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Archive of June 19, 2014

Polish communist's reconciliation with Church hailed as joyous

Warsaw, Poland, Jun 19, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The recent funeral Mass said for Wojciech Jaruzelski, who was a Polish military commander and communist politician during the Cold War, has been received as an occasion for rejoicing.

“What a very odd but beautiful thing, that the head of the government which was at war with the Church should in the end be reconciled with the Church. That's cause to ring the bells of glory, isn't it?” said Fr. Raymond Gawronski, a priest of Society of Jesus' Maryland province and a Polish-American, in an interview this month with CNA.

Jaruzelski, who was for many years an avowed atheist, died May 25 following a stroke. He was given a funeral Mass in Warsaw May 30, said by Bishop Jozef Guzdek of the Polish Military Ordinariate.

A priest at the ordinariate's cathedral announced that two weeks prior to his death, Jaruzelski had requested last rites.

Jaruzelski was born in 1923 to a prominent Catholic family of Poland, and shortly after country's invasion by both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, he and his family were deported to Siberia, and he was later made to work in coal mines in Kazakhstan.

Before World War II ended, he had joined the Soviet-backed Polish army to fight the Nazis. He continued to fight the anti-communist Polish Home Army after the world war, defending the Soviet-backed Polish government.

Jaruzelski formally joined Poland's communist party in 1948, and 20 years later became Poland's defense secretary; that year, he occupied Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring, an effort at democratization.

In 1981, he seized power in Poland and soon declared martial law in an effort to suppress Solidarity, an anti-communist trade union inspired by Catholic social doctrine. Tens of thousands were arrested, and some 100 were killed in the crackdown; Jaruzelski's imposition of martial law lasted until 1983.

When semi-free elections were finally held in the nation in 1989, Jaruzelski won the presidency, but resigned within months, allowing for the resounding election of Lech Walesa, Solidarity's co-founder.

Jaruzelski had failed to publicly apologize for his imposition of martial law and other abuses during the Cold War, and his seeking out last rites came less than two weeks before his death.

But “that he had reconciled with the Church, what a beautiful thing, isn't it?” Fr. Gawronski asked. “What a beautiful and joyful thing … it's a beautiful story, really; it's a very beautiful story.”

His funeral Mass was attended by Walesa, who reportedly crossed the aisle to offer the sign of peace to the family of his one-time foe.

“That Lech Walesa attended, that's huge, because these guys were enemies,” Fr. Gawronski commented. “Jaruzelski cracked down on Solidarity, Walesa was in charge of Solidarity; people were killed … and to come to the funeral, I think that's very admirable” of Walesa.

Fr. Gawronski linked the story of Jaruzelski to St. Faustina Kowalska, to whom the Divine Mercy devotion was revealed in the early 20th century.

He noted that St. Faustina is the “great heroine” of another Polish saint, Pope John Paul II, because of her “message is mercy and reconciliation.”

“And here's Walesa, a disciple of John Paul, extending this mercy and reconciliation at the death of Jaruzelski, who really is very much a 'bad guy' for Polish Catholics.”

Following the Mass, Jaruzelski's ashes were laid to rest with honors at Poland's military cemetery, though his burial was had a smaller attendance and drew some Polish protestors.

“I don't think people mind having the holy Mass for his salvation, but on the other side, it was difficult for many people to understand why he was buried with such great honors,” Fr. Piotr Mozdyniewicz, a priest of the Archdiocese of Krakow, told CNA.

“There are still people in Poland who suffered greatly under martial law,” he said, explaining that many local people thought, “Confession is one thing, but where is the penance that is needed? There was no public remorse for what he did to the country, as head of the Polish military for years.”

Fr. Mozdyniewicz said that “when he was buried, there was no priest in the cemetery to pray over the grave side. So when you look at how that was handled, there was a compromise, to accommodate the Mass for him who declared himself atheist, yet was reconciled with the Lord through Confession.”

While calling Jaruzelski's reconciliation with the Church “surprising” given “there were no signs he would do that,” Fr. Mozdyniewicz concluded that “this is great. There is more joy from one repentant sinner, than the other ones.”

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Archbishop Kurtz: Synod to draw on 'richness' of global Church

New Orleans, La., Jun 19, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The president of the U.S. bishops' conference said that this autumn's synod on the family will reflect the cares and concerns of the Church from around the world, not merely in the U.S. and Europe.

“The good news is that many of the delegates who will be there are presidents of episcopal conferences from all over the world, and so that will involve a richness,” Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville told CNA June 11.

“There is something very healthy about that process of the synod bringing together, really, the universal Church.”

Bishops from around the world will gather in Rome Oct. 5-19 for an extraordinary synod to discuss “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.”

Earlier in the day, Archbishop Kurtz had spoken to the assembled bishops from across the U.S. to present a general view of their recent consultation with the faithful in preparation for the synod – a process typical of synods in the past.

He told CNA that the document for that consultation “has a four page introduction, and you’ll be surprised to see how many of the issues that are raised deal with those related to Asia, Africa, and other places.”

Although “there is no guarantee” what the synod will discuss in particular, he said one is “absolutely right in raising questions” about the scope of concerns that will be raised.

While much discussion over the synod in the West has focused on admitting persons who are divorced and remarried to Communion, Catholics living as minorities in the rest of the world face issues including cultural acceptance of the forced marriage of young girls, as in Senegal; and those which accept polygamy – which was formally legalized in Kenya in April.

