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Photo of the week: Expecting the pope in Cuba

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will visit Cuba in September before his trip to the United States.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters April 22 that the pope has “received and accepted the invitation from the civil authorities and bishops of Cuba” and has decided to visit the island before going to the United States.

A man rides a bicycle taxi with several national flags on it along a street in late March in Havana. Pope Francis will visit Cuba in September before his trip to the United States. (CNS photo/Alejandro Ernesto, EPA)

A man rides a bicycle taxi with several national flags on it along a street in late March in Havana. Pope Francis will visit Cuba in September before his trip to the United States. (CNS photo/Alejandro Ernesto, EPA)

The pope is tentatively scheduled to arrive in Washington late Sept. 22 and will visit Washington, New York and Philadelphia Sept. 23-27. However, details such as the dates and itinerary for his trip to Cuba would come at a later time, Father Lombardi said.

Visiting Cuba and the United States on the same trip abroad signals Pope Francis’ continuing interest in encouraging the normalization of relations between them.

In December, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced their nations were working toward re-establishing official diplomatic relations.

Both leaders credited Pope Francis with helping to secure the deal. The pope had been following and supporting the talks. He had also written personal letters to both leaders, and the Vatican hosted a secret meeting between representatives of the countries last fall.

The U.S. first imposed a trade embargo on Cuba in 1960 in reaction to the repression and human rights abuses that followed the Marxist revolution that put Fidel Castro in power the previous year. President John F. Kennedy expanded the embargo, and subsequent presidents maintained it.

In his annual address to diplomats serving at the Vatican, Pope Francis hailed the agreement as “one example close to my heart of how dialogue can build bridges.”

The popes continually voiced hopes that the embargo would be lifted and that the strained relations would be healed.

In 1998, not long after he became archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, then-Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio published a booklet focused on the speeches and homilies St. John Paul II made during his historic visit to Cuba a few months earlier.

The text made two major points: Dialogue is not only possible, but it is necessary; and, a sincere and honest dialogue would benefit both the U.S. and Cuba.

At the same time, Archbishop Bergoglio repeatedly argued for the full freedom of the Catholic Church in Cuba to preach the Gospel and minister to the poor and denounced ideological systems that offended the transcendent dignity of the human person.

During his 2012 visit to Cuba, Pope Benedict XVI made the same points. Once he returned to Rome, he said he had gone to show support for Cuban church’s mission “to proclaim the Gospel with joy despite the lack of means and difficulties still left to overcome so that religion may carry out its spiritual and educational service in the public realm.”

Cindy Wooden also contributed to this story.

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Vatican letter: Pontifical group moves from academics to advocacy in anti-trafficking fight

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — For an international group of researchers and scholars, serving at the pleasure of popes had meant producing lots of papers on important topics. But with Pope Francis, they are moving from publication to advocacy.

Students from the Archdiocese of Calcutta take part in a walk for peace against human trafficking in early February in Kolkatta, India. (CNS photo/Piyal Adhikary, EPA)

Students from the Archdiocese of Calcutta take part in a walk for peace against human trafficking in early February in Kolkatta, India. (CNS photo/Piyal Adhikary, EPA)

Margaret Archer, a British sociologist and president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, said that in the academy’s 20-year existence, its specialists in philosophy, economics, sociology, law, political science, religious studies and history “have produced enormous books each year — enormous books, unreadable books, completely academic books.”

“What has happened to them? Well, they have gathered a lot of dust and have had not very much impact,” she told reporters at the end of the academy’s plenary assembly April 17-21.

But things changed. “We have a new pope. We have a new model of action and, for the first time, PASS feels it can be useful. That’s what we are there for,” she said. “We are not decorative. We’re not novelists; we’re not creative. We should be very useful.”

When it was established by St. John Paul II in 1994 and again when Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005, academy officers wrote formal letters to the pontiffs offering the scholars’ services and inquiring if the pope had a particular topic for them to explore.

When Pope Francis was elected in 2013, “we wrote the usual polite letter,” she said. “What we have previously received were very much pro-forma (letters) that said, ‘Oh, we are grateful for your work; please continue.’ So we did and we produced more of these big books.”

