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Bishops troubled: Trump retains policy banning bias based on basis of sexual orientation, gender identity

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WASHINGTON — The chairmen of two bishops’ committees expressed disappointment Feb. 1 over President Donald Trump’s decision to retain a 2014 executive order by his predecessor, Barack Obama, that bans federal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity against federal employees and workers for federal government contractors.

Trump’s action is “troubling and disappointing” said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput called President Trump's action to retain a 2014 executive order  that bans federal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity against federal employees and workers for federal government contractors. Trump’s “troubling and disappointing  (CNS filePaul Haring)

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput called President Trump’s action to retain a 2014 executive order that bans federal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity against federal employees and workers for federal government contractors “troubling and disappointing.” (CNS filePaul Haring)

The executive order, they said in a joint statement, is “deeply flawed.” In a July 21, 2014, statement, Archbishop Lori and Archbishop Chaput’s predecessor as committee chair, Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, labeled the executive order “unprecedented and extreme and should be opposed.”

In the 2014 statement, Archbishop Lori and Bishop Malone said the term “sexual orientation” was “undefined,” and that “gender identity” was “predicated on the false idea that gender is nothing more than a social construct or psychological reality that can be chosen at variance from one’s biological sex.”

They added, “Even contractors that disregard sexual inclination in employment face the possibility of exclusion from federal contracting if their employment policies or practices reflect religious or moral objections to extramarital sexual conduct.”

The two prelates urged Obama to include a religious exemption. Fourteen other religious leaders also asked for such an exemption in a letter to Obama so that “protection for one group would not come at the expense of faith communities” who religious beliefs motivate them to serve.

Father Larry Snyder, then Catholic Charities USA president, was one of the 14 leaders who signed a letter to the president. He told Catholic News Service he was among religious leaders who then met with White House staff to discuss the executive order before it was issued. The priest said later the order upheld “already existing religious exemptions, that will allow us to maintain fidelity to our deeply held religious beliefs.”

In their Feb. 1 statement, Archbishops Chaput and Lori said, “The church steadfastly opposes all unjust discrimination, and we need to continue to advance justice and fairness in the workplace,” but the Obama executive order “creates problems rather than solves them,” adding that it instead “creates new forms of discrimination against people of faith.”

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Philadelphia archdiocese to sell its seminary property, move operations

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Catholic News Service

PHILADELPHIA — The board of trustees of Philadelphia’s St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood has called for scrapping the planned consolidation of seminary operations on one 30-acre section of the campus and instead moving its operations off campus. Read more »

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San Bernardino bishop urges prayers for healing after shootings

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SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — San Bernardino Bishop Gerald R. Barnes urged people to pray for unity and healing after the mass shooting in San Bernardino Dec. 2 that left 14 people dead and 21 others wounded.

“For those who lost their lives, we pray for their eternal rest and God’s strength to their loved ones left behind; for those who are wounded, we pray for their health and healing,” he said.

Rescue crews rush an injured victim to a waiting ambulance outside the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, Calif., in this still image taken from video Dec. 2. At least 14 people were reported killed and more than 20 injured when gunmen opened fire that day during a function at a center for people with developmental disabilities, police said. (CNS photo/NBCLA.com/Handout via Reuters)

Rescue crews rush an injured victim to a waiting ambulance outside the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, Calif., in this still image taken from video Dec. 2. At least 14 people were reported killed and more than 20 injured when gunmen opened fire that day during a function at a center for people with developmental disabilities, police said. (CNS photo/NBCLA.com/Handout via Reuters)

In a Dec. 2 statement, the bishop called on people to pray for “all of the victims of this horrific incident and their families” and also asked for prayers for law enforcement officers who at the time were still “pursuing the suspects in this case.”

“Our community of San Bernardino has faced great challenges through the years. Let us come together now in unity to bring light to the darkness of this day,” Bishop Barnes said.

The shooting took place at the Inland Regional Center, a state-run facility for individuals with developmental disabilities where county health officials were having an employee holiday party.