Considering the theme of the synod – pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization – Archbishop Kurtz commented that “in many ways, when we use the word challenge, how could we not almost immediately think, 'well, what are the challenges here in the United States?' And I hope they will be addressed, but in addition to that, you’re right, there will be that openness.”

“I will say this: one of the things that I learned the most when I went to the synod for the new evangelization, which would have been in October of 2012, it was eye opening for me to listen to other bishops from other parts of the world, and then I thought, 'gee, the issues on new evangelization that they have are little different, in their challenges.'”

“By the way, let me say one other thing: when we look at the 'instrumentum laboris' we will be able to make a kind of initial question: 'are some of the issues being raised here related only to the United States and Europe, or to other parts of the world as well?'”

The instrumentum laboris is the synod's “working document,” prepared by the synod council and based on consultations with bishops and faithful around the world. The document has been prepared already in Italian, and will be translated and distributed by the end of June.

“I am going to be looking to see what the instrumentum laboris says about challenges,” Archbishop Kurtz said.

“What I am told, and this is very, very, wise, is we begin with a wider scope of what does it means to renew marriage and renew family.”

He continued, saying that “if you listen to what our Holy Father has said recently, he says don’t too narrowly limit it to any one situation. But you and I both know Pope Francis, and we know that when he talks about wanting to see the person first, he wants to see the person who is hurting, and he wants to accompany and reach out to that person. It would jump the gun to say ahead of time, 'well this is exactly what the response will be.'”

“I will say that we are going to be looking at the challenge within the context of the gift of the Church's teachings.”

“So if there is a light shining on a particular issue, it’s going to be the Church’s teachings, and that’s what I think Pope Francis is asking us to do.”

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Religious freedom serves those in poverty, says Archbishop Lori

Baltimore, Md., Jun 19, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The ability to operate ministries free from government interference is one of the most important factors in serving the impoverished and vulnerable through charitable services, a prominent U.S. bishop has said.

The two-week period from June 21-July 4 marks the third annual Fortnight for Freedom, a time for prayer and education on modern threats to religious liberty both at home and abroad.

Announced by the U.S. bishops, the fortnight will begin with an opening Mass at the Baltimore Basilica on June 21 at 5:30 p.m., and conclude with a Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., on July 4 at noon. The faithful are encouraged to attend both events, as well as local diocesan initiatives.

CNA reporter Matt Hadro conducted an exclusive interview with Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, who heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ ad hoc religious liberty committee, and who will be main celebrant at the opening fortnight Mass.

The transcript of the interview is below. The text has been edited for clarity.


You recently stated that the upcoming Fortnight for Freedom would focus on the Church serving the poor and vulnerable; why was this particular focus chosen for the 2014 fortnight?

Well certainly this theme is very much in accord with the direction Pope Francis is giving our Church. But I think it also goes very much to the heart of the struggle we’re having with regard to religious freedom. And it’s this. People are tending to say religious freedom is limited to freedom of worship, but then when you begin to serve the common good and the poor and the marginalized with charitable and social services, then you sort of have to check your convictions at the Church door and you have to sort of play by secular rules. For example, the HHS mandate is saying to Catholic Charities well you have to entangle yourself one way or another in providing, let’s say, abortifacient drugs or sterilizations in your health care plans for your Catholic Charities employers. Or it’s saying to Catholic Charities, especially at the state level, for your adoption and foster care to be licensed, you have to agree to place children with same-sex couples. And we say wait a minute, we have real difficulty with contraception and sterilization, and we certainly believe in traditional marriage as a matter of faith. And those people are saying to us well in that case, maybe you shouldn’t be out in the public square serving the needs of other people. So you see, it goes to the heart of religious freedom.


Not just freedom to worship in a church but freedom to be a Catholic in the public life by serving the poor?

Yes. The freedom to bring our religious convictions to bear on the kinds of services we provide to those who are in need. Pope Benedict said that the proclamation of the Word and the celebration of the sacraments are inseparable from service to the poor.


After the fortnight is over, what is the most important action the lay faithful can undertake to ensure it has a lasting effect and success?

Well first of all I think restoring religious freedom is a long-term, multi-generational task. It’s a lot like pro-life, it probably won’t happen overnight because there’s very powerful legal, governmental, and societal forces that are changing the way religious liberty is being regarded. So I think there’s a lot of work to do in this long-term. But I think the whole point of the fortnight is that people will continue to pray about it and pray for the restoration of religious freedom, and secondly, they will continue to be informed about it, what religious freedom is, how it is under attack, and thirdly, that they’re going to be active in contacting their elected officials and expressing themselves. Because if we’re quiet about this, religious freedom will continue to be eroded.


Do you see this situation, then, as getting worse before it could get better?

I think that the challenges to religious freedom have intensified over the past years, and indeed I think they will continue to intensify. On the other side of the ledger, I think there is more awareness about the need to defend religious liberty than there was before.


What would you say, then, are the historical roots of this secularism that you’ve warned of that threatens religious liberty?

I don’t know that I could get you all the way back, but I could speak more recently. I think back in the 1940s there were Court decisions that tended to be a little bit unfriendly to religious freedom. It didn’t appear to be much of a challenge at the time. More recently, in the 90s, the early 90s, there was the Smith decision. And that certainly has been a great challenge to us. But I think what’s basically been happening probably for most of my lifetime has been the advance of secularism, the advance of promoting a style of life that proceeds as if God did not exist. And I think you see that very much in the world of culture, of entertainment, in how people spend their leisure time. And you also see it reflected now in the law, because many times the law is the arbiter of the culture.


