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Have you heard? A U.N. treaty, backed by Vatican and U.S. bishops, has banned nuclear weapons

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Catholic News Service

The passage of a United Nations treaty banning the possession of nuclear weapons comes at a time when the majority of world’s nations are frustrated with the slow pace of nuclear disarmament.

Even with such a pact, years in the making, there is no timeline for total disarmament, arms control experts told Catholic News Service. Read more »

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Black Catholics at congress urged to ‘listen, learn, think, act and pray’

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Catholic News Service

ORLANDO, Fla. — United by the words of the prophet of social justice, Catholic Church leaders urged black Catholics to become active, just disciples of Christ.

More than 2,000 converged on Orlando July 6-9 for the 12th National Black Catholic Congress where speakers — clergy, lay and religious — addressed a variety of topics and concerns facing black communities and families, while urging those present to take an active, enthusiastic role in living out the Gospel as just disciples of Christ.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Vatican's Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, center, celebrates the July 9 closing Mass of the 12th National Black Catholic Congress in Orlando, Fla.(CNS/courtesy Nancy Jo Davis, National Black Catholic Congress)

Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, center, celebrates the July 9 closing Mass of the 12th National Black Catholic Congress in Orlando, Fla.(CNS/courtesy Nancy Jo Davis, National Black Catholic Congress)

During his homily at the opening Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, Father Patrick Smith, pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Washington, spoke about the “ridiculous power of the Christ on the cross” and how our own suffering can be offered up to God as a source of healing for others.

It is important the community does talk about its struggles, the priest said, but it also must talk about the redemptive power of God on the cross. He added while “racism ultimately leads to death … a spiritual suicide in our souls,” the truths of the Gospel sets lives free.

“That is our anger, but also our source of hope,” he said. “You and I cannot appreciate the good news unless we first face and acknowledge the bad news.”

The roots of the Black Catholic Congress stem from 1889 with layman and journalist Daniel Rudd, who brought together 100 black Catholic men to exchange and discuss questions affecting their race for not just Catholic blacks, but blacks across the country, and unite for a course of action while standing behind the Catholic Church and its values.

The group met with President Grover Cleveland during its first congress. In meeting and uniting, Father Smith said the Catholic Church demonstrated and voiced how “black Catholic lives mattered,” just as other groups have done as they convened when a group has suffered, such as with the pro-life groups who proclaim unborn lives matter.

“Black Catholics are born from the same womb of the baptismal font,” Father Smith said, adding that those gathered for the congress did not convene to achieve higher status, but rather to insist on “inclusion” because black Catholics are equal members of the body of Christ.

“And also, more importantly, (we gather) to extort and challenge ourselves to do our part and accept the responsibility in our role in the Church that God has given us. … We gather to see how to effectively evangelize because eternal life is way too important.”

Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, offered the opening keynote address that focused directly on the theme of the congress taken from the prophet Micah – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me: Act justly, love goodness and walk humbly with your God.”

His first point reaffirmed the united community of disciples of Christ and the need of inclusion of all “children of God.”

“When Pope Francis speaks, he doesn’t speak to nations, races and tribes; he speaks to humanity invited to be disciples of Jesus. And we respond first and foremost to this,” Cardinal Turkson said. “For there is no Gospel for Africans. There is no Gospel for Americans. There is no Gospel for Italians or Europeans. There is one Gospel for all of us created in the image and likeness of God we seek to respond to. … God’s children all belong together. None are set aside, none should live on the periphery and none are excluded.”

To demonstrate the power of being a disciple of Christ, Cardinal Turkson spoke about the story from Exodus of the Israelites following Moses in the desert. He asked those gathered to envision facing the Red Sea with the waters of parted and a path sandwiched between two walls of water.

The cardinal joked “water is never concrete” and some might have questioned what would happen if there was a really big wind. But the example of the Israelites who choose to follow Moses and trust God to hold up the walls of water demonstrates the courage and attitude that modern-day Christians must hold to be baptized in Christ and become just disciples of Christ.

“That is what baptism is. It is not a nominal celebration. It is a decision to live dependent on making Jesus your everything,” Cardinal Turkson said, borrowing the words of St. Paul who said after his conversion, “The life I live now is no longer mine.” “Anyone baptized lives that life. … It is not until you surrender your life to Jesus that you will live as a just disciple of Christ.”