But in May 2013, Pope Francis himself responded in his own handwriting, in Spanish, on the back of an envelope: “I think it would be good to examine human trafficking and modern slavery. Organ trafficking could be examined in connection with human trafficking. Many thanks, Francis.”

Pope Francis has been part of the fight against human trafficking and modern forms of slavery, including prostitution and forced labor, since his days as archbishop of Buenos Aires. He has made the issue one of the priorities of his pontificate and has called for formal international recognition of trafficking as a “crime against humanity.”

In November 2013, the academy of social sciences and the much older Pontifical Academy of Sciences, hosted a workshop designed to bring everyone up to speed on the size of the problem and to begin exploring policies and tools the natural sciences and the social sciences could bring together to stop human trafficking.

Some members of the academy also participated in an April 2014 meeting at the Vatican, organized by the bishops of England and Wales, that brought together victims of trafficking and national and international police forces, including Interpol. Archer said the social scientists were fascinated to hear about the tools law enforcement officers use to detect trafficking — for example, using thermographic cameras to scan cargo ships for people hidden in crates or in the hold.

While sharing academic research is still part of their brief, the academy’s 25 members, who come from 14 countries, are focusing their research on practical, enforceable steps that can be taken to stem trafficking.

First, Archer said, they are hoping to convince the United Nations and its member states to include “eradicating human trafficking” as one of the international community’s development goals for 2015-2030. States make commitments to specific plans to achieve the goals.

Second, academy members are urging governments around the world to recognize the difference between persons who voluntarily immigrate without permission and the victims of trafficking, who are tricked or forced to work in a country that is not their own.

Stefano Zamagni, another academician, said the laws of most countries rely on testimony by a trafficking survivor in order to convict the trafficker. If the victim is considered an “illegal immigrant,” he said, there is almost no way to persuade him or her to testify. In addition, he said, academy members will urge their governments to grant asylum to survivors to ensure they do not face deportation.

A third step, said academician Pierpaolo Donati, will be widespread religious, moral and consumer education to eliminate the demand for trafficked persons, including prostitutes, forced domestic workers and organ donors, and for products they produce, which range from clothing to diamonds to components for cellphones.

Archer said the only way to end trafficking for human organs is to make freely donated organs more widely available. She said she told Pope Francis that the church should encourage all Catholics to carry organ donor cards.

The academy president went a step further at her media briefing, expressing the hope that some day governments would distribute “non-donor” cards; anyone who does not sign one would be considered an organ donor volunteer.

As for goods produced by children and others in indentured servitude and other forms of forced labor, the pontifical academy plans to work with a variety of groups already promoting certification of supply chains. Consumers should boycott goods that cannot be certified as made without slave labor, Archer said.

In a world where many people think religions should be a strictly private affair, she said, “maybe this helps show that we can be of some practical use, which people who have no faith at all will recognize as a good thing.”

 

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Shave, haircut and grappa — Chicago barber made sure Cardinal George didn’t look like a ‘bum’

By

Catholic News Service

CHICAGO — Alfredo Fricano is probably one of the only people who could get away with telling Cardinal Francis E. George he looked like a “bum.”

Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich talks to Cardinal Francis E. George's barber, Alfredo Fricaso, in front of Holy Name Cathedral April 17, prior to announcing the death of the cardinal, who retired as archbishop of Chicago in 2014. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich talks to Cardinal Francis E. George’s barber, Alfredo Fricaso, in front of Holy Name Cathedral April 17, prior to announcing the death of the cardinal, who retired as archbishop of Chicago in 2014. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

Once the cardinal’s longtime barber, who his clients just call Alfredo, saw him on TV and noticed he needed a haircut so he called the residence.

“I said, ‘Your eminence, you look like a bum.’ He said, ‘Who is this?’ And I said, ‘Your hairstylist.’ I said, ‘Your hair, you need a haircut. You want to ruin my business?’” Alfredo recalled in his Italian accent, gesturing with his hands.

The cardinal laughed and the next day he was in for a haircut. The two men often joked with each other.