In terms of the sea-change of culture, would there be one thing that really drove that? Say, the allowance of birth control? Or would that just be kind of a number of factors?

I think it’s multiple factors. I think secularism has deep roots, probably going back to the Enlightenment. I think these are deep roots, and they are manifesting very bitter fruit at the moment.

 
Now, on that point, a Gallup poll from two years ago showed that a majority of U.S. Catholics believe birth control to be “morally acceptable,” despite being directly contrary to Church teaching. What must be done to change the minds and hearts of these Catholics?

First of all, I think we have to proclaim the Gospel joyfully. I think Pope Francis is helping us see how to do this. Very often, even people who self-identify as Catholics have never really been fully evangelized, and have never really had that life-changing encounter with the person of Christ. Once you fall in love with Christ and He has touched you in the very depth of your heart, then what the Church believes and teaches begins to make sense. It begins to be seen not as a lot of harsh rules, but rather as a response of self-giving love. And that is how we need to situate what the Church teaches about every vocation, whether it’s celibacy or marital chastity, or our duty to love our neighbor and to bring the Gospel to the margins. It’s all part of a piece.

 
Would there be any specific ways for many of the lay faithful to proclaim the Gospel? I guess there are a number of specific ways, say bringing a neighbor into the Church, perhaps?

I think that the dioceses and parishes have to make evangelization their very first and most important priority. And it’s very important…that the priests assemble a team of people that are committed, intentional disciples who are spreading the faith and inviting others to discipleship in our parishes. And dioceses have to support this very strongly as a big priority. Coupling this with excellent family life programs and marriage preparation programs. And in the meantime, while that’s going on, we recognize if we were a ship, that there’s a fire in the engine room. And that’s the attacks on religious freedom. So we have to do what we can to put that fire out. And so it isn’t like we have the luxury of sequencing all of this according to our own timetable. We have to do all of these things at the same time. And there are a lot of people that may not fully understand or accept the Church’s teaching, but who also understand that it’s not for the government to decide what the Church ought to teach or believe. A lot of people understand that.

 
Pope Leo XIII spoke of the heresy of Americanism, basically kind of a radical individualism, where Americans had more allegiance to their own country than they did to Rome? Do you see that as having kind of a big play in what’s going on here?


No, I think it’s different today. Today there are so many people who can’t even tell you who the vice president is or who their senator is or what the first amendment is. This is a very different thing than an overweening loyalty to one’s country. I think what we’re dealing with is more apathy and lack of knowledge. And so we have kind of a two-fold task. One is to convey the Church’s teaching on religious freedom as a fundamental part of human life and dignity, and it goes along with our teaching on life and marriage. And the other one is to help people be good citizens, to understand in an authentic way the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms in our country, the God-given freedoms. They are meant to be constitutionally-guaranteed. And so we have a kind of a dual catechetical and educational project to engage in.

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Catholic News Agency, ACI Group merging into EWTN

Irondale, Ala., Jun 19, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - In one of the biggest developments in Catholic media history, Catholic News Agency and the Eternal Word Television Network announced Thursday that the two media outlets are merging.

The partnership brings the entire ACI Prensa Group – Catholic News Agency, as well as the Spanish language ACI Prensa and the Portuguese ACI Digital – into the EWTN family.

“EWTN has been a partner with both Catholic News Agency and ACI Prensa for many years in creating and distributing Catholic news content, and I am very pleased and excited that these two highly respected news organizations will become a part of the EWTN family of services,” Michael Warsaw, EWTN's chairman of the board, said June 19.

“Since its founding a decade ago, CNA has proven itself to be a valuable source for reporting on important issues of the day that are of interest to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.”

Alejandro Bermudez, executive director of CNA, commented that “among other impressive accomplishments, EWTN is the world's largest distribution outlet for Catholic content. Given that CNA and the ACI Group have become one of the largest generators of Catholic news content in three languages, this union is a synergistic, natural step to take.”

“This is truly a 'match made in Heaven.'”

The parties will exchange no cash, and EWTN will assume responsibility for the activities of its new partners. Bermudez, a member of the Christian Life Movement, is to remain executive director of CNA.

EWTN Global Catholic Network, the largest religious media network in the world, has been broadcasting for 33 years. It reaches 230 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories; it also reaches a wide audience through its radio broadcasts, website, print news services, and publishing arm.

The network acquired “The National Catholic Register,” the leading Catholic newspaper in the U.S., in 2011.

Catholic News Agency has been one of the fastest growing Catholic news providers to the English speaking world since its founding in 2004.

With bureaus in Rome, Washington, D.C., Denver, Peru, and Chile, as well as correspondents in Spain, Brazil and Southeast Asia, CNA is able to provide a truly global perspective on the happenings of the Catholic Church.

Responding to St. John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization,” CNA strives to provide free, up-to-the-minute news on the universal Church to any person with access to the internet.

Through its free Access-for-Editors service, CNA offers news stories from across the U.S. and around the globe to Catholic Press Association publications and diocesan newspapers. The service also includes free photos from the CNA library, as well as special discount rates on photos from ANSA and Getty Images.

CNA recently added Spanish-language news to its Access-for-Editors service, drawing from its sister-agency, ACI Prensa, which is the largest Spanish Catholic news service in the world.

Warsaw reflected that “ACI Prensa has been the world’s leading outlet for Spanish-language Catholic news and reporting.  ACI Prensa will be a perfect fit alongside EWTN’s other services including our Spanish-language television, radio and web-based services.”

