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Attacked by all sides, family needs church for help, pope says


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The family is under attack now more than ever because of today’s culture of division that wants to break from and be free of all everlasting bonds and forms of solidarity, Pope Francis said.

“Talking about problems of the family, for example, bonds are being destroyed, instead of created. Why? Because we are living in a culture of the provisional, of conflict, of the inability to make alliances,” he said.

Pope Francis greets a child as he arrives to lead a special audience for members of the Schoenstatt religious movement at the Vatican Oct. 25. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Pope Francis greets a child as he arrives to lead a special audience for members of the Schonstatt religious movement at the Vatican Oct. 25. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

What is needed is a church and Christians who are willing to “waste time” on people, not just principles, and accompany face-to-face those needing to discover the truth in Jesus Christ, he said.

The pope’s comments came during a 90-minute encounter with about 8,000 lay members of the international Schonstatt movement Oct. 25 in the Vatican audience hall. The movement, founded by the late German Father Joseph Kentenich, was celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Representatives asked the pope five questions, ranging from how to help strengthen families to his secret for maintaining a sense of hope and happiness in such a trouble-plagued world.

“I haven’t got the faintest idea,” he said with a smile.

Part of it comes from his personality and being a bit “impulsive,” which makes him a bit of a daredevil, he said. But that courage is also rooted in prayer and abandoning himself to God’s goodness, he added.

Knowing that God is always there, even “in moments of major sin,” gives him great confidence and faith, he said, in remarks that were entirely unscripted.

Something else that helps, he said, is perspective. Jesus Christ is and must always be at the center of everything, which means, oneself, one’s parish, the associations one belongs to, even the Roman Curia, cannot become the center of one’s life, he said.

“The truth is grasped better from the periphery,” from the outside looking in, he said. One striking example came to light in a recent conversation with a criminal defense lawyer who told him he often cries with the prisoners he visits in jail.

“He sees the world of law, of what he has to judge as a criminal lawyer, but also from the wounds that he finds there,” which allows him to see the actual situation better, the pope said.

“Therefore, I would say a healthy recklessness, that is, letting God do things; praying and abandoning oneself; courage and patience; and going to the peripheries. I don’t know if this is my secret, but it is what comes to mind,” he said.

In response to a question about how to help families, Pope Francis said he believed “the Christian family, the family, marriage have never been attacked as much as they are right now.”

The family is “beaten and the family is bastardized” and debased, since almost anything is being called a family, he said.

The family faces a crisis “because it is being bludgeoned by all sides, leaving it very wounded,” he said. There is no other choice than to go to the family’s aid and give them personal help, he said.

“We can give a nice speech, declare principles. Of course we need to do this, with clear ideas” and statements saying that unions that do not reflect God’s plan of a permanent union between a man and a woman are forms of “an association, not a marriage.”

However, people must also be accompanied “and this also means wasting time. The greatest master of wasting time is Jesus. He wasted time accompanying, to help consciences mature, to heal the wounds, to teach,” the pope said.

He said the sacrament of matrimony is becoming just a ceremony or social event for some people, who do not see its sacramental nature as a union with God. Part of the problem is a lack of formation for engaged couples and “this is a sin of omission on our part,” he said.

But there also is the problem of a culture that is shortsighted, where everything is temporary or “provisional,” he said, and “forever has been forgotten.”

He said he sees the same thing even in his own family with couples living together “part time: Monday through Friday with my girlfriend and Friday to Sunday with my family. They are new forms, totally destructive and limiting of the greatness of the love of marriage.”

When asked about the best way to share the faith with others, the pope said going out into the world and living as true witnesses of Christ and his message is the only way.

“There is no other way. To live in a way that others become interested and ask, ‘Why?’ This is witness,” he said.

Missionaries don’t save people; they are “transmitters of someone that saves us,” which is possible only if people have made Jesus a full part and the heart of their lives.

Everyone, however, is weak, makes mistakes, has problems “and we don’t always give a good witness; but the ability to become humble inside, to ask for forgiveness when our witness is not what it should be,” this is part of being good Christians.

The church also needs to “go out,” he said, “to help, to share, to let people see what we do and how we do it.”

If a lay association or the church itself doesn’t go out, “it is a church of snobs,” and instead of looking for people and helping them, attracting them to Christ, “they spend time combing their doll’s hair, in little groups; they are ‘spiritual hairdressers.’ This is not good.”

