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Anticipation is high but information is slow for those organizing bus trips to pope’s Mass in Philly Sept. 27

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Staff reporter

The excitement in the Diocese of Wilmington of those planning bus trips to attend the public Mass that Pope Francis will celebrate in Philadelphia on Sept. 27 is building, but a lack of details from organizers is proving frustrating.

Up to 1.5 million people are expected to fill the Benjamin Franklin Parkway that Sunday afternoon, but the city of Philadelphia, the World Meeting of Families and the Secret Service have yet to release details about several key issues that concern folks who will attend, according to Barbara Willis of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of the Diocese of Wilmington. Her group is sponsoring three buses that will depart from Salesianum School in Wilmington. Read more »

Box believed to be Catholic artifact found at site of Jamestown church

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JAMESTOWN, Va. — The identities of four men discovered almost two years ago at the site of Jamestown’s historic 1608 church have been identified and one of the men had been buried with a silver box that is “likely a Catholic reliquary.”

Smithsonian forensic anthropologists Doug Owsley and Kari Bruwelheide and colleague Ashley McKeown examine the grave of the Rev. Robert Hunt in Jamestown, Va. Earlier this month a team of scientists from the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and Jamestown Rediscovery announced the identities of high-status leaders who helped shape the future of America during the initial phase of the Jamestown colony. (CNS photo/courtesy Smithsonian Institution)

Smithsonian forensic anthropologists Doug Owsley and Kari Bruwelheide and colleague Ashley McKeown examine the grave of the Rev. Robert Hunt in Jamestown, Va. Earlier this month a team of scientists from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and Jamestown Rediscovery announced the identities of high-status leaders who helped shape the future of America during the initial phase of the Jamestown colony. (CNS photo/courtesy Smithsonian Institution)

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation at Historic Jamestowne announced the men’s identities July 28.

They are the Rev. Robert Hunt, Sir Ferdinando Wainman, Capt. William West and Capt. Gabriel Archer, on top of whose coffin was resting the silver box.

Their remains were found beneath the chancel area of what was an Anglican church at the front of a structure where a communion table would have been located and where only elite community members would have been buried.

“Religion played a prominent role at Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America, and many efforts were made to convert the neighboring Powhatan tribes to the Anglican Church,” a news release said. “The presence of the reliquary, however, suggests that at least one of the colonists retained his Catholic faith, perhaps in secret.”

High-resolution CT scans of the sealed box, which has what looks like the letter “M” engraved on the lid, show that inside are seven fragments of bone and two pieces of a lead ampulla, a container use to hold holy water.

In 2010, archaeologists discovered post holes that outlined the what had been the church, which is where Pocohantas married John Rolfe, one of the English settlers.

Three years later, the graves of the four men were discovered.

Rev. Hunt, who was Jamestown’s first Anglican minister, died in 1608 at age 39. Wainman died in 1610 at age 34. West was killed in 1610 at age 24 in a skirmish with the Powhatan.

Archer died in late 1609 or early 1610 at age 34. His death came during the “starving time,” a period of six months during which approximately 250 settlers perished at Jamestown from disease, starvation and Indian attacks, the release said.

According to a Washington Post story, “Archer was not known to be Catholic. But his parents in England had been recusants, Catholics who refused to attend the Protestant Anglican Church, as required by law after the Reformation.”

The news release and the Post report said that Archer may have retained his Catholic faith in secret.

Since 1996, Smithsonian forensic anthropologist Douglas Owsley and his team have worked with archaeologists from Jamestown Rediscovery “examining skeletal remains in an effort to better understand the lives of the first colonists in the Chesapeake.”

“The skeletons of these men help fill in the stories of their lives and contribute to existing knowledge about the early years at Jamestown,” Owsley said in a statement.

The scientists will continue to study the men’s remains, which will be kept in a vault, and there are plans to put the silver box on display, but it will not be opened.

 

Cardinal and archbishop say Planned Parenthood videos illustrate ‘throwaway culture’

July 30th, 2015 Posted in Featured, National News

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Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley said that Planned Parenthood officials’ videotaped descriptions of how fetal tissue and organs are procured for researchers during abortions illustrates what Pope Francis calls today’s “throwaway culture.”

Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, in a July 29 statement, said Pope Francis calls abortion “the product of a ‘widespread mentality of profit, the throwaway culture, which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many.’” (CNS file/Bob Roller)

Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, in a July 29 statement, said Pope Francis calls abortion “the product of a ‘widespread mentality of profit, the throwaway culture, which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many.’” (CNS file/Bob Roller)

The officials also discuss what the organization charges for the body parts, which opponents of Planned Parenthood said violates federal law and the organization said are customary handling fees paid by research labs.

Cardinal O’Malley, in a July 29 statement, said Pope Francis calls abortion “the product of a ‘widespread mentality of profit, the throwaway culture, which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many.’”

He made the comments as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a radio interview that he was “appalled” by the videos but even more “appalled at the reality of abortion, the taking of the life itself.”

The prelates were referring to videos filmed undercover earlier this year and released in mid-July by a nonprofit California-based organization called the Center for Medical Progress.

In two videos, top Planned Parenthood physicians describe how abortions are carried out to best salvage fetal tissue and organs for researchers and described a range of prices paid for different body parts.

A third video was an interview with a technician talking about a company she works for harvesting and included graphic footage. As a fourth video was about to be released, until Los Angeles Superior Court July 28 issued an order blocking its release.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement said that “allegations that Planned Parenthood profits in any way from tissue donation is not true.” She later apologized for “the tone” the physicians used in describing abortion procedures and also argued the videos had been heavily edited to distort the truth.

The Center for Medical Progress has posted the first three videos on its website, www.centerformedicalprogress.org.

“The recent news stories concerning Planned Parenthood direct our attention to two larger issues involving many institutions in our society,” said Cardinal O’Malley. “The first is abortion itself: a direct attack on human life in its most vulnerable condition. The second is the now standard practice of obtaining fetal organs and tissues though abortion.”

“Both actions fail to respect the humanity and dignity of human life,” he said. “This fact should be the center of attention in the present public controversy.”

He also urged any woman for whom the Planned Parenthood news coverage has caused them to “experience revived trauma from their own involvement in abortion” to seek help from the Catholic Church’s post-abortion healing ministry, Project Rachel, www.projectrachel.com.

“Be assured that any and all persons will be welcomed with compassion and assistance” by the ministry, Cardinal O’Malley said.

Archbishop Kurtz discussed the videos in a call to the Catholic Channel’s “Seize the Day With Gus Lloyd” on SiriusXM July 23.

He said he “would be saddened” if the issue of abortion itself “somehow it lost its impact. That it became simply a debate over what’s legal and what’s illegal and I think the child in the womb then gets lost.”

“Our bishops’ conference has from the beginning opposed issues related to the funding, federal funding, of Planned Parenthood,” Archbishop Kurtz said, adding that just because “something may be legal doesn’t mean it’s right.”

The release of the videos, he added, is “an occasion for all of us to be renewed in our commitment to be pro-life and to promote a culture of life. … Our culture is becoming increasingly utilitarian. It’s very easy when you get into that mindset to see people as objects.”

The USCCB “is going to continue to promote a culture of life” and looking at what can be done legislatively to further that goal, he said.

On Capitol Hill, a number of Republicans in the House and Senate have called for an end to federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Several states also have launched investigations into the organization.

Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million of its $1.3 billion annual budget from federal and state programs. According to 2013 data, the latest available, Planned Parenthood says abortions represent 3 percent of the total services its facilities provide.

Democrats and other opponents of cutting off federal funds point to the millions of women across the country who rely on Planned Parenthood for contraceptive care, many who otherwise couldn’t afford it. Planned Parenthood also provides limited testing for sexually transmitted diseases and cervical cancer screenings.

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Teacher at St. Peter’s School in New Castle leaves classroom for principal’s office

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Staff reporter

NEW CASTLE – Mark Zitz has moved from the classroom to the principal’s office at St. Peter the Apostle School, where he envisions using his business and teaching experience to increase enrollment and continue the academic excellence at the New Castle school.

Mark Zitz is the new principal at St. Peter the Apostle School in New Castle. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Mark Zitz is the new principal at St. Peter the Apostle School in New Castle. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Zitz, 55, has been a teacher at St. Peter the Apostle for five years. He said his familiarity with the students and families will serve the school well as they won’t need to spend time getting to know each other, and with a faculty he knows, he can turn his attention to issues like enrollment, which is down a bit from last year.

“All Catholic schools face a hurdle in marketing because there are so many options for parents that don’t cost money,” Zitz said in late July. “We have to make a compelling case why Catholic education is the best option.

“That is my focus.”