The ACI Group is also known for its strong social media presence, with a combined monthly post reach of over 20 million views and more than 750,000 followers on Facebook, as well as nearly 300,000 followers on Twitter.

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Violence stems from evil in society, cardinal observes

Vatican City, Jun 19, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - During a recent conference discussing interreligious violence Cardinal George Alencherry of India explained that although motivations driving violent acts are diverse, they are always rooted in evil.

“Violence is really coming from an evil inspiration, and this evil inspiration can come from any kind of phenomenon that happens in society,” the cardinal explained to CNA June 17.

Cardinal Alencherry is the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamali for the Syro-Malaber Church in Kerala, India and was present for an Oasis conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia discussing the temptation toward violence among religions.

Observing how “India is a country that believes in non-violence,” the cardinal described how it was through non-violent means that Mahatma Gandhi led India to independence from the British.

However, “there are many people who use religion as a means to create violence,” while “there are others who take their political ambitions to create violence,” he noted.

“So we cannot simply define that violence is due to this reason or to that, there are many reasons.”

Going on, he explained how violence originally began in the country with its partition into India and Pakistan in order to create a country for the Muslims, stating that this “was not the wish of the majority of the other Indians.”

Conflict continued with the annexation of Kashmir to India in 1947, which generated the “ill will” that led to “wars one after the other” Cardinal Alencherry explained, stating that on the other side there has been “another feeling of equilibrium” among the Indians that they wish to maintain.

This is because “we are a country of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, all religions” the cardinal noted, observing that some extremist groups disrupt this balance because they believe that “if the number of one religion increases, it is a threat to the other.”

“And there are so many extremist groups who think like that and fight against the other religions” he said, stating that at present the situation in India is comparatively more peaceful than in its past.

“Now there is no tension because people think that in the future some tensions may come, because minorities might not be respected by the majority community” the cardinal observed, expressing his opinion that these fears are “not very well based.”

“India is a democratic country, we have a very good constitution that respects all religions and all minority communities, and we can defend the rights by appealing to the courts and so on, so if that system is there nobody can do whatever they like.”

However, he cautioned that despite the government’s efforts to curb instances of interreligious conflict, “troubles can be created, violence can be brought,” and voiced his hope that “the governments and the people at large will be vigilant against this kind of violence.”

“But if there are people who instigate” sentiments of fear and religious dominance “among the people, violence can come again.”

Referring to the results of the country’s five week long general election process in May, Cardinal Alencherry voiced his hope that the new government in India will maintain this sense of interreligious peace.

Led by its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, India’s Bharatiya Janata Party won the 2014 general elections with a majority vote, making them the first non-Congress party and non-coalition government in Indian history.

They have “professed in all their speeches and taking of oaths that all the communities will be respected, all the rights will be preserved and that we will have the total development of the nation as a whole, not simple compartmentalizing the society,” the cardinal observed.

“The prime minister has said that he will have a vision of the whole country and that projects of development will be applicable to everybody. So we are hoping for the better.”

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Vatican releases itinerary for Pope’s visit to Korea

Vatican City, Jun 19, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy See has officially announced what Pope Francis’ schedule will be while in South Korea later this summer, during which he is slated to meet with Asian youth and beatify 124 Korean martyrs.

Announced by the Vatican in March, the Pope’s Aug. 13 – 18 trip follows an invitation from the president of the Korean Republic, Park Geun-hye, and the bishops of Korea.

Following the motto “Rise Korea, clothe yourself in light, the Lord’s glory shines upon you,” the Pope’s visit begins with his departure from Rome the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 13.

Upon his arrival the next day, Pope Francis will celebrate a private Mass at the apostolic nunciature of Korea and make a courtesy visit to the president of the Korean Republic. Afterward he will meet with local authorities and the Korean bishops.

The following day, Thursday, Aug. 15, Pope Francis will travel to Daejeon, where he will celebrate Mass for the Solemnity of the Annunciation in the city’s World Cup Stadium and recite the Angelus prayer.

His other activities for the day include lunch with members of the major seminary of Daejeon and an encounter with Asian youth during the Sixth Asian Youth Day celebration.

On Saturday, Aug. 16, Pope Francis will begin by making a visit to the Shrine of the Martyrs of Seo So mun, after which he will celebrate the beatification Mass of Paul Yun Ji-Chung and his 123 martyr companions.

Following the Mass the Pope will visit with the disabled in the “House of Hope” rehabilitation center in Kkottongnae, and then meet the leaders of the lay apsotolate in the city’s the Spirituality Center.

Sunday, Aug. 17, the pontiff will travel to Haemi where he will meet with the Asian bishops and have lunch with them in the Haemi shrine. Afterward he will celebrate the concluding Mass for the Sixth Asian Youth Day.

Before leaving on his final day in Korea, Pope Francis will meet with various religious leaders and celebrate Mass for peace and reconciliation in the Myeong-dong cathedral of Seoul. He will then participate in a farewell celebration at the city’s air base and depart for Rome, where he will arrive close to 6p.m.

This visit will mark the first time in 25 years that a Pope has visited the Korean peninsula, the last occurring when St.. John Paul II came in October 1989, following a 1984 trip where he canonized 103 Korean martyrs.


