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Pope Francis sees ‘bits and pieces’ of a World War III happening amid indifference

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — When will people ever learn that war is madness and conflicts are only resolved by forgiveness, Pope Francis asked.

The pope said it is believed that more than 8 million soldiers and 7 million civilians died during World War I, a four-year-long conflict that began 100 years ago.

Pope Francis walks through the  Austro-Hungarian cemetery for soldiers of World War I in Fogliano di Redipuglia, Italy, Sept. 13. The pope prayed for the fallen of all wars and also celebrated an outdoor Mass in front of the nearby Redipuglia war memorial, which honors the 100,000 Italian soldiers who died during World War I. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis walks through the Austro-Hungarian cemetery for soldiers of World War I in Fogliano di Redipuglia, Italy, Sept. 13. The pope prayed for the fallen of all wars and also celebrated an outdoor Mass in front of the nearby Redipuglia war memorial, which honors the 100,000 Italian soldiers who died during World War I. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The number of so many lost lives “lets us see how much war is insanity,” Pope Francis said after praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 14, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

“When will we learn this lesson?” he asked, telling people to look at the crucified Christ “to understand that hatred and evil are defeated with forgiveness and good, and to understand that responding with war only augments evil and death.”

The pope’s remarks came the day after a morning visit to Italy’s largest war memorial, Redipuglia, a town in northeast Italy near the border with Slovenia. Giovanni Bergoglio, the pope’s Italian grandfather who later immigrated to Argentina, fought nearby during the Italian campaign against the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The memorial made of enormous stone steps leading to three bronze crosses pays homage to more than 100,000 Italian soldiers. while a nearby military cemetery is the final resting place for some 15,000 Austro-Hungarian soldiers, all of whom lost their lives in nearby battlefields. The pope laid a floral wreath at the cemetery, celebrated Mass at the memorial, and prayed for all victims of all wars.

The gorgeous landscape used to be a place where men and women worked hard to raise their families, children played and the elderly daydreamed, he said in his homily.

Instead of safeguarding God’s creation, especially his “most beautiful of all, the human being,” people have set about destroying it through war, he said.

“Greed, intolerance, a lust for power, these are the reasons that incite decisions to go to war,” he said.

Also, “behind the scenes, there are special interests, geopolitical plots, lust for money,” he said, as well as the powerful arms industry.

But the most shocking aspect of so much bloodshed is the continued legacy of indifference, the pope said. Being indifferent began with Cain murdering his brother Abel and then rebuking God for asking where his now dead brother was, replying, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Above the tombs of so many dead, Pope Francis said, “hovers the sneering motto of war” – Cain’s complaint of “What do I care?”

“All these people, here in eternal rest, they had plans, had dreams, but their lives were broken. Why? Because humanity said, ‘What do I care?’”

Today the world is still up in arms with a kind of “World War III (waged) in bits and pieces with criminal acts, massacres and destruction,” he said.

“To be honest, the newspaper front page should have the headline: ‘What do I care?’”

“Those who plot terror, organizations fueling conflict, as well as arms manufacturers, all have ‘What do I care’ engraved in their hearts,” he said.

And like Cain, their hearts have become so corrupt, “they’ve lost the ability to cry,” much less do what Jesus asks — to help the sick, the wounded and the hungry, the pope said.

The pope asked people to pray that their heart be transformed from one that has stopped caring to one that can weep “for all those who have fallen in useless massacres, for all the victims of the insanity of war of every era. Tears, brothers and sisters, humanity needs to cry, this is the moment to cry.”

 

At weddings in St. Peter’s, Pope Francis says spouses make each other better men and women

September 15th, 2014 Posted in Featured, Vatican News Tags: , , ,

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Presiding over the wedding of 20 couples in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis celebrated marriage as the union of a man and woman playing complementary roles during their common journey through life.

Newly married couples Marco Purcaro and Laura Capurso, center, and Fiorenzo Genito and Lidia Tortora, right, react after exchanging vows as Pope Francis celebrates the marriage rite for 20 couples during a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Sept. 14. At left is Flaviano Picchi and Giulia Capozi, who are preparing to exchange vows. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Newly married couples Marco Purcaro and Laura Capurso, center, and Fiorenzo Genito and Lidia Tortora, right, react after exchanging vows as Pope Francis celebrates the marriage rite for 20 couples during a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Sept. 14. At left is Flaviano Picchi and Giulia Capozi, who are preparing to exchange vows. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“This is what marriage is all about: man and woman walking together, wherein the husband helps his wife to become ever more a woman, and wherein the woman has the task of helping her husband to become ever more a man,” the pope said Sept. 14. “Here we see the reciprocity of differences.”