Two armed suspects — later identified as Syed Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27 — were killed by police four hours later in a shootout about two miles from the social services center.

Farook, a county environmental inspector, had attended the holiday party and left, returning with Malik, wearing “assault-style clothing” with ammunition attached, according to news reports.

Police and federal agents have not yet offered a motive for the couple’s shootings at the center, which provides housing and work programs, and therapy and social services to more than 30,000 people with developmental disabilities.

“Today, yet another American community is reeling from the horror of gun violence,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said in a Dec. 2 statement.

“As the families of the victims grieve and the survivors focus on healing, the entire American family mourns,” she added.

Pelosi noted that gun violence is “a crisis of epidemic proportions in our nation” and said Congress has a moral responsibility to vote on common sense measures to prevent the daily agony of gun violence in communities across America. Enough is enough.”

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said “each innocent life lost” in the shooting was precious. “Each was intimately connected through family and friendship to many others, who now survive them and bear a burden of unearned suffering.”

The archbishop, in a Dec. 3 statement, added: “Pursuing justice in this matter is in the hands of law enforcement. Our task as Christians is to pray for those persons whose lives were ended by the inexcusable cruelty of others.”

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Pope’s last stop in U.S. — World Meeting of Families kicks off in Philadelphia

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Catholic News Service

PHILADELPHIA — Known as the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia will be “the city of family love” and the “world capital of families” during the four-day World Meeting of Families, said Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

The largest-ever World Meeting of Families opened in Philadelphia Sept. 22. More than 17,500 participants from more than 100 countries registered for the four-day congress, said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia. Read more »

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Pennsylvania governor puts off executions, says system ‘riddled with flaws’

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Catholic News Service

PHILADELPHIA — Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia praised the announcement by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf Feb. 13 that he is granting a reprieve for death-row inmate Terrence Williams, who was scheduled to be executed March 4.

In a memo, Wolf said he would extend the reprieve to each of the 186 inmates on the state’s death row as their scheduled executions approach, all pending the outcome of a study of the use of the death penalty in Pennsylvania.

Archbishop Chaput said he was grateful to Wolf “for choosing to take a deeper look into these studies and I pray we can find a better way to punish those who are guilty of these crimes.”

“Turning away from capital punishment does not diminish our support for the families of murder victims. They bear a terrible burden of grief and they rightly demand justice,” said the archbishop. “But killing the guilty does not honor the dead nor does it ennoble the living. When we take a guilty person’s life we only add to the violence in an already violent culture and we demean our own dignity in the process.”

Wolf said there was no question Williams was guilty of the 1984 murder he committed at age 18 and for which he was convicted and sentenced to death in 1986. But the governor said he was granting the reprieve “because the capital punishment system has significant and widely recognized defects.”

The governor cited the “unending cycle of death warrants and appeals,” the cost to the judicial system for the appeals process and the surfacing of painful memories for victims’ families in each step of the process.

He also noted instances of miscarried justice due to flawed convictions and sentencing in several cases.

In the 40 years since Pennsylvania reinstated the death penalty, governors have signed 434 warrants, but only three executions were carried out.

“If the commonwealth of Pennsylvania is going to take the irrevocable step of executing a human being, its capital sentencing system must be infallible,” Wolf said. “Pennsylvania’s system is riddled with flaws, making it error prone, expensive and anything but infallible.”

The reprieves would remain in effect at least until Wolf has reviewed a forthcoming report of the Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment.

“I take this action only after significant consideration and reflection,” he said. “There is perhaps no more weighty a responsibility assigned to the governor than his or her role as the final check in the capital punishment process.”

In a statement, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference said the state’s Catholic bishops have long advocated for an end to the death penalty “because the modern penal system provides alternatives to taking the lives of the guilty. Punishment should reflect our belief in the inherent human dignity of each person, and taking a life to avenge the death of another does not create a culture of life,” the statement read.