Justice, reconciliation and peace are tantamount to unite the church family of God. While Cardinal Turkson said challenges such as tribalism in Africa and racism and discrimination in America present struggles, the Catholic Church family is invited to live beyond divisions and live in communion as children of God.

“In this family of God we need to live justly,” he said. “When we respect the demands of our relationships, we are just.”

By Jean Gonzales, who is on the staff of the Florida Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Miami and the dioceses of Orlando, Palm Beach and Venice.

 

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‘No greater love’ — Pope opens new ‘heroic act’ path to sainthood

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has approved a fourth pathway to possible sainthood — giving one’s life in a heroic act of loving service to others.

In a new apostolic letter, the pope approved new norms allowing for candidates to be considered for sainthood because of the heroic way they freely risked their lives and died prematurely because of “an extreme act of charity.”

Pope Francis celebrates the canonization Mass for seven new saints in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in October 2016. On July 11, the pope  approved a new pathway to possible sainthood — giving one’s life in a heroic act of loving service to others. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis celebrates the canonization Mass for seven new saints in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican in October 2016. On July 11, the pope approved a new pathway to possible sainthood — giving one’s life in a heroic act of loving service to others. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The document, given “motu proprio” (on his own initiative) went into effect the same day of its publication July 11, with the title “Maiorem hac dilectionem,” which comes from the Gospel according to St. John (15:13): “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes, said the addition is meant “to promote heroic Christian testimony, (that has been) up to now without a specific process, precisely because it did not completely fit within the case of martyrdom or heroic virtues.”

For centuries, consideration for the sainthood process required that a Servant of God heroically lived a life of Christian virtues or had been martyred for the faith. The third, less common way, is called an equivalent or equipollent canonization: when there is evidence of strong devotion among the faithful to a holy man or woman, the pope can waive a lengthy formal canonical investigation and can authorize their veneration as saints.

While these three roads to sainthood remain unchanged, they were not adequate “for interpreting all possible cases” of holiness, the archbishop wrote in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, July 11.

According to the apostolic letter, any causes for beatification according to the new pathway of “offering of life” would have to meet the following criteria:

  • Free and willing offer of one’s life and a heroic acceptance, out of love, of a certain and early death; the heroic act of charity and the premature death are connected.
  • Evidence of having lived out the Christian virtues, at least in an ordinary, and not necessarily heroic, way, before having offered one’s life to others and until one’s death.
  • Evidence of a reputation for holiness, at least after death.
  • A miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession is needed for beatification.

Archbishop Bartolucci wrote that the new norms arise from the sainthood congregation wanting to look into the question of whether men and women who, “inspired by Christ’s example, freely and willingly offered and sacrificed their life” for others “in a supreme act of charity, which was the direct cause of death,” were worthy of beatification. For example, throughout history there have been Christians who willingly put themselves at risk and died of infection or disease because of aiding and serving others, he wrote.

Pope Francis approved the congregation carrying out an in-depth study of the new proposal in early 2014, the archbishop wrote. After extensive input, discussion and the work of experts, the cardinal and bishop members of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes approved in 2016 “a new pathway for beatification of those who offered their lives with explicit and recognized Christian” reasons.

Archbishop Bartolucci wrote that the new provisions do nothing to alter church doctrine concerning Christian holiness leading to sainthood and the traditional procedure for beatification.

Rather, the addition offers an enrichment, he wrote, with “new horizons and opportunities for the edification of the people of God, who, in their saints, see the face of Christ, the presence of God in history and the exemplary implementation of the Gospel.”

 

Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.

 

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Pope names bishops for Cleveland and Juneau — updated

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WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Rockville Centre, New York, to head the Diocese of Cleveland.

The pope also has named Vincentian Father Andrew Bellisario, currently serving in the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska, to head the Diocese of Juneau, Alaska.

Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Rockville Centre, N.Y., to head the Diocese of Cleveland.(CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Rockville Centre, N.Y., to head the Diocese of Cleveland.(CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

The appointments were announced in Washington July 11 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Perez, 56, succeeds Bishop Richard G. Lennon, who resigned in December at age 70 citing health reasons. Bishop Perez has been an auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre since 2012. He is vicar for the diocese’s Hispanic Apostolate.

Bishop-designate Bellisario, 60, succeeds Bishop Edward J. Burns, now head of the Diocese of Dallas. Since 2015, the Vincentian priest has served Hispanic Catholics in the Anchorage archdiocese. He is a former provincial of his religious congregation’s Western U.S. province.

