Archive of April 4, 2014

Audit finds increase in child protection, decrease in reported cases

Washington D.C., Apr 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - An audit of the dioceses across the United States shows an increase of more than $15 million spent on child protection efforts, and a decrease in the number of reported cases of sexual abuse.

"Much work has been done to keep children in the care of the Church safe, but we must not think the work is finished," said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, in a March 1 statement on the report.

“Though our promise to protect and heal made in 2002 remains strong, we must not become complacent with what has been accomplished. It is my hope and prayer that as we continue to fulfill our promise, the Church will help to model ways of addressing and bringing to light the darkness and evil of abuse wherever it exists.”

The report, “2013 Survey of Allegations and Costs: A Summary Report for the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,” was released by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, a research organization based out of Georgetown University, with results compiled from an audit performed by StoneBridge Business Partners.

All but one of the dioceses in the United States, and all but three of the eparchies participated in the audit, with the Diocese of Lincoln and the Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle for Chaldeans, the Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg for Armenians and the Eparchy of Stamford for Ukrainians refusing to participate.

The audit was conducted with reports filed July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013, during which time 936 allegations of abuse were reported by 857 survivors of clergy sexual abuse reported in 191 dioceses.

The report found 10 cases in which a credible allegation had been made of abuse against a person who is currently a minor; these cases are under investigation, but the clergy member had not been removed from their post. Of the 10, seven are new allegations, and three are from previous, ongoing reports.

The survey investigated cases of abuse ranging from the 1920s to the present day, and the report indicated that most instances of abuse reported during 2013 took place between 1970 and 1979.

The overall figure is a decline from reports from 921 survivors during the previous audit period. The survey also found that  472 allegations had been found by the audit to be "unable to be proven"; 223 had an investigation ongoing; 136 were deemed "substantiated"; 78 "unsubstantiated"; and 27 had not yet been investigated.

Three quarters of the alleged offenders identified in 2013 had already died, left religious life,  or been removed from ministry.

 The survey also showed the lowest numbers of new allegations of sexual abuse, numbers of victims, and numbers of offenders since CARA began to collect data since 2004. In 2004, the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” established continuing research into allegations of sexual abuse by clergy and responses from the dioceses.

The report also found an increase in support and funding for victims of clergy abuse, as well as continued gains in safe environment training and child protection.

During the time period studied, the dioceses increased their spending on child protection by more than $15 million from the previous period: from $26,583,087 to $41,721,675, a change of more than 50 percent. During this period more than 4 million children had been trained in safe environment training, nearly 36,000 priests, or 99.6 percent of priests, as well as 16,129 deacons – 09.7 percent – and 167,935 educators, or 99.5 percent.

In addition, the report noted the continued support of 1,843 survivors of abuse and outreach to an additional 340 new survivors and their families.

Deacon Bernard Nojadera, director of the Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection, attributed part of the increase in protection to “the rechecks of background for a majority of diocesan personnel."

 "This year, for instance, in many dioceses it was time for the every-five-year background check renewal. There was also an increase in the number of roles that required background checks," he said.

 Nojadera added that “it is encouraging to see dioceses putting the necessary resources into ensuring the safety of children in its parishes and schools.”

Archbishop Kurtz looked forward to continuing awareness and pursuits to improve safety.

“As we continue to create a climate of safety for all minors entrusted to the Church’s pastoral care, our three-fold pledge guides us: to help victims heal; to educate about and prevent abuse; and to hold accountable those who have harmed children. They remain essential priorities for our Church.”

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Filmmakers seek support for film on abortionist Kermit Gosnell

Los Angeles, Calif., Apr 4, 2014 (CNA) - Three filmmakers are crowd funding a multi-million dollar movie about Kermit Gosnell and his late-term abortion clinic, stressing the need to bring attention to the morally and politically charged case.

“The media have basically ignored his crime and his trial,” Phelim McAleer, one of the filmmakers, said in the project’s introductory video.

“He ran an abortion clinic in Philadelphia where he delivered live, viable babies and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors,” McAleer continued.

In May 2013 Gosnell was convicted of three first degree murder charges for killing babies who had been born alive. Testimony had indicated that Gosnell and his staff snipped the necks of over 100 infants who survived abortion.

McAleer, his wife Ann McElhinney, and fellow filmmaker Magdalena Segienda are seeking thousands of donors to contribute at least $2.1 million by May 12 to help make a made-for-TV movie about Gosnell.

The fund raising campaign began March 28 here. By the afternoon of April 3, the prospective movie had raised over $318,000 from more than 4,100 people.

