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Mideast terrorism is at previously unimaginable level, pope says


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


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


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: , ,


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


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


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


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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Commentary: Respect Life Month: Oppose the death-dealing violence of abortion, oppose the violent killings in war

October 9th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized


True respect for life requires us to get out of our comfort zone.

We might say, “I respect life, I vote for pro-life politicians who claim they will work to end abortion.” However, in a democracy voting is usually easy and comfortable.

But are we willing to regularly stand outside of an abortion mill on a freezing winter morning or hot summer afternoon praying and witnessing to the humanity of our unborn brothers and sisters? That’s harder and somewhat uncomfortable.

Now for those who are willing to get uncomfortable in support of the Catholic Church’s efforts to protect unborn human life, try to move into an even more uncomfortable zone: acknowledge the truth that war does much to disrespect life. War kills life – mostly innocent life. Read more »

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Photo of the week: ‘Que Dieu vous bénisse, M. Ed?’

October 9th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized


“God bless you, Mr. Ed?” Priest blesses horse during blessing of the animals at church in FranceA priest blesses a horse during the blessing of the animals at the St. Pierre D’Arene Church in Nice, France, Oct. 5. The blessing coincided with the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals. The following blessing for pets is from the American Catholic website, that’s run by the Franciscan: “Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless this pet. By the power of your love, enable it to live according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.” (CNS photo/Eric Gaillard, Reuters)

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Debate emerges on St. John Paul II’s early writings on social ethics


Catholic News Service

WARSAW, Poland — Less than six months after St John Paul II was canonized, questions are being raised about a book of lectures he penned as a young priest in his Polish homeland.

The two-volume “Katolicka Etyka Spoleczna” (“The Catholic Social Ethic”) has never been officially published. But it could, some observers said, affect interpretations of the future pope’s philosophical development, highlighting a youthful commitment to radical change which sounded, at times, close to Marxism.

Father Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, is pictured reading in a kayak in this photo dated 1955. Less than six months after St. John Paul II was canonized, questions are being raised about a book of lectures he penned on social ethics as a young priest in his Polish homeland.(CNS photo)

Father Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, is pictured reading in a kayak in this photo dated 1955. Less than six months after St. John Paul II was canonized, questions are being raised about a book of lectures he penned on social ethics as a young priest in his Polish homeland. (CNS photo)

“The text certainly reveals how he viewed the political realities of the early 1950s, as well as his deep sensitivity to social issues,” said Msgr. Alfred Wierzbicki, director of the John Paul II Institute at Poland’s Catholic University of Lublin. He said it contained “a polemical dialogue with Marxism that was courageous at the time, and which throws important light on his later evaluation of such things as liberation theology.”

“The Catholic Social Ethic” was bound in a cheap underground edition of 300 copies at the request of students at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University in 1953 and 1954, when other books on Catholic social teaching had been suppressed by Poland’s communist rulers.

It provides no evidence that then-Father Karol Wojtyla had any direct political affiliation. However, it shows he had acquired, by his early 30s, a detailed knowledge of Marxism and some empathy at least with its strident critique of capitalism.

Concepts important in his later papal teachings, such as “solidarity” and “moral victory,” make first appearances in the writings and have a sharp, passionate edge.

“The church is aware that the bourgeois mentality and capitalism as a whole, with its materialist spirit, acutely contradict the Gospel,” the young priest wrote in one section.

“In a well-organized society, oriented to the common good, class conflicts are solved peacefully through reforms. But states that base their order on individualistic liberalism are not such societies. So when an exploited class fails to receive in a peaceful way the share of the common good it has a right to, it has to follow a different path,” one passage said.

“Class struggle should gain strength in proportion to the resistance it faces from economically privileged classes,” he wrote.

“Jesus Christ showed many times that the realization of God’s kingdom on earth will not happen without a struggle,” he continued. “According to the Gospel assumptions followed by the church in all its social teaching, the realization of social justice is one of its elements.”

When the text’s existence was reported in Polish newspapers in 2006, one national daily, Zycie Warszawy, accused the country’s Catholic Church of trying to suppress it.

The work was authenticated by Msgr. Andrzej Szostek, a prominent ethicist, who told a May 2006 Lublin conference that Father Wojtyla had used it to “formulate fundamental intuitions concerning capitalism and Marxism.”

The John Paul II Institute, which oversees St. John Paul’s pre-papal writings, ran extracts on revolution and class struggle in its quarterly journal, Etos, and also agreed to issue a full edition of the 511-page text with commentaries.

Msgr. Wierzbicki, institute director, said problems have since emerged.

For one thing, the pope was personally against publishing the text. For another, a textual analysis suggested much of his material was borrowed from an earlier textbook by Father Jan Piwowarczyk, a former Krakow seminary rector.

Yet much of the work is “original and important,” Msgr. Wierzbicki’s conceded.

“Given the huge interest in his thoughts and teachings, we felt it should be published,” he said. “But the fact that he used Piwowarczyk’s textbook as his model has also made it hard to define precisely how much is Wojtyla’s own work.”

Not everyone agrees this should impede the book’s publication, at least in his native Poland, where most of St. John Paul’s other writings have long since been made available.

In February, St. John Paul’s private notebooks were published commercially, despite a request in his final will that they should be burned, suggesting the late pontiff’s personal wishes have not always been treated as binding.

If nothing else, the work’s appearance would be a service to researchers. Whether it will be published remains to be seen.

Msgr. Szostek said the issue is “rather complicated.”

Meanwhile, Msgr. Wierzbicki said he regrets that a promised publishing grant has not been received.

“This work is clearly important in showing how John Paul II’s social teaching as pope drew on his earlier preoccupations as a lecturer and bishop, and we’ve long debated how to settle the question of its authorship,” he said.

“While some people have claimed to find empathy for Marxism in these lectures, I think it’s more correct to talk of an empathy with human hardship and under privilege. This emerges very strongly from this original and curious text.”


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