|The USSR's Catholic martyrs suffered, but they suffered for God
Denver, Colo., October 22 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Catholic victims of the Soviet Union’s cruel anti-Christian persecutions faced execution, exile and arbitrary imprisonment for their faith – and now a new website tells their stories.
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VATICAN CITY, October 22 (CNA/EWTN News) .- In his weekly address for the Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis offered advice on fighting those tendencies which “dismember” the Body of Christ, such as jealousy and feelings of superiority.
“A jealous heart is a bitter heart, a heart that instead of blood seems to have vinegar, eh! It is a heart that is never happy, it is a heart that disrupts the community,” he told tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square on Oct. 22, according to a Vatican Radio translation.
“When I am jealous, I must say to the Lord: 'Thank you, Lord, for you have given this to that person'.”
Pope Francis stressed the importance of “expressing gratitude for everything,” saying that we are sometimes “held back” from saying “thank you” because of jealousy.
He also warned against feelings of superiority over others. “This is bad, do not do that! When you are tempted to this, remember your sins, those no one knows, shame yourself before God and say, 'You, Lord, you know who is superior, I close my mouth'.”
The Holy Father’s general audience address focused largely on how the Church, drawn together by the Holy Spirit, is truly the Body of Christ.
Beginning with St. Paul, the Pope said, the image of the body as “applied to the Church” has become “recognized as its deepest and most beautiful distinguishing feature.” The question we ask ourselves, then is: “in what sense does the Church form a body? And why is called the 'body of Christ'?”
Turning to the Book of Ezekiel, Pope Francis highlighted the unique and “shocking” scene – one which, nonetheless, “instills confidence and hope in our hearts” – in which the prophet has a vision of a field of broken and dried-up bones.
“Imagine: an entire plain full of bones,” he said. “God asks [Ezekiel], then, to invoke the Spirit upon them. At that point, the bones move, they begin to draw closer to each other and join together, nerves begin to grow and then flesh and thus the body is formed, whole and full of life.”
The Holy Father advised the faithful to go home and read this passage from Ezekial 37, explaining: “This is the Church... the masterpiece of the Spirit, which instills in each of us new life of the Risen Christ and places us next to each other, to help and support each other, thus making all us one body, built in the communion and love.”
The Church is not merely a body which has been built by the Spirit, he continued. Rather, “the Church is the Body of Christ!” This is the “great gift” we received in Baptism, for in this Sacrament, “Christ makes us His, welcoming us into the heart of the mystery of the Cross, the supreme mystery of His love for us, to make us rise again with Him as new creatures.”
“Baptism is truly a rebirth,” the Holy Father continued, “which regenerates us in Christ, making us a part of Him, and unites us intimately among each other, as members of the same body, of which He is the head” (cf. Rom 12.5, 1 Cor 12, 12-13).
“What emerges from this, then, is a profound communion of love.”
Recalling the words of St. Paul, in which the Apostle exhorts husbands to 'love their wives as their own bodies,' as 'Christ does the Church', the Pope remarked how good it would be to remember that we are Jesus' body which “nothing and no one can snatch from Him and which he covers with all His passion and all His love, just like a bridegroom with his bride.”
Pope Francis added that this “must give rise in us the desire to respond to the Lord Jesus and share His love among ourselves, as living members of His own body.”
In the time of Paul, the Pope said, the community of Corinth experienced “divisions, jealousies, misunderstandings and marginalization.” Instead of “building and helping the Church to grow as the Body of Christ,” he said, these difficulties “shatter it into many pieces, they dismember it. And this also happens in our day.”
These same divisions which exist in in our own neighborhoods, he said, work to dismember us. “It is the beginning of war. War does not begin on the battlefield: war, wars begin in the heart, with this misunderstanding, division, envy, with this fighting among each other.”
Citing Paul's “practical advice” to the Corinthians, Pope Francis warned against jealousy, calling instead for an appreciation for “the gifts and the quality of our brothers and sisters in our communities.”
He concluded his address by imploring the Holy Spirit to “help us to really live as the Body of Christ, united as a family, but a family that is the body of Christ, and as a beautiful and visible sign of the love of Christ.”
