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Photo of the week: Availability of food a key to peace

October 23rd, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The head of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace called food security a moral issue during a keynote address Oct. 14 at the Iowa Hunger Summit.

An employee of Ocean Spray holds cranberries as he stands in a pool of some 2,000 pounds of floating cranberries in New York City Oct. 17. Speaking at the Iowa Hunger Summit, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, said Oct. 14 that food security and the relationship between food and peace are moral issues. (CNS photo/ Mike Segar, Reuters)

An employee of Ocean Spray holds cranberries as he stands in a pool of some 2,000 pounds of floating cranberries in New York City Oct. 17. Speaking at the Iowa Hunger Summit, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, said Oct. 14 that food security and the relationship between food and peace are moral issues. (CNS photo/ Mike Segar, Reuters)

“Food security and the relationship between food and peace are moral issues,” said Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, speaking in his own diocese. “In our Christian tradition, we believe that lifting people out of poverty and feeding the hungry are serving Jesus in disguise.”

Bishops Pates, who has served as head of the committee for three years, said, “People who can feed and support their families in dignity are less likely to be engaged in conflict. To build a more stable and prosperous world, we need to adopt policies that get at the underlying causes of conflict and hunger. Conflict increases hunger and hunger increases conflict.”

 

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Commentary: Newly beatified Pope Paul VI championed justice and peace

October 23rd, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , , ,

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With numerous armed conflicts raging in parts of the world, and the Vietnam War worsening, Pope Paul VI on Oct. 4, 1965, proclaimed before the U.N. General Assembly: “No more war, war never again. It is peace, peace which must guide the destinies of peoples and of all mankind.”

Unfortunately, in 1965 the world did not heed Blessed Paul VI’s prophetic words. Sadly, it has not heeded them since.

Pope Paul VI greets children as he visits the Church of St. Leo the Great in Rome March 31, 1968. Pope Francis will beatify Pope Paul Oct. 19 during the closing Mass of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family. (CNS photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

Pope Paul VI greets children as he visits the Church of St. Leo the Great in Rome March 31, 1968. Pope Francis will beatify Pope Paul Oct. 19 during the closing Mass of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family. (CNS photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

From Mexico to South Sudan, from Syria to Ukraine, from Russian and U.S. nuclear weapons threatening each nation to the endless “war on terrorism,” today more than ever the world needs to heed Blessed Paul’s plea: “No more war, war never again. It is peace, peace which must guide the destinies of peoples and of all mankind.”

Since Pope Paul had tremendous respect for all human life, starting at conception, it is providential that the miracle granted by God through his prayerful intercession involved the healing of an unborn child.

According to Vatican Insider, in California an unborn child in 2001 was diagnosed with ascites (liquid in the abdomen) and anhydramnios (absence of fluid in the amniotic sac). When every corrective attempt failed, the doctors said the baby would die before birth or be born with dangerous renal impairment.

When abortion was offered as an option, the mother refused. Instead, she prayed for a miracle asking Pope Paul’s intercession to God. Ten weeks later tests results revealed that the unborn child had significantly improved, and was born by Caesarean section.

The boy is now a healthy adolescent considered completely healed. The Vatican’s medical consultation team headed by Professor Patrizio Polisca confirmed that it was impossible to explain the healing scientifically.

More than 40 years ago Blessed Paul VI foresaw the impending environmental disaster facing humanity today. In his apostolic letter “Octogesima Adveniens” (“A Call to Action”) he warned: “Man is suddenly becoming aware that by an ill-considered exploitation of nature he risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation.”

In his day, and even more so today, in a world where great economic inequality exists – where the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer – Blessed Paul VI in his prophetic encyclical letter “Populorum Progressio”(“On the Development of Peoples”) clearly challenged this grave injustice.

He wrote, “God intended the earth and everything in it for the use of all human beings and peoples. Thus, under the leadership of justice and in the company of charity, created goods should flow fairly to all. …

“Extreme disparity between nations in economic, social and educational levels provokes jealousy and discord, often putting peace in jeopardy.”

Instead of largely ignoring the reasonable and just demands of countless oppressed people, and then going to war against them when they rise up, we should tirelessly work for social justice for all people.

For as Blessed Paul VI continued to teach in “Populorum Progressio,” “When we fight poverty and oppose the unfair conditions of the present, we are not just promoting human well-being; we are also furthering man’s spiritual and moral development, and hence we are benefiting the whole human race. For peace is not simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day toward the establishment of the ordered universe willed by God, with a more perfect form of justice among men.”

 

Tony Magliano is an syndicated social justice and peace columnist who lives in the Diocese of Wilmington.

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Pope Francis calls for abolishing death penalty and life imprisonment

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis called for abolition of the death penalty as well as life imprisonment, and denounced what he called a “penal populism” that promises to solve society’s problems by punishing crime instead of pursuing social justice.

