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New climate commission could advance human dignity, US bishops tell Congress

Washington D.C., Sep 25, 2017 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- The United States should create a commission to combat the harms of climate change and promote human dignity as a whole, the U.S. bishops said in a letter to Congress.

“The Church calls for courageous actions and strategies aimed at promoting an integral ecology that considers together the protection of nature, the need for equitable economic development and the promotion of human dignity, especially that of the poor,” the chairmen of two bishops’ conference committees said in a Sept. 15 letter to Congress.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops backed the Climate Solutions Commission Act of 2017, which would establish a bipartisan National Climate Solutions Commission. The bill, H.R. 2326, was introduced by U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), a member of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.

“This bill has the potential to inspire positive and concrete solutions towards protecting our common home,” said the bishops’ letter.

The joint letter was signed by Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; and Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, N.M., chair of the bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.

They characterized the legislation as “an important bipartisan step for protecting the environment and mitigating the harmful effects of climate change.”

Bishops Dewane and Cantu stressed the Catholic Church’s consistent emphasis on “the importance of pursuing environmental solutions that are beneficial to all people.”

They cited Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si,” which stressed the urgent need for policies to reduce carbon dioxide and other polluting gases. During his September 2015 visit to the U.S., the Pope encouraged the U.S. Congress to work to “avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.”

 

 

 

Trump administration announces changes to travel ban

Washington D.C., Sep 25, 2017 / 04:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Just weeks before the Supreme Court was to hear a challenge to the Trump administration’s travel ban, the administration announced new restrictions to the ban on Sunday.

“Following an extensive review by the Department of Homeland Security, we are taking action today to protect the safety and security of the American people by establishing a minimum security baseline for entry into the United States,” President Donald Trump stated on Sunday.

“Our government's first duty is to its people, to our citizens – to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values,” Trump stated.
 
On Sunday evening, the Trump administration announced it was continuing the travel ban indefinitely just before it was set to expire, expanding the number of countries of restricted travel to eight, as part of “enhanced national security measures.” It also set new security standards for other countries to help the U.S. vet visa applicants and immigrants.

In March, President Donald Trump had signed an executive order “on Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” It was a revision from his January executive
order on immigration.

In the revised order, foreign nationals from six countries would be temporarily barred from travelling to the U.S. except in special cases. The countries were Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Syria, and the Sudan.

Then before the travel ban was set to expire on Sunday evening, the administration increased the number of restricted countries to eight, dropping the Sudan and adding North Korea, Chad, and Venezuela. The policy will be continued indefinitely, and the new countries experiencing “certain travel limitations and restrictions” will be added to the list on Oct. 18.

The administration also announced that it would, “for the first time in history,” set up minimum standards for other countries to comply with, for vetting of visa applicants and immigrants looking to travel to the U.S.

President Trump said the revised policy would improve U.S. national security and establish “a minimum security baseline for entry into the United States.”

“We cannot afford to continue the failed policies of the past, which present an unacceptable danger to our country,” Trump stated. “My highest obligation is to ensure the safety and security of the American people, and in issuing this new travel order, I am fulfilling that sacred
obligation.”

The March executive order on immigration had directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to investigate whether “additional information would be needed from each foreign country” to issue
visas and admit immigrants.

Then in July, the administration said it came up with new minimum standards for other countries, with regard to the vetting of visa applicants and other immigrants. The standards related to the issuing of electronic passports, “sharing criminal data” and helping identify
potential security threats to the U.S. looking to enter.

The administration gave countries 50 days “to work with the United States to make improvements” to their existing standards.

According to the administration, the eight countries remaining on the restricted travel list “remain currently inadequate in their identity-management protocols and information-sharing practices or present sufficient risk factors that travel restrictions are required.”

The countries can be removed from the list once they comply. Iraq, however, did not comply with the standards but Trump “determined” that “entry restrictions are not warranted.”

Iraq was originally on a list of countries with restricted travel in the President’s first executive order on immigration in January, but was not listed in the revised executive order in March, reportedly because of a deal with the U.S. to accept Iraqi nationals living in the U.S. who had been given a final order of removal from an immigration judge, in exchange for being removed from the list.

A challenge to the constitutionality of the previous order was scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court on Oct. 10 in oral arguments. However, the court canceled those arguments after
Sunday’s revisions were announced.