During Gosnell's trial, one Philadelphia-area reporter took photos of the courtroom showing that the courtroom benches reserved from the press were empty.

National media covered the case only after pro-life advocates launched a social media campaign to raise awareness about the case.

“With your help, we’re going to hire the best screenwriter, director and actors to make sure that the story of Kermit Gosnell gets into every home in America,” McElhinney said.

Gosnell's clinic had not been subject to oversight by the state of Pennsylvania since 1993. A federal drug raid in 2010 uncovered blood-stained rooms and filthy equipment.

The clinic stored aborted fetuses in a basement freezer in plastic food containers and bags next to staff lunches. Gosnell kept severed feet of unborn babies preserved in specimen jars, allegedly for future identification or DNA samples.

Staff allegedly sent women to give birth into toilets, a doctor allegedly spread sexually transmitted infections to women through poor sanitary standards, and a 15-year-old staffer administered anesthesia to patients. The clinic allegedly gave better treatment to white patients.

In addition to the counts of first degree murder, the abortion doctor was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a patient who died of an overdose in 2009.

Prosecutors had sought a third-degree murder charge in her case, saying Gosnell let his untrained and unlicensed staff give the 41-year-old Bhutanese immigrant woman a fatal combination of drugs.

Several of Gosnell’s former employees have pleaded guilty to murder and other charges. Gosnell himself is now serving several life sentences.

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UN registers Lebanon's millionth Syrian refugee

Beirut, Lebanon, Apr 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon registered with the United Nations has now passed 1 million, as the organization’s refugee agency stresses the urgent need to fund humanitarian aid.

“The extent of the human tragedy is not just the recitation of numbers,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees representative Ninette Kelley told reporters in Lebanon's second largest city, Tripoli, April 3.

“Each one of these numbers represents a human life who ... have lost their homes, their family members, their sense of future.”

The U.N. refugee agency officially registered an 18-year-old student from Homs as its millionth refugee in Tripoli. One year ago, the country was host to 356,000 U.N.-registered refugees.

While the number of registered refugees in Lebanon hit 1 million Thursday, the refugees' full number is much greater.

The Lebanese government estimated 800,000 refugees in early January, and by mid-February had increased its count to 1 million.

“Everybody knows that the real number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon is already well past the million mark,” wrote the BBC's Jim Muir, “but the fact that that many have now been officially registered is yet another grim milestone as the conflict grinds on.”

David Kenner, Middle East editor at Foreign Policy magazine, tweeted that a graphic showing the sources of the 1 million U.N. refugees from within Syria was “staggering,” yet “more staggering when you realize these are only registered ones.”

The Melkite Archeparchy of Furzol, Zahle and the Bekaa, on Lebanon's border with Syria, runs its own refugee assistance program – many of the Christians fleeing Syria fear to register with the U.N. for fear of identification and reprisal.

Because of Syria's civil war – now beginning its fourth year – half of the country's population have fled their homes.

Some 6.5 million Syrians are believed to have been internally displaced by the war, and there are 2.6 million Syrian refugees living in nearby countries, most of them in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan.

The more than 1 million refugees in Lebanon are straining a country whose population, when its neighbor's war began, was slightly over 4 million.

Now, one in every five residents of Lebanon is a refugee from Syria.

UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres said April 3 that the refugees have had a “staggering” impact on Lebanon.

The Syrian civil war cost Lebanon an estimated $2.5 billion in economic activity in 2013, the World Bank estimates. The presence of refugees has driven down wages for Lebanese and has taxed critical infrastructure like sanitation, water supplies, waste management and health care facilities.

Refugees in Lebanon who cannot afford housing live in tent camps, many not far from the center of the capital, Beirut. The camps are now building housing several stories high in cramped conditions. The sewer system is open and fresh air is scarce, contributing to the spread of disease.

Wadih Daher, an official of the Furzol archeparchy, told CNA last month that the impact on Lebanese has been “huge … in all aspects,” including security issues.

The Syrian conflict began March 15, 2011, when demonstrations protesting the rule of president Bashar al-Assad and his Ba'ath Party sprang up nationwide. The following month, the Syrian army began to deploy to put down the uprisings, firing on protesters.

Now an estimated 140,000 persons have died in what has become a civil war. The U.N. quit counting the bodies last July, leaving its estimates at 100,000, saying it could no longer verify its sources.

The civil war is being fought among the Syrian regime and a number of rebel groups. The rebels include moderates, such as the Free Syrian Army; Islamists such as al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant; and Kurdish separatists.

