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Poverty was among synod’s main concerns, Philippine cardinal says

October 31st, 2014 Posted in International News


Catholic News Service

MANILA, Philippines — Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila said the Synod of Bishops on the family was more than a series of discussions on divorce and gay unions and that the impact of poverty on families, especially in Asia, was a major concern of participants.

“Poverty is really affecting the Filipino family in a dramatic way,” Cardinal Tagle told reporters at an Oct. 30 news conference.

The prelate explained that while he was in Italy he was part of a forum on families and afterward a number of contract workers from the Philippines approached him in tears. Cardinal Tagle said one worker told him, “If it weren’t for hardship I would never have left my wife and children behind.”

The Philippines is among the world’s top countries that sends workers overseas. More than 9 million Filipinos, about 10 percent of the Philippines population, live overseas and about half of them migrated for work, the government has reported.

Cardinal Tagle said migration was a major concern in synod discussions.

“Couples separate not because they’re mad at each other,” the cardinal said. “They separate because they love their family and they bear the pain of separation just to find jobs elsewhere. So we ask, ‘What kind of pastoral care can we give for the (contract) workers to remain faithful to their families … and what can we do for those left behind?’”

Cardinal Tagle pointed to financial insecurity as a hindrance to marriage and a burden on family life. Young people are delaying marriage because of a lack of jobs in the Philippines and elsewhere and thoughts that they could not support a family, he said, adding that for those who have work, the breadwinner is focused on hanging on to the job and “putting the family second.”

The bishops also credited grandparents and extended family members for their roles in raising children because of the economic stresses placed on nuclear families.

Cardinal Tagle also reported on preparations for Pope Francis’ planned January visit to the Philippines. He said officials from the Vatican planned to visit in November to check on arrangements and that specific details of the trip would be released at the end of November of early December.

Cardinal Tagle also said the Philippine government is “very concerned” about security for Pope Francis during his Jan. 15-19 stay. The cardinal said the pope “deserves” the effort under way by the government and the military for his safety.

In September the Islamic State militant group that has occupied much of Syria and Iraq said it would target the pope, possibly during one of his overseas visits. In 1970, an attempt was made on Blessed Paul VI’s life during a visit to the Philippines. And in 1995, authorities uncovered a plot by al-Qaida members to assassinate St. John Paul II on his visit to the nation.


— By Simone Orendain

Ottawa archbishop prays for shooting victims, tells Canadians to not be afraid


Catholic News Service

OTTAWA, Ontario — Recalling the words of St. John Paul II, Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast called upon Canadians not to be afraid in the wake of the Oct. 22 shooting that left a Canadian soldier dead and forced lawmakers to barricade themselves inside their parliament offices.

Flags fly at half-mast on the Canadian Parliament buildings in Ottawa, Ontario, Oct. 23. Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a Canadian soldier, was shot and killed while on duty at the nearby National War Memorial. (CNS photo/Warren Toda, EPA)

Flags fly at half-mast on the Canadian Parliament buildings in Ottawa, Ontario, Oct. 23. Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a Canadian soldier, was shot and killed while on duty at the nearby National War Memorial. (CNS photo/Warren Toda, EPA)

In an email interview a day after the incident, Archbishop Prendergast noted that the violence occurred on the feast of St. John Paul and recalled the saint’s first words when he was elected pope in 1978 were, “Don’t be afraid! Open your hearts wide to Christ.”

“These words apply most appropriately to this present moment in our life in the nation’s capital, but they speak also to all Canadians,” the archbishop wrote.

Authorities said a gunman killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a member of the army reserves from Hamilton, Ontario, who was guarding the tomb of the unknown soldier at the National War Memorial blocks from parliament. The assailant, whom police identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, made his way to the parliament where he fired multiple times before he was shot and killed.

“God is still the Lord of our lives and is at work in the hearts of the bystanders who attempted CPR, called the police and other first responders who showed themselves courageous in putting their lives at risk in a moment of crisis,” Archbishop Prendergast said. “We have much to be grateful for. To live with moral certitude is to presume people mean me/us well and we should live out of that conviction.