Bishop Joe Vasquez, chair of the U.S. bishops’ migration and refugee services committee, had voiced serious concerns before about the travel and refugee bans. The immigration executive order had also shut down refugee admissions for 120 days and set a cap on refugee admissions for FY 2017 at 50,000, less than half of the 110,000 set as a goal by the previous administration.


Bishop Vasquez said he was “deeply troubled by the human consequences of the revised executive order on refugee admissions and the travel ban,” saying it “still leaves many innocent lives at risk.”

“The U.S. Catholic Bishops have long recognized the importance of ensuring public safety and would welcome reasonable and necessary steps to accomplish that goal,” he said. Yet the current refugee resettlement process is secure, with “the most vigorous vetting process of anyone who enters the United States.”

Lawyers and advocates for Muslim immigrants said on Monday that the administration’s new travel ban still constitutes a “Muslim ban” since most of the eight countries’ populations are Muslim-majority, and that Trump had on the campaign trail proposed a ban on Muslims seeking to the enter the U.S.

There are also reports that the administration will consider lowering its cap on refugees even more in the next fiscal year, to below 50,000. The new quota is expected to be announced by the
end of September.

How do we heal racial tensions? Start by admitting errors, US bishop says

Washington D.C., Sep 25, 2017 / 04:12 pm (CNA).- To address the longstanding racial divide within the United States – and within the Catholic Church in the country – Catholics should learn more about the history of that divide, and honestly engage with that history, and with others attempting to tackle similar issues themselves.

“Don’t whitewash the misdeeds and silence of our history,” said Bishop Edward Braxton, of Belleville, Ill. in a Sept. 21 lecture at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Bishop Braxton urged participants to teach children the history of the Catholic Church – including parts of the history which are painful or shameful – “not to belittle those people, not to harshly judge them as bad people, but to understand but they are all people of our own era and history and if they have blind spots so do we.”

The bishop's talk was one of two held at the university on the theme of the racial divide in the United States and the Church. The first talk, which focused more on how to address the racial divide, was part of a “teach in” sponsored by the university’s National Catholic School of Social Service, and a second talk, part of the campus Theology on Tap program, discussed the Black Lives Matter movement and how Catholics can respond to racism.

Bishop Braxton, originally from Chicago, is the bishop of Belleville, Ill., outside of his hometown, and one of nine African-American bishops in the United States.

The bishop’s talks discussed what he described as the “flaw at the foundation” of racial relations in America – particularly within the American Church – and how it lead to many of the tensions seen today in American politics.

Bishop Braxton pointed to the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision, which in 1857 ruled that African-Americans could not be citizens. That opinion was penned by Chief Justice Robert Taney – a Catholic.

The bishop also noted that some American bishops in the years leading up to the Civil War actively opposed abolition efforts. Furthermore, early American bishops and religious organizations, such as Bishop John Carroll and the Jesuits, owned slaves themselves

These actions, the bishop said, beg the question “Is there a flaw at the foundation?” of racial relations. He added that many Catholic churches and religious orders remained segregated after slavery’s end.

This history has impacted both the African-American Catholic community and the Church’s efforts to evangelize within the broader African-American community, he said. On top of that, the Church’s previous efforts to address the racial divide, such as the 1979 pastoral letter “Brothers and Sisters to Us,” have yet to be fully implemented.

Knowing this “painful, shameful history,” Bishop Braxton said, is necessary for the Church to help the country heal its racial divides in the future. “We can’t rewrite history. We must acknowledge it and never repeat it,” he told the crowds.  

Pointing to the shortfalls and blind spots of those who came before is not judgment, he said, nor does admitting flaws pose a threat to the universal teachings of the Church. “We don’t know what we would have done in the 1840s or ’50s or ’60s,” Bishop Braxton reminded listeners, and even saints “have blind spots.” Instead, acknowledging the full truth and history can help us to appreciate the fullness of the task ahead of us and make us more attentive to the moral blind spots and shortfalls of our own age.

With the need for a comprehensive education on race in mind, Bishop Braxton urged Catholic schools – seminaries in particular – to educate children and future priests on American and Catholic history regarding race, and urged all Catholics to learn more about African-Americans who have open causes for canonization.

While education is a key component in mending the racial divide, so too is engaging and listening to others involved in similar efforts, Bishop Braxton said. He urged Catholics at both talks to “Listen. Learn. Think. Pray. Act.” and shared his own experiences dialoguing with members of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Before discussing the movement itself, Bishop Braxton noted that he does not believe that “Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter are necessarily incompatible.”