“People convicted of capital offenses must be punished effectively and appropriately for their crimes. Family and friends of victims, and society as a whole, demand this. Just punishment, however, can be attained without resorting to execution. Even the most violent offenders who commit heinous crimes still have a dignity given by God,” said the conference, which is the public policy arm of the state’s bishops.

“Society will not benefit from imposing the death penalty, nor will it be harmed by showing mercy. By turning away from the death penalty, we are embracing hope, not despair,” it continued, adding that Wolf’s announcement “breaks the cycle of violence that so plagues our society. We hope that this spirit of respect for human life is shown throughout all laws and policies of the commonwealth.”

Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik praised Wolf for granting Williams a reprieve and “for effectively establishing a moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania.”

“At the same time the church must remain committed to reaching out to victims of violent crimes and their families,” he said in a statement.

He added that research “has shown that it is not a deterrent to crime and that on occasion innocent people have been wrongly executed.”

“Catholic teaching affirms the dignity of every human person from the moment of conception until the last breath of natural life,” Bishop Zubik said. “No one is excluded, not even criminals who have committed a heinous act. God’s love and mercy is offered to all.”

 

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Many see Rev. King’s vision ‘still in process of coming true’ in United States

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For young Jaymee Dixon, the tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at Holy Angels Cathedral “means a lot. It feels great to be a black person doing something.”

Dixon, 15, is a member of the Wirt-Emerson Concert Choir that performed at the eighth annual King tribute at the cathedral Jan. 11. The high school student said black history today is loaded with stories of young black people dying.

Aaron Brown of Houston and Arielle Phillips of Charlotte, N.C., pause to view a 30-foot sculpture of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington . (CNS r/Reuters file)

Aaron Brown of Houston and Arielle Phillips of Charlotte, N.C., pause to view a 30-foot sculpture of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington . (CNS r/Reuters file)

The cathedral event was held in observance of Rev. King’s birthday, Jan. 15. The federal holiday marking his birthday this year is Jan. 19.

Joyce F. Gillie Cruse, guest speaker at the tribute, addressed those deaths, some of which have become household names, including Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Ferguson, Missouri.

Noting how Rev. King’s fight for all races and against a system that promotes racism and racial divide, Gillie Cruse said Rev. King’s “vision is still in the process of coming true” decades after the civil rights leader was slain in 1968.

Recalling the recent deaths of young black males, Gillie Cruse said, “There is something wrong in this country.”

While many in this country have blamed police actions for these deaths, Gillie Cruse said there are other issues to be addressed — issues that “make black males an endangered species.”

These issues, Gillie Cruse said, include a low percentage of black voters, black teen homelessness, failing school systems, high crime rates, and unemployment or jobs that do not pay a living wage. Also, she said, only 26 percent of African-Americans get married.

“We have some serious issues, and it’s not just the police,” Gillie Cruse said.

An adjunct professor at Xavier University and Loyola University in New Orleans, Gillie Cruse previously served in the Diocese of Gary, working with Gary cluster parishes on adult faith formation and evangelization.

“We need to do something,” she said. “What are we going to do for our children, to help them see a good future? We must re-assess the balance of our society and think out of the box.”

Gillie Cruse suggested opening 24-hour community youth centers, keeping schools open at night, having leaders who address these issues, and church members allotting 10 percent of their tithe to promote children’s programming, including money for college.

In short, Gillie Cruse said, “Do more than hear a speaker.”

Gillie Cruse encouraged her audience to “meet somewhere” to discuss challenges in society. “Do what you can to address these issues.”

The annual King tribute included several selections performed by the Wirt-Emerson Concert Choir, comments from local representatives, and orator Troy Patterson Thomas’ rendition of Rev. King’s iconic “I have a dream” speech.

Father Mick Kopil, rector of Holy Angels Cathedral, recalled the words of Blessed Paul VI, who said there can be no peace without justice. The Sunday afternoon tribute, Father Kopil said, honors the memory of a man “who worked among us for peace and justice.”

