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St. Mark’s, Archmere seniors named co-winners of football’s DeLucia Award

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Dialog reporter

 

WILMINGTON – John Dougherty of St. Mark’s High School and Matt Gallagher of Archmere Academy have been named the recipients of the 2014 Michael DeLucia Sportsmanship Award, presented annually to a senior football player from a Delaware Catholic high school. The award, which has been given for 43 years, goes to a player “who has exemplified outstanding performance, attitude and character on and off the field.” Read more »

Pope Francis: Tree, creche inspire everyone to love and share

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — God did not come to the world with arrogance to impose his might; he offered his powerful love through a fragile child, Pope Francis said.

The Christmas tree and Nativity scene decorate St. Peter's Square at the Vatican after a lighting ceremony Dec. 19. New LED lighting was also unveiled on the facade and dome of the basilica during the ceremony. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The Christmas tree and Nativity scene decorate St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican after a lighting ceremony Dec. 19. New LED lighting was also unveiled on the facade and dome of the basilica during the ceremony. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The Christmas tree and Nativity scene are reminders of this mystery of the Incarnation and they both carry “a message of light, hope and love,” he said Dec. 19, meeting the people who donated the centerpieces of the Vatican Christmas decorations.

The Italian city of Verona donated the Nativity scene, and the southern Italian city of Catanzaro donated the 82-foot white spruce tree, which both adorn St. Peter’s Square. The tree was lit and the scene officially unveiled during an early evening ceremony in the square Dec. 19.

Earlier in the day, the pope thanked the delegates for their generosity and highlighted the importance of the Christmas creche and tree for Christians, as they are a sign of how “God made man to save us and the light that Jesus brought to the world with his birth.”

But the Nativity scene and Christmas tree touch the hearts of everyone, “even those who do not believe because they speak of fraternity, intimacy and friendship, calling all people of our time to rediscover the beauty of simplicity, sharing and solidarity,” he said.

“They are an invitation to unity, harmony and peace; an invitation to make room, in our personal and social life, for God, who did not come with arrogance to impose his might, but offers us his omnipotent love through the fragile person of a child,” he said.

“Let us follow him, the true light, in order to not lose our way and to reflect, in turn, light and warmth upon those who are going through difficult and dark times,” he said.

A choir from Serrastretta near Catanzaro and the band of the Vatican gendarme corps were to provide traditional Christmas music, both sacred and popular, during the lighting ceremony.

After the Christmas lighting, Vatican officials were scheduled to flip the switch for the new 315-bulb LED lighting on the facade and dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. The Vatican said the new bulbs should save about 70 percent on the basilica’s lighting bill. A similar system, also set for its first illumination Dec. 19, was installed at Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major.

 

OFM Franciscan order faces grave financial problems following ‘illicit’ activities

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Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY — Ineffective budgetary oversight and “questionable” financial activities have plunged the Order of Friars Minor into significant debt and an extremely serious financial situation, its minister general said. Following an internal investigation into the order’s finances, U.S. Franciscan Father Michael Perry, the superior, announced to all members of the order that its general curia “finds itself in grave, and I underscore ‘grave,’ financial difficulty, with a significant burden of debt.”

U.S. Franciscan Father Michael Perry, minister general of the Order of Friars Minor, embraces Pope Francis during his 2013 visit to Assisi, Italy. Ineffective budgetary oversight and "questionable" financial activities have plunged the Order of Friars Minor into significant debt and an extremely serious financial situation, Father Perry said. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

U.S. Franciscan Father Michael Perry, minister general of the Order of Friars Minor, embraces Pope Francis during his 2013 visit to Assisi, Italy. Ineffective budgetary oversight and “questionable” financial activities have plunged the Order of Friars Minor into significant debt and an extremely serious financial situation, Father Perry said. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

