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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 »

Pope beatifies Blessed Paul VI, the ‘great helmsman’ of Vatican II

October 19th, 2014 Posted in Featured, Vatican News


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Beatifying Blessed Paul VI at the concluding Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the family, Pope Francis praised the late pope as the “great helmsman” of the Second Vatican Council and founder of the synod, as well as a “humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his church.”

The pope spoke during a homily in St. Peter’s Square at a Mass for more than 30,000 people, under a sunny sky on an unseasonably warm Oct. 19. Read more »

St. Joseph’s is ‘a beacon of life and faith’ in Wilmington


Dialog Editor


WILMINGTON — Before there was a St. Joseph Church on French Street, black Catholics here gathered for Mass in the basement of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception on Pine Street.

Beginning in 1889, Father John A. de Ruyter, a Josephite priest, celebrated those Masses for “colored” Catholics, members of what was known as St. Joseph Mission. The Masses took place in the basement of St. Mary’s because the mission’s congregation wasn’t allowed to worship upstairs. Read more »

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U.S. Catholic health care workers, dioceses respond to Ebola crisis


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Tabiri Chukunta has been trying to get the word out to the West African community in New Jersey that their families and friends in Liberia need to put on hold, at least temporarily, cultural traditions of greeting people affectionately and washing bodies of the dead.

For now, Chukunta, executive director of community outreach at St. Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey — a long way from his Nigerian homeland — feels the educational campaign has been effective.

Read more »

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


Catholic News Service

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

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

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Cardinal Pell: Synod says no to ‘secular agenda’

October 17th, 2014 Posted in Featured, Vatican News Tags: ,


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Cardinal George Pell said working-group reports from the Synod of Bishops on the family finally give a true picture of the assembly’s views, counteracting what he characterized as a misleading midterm report.

“We wanted the Catholic people around the world to know actually what was going on in talking about marriage and the family and, by and large, I think people will be immensely reassured,” Cardinal Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, told Catholic News Service Oct. 16, the day the reports were published. Read more »

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Synod working groups emphasize beauty of marriage, church teaching

October 16th, 2014 Posted in Featured, Vatican News Tags:


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family must put greater focus on the beauty of the Christian vision of marriage and not let an approach of “welcoming” and mercy override the church’s duty to call people to turn away from sin, according to a number of reports from the synod’s small groups.

While the Oct. 4-19 synod was convened to talk about the pastoral challenges facing today’s families, its midterm synod report put too much emphasis on the problems, which risked making families and young people not want to bother with trying to make a marriage work, some synod groups said. Read more »

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Family synod midterm report stirs controversy among bishops


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The official midterm report from the Synod of Bishops, which uses strikingly conciliatory language toward divorced and remarried Catholics, cohabitating couples and same-sex unions, has proven highly controversial inside and outside the synod hall, with some synod fathers saying it does not accurately reflect the assembly’s views.

Cardinals Timothy M. Dolan of New York (left), Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, arrive for the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 14. (CNS

Cardinals Timothy M. Dolan of New York (left), Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, arrive for the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 14. (CNS

Following a nearly hourlong speech Oct. 13 by Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest, who, as the synod’s relator, has the task of guiding the discussion and synthesizing its results, 41 of the 184 synod fathers present took the floor to comment the same morning, the Vatican said.

According to the Vatican’s summary of their remarks, which did not quote bishops by name in accordance with synod rules, a number of synod fathers objected that Cardinal Erdo’s text lacked certain necessary references to Catholic moral teaching.

“In regard to homosexuality, there was noted the need for welcoming, with the right degree of prudence, so as not to create the impression of a positive valuation of that orientation,” the summary said. “It was hoped that the same care would be taken in regard to cohabitation.”

Bishops also remarked on the midterm report’s scarce references to the concept of sin, and encouraged the assembly to emulate the “prophetic tone of Jesus, to avoid the risk of conforming to the mentality of today’s world.”

Regarding one of the synod’s most discussed topics, a proposal by German Cardinal Walter Kasper to make it easier for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion, at least one bishop argued that it would be “difficult to welcome some exceptions without in reality turning it into a general rule.”

Some members of the synod made their objections public.

U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, told Catholic World Report that the midterm report “advances positions which many synod fathers do not accept and, I would say, as faithful shepherds of the flock cannot accept. Clearly, the response to the document in the discussion which immediately followed its presentation manifested that a great number of synod fathers found it objectionable.”

