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USCCB leaders decry attack outside London mosque, pray for victims

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WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Catholic bishops “unequivocally reject” acts of violence such as the attack outside a London mosque and pleaded with all people “to cease from committing or plotting to commit further acts.” Read more »

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Pope: Don’t pretend to be teens; help youths see blessings of adulthood

June 21st, 2017 Posted in Featured, International News Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

 

ROME — Instead of “pretending to be adolescents,” parents must help young people see the blessing of growing into adulthood, Pope Francis told priests, religious, catechists and parish council members from the Diocese of Rome.

The belief that youthfulness is a model of success “is one of the most dangerous ‘unwitting’ menaces in the education of our adolescents” that hinders their personal growth because “adults have taken their place,” the pope said June 19, opening the Rome Diocese’s annual convention.

This “can increase a natural tendency young people have to isolate themselves or to curb their process of growth” because they have no role models, the pope said. Read more »

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Catholic church leaders call for dialogue between the U.S. and Cuba

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Catholic News Service

 

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The retired Catholic archbishop of Havana called for dialogue between the United States and Cuba, and said it’s the only way in which past and present problems can be solved.

In a June 19 letter published in Palabra Nueva, the magazine for the Archdiocese of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who played a major role in the rapprochement between Cuba and the U.S., said “resorting to old models” and applying them presently to Cuba can “overshadow or delay” the resolution of conflicts between the two countries. Read more »

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Martial law in Philippines makes farce of Independence Day, bishop says

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MANILA, Philippines — Martial law in the southern Philippines and security forces’ clashes with a local terrorist group in Mindanao made a mockery of Independence Day celebrations June 12, said a Philippine bishop.

“As long as there is martial law and unrest in Marawi City, the ‘independence’ of our nation is a farce,” said Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon. His remarks were reported by ucanews.com.

The celebration was marred by protest rallies and demonstrations condemning ongoing clashes in Mindanao and martial law.

Activists march during a June 12 protest rally to mark Philippines Independence Day in Manila. The protesters condemn the government's policies on the declaration of martial law and U.S. military intervention in Mindanao. (CNS photo/Rolex Dela Pena, EPA)

Activists march during a June 12 protest rally to mark Philippines Independence Day in Manila. The protesters condemn the government’s policies on the declaration of martial law and U.S. military intervention in Mindanao. (CNS photo/Rolex Dela Pena, EPA)

Bishop Bastes said by declaring martial law, the government “trample(s) on the freedom of citizens.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across the southern region of Mindanao May 23 after a local terrorist organization claiming to have ties with the Islamic State group attempted to occupy Marawi.

“People are not in the mood for celebrating,” said the bishop, adding that he supported the demonstrations against the declaration of martial law “in my own little way.”

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said the crisis in the southern Philippines is a call for all Filipinos to be “more patriotic, to be truly one, and united to love and labor for the good of the country.”

“We should work together to build our country, not to break it, to do our best and be a blessing to one another, not to divide nor destroy,” he said.

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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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Tens of thousands of people at funeral procession for Ukrainian cardinal

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Saying he was moved by reports of tens of thousands of people gathering for a funeral procession for Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, who died May 31, Pope Francis sent a second message of condolence to the cardinal’s successor.

Mourners accompany the body of Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar in a procession through the streets of Lviv June 3 before his body was returned to Kiev for his June 5 funeral Mass and burial. Cardinal Husar died May 31 at the age of 84. (CNS/Roman Baluk, Reuters)

Mourners accompany the body of Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar in a procession through the streets of Lviv June 3 before his body was returned to Kiev for his June 5 funeral Mass and burial. Cardinal Husar died May 31 at the age of 84. (CNS/Roman Baluk, Reuters)

Being grateful for Cardinal Husar’s “unique, religious and social presence in the history of Ukraine, I invite all of you to be faithful to his constant teaching and total abandonment to providence,” the pope wrote June 5, the day of the cardinal’s funeral in Kiev and two days after the massive procession in Lviv.

“Continue to feel his smile and his caress,” Pope Francis wrote to Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych.

Addressing the major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church as “Beatitude,” the pope said he had been informed of “the extraordinary influx of people who came in these days to pay homage to the mortal remains of the cardinal.”

“This presence is an eloquent sign of who he was: one of the highest and most respected moral authorities of the Ukrainian people in recent decades,” the pope said.

Pope Francis, who knew Archbishop Shevchuk when both were bishops in Argentina, also offered his personal condolences to the archbishop “to comfort you in the loss of one who was a father and spiritual guide to you.”