Please read below for the full itinerary of Pope Francis’ trip:

Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014:
4:00p.m. Leave by plane from Rome’s Fiumicino for Seoul

Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014:
10:30a.m. Arrive at the Seoul Air Base  
12:00p.m. Private Mass at the Apostolic Nunciature
3:45p.m. Welcoming ceremony in the garden of the “Blue House” in Seoul and courtesy visit to the president of the Republic in the “Blue House”
4:30p.m. Encounter with the authorities in the Chungmu Hall of the “Blue House” of Seoul
5:30p.m. Encounter with Korean bishops in the conference headquarters of the Episcopal Conference of Korea

Friday, Aug. 15, 2014:
8:45a.m. Transfer by helicopter to Daejeon
10:30a.m. Holy Mass on the Solemnity of the Annunciation in the World Cup stadium of Daejeon and praying of the Angelus
1:30p.m. Lunch with the youth of the Major Seminary of Daejeon
4:30p.m. Transfer by helicopter to the Solmoe shrine  
5:30p.m. Encounter with the youth of Asia at the Solmoe shrine
7:15p.m. Transfer by helicopter to Seoul

Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014
8:55a.m. Visit to the Shrine of the Martyrs of Seo So mun
10:00a.m. Holy Mass and Beatification Paul Yun Ji-Chung and his 123 companions at the Door of Gwanghwamun in Seoul
3:30p.m. Transfer by helicopter to Kkottongnae
4:30p.m. Visit to the Rehabilitation Center for the Disabled in the “House of Hope” in Kkottongnae    
5:15p.m. Encounter with the religious communities of Korea in the “School of Love” training center of Kkottongnae
6:30p.m. Encounter with the leaders of the Lay Apsotolate at the Spirituality Center of Kkottongnae
7:00p.m. Transfer by helicopter to Seoul

Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014:
10:00a.m. Transfer by helicopter to Haemi
11:00a.m. Encounter with the bishops of Asia in the Haemi shrine
1:00p.m. Lunch with the bishops of Asia in the refectory of Haemi shrine
4:30p.m. Holy Mass concluding the Sixth Asian Youth Day in the castle of Haemi
7:00p.m. Transfer by helicopter to Seoul

Monday, Aug. 18, 2014
9:00a.m. Encounter with religious leaders in the palace of the old Curia of the Archdiocese of Seoul    
9:45a.m. Holy Mass for peace and reconciliation in the Myeong-dong cathedral of Seoul
12:45p.m. Farewell ceremony from the Republic of Korea at the Air Base of Seoul
1:00p.m. Departure by plane from the Air Base of Seoul to Rome’s Ciampino airport
5:45p.m. Arrival at Rome’s Ciampino airport

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Child migrants may be refugees seeking asylum, experts say

Washington D.C., Jun 19, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Two migration experts have said that many unaccompanied child immigrants to the U.S. from Mexico and Central America could qualify as refugees fleeing violence, and thus be granted asylum.

Rick Jones, a Catholic Relief Services official who has lived in Central America for 27 years, told CNA the “epidemic of violence” in the region is behind the massive spike of migrants from those countries.

“If this were a declared war, you would consider them refugees. And the homicide rates in Central America fit the definition of war.”

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo Almaguer, an auxiliary of the Seattle archdiocese and head of the U.S. bishops’ immigration committee, recently called the situation a “humanitarian crisis” that demands a “comprehensive response” from the U.S. government.

The number of unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S. has steadily risen and has doubled each year since 2011, according to Jones.

Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said that “absolutely” some of those migrants could qualify for asylum.

“In terms of asylum, you only have to establish credible fear,” he told CNA. “That’s part of the asylum policy that we have in the country: those who are fleeing violent countries can find protection here.”

He added that not only children, but adults as well, are fleeing violence in Central America and Mexico. “It also may be happening with adults that are fleeing violence from Mexico, that are being targeted by cartels. So yes, absolutely, some of them could” qualify as refugees.

Jones is CRS' deputy regional director for global solidarity and justice in Latin America and the Caribbean. He told CNA that violence in Central America has reached the level of “epidemic” by World Health Organization standards, with the homicide rate in Honduras at 92 per 100,000 people. By contrast, the homicide rate in the U.S. is less than 5 per 100,000.

The violence in Central America is primarily drug-related, with gangs also playing a big part.

“We have to realize that Central America lies between Columbia and Mexico, and the drug-related violence is a huge part of it. The second big factor is gang presence,” Jones said. “In all these communities and urban neighborhoods, even now in some smaller towns, gangs have a presence. They’re in schools. And families just don’t know what to do.”

Because of violence and poverty at home, migrants are left with “no alternative.”

“Everybody knows, and people here know, that going into Mexico (to reach the U.S.) is an incredibly risky thing to do. They wouldn’t do that just on some executive order. I think they’re doing it because they feel here at home, they have no other alternative.”

Both experts agreed that the U.S. must work with the countries to foster economic opportunity and curb violence there.

“This is a failure of foreign policy of the president of the United States forgetting about Latin America,” said Aguilar, a former head of the Bush administration’s Office of Citizenship.

“I think that we should be more aggressive in building trade relationships with these countries to improve their economies, but also work in helping them in their security policy by having a stronger partnership,” he continued.

Jones noted: “people have the right to migrate, as well as the right not to migrate. And there needs to be a lot more resources invested here in Central America and in Mexico to foster economic development and job opportunity as well as to address the issues of violence here, because otherwise people are going to keep coming.”

Jones described some programs specifically designed to address the root problems of gang violence in the region. He cited programs to build strong families, gang intervention programs, and prison reform as part of the solution.