DENVER, COLO., October 22 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Catholic victims of the Soviet Union’s cruel anti-Christian persecutions faced execution, exile and arbitrary imprisonment for their faith – and now a new website tells their stories.
“The persecution of the Church was immediate. It started within a couple weeks of the October Revolution,” Geraldine Kelley told CNA Oct. 10.
“It was brutal. It focused first of all on the confiscation of church property and the arrest of the hierarchy, (then) the decrees that prohibited teaching religion to anybody under the age of 18.”
Kelley helped translate the entries for the “Book of Remembrance: A Martyrology of the Catholic Church in the U.S.S.R.” The book documents 1,900 biographies of Roman and Eastern Catholic clergy and laity persecuted under Soviet communism from 1918 to 1953, when Joseph Stalin died.
The book, now available at the website of the University of Notre Dame's library, records the fate of victims who were shot and “simply liquidated,” as well as those sent to the prison camps who did not survive. The fate of some victims is unknown.
Some survived, including the “small class of priests” who were able to exit the Soviet Union for other countries and continents.
Like other religious believers in the Soviet Union, Catholics who did not suffer outright persecution could still face severe social penalties. Being known as a believing Catholic could result in career penalties, the loss of one’s job, or similar threats to family members, Kelley said.
The “Book of Remembrance” biographies were collected by Father Bronislaw Czaplicki and Irina Osipova for a martyrology commission of the Apostolic Administration for Catholics of North European Russia.
The Polish-language first edition was published in 2000, drawing on archives from Soviet state security organs. Kelley voiced hope that the publication of the book on the internet would help bring renewed attention to the martyrs.
Kelley, who holds a doctorate in Slavic Languages and Literature, said “there were many, many more martyrs in the 20th century than in all the years of Christian history totaled up together.”
Although the Soviet Union’s Christians were primarily members of the Orthodox Church, the Soviet Union was also home for many Catholics due to the Russian Empire’s political control of Poland and other areas. Some citizens were Catholics descended from German colonists invited into Russia for political reasons.
Kelley said that historians of the Soviet gulag often approach the topic “in terms of the large numbers involved.” She preferred to examine the stories of individual persons, such as the housekeepers of rectories and choir directors.
“Who were these people? What kind of lives were they leading when this happened to them?”
Kelley became interested in the archives of persecuted Catholics after she heard of a community of Eastern Rite Dominican sisters founded in the 1910s in Moscow.
“I came across references to these sisters and wanted to know more about them. Who were they?”
One of the Dominican sisters was Mother Catherine of Sienna. She was born into a noble family in Moscow on Dec. 23, 1882 and given the name Anna Ivanovna. She married in 1903, and was received into the Catholic Church in Paris in 1908.
She later entered the novitiate for the Third Order Dominicans, in 1913, while her husband was ordained an Eastern Catholic priest in 1917.
On the night of November 12, 1923, she and nine other sisters were arrested on charges of leading a “counter-revolutionary” organization.
After being sentenced to several years in prison, she told her sisters: “Most likely each of you, having fallen in love with God and now following Him, has asked more than once in your heart that the Lord give you the opportunity to share in His sufferings. That moment has arrived. Your wish to suffer for His sake has now been fulfilled.”
Mother Catherine was released from prison in the early 1930s, only to be arrested again and sentenced to eight years in a labor camp. She died July 23, 1936 in a prison hospital.
The cause for her canonization was opened in May 2003. She is now recognized as a Servant of God, along with fifteen other Catholics who died for their faith under Soviet persecution.
Kelley said many of the Dominican sisters would have been in their early 20s when first arrested.
“They were sent to prison camps for three year to five year terms, and then after they would serve their term, they would find out that their term was extended. They would get released, and then get re-arrested. Some of these women were still serving in the camps when Stalin died in 1953. We’re talking 30 years.”
Although the sisters were scattered throughout the Soviet Union, Kelley found it “amazing” that they would still encounter each other over the years.
“When you think of how large the country is, and how many hundreds of thousands of people were sentenced, and how many prison camps there were, the fact that you would meet anyone you knew seems astounding to me,” she said.
Kelley has translated a book focusing on these Dominicans, Irina Osipova’s “Brides of Christ: Martyrs for Russia.”
