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Obama signs international religious freedom bill

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama Dec. 16 signed the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, approved by the House Dec. 13.

The new law gives the Obama administration and the U.S. State Department new tools, resources and training to counter extremism and combat a worldwide escalation of persecution of religious minorities.

The bill will improve U.S. religious freedom diplomacy efforts globally; better train and equip diplomats to counter extremism; address anti-Semitism and religious persecution and mitigate sectarian conflict.

The bipartisan bill was written by Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, and co-sponsored by Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California.

Named for former Congressman Frank Wolf, “a tireless champion for the rights of the poor and the persecuted globally,” the bill will expand the International Religious Freedom Act Wolf sponsored in 1998.

“From China and Vietnam to Syria and Nigeria, we are witnessing a tragic, global crisis in religious persecution, violence and terrorism, with dire consequences for religious believers and for U.S. national security,” said Smith, chair of the Global Human Rights Subcommittee.

“Ancient Christian communities in Iraq and Syria are on the verge of extinction and other religious minorities in the Middle East face a constant assault from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” he said in a Dec. 13 statement.

He added: “The freedom to practice a religion without persecution is a precious right for everyone, of whatever race, sex, or location on earth. This human right is enshrined in our own founding documents, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and has been a bedrock principle of open and democratic societies for centuries.”

The bill, known as H.R. 1150, had more than 100 bipartisan co-sponsors. The Knights of Columbus is one of several religious organizations that has backed the measure, along with representatives of ethnic minority groups and nongovernmental organizations.

“From the founding of our nation, religious freedom has been a pillar of our democracy and it remains one of the most cherished values of our country,” Eshoo said. “This bill will improve U.S. efforts to promote religious freedom globally; better train and equip diplomats to counter extremism; address persecution; mitigate conflict and help the ambassador-at-large for religious freedom to coordinate religious freedom efforts.”

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U.S. bishops’ group to monitor needs of immigrants, refugees

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is establishing a working group charged with developing spiritual, pastoral and policy advocacy support for immigrants and refugees.

People in Tijuana, Mexico, stand next to a wall separating Mexico and the United States Dec. 10. (CNS photo/Jorge Duenes, Reuters)

People in Tijuana, Mexico, stand next to a wall separating Mexico and the United States Dec. 10. (CNS photo/Jorge Duenes, Reuters)

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, has named members of the working group, with the mandate of closely following developments related to immigrants and refugees in the United States. The USCCB Public Affairs Office announced formation of the group Dec. 16.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB vice president, will chair the group. Members include the chairman of USCCB committees and subcommittees involved in immigration concerns: Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, Committee on Migration; Auxiliary Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Rockville Centre, New York, Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs; Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Committee on Domestic Social Development; Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington, Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants; and Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Committee on International Justice and Peace.

The groundwork for the working group was set during the bishops’ annual fall general assembly in Baltimore when several bishops suggested the conference closely monitor actions by the federal government that affect immigrants and refugees.

In announcing the working group, the Public Affairs Office said the bishops and USCCB staff will be ready to respond to any executive orders and legislation that the new Congress and President-elect Donald J. Trump may introduce.

The working group will inform the efforts of individual bishops in their pastoral responses to immigrants and refugees and recommend appropriate additional efforts as needed, such as the recent day of prayer on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 12.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago outlined some of the responsibilities of the working group in a column in the Dec. 11 issue of Catholic New World, archdiocesan newspaper.

He said the group will look at what is being done pastorally in U.S. dioceses and will share best practices with bishops.

“Particular attention will be given to addressing the economic struggles, alienation, fear and exclusion many feel, along with the resistance to the church’s message regarding migrants and refugees,” Cardinal Cupich wrote. “Emphasis will be given to ways we can build bridges between various segments of society.”

The working group will also spearhead advocacy, building on existing USCCB efforts and to engage constructively with the incoming administration and Congress, the cardinal said.

The formation of the new entity, which Archbishop Gomez planned to convene weekly, “will send a message to those who live in fear that the Catholic bishops of the United States stand with them, pray with them, offer pastoral support and speak prophetically in defense of their human dignity,” Cardinal Cupich wrote.

He added that the Chicago archdiocese will continue to “walk with all who, given our broken immigration system, live in the shadows. We will advocate for them as well as for refugees seeking a better life for the families.”