The millions of refugees created by the war have led to urgent humanitarian need. The UNHCR has appealed for $1.89 billion to fund humanitarian aid in Lebanon in 2014, but has received only $242 million.

“The Lebanese people have shown striking generosity, but are struggling to cope,” said Guterres  “Lebanon hosts the highest concentration of refugees in recent history. We cannot let it shoulder this burden alone.”

“Support to Lebanon is not only a moral imperative, but it is also badly needed to stop the further erosion of peace and security in this fragile society, and indeed the whole region.”

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John Paul II saw prayer as first duty of Pope, reflects cardinal

Vatican City, Apr 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, who was a close collaborator of Blessed John Paul II, said the future saint believed that “the first duty of the Pope was to pray for the Church and the world.”

“I worked very closely with Pope John Paul II, from the beginning of his pontificate until the end,” he said.  

Speaking with CNA on April 2, the ninth anniversary of the death of John Paul II, Cardinal Re reflected on the late pontiff’s testimony.

“He would say that the first duty of the Pope was to pray for the Church and the world, to obtain help from God and to be able to make things better.”

“It was amazing to see how he could go from contact with huge crowds to the solitude of prayer,” Cardinal Re said. “When he prayed, he had a great ability to concentrate, and before every big decision he would pray for a long time.”

Cardinal Re worked at the Vatican Secretariat of State when Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was elected Pope in 1978.

He was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 1987 and in September of 2000, he was made prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

“My first contact with Pope John Paul II,” he recalled, “was because he would write his homilies and speeches in Polish, and later they were translated by Poles into Italian, and then finally they were brought to me for linguistic review and to ensure that all the translations from the Italian point of view were correct.”

“The first speech I was tasked with reviewing was the one he gave in St. Peter’s Square, in which he said, ‘Be not afraid! Open the doors to Christ!’” Cardinal Re said.

Pope John Paul II, he continued, was “a great man” in many aspects.  

“He was a great man because of his deep thought, his ability to speak different languages, his skill at speaking to the multitudes. He was also a great mystic who was near to people and to situations, and in this way he influenced society and history.”

“He had the advantage of a long pontificate, because otherwise not many would have understood him,” Cardinal Re continued. “And he is a great saint, because he was a man of prayer and at the same time a great man of action.”

The cardinal said he is looking forward to the upcoming canonizations of John Paul II and John XXIII on April 27, the feast of Divine Mercy.

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After meeting Pope, daughter of immigrants reunites with father

Los Angeles, Calif., Apr 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The young girl who asked Pope Francis to intercede with U.S. President Barack Obama on behalf of the children of deported immigrants has been reunited with her father after a two-year separation.

On March 26, 10-year-old Jersey Vargas met with Pope Francis and gave him more than 1500 letters from children with similar stories to her own.

Just a few days later, on March 29, she was able to embrace her father, Mario Vargas, upon arriving at Los Angeles International Airport.

Mr. Vargas, an undocumented immigrant detained by officials six months ago after he was caught driving without a license, was released from a federal detention center in Louisiana on March 28.

Unable to find work in Los Angeles, where his family was living, he had spent the previous two years working in construction in Tennessee and Louisiana.

“Words cannot express what my daughter has done for me,” he told the Archdiocese of Los Angeles newspaper The Tidings.

“It’s been so difficult to be separated from my family. There are many men [in detention] that are suffering. They don’t want to be locked up away from their families – it’s a sad place.”

Commenting on her experience meeting Pope Francis, the young Vargas told reporters, “For me he is a marvelous person. He’s the closest to God.”

She said that when she asked the Holy Father to intercede with U.S. President Barack Obama for her father, the Pope responded, “Yes, I will talk to the president about this.”

Pope Francis met with Obama in the Vatican the following day, March 27.

“We have all felt a divine providence in this,” said Mario Vargas’ lawyer, Alex Galvez, who accepted the case pro bono. “We can’t explain how this has come to pass.”

The judge who heard Mr. Vargas’ case reduced bail from $15,000 to $5,000 on account of good behavior, Galvez said. While other obstacles still remain, he said that the toughest part is behind them.

“Jersey’s little voice has been heard across the United States,” Galvez said.

Before leaving for the Vatican, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles gave the young girl a medal of Our Lady of Guadalupe to carry with her on the trip to the Vatican.

Vargas, who had been afraid to fly, said she found consolation in the gift, and knew the Blessed Mother was with her. Mario’s wife, Lola, sent an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the detention center, mixed in with family photos. It was a great solace to him as well.