However, he continued the “point of Black Lives Matter is that some in the African American community face existential threats that cannot be ignored.”

Pointing to those concerns in particular – such as the increased likelihood for African Americans to face violence during routine police interactions, while other offenders like Dylan Roof can be apprehended without being shot – does not negate that other issues of human dignity exist, he said. “In this instance, while all lives matter, their lives are in peril.”

He also explained that while there are Catholics within the Black Lives Matter movement, and that not all members hold the same views, many within the movement are cautious when dealing with the Church because of some of its history.  

Some members perceive the Church as being opposed to addressing the racial issues the movement sees as a problem, he said. In addition, Bishop Braxton explained that many – though not all – members of the movement have fundamental differences with the Church on matters of sexuality, marriage and abortion.

Bishop Braxton challenged the movement to address the issue of abortion in particular, affirming the life of the unborn child, and noting that the “alarmingly” high number of abortions within the African-American community brings “an abrupt end to the nascent black lives in their mothers’ wombs. Those lives also matter.”

By listening and learning from the members of Black Lives Matter within his community, Bishop Braxton said that he was also able to explain the richness of the Church’s social teaching and its applicability to issues of race, poverty and discrimination. “I also pointed out that Catholic beliefs on marriage, the meaning of human sexuality and the dignity of human life from conception to natural death are not mere cultural norms or social issues,” he added. “These beliefs represent what the Church holds to be fundamental moral principles, natural law, biblical revelation and the teachings of Jesus Christ.”

Overall, conversations like this have been fruitful and can provide a way for engagement in addressing the racial divide, Bishop Braxton offered. “They did not lead to agreement on every point, but they lead to a focus on the need to be open to hear those with whom we disagree with an open mind and an open heart.”  

 

 

Catholic group continues Blessed Stanley Rother's work in Guatemala

Oklahoma City, Okla., Sep 25, 2017 / 10:28 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Father John Goggin was serving as a missionary priest in Guatemala on July 28, 1981, when he was woken up early with the news that Father Stanley Rother, from the parish just up the road, had been killed in the night by a government-backed death squad.

While another priest went to be with Fr. Rother’s people, it became Fr. Goggin’s job to drive an hour to the Sololá-Chimaltenango diocesan office to alert the people there. He also had to tell the news to the American embassy and the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.

Fr. Goggin said he knew Father Stanley for many years, having been missionary priests in the same region of Guatemala.  

Fr. Stanley was a priest from the small town of Okarche, Oklahoma, and spent 13 years of his priesthood as a beloved missionary in Santiago, Atitlan in Guatemala before he was killed. Pope Francis declared him a martyr last year, paving the way for his beatification.

His sacrifice is something that continues to inspire and challenge Fr. Goggin as a priest, which is why he made the nearly 2,000-mile journey to Oklahoma City to be present for his beatification on September 23.

“I certainly wanted to be here, I never thought I would know a person who would be (on the path to canonization),” he said. “Being able to come to Fr. Stan’s beatification is just wonderful to me.”

“In all the prayers as a priest--it’s the whole idea of trying to give yourself, doing what the Lord asks, what the people ask, and you find that in Fr. Stan,” he added.

Fr. Stanley was also known for not wanting to abandon his people, even though he knew his life was at risk. After Fr. Stanley died, Fr. Goggin said he still did not want the people to feel abandoned.

That’s why he was grateful when the opportunity came to work with Unbound, a non-profit founded by lay Catholics who had also spend time serving as missionaries in Latin America.

The group works as a sponsorship program, pairing children and elderly people with sponsors in other countries, who provide monthly financial aid and moral support in order to help them achieve their own dreams and goals. Sponsors communicate with their partners through letters and e-mail, and also have the opportunity to visit the communities through awareness trips sponsored by Unbound.

Unbound currently serves in 19 countries, including countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

“When the opportunity came to become part of Unbound...I felt it was the direct result of a gift from Fr. Stanley Rother,” Fr. Goggin said, “because we were trying to fill a little bit of his shoes.”

One of the founders of Unbound had known Fr. Stanley while serving as a missionary in Guatemala, and was inspired by his spirit of solidarity with his people, which he kept in the ethic of Unbound.

Fr. Stanley had once flunked Latin studies, but he had mastered the local indigenous dialect of Tzutuhil and had become a beloved member of his community in Santiago Atitlan. He would share meals with them, visit them in their homes, and lived a simple life just like his people.