On Nov. 30, at the end of Mass at St. Agatha of Bohemia Parish in Chicago, Cardinal Cupich told the congregation he had been invite to meet with President Barack Obama Nov. 29 “and the only issue I discussed with him was the executive order granting temporary protection for a large number of undocumented persons.”

He told Obama the U.S. Catholic bishops “favor this action but see if only as a first step” to comprehensive immigration reform. The cardinal said he and Obama discussed the need to have some confidentiality provision the church” for if they register for protection, that information would not be used against them.

“I wanted to tell you today about my discussion with the president,” Cardinal Cupich told the congregation, “so that you will know that you can count on me as a good friend of the immigrant community.”

National Migration Week is Jan. 8-14.

 

More information about the U.S. bishops’ observance of National Migration Week in January and links to various resources can be found at http://bit.ly/1cWdELM.

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Hackett reflects on his three years as U.S. ambassador to Vatican

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Ken Hackett, the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, is gearing up to try retirement for the second time. The retired president of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ overseas aid agency, is leaving his ambassadorial post three years and three months after presenting his credentials to Pope Francis. Read more »

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After a year of setbacks, uncertainty looms for immigrants in 2017

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — At a Mass packed mostly with immigrants, Washington’s Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville tried to get the crowd to focus on the plight of the Holy Family.  Read more »

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Ohio Gov. Kasich signs law banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill that bans abortion in the state after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but also vetoed a bill that would have made abortion illegal when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually at about the sixth week of pregnancy.

Women religious from the Children of Mary Convent in Newark, Ohio, gather during the 2015 annual March for Life in Washington. Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill Dec. 13 that bans abortion in the state after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but also vetoed a bill that would have made abortion illegal when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually at about the sixth week of pregnancy. (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA)

Women religious from the Children of Mary Convent in Newark, Ohio, gather during the 2015 annual March for Life in Washington. Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill Dec. 13 that bans abortion in the state after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but also vetoed a bill that would have made abortion illegal when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually at about the sixth week of pregnancy. (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA)

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, or SB 127, becomes law 90 days after the Dec. 13 signing. It is the 18th anti-abortion measure Kasich has signed since becoming governor in 2011.

Current Ohio law bans abortions after a fetus has begun its 20th week of gestation, unless a doctor determines that the fetus is not viable outside the womb. The new law eliminates the viability test and simply bans abortions past 20 weeks. The current exception for the woman’s health still applies.

“I agree with Ohio Right to Life and other leading pro-life advocates that S.B. 127 is the best, most legally sound and sustainable approach to protecting the sanctity of human life,” Kasich said in a statement.

The governor also explained how he has worked to strengthen Ohio’s protections for the sanctity of human life during his two terms in office, but that he felt the provisions in the heartbeat bill “are clearly contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States’ current rulings on abortion.”

It was a stance that Ohio Right to Life encourage Kasich to take. Mike Gonidakis, Ohio Right to Life president, had said a fetal heartbeat bill likely would not have been upheld in the courts and that having such a strict standard overturned would have harmed the pro-life movement.

The Supreme Court ruled in January that North Dakota officials could not enforce the state’s fetal heartbeat law. A federal judge overturned a similar law in Arkansas in 2014.

“We sincerely thank Gov. Kasich for his unwavering support for the unborn and our pro-life mission,” Mike Gonidakis, Ohio Right to Life president, said in a statement. “By signing SB 127, the 20-week ban, Gov. Kasich will save hundreds of unborn lives each year and he positioned the state of Ohio to directly challenge Roe v. Wade.”

However, Molly Smith, president of Cleveland Right to Life, criticized the veto, saying many Ohioans are questioning Kasich’s pro-life commitment.

“The governor had a chance to end abortion in Ohio and instead killed the opportunity by vetoing the bill,” she said in a statement.

Smith also opposed Ohio Right to Life’s position on the fetal heartbeat bill, saying the statewide organization’s rationale for opposing it “makes absolutely no sense.” She cited the opinions of constitutional lawyers who believed Ohio’s measure would have withstood a court challenge.

“We are truly saddened by the lost opportunity (to ban all abortions) but will not give up the fight to protect all human life,” Smith’s statement said.

