came through South America,” he said.  “Secondly, the Holy Father was attempting to project the next 500 years of the evangelization of the Americas. … Denver clearly has a reputation that is keen in view of the center that we offer for communications for cable, for satellite and for the capacity to communicate globally.”

Expectations

At the time, World Youth Days were a fairly new experience. This would be the first, and as yet only, time the international event was held in the United States.

“Many secular or civil organizers, including the press, had no context to evaluate it,” said Msgr. Buelt. “The closest the press ever came, which was not close at all, was trying to understand it as a Catholic Woodstock – a week of music and drugs and sex, which was obviously far from the Church’s expectation of what would and did happen.”

Journalists highlighted the “cafeteria Catholicism” of some Americans and the pontiff’s age, 73, to speculate that the event would not successfully appeal to young people. Additionally, Denver was experiencing terrifying drive-by shootings that led media to call 1993 the “Summer of Violence.” And if fear didn’t keep attendees away, even organizers weren’t certain American youths, unlike their European counterparts, would relate to the idea of “pilgrimage” upon which World Youth Days are based.

“There were many naysayers and many people who did not really think the young people would respond to John Paul II and his message,” said Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila, who in his then-role as director of liturgy for the Denver Archdiocese helped plan the liturgies.

“It was predicted that the papal initiative would attract no more than 20,000 young people,” Cardinal Stafford said.

With hopeful optimism, organizers started planning for 60,000 people to attend the Aug. 11-15, 1993, WYD program of catechesis, liturgies and cultural events that included a closing Mass at Cherry Creek State Park celebrated by fellow pilgrim, Pope John Paul II. Denver’s WYD program diverged from previous ones in that the pope was to participate in twice as many liturgies and for more days.

“As the registrations started coming in, it went to 150,000,” said Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, who served as national director for Denver’s WYD. “The final registration was 500,000. We know there were walk-ons, particularly for the final Mass. It was 750,000 people there.”

Denver’s program was so successful that it has remained the norm for subsequent World Youth Days, Archbishop Schnurr said.

“World Youth Day Denver also completely transformed how the Church goes about youth ministry in the U.S.,” he said. “Previously, youth ministry was like Catholic Youth Organization, a lot of sports activities segregated from religious education. (We) brought those activities and religious education back together.”

Making it happen

The event planning proved challenging, organizers said.

Cherry Creek State Park included wetland preserves that needed protected and prairie dogs that needed moved. Electricity, water, roads and toilets needed to be constructed.

“At the time I said it was as though we were building a minor city in the middle of nowhere,” Archbishop Schnurr said with a laugh.

Because the pope is a head of state, Secret Service was involved in the planning.

“We had to provide Secret Service with an outline of every event and who the people were who would be approaching the Holy Father, all in three-minute increments,” said Archbishop Aquila.

People on pilgrimage tend to not eat, drink or sleep well enough, noted Msgr. Buelt: “The biggest challenge, was attending to the health and well-being of the participants.”

Scorching temperatures for the three-hour closing Mass at Cherry Creek State Park on Aug. 15, 1993, compounded the situation.

“I remember that after people received holy Communion, we handed them bottles of water,” Sister Walsh said.

Despite the exhaustion and dehydration experienced by some pilgrims among the sea of humanity gathered at Cherry Creek State Park, estimated to be the largest public gathering in Colorado’s history, the closing Mass was a joyous, peaceful finale to the five-day pilgrimage.

“There was a sense of, ‘We did it!’” Sister Walsh said. “We were doing a lot from scratch. We’d never seen anything like it before.”

Organizers had planned a spiritual meeting of young people with the Holy Father and that’s what happened, Sister Walsh said.

“However, we never imagined the wonderful enthusiasm that would be everywhere. Our media plan was to let the pope and the youths tell the story, and they did. Joyful enthusiasm can’t be programmed, but it was evident everywhere. The media saw it.”

The presence of the Holy Spirit was palpable from beginning to end, organizers said.