One program in particular is called “Youth Builders.” Jones said that “we’ve been able to get over 80 percent of the kids here to go back to school: they get a job, or they start a microenterprise, a small business. And those are the kinds of positive things that we need to do. So in a sense, we need to replace the negative behaviors around violence with something positive like assuming responsibility and being able to get a job.”

Aguilar maintained that the U.S. needs to adopt a “workable immigration policy,” most notably a market-based guest-worker program by which workers could return to their home country, re-unite with their families, and then re-enter the U.S. Many child migrants are coming to the U.S. not just to flee violence but to re-unite with their parents, he noted.

“And if we had a sensible immigration policy where those parents could return to Mexico or Central America to be with their kids and then re-enter legally, that circle of immigration I’m talking about them having, it’s really not part of the discussion. By having this dysfunctional system, we’re encouraging illegality.”

Jones said “any kind of guest-worker policy” would be welcomed, “because it’s at least better than the situation which exists now. Which is nothing.”

He insisted on comprehensive immigration reform to re-unite children with their parents: the backlog for children to immigrate legally is over ten years, and the children are adults by the time they can legally re-unite with their parents.

“So their parents have missed their entire childhood. And they’re being raised by their grandparents, aunts and uncles, or neighbors here in the country of origin."

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Vatican theologians acknowledge Archbishop Sheen miracle

Vatican City, Jun 19, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Beloved media personality Archbishop Fulton Sheen is one step closer to beatification after a panel of Vatican theologians unanimously recognized the miraculous recovery of a stillborn baby attributed to Sheen’s intercession.

The Diocese of Peoria said June 17 that its bishop, Daniel Jenky, was informed of the decision by the seven-member theological commission that advises the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

A medical panel advising the congregation had in March unanimously ruled that there is no medical explanation for the baby’s recovery.

The congregation’s cardinals and bishops will now review the case. If they and Pope Francis approve, Archbishop Fulton Sheen could then be beatified.

The miracle involves the unexplained recovery of James Fulton Engstrom, a boy apparently stillborn in September 2010 to Bonnie and Travis Engstrom of the Peoria-area town of Goodfield – Engstrom showed no signs of life as medical professionals tried to revive him. The child’s mother and father prayed to Archbishop Sheen to heal their son.

Although the baby showed no pulse for an hour after his birth, his heart started beating again and he escaped serious medical problems.

Archbishop Sheen became a popular radio personality in the 1930s, teaching about the Catholic faith. He went on to host the Emmy-award winning television show “Life is Worth Living” and several other television shows, reaching millions of television viewers in the 1950s and 1960s.

He authored many books, whose profits he dedicated to serving foreign missions, health clinics, orphanages and schools.

Archbishop Sheen has roots in the Peoria diocese: he was born in El Paso, 32 miles east of the cathedral city, in 1895.

His family moved to Peoria, and he grew up in the parish of the Cathedral of St. Mary, where he was an altar boy. He was ordained a priest at the cathedral in 1919.

He served as a professor at the Catholic University of America and headed the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in the United States. He was as an auxiliary bishop of New York, and Bishop of Rochester.

He was a leading figure in U.S. Catholicism until his death in 1979 at the age of 84.

Bishop Jenky opened Archbishop Sheen’s cause for sainthood in 2002. In June 2012 Pope Benedict XVI recognized Archbishop Sheen as having heroic virtues, giving him the title “Servant of God.”

The Diocese of Peoria said it is not known when further action on Archbishop Sheen’s cause will be taken.

If Pope Francis approves of his cause, the beatification ceremony for Archbishop Sheen could be celebrated in Peoria.

Another recognized miracle attributed to Sheen would lead to his canonization.

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Auxiliary bishop of Baltimore transferred to Springfield

Springfield, Mass., Jun 19, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis on Thursday appointed Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, an auxiliary of the Baltimore archdiocese, as the head of Massachusetts' Diocese of Springfield, who accepted with gratitude.

“It is with deep gratitude to Almighty God, to His Holiness, Pope Francis and to our Papal Nuncio Archbishop Vigano, that I accept His Holiness’ appointment to be the Bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts,” Bishop Rozanski said June 19.

“I will remain forever grateful for the privilege to have ministered as priest and bishop in the Archdiocese of Baltimore for nearly 30 years. The formation and guidance that I have received from the dedicated archbishops, bishops, priests, religious men and women and laity of this wonderful Church leave me humbled, yet hope-filled in answering the call to be Bishop of Springfield.”

“As we are united in our Faith, let us be faithfully united in prayer for one another.”

Bishop Rozanski succeeds Bishop Timothy McDonnell, 76, whose resignation as Springfield bishop was accepted the same day.

A Baltimore native, Bishop Rozanski was born in 1958, and attended Catholic schools in the city and its environs.

Bishop Rozanski attended seminary at the Catholic University of America, and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 1984. He served in parish ministry, the archdiocesan curia, and with its seminary, and was named a monsignor in 2003.

He was consecrated an auxiliary bishop of Baltimore in 2004, overseeing one of its geographical vicariates during which parishes were merged, and as vicar for Hispanics. He was vocal in supporting Maryland's DREAM act, allowing some undocumented immigrants to receive in-state college tuition.

He has served as chair of the U.S. bishops' ecumenical and interreligious affairs committee, and the Polish-American has also been co-chair of dialogue with the Polish National Catholic Church, a schismatic Church founded in the U.S. in the late 19th century by Polish-American immigrants.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore said that “Bishop Rozanski’s appointment is a blessing to the Church in Springfield and to the wider Church, which will benefit greatly from his many gifts, just as we have here in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, where he has so generously and effectively served throughout his entire priestly and episcopal ministry.”