Supporters of keeping abortion legal weighed in as well, saying Kasich’s signing of the measure infringes on the right of women to decide the issue for themselves.

“Yet John Kasich and the Ohio state Legislature are intent on taking that right away,” Iris E. Harvey, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, said in a statement.

Harvey said women will continue to vocally oppose abortion restrictions. “Women are tired of politicians telling us what to do with our bodies,” she said.

Twelve other states have enacted 20-week laws that have gone unchallenged, although similar bans have been struck down by courts in Arizona and Idaho.

The American Civil Liberties Union has pledged to challenge the Ohio law in court.

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Pope names Alaskan bishop to head Dallas diocese

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WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Bishop Edward J. Burns of Juneau, Alaska, to be bishop of Dallas, succeeding now-Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, who headed the Dallas Diocese until he was named in August to be the first prefect of the new Vatican office for laity, family and life.

Pope Francis has named Bishop Edward J. Burns of Juneau, Alaska, to be bishop of Dallas, succeeding now-Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, who headed the Dallas diocese until he was named in August to be the first prefect of the new Vatican office for laity, family and life. Bishop Burns is pictured in a late June photo in Rome. (CNS/Carol Glatz)

Pope Francis has named Bishop Edward J. Burns of Juneau, Alaska, to be bishop of Dallas, succeeding now-Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, who headed the Dallas diocese until he was named in August to be the first prefect of the new Vatican office for laity, family and life. Bishop Burns is pictured in a late June photo in Rome. (CNS/Carol Glatz)

Bishop Burns, 59, has headed the Diocese of Juneau since 2009. A priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, he is a former rector of St. Paul’s Seminary in Pittsburgh and former director of the U.S. bishops’ national offices dealing with clergy, vocations and priestly formation.

The appointment was announced Dec. 13 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Burns will be installed as the eighth bishop of Dallas Feb. 9.

In a statement, he said he is “humbled and grateful” for his new appointment and “at the same time, this announcement fills my heart with gratitude for the privilege and honor of serving the priests, deacons, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Juneau.”

“I am profoundly grateful for my experience in southeast Alaska and I pray for God’s grace as I take on my new duties as chief shepherd of the Diocese of Dallas,” Bishop Burns said.

Bishop Burns is the current chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People. He also is a member of the bishops’ Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions and has been a member of their Administrative Committee.

He was named bishop of Juneau by Pope Benedict XVI Jan. 19, 2009, and ordained a bishop March 3, 2009, at St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh, his home diocese. His installation was April 2, 2009.

The 37,600-square-mile Diocese of Juneau is considered one of the U.S. church’s home mission dioceses. Out of a total population of 75,000, it has 10,000 Catholics.

In a recent interview with Catholic News Service in Juneau, Bishop Burns said that when he became diocesan bishop there, he learned that 10 percent of its population was Catholic and 60 percent didn’t identify with any religion.

“I thought to myself, ‘What a wonderful challenge this is going to be,’” he said. “It’s an opportunity for us to engage in the new evangelization, because it’s not like these people have never heard of Jesus Christ, or the Gospel message, or that they’ve never been in contact with the church. It’s just that they choose to be secularists. They have chosen to step aside from their religion or faith.

“For us, it’s a wonderful challenge,” Bishop Burns said, “to awaken in them a relationship with Jesus Christ.”

The son of Geraldine Little Burns and the late Donald P. Burns, Edward J. Burns was born Oct. 7, 1957, and raised in the Pittsburgh area. After high school, he attended St. Paul Seminary/Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and sociology. He then attended Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., graduating in 1983 with a master of divinity degree and a master’s degree in theology. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Pittsburgh June 25, 1983.

After ordination, then-Father Burns served in parish ministry, diocesan administration, and in vocation and seminary work. He was the director of clergy personnel for the Pittsburgh diocese when then-Bishop Donald W. Wuerl of Pittsburgh released him to serve at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington.

On the national level he was executive director of the USCCB’s Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation from 1999 to 2008. Pope Benedict named him a monsignor in 2006. Msgr. Burns returned to Pittsburgh in August 2008 as rector of St. Paul’s Seminary and director of the diocesan preordination formation department and office for vocations.