Huge crowds gathered outside St. George’s Cathedral in Lviv, the one-time seat of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, for the funeral procession. They watched a video of the cardinal speaking about the church and faith, and then thousands of them set off through the streets of Cardinal Husar’s hometown, stopping occasionally for Bible readings, prayers and musical tributes.

With his coffin placed on an artillery gun carriage laden with flowers, the procession through Lviv last two hours. Government officials and representatives of other churches also joined the procession.

Pope Francis said he knew Cardinal Husar was a father for the entire Ukrainian Catholic Church and that he “gathered the inheritance of the ‘catacombs'” where the church was forced to live for four decades under communism.

The cardinal not only gave the church back many of its structures, but he gave it “especially the joy of its history founded on faith through and beyond every suffering.”

When old age and bad health led him to resign in 2011, the pope said, “his presence among the people changed style, but, if possible, became even more intense and richer.”

His reflections and talks, shared on television, the radio and through his blog, showed him to be a “master of wisdom. His speech was simple, understandable to all, but very profound,” the pope said. “His was the wisdom of the Gospel, it was the bread of the word of God broken for the simple, the suffering and for all those who were searching for dignity.”

 

 

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Bishops in southern Mexico face threats from organized criminal groups

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Catholic News Service

 

MEXICO CITY - Bishops in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero have suffered threats from organized criminal groups as they serve a region rife with drug cartel activities and parishes located in impoverished indigenous communities where people eke out existences by cultivating opium poppies.

Bishop Maximino Miranda Martinez of Ciudad Altamirano was robbed of his vehicle after encountering a roadblock manned by an armed group in the violent Tierra Caliente region. Bishop Dagoberto Sosa Arriaga of Tlapa, meanwhile, was asked to pay extortion, but escaped making payment as those making the demands were run off by rivals. Read more »

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Southern Philippines bishops support ‘temporary’ martial law

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MANILA, Philippines — Catholic bishops in the southern Philippines supported the declaration of martial law in Mindanao following an attempt by a band of gunmen claiming to be Islamic militants to seize a city in the region.

“At present we simply do not have solid and sufficient facts to absolutely reject the declaration of martial law as morally reprehensible,” the bishops’ said in a statement released May 29.

Smoke billows near a mosque in Marawi, Philippines, May 30. Catholic bishops in the southern Philippines supported the declaration of martial law in Mindanao following an attempt by a band of gunmen claiming to be Islamic militants to seize the city. (CNS photo/Erik De Castro, Reuters)

Smoke billows near a mosque in Marawi, Philippines, May 30. Catholic bishops in the southern Philippines supported the declaration of martial law in Mindanao following an attempt by a band of gunmen claiming to be Islamic militants to seize the city. (CNS photo/Erik De Castro, Reuters)

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial across the southern part of the country after gunmen claiming to have links with the Islamic State group stormed Marawi May 23.

State security forces continued to battle with fighters of the Maute group May 29, resulting in the displacement of thousands of people.

“We are certainly agreed that martial law must be temporary,” the bishops of Mindanao said in the statement signed by Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, ucanews.com reported.

The cardinal said the church leaders “condemn the terrorist acts that have caused the loss of many innocent lives” and the burning of houses, a Catholic cathedral and a Protestant school.

“We condemn the unconscionable kidnapping of teachers and church personnel,” the bishops said.

The gunmen took several hostages including Father Teresito Suganob, vicar of the Prelature of Marawi, some of the prelature’s staff and churchgoers.

The bishops condemned “terrorism in its various forms,” adding that it is an “ideology totally against the tenets of any religion of peace.”

“Terrorism distorts and falsifies the true meaning of any religion. It destroys harmonious relationships among peoples of different faiths,” the bishops’ added.

They noted that many Filipinos see Duterte’s declaration of martial law as “reminiscent of the horrors of a past dictatorship.”

Former dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in the 1970s, resulting in human rights abuses carried out by the military.

“Martial law is a means of last resort,” the bishops said. “The answers to many questions are speculative. We have many fears.”

They offered their assurance that they will “condemn any abuse and as in the past will condemn it outright if it goes in the way of evil.”

The prelates urged Filipinos to be “vigilant.”

“We exhort everyone to be calm in the face of martial law, to be obedient to the just commands of lawful authority, and not to provoke violent reaction,” said the bishops.

Meanwhile, the Jesuits in the Philippines expressed concern about martial law, describing it as “fraught with danger.”

In a statement, Jesuit Father Antonio Moreno, head of the order’s Philippine province, said martial law in the region “is a source of deep sadness, as well as of real concern and alarm.”