Read more »

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Commentary: When baby parts are worth more than the baby

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The problem is the child.

When you cut through the tortured logic Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards employs to defend the primacy of privacy over the natural law, what you are left with, unfortunately for the nation’s abortion Goliath, is the child. Read more »

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Pope-pularity contest? Gallup poll finds Francis’ ‘favorability’ is down

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Is the honeymoon with Pope Francis over for Americans?

A new Gallup poll shows that the favorability rating for the pontiff among U.S. respondents is now about 59 percent, down from 76 percent in early 2014 and close to the 58 percent rating Americans gave him when he was elected pope in March 2013. Read more »

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Second generation’s ‘Vacation’ fails to arrive at comedy

July 29th, 2015 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

The dog days of summer may inspire the urge to get away from it all. Wise moviegoers, however, will not seek their relief in “Vacation,” a dog of a comedy that happily rolls around in all manner of muck.

Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbins, Christina Applegate and Ed Helms star in a scene from the movie "Vacation." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.(CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbins, Christina Applegate and Ed Helms star in a scene from the movie “Vacation.” The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.(CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

This wretched revival of the franchise that began with 1983’s “National Lampoon’s Vacation” revolves around a new generation of the same hapless family, the Chicago-based Griswolds, featured in the original. The destination of their sultry season get-away also remains the same: a California amusement park, known as Walley World.

The Griswolds embark on their road trip thither after bumbling patriarch Rusty (Ed Helms), the teen son in the Reagan-era films,, learns that his wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate), and their quarrelsome brace of boys, James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins), are bored with the clan’s annual outing to a cabin in the Wisconsin woods. Rusty decides a weeklong ride to the Left Coast, by contrast, will be just the thing to shake up their routine and boost togetherness.

The travels that follow are beset by a variety of disasters. Yet the real calamity befalls viewers as they find themselves dragged along on a forced march through a landscape of tastelessness unrelieved by laughs.

The movie tries to disguise their steamy material by cloaking it in family values. Thus, not only do we witness Rusty’s fatherly concern, which eventually morphs into exasperation, but also various scenes that demonstrate his and Debbie’s shared commitment to maintaining the vibrancy of their marriage.

The challenges to their union are typified by Debbie’s attraction to, and Rusty’s jealousy of, their hunky brother-in-law, Stone (Chris Hemsworth). But a stopover at Stone’s Texas home reveals, so to speak, the picture’s real agenda as their host pays Rusty and Debbie an enthusiastically exhibitionist bedtime visit, his tight underwear and contrived poses leaving nothing even to the sleepiest imagination.

Add to this interlude of too much information an inadvertent swim in a cesspool, the numerous obscenities the script puts into preteen Kevin’s mouth as well as ill-advised jokes about AIDS and pedophilia, and pretty soon you’ll be wishing you weren’t here.

The film contains pervasive sexual and extreme scatological humor, frontal male and upper female nudity, about a half-dozen uses of profanity and constant rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O, morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R.

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Ukrainian bishop warns of mass starvation, millions of refugees

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Catholic News Service

WARSAW, Poland — A Ukrainian bishop said a Russian-backed separatist rebellion has plunged his country into its worst humanitarian crisis since World War II and warned that “millions of refugees” could soon head for Europe to escape starvation.

Boy sleeps in his mother's arms as she listens to a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops delegation talk to internally displaced people at a camp iin Kharkiv, Ukraine, June 21. The delegation was visiting the camp for people forced to flee fighting between rebel separatist forces and the Ukrainian army in the eastern part of the country. Now, a Ukrainian bishops is predicting the political situation could cause starvation and mass refugees. (CNS photo/Sergey Kozlov, EPA)

Boy sleeps in his mother’s arms as she listens to a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops delegation talk to internally displaced people at a camp iin Kharkiv, Ukraine, June 21. The delegation was visiting the camp for people forced to flee fighting between rebel separatist forces and the Ukrainian army in the eastern part of the country. Now, a Ukrainian bishops is predicting the political situation could cause starvation and mass refugees. (CNS photo/Sergey Kozlov, EPA)

“Huge numbers are now caught between hammer and anvil; the separatists aren’t looking after them, and the Ukrainian government won’t care for them because they haven’t declared which side they’re on,” said Auxiliary Bishop Jan Sobilo of Kharkiv-Zaporizhia.

“Not since World War II have we seen such poverty and destitution,” he told CNS July 29.