Father Charles Mosley, pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Hammond, noted a recent interview with civil rights leader Andrew Young, who said that Rev. King’s mission was not so much about changing the world as it was about changing a reality “of how African-Americans are seen.”

Citing low black voter turnout in the last election, Father Mosley said, “We need to change our reality, so we can move forward.” Instead of talking about racism or black lives lost at next year’s King tribute, the Hammond pastor said people should discuss their accomplishments and additional work to be done.

Father Mosley prayed for “new hope, new light” to help achieve Rev. King’s vision. “Bless us, guide us, help us become all you want us to be, so we can give glory to your name.”

In Jan. 16 statement released in Washington, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called on communities to strive to live the words of Rev. King, who urged the nation to move “from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.”

“Our communities will only reflect this dignity if we first turn to prayer to guide our actions toward ending years of isolation, disregard and conflict between neighbors,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky. “That which seems impossible can only be brought about through God and his powerful intervention in our hearts.”

He expressed gratitude for Rev. King’s work and the efforts of so many others on behalf of justice and to advance “our country’s recognition of the dignity and equality of each person.”

“Continuing tensions and violence in our communities remind us that although significant progress has been made in erasing the stain of racism and the cycle of related violence, we still have much work to do,” Archbishop Kurtz said.

“As we consider the gains of the past and the challenges before us, I urge each of us to pray for healing and peace as we work for ever greater communion. Every human life has profound dignity, rooted in our creation in the image of God. We are one family,” he added.

In a Jan. 14 column, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput wrote that the annual King observance is much more than a celebration of the civil rights leader’s service on behalf of the nation’s black community and other ethnic minorities. It’s also, he said, “a celebration of the power of religious faith working through believers who open themselves selflessly to that which God calls them to do in the world.”

“More than 50 years have passed since Martin Luther King Jr. stepped into America’s racial divide of the 1950s and 1960s. Although that divide has eased in some important ways, recent events show that much remains to be done,” the archbishop said in his column, posted on CatholicPhilly.com, the Philadelphia archdiocesan news website.

This year’s King observance “comes at a key moment,” he continued. “We should take advantage of it by reflecting on why King’s efforts to fight racial injustice bore such good fruit, and what his witness means for the United States today.

“It’s a moment for those of us who are Christians to re-examine our own lives in light of the Gospel, and to ground ourselves again in the same word of God that gave Martin Luther King the courage and perseverance to seek healing where sin had wrought racial conflict.”

In today’s secular society, “people can too easily forget” that Rev. King’s pursuit of justice for minorities “was fundamentally Christian,” Archbishop Chaput said. “The inspiration for his activism came not from a devotion to any political party or even set of public policy solutions, but rather from his understanding of Christian discipleship.”

He urged that celebrating the King holiday not only pay tribute to Rev. King’s “great service” but also be a reminder of the power of religious faith and the selfless acts that God calls all to undertake, “even when it involves suffering, difficulty and sacrifice.”

By Steve Euvino

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‘Christian discipleship’ motivated Rev. Martin Luther King

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GARY, Ind. — For young Jaymee Dixon, the tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at Holy Angels Cathedral “means a lot. It feels great to be a black person doing something.”

Dixon, 15, is a member of the Wirt-Emerson Concert Choir that performed at the eighth annual King tribute at the cathedral Jan. 11. The high school student said black history today is loaded with stories of young black people dying.

The cathedral event was held in observance of Rev. King’s birthday, Jan. 15. The federal holiday marking his birthday this year is Jan. 19.

Joyce Gillie Cruse, an adjunct professor at Xavier University and Loyola University New Orleans, gives the keynote address at the eighth annual tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary, Ind., Jan. 11. (CNS photo/Anthony D. Alonzo, Northwest Indiana Catholic)

Joyce Gillie Cruse, an adjunct professor at Xavier University and Loyola University New Orleans, gives the keynote address at the eighth annual tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary, Ind., Jan. 11. (CNS photo/Anthony D. Alonzo, Northwest Indiana Catholic)

Joyce F. Gillie Cruse, guest speaker at the tribute, addressed those deaths, some of which have become household names, including Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Ferguson, Missouri.