“From the first day World Youth Day started, Aug. 11, the feast of St. Clare, to when the Holy Father’s airplane took off from Denver Aug. 15, all major crime ceased,” said Msgr. Buelt. “If I remember correctly, not a single felony occurred in those five and a half days.”

Pilgrimage

To go on pilgrimage requires a willingness to sacrifice and suffer to experience spiritual gain, said Archbishop Schnurr. The young people did that by lodging in parish halls on route to Denver, trudging through the heat to Cherry Creek State Park, sleeping on the ground there and enduring other discomforts. During the week, they encountered Jesus Christ in each other, in the sacramental life of the Church and through the catecheses, Archbishop Aquila said.

“In putting the program together I traveled throughout the U.S. talking to young people, saying ‘What would you like to see happen in Denver?’” Archbishop Schnurr said. “What I heard was: ‘We do not want to be called the Church of the future, we will do something in the future, but we want to offer our gifts now.’ That was John Paul II’s vision. He was reaching out to the young people and saying, ‘The Church needs your energy and enthusiasm!’”
The Second Vatican Council teaches that the Church is the true youth of the world because she is immortal, Msgr. Buelt said.

“The youth are the present and past of the Church, the youth are the Church,” he said. “That is presented to us as in a mirror at World Youth Days.”

Two months after Denver’s WYD, the pope greeted Cardinal Stafford saying, “Ah! Denver, una revoluzione! (A revolution!)” A Vatican official explained the pope’s intention, saying that the event had manifested the new evangelization in a huge way.

“In the past before World Youth Day 1993 in Denver, Pope John Paul II had expected that the spiritual revolution within the Church would be initiated by the young people of the Catholic Churches in Eastern Europe,” Cardinal Stafford said. “After Denver, he expected the anticipated spiritual ‘revolution’ to be emanating also from young Catholics of the West, especially the Americas. ‘Lux ex oriente et etiam ex occidente – ‘Light from the East as well as from the West.’”

Posted with permission from the Denver Catholic Register, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver.

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Pope donates 100,000 euros to poor dioceses in Argentina

Vatican City, Aug 15, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis has sent a message to Catholics in Argentina encouraging them to “unceasingly” reach out to help those in need by participating in a national collection on Sunday, Sept. 8.

However, the Pontiff not only exhorted the faithful in his home country to be generous, he was the first to offer his own contribution by donating 100,000 euros to the special collection for dioceses in need.

The Pope's donation was drawn from the collection taken up annually around the world in June, known as Peter's Pence, which the Holy Father uses to help those suffering from natural disasters, hunger and other calamities.

As a priest and bishop in Argentina, Pope Francis worked closely with the large sectors of the population suffering from poverty.

The administrator of the collection, Luis Porrini, said that although the collection will be taken up on Sept. 8, the Pope’s donation will arrive beforehand, since donations for the cause can be made year round.

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Mary is with us in our struggles, Pope Francis teaches

Vatican City, Aug 15, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - During his homily for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Francis said that this feast helps us reflect on the Christian themes of struggle, resurrection, and hope.

“Mary … has of course already entered, once and for all, into heavenly glory. But this does not mean that she is distant or detached from us,” the Pope preached Aug. 15 during a Mass said at the Piazza of Liberty in Castel Gandolfo.

“Rather Mary accompanies us, struggles with us, sustains Christians in their fight against the forces of evil.”

While pontiffs have customarily spent August in Castel Gandolfo, Pope Francis has remained in Rome this month, traveling this morning to the resort town by helicopter to say Mass for today's holy day of obligation.

He began his homily by reflecting on “Lumen Gentium,” Vatican II's Constitution on the Church, which refers twice to Mary's assumption, body and soul, into heaven.

The first of the themes found in “Lumen Gentium” is Mary's solidarity with our struggles, which was found also in the Mass' first reading, from Revelation, of a struggle between a woman and a dragon.

“The figure of the woman, representing the Church, is, on the one hand, glorious and triumphant and yet, on the other, still in travail,” the Pope noted.

