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Chilean bishops establish 'Listening Service' to accompany abuse victims

Santiago, Chile, Jun 20, 2018 / 05:17 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Chilean bishops' conference announced Tuesday the members of a “Listening Service” set up to welcome and guide victims of sexual abuse.

The list was published June 19 after Archbishop Scicluna of Malta and Msgr. Jordi Bertomeu, Pope Francis' envoys for the Pastoral Mission to Osorno confirmed the creation of this service in order to facilitate the process for victims.

The members of the Listening Service belong to the National Council for the Prevention of Abuse and Accompaniment of the Victims of the Chilean bishops' conference and will have as their mission “to welcome and guide” those people who could not meet with the papal envoys.

Appointed by Archbishop Scicluna, the members are Pilar Ramírez, the current coordinator of the council; Josefina Martínez; Sister Marcela Sáenz; Fr. Larry Yévenes; and Fr. David Albornoz.

“The members of the National Council who will perform this service will offer a point of contact victims can trust so they can feel supported in the process of the search for the truth with charity and justice,” the statement said.

Two local Churches in Chile also announced this week investigations into priests accused of sexual abuse.

The Diocese of Temuco made known in a June 18 statement the cases of three diocesan priests accused of the sexual abuse of minors.

Pablo Walter Isler Venegas was sanctioned October 20, 2015 for the sexual abuse of minors  and was prohibited from the public exercise of the priestly ministry and pastoral work with adolescents and young people.

He was also “definitively prohibited” from residing in that diocese or from visiting the parishes of Lautaro, Imperial, and Traiguén without the prior and express authorization  of the bishop.

The process began in 2011 when the first accusations were received.

Isler had left the Temuco diocese in 2003, “and was performing various pastoral works in the Prelature of Illapel.”

The diocese explained that  “at the express request of the victims who at the time asked for complete confidentiality, the case had not been made public.”

“From what we have learned over the years,  we realized that respect and protection for the victims in no case exempts us from the moral duty of informing the community of these grave crimes,” the statement says.

The second case involves Juan Carlos Mercado Elgueta who in 2013 submitted his resignation from the priestly ministry following a preliminary investigation for the sexual abuse of minors.

The third priest sanctioned is José Vicente Bastías Ñanco, who is facing a canonical trial for the sexual abuse of minors and who is “temporarily suspended from the public exercise of the ministry.”

The diocese's statement  reiterated the “firm disposition” of Bishop Héctor Eduardo Vargas Bastidas “to take up the challenges Pope Francis has called for, by ensuring the Church has healthy and safe environments people can trust, for boys, girls and youths.”

And the Vicariate Apostolic of Aysén stated June 18 that it had begun a canonical investigation into Fr. Porfirio Díaz Reyes, accused of the sexual abuse of a minor.

The accusation was made to the Council for Care and Hope of the vicariate June 17 and refers to incidents that took place in the parish in Puerto Aysén in 2002.

As a precautionary measure, the priest “is suspended from the public exercise of the priestly ministry while the investigation lasts,” a statement from the Aysén vicariate apostolic stated.

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Tucson bishop elaborates on ‘canonical penalties’ for immigrant family separation

Tucson, Ariz., Jun 20, 2018 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- A bishop who suggested last week that the Church consider canonical penalties for Catholics involved in the separation of families at the United States’ southern border said Wednesday that penalties are not central to a discussion of immigration reform.

On immigration reform,  “the critical issue at hand isn’t canonical penalties, even if the concept has intrigued many. The real issue is children being used as pawns in a contorted effort at punishing their parents or deterring future asylum seekers,” Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tucson wrote in a June 20 op-ed for the Arizona Daily Star.

At a meeting of the US bishops’ conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., June 13, Weisenburger asked if the bishops’ canonical affairs committee could offer “recommendations, at least to those of us who are border bishops, on the possibility of canonical penalties for Catholics who are involved in this.”

“For the salvation of these people’s souls,” he added, “maybe it’s time for us to look at canonical penalties.”

His remark drew national attention, though some canon lawyers questioned what exactly Weisenburger had in mind.

Weisenburger, himself a canon lawyer, did not mention specific canonical penalties; note what delicts, or canonical crimes, might be pertinent; or indicate whether he intended for penalties to apply to law enforcement officials, lawmakers, or others.

The bishop’s op-ed elaborated on his earlier remarks. Though it attempted to offer clarity, it did not specifically denote what penalties or processes the bishop had in mind.