“And while remaining alert to signs of behavior that can be harmful, we need to go about our business as the friendly and welcoming people I have come to know Ottawans to be,” he said.

The morning of the shootings, Archbishop Prendergast was in Blessed Sacrament Church in Toronto celebrating the funeral of a friend when he first heard the news.

“As I went back to the sacristy, someone mentioned that there was a terrorist action going on in Ottawa in generic terms, that much of Ottawa was on lockdown and that I should check to see whether I could fly to Ottawa in the afternoon,” he said. He was planning on an afternoon flight to he could host his annual Archbishop’s Charity Dinner that evening. More than 700 tickets had been sold.

The archbishop and his staff decided to cancel the dinner in the wake of the shootings. He said the food that had been prepared was delivered to the Shepherds of Good Hope for distribution to Ottawa’s needy residents.

In a press release announcing the cancelation, Archbishop Prendergast offered prayers for the victims.

“Let us offer our prayers to God in support of those who have been most affected by today’s events. As we do, let us also thank God for the beauty of our country and for the blessings of peace and security which are the blessings bestowed upon Canadians,” the statement said.


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Polish church: Pray for priest kidnapped in Central African Republic


Catholic News Service

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — Poland’s Catholic Church has urged “constant prayers” for one of its missionary priests after he was kidnapped by rebels in the Central African Republic.

“We still await news of his fate,” Lidia Rutkowska of the Tarnow Diocese’s mission office told Catholic News Service Oct. 17. “In the meantime, we’ve called on all Catholics to be united in prayer for him, and to join solidarity marches after Mass on this Mission Sunday.” Read more »

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Hunger in a world of wasted food is a tragic paradox, pope says


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Providing food aid to people in need is not enough to eradicate world hunger, Pope Francis said.

An overhaul of the entire framework of aid policies and food production is needed so that countries can be in charge of their own agricultural markets, he said. Read more »

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Vatican official at U.N. meeting urges family-unity priority for migrants


GENEVA — Migrant families whose members are often separated pose unique challenges as globalization sweeps the world and deserve special consideration so that family unity remains a priority, a Vatican official told a United Nations meeting.

Children in families in which one or both parents migrate long distances for employment as well as the elderly and spouses left at home must become a “high priority in any migration policy debate,” Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s permanent representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva, said Oct. 8 during the 2014 International Dialogue on Migration of the International Organization for Migration.

“They are particularly vulnerable and hence should receive special protection,” he told the delegates.

He called for transnational efforts that cross international borders so that the needs of migrant workers are not forgotten in a world built around economic growth. Migrants deserve great respect because of the service and positive economic and social contribution they offer in their host countries, the archbishop added.

While migrant workers provide greater financial resources to their families, money alone will not compensate for the loss of human affection, the presence to influence values, integrity and personal behavior, Archbishop Tomasi explained.

He said policies and programs affecting migrating workers in all nations should maximize the remittances workers send home, limit the negative effects of migration and emphasis family ties as a primary concern.

Immigration reform measures being considered in countries must involve forming “the legal framework that helps keep families together,” Archbishop Tomasi said.

“By allowing children to emigrate unaccompanied, further problems arise as they are exposed to lawlessness and despair,” he said. “The family structure, however, should be the place where hope, compassion, justice and mercy are taught most effectively. Family is the basic unit of coexistence, its foundation, and the ultimate remedy against social fragmentation.”

The archbishop also outlined several measures that would help maintain family unit. They included allowing migrants who are restricted or prevented from traveling home to care for elderly parents or care for children should be allowed occasional leaves and benefit from special prices for travel; lower interest fees for transferring remittances home; speedier processes for obtaining visas for a spouse or close family member; and a greater availability of ad hoc family counselors in areas with a high amount of migrant workers.

“States and civil society are prompted by their own future to give priority to the family and thus make migrations a more positive experience for all,” he said.