The pope spoke during a wedding Mass for couples from the diocese of Rome.

In typically frank style, Pope Francis admitted married life can be tiring, “burdensome, and often, even nauseating.”

But the pope assured the brides and grooms that Christ’s redemptive sacrifice would enable them to resist the “dangerous temptation of discouragement, infidelity, weakness, abandonment.”

“The love of Christ, which has blessed and sanctified the union of husband and wife, is able to sustain their love and to renew it when, humanly speaking, it becomes lost, wounded or worn out,” he said.

Pope Francis also offered practical advice for dealing with marital discord.

“It is normal for a husband and wife to argue,” he said. “It always happens. But my advice is this: never let the day end without having first made peace. Never. A small gesture is sufficient. Thus the journey may continue.”

Speaking three weeks before the start of an extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family, the pope emphasized the importance of the institution based on marriage.

“It is impossible to quantify the strength and depth of humanity contained in a family: mutual help, educational support, relationships developing as family members mature, the sharing of joys and difficulties,” he said. “Families are the first place in which we are formed as persons and, at the same time, the bricks for the building up of society.”

The newlyweds ranged in age from 25 to 56 and represented a variety of situations, with some already having children or having lived together before marriage.

Cohabitation, though not a canonical impediment to marriage, violates the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage and sexual love. Pastoral ministers helping Catholic couples prepare for the sacrament are urged to encourage them to regularize such situations prior to marrying.

At the start of the papal wedding Mass, the brides, wearing traditional white gowns, were accompanied up the aisle of the basilica by their fathers or other male relatives. The grooms entered with their mothers. One at a time, each couple read the wedding vows and exchanged rings before the congregation and the television audience.

As a thank-you present to the pope, the couples jointly contributed to an educational and recreational center for disadvantaged youth in a suburban neighborhood of Rome, to be established by the local branch of Caritas.

The ceremony was the first public papal celebration of a wedding since 2000, when St. John Paul II joined in marriage eight couples from different parts of the world as part of the Jubilee for Families. He also publicly presided over another joint wedding for a group of couples in 1994 as part of his celebration of the International Year of the Family.

 

Christian leaders discuss plight of Mideast minorities with Obama

By

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Eight Eastern Christian leaders spent 40 minutes talking to President Barack Obama about the situation of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.

U.S. President Barack Obama gestures during a meeting with Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, fourth from left, and other religious leaders at the White House Sept. 11. (CNS photo/Pete Souza, courtesy White House)

U.S. President Barack Obama gestures during a meeting with Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, fourth from left, and other religious leaders at the White House Sept. 11. (CNS photo/Pete Souza, courtesy White House)

“We felt how deeply moved he was by what was happening to the Christians there,” Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch, said at a Mass later the same day at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church. The Sept. 11 Mass closed the three-day inaugural In Defense of Christians summit. A conference organizer told Catholic News Service an American businessman from the Middle East sent his private jet to transport the Christian leaders to the summit.

The cardinal said each of the leaders from Eastern Catholic and Orthodox rites had a chance to speak individually to Obama, who the White House said “dropped by National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s meeting at the White House.”

Although the White House did not release details of the discussion, throughout the summit the Christian leaders spoke of the threat to Christians and other minorities posed by Islamic State militants, particularly in Iraq and Syria. Several said they were advocating religious freedom, an inherent right. They spoke of the need for local leaders and the international community to become involved in a solution because, as one Orthodox bishop said, “no one can possibly agree to a beheading.”

A White House statement, read out near the end of the In Defense of Christians summit, said Obama reinforced the U.S. commitment to fight Islamic State militants and other groups that threaten the Middle East, as well as American personnel and interests in the region.

“He underscored that the United States will continue to support partners in the region, like the Lebanese Armed Forces, that are working to counter (Islamic State fighters) and promote regional stability. The delegations agreed on the need for all leaders in the region to reject violence and prejudice and call for moderation, tolerance of other views and religions, and an end to sectarian divisions.

“The president emphasized that the United States recognizes the importance of the historic role of Christian communities in the region and of protecting Christians and other religious minorities throughout the Middle East,” the statement said.