He attributed the situation to unapproved financial activity by some friars as well as non-Franciscans and said the curia had retained lawyers and contacted civil authorities. The announcement was published as an open letter on the order’s website Dec. 17. The announcement included a plea to Franciscan superiors around the world for “your understanding and for a financial contribution to help address the current situation, which involves also the repayment of significant debts.” An investigation begun in September discovered that “the systems of financial oversight and control for the management of the patrimony of the order were either too weak or were compromised, thus limiting their effectiveness to guarantee responsible, transparent management,” Father Perry wrote. The inquiry revealed that “there appears to have taken place a number of questionable financial activities that were conducted by friars entrusted with the care of the patrimony of the order without the full knowledge or consent of the former and current” leaders, he wrote. The general treasurer, identified by Italian media as Father Giancarlo Lati, has resigned as treasurer and as legal representative of the order, Father Perry said, and the Franciscans have informed the Vatican about the situation. People who were not Franciscans also seem to have played a “central role” in the illicit activity, he added. The “scope and magnitude” of such activities have put “the financial stability of the general curia at grave risk,” he said, and have warranted calling in “civil authorities to take up this matter.” Father Perry was elected minister general of the order in May 2013 with a mandate to serve until 2015, completing the six-year term of Spanish-born Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, who in April 2013 was appointed secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Father Perry had served as the order’s vicar general since 2009. Despite the shock of discovering how serious the situation is, he said, “we are encouraged by the example set by Pope Francis in his call for truth and transparency in financial dealings both in the church and in human societies.” “We must trust that by following a course of truth, God will lead us on the journey of conversion,” he wrote. Three Franciscans appointed to investigate the current situation will continue their work, he said; the Franciscan curia also is relying on the assistance of a “highly regarded group of lawyers.” Father Perry promised to make a complete report on the situation when the Franciscan general chapter meets in 2015.

Cardinal Dolan wants ‘nothing further to do’ with Priests for Life

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NEW YORK — New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said he wants “nothing further to do” with Priests for Life, which has its headquarters on Staten Island, which is in the New York archdiocese.

Cardinal Dolan said he had been asked by the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy to assist its national director, Father Frank A. Pavone, with “several necessary reforms,” but he said the priest has not cooperated.

The changes have mostly to do with an audit and the need to establish an independent board “to provide oversight and accountability,” according to Religion News Service and Catholic World News.

Cardinal Dolan made the comments in a letter to his fellow U.S. bishops dated Nov. 20. The letter was not made public. But Catholic World News obtained a copy and reported on it in a story posted on CatholicCulture.org.

“Although Father Pavone initially assured me of his support, he did not cooperate,” Cardinal Dolan wrote.

In a statement sent to Catholic News Service Dec. 16, Priests for Life said it is “working with the Vatican to fully implement all the church’s expectations. The Vatican has been consistently supportive and favorable toward Priests for Life, which is an international private association of the faithful.” It also said the issue was “about control,” not financial accountability.

Priests for Life was founded in California in 1991 “to train, motivate and encourage priests to effectively advance the Gospel of life.”

In 1993, New York Cardinal John J. O’Connor appointed Father Pavone, then a priest of the New York archdiocese, to the full-time post as national director. Ordained in 1988, he had been a parish priest for five years.

As head of the organization he gained prominence through his work with the group, traveling to all 50 states and personally working with Blessed Teresa of Kolkata and Mother Angelica, the founder of the Eternal Word Television Network.

In 2005, Father Pavone was incardinated in the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, headed by Bishop Patrick J. Zurek.

In September 2011, Bishop Zurek suspended the priest from ministry outside the diocese, saying he was needed for work in Texas. Father Pavone appealed to the Congregation for the Clergy, which issued a decree that allowed him to minister outside the diocese with specific permission to do so from Bishop Zurek. The decree was dated May 18, 2012, and became public about a month later.

“As a gesture of good will,” the bishop said in a June 2012 statement, “I will grant permission to him in individual cases, based upon their merits, to participate in pro-life events with the provision that he and I must be in agreement beforehand as to his role and function,” the bishop added.

The disagreement between Father Pavone, who remains a priest in good standing in the diocese, and Bishop Zurek first became public when the bishop sent a letter to other bishops raising questions about the finances of Priests for Life and its affiliated organizations.

In its statement about Cardinal Dolan’s decision to cut ties with the group, Priests for Life said: “We agree with the Vatican that it does not serve the needs of the church or the cause of life to argue a matter in public that is still being worked out in private. We will only say that the issue has little to do with finances, the organization has had clean independent audits for the past 15 years, but rather about control.”

The organization said it was not “appropriate to comment” further at this time. For now, the matter “is in the hands of the Vatican, where it belongs, and we will continue accomplishing our mission,” it said.

A Dec. 16 fund-raising letter from Priests for Life to its supporters called the group’s financial situation “grim” and said donations were urgent if the group is meet its $8 million dollar budget for 2015 that would allow to “press forward in our mission to preach the Gospel of Life throughout the country and end the injustice of legalized abortion in America.”