“It is impossible to imagine that states today cannot make use of another means than capital punishment to defend peoples’ lives from an unjust aggressor,” the pope said Oct. 23 in a meeting with representatives of the International Association of Penal Law.

The electric chair that executed 125 men between 1916 and 1960 in Tennessee is seen on display at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington March 5. (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA)

The electric chair that executed 125 men between 1916 and 1960 in Tennessee is seen on display at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington March 5. (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA)

“All Christians and people of good will are thus called today to struggle not only for abolition of the death penalty, whether it be legal or illegal and in all its forms, but also to improve prison conditions, out of respect for the human dignity of persons deprived of their liberty. And this, I connect with life imprisonment,” he said. “Life imprisonment is a hidden death penalty.”

The pope noted that the Vatican recently eliminated life imprisonment from its own penal code.

The pope said that, although a number of countries have formally abolished capital punishment, “the death penalty, illegally and to a varying extent, is applied all over the planet,” because “extrajudicial executions” are often disguised as “clashes with offenders or presented as the undesired consequences of the reasonable, necessary and proportionate use of force to apply the law.”

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, cited by Pope Francis in his talk, “the traditional teaching of the church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor,” but modern advances in protecting society from dangerous criminals mean that “cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

The pope denounced the detention of prisoners without trial, who he said account for more than 50 percent of all incarcerated people in some countries. He said maximum security prisons can be a form of torture, since their “principal characteristic is none other than external isolation,” which can lead to “psychic and physical sufferings such as paranoia, anxiety, depression and weight loss and significantly increase the chance of suicide.”

He also rebuked unspecified governments involved in kidnapping people for “illegal transportation to detention centers in which torture is practiced.”

The pope said criminal penalties should not apply to children, and should be waived or limited for the elderly, who “on the basis of their very errors can offer lessons to the rest of society. We don’t learn only from the virtues of saints but also from the failings and errors of sinners.”

Pope Francis said contemporary societies overuse criminal punishment, partially out of a primitive tendency to offer up “sacrificial victims, accused of the disgraces that strike the community.”

The pope said some politicians and members of the media promote “violence and revenge, public and private, not only against those responsible for crimes, but also against those under suspicion, justified or not.”

He denounced a growing tendency to think that the “most varied social problems can be resolved through public punishment … that by means of that punishment we can obtain benefits that would require the implementation of another type of social policy, economic policy and policy of social inclusion.”

Using techniques similar to those of racist regimes of the past, the pope said, unspecified forces today create “stereotypical figures that sum up the characteristics that society perceives as threatening.”

Pope Francis concluded his talk by denouncing human trafficking and corruption, both crimes he said “could never be committed without the complicity, active or passive, of public authorities.”

The pope spoke scathingly about the mentality of the typical corrupt person, whom he described as conceited, unable to accept criticism, and prompt to insult and even persecute those who disagree with him.

“The corrupt one does not perceive his own corruption. It is a little like what happens with bad breath: someone who has it hardly ever realizes it; other people notice and have to tell him,” the pope said. “Corruption is an evil greater than sin. More than forgiveness, this evil needs to be cured.”

 

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Mideast terrorism is at previously unimaginable level, pope says

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Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY — The Middle East, especially Iraq and Syria, are experiencing “terrorism of previously unimaginable proportions” in which the perpetrators seem to have absolutely no regard for the value of human life, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis leads a consistory for the canonizations of Giuseppe Vaz and Maria Cristina dell'Immacolata Concezione in the Synod Hall at the Vatican Oct 20. At the consistory, Pope Francis also discussed the Middle East. (CNS photo/Maria Grazia Picciarella, pool)

Pope Francis leads a consistory for the canonizations of Giuseppe Vaz and Maria Cristina dell’Immacolata Concezione in the Synod Hall at the Vatican Oct 20. At the consistory, Pope Francis also discussed the Middle East. (CNS photo/Maria Grazia Picciarella, pool)