“A community that goes out makes mistakes. Mistakes are made, but it is so wonderful to ask forgiveness when one makes a mistake,” he said. “Do not be afraid!”


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Texas nurse who recovered from Ebola had prayers of her parish


BETHESDA, Md. — Nina Pham, a Dallas nurse who was the first person known to have contracted the Ebola virus in the United States, thanked God, her family and her medical team for her recovery Oct. 24.

Pham held a news conference in Bethesda after she was declared virus-free and released from the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center.

Texas nurse Nina Pham  contracted Ebola while treating a man who later died of disease and was admitted late Oct. 16 to a clinic at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. She visited the White House after she was discharged from NIH.  CNS/Reuters

Texas nurse Nina Pham contracted Ebola while treating a man who later died of disease and was admitted late Oct. 16 to a clinic at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. She visited the White House after she was discharged from NIH.

“I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today. I would first and foremost like to thank God, my family and friends,” she said. “Throughout this ordeal I have put my trust in God and my medical team.

“I am on my way back to recovery even as I reflect on how many others have not been so fortunate,” added Pham, 26, who grew up in Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Fort Worth, Texas, and where she and her family have been longtime members.

She was “thankful for everyone involved in my care,” she said, “from the moment I became ill and was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Health Dallas up to today,” when she was being discharged from NIH.

After she was released from the hospital, she paid a visit to President Barack Obama in the Oval Office at the White House.

Pham was involved in the care of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan prior to his death Oct. 8. Duncan contracted Ebola in his home country of Liberia and had traveled to the Dallas hospital where he was being treated.

The Centers for Disease Control initially said Pham’s contact of the virus was likely a protocol breach, but the nurse is said to have worn the required protective gear and is believed to have followed the hospital’s procedures.

She was kept in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian. Pham received a blood transfusion Oct. 12 from Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, who had been working with Ebola patients in Liberia when he contracted the virus in the summer. He recovered in an Atlanta hospital.

On Oct. 16, she was transported to NIH.

Pham is a 2006 graduate of Nolan Catholic High School in Fort Worth. When the school community found out she contracted Ebola, it organized a rosary service at the school’s chapel.

The pastor of Our Lady of Fatima, Father Jim Khoi, also asked for prayers for her. “She knows that everybody knew to pray for her, especially in this difficult time,” he told The Dallas Morning News daily paper shortly after Pham was found to have the virus.

“Her mom is very calm and trusts everything to God’s hands,” he noted.

Pham’s apartment was thoroughly cleaned after tests confirmed she contracted the disease. Her dog, Bentley, was put into isolation to be cared for and tested for Ebola. The dog has since been found to be virus-free. Pham said she looked forward to returning to Texas and being reunited with her family and her dog.

A second nurse who contracted Ebola, Amber Vinson, also has been declared virus-free, but news reports said she would remain in treatment in Atlanta until further notice. On Oct. 23, a U.S. doctor who just returned from treating Ebola patients was found to have Ebola and he is now in isolation at a New York City hospital.

In Arizona, the Crosier Fathers and Brothers announced Oct. 24 the community would offer a novena of intercession for protection from Ebola in conjunction with St. Theresa Catholic Church in Phoenix.

The novena was to begin Oct. 28 and continue for nine consecutive Tuesdays. Each evening service, lasting 30 to 40 minutes, was to have “a different theme of deliverance,” a news release said.

It said the novena is built on a prayer service featuring the solemn chanting of the “Haec Est Praeclarum Vas,” which was sung by the Crosiers in the Middle Ages to ward off the threat of the bubonic plague. That chant continued daily for centuries thereafter in Crosier communities.

“Given the widespread concern and fear of this deadly virus, we invite people to come together and pray for protection. We are drawing on an age-old Crosier tradition of reflection and intercession to Our Lady of Protection,” said Father Robert Rossi, a member of the Crosier Community of Phoenix and chair of the community’s Apostolic Presence Commission.

“The Crosier mission is to accompany people in their suffering, to stand with them and assure them that God has not abandoned them but is bringing about new life in some mysterious way,” he said. “We touch suffering with hope.”

Father Chuck Kieffer, pastor of St. Theresa, added: “While this type of prayer service is rooted in our ancient traditions, it is very relevant to what’s happening today.”


