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Parishes provide beachfront for international relations

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For The Dialog

 

In a world bedeviled by terrorism and often focused on differences between nations, religions and peoples, a group of people along the Delmarva Peninsula’s Atlantic coastline are improving international relations one meal at a time.

They provide dinners for the International Student Outreach Program (ISOP), an organization that began at St. Mary Star of the Sea/Holy Savior Parish in Ocean City 18 years ago and expanded to Rehoboth Beach. The program is known for free weekly dinners for students who come to the United States each summer to fill seasonal jobs at the beaches. Read more »

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God’s fatherly love is a revolution in religious psychology, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The mystery of God’s relationship with humankind is revolutionary in that Christians can look to him without fear as children to a loving father, Pope Francis said.

In teaching the Lord’s prayer, Jesus invites all Christians “to have the courage of calling God with the name ‘father,’” the pope said June 7 at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis blesses a man during his general audience June 7 in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (CNS/Maurizo Brambatti, EPA)

Pope Francis blesses a man during his general audience June 7 in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (CNS/Maurizo Brambatti, EPA)

“This is the great revolution that Christianity ingrains into the religious psychology of man. The mystery of God who always fascinates us and makes us feel small but no longer frightens us, he doesn’t crush us, he doesn’t distress us,” the pope said.

With temperatures in Rome hovering slightly above 80 degrees, the hot and humid weather did little to keep the estimated 15,000 pilgrims from singing and waving as Pope Francis greeted them on his popemobile.

The pope occasionally stopped to kiss several babies whose heads were draped in cloth to protect them from the sun.

In his talk, the pope reflected on the theme of God’s fatherhood as a source of hope for Christians as conveyed in the prayer of the “Our Father.”

While some may be more inclined to refer to God with a title that is “more respectful of his transcendence,” he said, the word “father” implies a trustful relationship “like a child to a father, knowing that we are loved and cared for by him.”

Referring to the parable of the prodigal son, the pope said God loves his children “not in a human way because there is no father in this world who would behave like the protagonist in this parable.”

“God is a father in his own way: good, defenseless in the face of man’s free will, capable only of conjugating the verb, ‘love,’” the pope said. “What an unfathomable mystery is a God that nourishes this kind of love toward his children.”

It is for this reason, he added, that St. Paul chose not to translate the word “father” into Greek and instead uses the Aramaic word, ‘“Abba,’ a term that is even more intimate than ‘father’ and that someone may translate as ‘pop, dad.’”

The pope said that although men and women “can be far away, hostile or even profess ourselves as being ‘without God,’” God is never far from humankind.

“When we need help, Jesus doesn’t tell us to give up and close in on ourselves, but rather to turn to the father and ask him with confidence,” he said.

Before concluding, Pope Francis asked pilgrims to contemplate on the difficulties they face in their lives before leading them in praying the “Our Father.”

“Let us think about these problems and needs in silence. Let us also think about the father, our father, who cannot be without us and who is watching us at this moment,” he said.

Pope Francis also said he would participate in the “One minute for peace” initiative June 8, a moment of prayer starting at 1 p.m. on the third anniversary of the prayer service held at the Vatican with the late Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“In our time, there is a great need to pray — Christians, Jews and Muslims — for peace,” the pope said.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Sals’ Mike Drake leads all-state selections from Catholic schools

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Salesianum senior attack Mike Drake, who scored two goals in the Sals’ championship-game win on June 3, has been named the 2017 state boys lacrosse player of the year. Drake will continue his athletic career at the University of Notre Dame.

He is one of six players from Catholic schools who earned first-team honors. The selections were announced June 5 by the state lacrosse coaches association. Read more »

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Catholics join pope in praying for victims of London attacks

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Catholics joined Pope Francis and the rest of the world in expressing sorrow for those killed and severely injured in the latest terrorist attacks in London the night of June 3.

“The vigil of Pentecost had barely begun when the world was burdened yet again, this time by the sinister attacks on innocent men and women in the heart of London,” Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in an early June 4 statement.