Kelley voiced concern that the canonization cause for Servant of God Anna Ivanovna Abrikosova is losing momentum, given that it depends on the interest of the Catholic faithful, “and so few Catholics know of her.”
She said that Catholicism in the Soviet Union had difficulty surviving three generations of atheistic repression.
“Although we know with what enthusiasm the Church was able to rebound in Poland and in parts of Ukraine, that third generation of oppression made a big difference. The Church in Russia was much more thoroughly eradicated, liquidated, repressed, annihilated.”
WASHINGTON D.C., October 22 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Although religious freedom conditions around the globe are worsening, Americans should see this fact as a cause for motivation rather than despair, said a leading scholar on the issue.
“I wish that I could say there has been some improvement in the conditions of religious freedom in the world, but I’m afraid the opposite is true: it’s deteriorated,” said Robert P. George, vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“The worst offending states seem to be getting even worse,” he told CNA. “The reality has altered not at all.”
He charged foreign policy experts to take action in promoting religious freedom in the face of such discouraging developments, affirming that religious freedom is “not a second or third or fourth class concern that can be bargained away.”
In addition to his role at the commission, George is also the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and has authored books on the defense of marriage, unborn human life and political philosophy.
Reflecting on the current state of international religious freedom, he noted that nearly 75 percent of the world’s population lives under regimes that violate the religious freedom of worship and expression for religious minorities “or standby while mobs and thugs and terrorists persecute and harm people with impunity.”
He pointed to the persecution of minority Muslim communities, Yazidi and Christians in Iraq and Syria as examples of worsening social and political instability driving persecution, as well as continued oppression in countries such as Iran, China, Pakistan, Nigeria and Cuba.
Zeroing in on Iran, George said that President Hassan Rouhani has not made any significant progress in expanding religious freedom in the country, maintaining the captivity of American pastor Saeed Abedini and failing to lift the death sentence of Ayatollah Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi, who had called for a separation of religion and politics.
The imprisonment of the ayatollah is an example of the persecution of Muslims whose views differ from a region’s norm or who do not espouse extremist interpretations of Islam, George said.
“We shouldn’t assume that just because people are Muslim doesn’t mean they’re the oppressors and never the oppressed.”
“Many of the victims of Islamist oppression are Muslims,” he explained, adding that often Muslims are the “ones standing up for human rights” in areas facing persecution of religious minorities.
“I want the American public to understand this,” George said, pointing to the example of Muslims in Egypt who have protected Coptic Christians, forming “rings around Christian churches not to persecute them, but to protect them against being attacked by the radicals.”
George added that he is very concerned about the situation in Europe as well, given a rise of “radical secularism” in the region “that does not bode well,” particularly for Muslim and Jewish communities.
Countries across Europe, he noted, have seen a rise in secular extremist activity and have also begun to restrict religious expression and dress. Some of these countries have also enacted “more extreme” laws that forbid ritual practices such as Kosher or Halaal slaughter or bans on infant circumcision that are integral to community life and religious identity.
The case of circumcision, he explained, is especially important for the maintenance of Jewish communities because of its place as “an essential, non-negotiable practice that goes back to the Jewish covenant with God made by Abraham.”
“Devout Jews simply cannot live in a polity that forbids them from practicing male infant circumcision,” George continued. “If this were carried out and enforced, this would mean that there would be areas where Jews, for all intents and purposes, are forbidden to live. To imagine that happening, is a nightmare.”
However, George said, the worsening state of religious freedom should encourage rather than discourage action to promote religious freedom around the globe.
“Far from demoralizing us, these facts should motivate us to rededicate ourselves to the cause of religious freedom, and fight even harder in the international domain,” he pressed.
“It’s got to be given a higher priority in our foreign and diplomatic policy,” George urged, saying that while there are other important issues such as trade or political diplomacy, religious freedom “is a first-class issue.”
George also spoke of the need to “put pressure on our own government to use the resources available to it” and to “to put pressure on the offending regimes” to improve religious freedom in offending countries.
“We can do that. We have seen that work in the past,” he stated.
ST. PAUL, MINN., October 21 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Two dioceses in Minnesota have reached undisclosed financial settlements with a victim of clergy abuse, promising to implement and abide by policies intended to protect children, and to report perpetrators.