The Christian leaders who met with Obama and rice were Cardinal Rai; Catholicos Aram of Cilicia, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church; Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan; Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham; Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II; Bishop Angaelos, general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria; retired Chaldean Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim of St. Thomas the Apostle of Detroit; and Antiochian Orthodox Metropolitan Joseph of New York and All North America.

 

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East Jerusalem tour heightens U.S. bishops’ awareness of complexities

By

Catholic News Service

JERUSALEM — U.S. bishops visiting the Holy Land said a tour and briefing about the situation in East Jerusalem heightened their awareness of the settlement issue in the divided city.

“The expansion of settlements is quickly driving (the possibility of a two-state solution) off the drawing board,” said Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace. “The continuing expansion of the Jewish communities and its implication for a two-state solution has been a concern of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East.”

U.S. Bishops John O. Barres of Allentown, Pa., and Dale J. Melczek of Gary, Ind., listen as Israeli attorney Daniel Seidemann gives an explanation of land use at an overlook on Mt. Scopus in East Jerusalem Sept. 12. Eighteen bishops are on a nine-day prayer pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

U.S. Bishops John O. Barres of Allentown, Pa., and Dale J. Melczek of Gary, Ind., listen as Israeli attorney Daniel Seidemann gives an explanation of land use at an overlook on Mt. Scopus in East Jerusalem Sept. 12. Eighteen bishops are on a nine-day prayer pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

On a two-hour tour, Israeli attorney and activist Daniel Seidemann shared his concerns for the increasingly shrinking window of opportunity to push forward the concept of the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The group visited the sites of small Jewish enclaves being built in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, which abuts the 1967 border with West Jerusalem.

The bishops also viewed the desert corridor northeast of Jerusalem. The corridor, known as E1, has been designated by Israel for a Jewish settlement that would connect the largest settlement in the West Bank, the 30,000-resident city of Ma’aleh Adumim, with Jerusalem. That would, in effect, cut off that area of the Palestinian West Bank from any connection to Jerusalem, contributing to a further cantonization of the West Bank and destroying the possibility of creating a contiguous Palestinian state, said Seidemann.

The tour included a visit to the Israeli separation wall that divides the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Dis, running across the road that, traditionally since Biblical times, has led to Jericho.

In an envisioned peace agreement, most of the 200,000 Jews living in East Jerusalem would be permitted to remain in exchange for land of equal quality and size elsewhere in the West Bank, noted Seidemann. He said while the Israeli enclaves embedded in East Jerusalem remain small, with at most 2,500 Israeli Jews living there, it is still possible to withdraw them, but that if the settlements continue to expand the situation will become more complicated.

The next two to three years are critical if a peace agreement is to be reached, he told the bishops.

“Seven years ago in order to get to where the border needs to be (to reach an agreement), we would need to relocate 100,000 settlers. Today, we will need to relocate 150,000. If it continues to grow, at some point it will not be feasible for the national leaders to relocate hundreds of thousands of settlers. It will be so Balkanized it won’t be possible,” said Seidemann.

Bishop Pates said the bishops’ visit was intended to support the peace process.

“The importance of Jerusalem (in the negotiations) has been heightened as well as the necessity to maintain ourselves open to all religious communities (here), particularly the Jews, Christians and Muslims,” he said. “This visit enables us to focus on this reality and to coalesce behind the Vatican initiative to insist on international guarantees of this religious expression in Jerusalem.”

Retired Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, said the bishops would need to listen to other narratives before they can come up with some recommendations about what needs to be done on both sides. Nevertheless, he said, Seidemann’s briefing had captured very well “the frustration the people living in East Jerusalem are experiencing, especially with the settlements.”

“It is suddenly clear that if this is not addressed aggressively and immediately, a two-state solution will no longer be viable,” he said.

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, noted the importance of learning more about the intricacies of the situation although he has been aware of the churches’ support for the two-state solution.

The possibility of losing the window of opportunity to reach a viable solution is “alarming,” he said, and increases the need for religious leaders to pray for peace and to encourage political leaders to work towards a just solution.

“This story has been a long time in the making. It is not only political but also a religious and human one. Coming here has certainly cemented for us the human lives which are affected by this situation — Muslim, Christian and Jewish,” Bishop Cantu said.

The group of 18 bishops from the United States began their nine-day pilgrimage Sept. 11 and celebrated Mass with Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem following the Sept. 12 tour.