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Spanish bishop, who was Opus Dei leader, beatified


MADRID — A Spanish bishop who worked as an engineer before becoming first prelate of the Opus Dei movement has been beatified in his native Madrid.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes, said Bishop Alvaro del Portillo was known for his “prudence and rectitude in evaluating events and people, his justice in respecting the good name and freedom of others, his fortitude in facing up to physical or moral difficulties, and the temperance shown in his sobriety and interior and exterior mortification.”

The prelature of Opus Dei announced that Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, the successor to Opus Dei founder St. Jose Maria Escriva, will be beatified Sept. 27 in Madrid. He is pictured in an undated photo.(CNS photo/courtesy of Opus Dei Information Office)

The prelature of Opus Dei announced that Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, the successor to Opus Dei founder St. Jose Maria Escriva, will be beatified Sept. 27 in Madrid. He is pictured in an undated photo.(CNS photo/courtesy of Opus Dei Information Office)

“He was not a talkative person, his engineer’s training gave him habits of intellectual rigor, conciseness and precision, enabling him to go straight to the essence of problems and solve them,” Cardinal Amato said at the Sept. 27 beatification Mass, held outdoors.

Blessed Alvaro, who died in 1994, succeeded St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer as head of the personal prelature of Opus Dei. Beatification is a step toward sainthood.

Cardinal Amato told about 150,000 people from 80 countries that Blessed Alvaro had “a notable serenity and considerateness, a habit of smiling, understanding, speaking well about others and reflecting deeply before judging.”

“His humility was not harsh, showy or ill-tempered, but affectionate and cheerful — his joy was based on his conviction that he himself was worth very little,” Cardinal Amato said.

Born March 11, 1914, Blessed Alvaro studied and taught at Madrid University’s school of engineering, later working briefly for the Spanish government’s Bureau of Highways and Bridges.

He joined Opus Dei in 1935 and became one of its first three priests in June 1944. He had a doctorate in engineering but earned a second doctorate in philosophy and history, and a third in canon law from Rome’s Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.

As secretary-general of Opus Dei, he served as an expert, or peritus, at the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council and consultant for several post-conciliar commissions, before succeeding the late St. Josemaria as Opus Dei president.

Blessed Alvaro was appointed first prelate of the movement in 1982 and was consecrated a bishop in 1991 by St. John Paul II.

Blessed Alvaro’s canonization cause was launched in December 2002. In July 2013, Pope Francis signed a decree recognizing his intercession in the cure of a Chilean newborn, Jose Ignacio Ureta Wilson, who inexplicably revived after a cardiac arrest lasting more than 30 minutes.

In a Sept. 27 letter, Pope Francis said Blessed Alvaro had been a “faithful collaborator” of St. Josemaria, adding that his first meeting with the Opus Dei founder had “definitively marked the course of his life.”

He said the bishop’s life and work were a reminder that “our poverty as human beings is not the result of despair, but of confident abandonment in God.”


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English Catholic bishop resigns – updated


HOVE, England — An English Catholic bishop has resigned after admitting that he has been “unfaithful to his promises as a Catholic priest.”


Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton, chairman of the Department of Evangelization and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said in a statement read in parishes of his dioceses at Masses Sept. 27 and 28 that he would step down “with immediate effect.”

The Vatican announced Oct. 4 that Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Conry in conformity with Canon 401.2 of the Code of Canon Law, which covers “ill health or some other grave cause.”

“I would like to reassure you that my actions were not illegal and did not involve minors,” Bishop Conry said in a statement read out in parishes of his diocese at Masses Sept. 27 and 28.

“I want to apologize first of all to the individuals hurt by my actions and then to all of those inside and outside the diocese who will be shocked, hurt and saddened to hear this,” he said.

“I am sorry for the shame that I have brought on the diocese and the church and I ask for your prayers and forgiveness,” the bishop added.

The day after the statement was released, the Mail on Sunday, a London-based newspaper, carried an article that alleged that Bishop Conry was having an affair with a married mother of two, who was pictured leaving his home and shopping with him, but who was not identified.

