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Called to faith at Catholic youth gathering

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For The Dialog

Young people discover how church ‘relates to your life’ at national conference

Ania Zdunek seems like someone who would recognize God’s presence about her in her everyday life, since she attends a private Catholic high school.

But the Archmere Academy senior from St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Wilmington realized that she did not always see God as part of her everyday life when she attended the National Catholic Youth Conference last week in Indianapolis. “Sometimes it’s hard to acknowledge God in everyday life,” she said. Read more »

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Pope tells archbishops not to be ‘armchair Catholics,’ but apostles

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Catholic Church’s new cardinals and new archbishops must be willing to risk everything, patiently endure evil and bear crosses like Jesus did, Pope Francis said.

“The Lord answers our prayers. He is faithful to the love we have professed for him, and he stands beside us at times of trial.” Just as he accompanied the apostles, “he will do the same for you,” the pope told five new cardinals and about 30 archbishops named during the past year.

Pope Francis presents a box containing a pallium to Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, N.J., at the conclusion of Mass marking the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican June 29. New archbishops from around the world received their palliums from the pope. The actual imposition of the pallium will take place in the archbishop's archdiocese. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis presents a box containing a pallium to Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, N.J., at the conclusion of Mass marking the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 29. New archbishops from around the world received their palliums from the pope. The actual imposition of the pallium will take place in the archbishop’s archdiocese. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis addressed the new cardinals and archbishops during his homily at a Mass in St. Peter’s Square June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, who are the patron saints of the Vatican and the city of Rome.

The Mass was celebrated the day after Pope Francis created new cardinals from El Salvador, Mali, Laos, Sweden and Spain. Thirty-six archbishops appointed over the course of the past year were also invited to come to Rome to concelebrate the feast day Mass with Pope Francis. They came from 26 countries.

The concelebrants included Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey; and Archbishops Paul D. Etienne of Anchorage, Alaska; and Charles C. Thompson of Indianapolis. All three of the U.S. prelates have deep connections to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Archbishop Etienne was a priest of the archdiocese and Cardinal Tobin is the former archbishop.

In what has become the standard practice, the pope did not place the pallium on new archbishops during the liturgy. Rather, after the Mass, the pope handed each archbishop a pallium folded up in a small, simple wooden box tied with a brown ribbon as a soloist sang “You Got to Walk that Lonesome Valley,” a traditional American gospel song.

The actual imposition of the woolen band was to take place in the archbishop’s archdiocese in the presence of his faithful and bishops from neighboring dioceses. The pallium symbolizes an archbishop’s unity with the pope and his authority and responsibility to care for the flock the pope entrusted to him.

After the Mass, Cardinal Tobin told Catholic News Service that St. John XXIII had said “cardinals and bishops are the coat hangers on which the church hangs its tradition. Now I don’t like being a coat hanger, but the thing I like to wear the most is the pallium.”

Being made of lamb’s wool, the pallium is a reminder of “the need and really the obligation of the bishop to look for the one who is lost and then bring the lost one back on his shoulders,” the cardinal said. “I hope to do that in Newark.”

Archbishop Etienne noted that the pallium also is “symbolic of the unity of the metropolitan archbishops with the Holy Father and, through him, with the universal church.”

It tells an archbishop that his role is to be a good shepherd to his flock, “to help the people entrusted to my pastoral care to learn to live in unity and peace, to manifest that truth and love of Jesus Christ and the Gospel,” he said.

“The role of every priest, and particularly every bishop, is to be more and more transformed into Christ and that’s my prayer,” Archbishop Etienne said. “And then whatever burdens come and challenges, I’ll find my peace because I will be firmly convinced in experiencing his presence with me.”

Archbishop Thompson told CNS he received the pallium from Pope Francis as a gift for the sixth anniversary of his ordination as a bishop.

Pope Francis “has been such a great model, example and witness, and to receive this from him,” the archbishop said, is “a reminder to go forth. I think about Jesus at the Last Supper when he washed the feet of the disciples and said, ‘Now, go and do as I have done.’”