Flowers and messages lie behind police crime tape June 4 near London's Borough Market after an attack left seven people dead and dozens injured. (CNS/Peter Nicholls, Reuters)

Flowers and messages lie behind police crime tape June 4 near London’s Borough Market after an attack left seven people dead and dozens injured. (CNS/Peter Nicholls, Reuters)

“In such tragic hours, we implore the Holy Spirit to pour out his gift of comfort on those who grieve the loss of loved ones and on the dozens who were so tragically injured in this horrible attack,” he said. “At the same time, we see in the courage of the first responders the true and courageous spirit of our brothers and sisters, the people of Great Britain.”

After celebrating Mass on Pentecost, June 4, with an estimated 60,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis offered public prayers for the victims of the attacks in London that left seven people dead and 48 others injured.

“May the Holy Spirit grant peace to the whole world,” he said. “May He heal the wounds of war and of terrorism, which even last night in London struck innocent civilians. Let us pray for the victims and their families.”

In his statement, Cardinal DiNardo said U.S. Catholics joined in the pope’s prayers for the victims and survivors, and he added: “May God grant strength, wisdom and protection to the men and women who safeguard our families and may he convert the hearts of all who follow the path of evil extremism. Our solidarity in Christian hope and commitment to peace is a bond that cannot be broken.”

In New York, WABC-TV’s “Eyewitness News” reported that a college student from Brooklyn who attends Jesuit-run Boston College was at a pub with some of his classmates in London’s Borough Market when terrorists came in with long knives and started attacking people.

The attackers first mowed people down on the London Bridge in a white van, then left the van to go on a killing spree in Borough Market, according to news reports.

As others fled the pub scene or huddled in fear, Mark Kindschuh, 19, of Bay Ridge, stayed to help a man he saw fighting for his life, the TV station reported.

“All I could see was one man at the front on the ground with a pool of blood forming,” Kindschuh told WABC-TV. “You couldn’t really see it, because there was so much blood around his head, but I searched around with my hands, and it was on the back of his head.”

Kindschuh said he took his belt and wrapped it around the victim’s head to slow the bleeding, then shouted to the crowd asking if anyone was a doctor. He stayed with the victim and a short while later police entered the bar.

His father, Dr. Mark Kindschuh, who is director of Coney Island Hospital’s Emergency Department, told WABC he was proud that his son stayed with the injured man and showed such selflessness amid the panic.

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Pentecost is celebration of unity in diversity, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Holy Spirit continues to give Christians different gifts and to call them to share those gifts with each other in a community marked by forgiveness and “unity in diversity,” Pope Francis said on Pentecost.

“In a way both creative and unexpected,” the pope said, the Holy Spirit “generates diversity, for in every age he causes new and varied charisms to blossom. Then he brings about unity: he joins together, gathers and restores harmony.”

Pope Francis prays during a Pentecost vigil marking the 50th anniversary of the Catholic charismatic renewal at the Circus Maximus in Rome June 3. Next to the pope are Gilberto Barbosa from Brazil and Patti Gallagher Mansfield, a participant in the 1967 Pittsburgh retreat that marked the beginning of the Charismatic renewal. (CNS /Paul Haring)

Pope Francis prays during a Pentecost vigil marking the 50th anniversary of the Catholic charismatic renewal at the Circus Maximus in Rome June 3. Next to the pope are Gilberto Barbosa from Brazil and Patti Gallagher Mansfield, a participant in the 1967 Pittsburgh retreat that marked the beginning of the Charismatic renewal. (CNS /Paul Haring)

With tens of thousands of Catholic charismatics from around the world and with dozens of Pentecostal and evangelical leaders present, Pope Francis celebrated Pentecost Mass June 4 in St. Peter’s Square and concluded a five-day celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Catholic charismatic renewal.

In his homily at the Mass, the pope said Christians can block the unity in diversity desired by the Holy Spirit by focusing on their differences rather than on what they share.

“This happens when we want to separate, when we take sides and form parties, when we adopt rigid and airtight positions, when we become locked into our own ideas and ways of doing things, perhaps even thinking that we are better than others,” he said.

“When this happens,” the pope said, “we choose the part over the whole, belonging to this or that group before belonging to the church” and taking pride in being “Christians of the ‘right’ or the ‘left’ before being on the side of Jesus.”