Now-Cardinal Wuerl, who is archbishop of Washington, issued a statement on Bishop Burns’ new appointment, calling it “a joy to hear” that Pope Francis “has entrusted” the Dallas diocese to him.

In the bishop’s years of ministry as a diocesan priest, at the USCCB and in Alaska, “I have seen the great pastoral care and spiritual leadership with which Bishop Burns has faithfully served the church,” Cardinal Wuerl said Dec. 13. “The Diocese of Dallas is blessed to be gaining an extraordinary shepherd, and he brings with him our prayers for his pastoral ministry.”

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Ohio lawmakers send governor two bills restricting abortion

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Legislature has sent two abortion bills to Gov. John Kasich for his signature.

On Dec. 8, lawmakers passed a measure to ban abortions in the state after 20 weeks, or five months of pregnancy. On Dec. 6, they approved legislation that would ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is usually at about the sixth week of pregnancy.

Pro-life activist Ann Barrick stands on the site of a former abortion clinic called Center for Choice in Toledo, Ohio, Sept. 26. She clutches the pink and blue rosaries she used while praying outside the abortion clinic, which was closed in 2013 and torn down this September. The property is slated to be converted into a memorial for the unborn called "Hope Park." (CNS photo/Katie Breidenbach) See LIFE-40-DAYS-TOLEDO Sept. 28, 2016.

Pro-life activist Ann Barrick stands on the site of a former abortion clinic called Center for Choice in Toledo, Ohio, Sept. 26. The Ohio legislature has sent two abortion bills to the governor for his signature — one would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the other would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. (CNS /Katie Breidenbach)

“The bold pro-life action taken by the Ohio Legislature is reflective of the message the voters sent on Election Day, and that is a rejection of the status quo,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Washington-based Susan B. Anthony List.

“Americans reject the status quo of abortion on-demand, especially painful late-term abortions,” she said in a Dec. 8 statement. “Instead, voters and lawmakers are recognizing the humanity of the unborn child: its heartbeat around six weeks and the pain the child can feel at 20 weeks.”

Once the bills reach Kasich’s desk, he will have 10 days to decide whether to sign or veto them. If he vetoes them, three-fifths of the state House and Senate would have to vote to override the veto.

The American Civil Liberties and the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio objected to the measures

“For the second time in a week, the Ohio Legislature has inserted itself into women’s private and personal health care decisions,” said Iris E. Harvey, Planned Parenthood’s president and CEO. “These bans are a deliberate attempt to make abortion illegal in the state of Ohio.”

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood affiliates have filed suit against abortion regulations in Missouri, North Carolina and Alaska.

About the Ohio measures, Dannenfelser said: “Both the heartbeat bill and the Pain-Capable bill aim to humanize our law. Should either of these bills land in the courts, the courts should take the opportunity to catch our laws up with public opinion, science and basic human decency.”

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 30, asking the court to stop state laws that require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals and upgrade their facilities to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers. Similar lawsuits were filed in Alaska and North Carolina.

The lawsuits followed a U.S. Supreme Court 5-3 decision in June that struck down similar abortion laws in Texas, but pro-life advocates in Missouri believe their state’s laws will be upheld as constitutional.

“We are not surprised by this lawsuit but are hopeful that Missouri law will in fact be upheld because of its distinction from Texas law,” said Mike Hoey, executive director of the Missouri Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops. “The MCC will continue to support pro-life legislation in the coming session as it has for the past 50 years.”

Missouri was the first state in the nation to enact such laws since the Roe v. Wade decision. Pro-life advocates say they serve as safety measures to protect women who seek services at abortion clinics. If Missouri’s laws are struck down, Planned Parenthood’s in Springfield, Joplin, Columbia and Kansas City would be able to offer abortions. Right now, Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis clinic is the only location in Missouri to provide abortions.

“No abortion clinic will ever be safe for unborn children, but the common-sense safety requirements Planned Parenthood is challenging are designed to protect women from undue harm at the hands of abortion providers,” said Karen Nolkemper, executive director of the archdiocesan Respect Life Apostolate.

“In its June decision, the court spoke clearly, finding that admitting privileges and ambulatory surgical center requirements only fulfill one agenda — to keep women from accessing a constitutionally protected medical procedure. The time has come to strike down these unnecessary restrictions in Missouri,” according to a statement from Planned Parenthood.