“We come from the same roots,” said Andrew Kling, director of community outreach and media relations for Unbound.

“Walking with, rather than speaking for the community, is part of our ethic. Rather than passing out stuff, we walk with the families. We have social workers who ask them: what are your dreams, what are your goals, how can we help you get there with a little bit of help every month. We don’t just parachute in western aid workers, we’re developing an ear and listening to the community,” he said.

Chico Chavajay is a Guatemalan who works as the coordinator of Unbound's largest project, based in the region around Lake Atitlan where Fr. Stanley worked.

Chavajay grew up speaking the same native language that Fr. Stanley learned to speak. While he was only one year old when Fr. Stanley died, Chavajay told CNA that the impact of Fr. Stanley is still strongly felt by everyone in the region.

“Everyone knows him, if you just mention his name, people respond, because he rescued people and people knew they were rescued by him,” Chavajay said.

And it doesn’t matter if someone is Catholic or not. “Padre A’plas is Padre A’plas,” Chavajay noted, using Fr. Rother’s other name.

“Stanley” was such a foreign name that the people of Guatemala took to calling the priest Fr. Francisco, after his baptismal name of Francis, which in Tzutuhil translates to A’plas.

“There’s lots of connections of spirituality of Fr. Stanley and the spirit of Unbound,” Chavajay added. “Our program prioritizes education and health, just like Fr. Stanley.”

Fr. Stanley had helped to establish the first hospital in the area, which was free and open to anyone, Chavajay said. That hospital saved his sister’s life when he was just 8 years old.

Chavajay noted that Unbound has also, in a way, adopted the signature phrase of Fr. Stanley: “The shepherd cannot abandon his sheep at the first sign of danger.”

This was something Fr. Stanley wrote in a letter home, explaining why he would not abandon his missionary post, even as the threats of the Guatemalan civil war escalated.

“We have the same belief that we’re not going to abandon the people that we serve,” he said.

The connection that Chavajay feels to Fr. Stanley is strong, particularly because they spoke the same language, he said.

“I feel that I have a real blood connection with the community in Santiago and Padre A’plas because our language is the same,” he said.

Furthermore, his younger brother also became a priest and served at the same parish where Fr. Stanley had been a priest.

An increase in vocations is something that the whole region has seen since Fr. Stanley’s death, Fr. Goggin added. Five or six priests have come from Fr. Stanley’s own parish, and several more have come from the local diocese.

“My own feeling is that Fr. Stan is making some of this happen,” Fr. Goggin said.

On the morning of Fr. Stanley’s beatification, Unbound sponsored a walking pilgrimage from their hotel to the beatification Mass, with Fr. Goggin, Chavajay, and Kling in attendance. Fr. Goggin also got to take part in the procession of Fr. Stanley’s relics up to the altar at the beatification Mass.

They each said it was a privilege to be at the Mass to honor someone who had and continues to have such a strong impact on their mission.

“His same spirit really permeates what we do,” Kling said, “and we hope an event like this could really highlight the importance of walking in solidarity with people.

“You don’t have to be a martyr to change the world. Fr. Stanley’s example shows that love is a choice, and that if you make that choice you can change the world. Love requires sacrifice, it requires vulnerability, it requires dedication, and sometimes it requires everything. But the fact that 36 years later it lives on in such a profound way is a powerful testament,” he added.

“My hope is that we will have many more people (who loved) like him, because if you look at the news today, we desperately need it.”  

The Unbound website is at www.unbound.org.

In Maine, abortions could become more dangerous for women

Portland, Maine, Sep 25, 2017 / 10:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A lawsuit seeking to challenge a Maine law allowing only doctors to perform abortions has drawn criticism from pro-life advocates who warned it could endanger women’s health and safety.

“I’m gravely concerned about the health and safety of the mother,” Suzanne Lafreniere, director of public policy for Diocese of Portland, told CNA.

Lafreniere predicted that allowing non-doctors to perform abortions will worsen medical complications in communities that lack immediate help from a local hospital or doctor who knows the procedure well.

Maine law currently allows abortions to be performed only by physicians. About three-quarters of U.S. states have similar laws, though two other states in the region, Vermont and New Hampshire, do not.

The plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit are the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, four nurses, and abortion provider Maine Family Planning. The defendants named in the lawsuit are Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and several district attorneys. Mills’ spokesman said her office had not been served with the suit and had no comment on the case’s merits.