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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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Walmart helps stock St. Vincent de Paul Society’s food pantry in Easton, Md.


EASTON, MD. — Recently, when the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) food pantry leadership was confronted with a growing shortage of food items, they asked the Cambridge Wal-Mart’s management for help.

The pantry’s shortages included cereal, tuna fish and beans. Those items and other goods form the contents that fill the Easton-based food bank’s grocery bags provided free to needy residents in Talbot County.

Cambridge Wal-Mart Store Manager Mike Quillen (left) assists Society St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry Director Kathy Weaver and her husband Dick Weaver load groceries from the store on to the Society’s truck. (Courtesy Society of St. Vincent de Paul)

Cambridge Walmart Store Manager Mike Quillen (left) assists Society St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry Director Kathy Weaver and her husband Dick Weaver load groceries from the store on to the Society’s truck. (Courtesy Society of St. Vincent de Paul)

Kathy Weaver, food pantry director, approached Cambridge Wal-Mart Store Manager Mike Quillen with the problem. Quillen responded with a positive, “We’ll take care of it” and has been providing a steady supply of canned goods and other items ever since.

Weaver has called Quillen as a “lifesaver these past few months” when the society was unable to fill its needs from their usual source, the Maryland Food Bank. She added, “I don’t know what we would have done without his willingness to supplement our missing items.”

The Society set records so far in 2014 in the amount of food they have given away to those Talbot County residents in need. They serve an average of 800 individuals and families each month.

St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Center is at 29533 Canvasback Drive in Easton. It’s open on Tuesday from 1 to 4 p.m. and on Saturday from noon until 3 p.m. Call 410-770-4505.


(Photo Caption)

Cambridge Wal-Mart Store Manager Mike Quillen (left) assists Society St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry Director Kathy Weaver and her husband Dick Weaver load groceries from the store on to the Society’s truck.



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Pope Francis calls for abolishing death penalty and lifetime sentences


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.

Pope Frances called for the abolition of both the death penalty and sentences to life imprisonment Oct. 23 during a talk to the International Association of Penal Law. (CNS)

Pope Frances called for the abolition of both the death penalty and sentences to life imprisonment Oct. 23 during a talk to the International Association of Penal Law. (CNS)

“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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All wars begin in a jealous heart; let go of pride, envy, pope says



Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — All wars begin in the human heart, a heart that is jealous and bitter and tears apart communities through misunderstandings and marginalization, Pope Francis said.

“How wonderful if we would remember more often who we are, what Jesus Christ did with us: We are his body,” members of the church filled with the Holy Spirit’s gift of new life in Christ and united in fellowship and love, he said at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 22.

Pope Francis greets inmates from a detention and treatment center in Eboli, Italy, during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 22. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets inmates from a detention and treatment center in Eboli, Italy, during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 22. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The day also marked the feast day of St. John Paul II, who “invited everyone to open the doors to Christ,” said Pope Francis, who had canonized the Polish pope in April.

As the church celebrated for the first time the memorial of St. John Paul, Pope Francis recalled how he “reminded the whole world of the mystery of divine mercy.

“May his spiritual legacy not be forgotten, but drive us to reflect and act concretely for the good of the church, the family and society,” he said in a greeting to pilgrims from Poland.

In his main audience talk, the pope continued his catechesis on the nature of the Catholic Church, focusing on the church as body of Christ.

The pope told everyone that their homework for the day was to read Chapter 37 of the Book of Ezekiel and the “Vision of the Dry Bones,” which, he said, offers a “striking” yet hope-filled image of God’s power to join together and breathe new life into a dead and divided people.

Through baptism, Christians are made to be one with Christ creating “a masterpiece of the Spirit who instills in everyone a new life in the risen Christ and puts us next to each other, each one to serve and support the other, making all of us be one body edified in communion and love,” he said.

This is “the great gift we receive on the day of our baptism,” he said, to be joined together, conforming ourselves to Christ and sharing his love with each other “as living members of the same body.”

However, it is not always easy for individual Christians and their communities to live in loving, respectful unity, he said.

Parishes, groups, even neighborhoods can be marked by “divisions, jealousies, misunderstandings and marginalization. All these things are not good because instead of edifying and making the church grow as the body of Christ, they shatter it into many pieces, they dismember it,” he said.