In Missouri, abortion clinics that perform five or more first-trimester, or any second- or third-trimester abortions in a month are required to be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers, and provide standard medical services, such as having CPR-trained personnel on site and a physician on the premises and immediately available to the patient in the recovery room. Clinics also are open to inspection from the Department of Health and Senior Services.

In 2015, a manager with the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services told a state Senate committee that during an earlier inspection of Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, the department discovered that not all pathology reports were being sent to the department as required by law.

Planned Parenthood was given time to correct the deficiency, but no other action was taken. In 2013, the department’s inspection of the clinic found several violations, such as expired drugs, “copious amounts of visible dust” in exam rooms and rust on equipment.

Missouri also passed a law in 2005 that requires all doctors who perform abortions to have lower-level clinical privileges at a hospital within a 30-minute distance from where the abortion is performed. In Texas, the law was more stringent, spelling out that the abortion doctor must have “active admitting privileges” at hospital within 30 miles of where the abortion is performed.

Missouri’s ambulatory surgical center regulations enacted in the mid-1980s — but applying to all abortion facilities only since a law change in 2007 — separately require that abortion doctors have staff privileges at hospital within a 15-minute travel time or that there is a working arrangement between a hospital and the facility no more than 15 minutes away to provide emergency treatment to patients.

“It’s astounding that Planned Parenthood claims (abortion) is for the health of women when it could have the exact opposite effect,” said Deacon Sam Lee, a pro-life lobbyist with Campaign Life Missouri. “If their lawsuit is successful, that would mean the Department of Health and Senior Services could no longer go in and inspect these clinics. Other ambulatory surgical centers, such as urgent care centers and birthing centers, are subject to these inspections.

“This would carve out an exception for abortion clinics,” Deacon Lee said.

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John Glenn — fighter pilot, astronaut, senator — dies at 95

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Astronaut legend and decorated World War II pilot John H. Glenn, who served for 24 years in the U.S. Senate and inspired young people to pursue careers in sciences and engineering, died Dec. 8. He was 95.

Born in Cambridge and raised in nearby New Concord, Glenn was propelled to fame after being one of seven military test pilots  chosen as the country’s first astronauts. He was the third American in space and the first to orbit earth when he flew aboard the Mercury Friendship 7 capsule, traversing the globe three times in a flight that lasted just less than five hours Feb. 20, 1962.

U.S. astronaut John Glenn, pictured in a 2012 photo, died Dec. 8 at age 95. His 1962 flight as the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the earth made him an all-American hero and propelled him to a long career in the U.S. Senate. (CNS photo/Bill Ingall, courtesy NASA)

U.S. astronaut John Glenn, pictured in a 2012 photo, died Dec. 8 at age 95. His 1962 flight as the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the earth made him an all-American hero and propelled him to a long career in the U.S. Senate. (CNS photo/Bill Ingall, courtesy NASA)

Among those watching Glenn’s first space flight was St. John XXIII, who asked to be kept regularly informed about the progress of flight.

Glenn became the oldest man to fly in space, when at age 77 and still a senator, he blasted into orbit on the Space Shuttle Oct. 29, 1998, after lobbying the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for two years that he could serve as a “guinea pig for geriatric studies.”

While on the fourth day of the mission, Glenn, a Presbyterian, said, “I pray every day. To look out at this kind of creation out here and not believe in God is, to me, impossible. It just strengthens my faith.”

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, then-secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, praised Glenn the day after the shuttle took off. “Just think of it,” the archbishop said. “A man as old as the pope is now orbiting the world.”

The phrase “Godspeed, John Glenn”was in common use for both missions.

Glenn died surrounded by family at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, where he been hospitalized for about a week. His wife of 73 years, Annie, was with him.

In a guest sermon, Glenn told a Virginia Presbyterian congregation that the “orderliness of the whole universe,” from the structure of atoms to the arrangement of galaxies, was “one big thing in space that shows me there is a God, some power that put all this into orbit and keeps it there. It wasn’t just an accident.”

Glenn later told a Senate subcommittee he thought it would be foolish to assert that God could be pinpointed to “one particular section of space.” “I don’t know the nature of God any more than anyone else, nor would I claim to because I happened to have made a space ride that got us a little bit above the atmosphere,” he said. “God is certainly bigger than that. I think he will be wherever we go.”