“People are continually arriving at our Catholic communities asking for food, medicines, money and shelter,” he said, noting they included young widows with small children, whose husbands have stayed in the war zone or been killed.

The bishop spoke as the Catholic Caritas organization also warned of growing starvation and desperation in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine.

Bishop Sobilo told CNS lack of water currently posed the biggest problem in eastern Ukraine, where food prices were three times higher than in the rest of the country.

He added that local children would be unable to start the new school year because most schools were closed and said the Ukrainian authorities had hushed up a spiraling rate of suicides.

“Whereas family members and friends were ready to help for a month or two, most have now exhausted their money and savings and had to ask the refugees to move on,” Bishop Sobilo said.

“Many elderly educated people, who previously had jobs, have been unable to face begging on the streets and have thrown themselves from windows and bridges. Such people often have no means of survival and no one to turn to, and have ended up starving.”

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied direct Russian involvement in Ukraine, church leaders repeatedly have accused Moscow of military intervention in the war. A June United Nations report said more than 6,400 people have died and 16,000 have been wounded.

In a July 28 interview with Germany’s Cologne-based Dom Radio, Andrij Waskowycz, president of Caritas Ukraine, said 700,000 Ukrainians had now left the country, while 1.4 million more were internally displaced by the fighting and lacked basic necessities.

“He said a February cease-fire agreement had failed to prevent daily skirmishes and conflicts, adding that at least 100,000 people were now without water in the separatist-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Bishop Sobilo said church leaders had been promised access to Catholics by separatist forces, but had been barred from visiting the “occupied territories” by the Ukrainian troops controlling the makeshift borders.

He added that Western aid often failed to reach those in need and was “not always the right kind of help.” He said it was “more effective and less wasteful” for church donors to send money.

“This is a war of oligarchs, and any future peace will depend on the conversion of those oligarchs in Russia and Ukraine who’ve kept the conflict going with their lies,” the bishop said.

“The West should get ready to accept the millions of homeless, hungry refugees who will soon head across central and western Ukraine toward Europe,” he said. “Pope Francis has urged help for refugees from Africa, and we now have parts of Africa right here. Unless solidarity is shown with them, countless innocent people will die simply because they happened to live in an unlucky place during a conflict ignited by those with a personal interest in war and suffering.”

 

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World Youth Day opens registration; pope signs up

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis was the first pilgrim to sign up for World Youth Day to be held in Krakow, Poland, launching the opening of registration.

Pope Francis is flanked by two Polish youths as he uses a tablet to officially open online registration for World Youth Day 2016 in Poland. (CNS photo/Ettore Ferrari, EPA)

Pope Francis is flanked by two Polish youths as he uses a tablet to officially open online registration for World Youth Day 2016 in Poland. (CNS photo/Ettore Ferrari, EPA)

Accompanied by two Polish teenagers who wore World Youth Day 2016 T-shirts, the pope had to make a couple of attempts pressing the screen of a tablet before his online registration went through.

“There. With this electronic device I have signed up for the day as a pilgrim,” he told thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square July 26 for his Angelus address.

The pope said, “I wanted to be the one to open registration” in front of everyone gathered for the Angelus and in the company of two teens on the day sign-ups began July 26.

The celebrations July 26-31, 2016, will come during the Holy Year of Mercy, which Pope Francis proclaimed to invite people to follow the merciful example of God, the Father.

World Youth Day “will be, in a certain sense, a jubilee of youth” during the holy year, as its theme is also about being merciful toward others, the pope said.

God’s merciful power through Jesus “heals every ill of body and spirit,” the pope said before praying the Angelus.

Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading, St. John’s account of the multiplication of loaves and fish, Pope Francis said the story shows how the disciples tried to find a market-based solution by calculating how much money they would need to feed the large, hungry crowd that had gathered by the Sea of Galilee.

“But Jesus substitutes the logic of buying with another logic, the logic of giving” when he points to the generous gift offered by the boy, Andrew, who offered to give all that he had: five small loaves and two fish.

Even though people could not see how such a small contribution could make a difference, “God is able to multiply our tiny gestures of solidarity and let us participate in his gift,” the pope said.

Jesus offers “fullness of life for those who hunger. He satisfies not only material hunger, but also that deeper hunger — the hunger for meaning in life, the hunger for God,” Pope Francis said.

Complaining does nothing to solve the many problems in life, “but we can offer that little we have like the boy in the Gospel,” he said.