“It seems that the awareness of the value of human life has been lost; it seems that the person does not count and can be sacrificed to other interests. And all of this, unfortunately, with the indifference of many,” he said during a special meeting at the Vatican on the Middle East. The pope met Oct. 20 with cardinals gathered for an ordinary public consistory to approve the canonization of new saints, and to discuss the current situation in the Middle East. The pope announced during the Oct. 5-19 extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family that he would include a discussion on the Middle East at the Oct. 20 consistory in order to let the region’s seven patriarchs, who were taking part in the synod, also attend the proceedings. It was the second such high-level summit the pope convened at the Vatican; the first was an Oct. 2-4 meeting of the region’s apostolic nuncios and top Vatican officials. Pope Francis told those gathered that in the wake of the closing of the extraordinary synod that he wanted to focus attention on “another issue that is very close to my heart, that is, the Middle East, and in particular, the situation of Christians in the region.” “Recent events, especially in Iraq and Syria, are very worrisome,” he said. “We are witnessing a phenomenon of terrorism of previously unimaginable proportions. Many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted and have had to leave their homes, in a brutal manner, too.” “This unjust situation demands, beyond our constant prayers, an adequate response from the part of the international community as well,” he said. The church is united in its “desire for peace and stability in the Middle East and the desire to promote the resolution of conflicts through dialogue, reconciliation and political efforts,” he said. However, “at the same time, we want to offer the Christian communities the most help possible to support their presence in the region,” he said. As hundreds of thousands of Christians have been forced to flee because of increased violence, “We cannot resign ourselves to imagining a Middle East without Christians, who for 2,000 years have been professing the name of Jesus.” The pope said he was certain the day’s meeting would produce “valuable reflections and suggestions to be able to help our brothers and sisters who suffer and also to respond to the tragedy of the decreasing Christian presence in the land where Christianity was born.” Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch, was among the seven patriarchs representing the Latin-rite and Eastern Catholic churches at the meeting. The cardinal said the pope’s concern and calls for coordinated action represent “real moral support, but also real diplomatic support because the Holy See also has its role, its important influence on an international level,” he told Vatican Radio Oct. 19. Just as the Vatican has endorsed sanctioned force according to international law in order to stop unjust aggression, Cardinal Rai said, something must be done to stop the violence. “It is not possible that in the 21st century we have reverted to primitive law, where an organization shows up, uproots you from your home and your land, and says, ‘You are out of here,’ and the international community watches, inert and neutral. It is not possible.” He said what is really painful is knowing that there are “many countries in the East and West that support these fundamentalist organizations and terrorists for their own interests — political and economic — and support these terrorist organizations with money, with arms and politically.” When the church says the international community has a responsibility to act and do something to stop the violence, he said they are not pointing to some nameless entity, but rather specifically to “the United Nations, the (U.N.) Security Council and the International Criminal Court” to take on their responsibilities. “They must act, otherwise where do we go? The United Nations loses its reason to exist. This assembly of nations was created to protect peace and justice in the world, right? However, now it has become a tool in the hands of the great powers. It is impossible to accept that.” Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, told the Oct. 20 assembly that the United Nations must act “to prevent possible and new genocides and to help the numerous refugees.” While it is licit to use force within the framework of international law to stop unjust aggression and protect people from persecution, he said it is clear that a complete resolution of the problems in the region cannot be found in “just a military response.” In his talk, which was a summary of the Oct. 2-4 meeting with Vatican diplomats and officials, the cardinal said the international community also “must go to the root of the problems, recognize past mistakes” and work to promote peace and development in the region. Experience has shown that “war, instead of dialogue and negotiations, increases suffering,” the cardinal said in his lengthy talk. Violence only leads to destruction, he said, so the first, most urgent step is for all sides in the Middle East “to lay down their arms and talk.” To help bring stability to the region, long-lasting and just political solutions must be found for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said. The international community should also improve its relations with Iran to help in the resolution of the crisis in nearby Iraq and Syria, he added. When it comes to the so-called Islamic State, he said, focus must be on who is supporting them, not just politically but also through “illegal trade of petroleum and the supply of arms and technology.” Muslim leaders have a responsibility to denounce the religious claims of the Islamic State and “to condemn the killing of others for religious reasons and every kind of discrimination.” “It is a moral obligation for everyone to say enough to so much suffering and injustice and to begin a new journey” where everyone has a role and rights as citizens in building up their country and its future, he said.

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St. Joseph’s is ‘a beacon of life and faith’ in Wilmington

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Dialog Editor

 

WILMINGTON — Before there was a St. Joseph Church on French Street, black Catholics here gathered for Mass in the basement of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception on Pine Street.

Beginning in 1889, Father John A. de Ruyter, a Josephite priest, celebrated those Masses for “colored” Catholics, members of what was known as St. Joseph Mission. The Masses took place in the basement of St. Mary’s because the mission’s congregation wasn’t allowed to worship upstairs. Read more »

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Photo of the week: A windy good morning

October 16th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized

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The wind lifts up Pope Francis' mozetta as he greets a Swiss Guard when he arrives for the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 16. Follow news updates about the synod from Catholic News Service at www.thedialog.org. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The wind lifts up Pope Francis’ mozetta as he greets a Swiss Guard when he arrives for the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 16.
(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The wind lifts up Pope Francis’ mozetta as he greets a Swiss Guard when he arrives for the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family at the Vatican Oct. 16. The synod, convened to talk about the pastoral challenges facing today’s families, will wrap up Oct. 19. 