The other temptation, he said, is to seek unity without tolerating diversity. “Here, unity becomes uniformity, where everyone has to do everything together and in the same way, always thinking alike.”

When the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost, he said, the first gift the Spirit brought was forgiveness for their sins and the grace to forgive others.

“Here we see the beginning of the church, the glue that holds us together, the cement that binds the bricks of the house: forgiveness,” he said.

Forgiveness “preserves unity despite everything, prevents collapse and consolidates and strengthens,” he said. “Forgiveness sets our hearts free and enables us to start afresh.”

Pope Francis began his Pentecost celebrations at an ecumenical vigil June 3 with some 50,000 Catholic charismatics and Pentecostals from more than 125 countries gathered for praise and worship at the site of the ancient Roman Circus Maximus.

Although less exuberantly, the pope, too, sang with his hands cupped open or with his hands raised. He stood between Michelle Moran, president of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services, and Patti Mansfield, who was present when the Catholic charismatic renewal was born. In February 1967 Mansfield was one of the Duquesne University students, who experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit during a retreat.

The charismatic renewal is “a current of grace,” Pope Francis told the crowd at the Circus Maximus. “It is a work that was born — Catholic? No. It was born ecumenical,” with similar results in many denominations and with Pentecostals providing support and education to new Catholic charismatics.

“It was born ecumenical because it is the Holy Spirit who creates unity,” the pope said. The Holy Spirit drew Catholics and Pentecostals together to profess that Jesus is Lord and “to proclaim together the Father’s love for all his children.”

In ancient Rome, Pope Francis said, Christians were martyred in the Circus Maximus “for the entertainment of those watching.” He urged the crowd to remember how many Christians are being killed for their faith today and to recognize that their murderers are not asking them their denomination, just whether or not they are Christian.

If those who want to kill Christians believe they are one, he said, it is urgent that Christians be “united by the work of the Holy Spirit in prayer and in action on behalf of those who are weaker.”

“Walk together. Work together. Love each other,” Pope Francis told them.

Being baptized in the Spirit and knowing how to praise God, he said, “are not enough” if Christians don’t also help those in need.

An Italian Pentecostal pastor, Giovanni Traettino, a friend of Pope Francis’ since they met at an ecumenical charismatic gathering in Buenos Aires in 2006, told the crowd that as Christians grow in their love for God, they should simultaneously grow in love for one another.

“The movement of the Holy Spirit, also known as the Pentecostal movement, has in its DNA, its life in the Holy Spirit, the vocation to build Christian unity,” he said.

Pentecostals and Catholic charismatics have not always gotten along, Traettino said. But “the election of Pope Francis clearly opened a new season, especially in relations with us.”

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, offered a reflection also focusing on the ecumenical vocation of the charismatic renewal.

How many of the divisions among Christians “have been due to the desire to make a name for ourselves or for our own church more than for God,” he asked. “A renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit will not be possible without a collective movement of repentance on the part of all Christians.”

Tens of thousands of people gathered for hours of song and prayer before the pope arrived. As Rome’s summer sun beat down on the pilgrims, Elaine Pollard and Sandra Mobley from Holy Cross parish in Brooklyn, New York, found space in the shade under one of the few trees on the edge of the crowd. They had traveled to Rome with group of 88 people.

Both women are lifelong Catholics who discovered the charismatic renewal in 1989. Pollard said she has stayed with it “because my whole life changed. The first night I went I wasn’t impressed.” That was a Saturday and when she went to work on Monday, “I started to hum one of the songs and my heart just broke open, like living water” flowing forth. “It changed my whole life.”

As she spoke to Catholic News Service, the choir on stage started singing, “10,000 Reasons,” a song of praise. Pollard started to cry.

“We were singing this song when my husband died” 15 months ago, she said. He was in the hospital, dying, and her adopted daughter started singing it. Other relatives, who couldn’t be there in person, were connected by Skype and they were singing it, too, as he passed away.

It is still difficult, she said, but “he wanted me to come and be here.”

Kaye and George Balsam and Terry Mroz from St. Gabriel the Archangel parish in McKinney, Texas, were at the Circus Maximus as part of a 130-person pilgrimage that visited the Holy Land before arriving in Rome for the Pentecost celebrations.