Archbishop Thompson said he kept watching Pope Francis during the Mass and looking at the pallium the pope wears as a symbol of the universality of his mission. “I watched him in his role of being the shepherd” and knew the pope was calling him “now to go forth and be that shepherd for the people entrusted to my care.”

In his homily at the Mass, the pope said the life of every apostle is built on: constant, edifying prayer; a firm, passionate profession of faith; and a willingness to patiently endure persecution.

People must ask themselves whether they are “armchair Catholics, who love to chat about how things are going in the church and the world,” he said, or if they are “apostles on the go,” who are on fire with love for God and ready to offer their lives for him.

Apostles of Christ “know that they cannot just tread water or take the easy way out, but have to risk putting out into the deep, daily renewing their self-offering,” he said.

Christians must follow the Lord completely and live according to his ways, not ways guided by personal self-interest, he said. Christ’s way “is that of new life, of joy and resurrection; it is also the way that passes through the cross and persecution.”

In different parts of the world, “often in complicit silence, great numbers of Christians are marginalized, vilified, discriminated against, subjected to violence and even death, not infrequently without due intervention on the part of those who could defend their sacrosanct rights,” the pope said.

However, there is no Christ and no Christian without the cross, he said. “Christian virtue is not only a matter of doing good, but of tolerating evil as well,” he said, quoting St. Augustine.

Enduring evil means “imitating Jesus, carrying our burden, shouldering it for his sake and that of others,” knowing that the Lord is by one’s side.

Finally, the pope said, prayer is another essential element of the life of an apostle as it “is the water needed to nurture hope and increase fidelity. Prayer makes us feel loved and it enables us to love in turn.”

As is customary, a delegation from the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople attended the Mass for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Before the Mass, Archbishop Job of Telmessos, head of the Orthodox delegation, joined the pope in prayer at the tomb of St. Peter inside St. Peter’s Basilica. The two also stopped before a bronze statue of St. Peter, which was adorned with a jeweled tiara, ring and red cope.

Contributing to this story were Cindy Wooden and Junno Arocho Esteves.

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U.S. bishops focused on ‘ensuring fundamental right’ to health care

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Catholic News Service

INDIANAPOLIS — As the country awaits the U.S. Senate’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in the coming weeks, the U.S. bishops made it clear June 15 during their annual spring assembly in Indianapolis that their efforts are focused on “ensuring the fundamental right of medical care” for all people.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also reinforced its stand that the American Health Care Act passed by the U.S. House May 4 needs major reform, to provide quality health care for the voiceless, especially children, the elderly, the poor, immigrants and the seriously ill.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, center, speaks June 14 during the opening of the bishops' annual spring assembly in Indianapolis. Also pictured is Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB vice president. (CNS photo/Sean Gallagher, The Criterion)

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, center, speaks June 14 during the opening of the bishops’ annual spring assembly in Indianapolis. Also pictured is Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB vice president. (CNS photo/Sean Gallagher, The Criterion)

“We find ourselves in a time marked by a deep sense of urgency and gravity,” said Bishop George L. Thomas of Helena, Montana, in his remarks to his fellow bishops. “Within two weeks, we may see a federal budgetary action with potentially catastrophic effects on the lives of our people, most especially children and the elderly, the seriously ill, the immigrant and our nation’s working poor.”

Referring to the House bill, known as AHCA, and its plan to “eliminate $880 billion from Medicaid over the next decade,” Bishop Thomas continued, “If left unchallenged or unmodified, this budget will destabilize our own Catholic health care apostolates, take food from the mouths of school-aged children and the homebound, and deny already scarce medical resources to the nation’s neediest in every state across the land.”

His passion growing as he spoke, Bishop Thomas concluded, “These are our people, our communities, our parishioners and members of our own beloved families. As a conference of bishops, we have the responsibility to read the signs of the times, to shine the light of the Gospel and Catholic social doctrine on this proposed budget.”

Bishop Thomas’ remarks drew appreciative applause from the U.S. bishops on the second day of their June 14-15 meeting.