The Church, whose “dual condition” Mary shares, is both “already associated in some way” with Christ's glory in heaven and still living “the trials and challenges” of the conflict between God and Satan.

This struggle is faced by every Christian disciple, and “Mary does not leave them alone,” Pope Francis said. “The Mother of Christ and of the Church is always with us. She walks with us always, she is with us.”

The Pope recommended the rosary as a prayer with Mary that “has this 'suffering' dimension, that is, of struggle, a sustaining prayer in the battle against the evil one and his accomplices. The Rosary also sustains us in the battle.”

He chided his listeners to pray the rosary daily, saying: “Do you pray the Rosary every day? But I'm not sure you do … Really?”

Mary's assumption also shows her solidarity with the resurrection of the dead and with Christ's resurrection, the event and “fundamental truth” that is the basis of Christian faith.

In his resurrection, Christ “entered into eternal life with all the humanity he had drawn from Mary; and she, the Mother, who followed him faithfully throughout her life, followed him with her heart, and entered with him into eternal life, which we also call heaven.”

In her solidarity with her son in the “martyrdom of the Cross,” Mary lived the Passion “to the depths of her soul” and so was given “the gift of resurrection.”

“Christ is the first fruits from the dead and Mary is the first of the redeemed, the first of 'those who are in Christ.'”

“She is our Mother, but we can also say that she is our representative, our sister, our eldest sister, she is the first of the redeemed, who has arrived in heaven.”

The final theme of the assumption, Pope Francis taught, is hope: the hope of those who live the struggle between good and evil and who believe in Christ's resurrection.

The Magnificat, Mary's song of praise at the Visitation, he said, is “the song of hope,” which is also “the song of many saints … some famous, and very many others unknown to us but known to God: moms, dads, catechists, missionaries, priests, sisters, young people, even children and grandparents.”

“These have faced the struggle of life while carrying in their heart the hope of the little and the humble.”

The Pope linked hope to persecution and the Cross, saying the Magnificat is “particularly strong” in the places “where the Body of Christ is suffering the Passion.”

“If there is no hope, we are not Christian. That is why I like to say: do not allow yourselves to be robbed of hope.”

He exhorted his listeners, “may we not be robbed of hope, because this strength is a grace, a gift from God which carries us forward with our eyes fixed on heaven.”

He concluded by encouraging Christians to pray the Magnificat with Mary, who accompanies and suffers with us.

“With all our heart let us too unite ourselves to this song of patience and victory, of struggle and joy, that unites the triumphant Church with the pilgrim one, earth with heaven, and that joins our lives to the eternity towards which we journey.”

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Pope celebrates Mass with hosts made by Argentine prisoner

Vatican City, Aug 15, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Since July 18, Pope Francis has been celebrating Mass each day in the chapel at St. Martha's Residence with hosts made by a woman in prison in Argentina.

Pope Francis sent a letter to the woman, known as “Gaby C,” thanking her for a previous letter that she had sent him.

“I thank you for confiding in me...and for the hosts,” the Holy Father wrote on July 17. “Starting tomorrow I will celebrate Mass with them and I assure you that I am moved. Your letter made me think, and it has led me to pray for you...but it gives me joy and assures me that you are praying for me.”

“May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin care for you,” Pope Francis told her, adding that he keeps the photos she sent in his office.

“This brings comfort not only to me but to my parents, who are believers, as well,” Gaby C said.

The woman began making hosts a year ago after meeting Father Jorge Garcia Cueva, the prison chaplain, and Father Juan Ignacio Pandolfini, a local pastor.

The two priests explained that the project “brought meaning to her life in captivity” and has helped her from falling into discouragement. The Benedictine Sisters of San Isidro provided her with training on how to make the hosts, and soon parishes in the diocese began placing orders.

“Gaby and the prison ministry team were immensely thrilled upon receiving the letter written by Francis. From the Vatican to the prison!” the priests said. They noted that ever since she began serving her sentence, she has endured typical hardships of female prisoners, such as harassment and mistreatment.