“I have witnessed the great affection and respect for Bishop Rozanski among clergy and laity alike. And I have marveled at the unique and close relationship he shares with so many people in nearly every corner of our Archdiocese.”

The Diocese of Springfield serves more than 229,000 Catholics in four of Massachusetts' counties, constituting roughly 28 percent of the total population.

Bishop Rozanski's Mass of installation will be said  Aug. 12.

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Chilean bishop: World Cup should remind us of human dignity

Valdivia, Chile, Jun 19, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The World Cup should be an opportunity to emphasize that all persons, soccer players included, have worth because of their human dignity and not because of their physical condition, a Chilean bishop has said.

May the World Cup be “an opportunity to keep in mind that all people, including soccer players, have worth because of their human dignity and not because of their physical condition or the value of their passes,” Bishop Ignacio Ducasse Medina of Valdivia said in an article at the website of the Chilean bishops' conference.

“And, that true success in life is gained through collective efforts and is not exempt from suffering. Life is not decided by penalty kicks.”

Bishop Ducasse underscored the values instilled by sports, as well as the economic benefits that are reaped by those involved in organizing sporting events.

“In soccer we learn to work as team, to promote respect and that each one can deploy his best talents. How many times has soccer been able to silence machine guns and overcome political, economic, linguistic and cultural barriers!”

“Many people think that family outings to watch a soccer game are a thing of the past,” he noted. “They say the violence has chased families away from stadiums and that technology has brought sporting events into the comfort of our homes.”

Despite this, Bishop Ducasse said, “the people still come, and the industries that benefit from soccer are many, from the industry of the global mega-sponsors, to the massive television networks, to the food vendors and the parking lot attendants.”

He cautioned against selfishness, saying, that it can “ soil even the healthiest and noblest of dreams ... in sports as well,” lamenting that “many young and talented players end up entangled in the lucrative web of insider trading and recruiting.”

So far in the tournament, Chile has played Australia, being them 3-1, and won against Spain 2-0. They will play the Netherlands June 23.

The U.S. beat Ghana 2-1 on June 16, and is scheduled to play Portugal June 22.

On June 19, Colombia beat Ivory Coast 2-1, and England play Uruguay, followed by Japan v. Greece.
 

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Marriage stabilizing for society, activists proclaim

Washington D.C., Jun 19, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Political leaders told crowds at the March for Marriage to not be afraid to speak the truth about marriage and the unique and essential role both a father and a mother play in a child’s life.

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum told CNA during the June 19 March for Marriage in Washington, D.C. that supporters of marriage should “reclaim marriage” and be “proclaiming marriage for the public good it is.”

“Marriage is a unique bond between a man and a woman,” he said, noting its “stabilizing” benefits not only for children, but for society as a whole.

The March, which was the second national demonstration recognizing marriage’s unique role as an institution that unites a man and a woman, was held on the National Mall.

Participants in the March met in front of the U.S. Capitol building for a rally, and then walked three quarters of a mile to the U.S. Supreme Court building, where the group gathered in prayer and song.

Those who could not physically attend the march were invited to join in prayer and fasting, along with a live webstream of the event.

The first March for Marriage was held March 26, 2013, during the first day of oral arguments before the Supreme Court concerning the federal definition of marriage and states' ability to define marriage.

In June 2013, the Supreme Court issued its ruling on the case, deciding that that the federal government should accept the definitions of marriage offered by each state rather than holding its own definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The court also discarded a case defending a California amendment approved by voters to defend the definition of marriage on procedural grounds. Because it was discarded by the high court, a lower court’s ruling that the amendment was unconstitutional to stand.

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage praised the participants' use of “collective action” to proclaim the nature of marriage.

“We are making a public statement,” Brown said to CNA.

Brown also noted the “massive diversity in our movement,” “united” around the same cause, drawing participants from a number of faiths, ethnic groups, and languages.

Ludovine de la Rochere, president of La Manif Pour Tous, a French demonstration in support of marriage, told crowds that “each child needs his father and his mother,” saying  that neither could “take the place of the other.”

“I’m gay and I’m against same sex marriage” said Doug Mainwaring, co-founder of National Capital Tea Party Patriots during his speech.

He explained that having access to their father and mother gives children the opportunity for stability, adding that for these reasons he was also opposed to no-fault divorce.

Because of the unique fruits of marriage, and his own personal perspective, Mainwaring encouraged the crowd “not to give into the message of same-sex marriage as a human rights issue.”

Santorum expressed that marriage “has such a profound impact on society today.”

He pointed out that social science studies show those who are not married “just don’t do as well” in a variety of social well-being markers, lamenting that already, “more and more women are raising children on their own” due to the collapse of marriage.

He recognizd, however, that many in society do not understand the stabilizing factor marriage has for families, and through them all of society.

Because of this misunderstanding, Santorum expressed his hope that marriage defenders would, above all,  take a “tone of love, not of judgement,” when explaining the truth about marriage.

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Eucharist the 'bread of love', Pope says on Corpus Christi

Rome, Italy, Jun 19, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - During Mass for the feast of Corpus Christi, Pope Francis exhorted the faithful to avoid the “false bread” of the world, and to remember that God’s food truly satisfies.

“To live the experience of faith means to let the Lord nourish us and to build our existence not on material goods, but on the reality that does not perish: the gifts of God, his word and his body,” the Pope said in his June 19 homily during Mass at the entrance to the Basilica of St. John Lateran, cathedral of the Diocese of Rome.