In his op-ed, Weisenburger said he was not suggesting that Catholics involved in family separation be excommunicated. That penalty, he said, “can be imposed only at the end of a process seeking the conversion of the sinner and reconciliation for the community.”

Weisenburger suggested that canon law offers “lesser options preceding excommunication, such as prayer and penitential practices,” though he did not specify whether those options should also be understood as penalties, which, according to canon law, also must ordinarily be preceded by a legal process.

The bishop’s op-ed seemed to suggest that he intended that canonical penalties would apply to mostly to lawmakers, and not to law enforcement officers.

“As far as the question of canonical penalties for Catholics goes, again, the matter is quite complex. Canonical penalties are not ‘one size fits all.’ In a Christian ethic, legislators and political leaders who facilitate sinful actions have the greater share in responsibility for the resulting violence to human dignity,” he wrote.

The bishop lamented that family separation policies have caused “harm and anguish” for “good and faithful immigration workers.”

“Indeed, the average immigration officer — even if he or she recognizes the inherent evil in the action — might accurately conclude that he or she is able to be a force for good within his or her employment, aiding the situation more than contributing toward the harm of children. In such cases the immigration officer might be justified in his or her endeavors. And of course, immigration officers — like nurses ordered to participate in abortion — clearly deserve the option of conscientious objection,” he wrote.

Some canon lawyers have suggested to CNA that Weisenburger’s comments might have been intended to evoke canon 915, which prohibits Catholics “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin” from receiving the Eucharist. That prohibition is not technically a “penalty” in canon law, though it is sometimes referred to as one. However, Weisenburger’s op-ed said that he did not intend to suggest that the Church should “deny people the sacraments.”

Bishop Weisenburger declined to be interviewed for this story.
 
Weisenburger’s op-ed encouraged Catholics to think more carefully about the moral issues involved in immigration policy, rather than the canonical.

Encouraging Catholics to address the “ethical and moral quagmire” at the border, the bishop said that he prays daily “that we will awaken from our slumber and resume walking in the ways of justice, truth, and human rights, leaving the discussion of canonical penalties altogether unnecessary.”

 

US bishops ask that immigration reform protect families, Dreamers

Washington D.C., Jun 20, 2018 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The United States bishops have asked Congress to compromise on immigration reform to give legal protections for undocumented youth, known as “Dreamers,” and ensure respect for human dignity and families at U.S. borders.

A June 19 letter to the House of Representatives stated that the bishops cannot endorse changes to the immigration system that “detrimentally impact families and the vulnerable” as contained in new legislation brought before the House this week.

“We welcome the opportunity to dialogue with lawmakers and to discuss possible opportunities for further compromise,” wrote Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, chairman of the bishops’ committee on migration.

The letter stated immigration legislation should be “bipartisan, provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship, be pro-family, protect the vulnerable and be respectful of human dignity with regard to border security and enforcement.”

Vasquez also reminded House members that family separation at the border can be ended without legislation at the discretion of the administration.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order June 20 ending the policy of family separation, except when there is a risk to the child's welfare. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan indicated that the lower chamber will vote Thursday on an immigration bill.

H.R. 6136 on border security and immigration reform was introduced June 19 by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and includes a proposal of a framework for Dreamers potentially to receive permanent residence and later citizenship in the U.S.

The framework would include the same criteria outlined in the DACA program, initiated by President Obama in 2012, which postponed deportation of undocumented immigrants under the age of 30, who had been brought to the U.S. before the age of 16 and lived in the U.S. since June 2007.

The new bill would require applicants also to have no more than one non-traffic-related misdemeanor, including for immigration-related offences; and if not a student or primary caregiver, to demonstrate the ability to maintain an income of at least 125 percent of the poverty line.

The new bill is on the schedule to be considered by the House in the coming week, along with H.R. 4760, which was introduced Jan. 10.

Vasquez responded to immigration bill H.R. 4760 in a statement Jan. 10, calling for financially sound, effective, and safe measures to strengthen national security at the U.S. border, emphasizing that Dreamers and their families “deserve certainty, compassion, generosity, and justice.”

He also acknowledged the nation’s right to control its borders, but cautioned against the introduction of “unrelated, unnecessary, or controversial elements of immigration policy – especially those that jeopardize the sanctity of families or unaccompanied children – into the bipartisan search for a just and humane solution for the Dreamers.”