Everyone has some kind of talent or skill as well as time, he said. “If we are willing to put them in the Lord’s hands they will be enough so that there will be a little bit more love, peace, justice and above all joy in the world.”

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Church leaders want Israel to step up protection of Christian sites

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Catholic News Service

JERUSALEM — Although Israeli officials have publicly criticized the June arson attack that seriously damaged the Benedictine Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha, anti-Christian violence is not new, said a representative of the religious order.

An Ultra-Orthodox Jew walks past the Dormition Abbey on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem July 27. Christian leaders want Israel to step up protection of Christian sites. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

An Ultra-Orthodox Jew walks past the Dormition Abbey on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem July 27. Christian leaders want Israel to step up protection of Christian sites. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

Benedictine Father Nikodemus Schnabel, spokesman for the Benedictine Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion,  told Catholic News Service that fires and vandalism have plagued other churches and church property for years.

The abbey was set on fire May 25, 2014, soon after Pope Francis visited the site during his Holy Land pilgrimage. It is located near a yeshiva and the Tomb of David, where the Cenacle, or the Upper Room, site of the Last Supper, is located.

A year earlier, two cars owned by the Benedictines were set on fire. Benedictine monks often are victims of verbal and spitting attacks, and Christian tombstones are smashed, Father Schnabel said. In March, a Greek Orthodox seminary was damaged in an arson attack and a wall was sprayed with anti-Christian graffiti.

Although there have been photos of people spitting at and verbally abusing the monks, no arrests in connection with any of the incidents have been made, Father Schnabel said. A Benedictine request that a security camera be installed near their property has gone unheeded, he added.

“We are very thankful for the many signs of solidarity from our friends in the civil society, but (until Tabgha) we never heard any officials respond,” the Benedictine priest said.

With the official condemnations of the Tabgha attack, the Benedictines are “very happy with the words,” but are “now looking for results,” he said.

No charges have been brought in connection with the incident, although police announced July 11 that they had arrested several suspects.

The building housing the traditional locations of the Cenacle and the Tomb of David continues to be a point of contention within the National Religious Party, a Zionist political party whose supporters believe in the right of Israel over all areas of the biblical Jewish Holy Land. The party has used the building as a rallying point, charging at times that it will be transferred to the Vatican or Christians.

Makor Rishon, a newspaper identified with conservative national and religious values, regularly publishes anti-Christian articles and charges against Christians and the monastery in particular.

“It is a very tiny group of national religious Jews,” said Father Schnabel, emphasizing that it was important to point out that the perpetrators are not, as often portrayed in the media, ultra-Orthodox Jews. Many are those who are prohibited from entering the West Bank by Israeli authorities, those known as “the hilltop youth” who establish illegal settlements on hilltops in the West Bank, he said.

The Benedictine said those who carry out the attacks adhere to an ultranationalist stance that often calls for ridding Israel of non-Jewish individuals and organizations.

Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal blamed government inaction and a lack of education about tolerance and understanding for the continuing attacks.

“Sometimes the government of Israel condemns (incidents) and many private Israeli institutions and Israelis come or write beautiful letters condemning the attacks, saying this is not their way,” noted Patriarch Twal. “But it is not enough for the government to condemn the actions. We ask for follow-up with action.”

He charged that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tacitly encourages such behavior.

“They are in the government. All the right-wing government is their allies. This is their line,” he said. “They are an integral part of the government. This is our society. We haven’t a normal life.”

In a June 22 statement, the Christian Palestinian initiative Kairos Palestine expressed concern that such continued incidents could “fan dissent and fire religious conflicts in the Holy Land.” It said that failing to hold the perpetrators accountable for their deeds encourages them to continue with such actions.

“The Israeli authorities are responsible for this kind of terrorism and the absence of security for the religious Christian and Muslim sites,” Kairos Palestine said.

Under police order not to speak about the case so as not to interfere in the police investigation of the Tabgha attack, Father Schnabel said: “We feel that there is not the lack of ability to look for results and arrests but a serious lack of will. I hope I am wrong but we have that feeling.”

As difficult as it may be, the priest said, it is necessary for Israel and its officials to acknowledge that a small fringe within society does not tolerate minorities; this is part of the religious freedom and democracy that Father Schnabel is convinced Israel supports.

Arresting the culprits helps with a feeling of justice being done, but it is only treating the symptom of the illness rather than the problem itself, he said.

“You have to go to the root of the problem,” he said.

 

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