“Please take care of my children, please take care of my children,” he would pray. “I kept asking God for help.”

Lola, who has carried the family financially while her husband has been in custody, believes God did just that.

“It’s a miracle,” she said. “God put people in our lives to help us.”

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Those who follow Christ will face persecution, Pope observes

Vatican City, Apr 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis dedicated his April 4 homily to the theme of persecution, noting that although many of the trials saints have endured still happen today, there is always hope because “Jesus is Lord.”

“All the people whom the Holy Spirit chooses to tell the truth to the People of God suffer persecution,” the Pope expressed to those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse chapel, noting that Jesus “is precisely the model, the icon.”

The pontiff began his reflections by returning to the day’s Gospel, taken from John, in which Jesus alludes to his heavenly origin, for which the people attempt to arrest him.

Emphasizing that “today's Gospel is clear, no?” Pope Francis pointed out that “Jesus hid, in those last days, because his hour had yet to come – but he knew what end he would make, and how he would make it.”

“Jesus is persecuted from the beginning: when we remember the beginning of his preaching, he returns to his country, goes to the synagogue and preaches,” but that after great praise, people begin to whisper, saying “‘But, we know where he comes from ... he is one of us…with that authority comes he to teach us? Where did he study?’”

“It is the same old thing,” he observed, noting that “they ... write the Lord off, write off the prophet in order to take away his authority.”

Highlighting how the prophets “are all persecuted or misunderstood,” the Pope went on to describe how history repeats itself in the Church, from the moment of Jesus’ crucifixion until today.

Reflecting on how numerous saints have suffered persecution because they were prophets, the Roman Pontiff noted that “many thinkers in the Church were persecuted as well,” and recalled the story of a man “now, at this moment, not so far from us.”

“A man of good will, a prophet indeed, who, in his writings reproached the Church for having lost the way of the Lord,” the Pope explained, recounting that this man “was summoned in short order, his books were placed on the index, they took away his teaching positions – and thus, this man’s life ended – and it was not so long ago.”

Now that time has passed the man is a blessed, the pontiff continued, asking “How is it, though, that he, who yesterday was a heretic, is today a blessed of the Church?”

“It is because yesterday, those who had power wanted to silence him because they did not like what he was saying. Today the Church, who, thanks be to God, knows repentance, says, ‘No, this man is good!’ Moreover, he is on the way to sainthood: He is a blessed.”

Vatican Radio's summary of the homily failed to indicate to whom the Pope was referring.

Observing that all who seek to tell the truth of God endure persecution, Pope Francis emphasized that Jesus is our model in this because he took upon himself “all the persecutions of his people.”

“I dare say,” he added, “that perhaps there are as many or more martyrs now that in the early days,” because they proclaim the truth and Christ Jesus in a world that is in love with ease and which seeks to avoid problems.

Noting how in some places of the world today, “there is the death penalty or imprisonment for having the Gospel at home, for teaching the Catechism,” the Pope recalled how a Catholic from one of these countries confided in him “that they cannot pray together. It is forbidden.”

“People can only pray alone and in secret – but they want to celebrate the Eucharist and how do they? They throw a birthday party, they pretend to celebrate the birthday there and (have Mass) before the ‘party,’” he explained.

“It has happened. When they see the police arrive, they just hide everything and (continue with the birthday party-cover). Then, when (authorities) leave, they finish the (Mass).”

Going on, the pontiff highlighted that “they have to do so, because it is forbidden to pray together: in this very day,” affirming that persecution “is the way of the Lord: it is the path of those who follow the Lord.”

Concluding his reflections, Pope Francis emphasized that the story always ends in resurrection, but only by enduring the way of the cross.

“Always ... there will be persecutions, misunderstandings,” however “Jesus is Lord ... and that is the challenge and the cross of our faith,” he affirmed, praying that the Lord give all “the grace to go on his way, and if it happens, even with the cross of persecution.”

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Mozilla head's resignation over marriage stance sparks outcry

Mountain View, Calif., Apr 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Critics slammed Web browser Firefox's announcement that CEO Brendan Eich resigned in wake of controversy surrounding his support of traditional marriage, calling the move intolerant of free speech.  

Andrew Sullivan – founding editor of political blog “The Dish” and writer of the first national cover-story in favor of the legalization of same-sex “marriage” in 1989 – strongly criticized Eich's resignation in a April 3 post.

“Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks?” he wrote, adding that “The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society.”

“If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out,” Sullivan noted.