Noting how Rev. King’s fight for all races and against a system that promotes racism and racial divide, Gillie Cruse said Rev. King’s “vision is still in the process of coming true” decades after the civil rights leader was slain in 1968.

Recalling the recent deaths of young black males, Gillie Cruse said, “There is something wrong in this country.”

While many in this country have blamed police actions for these deaths, Gillie Cruse said there are other issues to be addressed, issues that “make black males an endangered species.”

These issues, Gillie Cruse said, include a low percentage of black voters, black teen homelessness, failing school systems, high crime rates, and unemployment or jobs that do not pay a living wage. Also, she said, only 26 percent of African-Americans get married.

“We have some serious issues, and it’s not just the police,” Gillie Cruse said.

An adjunct professor at Xavier University and Loyola University in New Orleans, Gillie Cruse previously served in the Diocese of Gary, working with Gary cluster parishes on adult faith formation and evangelization.

“We need to do something,” she said. “What are we going to do for our children, to help them see a good future? We must re-assess the balance of our society and think out of the box.”

Gillie Cruse suggested opening 24-hour community youth centers, keeping schools open at night, having leaders who address these issues, and church members allotting 10 percent of their tithe to promote children’s programming, including money for college.

In short, Gillie Cruse said, “Do more than hear a speaker.”

Gillie Cruse encouraged her audience to “meet somewhere” to discuss challenges in society. “Do what you can to address these issues.”

The annual King tribute included several selections performed by the Wirt-Emerson Concert Choir, comments from local representatives, and orator Troy Patterson Thomas’ rendition of Rev. King’s iconic “I have a dream” speech.

Father Mick Kopil, rector of Holy Angels Cathedral, recalled the words of Blessed Paul VI, who said there could be no peace without justice. The Sunday afternoon tribute, Father Kopil said, honors the memory of a man “who worked among us for peace and justice.”

Father Charles Mosley, pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Hammond, noted a recent interview with civil rights leader Andrew Young, who said that Rev. King’s mission was not so much about changing the world as it was about changing a reality “of how African-Americans are seen.’

Citing low black voter turnout in the last election, Father Mosley said, “We need to change our reality, so we can move forward.” Instead of talking about racism or black lives lost at next year’s King tribute, the Hammond pastor said people should discuss their accomplishments and additional work to be done.

Father Mosley prayed for “new hope, new light” to help achieve Rev. King’s vision. “Bless us, guide us, help us become all you want us to be, so we can give glory to your name.”

In a Jan. 14 column, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput wrote that the annual King observance is much more than a celebration of the civil rights leader’s service on behalf of the nation’s black community and other ethnic minorities. It’s also, he said, “a celebration of the power of religious faith working through believers who open themselves selflessly to that which God calls them to do in the world.”

“More than 50 years have passed since Martin Luther King Jr. stepped into America’s racial divide of the 1950s and 1960s. Although that divide has eased in some important ways, recent events show that much remains to be done,” the archbishop said in his column, posted on CatholicPhilly.com, the Philadelphia archdiocesan news website.

This year’s King observance “comes at a key moment,” he continued. “We should take advantage of it by reflecting on why King’s efforts to fight racial injustice bore such good fruit, and what his witness means for the United States today.

“It’s a moment for those of us who are Christians to re-examine our own lives in light of the Gospel, and to ground ourselves again in the same word of God that gave Martin Luther King the courage and perseverance to seek healing where sin had wrought racial conflict.”

In today’s secular society, “people can too easily forget” that Rev. King’s pursuit of justice for minorities “was fundamentally Christian,” Archbishop Chaput said. “The inspiration for his activism came not from a devotion to any political party or even set of public policy solutions, but rather from his understanding of Christian discipleship.”