The outcome of the suit could open the possibility for advanced-practice nurses, physician assistants, or nurse midwives to perform abortions.

Lafreniere described the lawsuit as “a desperate attempt to increase abortions in the state of Maine.”

She said that the number of surgical abortions has been declining in Maine, and that the abortion lobby is doing “everything it can to increase its business, to be perfectly honest.”

Dr. Raegan McDonald-Moseley, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood, contended that the current abortion requirements are “outdated,” don’t keep women safe, and aren’t grounded in research, the Associated Press reports.

However, Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel at Americans United for Life, said that requiring only doctors to perform abortions “establishes a high standard of safety for patient care.” Allowing non-doctors to perform abortions would “further isolate abortions from other gynecological care,” he told CNA.

According to Forsythe, the number of doctors who provide abortion services has continued to shrink. “Doctors don’t want to get into the business,” he said. “The abortion industry and population controllers have been desperately looking to increase the number of abortionists.”

He suggested this phenomenon is another example of the incorrect assumptions of the 1973 Supreme Court decision that mandated legal abortion nationwide. The court wrongly assumed “that doctors from the Mayo Clinic and from medical schools across the country would be eager to be abortionists.”

Lafreniere said the effort could spread to other states.

“They have announced that this is a test case, and if they win in Maine they will continue to proliferate these types of lawsuits in other states where the law requires a doctor to perform abortions,” she said.

Forsythe agreed, describing the lawsuit as “a direct and tragic result” of a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down health and safety regulations for Texas abortion clinics.

“The Supreme Court created substantial confusion in the Texas decision, by issuing a vague and ambiguous opinion that states and courts have had difficulty understanding and applying,” he said. “The court created substantial confusion as to the legal standard for abortion laws for legislators and judges.”

 

 

Love of neighbor must begin with love of God, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Sep 25, 2017 / 09:12 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday, Pope Francis spoke to benefactors of the Vatican Swiss Guard about love of neighbor, which he said must first be steeped in love of Christ and drawn from prayer and frequent reception of the sacraments.

“Love to one's neighbor corresponds to the mandate and the example of Christ if it is based on a true love of God. It is thus possible for the Christian, through his dedication, to make others feel the tenderness of the heavenly Father,” the Pope said Sept. 25.

“To give love to brothers, it is necessary to draw it from the furnace of divine charity, through prayer, listening to the Word of God, and nurturing the Holy Eucharist. With these spiritual references, it is possible to operate in the logic of gratuity and service.”

Pope Francis met Monday morning with 50 members of the Foundation of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, an organization which offers financial, material and technical support to the Vatican’s small military force.

He thanked them for their work in support of the young Swiss men who devote some years of their lives to “serving the Church and the Holy See.”

“This is an opportune occasion for me to reiterate that their discreet, professional and generous presence is so appreciated and useful for the good performance of Vatican activities.”

The business of the foundation expresses community spirit and solidarity, the Pope said, a typical feature of the Catholic presence in society and an attitude which is rooted in the appeal of the Gospel to love one’s neighbor.

“Therefore, through your work, you are concrete witnesses of evangelical ideals and, in the Swiss social fabric, you are an example of fraternity and sharing,” he said.

Concluding, Francis wished them joy as they continue their “fruitful commitment,” and bestowed the apostolic blessing.

He also prayed for protection for them and their families through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Nicholas of Flüe, the patron of Switzerland, whose feast the Swiss celebrate on Sept. 25.

St. Nicholas of Flüe was born in 1417 near the Lake of Lucerne in Switzerland. He married at the age of 30 and had 10 children. In addition to his duties as a husband and a father, Nicholas donated his talents and time selflessly to the community and always strove to give an excellent moral example to all.

The saint was also able to devote much of his private life to developing a strong relationship with the Lord. He had a strict regime of fasting and he spent a great deal of time in contemplative prayer.

Around the year 1467, when he was 50 years old, Nicholas felt called to retire from the world and become a hermit. His wife and children gave their approval, and he left home to live in a hermitage a few miles away.

While living as a hermit, Nicholas quickly gained a wide reputation for his personal sanctity, and many people sought him out to request his prayers and spiritual advice.

Nicholas lived the quiet life of a hermit for 13 years. However in 1481, a dispute arose between the delegates of the Swiss confederates at Stans and a civil war seemed imminent. The people called on Nicholas to settle the dispute, so he drafted several proposals which everyone eventually agreed upon.