“If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.”

As co-founder of Mozilla and creator of the JavaScript scripting language, Eich was appointed as the company's Chief Executive Officer just last month, but has stepped down after his 2008 personal donation of $1,000 to support California’s Proposition 8 – which opposed the legalization of gay “marriage” – came under fire by some within the LGBT community.

According to USA Today, online dating site OKCupid even urged a boycott of the search engine, calling on Firefox users to change their browser in protest to Eich's appointment.

The newspaper also reports that last week Eich attempted to dispel the concerns erupting over the web and social media by writing in a March 26 blog post that “I can only ask for your support to have the time to 'show, not tell;' and in the meantime, express my sorrow at having caused pain.”

“I am committed,” he wrote, “to ensuring that Mozilla is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status or religion.”

However, the public apology was not enough to satisfy those criticizing Eich's stance in support of traditional marriage, and many are claiming that his move to resign was unfair and pushed by same-sex “marriage” advocates.

In a statement Thursday, Mozilla's executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker insisted that Eich “made this decision for Mozilla and our community.”

The Washington Examiner reflected in an April 3 piece, however, that Eich “resigned under pressure after gay rights activists demanded that he step down or recant his support of traditional marriage laws.”

Political scholar and author Ryan T. Anderson also decried the decision in an April 3 article published in The Foundry, noting that “the outrageous treatment of Eich is the result of one private, personal campaign contribution to support marriage as a male-female union.”

It is, he observed, “a view affirmed at the time by President Barack Obama, then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, and countless other prominent officials. After all, Prop 8 passed with the support of 7 million California voters.”

Proposition 8 was a California ballot proposition and a state constitutional amendment passed in November 2008 supporting the traditional definition of marriage in advance of the California Supreme Court's May 2008 appeal ruling.

Ultimately the proposition was deemed unconstitutional by a federal court in 2010, although the ruling was not official confirmed until June 26, 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed proponents' appeals based on lack of legal standing.

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Care for poor rooted in Gospel, not communism, Pope affirms

Rome, Italy, Apr 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a March 31 interview with communications students, Pope Francis responded to previous accusations of being a communist, explaining that his preference for the poor is in fact based in the Gospel.

“I heard two months ago that a person referred to my preference for speaking about the poor, saying: 'This Pope is a communist, no?' And no, this is the banner of the Gospel, not of communism, of the Gospel,” the Pope explained during the encounter.

Given to three Belgian youth who are studying communications sciences, the interview was broadcast on the evening of April 3 on the Belgium website, and was later picked up by Italian news agency ReppublicaTV.

During the interview, one student asked the Pope where his preference for the poor and most needy comes from, to which the pontiff responded: “Because this is the heart of the Gospel, and I am a believer, I believe in God, I believe in Christ, I believe in the Gospel, and the heart of the Gospel is the poor.”

“And because of this I believe that the poor are the center of the Gospel of Jesus. This is clear if we read it,” he affirmed.

Later on, a student expressed to the Pope that despite not being a believer, she feels inspired by him because of his work.

Pope Francis emphasized to the students that “people need to try to speak with authenticity.”

“My authenticity is that I am speaking with brothers, all of us are brothers, believers, non-believers, of this religious profession, of another, Jews, Muslims, all of us are brothers. Man is at the center of history.”

According to Italian agency RaiNews, the interview was part of the communications project “Verses Vis,” involving a group of 15 youths from an initiative in Fiandra, a town in Northern Belgium, who received permission from the Vatican to videotape the encounter.

Responding to other questions, RaiNews reports that Pope Francis also observed that “in this moment of history, man has been cast down from being the most important, he has been drained to the peripheries, situated in the center of power, of money.”

“In this world the youth are expelled. Also the children, we don't want children, only small families,” he continued, adding that “also the elderly are expelled: many of them die because of hidden euthanasia, because no one takes care of them.”

“We have entered into a throwaway culture, and whatever doesn't serve this globalization is discarded: the elderly, children and the youth.”

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Over $100k raised for family of slain Catholic husband, father

Indianapolis, Ind., Apr 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Within the span of a day, friends, family and strangers have raised more than $100,000 for the family of a young Catholic man in Indiana who was shot and killed on his usual morning walk early April 1.

“That is an incredible amount in a 24 hour period,” Chelsea Ransom, the fundraiser organizer said in an April 2 post on the Go Fund Me website.

Donations began pouring in when the story of Nathan Trapuzzano's tragic death spread across social media. At press time, 2,549 donors had raised a little over $132,000 – well exceeding the requested  $100,000.