He urged that celebrating the King holiday not only pay tribute to Rev. King’s “great service” but also be a reminder of the power of religious faith and the selfless acts that God calls all to undertake, “even when it involves suffering, difficulty and sacrifice.”

— By Steve Euvino

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Philadelphia opens World Meeting of Families registration

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Catholic News Service

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia formally opened its arms to the world as Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia told the U.S. Catholic bishops Nov. 10 that registration has begun for the World Meeting of Families next year in the city.

The archbishop made the announcement on the first day of the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia speaks Nov. 10 during the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia speaks Nov. 10 during the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

With up to 15,000 attendees expected for the gathering of families from around the country and the world Sept. 22-25, 2015, organizers are planning hotel and other accommodations plus a full slate of top speakers and activities for what will be the largest convention for Philadelphia next year.

“The World Meeting of Families will deal with a wide range of family issues where our faith is both needed and tested,” the archbishop said. “These are matters that affect families not only here in the United States but on a global scale.”

Addressing those matters in six keynote speeches and 67 breakout sessions, each allowing for 15-20 minutes of questions and answers with 700 to 1,000 people per session, will be speakers including Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, and other bishops, priests and religious sisters, plus Helen Alvare, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and author Scott Hahn.

Archbishop Chaput told the bishops in Baltimore that the meeting’s content will deal not only with “neuralgic sexual issues that seem to dominate the American media,” but also poverty, addiction, children with disabilities, the loss of a spouse, divorce and co-parenting, health and wellness and how these issues affect the family.

Other themes such as “creating real intimacy between husband and wife” and the roles of grandparents and the parish community to help deal with the challenges of raising children would also be examined, the archbishop said.

Mounting an event of this size could be daunting for the financially challenged archdiocese. “The good news is that we’ve already raised more than half of what we need,” Archbishop Chaput told the bishops. “We’ve also had wonderful cooperation from the city, state and federal authorities.”

He added, “We’ve made good progress, but we still have a long way to go.”

Registration and other information is available at www.worldmeeting2015.org. Registration actually opened in late October to get feedback on what was needed to strengthen the process.

“It’s so complex, and we wanted to make sure all the moving parts worked well together” before announcing the registration publicly, said Donna Farrell, executive director of the World Meeting of Families.

One positive result of the feedback was the lowering of registration fees, which Farrell said was a key goal.

“Archbishop Chaput wanted to make sure this congress was accessible as possible,” she told CatholicPhilly.com, the archdiocesan news website.

Four pricing tiers are available, with separate pricing for the meeting’s two tracks: the Adult Congress and the Youth Congress, which is aimed at youth ages 6 to 17. There are full packages, modified and basic packages, and one-day registration.

For example, the full package for an adult will cost $325 and includes registration, a welcome kit, two lunch tickets, a $100 debit card for expenses and a mass transit pass valid for a week. The one-day registration will cost $95. The full package cost for youth is $199; one-day registration is $25. Full details are available on the website. Prices will go up between $25 and $50 as the event nears.

Already, 32 hotels in Philadelphia have reserved rooms ranging from $129 to $299 per night, with an average cost of $220.

Farrell’s team now is working with hotels elsewhere in Pennsylvania and in New Jersey and Delaware to expand the number of rooms available to attendees. She also has encouraged local households to open their homes to attendees if they have room to accommodate guests. The website www.homestay.com based in Dublin matches homes with travelers coming to the world meeting.

One of Farrell’s biggest challenges with registration has been coordinating the five-day meeting with the widely expected visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia. Hotel reservation for the World Meeting of Families ends Friday, Sept. 25, even though plans call for the pope to visit Friday evening and Saturday, with about 1 million people expected to attend a public Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 27.

But since the Vatican has not officially announced the papal visit, rooms are not being reserved for it at this time.

“We’re not likely to get an announcement until the turn of the year,” Archbishop Chaput told the bishops. “But we do have many hopeful signs that he does intend to come.”