Cardinal Burke accused leaders of the synod of giving the public a distorted image of the proceedings, almost all of which are closed to the press.

“All of the information regarding the synod is controlled by the General Secretariat of the synod, which clearly has favored from the beginning the positions expressed” in the midterm report, the cardinal said. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the approach at work, which is certainly not of the church.”

Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan, Poland, president of the Polish bishops’ conference, told Vatican Radio that Cardinal Erdo’s speech was not acceptable to many synod fathers, because it departed from the theology of St. John Paul II and reflected an ideology hostile to marriage by seeming to approve of same-sex couples raising children, among other ways.

The midterm report “should be an incentive to fidelity, family values, but instead seems to accept everything as it is,” the archbishop said.

The controversy over the report prompted the synod’s General Secretariat to issue a statement Oct. 14, lamenting that a “value has been attributed to the document that does not correspond to its nature” and emphasizing that it is a “working document, which summarizes the interventions and debate of the first week, and is now being offered for discussion by the members of the synod.”

The bishops were to work in small groups of about 20 each, discussing Cardinal Erdo’s speech and presenting their conclusions to the entire assembly Oct. 16.

Speaking to reporters Oct. 14, Cardinal Wilfrid F. Napier of Durban, South Africa, said his group had found in the midterm report “quite a lot of things which are expressed in a way which we certainly wouldn’t feel that are very helpful to giving a clear idea of where the church stands on some of the issues that are being raised.”

“Individual things that were said by individuals, may have been repeated a couple of times, are put in here as if they really do reflect the feeling of the whole synod. They’ve been picked up by the media then and made to be the message of the synod. I think that’s where the upset is,” he said.

The cardinal would not specify the statements or topics in question. When asked about media reports that Cardinal Erdo’s speech represented a new overture to divorced Catholics and homosexuals, he said, “That’s one of the reasons why there’s been such an upset among the synod fathers, because we’re now working from a position that’s virtually irredeemable. The message has gone out, ‘this is what the synod is saying, this is what the Catholic Church is saying,’ and it’s not what we are saying at all.”

The cardinal said the midterm report accurately reflected bishops’ calls to drop “very harsh language that alienates people,” such as cohabitating couples, who act in conflict with church teachings, but he said Cardinal Erdo had not suggested the teachings themselves would change.

“My worry is that the message has gone out — and it’s not a true message — that this synod has taken up these positions, and whatever we say hereafter is going to be as if we’re doing some damage control, which is certainly not what is in my mind,” Cardinal Napier said.


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Wilmington ‘officials’ fail to curtail 40 Days for Life sidewalk vigils


Dialog reporter

WILMINGTON — Those who have been quietly protesting abortion outside Planned Parenthood in Wilmington during the latest 40 Days for Life campaign do not need a permit to be on the sidewalk, the city acknowledged last week.

The city was responding to a letter from the Thomas More Society, a national law firm contacted by 40 Days organizers after protesters were approached early in the campaign by Wilmington police and a “business compliance/license inspection” officer. The law and licensing enforcement occurred on the first day of the 40 Days for Life, Sept. 24. The protesters pray and sing on the sidewalk outside Planned Parenthood at Seventh and Shipley streets.

40 Days for Life participants sing outside Wilmington's Planned Parenthood facility on Oct. 13. the 20th day of the campaign. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

40 Days for Life participants sing outside Wilmington’s Planned Parenthood facility on Oct. 13. the 20th day of the campaign. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

According to the Thomas More Society, which has no connection to the diocesan St. Thomas More Society, the police officer first said the music was too loud, then that city ordinance had changed since the last vigil and the protesters could not have music at all.

A short while later, the licensing officer appeared and “informed the group that they could not be there as they were blocking the sidewalk and needed a permit,” the Thomas More Society said.

“They came the first day,” said Julie Easter, the campaign director for the Wilmington 40 Days for Life. “Somebody called, they don’t like the music, they don’t want to hear the name of Jesus. They come out and say that. It’s bad for business to have people in there (Planned Parenthood) hearing the name of Jesus out here.”

Campaign organizers, who noted that they had contacted the Wilmington police before the 40 Days started and that they had done this for several years, got in touch with the Thomas More Society, which could find no such ordinance in Wilmington city code. Nor did they need a permit, it added.

“Our research indicates no requirements under Wilmington ordinances that require a permit for a peaceful gathering of a small group of people engaging in core political speech, such as 40 Days for Life Wilmington,” the society wrote to the city.