Nicholas' work prevented civil war and solidified the country of Switzerland. But, as a true hermit, he then returned to his hermitage after settling the dispute.

He died six years later on March 21, 1487 surrounded by his wife and children. The Church celebrates his feast day on March 21, though in Switzerland and Germany it is celebrated on Sept. 25.

Inclusion, dialogue highlighted in new Vatican guidelines for educators

Vatican City, Sep 24, 2017 / 10:36 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican has issued new guidelines for Catholic educators, developed to help them respond to the modern challenges of a globalized society, placing a heavy emphasis on inclusion, the need to dialogue and the importance of “humanizing” education so the person is at the center.

The guidelines were published Sept. 22 in a short document entitled “Educating to Fraternal Humanism: Building a Civilization of Love 50 years after Populorum Progressio.”

Populorum Progressio is an encyclical written by Pope Paul VI in 1967 on “the development of peoples” in wake of the Second Vatican Council.

Vatican officials said the guidelines represent a fresh perspective on what Christian education means in today's globalized world, with a special emphasis on dialogue, inclusion and creating a “humanizing” approach to education.

It was published by the Gravissimum Educationis Foundation, which was established by Pope Francis in 2015 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's declaration on Christian education.

One of three declarations of Vatican II, Gravissimum educationis recognized the Church's role in education, ordered toward man's salvation, and stated fundamental principles of Christian education.

The conciliar document, issued Oct. 28, 1965, stated that Catholic schools are meant “to help youth grow according to the new creatures they were made through baptism as they develop their own personalities, and finally to order the whole of human culture to the news of salvation so that the knowledge the students gradually acquire of the world, life and man is illumined by faith.”

Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education, told journalists that Populorum Progressio “marked a decisive watershed in the history of social issues, offering a new model of ethics that was able to embrace, with a wider gaze, all continents in the perspective of ever-increasing global interdependence.”

The document, which forms the basis for the guidelines, “underlines how urgent and necessary it is to humanize education, favoring a culture of encounter and dialogue,” he said.

And the first step in “humanizing” education, he said, is by “globalizing hope guided by the message of salvation and love from Christian revelation.”

“The solidarity and brotherhood that arise from this personal and social transformation,” he said, “will be the basis of an inclusive process capable of influencing lifestyles and economic and environmental paradigms.”

Alongside Cardinal Versaldi at the press conference were the congregation's secretary, Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani, and the Secretary General of the Gravissimum Educationis Foundation, Msgr. Guy-Réal Thivierge.

In comments to journalists, Archbishop Zani said there are three key points to the guidelinest, the first of which is “to humanize education.”

“This is very important because the Pope said at the end of the global congress in 2015 said no to proselytism, yes to humanization. So education is above all making it so the person is fully themselves.”

To do this, the person must use all the instruments available to them, but without forgetting “the dimension of transcendence” that the incarnation of Christ offers.

“For us this dimension of humanization is essential not only in an ideological or theoretical sense, but in concrete practice,” Zani said, explaining that it must be “translated into paths that go beyond the technicalities and 'proceduralisms' that often suffocate institutions.”

A second key aspect of the text is its emphasis on “the culture of dialogue,” which Archbishop Zani said involves “the need to pass from the throwaway culture to to the culture of dialogue.”

To this end, the text outlines the thought of French philosopher Paul Ricueur, who develops the concept of dialogue, “asking that this dialogue isn't done on a superficial level, but on the level of the depth of the person who in order to dialogue, must enter into themselves and...put themselves into contact with the identity of the other.”

Zani then pointed to a third element of the guidelines he said is part of the core message, which is “the disposition of inclusion,” which Pope Francis himself speaks of often.

Inclusion means to encounter, rather than to exclude, Zani said, noting that “many times our institutions are exclusive more than inclusive,” and “the knowledge itself that we communicate in our institutions, is often a selective knowledge.”

“So this culture of inclusion would like to propose a knowledge that is rather understood as a good that isn't positional, which guarantees a social position, but a relational good, which helps every person to further develop their relationships with other people,” he said.

Zani also outlined several projects the foundation is currently involved with, including research for a new models of education, a survey for youth ahead of the upcoming Synod of Bishops and a permanent observatory tasked with studying international changes and challenges to an integral education.

In comments to CNA, Cardinal Versaldi said the term “fraternal humanism” in the title of the guidelines means “to educate man, humanity, on how to be true men.”