The letter outlined Priest for Life’s five main goals for the coming year: “Maintain the pro-life momentum that’s sweeping the country”; get Congress to pass the Pain-Capable Child Protection Act, which would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks, when an unborn baby can feel pain, unless the life of the mother is in danger; “make health care in America abortion free”; “make every state in the Union” abortion free; and win the lawsuit against the federal health care law’s contraceptive mandate.

 

Advent Calendar sponsored by: Mark D. Quinn AAMS, Financial Advisor, Edward Jones Inc.

December 19th, 2014 Posted in Featured

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Click here to go to the Advent Calendar:

Advent calendar sponsored by: Mark D. Quinn AAMS Financial Advisor 1407 Foulk Road Suite 101 Wilmington DE 1803 302-477-9828 mark.quinn@edwardjones.com https://www.edwardjones.com/en_US/find_financial_advisor/index.html

2014 was a year marked by millions suffering in the Middle East

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Catholic News Service

The story of the Middle East in 2014 is one of war and displacement, broken families and tireless aid workers, and the rise of a new group one scholar referred to as “al-Qaida on steroids.”

It’s a story of populations stretched to the limit, but still welcoming more refugees as neighbors. And it’s a tale of religious leaders calling for prayer, meeting for dialogue and urging an end to the violence.

U.S. Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, N.Y., stands amid rubble from buildings destroyed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza. Bishop Malone visited Gaza Sept. 14 as part of 18 bishops' nine-day prayer pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land. (CNS photo/Matt McGarry,

U.S. Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, N.Y., stands amid rubble from buildings destroyed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza. Bishop Malone visited Gaza Sept. 14 as part of 18 bishops’ nine-day prayer pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land. (CNS photo/Matt McGarry)

The continuing civil war in Syria created what Antonio Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, called “the defining humanitarian challenge of our times.” His agency estimated in December that more than 3.3 million Syrian refugees lived in the neighboring countries of Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

UNHCR also estimated that, within Syria, 12.2 million people were in need, including 7.6 million people displaced from their homes. Of those displaced, half were children.

Amid the migration of Syrians to neighboring countries, a group calling itself the Islamic State began driving Christians, Yezidis and even Muslim minorities from parts of Syria and Iraq. The minorities told stories of the Islamic State group cutting off electricity for weeks ahead of the main troops’ arrival. When the militants arrived, minorities were told to convert to Islam, pay a protection tax or be killed.

Mary Habeck, associate professor in strategic studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, described the Islamic State, and its parent group, al-Qaida, as “merchants of violence” trying to “use Islam for their own purposes.” The groups are “a very tiny group of extremists that have decided that they understand what Islam is, and they are going to force the rest of the Muslim-majority world in their direction.”

After capturing Mosul, Iraq, in June, the Islamic State group declared a caliphate, or Islamic empire. Habeck said the group views itself as “the only legitimate government in the entire world.”

Faced with the choice of renouncing their faith or being killed, hundreds of thousands of Christians and other minorities in Iraq’s Ninevah province fled Mosul to places like Qaraqosh. Later, as Islamic State fighters advanced, the minorities fled again to cities like Irbil, Iraq, where they slept in churches or in tents in parks and on the streets.

The mass migration of Syrians and Iraqis, combined with Palestinians left homeless after a 50-day Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip, created a huge challenge for international aid organizations, including those run by the Catholic Church. Most refugees in the Middle East do not live in camps, but in local communities. This placed a strain on the host countries.

Church agencies focused on helping those communities. For instance, between August and early November, Caritas Jordan registered 4,000 Iraqis; the agency helped more who did not register.

Lebanon, a country 70 percent the size of Connecticut, has a population of 4 million and hosted 1.5 million additional refugees.

Jordan, slightly smaller than Indiana, with a population of 6.5 million, recognized 44 different nationalities as refugees. From 1921 to 2011, Jordan had a $10 billion deficit; since the Arab Spring began in 2011, it has picked up an additional $10 billion deficit.

Although the Jordanian government welcomed those fleeing, for the past three years it said that 30 percent of any aid going to help Syrian refugees must help the host community. It set similar quotas when Iraqis began fleeing to Jordan in 2003, at the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Christian aid agencies tried to coordinate their work, focusing on various aspects of aid: One agency might help with mattresses and personal items; another might help with education.

Church agencies also coordinated aid in Gaza after the Israeli-Hamas war left 2,000 Palestinians dead, thousands injured and more than 100,000 people homeless.