“It is our hope and expectation that people registering for the congress would get the right of first refusal” for a room during the papal visit, Farrell said. But that portion of the registration remains unknown until Pope Francis’ visit is confirmed, which could be between four and eight months before September.

 

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Pope Francis to open Vatican interfaith conference on traditional marriage Nov. 17

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Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY — A month after closing a Synod of Bishops on the family stirred by controversy over divorce, same-sex unions and other nonmarital relationships, Pope Francis will open an interreligious conference dedicated to traditional marriage.

A month after closing a Synod of Bishops on the family stirred by controversy over divorce, same-sex unions and other nonmarital relationships, Pope Francis will open an interreligious conference dedicated to traditional marriage. (CNS/Jon L. Hendricks)

A month after closing a Synod of Bishops on the family stirred by controversy over divorce, same-sex unions and other nonmarital relationships, Pope Francis will open an interreligious conference dedicated to traditional marriage. (CNS/Jon L. Hendricks)

The Vatican-sponsored gathering, on the “Complementarity of Man and Woman,” will take place Nov. 17-19 and feature more than 30 speakers representing 23 countries and various Christian churches, as well as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism and Sikhism. The conference will aim to “examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society,” according to organizers. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia and the Rev. Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in California, will be among the participants. Other Americans at the conference will include Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Henry B. Eyring,f irst counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and Mercy Sister Prudence Allen, former chair of the philosophy department at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, whom Pope Francis named to the International Theological Commission in September. Other notable speakers will include Lord Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of Great Britain, and Anglican Bishops N.T. Wright and Michael Nazir-Ali. Pope Francis will address the conference and preside over its first morning session Nov. 17, following remarks by Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The conference was an initiative of Cardinal Muller, who proposed it to Pope Francis in November 2013, according to Helen Alvare, a professor at George Mason University School of Law in Virginia, who is handling press relations for the event. The conference is officially sponsored by the doctrinal congregation, and co-sponsored by the pontifical councils for Promoting Christian Unity, for Interreligious Dialogue and for the Family. The heads of all four curia offices are scheduled to address the assembly. Topics of lectures and videos will include “The Cradle of Life and Love: A Mother and Father for the World’s Children” and “The Sacramentality of Human Love According to St. John Paul II.” Given its timing and subject matter, the conference is likely to invite comparisons with the Oct. 5-19 synod on the family. Several conference participants have already commented publicly on the earlier event. One of the synod’s most discussed topics was a proposal by German Cardinal Walter Kasper to make it easier for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion. Cardinal Muller was a leading opponent of that proposal. Archbishop Chaput told an audience in New York Oct. 20 that he had been “very disturbed” by press reports of last month’s synod, saying, “I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was of confusion,” though he added: “I don’t think that was the real thing there.” The archbishop will be host to the September 2015 World Meeting of Families, which Pope Francis is widely expected to attend. Rev. Warren was one of 48 Christian ministers and scholars who signed an open letter to Pope Francis and the synod fathers in September, urging the assembly to defend traditional marriage, among other ways, by supporting efforts to “restore legal provisions that protect marriage as a conjugal union of one man and one woman.” Moore, of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote a blog post in response to the synod’s controversial midterm report, which used remarkably conciliatory language toward people with ways of life contrary to Catholic teaching, including those in same-sex unions and other non-marital relationships. Moore praised the document for suggesting that “we should not drive sinners away, but that we should receive them and nurture them toward Christ,” but said that the “church is not itself, though, to be made up of unrepentant people.”

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‘Love Is Our Mission’ — Planning for Vatican’s 2015 celebration of families in Philadelphia

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Catholic News Service

PHILADELPHIA — The archbishop in charge of the Vatican office sponsoring next year’s World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia paid a visit to the city May 13 in typical tourist fashion: by viewing the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia speaks as Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, looks on during a press conference with a delegation from Pennsylvania at the Vatican March 25 to discuss the September 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, was joined by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput and the event co-chairmen, Gov. Tom Corbett and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, for the morning visit to the Liberty Bell pavilion, then on to a tour of Independence Hall led by National Park Service guides.