“We have to assert that martial law is fraught with danger, as we in this country have so painfully known,” Father Moreno said.

Martial law is “not a path to be trod lightly, and becomes particularly worrisome in a context where there are already too many questions about the value of life and basic human rights,” he explained.

Father Moreno appealed to Duterte to make martial law “short-lived and calibrated” and avoid “escalating further to other areas.”

Duterte, however, warned that he might expand the coverage of martial law to the entire Philippines if terror threats persist.

The president said he would ignore the Supreme Court of the Philippines and Congress as he enforces martial law despite a provision in the constitution giving both branches of government oversight.

“Until the police and the armed forces say the Philippines is safe, this martial law will continue. I will not listen to others,” Duterte said.

The Philippine Constitution adopted in 1987 imposed limits on martial law to prevent a repeat of the abuses carried out under the Marcos regime, which ended a year earlier.

Duterte has described military rule under Marcos as “very good.”

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Deadly attacks increase fears of Egypt’s Christians

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CAIRO — Christians in Egypt “are getting to this idea that we could be a martyr at any moment,” the spokesman for the nation’s Catholic bishops told Catholic News Service.

The spokesman, Father Rafic Greiche, also lamented the number of children killed in an attack on a bus carrying Coptic Orthodox Christians to St. Samuel Monastery in southern Egypt May 26.

The mother of one of the victims of an attack on a group of Coptic Christians that took place May 26 attends a funeral at the Sacred Family Church in Minya, Egypt, that same day. (CNS photo/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)

The mother of one of the victims of an attack on a group of Coptic Christians that took place May 26 attends a funeral at the Sacred Family Church in Minya, Egypt, that same day. (CNS photo/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)

At least 26 people, many of them children, were killed when masked assailants attacked the bus. Dozens of others were injured.

“It is too early to say who is behind it, but certainly terrorists, and the security forces are now scanning the area” to find the culprits, Tarek Attia, Interior Ministry official, told Sky News Arabia, an Arabic-language television station, May 26.

He said three cars carrying the masked gunmen had attacked the bus at roughly 10:30 a.m. in the southern governorate of Minya, a traditional stronghold of Egypt’s Christian community, which accounts for a tiny percent of the country’s mostly Sunni Muslim population.

At the Vatican, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, sent a message to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, expressing Pope Francis’ ‘prayers and solidarity after the “barbaric attack.”

“Mindful in a particular way of those children who have lost their lives, His Holiness commends the souls of the deceased to the mercy of the Almighty. He assures their grieving families and all who have been injured of his ardent prayers, and he pledges his continued intercession for peace and reconciliation throughout the nation,” the telegram said.

The attack marked the latest in a series of deadly attacks on Coptic Christians, whose church was founded by St. Mark the Apostle in the first century, and whose community represents the largest of the Middle East’s Christian minorities.

On April 9, two suicide bombers attacked St. George’s Cathedral in Egypt’s northern city of Tanta and St. Mark’s Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria. Those attacks killed and maimed dozens in what was the deadliest attack against Christians in Egypt’s recent history. A nationwide state of emergency has been in place since.

In a widely publicized visit to Egypt soon after the April attacks, Pope Francis addressed the terrorist violence carried out in the name of a fundamentalist reading of Islam. Pope Francis frequently has said there are more Christians being martyred today than during the persecutions of the church in the early centuries of Christianity. And, using the term “ecumenism of blood,” he has noted how Christians divided into churches and denominations are united in mourning for their members killed not because they are Orthodox or Catholic, but simply because they are Christian.

The pope paid tribute to the Coptic Orthodox Church’s modern martyrs, praying before a memorial in Cairo marking the place where 29 people were killed and 31 wounded in December by a suicide bomber. He told Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, “Your sufferings are also our sufferings.”

After the May 26 attack, the Coptic Orthodox Church released a statement saying, “We extend our condolences to all the affected families and are suffering with the entire country due to this evil and violence.”

“We hope for the necessary procedures to prevent these kinds of attacks, which degrade the image of Egypt and cause so much suffering to Egyptians,” the statement said.

Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak of Alexandria sent condolences to Pope Tawardros and “all families of all the martyrs,” reported the Egyptian paper, Al Masry al Youm.

Ashraf Sultan, Egyptian parliament spokesman, told Sky News Arabia, “This is an attack on the entire society and affects us all.”

Egypt’s top authority on Islam, Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar University, said that “such attacks can never satisfy a Muslim or a Christian.”