“I am deeply saddened and profoundly sorry for the pain suffered by victims, survivors and their families,” Archbishop John Nienstedt of Saint Paul and Minneapolis said Oct. 13. He added that the agreement is a “significant step closer” to help survivors heal and “to restore trust with our clergy and faithful.”
He said that the archdiocese’s agreement with an abuse victim is “a historic moment in our efforts to assure the safety of children and vulnerable adults.”
Bishop John Quinn of Winona said his diocese is “ashamed of the horrific crimes” that former priest Thomas Adamson perpetuated against children.
“We are committed to ensuring the safety of the children entrusted to our care in our schools and in our parishes,” he said Oct. 13.
Bishop Quinn said that the diocese has committed to child protection protocols as part of the settlement which will “further help to ensure the safety of all of God’s children.”
Both the settlements, from the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and from the Diocese of Winona, concerned a lawsuit from a victim of Adamson. Adamson admitted to the sexual molestation of at least ten teens while working as a priest in both dioceses. He said he attempted to abuse even more, the NBC affiliate KARE11 reports.
Although the abuse of the plaintiff took place in the 1970s, the lawsuit could proceed because of a change to state law in 2013. The change expanded a three-year window in the state’s statute of limitations for sex abuse lawsuits, the Associated Press says.
The lawsuits alleged that Catholic leaders created a public nuisance by failing to warn parishioners about Adamson’s sexual abuse.
The legal agreement with the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s attorney Jeff Anderson means the dioceses will abide by a set of child protection protocols developed by diocesan officials and by Anderson’s law firm, Jeff Anderson and Associates.
Archbishop Nienstedt said the agreement will strengthen collaboration to address sex abuse.
“I pray that this local Church will continue to be inspired by the Word of God to respond to the needs of those who have been harmed and seek healing as we move forward toward a new day for this archdiocese as well as for our local community.”
Some of the archdiocese’s existing policies are already more extensive than the settlement’s protocols; these will remain in place.
The agreement requires “ongoing” public disclosure of substantiated allegations of sex abuse. It bars the dioceses from conducting their own internal investigations of abuse and them from interfering with law enforcement investigations.
The agreement also requires the two dioceses to work to secure a signed statement from every member of the clergy in each diocese affirming that they have not committed sexual abuse of a minor. The clergy must also affirm that they have no knowledge of abuse of a minor by another priest of the archdiocese or employee of the archdiocese that has not been reported to law enforcement and to the archdiocese. The protocol exempts knowledge of abuse learned in the confessional.
Bishop Quinn said most of the protocols were previously adopted and implemented by the Winona diocese. He said the agreement “demonstrates our resolve and conviction to take every possible step to ensure the safety of all God’s children.”
The bishop said the Diocese of Winona is committed to providing support and healing for “those who have been tragically abused by clergy.”
“We encourage anyone that has been abused recently or in the past to report the abuse to civil authorities.”
Representatives of both dioceses said that they could declare bankruptcy due to future abuse-related litigation or legal settlements.
ST. LOUIS, MO., October 21 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Helen Hull Hitchcock, a prominent Catholic speaker, author, and advocate for the Church’s teachings on women and liturgy, died at the age of 75 on Monday, Oct. 20, after suffering from a short illness.
“She was someone who, in a quiet and unassuming way, had a profound impact on the life of the Church,” said Michael Warsaw, chairman of EWTN, where Hitchcock had served as a board member for more than a decade.
Born in Kansas Aug. 19, 1939, she attended the University of Kansas and received her graduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Although born an Episcopalian, she converted to the Catholic Church in 1984.
Hitchcock has contributed to various Catholic journals such as the National Catholic Register, Crisis Magazine, Touchstone, and the New Oxford Review. She has also authored a collection of essays, titled “The Politics of Prayer: Feminist Language and the Worship of God,” published by Ignatius Press.
Hitchcock was co-founder of Adoremus - Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy, where she also contributed as the editor of Adoremus Bulletin. She frequently lectured around the world, speaking mainly on the topics of women, families, and Catholic teachings within social issues.
She has served on various different boards, among them EWTN, Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, Women Affirming Life, and the Ecumenical Commission on Women in Society.