Follow news updates about the synod from Catholic News Service atwww.thedialog.org. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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Guest Commentary: Let priests know they are appreciated and treasured

October 16th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized, Vocations Tags: , ,

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Oct. 26 is Priesthood Sunday. The Delaware Knights of Columbus and members of the Diocese of Wilmington look forward to this day each year to recognize and celebrate our priests in the Catholic Church for all they do throughout the year and to encourage and pray for vocations to the priesthood.

Parishes each have their own special way of marking this day (cards, personal contacts, Masses, etc.), but each has the same purpose and that is to let our priests know they are very much appreciated, treasured and cherished by their flock. Read more »

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50 years ‘rolling on the river’ in Secretary, Md.

October 16th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized

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For The Dialog

 

Watermen, farmers and retirees help sustain Our Lady of Good Counsel’s small community

 

SECRETARY, Md. – Our Lady of Good Counsel Church lies nestled between Main Street and the Warwick River, an appropriate setting for the small Dorchester County parish.

The land on which it sits is symbolic of the farmers who till the soil of the Lower Eastern Shore. The river frontage is symbolic of the watermen who play the waterways of the Chesapeake Bay system in search of clams, crabs, oysters, shrimp and fish.

“I think we’re the only church in the diocese with waterfront property,” said Father Stephen Lonek, pastor since 2009. “Our congregation consists of a lot of retired folks, a lot of watermen, and farmers.” Read more »

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Live, from Glasgow, it’s Adie’s class

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Dialog reporter

 

Fifth-grader at Christ the Teacher School learns both from home and in the classroom with video help

 

GLASGOW — Adie DiOrrio has attended Christ the Teacher Catholic School since preschool, but a medical condition nearly forced the 10-year-old fifth-grader into a different situation.

Adie suffers from a muscular weakness that limits her abilities to perform certain physical tasks, such as getting up and down stairs. She had been able to attend Christ the Teacher for several years without significant issues, but an accident at the school toward the end of the last school year contributed to a change this year.

Adie was knocked over unintentionally and hit her head on the floor. Read more »

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If laws don’t lead people to Jesus, they are obsolete, Pope Francis says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — God’s laws are meant to lead all people to Christ and his glory, and if they do not, then they are obsolete, Pope Francis said in a morning homily.

In fact, the scholars of the law in Jesus’ day were so wrapped up in doctrine as an end in itself, they were unable to see that Jesus was leading people down a new and surprising path toward his glory, the pope said Oct. 13 during his morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta, where he lives.

Pope Francis (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis (CNS/Paul Haring)

Jesus did “strange things,” like “walk with sinners, eat with tax collectors” — things the scholars of the law” did not like; doctrine was in danger, that doctrine of the law” that they and the “theologians had created over the centuries,” he said, according to Vatican Radio.

The scholars were safeguarding the law “out of love, to be faithful to God,” the pope said, but “they were closed up right there,” and forgot all the ways God has acted in history.

“They forgot that God is the God of the law, but is also the God of surprises,” he said.

“God is always new; he never denies himself, he never says that what he had said is wrong, but he always surprises us,” the pope said.

The scholars of the law had forgotten how many times God surprised his people, like when he freed them from slavery in Egypt, he said. They were too wrapped up in their perfect system of laws — “a masterpiece” where everyone knew exactly what he or she was supposed to do; “it was all settled. And they felt very secure there,” he said.

They couldn’t see beyond “this system made with lots of good will,” and they could not read the “signs of the times,” the pope said.

They couldn’t see that what Jesus was doing was a sign indicating “that the time was ripe,” he said. This is why in the day’s Gospel reading (Luke 11:29-32) Jesus said, “This generation is an evil generation,” because it sought the wrong kind of sign, the pope said.

The scholars of the law also forgot that the people of God are a people on a journey, “and when you journey, you always find new things, things you never knew before,” he said. But the journey, like the law, is not an end in itself; they are a path, “a pedagogy,” toward “the ultimate manifestation of the Lord. Life is a journey toward the fullness of Jesus Christ, when he will come again.”

The law teaches the way to Christ, and “if the law does not lead to Jesus Christ,” he said, “and if it doesn’t get us closer to Jesus Christ, it is dead.”

Pope Francis asked people to reflect, “Am I attached to my things, my ideas. Am I closed?”

“Am I at a standstill or am I a person on a journey? Do I believe in Jesus Christ, in what Jesus did,’ dying for humanity’s sins and rising again? he asked.

“Am I able to understand the signs of the times and be faithful to the voice of the Lord that is manifested in them?” he asked.

Pope Francis urged people to pray to be able to walk “toward maturity, toward the manifestation of the glory of the Lord” and to have a heart “that loves the law, because the law is God’s.”

But may people also be able to “love God’s surprises and to know that this holy law is not an end in itself,” he said.

 

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