He was the first bishop to speak following a report on health care reform by Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

In his report, Bishop Dewane also focused on how the U.S. Senate will soon turn its attention to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“The Catholic Church remains committed to ensuring the fundamental right to medical care, a right which is in keeping with the God-given dignity of every person,” Bishop Dewane said. “Both the lives of the unborn and adequate concern for those most in need anchor the USCCB’s messages to Congress at this critical time.”

He told his fellow bishops that the USCCB has been in constant contact with members of Congress since the House passed its version of a health care plan. Noting that the USCCB sent a letter to U.S. senators June 1, Bishop Dewane said, “It called on the Senate to strip away harmful promises of the AHCA or start anew with a better bill.”

The letter also provided recommendations and guiding principles for the senators as they craft their health care plan, starting with respect for life.

“No health care reform plan should compel us or others to pay for the destruction of human life, whether through government funding or mandatory coverage of abortion,” Bishop Dewane said about that priority in his remarks.

He also stressed that all people should have access to comprehensive quality health care and that the cost of health care be affordable, keeping low-income families in consideration. Any health care plan should also respect the conscience rights of people, from patients to providers.

“Those without a strong voice in the process must not bear the brunt of the attempts to cut costs,” Bishop Dewane said. “The bishops stand ready to work with Congress to address problems with the Affordable Care Act in ways that protect the most vulnerable among us.

“This is an important moment for the country and for the church. The teaching we bring to bear on questions of health and health care do not fit neatly or really, in many cases, not at all, into the single party platforms,” he continued. “Because of this, the church has a unique voice. The committee’’s work on this issue will remain active and diligent for the sake of those most in need at all stages of life.”

Following Bishop Dewane’s report, other bishops joined Bishop Thomas in sharing their reactions with their fellow bishops.

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago said, “The issue is about the human person. We need to make sure that we put forward that our position is that the state has a responsibility in creating solidarity within a country of caring for those most in need.”

Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego reflected on the comparison between the Affordable Care Act and the proposed plan that the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed to replace it.

“Health care is a fundamental human right, and government is its ultimate guarantor,” Bishop McElroy said. “The Affordable Care Act for all its flaws was a movement in favor of comprehensive health care. This is a movement away.”

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, encouraged his fellow bishops to remember people who live in rural areas as they seek a comprehensive health care plan.

“Medical care in the rural parts is in a very delicate state in terms of getting enough doctors and hospitals in those areas,” Archbishop Naumann noted.

He also viewed a call to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as an opportunity for the country.

“There was a lot of dishonesty in the Affordable Care Act, not just about the conscience rights and what was done to the unborn,” he said. “It was a house of cards. The Medicaid provisions were not sustainable by states, I don’t think. Also, we see that many other parts of it were collapsing in terms of what was really available to people.”

Archbishop Naumann added, “The new plans hopefully will really be something that is sustainable. I think this is an opportunity to do something different from other parts of the world, and to really develop quality health care accessible to all.”

Before Bishop Dewane’s presentation, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, opened the agenda item on health care reform was introduced by saying, “We as bishops strive to engage in this debate as a voice for the voiceless, for the poor, the sick, the unborn.”

“We also strive to bring to the fore the many moral questions in health care that can affect human flourishing, from life’s earliest days to its very final moments,” the cardinal said. “Our teaching has much to offer the current discussions, and we have a unique obligation as bishops to make those teachings known. We are also very concerned with how this debate affects the ability of the church to engage in its venerable ministry of healing the sick.”

— By John Shaughnessy, assistant editor, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

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Gregory: Bishops ‘can never say we are sorry enough’ for tragedy of abuse

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INDIANAPOLIS — Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said June 14 the U.S. Catholic bishops “can never say that we are sorry enough for the share that we have had in this tragedy of broken fidelity and trust,” the clergy sex abuse crisis.