Funds donated here will cover baby expenses for Trapuzzano's wife Jennifer, who is eight months pregnant with their daughter Cecilia, as well as the young man’s funeral.

While he was out walking for his usual morning exercise on April 1, the 24 year-old man was mugged and shot in the abdomen outside of a tire shop in Indianapolis.

“As with many tragedies, this seems so senseless and yet the outpouring of love and support reminds us that there is so much good in this world. Nate would not want us to become angry, but rather focus on the good and what is yet to come,” his family said in a statement released April 2.

“Nate had an unbelievable, strong faith in God, and we are finding some comfort knowing he is now in the Lord’s loving embrace.”

In the coming months, Trapuzzano was to celebrate his 25th birthday, he and his wife’s first wedding anniversary, and the birth of their baby girl whom they had already named Cecilia.

The devout Catholic and his wife volunteered as sidewalk counselors with Truth and Compassion Ministry, a pro-life group dedicated to offering pregnant women alternatives to abortion.

Although Trapuzzano graduated summa cum laude with a degree in classical studies from Ball State University in Indiana, he made a career as a self-taught software engineer. While at Ball State, Trapuzzano was active in the campus Newman Center.

Ivy Tech Community College, where Trapuzzano worked, announced that it would grant a full two-year scholarship to Cecilia, who is due to be born May 7.

Trapuzzano was known to be “a true gentleman” who was “in love with his Catholic faith,” according to Father Christopher Roberts, the priest who witnessed the couple's marriage last May.

The priest recalled how the bride and groom asked him to hear the wedding party's confessions the night before their big day.

“This was the first and only time I have been asked to hear confessions after a wedding rehearsal in my almost seven years as a priest,” Fr. Roberts wrote.

“Nathan was a man who knew God to be a forgiving and loving father. He wanted to share that experience with others,” he added.

In an interview with WISH Channel 8 News, Fr. Roberts said he believes the young man is extending mercy to his attackers.

The funeral for Nathan Trapuzzano will take place April 5 at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Indianapolis.

The link to learn more about the Trapuzzanos and to support Jennifer with donations or to contribute to her baby shower is here.

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Pope Francis recognizes three new saints of the Americas

Vatican City, Apr 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis inscribed among the saints Thursday three blesseds who were from Europe but were called to the New World by their missionary vocations.

At an April 3 audience with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Pope Francis extended the liturgical cult of three blesseds to the universal Church, a process known as “equivalent canonization.”

The three are St. Francois de Laval de Montmorency, the first bishop of Quebec; St. Jose de Anchieta, “the apostle of Brazil”; and St. Marie of the Incarnation, founder of Quebec's Ursuline convent.

St. Jose de Anchieta founded several Brazilian cities, including Sao Paulo. He was born in Spain's Canary Islands in 1534 and studied at the Jesuit College at Coimbra in Portugal. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1550 and arrived in Brazil three years later.

He built hospitals and educational institutions, with a primary focus on helping to teach and defend indigenous Brazilians, and served as the Jesuit superior in Brazil for 10 years. He died June 9, 1597.

St. Francois de Laval was born in France in 1623, and became a missionary to Canada. He was consecrated a bishop in 1658, and arrived in what was then called New France the next year, as its first bishop.

He traveled across his vast territory on foot, by snowshoe and by canoe, impressing many with his great devotion. He founded Quebec’s seminary, and spent two decades combating the liquor trade between French settlers and Native Americans.

He died in 1708 at the age of 85, and his relics are at the funeral chapel of the Basilica Cathedral of Notre Dame de Quebec.

St. Marie of the Incarnation was born in Tours in 1599. She was widowed at the age of 32 with a 13-year-old son. After her husband’s death, she became a nun. Moving to New France in 1639, she became the first Mother Superior of the Ursuline convent there. She died in Quebec in 1672.

The three new saints had been beatified by John Paul II in 1980.

At the April 3 audience, Pope Francis also recognized miracle worked through the intercession of Servant of God Giovanni Antonio Farina; Bl. Kuriacose Elias Chavara; Bl. Nicola da Longobardi; Bl. Euphrasia of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; and Servant of God Luigi della Consolata.

He recognized the herioc virtues of the following Servants of God: Francisco Simon Rodenas; Adolfo Barberis; Marie-Clement; Sebastian Elorza Arizmendi; Maria Teresa of the Eucharistic Jesus; Clara de la Concepcion; Maria Magdalena; and Luigi Rocchi.

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