The trip was George’s first with charismatics and he was enthused. “This is what we need to reinvent the church,” he said. Getting people excited about the faith is what is needed if “we want the church to get straightened out and stop losing people,” he said.

Mroz said, “We receive baptism as babies and then we’re confirmed,” but so many people experience the sacraments only as “ritual” and are unaware of the power the sacraments hold. The charismatic renewal “reawakens those gifts you received at baptism and confirmation. Until you get the Holy Spirit, you don’t get this reawakening. That’s what it is, a reawakening of the gifts given you before.”

 

Contributing to this story was Carol Glatz.

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Sals grab early lead, win third straight lacrosse title and ninth overall

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For The Dialog

 

DOVER – Second-seeded Salesianum’s lacrosse team won its third straight title with a 13-5 win over fourth-seeded Cape Henlopen on June 3 at Dover High School. The Sals got a goal by Patrick Drake 15 seconds in and never trailed in winning their sixth title in the last seven years and ninth overall. Read more »

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Catholic groups decry U.S. decision to abandon climate accord

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WASHINGTON — Catholic leaders said President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate change agreement snubs the needs of impoverished people around the world and avoids the responsibility to begin addressing the causes of global warming.

They joined a broad cross section of U.S. society and world leaders and organizations in decrying the June 1 announcement.

U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision that the United States will withdraw from the landmark Paris climate agreement June 1 in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision that the United States will withdraw from the landmark Paris climate agreement June 1 in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)

Trump’s decision sets in motion a long formal process for withdrawal from the agreement, which entered into force Nov. 4. Under rules of the agreement, no nation can withdraw until November 2019 and mandate a one-year notice period. The earlier total withdrawal can be accomplished is in November 2020.

The leaders focused their concerns on the needs of communities around the world that they say contribute least to climate change but suffer the most from it. They pointed to impoverished people who have been forced to migrate to other lands to make a living because of drought, changing weather patterns or rising sea levels.

Many organizations pointed to Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” in which he called all people to respect God’s creation and remember that the welfare of each person is integral to human life and future of the planet.

A statement from the leaders of 11 organizations asked Trump to reconsider his action. The leaders said Catholic teaching maintains that climate change is a “grave moral issue” that threatens commitments to protect human life, health, dignity and security, promote the common good, exercise a preferential option for the poor, living in solidarity with future generations, realize peace and care for creation.

“The international agreement of 2015 demonstrates that all nations will be impacted by a warming world and that all nations have a corresponding responsibility to limit greenhouse gas pollution causing climate change,” said a statement released through the Catholic Climate Covenant soon after Trump’s announcement.

“The Catholic Church recognizes that climate change is a global problem that requires global solutions,” the statement said.

The signers included leaders of Catholic Climate Covenant, Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Franciscan Action Network, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Global Catholic Climate Movement, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, National Council of Catholic Women, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Catholic Charities USA, Carmelite NGO and Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, called Trump’s decision “deeply troubling.”

“The Scriptures affirm the value of caring for creation and caring for each other in solidarity. The Paris agreement is an international accord that promotes these values,” Bishop Cantu said in a statement released shortly after the president made his announcement in the White House Rose Garden.

“President Trump’s decision will harm the people of the United States and the world, especially the poorest, most vulnerable communities,” the bishop said.

Several other organizations issued statements in the hours after the withdrawal announcement and early into June 2.

Bill O’Keefe, vice president for advocacy and government relations at Catholic Relief Services, called the withdraw “terrible,” but said that the staff of the bishops’ overseas relief and development agency hope it could be reversed.

“American leadership is absolutely necessary on this critical global issue,” he said. “We believe we can both grow our economy and respond to the Holy Father’s call to care for creation.”

Like many newspapers around the world, the Vatican newspaper ran Trump’s decision as its top story June 2.

“Trump announces withdrawal from the Paris accord,” said the headline in L’Osservatore Romano. Above the headline, in smaller letters, it said: “Criticism from the European Union and China.”

The article itself was a brief news story that included reaction from Bishop Cantu. In a commentary further down the front page, the Vatican newspaper said the crucial question is whether a U.S. withdrawal would “neutralize all the efforts made to combat global warming.”