Alfredo said the cardinal was a good man with a great sense of humor who patronized his shop at State and Chicago avenues for 15 years.

When the cardinal’s health really declined Alfredo started going to the residence every two weeks to trim the cardinal’s hair and give him a shave and a shoulder massage because his muscles were all cramped up.

“Matter of fact, I was there three days ago. Sunday morning I did him,” Alfredo said the afternoon of Cardinal George’s death April 17. “He looked great. Really. We talked and everything. Every time I come in there I give him a hug.”

Cardinal George, who retired as Chicago’s archbishop in 2014, always asked Alfredo if there was anything he could do for him. “I said, ‘Your Eminence, all you can do for me is say a little prayer.’”

Throughout the friendship, Alfredo refused Cardinal George’s offer for payment.

“I said, ‘Your Eminence, you insult me. It’s an honor to have you come in my establishment.’” Alfredo wanted just one thing from the cardinal. “Say a little prayer for me,” he would tell him.

Once Cardinal George confided that he missed having homemade grappa, an Italian brandy, which he often had during his time living in Rome.

“I says, ‘You got it.’’ I live in Highland Park near Highwood and I know everybody who makes homemade grappa,” Alfredo told the Catholic New World, newspaper of the Chicago Archdiocese.

“I give him a bottle and he just love it.” The cardinal told him he would have a little before bed and “sleep like a baby.”

“I think he was a great man,” Alfredo said. “To me, he was one of the nicest men I’ve ever met.”

Duriga is editor of the Catholic New World, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

 

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St. Peter the Apostle School students are Phanatics about reading

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Dialog reporter

NEW CASTLE — April 20 was an off-day for the Philadelphia Phillies, giving the baseball team’s mascot an opportunity to drive his four-wheeler down to New Castle for a bit. Read more »

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Diocese honors 80 high school seniors with St. Francis de Sales medal

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Eighty high school seniors from the Diocese of Wilmington – 10 from each of the eight Catholic high schools – received the St. Francis de Sales medal during a convocation April 22 at St. John the Beloved Church. Read more »

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Photo of the Week: Kenya mourns

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Catholic News Service

 

Pope urges those guilty of brutality in Kenya to ‘come to their senses’

 

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis mourned the deaths of all those killed in extremist and ethnic violence in Kenya, and admonished the perpetrators to “come to their senses and seek mercy.”

Meeting the Kenyan bishops April 16 during their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican, the pope urged the bishops to step up efforts with other Christians and other faiths to promote peace, dialogue and justice. Read more »

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From the Bishop: Annual Catholic Appeal allows our diocese to advance the mission of Christ

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Dear Friends in Christ,

He Reveals Himself in the Breaking of the Bread (St. Luke 24: 35-48).

The act of breaking bread or sharing a meal is a simple daily routine which brings a sense of togetherness to a family and to a community. As Catholics we are called to bear witness to our faith and open our minds and hearts to bring those less fortunate closer to God’s table. Read more »

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Photo of the week: Where magnolia trees believe in spring

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Tulip magnolias are seen in front of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington April 7. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Tulip magnolias are seen in front of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington April 7. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Tulip magnolias have blossomed in front of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. At least it’s spring somewhere. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

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‘Priest for a Day’ is a ‘Make-a-Wish’ come true for 11-year-old boy

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ST. LOUIS — Make-A-Wish requests often involve meeting athletes, attending sporting events or traveling to amusement parks or beaches.

When it came time for 11-year-old Brett Haubrich of St. Mark School in Affton to make his wish, he not only listed none of those things but had no request at all.

“He didn’t want anything,” explained his mother, Eileen. “They had to keep asking him, ‘What would you like to do? Do you want to meet anybody? What do you want to be when you grow up?’”