During his introduction to the diocese and the media at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist July 11, Bishop Perez said he was absolutely thrilled to come to Cleveland to lead a church with many rich ethnic cultures.

“I’ve been getting texts and calls and emails since 6 o’clock this morning. Thank God I got up early,” he said. “And they all had this theme: ‘Congratulations and Cleveland rocks!’”

Bishop Perez said that the 677,000 Catholics in the eight counties of the diocese show that the church in Northeast Ohio remains vibrant and alive. He said he looked forward to working alongside the faithful as missionary disciples, as Pope Francis calls the faithful to be.

“I hope that these 670,000 missionary disciples will go out, each one of them, and call more people to get to know Jesus Christ and love the church,” Bishop Perez said. “Those 670,000 people that make up this local church, our church, my church, is all potential. And we have to be joyful and excited and enthusiastic about that.”

Bishop Perez was welcomed by Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Toledo, Ohio, who has served as apostolic administrator of the Cleveland diocese since Bishop Lennon’s retirement. Both share a connection with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, where they served as priests in the past.

The new bishop also expressed gratitude to the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s leaders, retired Bishop William F. Murphy, and the diocese’s current bishop, Bishop John O. Barres, for guiding him during his five years as an auxiliary bishop in the diocese. “Both have helped me to learn how I can imitate their love for the church,” he said.

In his opening remarks, he addressed offered a few words in Spanish to Cleveland’s Latino Catholics. He recapped his background including his work in evangelization and ministry to Hispanics throughout his priesthood.

Bishop Perez will be installed as the 11th bishop of Cleveland Sept. 5.

He was born in Miami in 1961, the son of Cuban parents. He briefly described how his parents fled their homeland in 1960 because of restrictions on their freedom under the regime of Fidel Castro. The Perez family moved to New Jersey a few years later when the bishop was a child.

Bishop Perez graduated from Montclair State University in New Jersey with a bachelor degree in psychology. He taught for a year at Colegio la Piedad, a Catholic elementary school in Puerto Rico, before entering St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia to study for the priesthood.

Ordained in 1989 as a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Bishop Perez served as a parochial vicar in one parish and pastor of two others. He also was the founding director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization, an archdiocesan office for adult faith formation development and lay ministry training. In addition, he served as assistant director of the Office for Hispanic Catholics of the archdiocese.

In 2012, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of the Rockville Centre diocese. There, he was a member of the Corporate Board of Directors for Catholic Health Services, vice chair of Catholic Charities, and served on the Priests Personnel Board, Presbyteral Council and Diocesan Advisory Committee for Hispanic Ministry.

He is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs and is a former member of the bishops’ subcommittee overseeing the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

At a mid-morning introduction at St. Ann’s Hall at the diocesan Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Juneau, Bishop-designate Bellisario said he was surprised to learn Pope Francis wanted to appoint him to the Southeast Alaska diocese the last week of June by Archbishop Pierre.

“Totally stunned and floored was I to the point that I was having trouble breathing,” he told diocesan staff. “Yet the grace of God was in the exchange, the Holy Spirit I believe because once I was able to catch my breath, I was able to say emphatically and completely ‘Yes.’”

Bishop-designate Bellisario said he wrote a letter of acceptance to Pope Francis and shared the words of St. Vincent de Paul, who founded the religious order to which he belongs: “St. Vincent told the members of what he called his little company … ‘Let us love God, my brothers. Let us love God but let it be with the sweat of our brows.’

“I now declare that it is with the strength of my arms and the sweat of my brow that I completely dedicate myself to serving you,” the newly named bishop said.

He also recalled his upbringing in southern California by Depression-era parents, who came to the U.S. from Italy. He said his parents, Rocky and Mildred, stressed the importance of helping others who were less fortunate.

“My dad always told me, ‘You have to look out for the little guy. There is no one to care for the little guy.’ I always suspect the reason he always said that was because he himself was a little guy,” Bishop-designate Bellisario said.

As immigrants, his parents faced “were treated unfortunately the way that immigrants are treated today,” he said, adding that their devotion to the Catholic faith helped inspire his vocation to the priesthood as a Vincentian.

A native of Los Angeles, the bishop-designate was ordained in 1984. After ordination he served on the staff of St. Vincent’s Seminary in Montebello, California, first as assistant dean of students and then dean of students.

He served in parish ministry in California from 1986 through 1998 before becoming director of the De Paul Evangelization Center in Montebello. In 2002, he began an eight-year period as superior of the Vincentians’ Province of the West.