While one country, even a powerful one, cannot stop the rest of the world from taking action to mitigate the human impacts on climate change, the commentary said, without the United States a truly global effort “becomes unrealistic.”

The article said Trump’s decision was not based on providing economic help to large companies like Exxon, Dupont or Shell, because those companies are already reaping the rewards of investing in renewable energy. Instead, Trump “looks to his base: to the miners in West Virginia and Kentucky or the factory workers in Pennsylvania crushed” by the economic crisis.

For them, the paper said, withdrawing from the Paris accord “means saving jobs.”

Geopolitically, the L’Osservatore Romano article said, Trump’s decision “could have a domino effect,” leading other countries to withdraw and dismantle what already has been achieved. “A new world order is on the line.”

Below are excerpts of statements from other Catholic organizations:

  • Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns: “Through our witness, we recognize that our government has a moral responsibility, as one of the richest countries in the world and one of the largest historical contributors to climate change, to protect all life on earth and to prevent the worst impacts of climate.”
  • Tomas Insua, executive director, Global Catholic Climate Movement: “Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement is a backward and immoral action. Catholics are saddened and outraged that Trump is not listening to Pope Francis after their meeting last week. Still, the world will continue to accelerate climate action despite the White House’s retrograde stance.”
  • Patrick Carolan, executive director, Franciscan Action Network: “When large countries like the U.S. deny the reality of the climate crisis and pull out of commitments holding us accountable for doing our part to curb global temperature rise, we are turning our backs on the poor and vulnerable, which goes directly against our Franciscan-Christian values.”
  • Sister Patricia Chappell, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, executive director, Pax Christi USA: “The biblical mandate to care and tend to the earth for its people transcends individual countries and nations. Today’s decision makes a mockery of democracy and Pax Christi USA pledges to use every nonviolent means in joining with others to resist this decision.”
  • General Council, Adrian Dominican Sisters: “It diminishes our standing as a world leader, aligning us with Syria and Nicaragua as the only non-signatories to the landmark accord … . It blunts our competitive edge in an emerging renewable energy based global economy. And it threatens to condemn earth, our common home, and future generations to potentially catastrophic climate change.”
  • Institute Leadership Team, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas: “This decision, unfortunately, is by far the most concerning among a number of actions taken by the Trump administration to weaken the country’s commitment to address climate change and to protect those most at risk from its effect: saying he’s ‘not a believer’ in human impact on global warming, urging a review of the Clean Power Plan, proposing drastic cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, and approving the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, to name just a few.”
  • Steve Krueger, president, Catholic Democrats: “While representing his only apparent train of thought as a deal maker, President Trump once again ignored Jesus’ exhortation (Luke 12:48) best paraphrased by President John F. Kennedy, that ‘for those to whom much is given, much is required.’ We believe that this applies to nations as well, particularly given the fact that the U.S. is the largest carbon polluter in history.”

Cindy Wooden contributed to this report from Rome.

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As school year ends, pope tells students: Don’t fear goodbyes, unknown

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Life is a long series of hellos and goodbyes, so don’t be afraid to let go of the past; remember old friends, but keep moving and be open to the new, Pope Francis told students as the school year was coming to an end.

“We have to learn to see life by seeing the horizons,” not the walls that can make people afraid because they don’t know what is on the other side, he told thousands of adolescents during a 45-minute encounter at the Vatican June 2. The middle-schoolers were part of Communion and Liberation’s “The Knights of the Grail” educational initiative.

Pope Francis poses for a selfie as he arrives to lead a special audience for members of a middle school group June 2 at the Vatican. The middle-schoolers were part of Communion and Liberation's "The Knights of the Grail" educational initiative. (CNS/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Pope Francis poses for a selfie as he arrives to lead a special audience for members of a middle school group June 2 at the Vatican. The middle-schoolers were part of Communion and Liberation’s “The Knights of the Grail” educational initiative. (CNS/Max Rossi, Reuters)

In the informal Q-and-A, a teen named Marta told the pope how scared she was to be leaving middle school and most of her best friends as they head on to high school next year. “Why do I have to change everything? Why does growing up make me so afraid?” she asked him.