Jealousy of other people’s gifts and good fortune – “that one bought a new car … that one won the lottery” — tears the community apart and damages the one who is filled with envy, he said.

“The jealousy builds up, builds and fills the heart, a jealous heart is acid,” as if it were filled not with blood, but vinegar, making the person always be unhappy, he said.

“It is the beginning of war. War does not begin in the battlefield. Wars begin in the heart,” he said.

“So what must I do?” the pope asked.

He said St. Paul had a lot of good advice in his letter to the Corinthians, who “were champions” at the time at infighting and division.

The “concrete advice, which is still valid for us, too: Do not be jealous, but appreciate the gifts and qualities of our brothers and sisters in our communities,” he said.

“When I start to feel jealous, because it happens to everyone, you know, we’re all sinners, when I start to feel jealous I say, ‘Thank you Lord that you gave this to that person.’”

People must work against divisions, “be close to each other, share in the suffering of the least and neediest and express our gratitude to everyone,” he said.

Not everyone remembers to say, “Thank you,” all the time, he said, because “envy holds us back.” But “a heart that knows how to say, ‘Thank you,’ is a good and noble heart, a heart that is happy.”

The other thing people must not do is think they are better than others, like the Pharisee who thanks God he is “not like the rest of humanity.”

“This is awful. Never do this,” the pope said.

When people are tempted to feel they are superior, “remember your sins, the ones no one knows about, feel ashamed before God and say, ‘Well, you Lord, you know who is greater; I’ll keep my mouth shut.’ And this is healthy.”

At the end of the audience, the pope offered encouragement to employees of an Italian airline company that announced the layoffs of more than 1,300 workers.

Waving red balloons and wearing red t-shirts that said, “I am redundant,” the Meridiana employees were given a special section below the sacristy during the audience.

The pope told them he hoped “a fair solution” would be found that sought to safeguard people’s dignity and the needs of so many families.

“Please, I’m making an appeal, let there be no family without a job,” he said.

- – -

The text of the pope’s audience remarks in English is available online at www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/audiences/2014/documents/papa-francesco_20141022_udienza-generale_en.html.



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Decision to house those monitored for Ebola ‘right thing to do,’ says Dallas bishop


DALLAS — Dallas Bishop Kevin J. Farrell said that he followed the teaching of Christ and stepped in to house the fiancee of Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan and three others for several weeks at a diocesan facility because when no one else would.

The bishop’s acknowledgement Oct. 20 coincided with the lifting of the 21-day quarantine for nearly four dozen people being screened for the Ebola virus with none showing any signs of the disease. It also capped nearly a month of a scrambling by local, state and federal officials in trying to both combat the virus and calm the public’s fears about its spread.

Dallas Bishop Kevin J. Farrell answers questions from media Oct. 20 about what will happen to the diocese's building in South Dallas where Ebola victim Thomas Duncan's financee and her family were quarantined. The bishop's news conference coincided with the lifting of the 21-day quarantine for nearly four dozen people being screened for the Ebola virus, with none showing any signs of the disease. (CNS photo/courtesy The Texas Catholic)

Dallas Bishop Kevin J. Farrell answers questions from media Oct. 20 about what will happen to the diocese’s building in South Dallas where Ebola victim Thomas Duncan’s financee and her family were quarantined. The bishop’s news conference coincided with the lifting of the 21-day quarantine for nearly four dozen people being screened for the Ebola virus, with none showing any signs of the disease. (CNS photo/courtesy The Texas Catholic)

During the time, two nurses who had contact with Duncan tested positive for the virus after his death. And with the growing health concerns, officials also faced a national public relations headache as they acknowledged missteps in the handling of the crisis, including not initially banning those self-monitoring themselves for symptoms from traveling or coming into contact with the public.

In between, there were various condemnations from nurses about the hospital staff not being properly trained to handle such a crisis, calls for travel bans to the United States from people from the four West African countries hardest hit by the virus, and prayer meetings and candlelight vigils observed at various churches in the Dallas area for Duncan and those impacted by the virus.

Still on Oct. 20, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, among other officials, spoke at an early morning news conference at the Dallas County office building, saying that 43 people being monitoring for the virus had not shown any symptoms of the disease and were free to return to their normal lives without fear that they carried or would develop the disease.