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory delivers the homily during Mass June 14 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' annual spring assembly. (CNS photo/Sean Gallagher, The Criterion)

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory delivers the homily during Mass June 14 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual spring assembly. (CNS photo/Sean Gallagher, The Criterion)

He made the comments in the homily at an evening Mass said to commemorate a “Day of Prayer and Penance” for victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. The liturgy was celebrated at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis at the end of the first day of the bishops’ spring assembly.

“At this Mass, we bishops humbly and sincerely ask for the forgiveness of those who have been harmed, scandalized or dispirited by events that, even if they happened many years ago, remain ongoing sources of anguish for them and for those who love them,” he said.

“We bishops have learned a great deal about the sorrow and pain of those we love and serve, even as we have to acknowledge humbly, publicly and pitifully our share in bringing much of that pain to bear,” Archbishop Gregory said.

Pope Francis has summoned the bishops of the Catholic Church, he said, “to find occasions and opportunities to pray earnestly for God’s grace to bring about the healing and the reconciliation of those who have been harmed in this tragedy that has hurt far too many of his people and far too much of his church.”

“The Holy Father has called us respectfully to acknowledge our own share in causing the pain that so many are still enduring,” he said.

“At this Mass,” Archbishop Gregory continued, “we bishops humbly and sincerely ask for the forgiveness of those who have been harmed, scandalized or dispirited by events that, even if they happened many years ago, remain ongoing sources of anguish for them and for those who love them.”

The bishops “humbly seek forgiveness from the faith-filled people of our church and from our society at-large,” he said. But, he continued, they especially seek forgiveness “from those whose lives may have been devastated by our failure to care adequately for the little ones entrusted to us and for any decision that we made or should have made that exacerbated the sorrow and heartache that the entire church has felt and continues to feel for what we have done, and for what we have failed to do.”

Archbishop Gregory noted that the U.S. bishops have put many procedures in place to address the sex abuse crisis in the 15 years since they first approved the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”

The charter emphasizes that the first obligation of the church toward victims of sexual abuse is to offer outreach and provide a path toward healing and reconciliation. The document also put in place a system for auditing how dioceses are complying with the charter and implementing procedures to address abuse cases and prevent abuse.

The bishops also created the Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection and established the National Review Board, which oversees the audits.

These “procedural and educational expressions of our commitment to reform and renewal … are sincere, state-of-the-art and effective,” Archbishop Gregory said.

“Nevertheless, this expression of our sorrow,” he said, referring to the special Mass, “is far more important at this time, in this place, than any administrative process or training effort, however beneficial to the church and to the world.”

At the end of Mass, all the bishops knelt and recited a Prayer of Healing and Reconciliation.

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Faith is the bedrock of who they are, say Catholic youths at national conference

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INDIANAPOLIS — In one moment, the hope for the future of the U.S. Catholic Church could be seen in the eyes and the hands of Sarah Bishop and Carmen Miller.

That moment occurred as 23,000 youths from across the country met in Indianapolis for the National Catholic Youth Conference Nov. 21-23.

With National Catholic Youth Conference participants dancing behind him, Catholic musician Steve Angrisano plays on stage in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Nov. 22 during a general session of the biennial Catholic youth gathering. More than 23,000 youths from across the country took part in the three-day conference. (CNS photo/Sean Gallagher, The Criterion)

The three-day event featured Mass, workshops, musical performances, eucharistic adoration, and a theme park inside the Indiana Convention Center filled with fun activities, service opportunities and a wondrous, widespread wearing of crazy hats by the Catholic teenagers.

As the action in the theme park whirled around them, Sarah and Carmen kept their focus on the face of Christ, the face they had helped shape from their small part of the 2,000 pounds of clay that event organizers had set up for the youths to create images of their faith.

Strangers to each other until just hours before, Sarah and Carmen worked side by side, using sculpting tools to create the crown of thorns for Christ’s head. Then they sculpted his beard, his eyes and his facial features.

As they added the final touches to Christ’s face, they each also shared how God had touched their lives in the past year, a year marked by heartbreak for Sarah.

“My faith means everything to me,” said Sarah, 17, a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Albany in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. “I’ve always loved everything in my faith. And I’ve always looked toward it in the tough times of my life. For a while earlier this year, I drew back from my faith when my father died in February. I was mad at God, asking him why he would take my best friend.