“You cannot avoid relationships with others, which are relationships in the logic of love,” he said, and emphasized the importance of mutual sharing and enrichment, “because we aren't all from the same place, there are inequalities, there are exclusions.”

 The cardinal said that the guidelines emphasize  “the duty on the part of everyone to see how to give their contribution to change a situation of inequality or of being discarded.” This, he said, is because “in a globalized world, where there inequality, a problem arises for everyone, not only for those who are discarded.”

Because of this, not only do people need to have the foresight to see and remedy situations of injustice, but institutions and governments must as well, Versaldi said. “Otherwise the world won't be cured of its evils.”

What Catholic educational institutions can offer, he said, is the proper formation of youth in particular, so they can themselves become examples of “fraternal humanism” that others will follow.

Versaldi said the congregation won't be asking educational institutions to change their curriculum per se, but rather, ask that educators themselves be formed in the contents of the guidelines and update their own approach based on the perspective the text offers.

“You can't simply repeat the past, even from the point of view of content and curriculum, but you need to also be able to adapt to the new situations, always maintaining in a strong way the meaning of the Christian message, which doesn't change through time,” he said.

According to the cardinal, there are currently more than 216,000 Catholic schools throughout the world with a student population of over 60 million from all faiths and ethnicities.

Africa boasts more than 24 million Catholic school students, and is followed by Asia, which has 13 million. The Americas have a Catholic school population of 12 million, followed by Europe with 8.6 million and Oceania with 1.2 million.

Cardinal Versaldi said that “despite falling in some western countries, in recent years there has been a steady increase in registrations on a global level.”

In addition to the number of Catholic schools and students, there are roughly 1,800 Catholic universities and 500 ecclesial faculties globally.

 

Pope and Peruvian president discuss Venezuela, upcoming papal visit

Vatican City, Sep 24, 2017 / 06:54 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met with Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Friday to discuss the country’s fight against poverty, the crisis in Venezuela and the Pope's upcoming visit, among other topics.

President Kuczynski, described the meeting to journalists at a Sept. 23 news briefing, saying “what we spoke about is what is happening in Peru, how little by little we are eliminating poverty in Peru (and) what is happening in the Peruvian government.”

“We also spoke, naturally, about the visit of the Holy Father to Peru,” he said, drawing attention to the trip Pope Francis will make to Peru and Chile in January 2018.

The president said preparations for the visit are going well, and that “almost everything is ready.” Authorities are still deciding where the Pope’s final Mass on the last day of the visit will be held, but “everything else in the trip is already organized.”

The visit, announced in June, will take the Pope to Chile from January 15 to 18 and Peru from January 18 to 21, 2018. It will mark Francis’ fourth official tour of Latin America since his election, after Brazil in 2013; Bolivia, Paraguay and Ecuador in 2015 and his recent visit to Colombia earlier this month.

In Chile the Pope will visit the capital of Santiago, and the cities of Temuco and Iquique. In Peru, he will visit the capital city of Lima, as well as Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo.

In his comments to journalists, President Kuczynski described his conversation with the Pope as “very friendly.” The Pope offered several “proverbs” known in the Spanish language, he said, adding that “he is a man very knowledgeable in literature.”

He and Francis also discussed the situation of former presidents of Peru, some of whom are currently in prison. The latest ex-president to be put behind bars is Ollanta Humal, who was jailed in July amid a corruption scandal that continues to unfold in the country.

Corruption was also naturally a part of the discussion, specifically “how the fight against corruption is going,” Kuczynski said.

He explained that in his meeting with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin that followed his conversation with the Pope, Peruvian leaders, after consulting with other governments, are planning to make a proposal to establish an “Inter-American Court against corruption” during the 2018 Summit of the Americas, set to take place in Lima.

The president also touched on Peru’s complicated past, in many was still shrouded by the violence of the guerrilla group “the Shining Path,” largely active in the 1980-90s, and the need for reconciliation.

“In Latin America, in all countries, we need reconciliation, and the visit of the Pope without doubt will immensely help this,” Kuczynski said, noting that Peru itself “has been successful enough in reconciliation after the period of terrorism and hyperinflation that we had.”

Another topic that has somewhat overshadowed the Church in Peru for the past two years is the scandal surrounding Luis Fernando Figari, a consecrated layman who founded the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a society of apostolic life, in 1971 in Peru. It was granted pontifical recognition in 1997, and is one of the most well-known communities in Peru.