“There are many Gabys,” they added. “Today she is the symbol of those who are incarcerated. She is the voice of all the excluded we accompany and visit in each pavilion, in each cell.”

“We have no doubt that it is the voice of Jesus in prison in each one of them, who shouts to society to be heard, accompanied and recognized. The prison brings us the mercy of God to make heard the voices of the forgotten and marginalized, those who society refuses to look at and listen to.”

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Pope, religious freedom advocates lament Egyptian violence

Vatican City, Aug 15, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis joined proponents of religious liberty in voicing grief at the “painful news” of more than 600 deaths and numerous attacks on Christian churches in a recent wave of violence in Egypt.

“I wish to ensure my prayers for all the victims and their families, the injured and all those who are suffering,” the Pope said before the Angelus prayer Aug. 15. “Let us pray together for peace, dialogue and reconciliation in that dear nation and throughout the world.”

On Aug. 14, Egyptian security forces broke up the camps of protesters allied with the Muslim Brotherhood. The protesters were demanding the restoration to power of President Mohammed Morsi, who was ousted by the military last month.

Over 200 protesters were killed, as were several dozen policemen.

The death toll rose to at least 638 people in violence across Egypt on Aug. 15, as hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members responded by setting fire to a government building near Cairo, the BBC reports.

Much of Egypt has been placed under curfew and Christian churches have come under attack.

In Suez, a convent of the Congregation of the Good Shepherd and the adjacent school and hospital were robbed and set on fire. A Franciscan church was also set ablaze, the Coptic Catholic Patriarchate of Alexandria reported.

In the northeastern city of Minya, there was another attack on the Coptic Catholic church Mar Guirgis, which had previously been attacked by the Muslim Brotherhood. There were fires at a Jesuit church, the Coptic Catholic Church of St. Mark, and a convent and school of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

In the north central city of Beni Souef on the Nile River, there was a fire at the Franciscan Convent of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

In the central Egypt city of Asyut, there was a fire at the Franciscan Church of St. Therese and at a convent of Franciscan sisters.

At Cairo’s Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima, attackers threw stones and assaulted the doors of the church but failed to enter.

More than 25 other attacks targeted Orthodox and Evangelical churches, the patriarchate reports.

Pope Francis addressed the violence in his remarks after the Mass for the Feast of the Assumption. He sought the intercession of the Virgin Mary.

“Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us,” he told crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Aug. 15. “Let's all say it, Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.”

One Christian leader, speaking anonymously to the evangelical Christian group Open Doors USA, lamented in particular the death of 10-year-old Jessica Boulos, who was murdered last week while returning home from her Bible study at a Cairo evangelical church.

The Christian leader said her death by “a fanatic Muslim gunman” is “unbearable” and “continues to throw its shadows of pain on her broken family and the entire Christian community of Egypt.”

“In all of this mess, the loss of church buildings is great, but not to be compared with the loss of the many souls, the pains of the wounds and the fear and anxiety that have filled the hearts of all that can yet happen in Egypt today and the days to come. Buildings can eventually be re-built, but when lost, souls can never be restored.”

Nina Shea, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, wrote in an article for National Review Online that the U.S. has shown an alarming indifference to the plight of Christians in Egypt.

“The Copts are not part of the military assault against Muslim Brotherhood protesters in two of Cairo’s squares, and were but one of many factions of Egyptian society that supported the military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi,” Shea observed.

However, she charged, “the Copts have been scapegoated by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists since the beginning of the July 3 military intervention.”

She criticized the U.S. government for failing to take stronger action against the violent targeting of religious sites, property and houses of worship.

When U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf was questioned about the attacks at a recent press conference, Shea asserted, she simply said that the government is “concerned” and will “continue speaking out against this” in an effort towards “moving forward with a democratic process.”

“Beyond the general aim of ‘moving forward with a democratic process,’ the Obama administration apparently has no policy specifically directed to help this religious minority,” Shea said.

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December 19, 2014

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Mt 21:23-27

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Mt 21:23-27

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