She was also the founding director of Women for Faith and Family, an organization that provides support for Catholic women and encourages fidelity to the Church.
“Helen Hull Hitchcock was a true Daughter of God,” said Catholic journalist and speaker Mary Jo Anderson, who also serves on the board of Women for Faith and Family.
In a statement on the group’s website, Anderson recalled Hitchcock’s devotion to prayer and her “fierce” love for the Church.
“It could never be business as usual in the Hitchcock household when the Church was maligned. Helen had a warrior’s heart and feared no battle to defend Holy Mother Church.
Helen Hitchcock inspired so many of us. She taught me the value of taking action, no matter how great the odds against victory – because the Victory is in God’s hands, not ours.”
Joanna Bogle, contributing editor for Voices, recalled Hitchcock’s patience and sense of humor.
“She spoke on controversial issues – the role of women in the Church, the debates on abortion and the sanctity of human life – with conviction and with knowledge, always teaching the full Catholic message and never with anger or with ill-will to those whose understanding was less than hers or who opposed the Church,” Bogle said.
“Helen leaves us with a vision of Christian women’s authentic role in the Church and in society: forward-looking, active, joyful in adherence to the Catholic Faith and the consistent and unchanging teachings of the Church, and keen to evangelize.”
Mother to four daughters and grandmother to six grandchildren, Helen Hitchcock is survived by her husband, James Hitchcock, who resides in St. Louis as an emeritus professor of history at St. Louis University.
Her funeral Mass will be said Oct. 27 at St. Roch Church in St. Louis.
NEW YORK CITY, N.Y., October 21 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Religious believers should acknowledge that they are now “strangers” in U.S. society, in part because of their own failures, but should nevertheless work for renewal and worship God with joy, said Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.
“Our job is to be the healthy cells in a society. We need to work as long as we can, as hard as we can, to nourish the good that remains in our country – and there’s a deep well of good that does remain – and to encourage the seeds of a renewal that can only come from our young people.”
Archbishop Chaput’s comments came in his Oct. 20 Erasmus Lecture, a webcast event sponsored by First Things Magazine and the Institute on Religion in Public Life.
“We should hope because God loves us. And that’s more than an empty piety,” the archbishop said. “The proof of it is sitting right next to you in the friends who believe, as you do, in the goodness that still resides in American life, and who want to fight for it. In Christian belief, God’s Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The world changed.”
“Our job is to echo his Word by helping our witness become flesh in the structures, moral imagination and bloodstream of the world around us,” he added. “If that happens, the world will change again.”
The archbishop reflected on the many changes in American society. The title of his speech, “Strangers in a Strange Land,” alluded to the estrangement of religious believers who “once felt rooted in their communities” but now feel “like strangers, out of place and out of sync in the land of their birth.”
He said “the biggest failure, the biggest sadness, of so many people of my generation, including parents, educators and leaders in the Church, is our failure to pass along our faith in a compelling way to the generation now taking our place.”
“If we want to change the culture of a nation, we need to begin by taking a hard look at the thing we call our own faith. If we don’t radiate the love of God with passion and courage in the example of our daily lives, nobody else will – least of all the young people who see us most clearly and know us most intimately.”
“But the real problem in America in 2014 isn’t that we believers are foreigners. It’s that our children and grandchildren aren’t.”
Archbishop Chaput stressed the importance of worship and the adoration of God as more important than action.
“We are a people of worship first, and action second,” he said. There is no real political action or social service “unless it flows out of the adoration of God.”
“Adoration grounds our whole being in the real reality: the fact that God is God, and man is his creation,” he said.
Christians forget at their peril that they are “in the world but not of the world,” he continued.
Citing the French writer Henri De Lubac, the archbishop said that “when the world worms its way into the life of the Church, the Church becomes not just a caricature of the world, but even worse than the world in her mediocrity and ugliness.”
Archbishop Chaput criticized several other trends in the U.S., where he said freedom is “more and more” constrained.
Freedom has been defined as the maximization of personal choice, especially through modern technology. Democracy and government has also become an expression of consumer preference, with “very little space for common meaning, classic virtue or shared purpose.”