They also spoke about area residents being compassionate and welcoming of those who had been self-monitoring themselves or, as in the specific case of those who came into direct contact with Duncan, that they be accepted back into the society.

“There is no question that today is milestone day, a hurdle that we need to get over, but there are other hurdles to jump,” Rawlings said.

Duncan had traveled to the United States from Liberia in September to visit his fiancee and went to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas after feeling sick. He was sent home, but was returned in an ambulance several days later and tested positive for the Ebola virus. He had been staying with his fiancee, Louise Troh, her son and two nephews in an apartment in an area of the city where many refugees from Africa make their home.

As Duncan was isolated at the hospital, officials planned to decontaminate their apartment, but the family could not be moved to a suitable location. That’s when the county judge and the mayor asked Bishop Farrell about finding a place for them. He and his staff worked with local officials to transfer the family from their apartment to a building at the far end of the Catholic Conference and Formation Center in South Dallas.

At a mid-morning news conference outside the gated retreat center, Bishop Farrell said that he and several other people, including Troh’s pastor at Wilshire Baptist Church, had spoken with the family earlier in the day.

He confirmed that local officials called him after exhausting alternatives for a suitable place willing to take the family. He said he debated for about 15 minutes before saying that he followed the example of Christ and said “yes.”

“I knew that they had tried to find other places and they just couldn’t find one. I was then moved by their dedication and concern. I, too, was concerned,” the bishop said. “I felt it was the right thing to do and am so pleased that we did.

“It is an example of what it means to care for our brothers and sisters, irrespective of where they come from, what race or what religion they are,” he said. “We help people because they are people. We help people because we are Catholic, not because they are Catholic.”

Diocesan officials canceled various retreats and meetings at the retreat center while Troh and her family were at the home on the property. He said the family remains there until they find suitable housing. The bishop said the county will properly clean the facility, but that because none of those temporarily housed there tested positive for the virus it did not have to go through hazmat cleaning.

On Oct. 19, about 150 health care professionals attended the annual White Mass at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in downtown Dallas, with Auxiliary Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel thanking and praising them for their works, saying they, like Christ, were healers.

After the Mass, Dr. Tom Zellers, a pediatric cardiologist and president of the Dallas Catholic Medical Association, said that the blessing from Bishop Deshotel came at a poignant time for health care workers in Dallas.

“Obviously we are trying to do the best we can for patients, both those who are sick and those who are well to keep them well and we had prayers for people affected by the Ebola situation here in Dallas,” Zellers told The Texas Catholic, newspaper of the Dallas Diocese.

Worshippers prayed specifically for Nina Pham, 26, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian and a Catholic, who contracted the virus from Duncan. She received plasma from Dr. Kenneth Brantley, who contracted the virus in Africa but survived after being treated in the United States.

Pham was transferred from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, where she continues to receive treatment. Another nurse, Amber Vinson, 29, is at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, after also being transferred from Texas Presbyterian Hospital. She was admitted to Texas Presbyterian Hospital Oct. 14, after a weekend of roundtrip travel from Dallas to Cleveland on Frontier Airlines.

She boarded the plane for her return trip to Dallas after conferring with Dallas County Health officials and her family says she was approved for the return travel because her low-grade fever had not spiked to the level that would cause concern.

The news of her travel impacted not only the airline company, but people who were on the flight with her or on the plane that was in service for several days before it was decontaminated and parked in a hangar.

Her family has now hired attorney Billy Martin after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that she had been advised not to avoid public transportation while self-monitoring her symptoms.

Sedeno is executive editor of The Texas Catholic and Revista Catolica, the English- and Spanish-language newspapers of the Diocese of Dallas.

 — Dennis Sedeno

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Pope’s closing talk at Vatican meeting on family: ‘We have truly lived the experience of synod’


VATICAN RADIO — At the Oct. 18 conclusion of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family at the Vatican, Pope Francis addressed the assembly, thanking them for their efforts and encouraging them to continue to journey

Below is Vatican Radio’s posted translation of the pope’s address.