It came into the international spotlight when in 2015 accusations of physical, sexual and psychological abuse were raised against Figari, which were proved to be true. Figari, who had been transferred to Rome, was then barred from any contact with the community as the result of an investigation carried out by Peruvian civil authorities.

Although the case is likely to come up at some point during the Pope’s visit, President Kuczynski said the issue was not raised in his discussion with the Pope, as it is being handled “through other channels.”

The president said his discussion with Cardinal Parolin also touched on the crisis in Venezuela, with both agreeing that “humanitarian aid must be allowed into Venezuela because there are many people who are sick, there are no medicines.”

“The current government, for reasons of pride, is opposed to this,” he said. Another mutual interest, then, is “to look for a dialogue so that there is a transitional system of government.”

“We are all worried, we want to help,” he said. “We think that a country that has the largest petroleum reserves in the world deserves a better destiny for their inhabitants.”


Miguel Perez, Rome correspondent for CNA’s Spanish-language sister agency ACI Prensa, contributed to this article.

5 Ways to Keep the Faith When You’re Unemployed

5 Ways to Keep the Faith When You’re Unemployed

I accepted an internship with the hopes that it would turn into a full-time job. In March, I discovered it wouldn’t, so I started the…

The post 5 Ways to Keep the Faith When You’re Unemployed appeared first on Busted Halo.

UN resolution to investigate ISIS crimes praised as step toward recognizing genocide

New York City, N.Y., Sep 24, 2017 / 04:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution on Thursday to help investigate ISIS crimes in Iraq, one human rights group hailed the development as a step towards U.N. recognition of genocide.

 

“It is incredibly encouraging to see the Security Council take such a significant step towards ensuring justice for the countless victims and their families,” Kelsey Zorsi, the U.N. Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom International, stated in response.

 

The resolution came as the 72nd Regular Session of the U.N. General Assembly is meeting in New York City from Sept. 12-25. It passed by unanimous vote in the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.

 

The resolution establishes an investigative team, led by a Special Adviser, to help the government of Iraq gather and preserve evidence of crimes committed by ISIS against religious minorities there.

 

The human rights group ADF International hailed it as a significant development in possibly bringing ISIS criminals to justice, as well as aiding the victims of those crimes.

 

“We hope that the passage of this resolution reminds Christians in the Middle East that they have not been forgotten, that there is hope, that we will continue fighting for them, and that accountability is on its way,” Zorsi said.

 

The investigative team must work with the Iraqi government, but also with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), ADF International said.

 

For instance, aid and advocacy groups like the Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians were critical in preparing a report documenting ISIS atrocities committed against ethnic and religious minorities, which led then Secretary of State John Kerry to declare ISIS actions a genocide.

 

Also, they said, “the Special Adviser should have a firm background in international law to ensure the right categories are being used for the atrocities committed.”

 

Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., called the resolution “a landmark” and “a major first step towards addressing the death, suffering, and injury of the victims of crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq – crimes that include genocide.”

 

“These victims have been Yazidis, Christians, Shia and Sunni Muslims, and many, many more,” she said.

 

ADF International pointed out that the Security Council “for the first time” did not discount the possibility of using the term “genocide” to describe the atrocities committed by ISIS. Human rights advocates have argued that ISIS crimes constitute a genocide according to the U.N.’s definition.

 

According to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, the intent to commit genocide means the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”  Genocide can be committed through killing, torture, forced sterilization, moving the children of one group elsewhere, or “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

 

In 2014, ISIS militants conquered large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq in an attempt to establish a caliphate based upon an extremist interpretation of Islam.

 

As they took over cities and towns in Syria and in Northern Iraq, ISIS killed and displaced many religious and ethnic minorities in the region, including Christians, Yezidis, Shia and Sunni Muslims, Turkmen, and Shabak. There were countless reports of murders, torture, the kidnapping and enslavement of Yezidi and Christian women and girls, evidence of mass graves, and the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands.

 

Pope Francis used the term “genocide” to describe what was occurring in 2015. In February of 2016, the European Parliament declared that ISIS was indeed committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities in the region.

 

In March of 2016, the U.S. Congress issued a genocide resolution, and on March 17 Secretary of State John Kerry stated that “in my judgment, Daesh [ISIS] is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims.

 

“Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions – in what it says, what it believes, and what it does,” he said, charging that the group “is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities.”

 

The U.N. Security Council has not yet made a genocide declaration, however. Advocacy groups are hoping that will soon change.