In July, the Catholic aid agencies met three times in as many days, planning for Gazans’ psychosocial and material needs.

“We are talking about a massive number of people who will be in need of help, and of at least 200,000 children who will need intervention,” Sami El-Yousef, regional director of the Jerusalem office of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, told Catholic News Service in July.

During a May visit to the Holy Land, Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop to pray for peace before the controversial separation wall built by Israel throughout the West Bank land. He invited Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the Vatican to pray for peace.

Throughout the year, he made repeated calls for peace in the Middle East. In early October, he met with the region’s apostolic nuncios and top Vatican officials; later that month, he included a discussion on the Middle East during the Oct. 20 consistory of cardinals in order to let the region’s seven patriarchs, who were taking part in the Synod of Bishops, also attend the proceedings.

At that meeting, Pope Francis said the Middle East was experiencing “terrorism of previously unimaginable proportions” in which the perpetrators seem to have absolutely no regard for the value of human life.

The Mideast Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs as well as bishops from North America, Europe and Oceania visited the Holy Land and northern Iraq to express solidarity with their fellow Christians. And although patriarchs expressed concern about Christians fleeing the violence in northern Iraq, laypeople were not the only ones leaving the advance of Islamic State: Twelve Chaldean religious men and priests living in the United States, Canada, Australia and Sweden were suspended from exercising their priestly ministry for not receiving permission from their superiors before emigrating from Iraq.

Once the Iraqis and Syrians fled, they hoped for resettlement in another country. One refugee described waiting for resettlement as “miserable days doing nothing.” Almost all Iraqis interviewed by a variety of news sources said they would not return to their country.

Father Rifat Bader described the refugees: “They are teachers. They are normal people, very kind people.” Faith “is a part of their identity.”

The Iraqis, he said, “are knocking at the doors of the embassies” trying to get resettled. But after their initial appointment, they were being forced to wait six months for a second appointment, he said

 

In eastern Ukraine, church has ‘returned to catacombs,’ spokesman says

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Catholic News Service

WARSAW, Poland — Ukrainian Catholic leaders have warned their church is being driven underground again, a quarter-century after it was re-legalized with the end of communist rule.

“In Crimea and eastern Ukraine, we’ve already effectively returned to the catacombs,” said Father Ihor Yatsiv, the church’s Kiev-based spokesman.

A man lights a candle in a temporary Ukrainian Catholic tent church in 2013 during anti-government protests in Kiev. Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych and other Ukrainian Catholic leaders have warned their church is being driven underground again, a quarter-century after it was re-legalized with the end of communist rule.(CNS photo/Tatyana Zenkovich, EPA) S

A man lights a candle in a temporary Ukrainian Catholic tent church in 2013 during anti-government protests in Kiev. Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych and other Ukrainian Catholic leaders have warned their church is being driven underground again, a quarter-century after it was re-legalized with the end of communist rule.(CNS photo/Tatyana Zenkovich, EPA) 

“It’s a sad paradox that history is being repeated just as we commemorate our liberation. But after a couple of decades of freedom, we again look set to lose our freedom,” he told Catholic News Service Dec. 18.

The priest spoke as Ukrainian Catholic communities in Russian-occupied Crimea approached a Jan. 1 deadline for re-registering under Russian law. He said the Byzantine Ukrainian Catholic Church had no legal status in Russia and would therefore be unable, in practice, to register.

Father Yatsiv said Russian and separatist forces had not officially refused to register Ukrainian Catholic parishes, but had ensured it was impossible because of the lack of legal provisions. He added that there was no effective government in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine, where rebel groups did not recognize Ukrainian Catholics and were “imposing whatever rules and regulations they choose.”

Earlier in December, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych told Austria’s Kathpress news agency that Crimea’s five Ukrainian Catholic parishes would find themselves “outside the law,” along with the territory’s Latin Catholic, Muslim and breakaway Orthodox communities.

“It’s ironic we’ve just been celebrating the 25th anniversary of our legalization in the former Soviet Union, but our right to legal activity will soon be withdrawn in various parts of our country,” Archbishop Shevchuk told Kathpress Dec. 12.

“There’s clearly no religious liberty already in Crimea and the occupied territories of the east, and I hope the international community will deploy its resources to restoring freedoms in the affected areas,” he said.

Ukrainian Catholics fled Crimea to escape arrests and property seizures after Russia annexed the region in March. Most church parishes have closed in Ukraine’s war-torn Luhansk and Donetsk regions, where separatists declared an independent “New Russia” after staging local referendums last spring.