LA archbishop welcomes Trump immigration order

Washington D.C., Jun 20, 2018 / 03:35 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archbishop of Los Angeles said he “welcomes” an executive order signed Wednesday by President Trump, and called on Congress to act on immigration reform.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday titled “Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation,” intended to end the practice of separating children from their parents at the U.S. border, while maintaining the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy illegal entry into the United States.

The executive order said that detained families will be held together, “where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.”

In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, Vice-President of the bishops’ conference, said “I welcome the President’s executive order ending the cruel family separation policy. Now Congress needs to act on immigration. With my brother (bishops) @USCCB, I am disappointed about the bills the House will vote on tomorrow.”

“We need a bipartisan bill like the #USAAct that provides a clear path to citizenship for #Dreamers and secures our borders. And we need it now,” Gomez added in a subsequent tweet.

The executive order laid the blame for family separation on Congress for its “failure to act” as well as court orders that “have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.”

“The Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary), shall, to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, maintain custody of alien families during the pendency of any criminal improper entry or immigration proceedings involving their members,” the order reads.

Minor children are not currently permitted in detention facilities where adults are held. This new executive order calls for the Secretary of Defense to provide the Secretary of Homeland Security with existing facilities that can be used to house a family unit. If these facilities do not exist, they will be constructed.

The 1997 Flores consent decree limits the amount of time that undocumented immigrant children can be held by the federal government, whether they crossed the border with relatives or by themselves. In Wednesday’s executive order, the attorney general was instructed to “promptly file a request” with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to modify this agreement. With the requested modifications, undocumented immigrant families would be able to be detained together during criminal proceedings.

The Attorney General was also ordered to prioritize any cases involving a detained family.

The US bishops’ conference did not respond to a request for comment by deadline. The conference, as well as individual bishops, have been vocal in opposition to family separation at the border.

Speaking at the signing, President Trump said he “didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” and that “it's a problem that's gone on for many years, as you know, through many administrations.”

“So we're keeping families together, and this will solve that problem,” said Trump.

“At the same time, we are keeping a very powerful border and it continues to be a zero-tolerance. We have zero tolerance for people that enter our country illegally.”

 

Catholic Charities Fort Worth hosts migrant children separated from parents

Fort Worth, Texas, Jun 20, 2018 / 03:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As thousands of children have been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexican border in recent weeks, Catholic Charities Fort Worth has opened its doors to shelter the unaccompanied migrant children.

“…Catholic Charities Fort Worth has received and is assisting children who have been separated from their parents at the U.S./Mexico border,” said Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth in a June 19 statement.

“The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth and Catholic Charities Fort Worth, as in the past, will live out the mission to help those in need,” Olson continued, noting that “Catholic Charities staff stands ready to expand the program as needed.”

The Trump administration’s immigration policy has garnered international attention for its zero-tolerance stance at the border, which has enforced the separation of migrant children from their parents who have be detained by border officials as a way to deter illegal immigration.

The United Nations condemned the separation policy June 5, saying it was “a serious violation of the rights of the child.”

Olson additionally condemned the practice, saying supporting it “lacks compassion, promotes hardness of heart, and further desensitizes us to our mission and responsibilities as Christians to give comfort to the afflicted and to promote respect for human life…”

“The unwarranted separation of parents from their children not only harms those relationships but undermines the right to life, the respect for legitimate authority, and all other basic human rights in society,” Olson remarked.

“The use of separation of children, including babies, from their mothers and fathers at the U.S./Mexican border as a tool for implementing the Administration’s zero-tolerance policy is sinful because it undermines the right to life of the vulnerable, directly traumatizes those who have already been injured, and undermines the role of legitimate authority,” he continued.

According to the administration, the policy has separated around 2,342 children from their parents between May 9 and June 5. The federal government is in charge of providing shelter for the migrant children who have been taken from their parents.

Catholic Charities Fort Worth has been hosting a number of migrant children in an effort to serve the families torn apart by the immigration policy. The Star-Telegram reported Catholic Charities was contracted with the federal government’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, according to Pat Svacina, a spokesman for the Diocese of Fort Worth.

To protect the privacy of the children, Catholic Charities did not release any information on the children they were sheltering at their 26-bed facility.

An online statement from Catholic Charities Fort Worth offered ways to help, encouraging individuals to donate to their Unaccompanied Children program or help create welcome boxes. They are also looking for foster parents through the International Foster Care Program who can provide a safe haven for the children who have been separated from their parents.

“I call on each of us to examine our own consciences and interior lives if we in any way take cruel delight in these actions done in the name of our government and in the name of the security of our borders,” said Olson.