Later in the day they were to meet with Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custos of the Holy Land, and participate in an interfaith Sabbath eve prayer at a local Jewish synagogue.

More interfaith and ecumenical prayers were scheduled during the visit. The bishops were also to visit Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem and Galilee, as well as meet with Israeli and Palestinian political leaders.

 

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Christians are called to help those who don’t love back, pope says

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Christians are called to help those who have nothing to give and love those who don’t love back, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis kisses the forehead of Salvatore D'Argento from Chieti, Italy, as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 10. D'Argento has quadriplegia. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis kisses the forehead of Salvatore D’Argento from Chieti, Italy, as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sept. 10. D’Argento has quadriplegia. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Salvation and changing the world for the better require “doing good to those who aren’t able to repay us, just like the Father did with us, giving us Jesus,” the pope said at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square Sept 10.

“How much have we paid for our redemption? Nothing! It was all free. So do good without expecting something in return. Just as the father did with us, we have to do the same. Do good and keep going.”

“It’s not enough to love the one who loves us. It’s not enough to do good to those who help us.”

People are called not to be self-centered, but to model themselves after Jesus’ gratuitous love, he said.

The pope continued a series of talks on the nature of the Catholic Church, focusing on “the church as a mother who teaches us the works of mercy.”

The Gospel is all about showing others mercy, the pope said. He referred to “The Judgment of the Nations” in Matthew, Chapter 25, which reveals that those who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, care for the sick and visit the imprisoned inherit God’s kingdom.

“Could a Christian who isn’t merciful ever exist? No! A Christian must by necessity be merciful because this is the core of the Gospel,” he said.

The church “doesn’t give theoretical lessons about love and mercy. She doesn’t spread a philosophy to the world, a path to wisdom,” he said. The church backs up what she says by mirroring what Jesus did.

While Christianity is also about the written word and church teachings, the church “teaches, like Jesus, by her example, and words serve to illuminate the meaning behind her gestures,” he said.

Asking how the church shows people the way, Pope Francis said the lives of saints and mothers and fathers who teach their children what true mercy and hospitality entail offer good examples to follow.

Pope Francis then told the story of a mother he knew when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He said her way of teaching was “a beautiful example that helped me a lot.”

The woman answered her door one day to see a man who came looking for food; her three very young children agreed that the mother should give the man something to eat, the pope recalled.

When the mother said, “OK, let’s all give the man half of what’s on each of our plates,” the children protested, “Oh no, that’s not right!” they said, coveting their own serving of steak and fried potatoes.

By making each child contribute, the mother taught them that giving was not some abstract gesture, but required “giving what’s really yours” to someone else, the pope said.

The pope said he realized people may also feel uncomfortable about visiting those in prison, thinking that “It’s dangerous. They are bad people!”

“Listen up. Each one of us is capable of doing the same thing done by that man or woman in jail. All of us are capable of sinning and making the same mistake in life. They are not worse than you and me.”

Showing mercy to those who have strayed can be life changing, he said. “Mercy overcomes every wall, every obstacle” and can instill new life and hope in others.

The pope also encouraged those in the Middle East to show mercy.

When greeting different language groups after his main catechesis, the pope told Arabic-speaking pilgrims, especially those from Syria and the Middle East, “to face hatred with love, conquer violence with forgiveness; respond to weapons with prayer.

“May the Lord reward your fidelity, instill in you courage in the fight against the forces of evil and open the eyes of those who are blinded by evil, so that they may soon see the light of truth and repent for their errors,” he said.

- – -

 

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 Church leaders, politicians, laity meet in D.C. on behalf of Christians

By

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Emphasizing that diversity does not preclude unity, nearly a thousand Christian leaders, politicians and laypeople gathered in Washington to launch a massive effort on behalf of the minority communities of the Middle East.

High-ranking church leaders representing Pope Francis and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, patriarchs of Eastern churches, members of Congress and Christians in the diaspora came together in Washington for the inaugural In Defense of Christians summit. They set off for Capitol Hill Sept. 10 with a message to U.S. lawmakers and policymakers: Christians and other minorities have an inherent right to live in the Middle East, where they have lived for centuries. Read more »

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Catholic Charities needs food and other assistance for families who have taken in refugee children

By

Dialog Editor

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wilmington is in need of food, school supplies and hygiene items for families who have taken in refugee children from Guatemala and other Latin American countries.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wilmington is seeking aid for the families who have taken in unaccompanied refugee children who have been placed with families in Sussex County. Above, young detainees sleep in a holding cell at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville, Texas, (CNS/Reuters)

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wilmington is seeking aid for the families who have taken in unaccompanied refugee children who have been placed with families in Sussex County. Above, young detainees sleep in a holding cell at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville, Texas, (CNS/Reuters)

Richelle Vible, Catholic Charities’ executive director, said that Charities “delivered a whole truckload” Sept. 4 of food, clothing and beds to its Georgetown office for families who have given shelter to the children in Sussex County.