After his astronaut career, the former Marine Corps pilot started a career in business, but subsequently turned to politics, becoming a senator representing his home state in 1976. He served four terms before retiring in 1999. His Senate tenure included the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. He also served on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Foreign Relations Committee, Armed Services Committee, and the Special Committee on Aging.

Reaction to Glenn’s death came from across the country.

NASA immediately posted a tribute on its website to the space hero after his death was announced. The space agency had renamed its Lewis Research Center in Cleveland the John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in 1999.

President Barack Obama, who awarded Glenn the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, said in a statement that the country had lost an icon.

“John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond; not just to visit, but to stay,” Obama said.

“The last of America’s first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on earth compels us to keep reaching for the heaves. On behalf of a grateful nation, Godspeed, John Glenn,” the statement concluded.

The son of a plumber, Glenn flew 59 combat missions in the South Pacific during World War II, taking direct hits several times but always returned to his airbase. He also was assigned to fly a jet interceptor in the Korean War. For his 149 combat missions in both wars, he was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross six times and the Air Medal with 18 award stars.

He was a winner of the Legion of Honor medal, the highest award of the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation, an interfaith organization dedicated to four Army chaplains who died together in World War II.

Glenn also completed the first supersonic transcontinental flight, from California to New York, in 1957.

On the eve of his retirement from the Senate, Glenn placed fifth among the world’s most admired men in an annual Gallup poll, placing behind only President Bill Clinton, St. John Paul II, evangelist Billy Graham and basketball star Michael Jordan.

After politics, he founded the John Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy, now known as the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State University. He taught at the school as an adjunct professor.

Besides his wife, Glenn is survived by two children, David and Carolyn Ann, and two grandchildren.

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Bishop Barres, a former priest of Wilmington, named bishop of Rockville Centre, N.Y. — updated

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Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, and appointed as his successor Bishop John O. Barres of Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Bishop Malooly, Bishop John Barres and the late Bishop Michael Saltarelli laugh during the press conference about Bishop Barres' appointment as bishop of the Diocese of Allentown, May 28, 2009. at the Cathedral of St. Peter. The Dialog/Don Blake

Bishop Malooly, Bishop John Barres and the late Bishop Michael Saltarelli laugh during the press conference about Bishop Barres’ appointment as bishop of the Diocese of Allentown, May 28, 2009. at the Cathedral of St. Peter. The Dialog/Don Blake

Bishop Barres, 56, has headed the Diocese of Allentown since 2009. Bishop Murphy, who has been Rockville Centre’s bishop since 2001, is 76. Canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation to the pope when they turn 75.

The 1,200-square-mile Rockville Centre Diocese has a total population of over 2.9 million people, of whom 50 percent, or 1.45 million are Catholic.

The changes were announced Dec. 9 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Barres’ Mass of installation will be celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Agnes in Rockville Centre Jan. 31. Until that time, Bishop Murphy will serve as apostolic administrator of the diocese.

In Wilmington, Bishop Malooly issued the following statement:

“We are very pleased and proud to learn that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has appointed Bishop John O. Barres of Allentown.

Bishop John Barres greets a priest friend after a press conference at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena in Allentown on May 27, 2009. when Bishop Barres was named to Allentown. The Dialog/Don Blake

Bishop John Barres greets a priest friend after a press conference at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena in Allentown on May 27, 2009. when Bishop Barres was named to Allentown. The Dialog/Don Blake

“Bishop Barres was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Wilmington in 1989, and served the people of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore faithfully for 20 years as a parish priest, vice-chancellor, and chancellor. He was my mentor in my first year as bishop of Wilmington and a wonderful companion and example to me of a dedicated priest and servant.

 “God has truly blessed the Diocese of Rockville Centre with a wonderfully talented servant-shepherd. I have no doubt that the people of Long Island, like the people of Allentown and Wilmington, will come to love this holy and cheerful man. We congratulate the clergy, religious, and laity of Rockville Centre, as Bishop Barres brings his dedication and enthusiam to Long Island.

“The faithful of the Diocese of Wilmington join me in offering our heartfelt congratulations to Bishop Barres on the occasion of this appointment. We pledge our continued prayers and affection.”