“Separating children from their mothers and fathers in an already traumatic time in their lives as immigrants seeking asylum is inhumane and morally wrong without due regard for the safety and protection of the children and informed consent of their parents.”

Pope says no to women priests, yes to women in Curial leadership

Vatican City, Jun 20, 2018 / 03:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In an interview with Reuters, Pope Francis said more space has to be created for women to take on leading roles in the Roman Curia, but that priestly ordination is not an option.

Responding to a question about women's ordination to the priesthood, the pope said “there is the temptation to 'functionalize' the reflection on women in the Church, what they should do, what they should become.”

“We cannot functionalize women,” he said, explaining that while the Church is referred to as a woman, the Sacrament of Holy Orders is out of the question “because dogmatically it doesn't work.”

“John Paul II was clear and closed the door, and I will not go back on this. It was something serious, not something capricious,” he said, adding, “it cannot be done.”

However, Francis stressed that while the priesthood is out, women do need to be given more opportunities for leadership in the Roman Curia – a view he said has at times been met with resistance.

“I had to fight to put a woman as the vice-director of the press office,” he said, referring to his decision in 2016 to name Spanish journalist Paloma Garica Ovejero as the Vatican's deputy spokesperson.

He said he at one point offered a woman the job of heading the Vatican's Secretariat for Communications, but she turned it down because “she already had other commitments.”

Women in the Curia “are few, we need to put more,” he said, adding that it can be either a religious sister or a laywoman, “it doesn't matter,” but there is a need to move forward with an eye for quality and competency in the job.

“I don't have any problem naming a woman as the head of a dicastery, if the dicastery doesn't have jurisdiction,” he said, referring to the fact that some Vatican departments have specific functions in Church governance that require a bishop to do the job. Lay men are also ineligible to oversee offices that require the jurisdictional authority of a priest or bishop.

For example, the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy has jurisdiction, so it has to be led by a bishop, but for others, such as the Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy, “I would not have a problem naming a competent woman,” Francis said.

Women must continue to be promoted, but without falling into “a feminist attitude,” the pope said, adding that “in the end it would be machismo with a skirt. We don't want to fall into this.”

Pope Francis spoke during an interview with American journalist Phil Pullella of Reuters, which took place Sunday at the pope’s Vatican residence, and was published June 20.

In the interview, the pope touched on a variety of topics, including a possible deal with China on the appointment of bishops, clerical abuse and the ongoing scandal in Chile, the reform of the Roman Curia, and criticism he's faced.

On the topic of women, Francis said that in his experience, things are usually done better when there is a mixed group working on a task, rather than just men.

“Women have an ability to understand things, it’s another vision,” he said, noting that whenever he has visited prisons run by women, they “seemed to do better,” because women know how to be “mothers” and care for inmates and their needs in a unique way.

“Women know how to manage conflicts better. In these things, women are braver,” he said, adding, “I think it would be so also in the Curia if there were more women.”

Francis noted that some have said inviting more women into the mix might mean there is more gossip, however, he said he does not believe that would be the case, “because we men are also gossipers.”

Nicaragua’s peace disintegrates days after Church-mediated ceasefire

Managua, Nicaragua, Jun 20, 2018 / 02:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Peace talks mediated last week by the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, between the government of President Daniel Ortega and his opposition, proved to be short-lived as clashes have yet again devolved into violence.

On Friday, June 15, the bishops of Nicaragua, who have been key mediators in peace talks in the majority-Catholic country, reconvened a national dialogue to make known the response of Ortega to the proposals he was given in order to end the crisis.

But by Tuesday, June 19, at least 11 people had died in additional fighting, and the peace talks were yet again abandoned after Ortega’s administration failed to invite international organizations to investigate deaths and acts of violence as promised.

Unrest first broke out in the country in April after Ortega, who has been president since 2007, announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests intensified after more than 40 protesters were killed by security forces. Peace talks (which began May 16) had been suspended May 23 for lack of consensus.

Despite the signing of the ceasefire, a family of at least six died in an arson attack on their home and business in Managua June 16. Opposition groups have said a pro-government militia was responsible for the blaze, a charge the government has denied.

Two more people in Managua were killed the same day in incidents “attributed to masked pro-government groups backed up by armed police,” the BBC reported.

At least another three were killed by para-government forces in Masaya, a city just 16 miles southeast of Managua that has become a hub for the opposition to Ortega.