The U.S. Supreme Court’s Oct. 6 refusal to hear state appeals defending marriage amendments “creates a tipping point in American public discourse,” he said. “The dismemberment of any privileged voice that biblical belief once had in our public square is just about complete.”
The archbishop said that the “most disturbing” aspect of the marriage debate was “the destruction of public reason that it accomplished.”
“Emotion and sloganeering drove the argument,” he said. “People who uphold a traditional moral architecture for sexuality, marriage and family have gone in the space of just 20 years from mainstream conviction to the media equivalent of racists and bigots.”
“This is impressive. It’s also profoundly dishonest and evil, but we need to acknowledge the professional excellence of the marketing that made it happen.”
The archbishop said his “hard news” for religious believers is that the “mixed marriage of biblical and Enlightenment ideas” in America is now divorcing.
This separation will be bad, he said, because religious faith has a key role in sustaining America and moderating democracy, which otherwise lacks a higher authority.
On another note, Archbishop Chaput said that clergy sex abuse has “badly eroded” Catholics’ confidence in their own bishops, who “often deserved the resentment” because they had “wrong priorities” and tried to “protect reputations and the standing of the Church at the expense of the innocent and the suffering.”
The archbishop said this has shown a leadership “cut off” from the people it is meant to serve.
He suggested that believers should thank God for “this difficult moment” because conflict “purifies the Church” and clarifies the nature of her enemies.
He also counseled hope and rejected “the idea that we can retire to the safety of some modern equivalent of a monastery in the hills.”
“Joy is the mark of a person who’s truly found God,” he added.
Archbishop Chaput encouraged Christians to “start by returning hatred with love” and to improve their “practical, working friendships across religious and confessional lines.”
He said Catholics should encourage “the new movements and charisms in the Church,” as well as Catholic groups and intellectual institutes. They should also form families who have “the habit of listening for a priestly vocation”
“We need parishes that are real antidotes to loneliness; real sources of mutual support, counseling, sharing and friendship – not just garrisons devoted to servicing the baptized pagan. We also need a Christian community much more receptive to Latino and other immigrants.”
Archbishop Chaput also stressed the need to serve others.
“We’re here to bear each other’s burdens; to sacrifice ourselves for the needs of others; and to live a witness of love for the God who made us – not only in our personal lives, but in all our public actions, including every one of our social, economic and political choices,” he said.
“And if that makes us strangers in a strange land, then we should praise God for the privilege.”
DALLAS, TEXAS, October 21 (CNA/EWTN News) .- When a Texas family feared to have contracted the Ebola virus was recently placed under quarantine, they found refuge from Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas, who offered them shelter in the name of Christ.
“I was asked by reporters this morning why I said yes to the request from Mayor Mike Rawlings and Judge Clay Jenkins to offer housing for Ms. Troh and her family,” stated Bishop Farrell in an October 20 blog post, saying that he asked himself “what would Jesus do?”
“I knew that we had to help. Certainly, the Catholic Church has a long period of helping those in need, and Ms. Troh and her family were and remain in need.”
Although reporters questioned why the diocese would offer refuge to non-Catholics, Bishop Farrell explained that “we don’t help because someone is Catholic, we help because we are Catholic and that is what we are called to do.”
Ms. Louis Troh was the fiancée of Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan, who died from the outbreak earlier this month. Duncan, who had arrived in the U.S. from Liberia, was being treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where two nurses who had cared for him were then reported to be infected with Ebola.
Troh, along with her teenage son and two adult nephews, was placed in a 21-day quarantine. After having remained symptom free throughout the designated time period, officials have now determined that they have not contracted the virus.
City officials Mayor Mike Rawlings and Judge Clay Jenkins had asked for the assistance of Bishop Farrell in securing a safe and secret location for Troh and her family’s quarantine.
Bishop Farrell said that he did “pause to think of all the possibilities,” but soon after offered the Conference and Formation Center in Oak Cliff for their use. Troh and her family stayed in a remote area on the grounds, and are now free from the quarantine period.
Because those under quarantine did not develop Ebola, the property will not need to be professionally decontaminated, the bishop told reporters at an Oct. 20 press conference, although the center will be cleaned.
In his blog post, Bishop Farrell apologized for any inconvenience that might have occurred during the quarantine to people who had planned events or retreats at the center.