The article revealed extracts from love letters between the 43-year-old woman and the bishop, leaked to the newspaper by the woman’s husband.

The woman’s estranged husband hired a private detective to track his wife, who accompanied Bishop Conry on outings to the ballet, the British Museum and a Matisse exhibition. He is threatening to sue church leaders, claiming they knew about the affair.

The bishop told the newspaper, however, that he was resigning in connection with an affair he had with another woman six years ago.

Bishop Conry told the Daily Mail in an interview published Sept. 29 that he felt liberated by the announcement.

“It has been difficult keeping the secret,” he said. “In some respects I feel very calm. It is liberating. It is a relief.”

He continued: “I have been careful not to make sexual morality a priority (in homilies). I don’t think it got in the way of my job, I don’t think people will say I have been a bad bishop. But I can’t defend myself. I did wrong.”

Bishop Conry, 63, a former director of the Catholic Media Office, was ordained bishop by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor in 2001.


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New Sydney archbishop wants to regain trust of Catholics


SYDNEY — New Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher has pledged to regain the confidence of Australian Catholics and the broader community in the wake of the church’s sexual abuse scandal.

Pope Francis named the bishop of Parramatta and former auxiliary bishop of Sydney to succeed Cardinal George Pell, now prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher, new archbishop of Sydney, pledged to regain the confidence of Australian Catholics and the broader community in the wake of the church’s sexual abuse scandal. (CNS photo/Sharyn McCowen, The Catholic Weekly via Three Two One Photography)

Archbishop Anthony Fisher, new archbishop of Sydney, pledged to regain the confidence of Australian Catholics and the broader community in the wake of the church’s sexual abuse scandal. (CNS photo/Sharyn McCowen, The Catholic Weekly via Three Two One Photography)

There can be no more excuses, no more cover-ups and the victims have to be put first,” Archbishop Fisher said.”

The Catholic Church in Australia is going through a period of scrutiny, he said.

“I hope it will emerge from this purified, humbler, more compassionate and spiritually regenerated,” he said.

“Victims of abuse and all young people must come first — no excuses, no cover-ups. The church must do better in this area, and I am committed to playing a leading role in regaining the confidence of the community and of our own members.”

At 54, Archbishop Fisher will be the youngest archbishop of Sydney in more than 40 years. A member of the Dominicans, he also will be the first member of a religious order to be archbishop of Sydney since the late 19th century.

Archbishop Fisher studied history and law at the University of Sydney before joining a city law firm. He then entered the Order of Preachers and received an honors degree in theology while studying for the priesthood in Melbourne. He was ordained Sept. 14, 1991.

He went on to study at the University of Oxford, where he completed a doctorate in bioethics, which has remained a key area of interest for him. Since 2004, he has been a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

In 2012, Cardinal Pell, then archbishop of Sydney, launched Archbishop Fisher’s book, “Catholic Bioethics for a New Millennium.”

It was “a particularly promising time to be involved in Catholic bioethics,” he said at the time.

“Health care continues to do so much that is so good and has the potential to do more in the future,” he said.

Archbishop Fisher was named auxiliary bishop of Sydney in 2003, a role he held for seven years, including coordinating World Youth Day 2008. He was named to Parramatta in 2010.


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Don’t use God as ‘armor’ for waging violence, pope says in Albania

September 22nd, 2014 Posted in Featured, International News Tags: ,


Catholic News Service

TIRANA, Albania — In a world “where an authentic religious spirit is being perverted and where religious differences are being distorted and exploited,” Albania is an “aspiring example” to everyone that peaceful coexistence is possible, Pope Francis said during a one-day visit to the country Sept. 21.

The people of this Balkan nation withstood centuries of Ottoman rule followed by an independence that degenerated into decades of oppressive communist control. The totalitarian regime founded by Enver Hoxha claimed to liberate the people from the constraints of all religions, turning the country into the only atheist nation in the world until the regime’s downfall in 1991.