 

“It is my deep conviction that he will be a bishop for all of us without exception,” Bishop Murphy said of his successor in a statement. “He has shared with me his love of youth and his care for the elderly. He has a keen sense of parish life and has a special expertise in education. He has a deep love for the poor.”

Bishop Barres will support Catholic Charities, parish outreach as well as Catholic hospitals, he added.

Bishop Murphy also said Rockville Centre’s new bishop “will be a good neighbor to our brothers and sisters” in other Christian denominations as well as members of the Jewish and Muslim faiths, and the many civic and political leaders with whom the church works “in building up Long Island for future generations.”

He described Bishop Barres as “a man of prayer” above all.

Born in Larchmont, New York, Sept. 20, 1960, Bishop Barres was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Wilmington, Del., Oct. 21, 1989. On May 27, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of Allentown. He was installed as that diocese’s fourth bishop July 30, 2009.

During his tenure in Allentown, he has initiated a pastoral planning process for parishes across the Diocese of Allentown. He has called on every parish to establish a parish council and has made support for Catholic schools a priority; enhanced evangelization and pastoral ministries; and encouraged use of social media to spread the Gospel and evangelize.

On the national level, he is a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis and is the USCCB’s episcopal liaison to the Pontifical Mission Societies.

Bishop John O. Barres of Allentown, Pa., offers a blessing at the end of a Mass he concelebrated with Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., Dec. 9 at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre. Earlier in the day Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Murphy and appointed Bishop Barres as his successor. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

Bishop John O. Barres of Allentown, Pa., offers a blessing at the end of a Mass he concelebrated with Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., Dec. 9 at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre. Earlier in the day Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Murphy and appointed Bishop Barres as his successor. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

He has a bachelor of sacred theology and a licentiate in systematic theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington; he received his seminary formation at the university’s Theological College.

He has a licentiate in canon law and a doctor of sacred theology degree from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. He has a bachelor of art’s degree in English literature from Princeton University and a master’s in business administration, focusing on management, from New York University’s School of Business Administration in 1984.

After his priestly ordination, he had assignments as associate pastor at two Delaware parishes, then went to Rome for further studies. After his return to the Wilmington diocese in 1999, he served as vice chancellor, then chancellor.

A native of Boston, Bishop Murphy was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Boston Dec. 16, 1964. He was named a Boston auxiliary bishop in 1995. St. John Paul II appointed him to Rockville Centre June 26, 2001.

 

 

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Panel: Genocide, wars, indifference will make Mideast Christians extinct

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Catholic News Service

NEW YORK — Christians in the Middle East face extinction because of genocide, wars and international indifference to their plight, according to panelists at a Dec. 5 interfaith forum in New York.

A concerted multilateral effort to establish a safe haven for them while rebuilding their devastated homelands is preferable to massive permanent resettlement to other countries, including the United States, they said.

Men walk in rubble Nov. 13 near St. Mary's Catholic Church and St. Elias Orthodox Church after a bombing in Damascus, Syria. Christians in the Middle East face extinction because of genocide, wars and international indifference to their plight, said speakers at a Dec. 5 panel discussion in New York. (CNS photo/Mohammed Badra, EPA)

Men walk in rubble Nov. 13 near St. Mary’s Catholic Church and St. Elias Orthodox Church after a bombing in Damascus, Syria. Christians in the Middle East face extinction because of genocide, wars and international indifference to their plight, said speakers at a Dec. 5 panel discussion in New York. (CNS photo/Mohammed Badra, EPA)

Twelve speakers at the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture event explored “The Crisis for Christians in the Middle East,” with a particular focus on vulnerable Christian minorities in Syria and Iraq.

Christians formed the majority in the Middle East until the Crusades in the 12th-14th centuries, but “the past thousand years haven’t been good in many ways,” said Jack Tannous, assistant professor of history at Princeton University.

Tremendous violence perpetrated against Christians led to widespread conversion, he said, and long periods of stasis have been punctuated by large-scale persecution and followed by immigration.

As a result, many Christians were effectively exterminated from the lands where they lived for centuries, said Michael Reynolds, associate professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University.

Genocide is the accurate description for the fate of Christians, especially in areas controlled by the Islamic State, speakers said.

Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz, executive director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said she appreciated that Christians were included in the March 17 genocide declaration by Secretary of State John Kerry, even if the inclusion, she added, was made with difficulty by the current administration and because “it’s popular to talk about minority religions.”

Kerry said the atrocities carried out by the Islamic State group against Yezidis, Christians and other minorities were genocide.

“Today we are witnessing the world’s indifference to the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East and Africa,” said Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress and former U.S. ambassador to Austria. Referencing the Holocaust, he said, “Since 1945, genocide has occurred again and again. ‘Never Again!’ has become hollow. You can’t just declare genocide and say the job is done. You have to back it up with action.”

“Jews know what happens when the world is silent to mass slaughter. We learned it the hard way,” Lauder added.

“People turn off the Middle East because it’s so horrible,” Arriaga de Bucholz said, but having the U.S. declare genocide helps bring attention to the situation and opens the potential for action.

Msgr. John E. Kozar, president of Catholic Near East Welfare Association, said his organization works with the Eastern churches throughout the Middle East, an area not fully understood or appreciated by those in the Latin church. The charitable and health care efforts particularly by women religious in largely Muslim areas have been well-received, and Christians and others have gotten along well, he said. Nonetheless, there is much outright suffering and persecution, he said.

“Syria is an absolute mess, but the church is still there,” Msgr. Kozar said. Lebanon is at or close to capacity with refugees. Jordan has the greatest concentration of refugees in the world, but its camps are plagued with extortion and a gangland mentality. Christians are considered third-class citizens in Egypt and still suffer reprisals after the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood. Christians in Kurdistan and Iraq face different challenges.

“We are accompanying Christians who believe that somehow Our Lord will accompany and sustain them. We try to bring a reasonable stability,” he said.

Msgr. Kozar and other speakers underscored the deep historic and cultural connection of the Christians to their lands. “There is a tug of war between the goodwill of people here in the West who want to welcome and adopt (the refugees) and presume it’s best to extract them from where they are, and the church leaders and most of the people who want to stay” in the region and return to their countries when it is safe to do so, Msgr. Kozar said. “Family, faith, and church and connected.”

Nina Shea, director of the center for religious freedom at the Hudson Institute, said the current administration’s lack of a religious test for aid dooms tiny minorities and the new administration must make sure Christians and other minorities get their fair share of aid destined for Syria and Iraq.

Also, the United Nations needs a plan to protect minorities. “Otherwise, they will become extinct,” she said.

Retired U.S. Gen. Raymond Odierno, former chief of staff of the U.S. Army, said during his lengthy leadership service in Iraq, he never had a specific mission to protect Christians. He said that was likely because there were bigger problems and if the U.S. singled out Christians, it might be interpreted by the Iraqis as trying “to force our religion on Iraq.”

Odierno said the new administration should be prepared to have a position on what happens to Christians when the fighting wanes in Syria. He advocated a multinational effort to establish a safe haven to protect Christians “until governments can receive them and place them back where they belong, or else, they’ll dwindle.”

The effort will only work if it is multinational and supported by the United Nations, he said. A solo effort by the United States would create a larger problem for Christians because it would look like the U.S. was unilaterally protecting Christians.

Odierno also suggested relocating Christians from the Ninevah Plain of Iraq to Kurdish-controlled areas during what he said could be a 10- to 20-year rebuilding process before they could return home. He could support a no-fly zone there if there’s a threat and if Russia participated, he said.

Odierno said it’s unclear if the U.S. and Russia can work together to protect Christians and he has not spoken to anyone in Russia, “but I believe we should be able to develop common ground on this.”

He said, “It’s up to us as a nation that supports all religions to assist when any religion is being attacked. We should be there and take a look at it … we may be judged 50 years from now.”

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York said when bishops visit him from the Middle East, “they don’t say a lot, but unfailingly cry and plead not to be forgotten. They feel desperate, alone and isolated.” He wore a Coptic pectoral cross, a gift to him from Egypt, and he displayed an icon of the Martyrs of Libya.

“We have a God who is calling us to a sense of justice, advocacy and charity. We cannot forget these people,” he said.

The event was organized by the Anglosphere Society, a nonprofit membership organization that promotes the traditional values of English-speaking peoples, in collaboration with the Archdiocese of New York and the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture.

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