Ukraine’s Catholic Caritas charity warned Dec. 11 of a “humanitarian catastrophe” this winter, with 490,000 people now registered as refugees, and 545,000 displaced abroad, mostly in Russia.

The Ukrainian Catholic Church makes up around a tenth of Ukraine’s 46 million inhabitants. It was outlawed under Soviet rule from 1946 to 1989, when many clergy were imprisoned and most church properties seized by the state or transferred to Russian Orthodox possession.

 

Commentary: No one should be hungry during the Christmas season

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In early December, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) stopped feeding 1.7 million Syrian refugees.

 

For two weeks these poor, battered fellow human beings who had fled the misery of civil war, and the barbarism of the “Islamic State,” were told there is no money available for food; children, women and men went hungry

 

A Kurdish refugee child from the Syrian town of Kobani sits in front of a tent Oct. 18 in a camp on the Turkey-Syria border. Catholics have expressed concerns about bloodshed in the Middle East and see cause for action against the Islamic State militant group. (CNS photo/Kai Pfaffenbach,

A Kurdish refugee child from the Syrian town of Kobani sits in front of a tent Oct. 18 in a camp on the Turkey-Syria border. Catholics have expressed concerns about bloodshed in the Middle East and see cause for action against the Islamic State militant group. (CNS photo/Kai Pfaffenbach)

The WFP has been providing food assistance for 1.85 million Syrian refugees living in the host countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

 

However, on Dec. 1 the WFP reported that it had run out of money to fund its electronic voucher program for 1.7 million Syrian refugees because many donor nation commitments were not being fulfilled.

 

Ten days later the WFP announced that following an unprecedented social media campaign, government donors had given over $80 million, thus allowing reinstatement of food assistance to the 1.7 million Syrian refugees for the rest of the month. This funding will also allow the WFP to meet some of the refugee needs in January.

 

But then what?

 

According to the WFP, Syrian refugees in camps throughout the region are ill prepared for the harsh winter, especially in Lebanon and Jordan, where many children are bare foot and without proper clothing. Many tents are drenched in mud, and hygiene conditions are worsening.

 

In addition to the Syrian region, the WFP and other international aid agencies like Catholic Relief Services, are desperately trying to respond to four other simultaneous level-3 emergencies, the U.N.’s most serious crisis designation – in Iraq, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the African nations plagued by the Ebola outbreak.

 

According Eric Mitchell, director of government of relations for Bread for the World, an anti-poverty Christian lobbying organization, the U.S. government needs to fully fund the Food for Peace program. He said Congress has authorized $2.5 billion, but that the budget for fiscal year 2015 actually only funds the program at $1.4 billion.

 

Mitchell added that Congress should allot significantly more money for food vouchers that can be immediately used in local markets, as compared to the more expensive and time consuming transfer of food on cargo ships.

 

He said excellent long-term programs like Feed the Future, which help to sustain long-term agriculture development and security, need to also receive increased funding from Congress.

 

As a Christmas gift to desperately hungry people, please contact your congressional delegation urging them to work for the improvements listed above.

 

And consider making a Christmas donation to the Catholic Relief Services (www.crs.org) or the World Food Program (www.wfp.org).

 

But what about after the Christmas season? What will happen to the 805 million hungry brothers and sisters of ours then?

 

What we do, or fail to do, to help answer these life and death questions, will determine how seriously, how faithfully, we take the birth of Jesus – Emmanuel, “God with us.”

 

 

 

Magliano, a syndicated social justice and peace columnist, lives in the Diocese of Wilmington.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of the Week: Faithful service companion

December 18th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , , ,

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Guide dog is seen as Pope Francis arrives for special audience with Italian Blind Union at Vatican
A guide dog enjoys a spot in the front row as Pope Francis arrives to attend a special audience with Italian Blind Union at the Vatican Dec. 13. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

One loom at a time, Holy Cross Knitting Club makes a difference

By

Dialog reporter

 

DOVER – It’s a Friday afternoon in December, and most of the students at Holy Cross School have taken off for the weekend. But in a room in the school’s Early Childhood Center, some 70 first- through eighth-graders have gathered in the season of giving to help those who could really use some.

At tables throughout the large room, students laughed and talked as they knitted winter hats. Atop two desks, a pile of hats in a variety of colors steadily grew; there would be more than 100 by the time the meeting ended. Read more »

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