“The Body of Christ is the bread of the end times, capable of giving life, and eternal life, because the substance is this bread of love.”

The feast of Corpus Christi, also known as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, celebrates the institution of the Holy Eucharist and is marked by special displays of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, most notably Eucharistic processions.

Pope Francis exhorted the faithful to “learn to recognize the false bread that deludes and corrupts, because it is the fruit of selfishness, self-sufficiency and sin.”

“Where do I want to eat? At the table that will nurture me? At the table of the Lord? Or do I dream of eating these tasty foods, but in slavery?”

Pope Francis said God’s nourishment at times does not seem “as tasty as some foods that the world offers,” and so the faithful at times “dream of other meals,” like the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt. They remembered the meals they had in Egypt, but had a “selective memory” at the times of their temptation and forgot that they ate “at the table of slavery.”

A similar temptation is present today, the Pope said.

“If we look around, we realize that there are so many offers for food that don't come from the Lord and that apparently satisfy more. Some are fed with money, others with success and vanity, others with power and pride. But the food that truly nourishes and that satisfies is only that which the Lord gives!”

Man has both a physical hunger and “another hunger, a hunger that cannot be satisfied with ordinary food,” he continued.

This is “a hunger for life, a hunger for love, a hunger for eternity.”

Manna, the miraculous bread that fed the Israelites, is a sign of “the food that satisfies this profound hunger that there is in man.”

“Jesus gives us this food,” the Pope said, noting that Christ is himself “the living bread that gives life to the world.”

“His body is the true food under the species of bread; his blood is the true drink under the species of wine.”

The Pope concluded his homily with a prayer.

“Jesus, defend us from the temptations of worldly food that makes us slaves; purify our memory, so that it does not remain captive in selectivity, selfishness and worldliness, but is a living memory of your presence throughout the history of your people, a memory that becomes a ‘memorial’ of your gesture of redemptive love.”
 
In the Diocese of Rome, Corpus Christi traditionally includes a Eucharistic procession from the Basilica of St. John Lateran to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, led by the city's bishop.

However, Pope Francis did not lead the procession itself.

Instead, after Mass Pope Francis traveled to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major to welcome the procession, which was led by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome.

Vatican press officer Fr. Federico Lombardi said Pope Francis decided not to lead the Corpus Christi procession for several reasons; he faces an intense weekend schedule, including a Saturday apostolic journey to the town of Cassano all’Jonio in southern Italy.

The Pope also did not want to participate in the procession because he did not want to be at the center of attention and distract from the faithful’s concentration on the Blessed Sacrament.

The Pope imparted his solemn Eucharistic Blessing at the procession’s end in the square in front of Saint Mary Major.

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Marriage breakdown threatens society, religious leaders say

Washington D.C., Jun 19, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The redefinition of marriage and movement from its focus on children affects not only families but entire communities and all of society, religious leaders warn.

“People see marriage as a relationship between adults rather than a man and a woman coming together to bond and produce children. Rather than being a child-centered institution, it’s an adult-centered institution,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco told CNA at the March for Marriage June 19.
 
This focus on adults rather than children leads to “broken families” and a host of other social struggles, the head of the U.S. bishops' defense and promotion of marriage committee continued.

“We’ve known this because the problem of fatherlessness for decades.”

The march, which was the second national demonstration recognizing marriage’s unique role as an institution that unites a man and a woman, was held in Washington. D.C.

Participants in the march met in front of the U.S. Capitol building for a rally, and then walked three quarters of a mile to the Supreme Court building, where the group gathered in prayer and song.

Those who could not physically attend the march were invited to join in prayer and fasting, along with a live webstream of the event.

The first March for Marriage was held in March 2013, as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that eventually ordered the federal government to accept redefinitions of marriage in states that choose to redefine the institution.

In its June 2013 decisions, the high court also discarded a case defending a California amendment approved by voters to defend the definition of marriage on procedural grounds. Because it was discarded by the high court, a lower court’s ruling that the amendment was unconstitutional to stand.

“For the black poor, no issue is more central” than marriage because “it’s a foundation of our society” Eugene Rivers, pastor of Azusa Christian Community, told CNA.

Pointing to the societal fallout of the destruction of marriage he sees in his ministry, Rivers said to “look to inner cities” to see those who are at risk if marriage is redefined.

“Men are not substitutes for mother because men can’t have babies,” adding that “the roles are not interchangeable” between men and women.

In situations where mothers and fathers are not both present, “children grow up without direction,” Rivers said. “Where there are not stable mothers and fathers the society is on the road to destruction.”

Rivers' wife Jackie, who also spoke at the march, told CNA, “marriage is falling among the poor” in large part because “the natural complementarity of man and woman is being denied.”

“Raising children is so demanding,” she said, adding “you need the mother and the father”  to raise a child. “Children need that balance.”

“The solution is not to give a child two fathers and no father, or a second mother and no father,” said Archbishop Cordileone, but instead to restore the true understanding of marriage as an institution between a man and a woman.

The archbishop encouraged supporters of marriage to “be not afraid to proclaim the truth of marriage.”

“Proclaim the truth of marriage articulately and convincingly, and lovingly as well.”

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December 18, 2014

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Mt 21:23-27

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First Reading:: Jer 23: 5-8
Gospel:: Mt 1: 18-25

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St. Romuald »

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Mt 21:23-27

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