Afterward at the Independence Visitors Center, Archbishop Chaput led a news conference at which he unveiled the theme of the Sept. 22-27, 2015, meeting in the city: “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.”

He said Pope Francis’ compassion for the needs of people around the world “and his deep care for the institution of the family” were the inspiration for the theme.

“It not only reminds each of us that love should be our life’s mission but that also it is the engine of life. Our goal for the 2015 World Meeting of Families is to create a moment of hope and celebration for all of the world’s families, a moment in which we hope Pope Francis will join.”

Archbishop Chaput reiterated, as he has in the past, that he does not expect the pope to announce whether he will come to Philadelphia next year until about March. But he said that the World Meeting of Families is being planned as though the pope will attend.

Pope Francis appears to be involved in details of the planning even at this point. The archbishop said the theme was developed through consultation here and with officials of the Pontifical Council for the Family in Rome. Two suggested themes were presented to the pope and he chose the one announced at the press conference.

It will form the basis of preparatory teaching and programming content for the World Meeting of Families. About 100 speakers are expected to participate in the international conference, along with thousands of attendees from more than 150 nations.

The theme “resonates not just with Catholics, but all people of good will,” the archbishop said. “It underlines the beauty and truth of family life. The love that we cite in our theme is a love that we must ensure fills every home and all family members with a unique and invigorating light and warmth.”

Archbishop Paglia, who had met Archbishop Chaput, Corbett and Nutter and the Philadelphia delegation during their trip to Rome in March, appeared to thoroughly enjoy his whirlwind tour.

Asking questions of guides at the historic sites and speaking better-than-adequate English, the Italian archbishop said May 13 is the feast of Our Lady of Fatima on the church calendar. It was also the day in 1981 when St. John Paul II as pope founded the Pontifical Council for the Family. He would have announced the news but was wounded by an assassin that same day.

The archbishop said Philadelphia was “important to the history not only of the United States but of the world,” and the fitting place to “celebrate the importance of families.”

He called the Catholic Church “a sign of unity for humanity … a family of people. Love flows from the family, and this is the great mission for us.”

Regarding the World Meeting of Families itself, no new details were revealed except that “every inch of the (Pennsylvania) Convention Center has been booked,” Archbishop Chaput said.

He, Corbett and Nutter said they expect plans to be firmly in place by this September, including a budget for which fundraising continues.

Archbishop Chaput said funds will be raised to help poor families attend the meeting and to help them materially, after meeting expenses for the meeting’s events, in the months and years to follow.

Getting people to the events from hotels in the city and surrounding counties will be a logistical challenge. Corbett said the planning team is looking at smaller yet significant recent events in the region such as last year’s U.S. Open at Merion and the Republican National Convention in 2000.

Once participants arrive they will find programming for all types of families, including “nontraditional families,” Archbishop Chaput said in response to the issue of families headed by homosexual couples.

“Everybody is welcome,” he said, adding that although the meeting will “primarily involve a Catholic understanding of the family,” the virtues of the family are the same: “love, fidelity and support in time of need,” he said.

The morning news conference also included Philadelphia’s Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop Stefan Soroka and students from St. Francis Xavier School in Philadelphia. Afterward Archbishop Paglia and aides from his congregation traveled from the historic district to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and toured the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The wide stretch of the parkway offered the archbishop a view of what Pope Francis might expect to see if he comes to celebrate a Mass in Philadelphia. Nutter called the area the most likely place to host the Mass.

After walking through the cathedral with the rector, Msgr. Arthur Rodgers, the entourage of the two archbishops, Corbett and his wife, Susan, walked across the street to Sister Cities Plaza and an impromptu cup of Philadelphia water ice from a street vendor, who might want to prepare a lot more for September 2015.

 

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