In Washington, Cardinal Daniel N. Di Nardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, compared the May attacks with previous attacks, noting that, again, children were murdered as they traveled to church.

“Though our grief is unbearable, our unity grows all the more strong. That unity is the way to peace,” he said, sending prayers and condolences to the Egyptians.

Other church leaders around the world also reacted. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem expressed the condolences of churches in the Holy Land.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, offered prayers and said, “This attack reminds us again of the horrific persecution of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East and their courageous witness to their faith.”

An Egyptian Interior Ministry statement said unknown assailants driving three four-wheel-drive vehicles had attacked by “randomly shooting” the bus carrying the Copts, and that an official count of the final toll was underway.

Local media showed grainy images of bloody bodies strewn on sandy ground, indicating many of the slain had fled the bus trying to escape the assailants’ bullets.

Later, the media showed images of the wounded being taken to hospitals and reported that el-Sissi was calling for an emergency security meeting to address the attack. El-Sissi had instructed authorities to take all necessary measures to attend to the injured and arrest the assailants, the local media reported.

Asked about government assurances that security in the country would be tightened, Father Greiche told CNS: “It is now time for action, not just words.”

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Attack on Christians in Egypt kills 28, including children

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CAIRO — Masked assailants attacked a bus carrying Coptic Orthodox Christians on the way to St. Samuel Monastery in southern Egypt, killing at least 28 people, many of them children, according to the country’s Interior Ministry.

“It is too early to say who is behind it, but certainly terrorists, and the security forces are now scanning the area” to find the culprits, Tarek Attia, Interior Ministry official, told Sky News Arabia, an Arabic-language television station, May 26.

A bus carrying Coptic Christians in southern Egypt is seen after gunmen attacked it May 26. The Health Ministry reports at least 26 fatalities, with at least 25 more wounded. (CNS photo/Reuters TV)

A bus carrying Coptic Christians in southern Egypt is seen after gunmen attacked it May 26. The Health Ministry reports at least 26 fatalities, with at least 25 more wounded. (CNS photo/Reuters TV)

He said three cars carrying the masked gunmen had attacked the bus at roughly 10:30 a.m. in the southern governorate of Minya, a traditional stronghold of Egypt’s Christian community, which accounts for a tiny percent of the country’s mostly Sunni Muslim population.

The attack marked the latest in a series of deadly attacks on Coptic Christians, whose church was founded by St. Mark the Apostle in the first century, and whose community represents the largest of the Middle East’s Christian minorities.

On April 9, two suicide bombers attacked St. George’s Cathedral in Egypt’s northern city of Tanta and St. Mark’s Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria. Those attacks killed and maimed dozens in what was the deadliest attack against Christians in Egypt’s recent history. A nationwide state of emergency has been in place since.

In a widely publicized visit to Egypt soon after the April attacks, Pope Francis addressed the terrorist violence carried out in the name of a fundamentalist reading of Islam. Pope Francis frequently has said there are more Christians being martyred today than during the persecutions of the church in the early centuries of Christianity. And, using the term “ecumenism of blood,” he has noted how Christians divided into churches and denominations are united in mourning for their members killed not because they are Orthodox or Catholic, but simply because they are Christian.

The pope paid tribute to the Coptic Orthodox Church’s modern martyrs, praying before a memorial in Cairo marking the place where 29 people were killed and 31 wounded in December by a suicide bomber. He told Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, “Your sufferings are also our sufferings.”

After Friday’s attack, the Coptic Orthodox Church released a statement saying, “We extend our condolences to all the affected families and are suffering with the entire country due to this evil and violence.”

“We hope for the necessary procedures to prevent these kinds of attacks, which degrade the image of Egypt and cause so much suffering to Egyptians,” the statement said.

Ashraf Sultan, Egyptian parliament spokesman, told Sky News Arabia, “This is an attack on the entire society and affects us all.”

Egypt’s top authority on Islam, Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar University, said that “such attacks can never satisfy a Muslim or a Christian.”

An Interior Ministry statement said unknown assailants driving three four-wheel-drive vehicles had attacked by “randomly shooting” the bus carrying the Copts, and that an official count of the final toll was underway.

Local media showed grainy images of bloody bodies strewn on sandy ground, indicating many of the slain had fled the bus trying to escape the assailants’ bullets.

Later, the media showed images of the wounded being taken to hospitals and reported that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi was calling for an emergency security meeting to address the attack. El-Sissi had instructed authorities to take all necessary measures to attend to the injured and arrest the assailants, the local media reported.

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