“I hope you will understand that this was an emergency humanitarian aid situation that had to take priority,” he stated, offering special gratitude to Deacon Jessie Olivarez who is helping clean the center so it can fully resume its regular functioning operation.
“I visited and prayed with Ms. Troh this morning and she expressed her profound gratitude to the diocese for providing shelter for her family,” the Dallas bishop said.
He asked that the faithful “continue to pray for her and her family as they continue to mourn the loss of Mr. Duncan and prepare to find a permanent residence and move on with their lives.”
GBARNGA, LIBERIA, October 21 (CNA/EWTN News) .- "How is it that we have again become the marginalized of the earth?" That is what people ask Bishop Anthony Borwah of Gbarnga, in Liberia, the country most affected by the outbreak of Ebola.
Recalling that the west African country is still recovering from a pair of civil wars that lasted from 1989 until 2003, Bishop Borwah told Time magazine recently, “the poor are again asking the existential questions that predominated during the civil war: Where is God? What evil have we done again? How is it that we have again become the rejected of the earth?"
Bishop Borwah shared that “a relative of mine who survived Ebola committed suicide, because the people avoided him, and he no longer felt wanted by anyone.”
The stigmatization of those who survive Ebola is marked in Liberia and its neighbors, due to a lack of education.
Survivors there “carry on their skin the stigma left by this illness,” Bishop Borwah stated.
According to the World Health Organization, up to Oct. 14 there had been 4,555 deaths from the Ebola outbreak, and more than 9,200 cases.
In July, Catholic Relief Services' regional information officer for west and central Africa, Michael Stulman, told CNA that many misconceptions about Ebola are facilitating the virus’ spread in the region, but that “we try to address the myths, fears and cultural challenges people are facing.”
He added that some locals believe Ebola is caused by a curse, which can only be undone by a traditional healer. There is also a risk of spreading Ebola at burial ceremonies that include washing the body of the deceased.
Public education is a critical element of CRS’ work combatting the Ebola outbreak. The agency has teamed up with local community leaders, Caritas, and the Ministries of Health to raise awareness about Ebola.
CRS is also utilizing local radio stations to broadcast public service announcements and daily radio discussions with health officials and community leaders. During the radio discussions, listeners are encouraged to call in with questions and concerns regarding the outbreak.
The hope is that better education will lead to better prevention practices, and halt the spread of the disease.
In September, Meredith Stakem, a Senegal-based official of CRS, stated, “there is still a huge need to educate the public in all of the affected countries about Ebola, how it spreads, and what actions people need to take to protect themselves and their families. We have seen firsthand how locally tailored information delivered face-to-face in a way that engages the audience can be effective.”
The infectious disease is caused by the Ebola virus, first detected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976. Infection is caused when someone has direct contact with the flood, vomit, feces, or bodily fluids of someone who has Ebola; it is not airborne.
People are not infectious until they develop symptoms of the disease, and remain so for up to seven weeks after recovery.
Ebola has no proven cure, though potential vaccines are being tested. A serum can made from the blood of survivors – which will have antibodies against the virus.
In addition to Liberia, the worse affected countries are its neighbors Guinea and Sierra Leone. Nearby Senegal and Nigeria were also affected, but have been recently declared free of the virus.
Outside west Africa, Ebola cases have been reported in Spain, the US, Germany, Norway, France, and the UK.
The outbreak has been traced to a child who died Dec. 6, 2013 in southern Guinea, but its spread began in earnest in March.
The Ebola epidemic has caused a collapse in the health care systems of the countries most affected: on Oct. 12, the WHO reported that Liberia has 620 existing medical beds, but the total number needed is 2,930.
In addition, the outbreak is causing people not to work; travel restrictions affecting food trade and the movement of emergency responders; and has aggravated social tensions, leading to rioting in some locales. Many hospitals, schools, and workplaces have been closed.
Catholic Relief Services is working to support Ebola prevention, preparedness, and management activities in the affected countries, training and supporting community volunteers and religious leaders, supporting radio programs and household visits, and helping to provide hygiene kits.
Bishop Borwah concluded, “we need help to feed those who are hungry and are angry, and to care for and console the survivors of Ebola.”
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