“Then all these other good things happened,” she told The Criterion, the archdiocesan newspaper. “I was able to come here. I was accepted into a good college. I’ve learned that God always has my back, even if it’s a different solution from what I wanted.”

Carmen looked at her new friend and nodded sympathetically. Even though she is from the same parish as Sarah, they had never met before they became roommates during the youth conference.

“My faith is what I lean on,” said Carmen, 17. “If I didn’t have my faith, I don’t know what I’d do.”

The embrace of faith echoed loudly during the large, general meetings of the youth conference when the 23,000 participants came together at Lucas Oil Stadium for sessions that mixed music, faith, stories and celebration. Still, the depth and the essence of faith came through louder and more profoundly in the quiet moments when individual youths talked about their faith.

In one moment, Anthony Washington Jr. smiled and laughed with his friends from New All Saints Parish in Baltimore, Md., as he had his picture taken with a life-size, cardboard image of retired Pope Benedict XVI. In the next moment, the 17-year-old turned serious as he talked about his faith.

“It’s how I live my life from the smallest choices to the biggest choices,” said Anthony, who wore a T-shirt emblazoned with this verse from Psalm 127: “Children are a gift from the Lord. They are a real blessing.”

Anthony looked around the Indiana Convention Center swelling with people his age and noted, “It’s a good feeling to be part of all these people who feel the same way about our faith. I’ve never been to anything like it.”

Alli Kiss had the same feeling as she sat at a craft table, shaping a cross from a small piece of reddish-brown clay.

“It’s eye-opening to see how big the church is,” said Alli, part of a group from the Diocese of Charleston, S.C. “It’s not just our parish. It’s not just our diocese. People are coming together from all over the country for one sole purpose — to celebrate Jesus Christ and grow deeper in faith.”

She paused before adding, “My faith means everything to me. I would be nowhere without Christ in my life. We should all live our lives serving God on earth and trying to get to heaven.”

The youths’ display of faith at the conference touched the hearts of the adults who joined in the celebration with them.

“It really gives me a great deal of encouragement as I see the young church alive and well, dedicated to Christ and in love with one another,” said Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans.

At the area where Sarah and Carmen worked on sculpting the face of Christ, Dave Gehrich watched the efforts of the two teenagers.

An adult volunteer in that area, Gehrich had started the head of Christ before Sarah and Carmen asked to take over. Gehrich looked at the two new friends. He looked around at the youths passing by him, some wearing halos, other wearing hats featuring a cow, an upside-down ice cream cone, a piece of corn on the cob, or even a piece of pumpkin pie topped by a dash of whipped cream.

For Gehrich, it was hard not to notice the way the youths embrace a spirit of fun and joy. It was equally hard to overlook the way they embrace their faith.

“You see them and talk to them and it reminds you of the bigger picture — the continuation of our faith,” said Gehrich, youth minister at St. Maurice Parish in Decatur County and St. John the Evangelist Parish in Enochsburg, both in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

“When you wonder if the church and the faith is going to continue, this lets you know it will.”

 

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More Anglican parishes join church

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WASHINGTON — Anglican parishes in Philadelphia and Indianapolis were received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in early April, and two Anglican bishops in Canada were slated to lead their clergy and congregants into the church later in the month.

The Anglicans are joining the new U.S. Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, based in Houston, a structure for Anglicans to become Roman Catholics while retaining some of their Anglican heritage and traditions, including liturgical traditions.

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Youth honor Christ with electronic ‘holy shoutout’

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INDIANAPOLIS — More than 2,000 years after his birth, Christ the King was honored in a historic way with a massive electronic “holy shoutout” via texts, emails and tweets sent simultaneously from cellphones Nov. 19 by 23,000 participants at the National Catholic Youth Conference and National Catholic Collegiate Conference.

It was a fun and faith-filled way for the Catholic youths and young adults to honor God and conclude the 31st biennial national conference, held Nov. 17-19 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

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