“You cannot be in a dialogue on the one hand and killing and murdering on the other,” Álvaro Leiva Sánchez, the secretary of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights, said after the violence in Masaya, according to the New York Times. “It’s not possible.

Opposition groups have said they want Ortega out of office immediately, while in their negotiations the Catholic Church has recommended that early elections be held in the country by March.

 

Abortion clinic will not receive Texas bishops’ emails, court rules

Austin, Texas, Jun 20, 2018 / 01:26 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The 23 bishops of Texas will not have to turn over emails and other communications to an abortion provider, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday.

The ruling came in response to a Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB) appeal from  an order from a trial court on Sunday requiring the bishops to hand over private documents to Whole Woman’s Health, a chain of abortion facilities in the state.

Whole Woman’s Health filed suit against the State of Texas two years ago over a law that requires aborted fetal remains to be either buried or cremated. Previously, the remains were treated as medical waste and thrown into a landfill.

Although the bishops are not party to the lawsuit, Whole Woman’s Health attempted to acquire various communications from the TCCB concerning abortion. These included private email and internal communications between bishops.

The bishops had previously offered to bury aborted fetal remains for free in Catholic cemeteries in Texas.

The bishops had requested emergency protection of their emails and other documents from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which put a halt to Sunday’s order. The court ordered additional briefs to be submitted by Monday, June 25.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the TCCB, said that the bishops deserve privacy from the government in their communications.

“Government should not have unbounded power to insert itself into the private conversations of any group, much less the leadership of the Catholic Church,” said Eric Rassbach, vice president and senior counsel at Becket.

“Constant surveillance of religious groups is a hallmark of totalitarian societies, not a free people.”

Rassbach’s sentiment was echoed by Texas bishops, who reiterated the importance of being able to have private deliberations amongst themselves.

Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, from the Diocese of Austin, said that he and his brother bishops have “not just a right, but a duty to speak out on issues that concern justice, mercy, and a consistent ethic on life.”

To do this, Vasquez said, it is critical that they be able to deliberate with each other privately prior to issuing a statement on a topic. He said the court’s ruling was “vital” for the Church.

“Children are not disposable,” said Bishop Edward J. Burns from the Diocese of Dallas, comparing the lawsuit to the policy of separating undocumented children from their parents at the U.S. border.

“We believe that life is sacred from the moment of conception. We also believe that we have a right to discuss in private how to address this issue and uphold the dignity of every human life, and that while upholding the sacredness of life may seem at odds with some people, our religious liberties and religious rights should not be eroded.”

 

Caritas hosts lunch for Italians to encounter migrants, refugees

Rome, Italy, Jun 20, 2018 / 12:28 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The papal charity Caritas Internationalis hosted a lunch Tuesday in Rome with immigrants and refugees, hoping to foster a “culture of encounter” during its Global Action Week.

Caritas' June 17-24 Global Action Week is part of its two-year Share the Journey initiative. Launched by Pope Francis in September 2017, the project is aimed at encouraging a “culture of encounter” and bolstering efforts to welcome warmly immigrants and refugees.

The goal of the project is to shed light on both the challenges and effects of migration at every stage of the journey in order to promote a “shift in thinking” on the issue. It has the support of the ACT Alliance, which is a network of 145 Christian agencies and a variety of other religious congregations and civil society groups worldwide.

As part of the action week, Caritas branches in all regions of the world will organize shared meals with immigrants and refugees, including the June 19 lunch at Rome's Termini train station, as well as other events aimed at raising awareness and prompting interaction with refugees.

Korkiss Diallo, an Ivorian emigrant living in Italy, spoke at the June 19 lunch about the prejudice migrants face in their new homes.

He said he is not a bad person, but was forced to leave his home country and search for a better life elsewhere due to war.

“Many people think that Africans are bad, that they steal, that they do things that are illegal,” Diallo told journalists.

“I came here I think to have a good life and to have work,” he said, adding that each country has both good and bad people, “so not all are bad, to say that all are bad is not true.”

Diallo, 23, left Ivory Coast in 2011 when violence erupted following the election of a new president. Diallo's family had supported the losing candidate, and feared they would be targets of the violent upheaval, so he left.

He travelled to Italy from Libya by boat. He had been told the boat ride would only last five hours, but he ended up spending a week stranded at sea with other migrants before being rescued in Italian waters.

Diallo then arrived in Sardinia in 2014, where he sought asylum. He then made his way to Rome and was put in touch with Caritas, who suggested that he participate in “A Refugee in My Home,” in which families welcome migrants or refugees to live with them.