“Life is a constant ‘Good morning’ and ‘Farewell,’” he said, with the goodbyes sometimes being for forever.

“You grow by encountering and by taking your leave,” he said. “If you don’t learn to say goodbye well, you will never learn how to encounter new people.”

This moment of change in life is “a challenge,” he said, but “in life we have to get used to this journey of leaving something behind and encountering something new.”

Noting that Marta had used the word “afraid” a number of times in her question, the pope said the risk that comes with the challenge is that fear will render a person immobile, “too serene” and unable to grow.

Those who give up, settle down and say, “Enough,” close off the horizons that are out there waiting for them and do not grow.

“Look at that wall? What’s behind it?” he asked the girl. “I don’t know,” she said.

“But if you go outside, to the countryside, what do you see?” he asked. “I see everything,” she replied.

“Everything. You see the horizon,” the pope said. “We have to learn to see life by looking at the horizons” that are always open, always lying ahead, by meeting new people and having new experiences.

Instead of framing the future with terms like “fear” or “afraid,” he added, try “using the word ‘a challenge’ more” and remembering, “I will win this challenge or I will let this challenge defeat me.”

“Look at the wall and think about the horizon that lies in the countryside,” he said. The more a person journeys toward the horizon, the farther, longer and wider that horizon becomes.

Remember to call and visit old friends, he said, “but live and journey with the new ones.”

When asked how kids their age could change the world when it has so many problems, the pope told them they have to begin with the people and situations in their daily lives.

Think of what happens to a person’s hand when sharing a piece of candy, for example: It’s open and moves toward the other person, the pope said. Now think of what happens when a person wants to keep that candy for himself or herself: The hand closes up tight and moves away from the other.

One’s heart has to be like the hand that is responding in a positive, generous way, not the negative, self-centered approach, he said.

“You can begin to change the world with an open heart,” the pope said, and by listening to others, welcoming others and sharing things.

Pray for everyone, including one’s enemies and “those who make you suffer,” he said, “Never return evil with evil.”

Don’t bad-mouth, insult or wish bad things would happen to others, he said. “That’s how you can change the world. There is no magic wand, but there are little things we can learn to do every day.”

Pope Francis suggested that the kids meet up to openly discuss the right and the wrong ways to respond to the many difficulties or choices that have to make each day.

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Trump’s decision to abandon Paris climate pact called troubling, harmful

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President Donald Trump’s June 1 decision “not to honor the U.S. commitment” to the Paris climate agreement “is deeply troubling,” said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.

“The Scriptures affirm the value of caring for creation and caring for each other in solidarity. The Paris agreement is an international accord that promotes these values,” Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, said in a statement released shortly after the president made his announcement in the White House Rose Garden.

Protesters carry signs during the People's Climate March April 29 outside the White House in Washington. The U.S. bishops June 1 urged President Donald Trump to honor the nation's commitment to the Paris climate pact and protect the planet.  (CNS photo/Joshua Roberts)

Protesters carry signs during the People’s Climate March April 29 outside the White House in Washington. The U.S. bishops June 1 urged President Donald Trump to honor the nation’s commitment to the Paris climate pact and protect the planet. (CNS photo/Joshua Roberts)

“President Trump’s decision will harm the people of the United States and the world, especially the poorest, most vulnerable communities,” the bishop said after Trump announced the U.S. will withdraw immediately from the Paris accord.

“The impacts of climate change are already being experienced in sea level rise, glacial melts, intensified storms, and more frequent droughts,” Bishop Cantu said. “I can only hope that the president will propose concrete ways to address global climate change and promote environmental stewardship.”

Trump said the climate accord “is less about the climate and more about other countries obtaining a financial advantage over the United States.”

He said he wants to create a “level playing field” and establish the “highest standard of living, highest standard of environmental protection.” The United States now joins Syria and Nicaragua in not being part of the accord.

Bishop Cantu said that although the Paris agreement is not the only possible mechanism for addressing global carbon mitigation, the lack of a current viable alternative is a serious concern.

He said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Pope Francis “and the entire Catholic Church have consistently upheld the Paris agreement as an important international mechanism to promote environmental stewardship and encourage climate change mitigation.”