Pope Francis passes an image of Mother Teresa as he arrives to celebrate Mass in Mother Teresa Square in Tirana, Albania, Sept. 21. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis passes an image of Mother Teresa as he arrives to celebrate Mass in Mother Teresa Square in Tirana, Albania, Sept. 21. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“It promised a paradise without God, but it left instead a hell with no consolation,” Archbishop Rrok Mirdita of Tirana told the pope during a Mass attended by an estimated 300,000 people in Mother Teresa Square.

Jubilant crowds lined the main boulevard, many of them Muslims, who make up more than half the country’s population.

Large groups of Catholics, who make up about 15 percent of all inhabitants, took buses from other parts of Albania or walked from their homes in Tirana. They were a colorful presence, with some older women in traditional costume, and younger people wearing rosaries or small crosses around their necks.

Some raised banners made out of torn bedsheets, such as one bearing the pope’s name and heart symbols painted in the red of the Albanian flag. Crowds on opposite sides of the square engaged in a chanting match, alternating shouts of “Long live Pope Francis” to see who could keep it up the longest.

Security was typical for a foreign papal journey, with streets and rooftops dotted with police and the roads lined with metal barricades partitioning out the popemobile route.

All cellular service, however, was jammed by authorities for several hours as an extra precaution. In the run-up to the trip, Iraq’s ambassador to the Holy See had warned that Islamic State terrorists were seeking to kill the pope. But on the day of the visit, the Vatican repeated earlier assurances that there were no “specific threats” to worry about. The pope rode around the square twice in the same open-air jeep he uses at general audiences in Rome.

Earlier in the morning, in an address to Albania’s President Bujar Nishani and other dignitaries, the pope called the country a “land of heroes” and a “land of martyrs,” whose people stood firm in the face of oppression and persecution.

Rows of large banners bearing black-and-white photographs of Catholics killed during the communist reign hung over the main boulevard, flanked by Vatican and Albanian flags. Out of all the suffering and bloodshed, the pope said, emerged a unique country where “peaceful coexistence and collaboration” exist among Muslims, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and people of no faith at all.

Pope Francis said he wanted his first trip to Europe to trip to highlight Albanians’ practice of “respect and mutual trust,” saying it was “a beautiful sign for the world.”

The pope also warned against manipulating religion, saying no one should “consider themselves to be the ‘armor’ of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression.”

Before the start of the morning Mass, a large powered paraglider circled and swooped over the main square, the fabric decorated with the national symbol of a black eagle.

The pope used the symbol in his homily, saying God raises his people “up on eagle’s wings.”

“The eagle soars up high, but it doesn’t forget its nest,” that is, its past, traditions and values, he said.

“Go up high, fly in the air,” while remembering the “great courage and constancy” of the church’s martyrs, bishops, priests, religious and laity who “paid for their fidelity with their lives,” he said.

“Don’t forget the nest, your history, the wounds, but do not seek revenge,” he said. “Go forward in hope.”

The pope said he had come to Albania to “thank you for your witness” and encourage people to share the hope in their hearts.

“Where there is youth, there is hope!” he said, noting the large numbers of young people who turned out to welcome him.

At the end of the Mass, before praying the Angelus, the pope told young people to build their future on Christ, saying “‘No’ to the idolatry of money, ‘No’ to the false freedom of individualism, ‘No’ to addiction and to violence.”

He urged them instead to say, “‘Yes’ to a culture of encounter and of solidarity, ‘Yes’ to beauty,” the good and the true, and to a life lived with enthusiasm and “faithful in little things.”


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Pope Francis’ Sunday in Albania expected to bring hope, healing

September 19th, 2014 Posted in International News Tags: , , , , ,


Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ choice of Albania as the destination of his first international trip in Europe reflects his trademark pastoral approach: Head to the peripheries, bring healing to the suffering.


But his Sept. 21 visit to the poor, Muslim-majority nation also will highlight, to a world increasingly torn apart by sectarian strife, a hopeful example of Muslims and Christians living in harmony. Read more »

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