“It’s been a difficult situation,” Vible said, noting most of the children, an estimated 140 or more, are from Guatemala and have been placed with Guatemalan relatives who have been living in Sussex County.

Catholic Charities has been reaching out to children and families on a one-to-one basis to find out exactly what they need, Vible said.

“Our staff is used to working with people in need, but when they first met some of these children and families, they were touched and upset by the depths of the needs,” Vible said.

“These children had nothing. They needed shoes, clothing and groceries. They cried, they were so grateful.”

Catholic Charities is also assisting the children with immigration paperwork through its Immigration and Refugees Service department, Vible said,  Charities is also  “trying to establish a network of attorneys who would be willing to provide pro bono or heavily discounted legal assistance,” she added.

Heartbrreaking 

Shavonne Brathwaite, who runs the Basic Needs/Crisis Assistance office of Catholic Charities, helped deliver the first truckload of items to the host families.

“It was heartbreaking,” she said.

Families need beds because the refugees are sleeping on the floor and “they don’t have enough to eat. We’re giving those items to those families as fast as possible.”

Catholic Charities distributed bags of food and children’s outfits to “help get the kids started for the school year,” she added.

“I had a translator with me and told them, ‘you’re not going to leave here today without food.’ They were so thankful.”

Brathwaite, who works in Catholic Charities’ Wilmington office, said that helping the refugees and their families reminded her that what Charities “does every day is important. Being able to share a gift with someone, something that you take for granted every day is an amazing experience.”

She noted that the families hosting the newly arrived children “were already struggling to take care of their own family, and they were still willing to give the little they had to someone in need.”

Brathwaite said Charities will continue to serve “as many as we have the means to serve.”

 How to help

Donations of nonperishable food itmes, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes and shampoo, as well as school supplies, grocery store gift cards and cash donations are welcome and can be delivered to any Catholic Charities location in the diocese.

Cash donations can be made online at www.cdow.org/ccdonation.html. Choose food donation as the ministry of choice.

Catholic Charities locations are:

• Main office, 2601 W. 4th Street, Wilmington, 19805. Phone 302-655-9624.

• Bayard House, 300 Bayard Avenue, Wilmington, 19805. Phone 302-654-1184.

• Thrift Center, 1320 E. 23rd Street, Wilmington, 19802. Phone 302-764-2717.

• Kent office, 2099 S. DuPont Highway, Dover, 19901. Phone 302-674-1600.

• Sussex office, 406 S. Bedford Street, Ste. 9, Georgetown, 19947. Phone 302-856-9578.

• Casa San Francisco, 127 Broad Street, PO Box 38, Milton. Phone 302-684-8694.

• Eastern Shore office, 30632 Hampden Avenue, PO Box 301, Princess Anne, Md. Phone 410-651-9608.

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‘Google Hangout’ — Pope tells teens online that society is neglecting well-being of children

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The wisdom of “It takes a village to raise a child” has been lost as kids are either overprotected by permissive parents or neglected, Pope Francis said.

“The educational partnership has been broken” as families, schools and society are “no longer united together for the child,” he said Sept. 4 after holding his first Google Hangout, a live video conversation, across five continents with teenagers who belong to the international network of “Scholas occurentes,” uniting students of all faiths and cultures.

Pope Francis video chats with a Salvadoran student in the gang-infested neighborhood of La Campanera, San Salvador, Sept. 4. The pope said all of society needs to help children and young people who are homeless, exploited, victims of violence or without any prospects. (CNS photo/ Jose Cabezas, Reuters)

Pope Francis video chats with a Salvadoran student in the gang-infested neighborhood of La Campanera, San Salvador, Sept. 4. The pope said all of society needs to help children and young people who are homeless, exploited, victims of violence or without any prospects. (CNS photo/ Jose Cabezas, Reuters)

Parents and teachers used to stick together to teach kids important values, the pope said, recalling when he got into trouble in the fourth grade.