Beginning in 2003, he also took on added responsibilities as director of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, Province of Los Altos Hills, California. In 2015, Bishop-designate Bellisario headed north to Alaska to serve as superior of the International Mission of the Vincentians and parochial vicar of St. Anthony Parish in Anchorage. After a year he became pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral in Anchorage.

His episcopal ordination was set for Oct. 10.

 

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Pope sending new Salvadoran cardinal to Korea to work for peace

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Celebrating a Mass in his native El Salvador, newly created Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez said his first major assignment will be to travel to South Korea for a meeting on how to achieve peace with North Korea.

New Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez of San Salvador, El Salvador, celebrates a Mass at the Parish of the Blessed Sacrament as he takes possession of his titular church in Rome July 2. Celebrating a July 8 Mass in El Salvador, Cardinal Rosa Chavez said his first major assignment will be to travel to South Korea for a meeting on how to achieve peace with North Korea. (CNS photo/Rodrigo Sura, EPA)

New Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez of San Salvador, El Salvador, celebrates a Mass at the Parish of the Blessed Sacrament as he takes possession of his titular church in Rome July 2. Celebrating a July 8 Mass in El Salvador, Cardinal Rosa Chavez said his first major assignment will be to travel to South Korea for a meeting on how to achieve peace with North Korea. (CNS photo/Rodrigo Sura, EPA)

During a homily in San Salvador’s Metropolitan Cathedral July 8, Cardinal Rosa Chavez said that although he will “continue to be the least of my brother bishops” as auxiliary bishop, he is also entrusted to other matters by Pope Francis.

“I already received my first invitation to go to Seoul, South Korea, to attend a meeting to see how we can achieve peace between North and South Korea,” the cardinal said; his remarks were followed by applause and cheers by the faithful.

Tensions continue to escalate in the Korean peninsula after North Korea conducted its first successful intercontinental ballistic missile test July 4. With an estimated range of 5,000 miles, the missile is capable of striking the U.S. mainland with a nuclear-tipped warhead.

In response, the U.S. and South Korean military held joint drills in a show of force against North Korea. However, under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, North Korea has shown no signs of de-escalating its nuclear ambitions.

Cardinal Rosa Chavez, who worked closely with Blessed Oscar Romero before he was assassinated in 1980, was praised for his role in negotiations that brought peace to El Salvador after 12 years of civil war.

Following the announcement that he was to be made a cardinal, El Salvador’s Foreign Ministry said the San Salvador auxiliary was “fundamental in the process of dialogue and negotiation that allowed us to sign the peace accords in 1992 that put an end to the conflict in our country.”

Manuel Roberto Lopez, El Salvador’s ambassador to the Holy See, said July 10 that Cardinal Rosa Chavez’s new role “places him in a situation where he has great experience.”

“Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez was someone who collaborated extensively in the peace treaty in El Salvador because he was the only Salvadoran who participated in every single meeting between 1984-1989l,” the ambassador said.

His participation in negotiations between the Salvadoran government and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, he said, “culminated in the signing” of the Chapultepec Peace Accords in 1992.

Acknowledging that the conflict in the Korean peninsula is “a bit more complicated” and “won’t be resolved in one day,” Lopez told CNS that Cardinal Rosa Chavez’s experience can help bring both sides to the negotiating table.

“I’ve known him for many years and he is such an authentic person in his simplicity, in his way of being close to the people; he was an auxiliary bishop but always close to the people, with the smell of the sheep as Pope Francis says,” Lopez said.

“Even though he said he was going to return to his normal activities, I knew it wasn’t going to be that way. The pope saw in him something greater to have given him more duties in the course of his pontificate. That is my opinion,” he said.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

 

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Jesus helps carry the burdens of those who suffer, Pope Francis says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Men and women who carry the heavy burden of life’s troubles can find relief in Christ, who does not take away the load, but carries it as well, Pope Francis said.

“He waits for us, he always waits for us, not to resolve our problems magically, but to make us strong in our problems. Jesus does not remove the burdens of life, but rather the anguish of heart; he does not take the cross away from us, but carries it with us,” the pope said before praying the Angelus July 9 with people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Pilgrims take selfies as Pope Francis leads the Angelus July 9 in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Pilgrims take photos as Pope Francis leads the Angelus July 9 in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

The pope’s reflection centered on the Sunday reading from the Gospel of St. Matthew, in which Jesus invites all those who “labor and are burdened” to come to him for rest.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light,” Jesus said.