The young migrant agreed, and was placed with an Italian family, who have accepted him as part of the family. Diallo soon learned Italian, enrolled in educational courses, and took a pizza-making class.

He now works seasonal jobs at pizza restaurants in Italy’s northern province of Trentino, and every Sunday he still has lunch with his Italian “parents” who initially took him in.

Diallo said he left behind a little sister and a grandmother in Ivory Coast, and plans to visit them for a month this summer before coming back to Italy. He said he eventually wants to bring his sister to Italy with him.

Speaking of the journey he took to get to Italy, Diallo said “I would not recommend to any of my friends in Africa to do this path.”

Speaking of his decision to travel through Libya, Diallo said he did not want to go “because it's a country without a government. I entered Libya because I didn't have another choice.”

“To all my friends in Africa I have said, that path is not good to take into Italy. If you don't have another possibility, stay in Africa.”

However, Diallo said he was “surprised” by the welcome he received, and has gone on to accomplish things he did not think would be possible thanks the support he was given from the beginning of his arrival.

Tommaso, Diallo's Italian “little brother,” told journalists that Korkiss “has taught a lot to our family, and I hope we have also taught something to him.”

Raffaella, Diallo’s Italian “mother,” told CNA her family chose to accept Diallo into their home because of Pope Francis' call to welcome migrants. After hearing the pope's petition, she said she felt moved, so she talked it through with her family, and the agreed to take someone in.

Raffaella said she has tried to create a stable home environment, and to teach Diallo “the same thing I taught my children; respect for people, respect for the rules, how to be a good citizen.”

Regarding the culture of fear and suspicion surrounding migrants, Raffaella said she has experienced this first-hand, especially after they first decided to welcome Diallo into their home.

However, she said the experience of her family has been wonderful, and they have no regrets about the decision to lend a hand to Diallo when he was in need.

She said part of the process has also meant learning how to accept and interact with other cultural and religious traditions. In Europe, “we are more individualistic,” she said, whereas “in African culture they are much more communal,” and often decisions are made together.

In terms of religion, Raffaella said she has also learned to have greater respect for non-Catholics. Diallo is Muslim, so she said the family has had the opportunity to learn things about the Muslim religion they did not know before, and they have learned “to respect him … and his times of prayer.”

In a message supporting the Caritas lunch, Pope Francis urged Catholics to participate in similar events organized throughout the world as part of the action week, such as meals or other activities, which he said raise awareness “on the global scale to support migrants and refugees.”

“Today, I would like to invite everyone – migrants, refugees, Caritas workers and institutions – to grasp the features of this journey that have marked you the most: what hope does your journey lead to? Try to share this thought and celebrate what we have in common,” he said.

Courage apostolate's 2018 conference to recall founder's mission

Bridgeport, Conn., Jun 20, 2018 / 11:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Courage International, an apostolate of the Catholic Church which serves people with same-sex attraction who seek to live a chaste life, will host its 30th annual conference this July, focusing on the faith of its founder, Fr. John Harvey, OSFS.

This year would have been Harvey’s 100th birthday. The conference will be held July 12-15 at Villanova University in Philadelphia.

Featuring speakers such as Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and EWTN’s Johnette Benkovic, the theme of this year’s conference is “Faithful to a mission.” Several bishops have also confirmed their attendance.

"The program will focus on themes that were important to Father Harvey’s spirituality and pastoral approach, and we plan to include a number of speakers who worked closely with Father Harvey during the 28 years that he led the Courage apostolate," said Father Philip Bochanski, Courage International's executive director, in a June 19 statement.

Harvey was the director of Courage International from its inception in 1980 until his retirement in 2008. He died in 2010, at the age of 92.

The five goals of Courage International are chastity, prayer and dedication, fellowship, support, and “to live lives that may serve as good examples to others.”

Courage discourages the use of the terms “gay” and “lesbian” to refer to members, saying the organization “sees persons with same-sex attractions first and foremost as men and women created in the image of God.”

Since its founding, the organization has grown to have over 100 chapters in 14 countries. There is also a companion support group, EnCourage, for families and friends of those with same-sex attraction. Members of both Courage and EnCourage will share their personal testimonies at the conference.

 In 2016, Courage and EnCourage received canonical status as a diocesan clerical public association of the faithful.

Immediately preceding the 2018 conference, there will be a “clergy day” for priests, deacons, and seminarians, featuring seminars aiming to teach clergy how to minister properly to people with same-sex attraction.