Dear Eminences, Beatitudes, Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters,

With a heart full of appreciation and gratitude I want to thank, along with you, the Lord who has accompanied and guided us in the past days, with the light of the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis gestures as he greets the media after leaving the concluding session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis gestures as he greets the media after leaving the concluding session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

From the heart I thank Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod; Bishop Fabio Fabene, under-secretary; and with them I thank the Relators, Cardinal Peter Erdo, who has worked so much in these days of family mourning, and the Special Secretary Bishop Bruno Forte, the three President delegates, the transcribers, the consultors, the translators and the unknown workers, all those who have worked with true fidelity and total dedication behind the scenes and without rest. Thank you so much from the heart.

I thank all of you as well, dear Synod fathers, Fraternal Delegates, Auditors, and Assessors, for your active and fruitful participation. I will keep you in prayer asking the Lord to reward you with the abundance of His gifts of grace!

I can happily say that – with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality – we have truly lived the experience of “Synod,” a path of solidarity, a “journey together.”

And it has been “a journey” – and like every journey there were moments of running fast, as if wanting to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible; other moments of fatigue, as if wanting to say “enough”; other moments of enthusiasm and ardour. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful people. Moments of consolation and grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and the joy of their married life. A journey where the stronger feel compelled to help the less strong, where the more experienced are led to serve others, even through confrontations. And since it is a journey of human beings, with the consolations there were also moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned:

• One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called, today, “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.

• The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

• The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).

• The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

• The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them “byzantinisms,” I think, these things…

Dear brothers and sisters, the temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; so if Jesus Himself was tempted – and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) – His disciples should not expect better treatment.

Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard – with joy and appreciation – speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parresia. And I have felt that what was set before our eyes was the good of the Church, of families, and the “supreme law,” the “good of souls” (cf. Can. 1752). And this always – we have said it here, in the Hall – without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et spes, 48).

And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the journey again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.

The is the Church, our Mother! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. And this should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord.

Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church – the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners.

And, as I have dared to tell you , [as] I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquillity, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all.

We will speak a little bit about the Pope, now, in relation to the Bishops [laughing]. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; it is that of reminding the faithful of  their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock – to nourish the flock – that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome – with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears – the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them.

His duty is to remind everyone that authority in the Church is a service, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained, with words I cite verbatim: “The Church is called and commits herself to exercise this kind of authority which is service and exercises it not in her own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ… through the Pastors of the Church, in fact: it is he who guides, protects and corrects them, because he loves them deeply. But the Lord Jesus, the supreme Shepherd of our souls, has willed that the Apostolic College, today the Bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter… to participate in his mission of taking care of God’s People, of educating them in the faith and of guiding, inspiring and sustaining the Christian community, or, as the Council puts it, ‘to see to it… that each member of the faithful shall be led in the Holy Spirit to the full development of his own vocation in accordance with Gospel preaching, and to sincere and active charity’ and to exercise that liberty with which Christ has set us free (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6)… and it is through us,” Pope Benedict continues, “that the Lord reaches souls, instructs, guards and guides them. St Augustine, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St John, says: ‘let it therefore be a commitment of love to feed the flock of the Lord’ (cf. 123, 5); this is the supreme rule of conduct for the ministers of God, an unconditional love, like that of the Good Shepherd, full of joy, given to all, attentive to those close to us and solicitous for those who are distant (cf. St Augustine, Discourse 340, 1; Discourse 46, 15), gentle towards the weakest, the little ones, the simple, the sinners, to manifest the infinite mercy of God with the reassuring words of hope (cf. ibid., Epistle, 95, 1).”

So, the Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – the “servant of the servants of God”; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” (Can. 749) and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (cf. Cann. 331-334).

Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.

One year to work on the “Synodal Relatio” which is the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. It is presented to the Episcopal Conferences as “lineamenta” [guidelines].

May the Lord accompany us, and guide us in this journey for the glory of His Name, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Joseph. And please, do not forget to pray for me! Thank you!

[The hymn Te Deum was sung, and Benediction given.]

Thank you, and rest well, eh?


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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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Synod ends by affirming tradition, leaving controversial questions open

October 19th, 2014 Posted in Featured, Vatican News


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After several days of animated debate over its official midterm report, the Synod of Bishops on the family agreed on a final document more clearly grounded in traditional Catholic teaching. Yet the assembly failed to reach consensus on especially controversial questions of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried and the pastoral care of homosexuals.

The synod’s last working session, Oct. 18, also featured a speech by Pope Francis, in which he celebrated the members’ frank exchanges while warning against extremism in the defense of tradition or the pursuit of progress. Read more »

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