The pope said Christ excludes no one from this invitation and knows “that many things can make the heart weary.”

Jesus, he added, calls on people to “move and react” rather than to stay “lying there” when things go badly.

“It’s not easy. In dark moments, it is natural to be within one’s self, to brood over how unjust life is, on how ungrateful others are and how evil the world is and so forth,” the pope said.

Instead, Pope Francis said, Jesus wants to pull “us out from this quicksand” and give all people a way out of sadness, which allows them to raise their eyes “toward the one who really loves us.”

“When Jesus enters our life, peace comes; that (peace) which remains even in trials, in sufferings. Let us go to Jesus, let us give him our time, let us meet him every day in prayer, in a confident and personal dialogue; let us familiarize ourselves with his word, let us rediscover his forgiveness without fear, let us be satiated with his bread of life: We will feel loved and consoled by him,” the pope said.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

 

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Economic solutions need broader vision, pope tells G-20 leaders

July 8th, 2017 Posted in Featured, International News

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — World leaders attending the Group of 20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, must reflect on the repercussions their decisions may have on the entire global community and not just their own countries, Pope Francis said.

While it is reasonable that the G-20 is limited to a “small number of countries that represent 90 percent of the production of wealth and services worldwide,” a multilateral approach in solving economic problems must be made “for the benefit of all,” the pope said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the plenary session of the the Group of 20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, July, 7. In a message sent to world leaders attending the meeting, Pope Francis said they must reflect on the repercussions their decisions may have on the entire global community, not just their own countries.(CNS photo/Felipe Tueba, EPA)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the plenary session of the the Group of 20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, July, 7. In a message sent to world leaders attending the meeting, Pope Francis said they must reflect on the repercussions their decisions may have on the entire global community, not just their own countries.(CNS photo/Felipe Tueba, EPA)

The pope’s message to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, host of the July 7-8 leaders’ summit, was dated June 29 and released July 7 at the Vatican.

“Those states and individuals whose voice is weakest on the world political scene are precisely the ones who suffer most from the harmful effects of economic crises for which they bear little or no responsibility,” the papal message said.

“This great majority, which in economic terms counts for only 10 percent of the whole, is the portion of humanity that has the greatest potential to contribute to the progress of everyone,” he said.

The members of the G-20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

Citing his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”), Pope Francis proposed four principles “for the building of fraternal, just and peaceful societies.”

Reflecting on the principle that “time is greater than space,” the pope said the migration crisis, which is “inseparable from the issue of poverty and exacerbated by armed conflict,” requires an effective solution spread over time with a clear “final objective.”

“In the minds and hearts of government leaders, and at every phase of the enactment of political measures, there is a need to give absolute priority to the poor, refugees, the suffering, evacuees and the excluded, without distinction of nation, race, religion or culture, and to reject armed conflicts,” he said.

He also urged world leaders to promote economic policies where “unity prevails over conflict.” Economic differences, he said, cannot be resolved if leaders are not committed to “substantially reducing levels of conflict, halting the present arms race and renouncing direct or indirect involvement in conflicts.”

“There is a tragic contradiction and inconsistency in the apparent unity expressed in common forums on economic or social issues, and the acceptance, active or passive, of armed conflicts,” the pope said.

G-20 leaders, he continued, must follow the example of past world leaders who were guided by “the primacy of the human being” and turn away from “new ideologies of absolute market autonomy and financial speculation.”

“In their tragic wake, these bring exclusion, waste and even death,” the pope said.

Pope Francis said to resolve today’s economic problems and challenges, the G-20 leaders must first “consider the eventual repercussions on all countries and their citizens, while respecting the views and opinions of the latter.”

He also expressed his hope that the meeting would be led by “the spirit of responsible solidarity that guides all those taking part.”

“I ask God’s blessings upon the Hamburg meeting and on every effort of the international community to shape a new era of development that is innovative, interconnected, sustainable, environmentally respectful and inclusive of all peoples and all individuals,” the pope said.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

 

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U.S., European bishops call for elimination of nuclear weapons

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Agencies of the U.S. and European Catholic bishops have called for all nations to develop a plan to eliminate nuclear weapons from their military arsenals.