Before Trump made his announcement, Bishop Cantu issued a statement saying the United States had an obligation to honor the Paris agreement to protect “our people and our planet” and “mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.” He urged Trump to honor the accord.

The USCCB released the earlier statement along with copies of letters sent weeks earlier to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. The letters were signed by Bishop Cantu; Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; and Sean L. Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ overseas relief and development agency.

“We write about our shared obligation to care for the environment. The Judeo-Christian tradition has always understood ‘the environment’ to be a gift from God,” said the letters urging the Trump administration officials in their respective capacities to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the Paris accord.

“Pope Francis called on the world’s leaders to come together to protect the gift of our common home. … We have one common home, and we must protect it,” they said.

In both statements Bishop Cantu noted that the U.S. bishops have for years “voiced support for prudent action and dialogue on climate change,” as far back as their 2001 statement on global climate change and again in 2015 in a letter to Congress. They have, he said, “reiterated their support on several occasions.”

“Pope Francis and the Holy See have also consistently voiced support for the Paris agreement,” Bishop Cantu said. In his earlier June 1 statement, Bishop Cantu said the pope’s 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home” was timed “to urge the nations of the world to work together in Paris for an agreement that protects our people and our planet.”

The Paris accord has been ratified by 134 of the 197 countries that approved it in December 2015 under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. President Barack Obama ratified on its own, bypassing the U.S. Senate. The agreement went into force in October after enough countries ratified it.

A day before Trump announced the immediate withdrawal of the U.S. from the climate accord, Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Integral Development of People, told reporters in Washington that “the decision to possibly pull out for us is something we hoped would not have happened.”

“Certain issues should be taken out of the political discussion and not be politicized. … The truth is, climate is a global public good and not limited to any country, not limited to any nation,” the cardinal said.

“The Vatican would always respect the decision of a sovereign state,” added Cardinal Turkson, who was in Washington for a conference at Georgetown University. “We will continue to still talk about climate change and all of that, and hope that some change can occur midstream.”

Also commenting ahead of Trump’s decision was Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, who said if the president decided to withdraw the United States, “it will be a disaster for everyone.”

The bishop and the academies are at the forefront of promoting scientific studies on climate change and implementation of the recommendations in Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’” on care for the environment. The pope gave Trump a copy of the document when they met May 24 at the Vatican.

In an interview June 1 with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Bishop Sanchez said he did not think Trump and Pope Francis discussed climate change in any depth when they met, however climate change was a significant part of the discussions the president and top staff members had with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state.

“In that sense, if he really does what the leaks suggest, for us it will be a huge slap in the face,” the bishop said.

Obama deserves some of the blame, the bishop said, because “he took decisions on climate only through presidential orders, leaving open the possibility that his successor would change everything. That’s the problem. Today, in just one day, Trump could change all the cards on the table to the disadvantage of many and to the advantage of the oil lobby.”

Tillerson participated in Trump’s meeting with Cardinal Parolin and told reporters that while climate change did not come up in Trump’s meeting with the pope, they had “a good exchange on the climate change issue” with the cardinal.

“The cardinal was expressing their view that they think it’s an important issue,” Tillerson said shortly after the meeting. “I think they were encouraging continued participation in the Paris accord. But we had a good exchange on the difficulty of balancing addressing climate change, responses to climate change, and ensuring that you still have a thriving economy and you can still offer people jobs so they can feed their families and have a prosperous economy.”

Asked how Trump responded to Cardinal Parolin’s encouragement to stick with the Paris climate agreement, Tillerson said: “The president indicated we’re still thinking about that, that he hasn’t made a final decision. He, I think, told both Cardinal Parolin and also told Prime Minister (Paolo) Gentiloni that this is something that he would be taking up for a decision when we return from this trip. It’s an opportunity to hear from people. We’re developing our own recommendation on that. So it’ll be something that will probably be decided after we get home.”

 

Dennis Sadowski in Washington and Cindy Wooden in Rome contributed to this story.

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Bishops urge Trump to honor Paris climate pact to protect the planet

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WASHINGTON – The United States has an obligation to honor the Paris climate agreement to protect “our people and our planet” and “mitigate the worst impacts of climate change,” said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops “is on record supporting prudent action to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change,” Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, said in a June 1 statement. Read more »

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