“I wasn’t respectful toward the teacher, and the teacher called my mother. My mother came, I stayed in class and the teacher stepped out, then they called for me,” he told a group of educators and experts involved with the worldwide Scholas network.

“My mom was really calm. I feared the worst,” he said. After getting him to admit to his wrongdoing, his mother told him to apologize to the teacher.

The pope said he apologized and remembered, “it was easy and I was happy. But there was an Act 2 when I got home,” insinuating stiffer punishment had followed.

However, today, “at least in lots of schools in my country,” if a teacher notes a problem with a student, “the next day, the mother and father denounce the teacher,” he said.

The family, schools and culture have to work together for the well-being of the child, he said. People have to “rebuild this village in order to educate a child.”

All society also needs to help children and young people who are homeless, exploited, victims of violence or without any prospects, he said.

The pope pointed the blame on today’s “culture of disposal” and “the cult of money” for creating and perpetuating adults’ apathy to or complicity in the mistreatment of kids.

This is why “it’s very important to strengthen bonds: social, family and personal ties” with kids and young adults, and create an environment that helps them approach the world with “trust and serenity.”

Otherwise, kids will be “left only with the path of delinquency and addiction,” he said.

The pope’s comments came at the end of an afternoon encounter to launch scholas.social, a new social network for students from all over the world to cooperate on environmental and social causes, sport and art initiatives, and charitable activities.

The Scholas initiative was begun in Buenos Aires and supported by its then-Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, who also used to teach high school when he was a young Jesuit priest.

When he became pope, he asked fellow Argentine Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, to expand the network’s reach and impact.

With a small digital camera and studio lights aimed at him in the Vatican synod hall, the pope took questions from five Scholas members, who were linked in from Australia, Israel, Turkey, South Africa and El Salvador.

The pope urged the young people to build bridges through open and respectful communication, in which they listen carefully to others and exchange experiences, ideas and values.

Sina, a teenage boy in Istanbul, thanked the pope for letting more than schools and students come together, “but also our beliefs and hearts.” He then asked the pope if he thought the future was going to get better or worse.

“I don’t have a crystal ball like witches do to see the future,” the pope answered, adding that what the future will be like is in the hands of today’s young people.

The future “is in your heart, it’s in your mind and your hands,” and if people cultivate constructive thoughts and feeling and do good things, “the future will be better.”

He said young people need two things: They need wings to fly and the courage to dream of big things, and they need strong roots and respect for their culture, their heritage and all the wisdom passed down from their elders.

“Today’s young people need three key foundations: education, sports and culture, that’s why Scholas unites everything,” he said.

He urged the teens to speak out against war and injustice, and to stick together like a team, defending each other against gangs and other negative influences that only seek to destroy and isolate people.

His last piece of advice, he said, came from Jesus, who often said, “Be not afraid!”

“Don’t lose your nerve. Don’t be afraid. Keep going. Build bridges of peace. Play as a team and build a better future because, remember, that the future is in your hands.”

 

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Father William E. Jennings, founding pastor of two parishes, dies at 101

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Dialog reporter   NEWARK — Father William E. Jennings, the oldest and longest-serving priest in the history of the Diocese of Wilmington, died Thursday at the Jeanne Jugan Residence, where he had lived since 2008. He was 101. Father Jennings was ordained on May 14, 1940, before most of the current priests were born, at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Baltimore by Archbishop Michael J. Curley. He served as a parish priest, chaplain, high school teacher and coach during his lengthy priesthood. Read more »

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Archbishop Sheen sainthood process suspended indefinitely — second update

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The canonization cause of Archbishop Fulton Sheen has been suspended indefinitely, according to a statement issued Sept. 3 by the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, where the archbishop was born.

The late U.S. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is pictured preaching in an undated photo. His cause for sainthood has been relegated to to the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints' historic archive, according to the Diocese of Peoria, Ill. (CNS)

The late U.S. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is pictured preaching in an undated photo. His cause for sainthood has been relegated to to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints’ historic archive, according to the Diocese of Peoria, Ill. (CNS)

The suspension was announced “with immense sadness,” the diocese said. “The process to verify a possible miracle attributed to Sheen had been going extremely well, and only awaited a vote of the cardinals and the approval of the Holy Father. There was every indication that a possible date for beatification in Peoria would have been scheduled for as early as the coming year.”

Archbishop Sheen, who gained fame in the 1950s with a prime-time television series called “Life Is Worth Living,” died in New York in 1979.