A joint declaration released July 6 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Conference of European Justice and Peace Commissions called upon the U.S. and European nations to work with other nations to “map out a credible, verifiable and enforceable strategy for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

A group marching for nuclear disarmament carries a banner during a protest in mid-April in Berlin. Agencies of the U.S. and European Catholic bishops have called for all nations to develop a plan to eliminate nuclear weapons from their military arsenals. (CNS photo/Clemens Bilan, EPA)

A group marching for nuclear disarmament carries a banner during a protest in mid-April in Berlin. Agencies of the U.S. and European Catholic bishops have called for all nations to develop a plan to eliminate nuclear weapons from their military arsenals. (CNS photo/Clemens Bilan, EPA)

“The indiscriminate and disproportionate nature of nuclear weapons compel the world to move beyond nuclear deterrence,” the declaration said.

Titled “Nuclear Disarmament: Seeking Human Security,” the declaration was released a day ahead of the July 7 conclusion of a second U.N. conference discussing a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons altogether.

The declaration was signed by Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, president of the Conference of European Justice and Peace Commissions.

“The teaching of our church, from the catechism to St. Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis, about the urgent need for nuclear disarmament is clear,” Bishop Cantu said in a statement accompanying the declaration’s release. “It is time for us to heed this moral imperative and promote human security both within the United States and Europe and globally.”

The U.S. and most European nations have sat on the sidelines during the U.N. meetings discussing a weapons ban, preferring to focus on the need for broader security measures to allow for strategic stability on the road to verifiable reductions in nuclear arsenals. In all, about 40 nations are boycotting the negotiations to ban such weapons. Most nations continue to support the Non-Proliferation Treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology.

Bishop Cantu told Catholic News Service his committee and the European bishops wanted to highlight the “glaring absence” of nuclear weapons states, including the U.S., from the U.N. conference.

“The silence gives us some clarity to raise a moral voice, to say, ‘Let’s look from a moral perspective what our priorities are as a nation when we’re looking to invest hundreds of billions of dollars into the update and renewal of the nuclear arsenal,” he said.

The declaration, he explained, serves to encourage the countries possessing nuclear weapons to join the U.N. meetings and exercise leadership in reducing and eventually eliminating nuclear weapons stockpiles.

“There are some really serious moral issues, economic issues, priority issues, policy issues that we want to lift up to society and our own electorate,” the bishop said.

“We can lend a voice as well to the Vatican statement that was issued in 2014 that was really critical that clarified for the Catholic world at least and others … that the ethic of deterrence was supposed to be one step on the road toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. It’s (stockpiling weapons) not the pathway itself,” Bishop Cantu added.

The declaration acknowledged that nuclear weapon states have been spending billions of dollars to modernize their nuclear arsenals. “These costly programs will divert enormous resources from other pressing needs that build security,” it said.

“The fact that most of the world’s nations are participating in this effort testifies to the urgency of their concern, an urgency intensified by the prospect of nuclear terrorism and proliferation, and to the inequality and dissatisfaction of non-nuclear states about the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament,” the statement said.

The declaration cited Pope Francis, who during his papacy has repeatedly called for the elimination of nuclear weapons, most recently in a message to the United Nations’ opening conference on a treaty to ban such weapons in March.

Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

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Cell phones off, St. Elizabeth students connect in service

By

Dialog reporter

High school students spend start of summer helping Oblate Sisters at Mount Aviat Academy in Childs, Md.

CHILDS, Md. — Eleven girls from St. Elizabeth High School spent the better part of a week recently disconnecting, for the most part, from their everyday lives and connecting with each other and the community at Mount Aviat Academy in Childs, Md.

The annual service project and retreat marked its third year in Childs after having been held in Ridgely, Md. Sister John Elizabeth Callaghan, an Oblate Sister of St. Francis de Sales and principal of Mount Aviat, said St. Elizabeth reached out to the Oblates offering their service, which the congregation was happy to accept. The girls and two teachers who accompanied them stayed at the sisters’ retreat facility in Galena, Md., about 40 minutes away. Read more »

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Extreme Camp: St. Mary Magdalen students start school vacation by giving back to parish

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Dialog reporter

WILMINGTON — For grade-school students, the summer could be extremely boring, or it could be extremely productive, with crafts, service and water games. Thirty-two rising fifth- through eighth-grade students spent a week in June at St. Mary Magdalen making the most of their time.

Extreme Camp is now in its third year at the north Wilmington parish. The campers — 27 girls and five boys — kept busy around the campus and with each other. Eight counselors, seven of whom are in high school, joined in, as did a few adults and St. Mary Magdalen youth minister Theresa Griffith. Read more »

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