Father Nicholas Smith helps Brett Haubrich, a sixth-grader at St. Mark School in Affton, Mo., who was diagnosed with a brain tumor last summer, with his vestments before Mass on Holy Thursday, April 2, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. At the invitation of St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, Brett took his place beside the altar at the cathedral as "Priest for a Day." (CNS photo/Lisa Johnston, St. Louis Review)

Father Nicholas Smith helps Brett Haubrich, a sixth-grader at St. Mark School in Affton, Mo., who was diagnosed with a brain tumor last summer, with his vestments before Mass on Holy Thursday, April 2, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. At the invitation of St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, Brett took his place beside the altar at the cathedral as “Priest for a Day.” (CNS photo/Lisa Johnston, St. Louis Review)

The answer to the last question became part of his wish, what Make-A-Wish calls “wish enhancement” to complement the main wish. Turns out he wants to be a priest, a doctor or an engineer, in that order.

So, on Holy Thursday, at the invitation of St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, Brett took his place beside the altar at Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis as “Priest for a Day.”

Brett, a sixth-grader who was diagnosed with a brain tumor last summer, served two Masses — the chrism Mass and the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper — and held the book for Archbishop Carlson for prayers after the homilies. At the evening Mass, he joined 11 seminarians whose feet were washed by Archbishop Carlson and his parents brought up the offertory gifts.

He also joined Archbishop Carlson for two meals; a luncheon with archdiocesan priests and deacons after the chrism Mass and a dinner with seminarians at the archbishop’s residence before the evening Mass.

Best of all, he wore a collar provided by a seminarian from Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in Shrewsbury.

When asked about his favorite part of the day, Brett was unequivocal in his answer.

“The whole thing,” he said as he waited for his dad, Conrad, near the Cathedral Basilica sanctuary with his mom and older sister Olivia after the chrism Mass. “It was really neat for them to let me do this stuff.”

And cool, too, a term he used often in describing the day.

“Just a really cool experience,” he told the St. Louis Review, the archdiocesan newspaper.

His actual wish is cool, too.

“Eating mangoes on a beach,” his mother said. That trip will come later.

Brett’s interim “Priest for a Day” request didn’t surprise his family.

“For years, he has loved the Mass and been religious,” said his mom. “He has such a good heart. He’s a very caring boy.”

Brett is the second oldest of Eileen and Conrad’s four children. He has served at his school church and at his parish, St. Martin of Tours in Lemay, which is visible from the back door of his house only a short walk away.

He likes the smell of incense, enjoys confession and likes “Communion, and the songs, too.”

Communion — the Eucharist, the living presence of Jesus Christ — stands out. “I like receiving the body and the blood” of Christ, he said.

When Brett and his family told several priests about his desire to be a priest for a day, they offered several options. He could shadow a priest for a day, spend the night at a rectory with his dad or serve Saturday morning Mass at the cathedral.

When Father Nick Smith, master of ceremonies at the cathedral, was asked if Brett could serve at a Mass his initial response was
“no way,” followed quickly by “we can do way better than that.”

They did.

Father Smith suggested that Brett serve the two Masses on Holy Thursday — the chrism Mass, which is for priests, and that night’s Mass, “which is always about the Eucharist.” Archbishop Carlson, who was with the priest when he got the request, immediately joined in with other ideas for the day — having Brett attend the seminarians’ dinner and participate in foot washing.

Father Smith prepared an itinerary and delivered it in person to Brett along with a letter signed by Archbishop Carlson asking for Brett’s help at the Masses.

“I handed it to him, and when he got to the first line, ‘I’m making you a priest for a day,’ his eyes got as big as half-dollars,” Father Smith said.

Brett admitted to being a little nervous heading into Holy Thursday, but the events went off like clockwork. Wearing the collar, Brett processed down the center aisle with priests, deacons and seminarians at the chrism Mass — at which Archbishop Carlson blessed the oils to be used throughout the archdiocese for sacraments for the next year — and took his spot near the altar.

He performed flawlessly.

Or as Archbishop Carlson put it: “He did pretty well.”

By Dave Luecking

 

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Commentary — Dialogue is essential for peaceful relationships

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According to the New York Times, during a White House luncheon in 1954 Winston Churchill said, “To jaw-jaw [talk-talk] always is better than to war-war.”

While clearly not a pacifist, the United Kingdom’s World War II prime minister had seen upfront the absolute horror of war, and became convinced that tirelessly striving to resolve disputes through respectful dialogue was always preferable to war. Read more »

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