Easter said the first day was the only one when police or a city employee engaged her group. They are used to seeing the police drive by or stop to observe the proceedings, however.

“Two Saturdays ago they came again. This time, they brought a paddy wagon, two squad cars and a motorcycle, which was kind of extreme. I called Thomas More again after that,” she said.

Rosamaria Tassone-DiNardo, the first assistant city solicitor, responded in a letter to Thomas More on Oct. 9 after that incident. She acknowledged that a permit is not necessary and that those out with 40 Days for Life have left room for pedestrians to walk on the sidewalk.

Easter said her group just wants its First Amendment rights to be respected. “We don’t want to have to sue the city for something so ridiculous.”

There is a residence across the street from Planned Parenthood, so Easter said they do not have any music before 11 a.m. They are at the site every day from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

As for the campaign itself, Easter said they were pleased with the results as of the midway point.

“We’ve had three saves, which we’re very pleased about, and we also have many turn aways. Those are people who come and don’t really know what Planned Parenthood is all about,” she said.

“We’ve let them know that they do have alternatives in the city. There are many places that want to help them to choose life. A lot of times they don’t know they have those options. We also talk to them about post-abortive healing. There is a lot of free counseling available to them.”

At a Mass at St. Peter Cathedral on Oct. 13 to mark 20 days, Bishop Malooly said Pope Francis has said all of us are “masterpieces of God’s creation” and deserving of reverence and respect.

“Masterpieces of God’s creation, that has been our theme in this October month for life, as a reminder for us to look at every individual as God’s unique creation,” the bishop said in his homily. “That’s why it’s so important what we do for life in trying to preserve all the unborn.

“Jesus challenges us to continue, to forge ahead, to not lose courage, be strengthened by his presence, and let him work through each of us.”

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‘Jesus condemns people with good manners but bad habits, ’ pope says

October 14th, 2014 Posted in Featured, Vatican News


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Faith is not about appearances and superficially following the laws with a heart that resists detaching itself from greed and evil, Pope Francis said in a morning homily.

God wants to see a faith that inspires action and is “working in charity,” making sacrifices for others, the pope said Oct. 14 during his morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta where he lives.

Pope Francis greets auditors of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family as he arrives for the afternoon session at the Vatican Oct.

Pope Francis greets auditors of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family as he arrives for the afternoon session at the Vatican Oct.

“Jesus condemns this cosmetic spirituality — appearing good, beautiful, but the truth that’s inside is a whole other thing,” he said, according to Vatican Radio.

“Jesus condemns people with good manners but bad habits, those habits you can’t see, but are done on the sly. But the appearance is alright: these people who like to stroll in the square, be seen praying, ‘disguise oneself’ by seeming a bit weak when fasting,” he said.

St. Luke in the day’s Gospel reading (11:37-41) details how Jesus admonishes the Pharisee who is shocked when Jesus doesn’t observe the prescribed washing ritual before the meal.

Jesus highlights the hypocrisy of a vessel that’s clean on the outside, but “inside you are filled with plunder and evil” — an image similar to one in the Gospel according to St. Matthew that speaks of the “whitewashed tombs” that are beautiful on the outside, but filled with filth and rot, the pope said.

Also St. Paul in his Letter to the Galatians (5:1-6), also read at the Mass, says people “who are trying to be justified by law” are separated from Christ and fallen from grace. That is because the only thing that counts for Jesus is “faith working through love,” the pope said, citing St. Paul.

“The law by itself doesn’t save,” nor does just reciting the Creed; “it’s a motionless faith,” he said. Faith must lead to charity and sacrificing for others, the pope said.

The Bible is not speaking only of almsgiving, but about a true detachment “from the dictatorship of money, from the idolatry of cash. All greed distances us from Jesus Christ,” he said.

The pope then told a story about a very wealthy woman who wanted to give the late Jesuit superior, Father Pedro Arrupe, a donation for mission work in Japan.

Father Arrupe, who led the Jesuits from 1965 to 1983, went to meet the woman and saw that she had invited the media to cover it as some kind of event, the pope said.

The priest felt “great humiliation,” but accepted the money because it would be for the poor in Japan, the pope recalled. But when Father Arrupe “opened the envelope, there was 10 dollars” inside.

Pope Francis asked people to reflect whether “ours is a cosmetic Christian life of appearances or a Christian life with the faith working in charity?”

Jesus advises everyone to “never blow a horn” about their good deeds and to “never give just the leftovers,” but to make a true sacrifice for others, he said.


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