The diocesan statement said the Archdiocese of New York denied a request from Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, president of the Archbishop Sheen Foundation, to move the archbishop’s body to Peoria.

Deacon Greg Kendra, in a Sept. 3 posting on his blog The Deacon’s Bench, said the reason for the request was for “official inspection and to take first-class relics from the remains.”

A Sept. 4 statement from Joseph Zwilling, communications director for the New York Archdiocese, said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York “did express a hesitance in exhuming the body” absent a directive from the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes and family approval. The statement added that Archbishop Sheen’s “closest surviving family members” asked that the archbishop’s wishes be respected and that he had “expressly stated his desire that his remains be buried in New York.”

Zwilling said Cardinal Dolan “does object to the dismemberment of the archbishop’s body,” but, were it to be exhumed, relics that might have been buried with Archbishop Sheen might be reverently collected and “shared generously” with the Peoria diocese.

A subsequent statement Sept. 5 from the Peoria diocese said it had received a “shocking statement” June 27 from an attorney for the New York Archdiocese saying the archdiocese “would never allow the examination of the body, the securing of relics or the transfer of the body.”

The new statement said Bishop Jenky had been assured in 2002 by Cardinal Dolan’s predecessor, now-retired Cardinal Edward M. Egan, that New York had no interest in pursuing Archbishop Sheen’s sainthood cause. A 2005 request to transfer the body to Peoria received a response from the Vatican congregation that it was not yet an appropriate time. “With this inquiry complete and a miracle being attributed to Sheen, now is an appropriate time,” the Sept. 5 Peoria statement said.

It added, “Clearly Archbishop Sheen’s wishes for his final resting place could not have anticipated that he would go through a canonization process led by his native Diocese of Peoria, after it was turned down by the Archdiocese of New York.”

Peoria diocesan chancellor Patricia Gibson said in the statement, “After New York clearly turned down the cause, Peoria was happy to put forth the lengthy work and effort because of how much he is loved by the priests and lay faithful in this diocese.”

In an interview published Sept. 6 by Crux, the Boston Globe’s Catholic news website, Cardinal Dolan said, “We’ve had some issues (with Peoria) over what to do with the remains of Archbishop Sheen and what relics we might be able to share, and I’m committed to doing whatever we can that’s consistent with Sheen’s own wishes, the wishes of his family, the instructions we get from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and New York state law.”

If the Peoria diocese’s decision is final to suspend Archbishop Sheen’s cause and to assign it to the Vatican congregation’s historical archives, Zwilling said, “the Archdiocese of New York would welcome the opportunity to assume responsibility for the cause in an attempt to move it forward.”

Cardinal Dolan told Crux, “I guess my next step is to write a formal letter to Bishop Jenky and the congregation, saying we’d be honored to take over the cause if that’s what seems best.”

“After further discussion with Rome, it was decided that the Sheen Cause would now have to be relegated to the congregation’s historic archive,” the Sept. 3 Peoria diocesan statement said.

Bonnie Engstrom, whose delivery of a stillborn baby in 2010 provided the basis for a possible miracle attributable to Archbishop Sheen, expressed sadness and confusion over the delay in the sainthood cause.

“We are very disappointed that the cause to canonize Venerable Fulton Sheen had to be closed, especially because it had been progressing so well,” she told the Catholic Herald, a British Catholic newspaper. “We are incredibly saddened and confused by the Archdiocese of New York’s decision to not cooperate with the Sheen Foundation on the cause. We trust in the goodness of God.”

Engstrom’s son James had no recorded heartbeat for 61 minutes after delivery. Then, as doctors were about to pronounce the child dead, James’ heart started beating. He has defied doctors’ predictions that he would not survive, or that he would have severe physical and developmental limitations. In March, a seven-member team of medical experts convoked by the Vatican reported there is no natural explanation for the boy’s survival.

“Countless supporters especially from the local church in Central Illinois have given their time, treasure and talent for this good work with the clear understanding that the body of Venerable Sheen would return to the diocese,” the Sept. 3 Peoria statement said. “Bishop Jenky was personally assured on several occasions by the Archdiocese of New York that the transfer of the body would take place at the appropriate time. New York’s change of mind took place as the work on behalf of the cause had reached a significant stage.”

Archbishop Sheen, after his years in the TV limelight, retained a high profile by running the Society for the Propagation of the Faith out of New York City.

 

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