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Cuban archdiocese opens home for the elderly

Camagüey, Cuba, Jun 6, 2019 / 04:18 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of  Camagüey inaugurated the Archbishop Adolfo Home for the Elderly to serve the city's seniors last month.

During the May 25 event, Archbishop Wilfredo Pino Estevez of Camagüey said the initiative shows how the Cuban state and Church can cooperate.

“I believe that the Public Health System and the Church have set an example of how we can work together to achieve a common good. And that is something we must continue to maintain,” the prelate said. He also encouraged the initiative “to be multiplied in other areas in which the Cuban Church and the state could work together.”

“In the end, we are all at the service of one and the same Cuban people,” he said.

The prelate highlighted the presence of the Camillian Sisters who will serve the elderly.

The home bears the name of Archbishop Adolfo Rodríguez Herrera, who led the diocese for 40 years. The facility took 13 years to build and constitutes a great achievement for the Church in Cuba.

The prelate also recalled the letter that Archbishop Rodriguez wrote 18 years ago addressed to a Cuban official about the project: “I wish to take the opportunity to reiterate to you that the Church does not seek to compete nor to overshadow other institutions of this kind. For centuries (and in Cuba for 500 years), the Church, by a mandate from Jesus Christ, has raised up the first schools, hospitals, leprosariums, and asylums, when there was no one to compete with nor to eclipse. Experience, also in Camagüey, before and now, shows that a school, a hospital, an asylum... does not compete, rather it stimulates, establishes a healthy emulation that benefits everyone. A Home for the Elderly, is not a productive business but an under appreciated service for a very difficult stage in life which is old age.”

Archbishop Pino commented: “All of us who knew him will never forget the saintly bishop who taught us, in word and deed  to always trust in the Lord, a conviction that made him a serene and positive being even in the dark and difficult hours of our history!”

He likewise recognized the support of “so many people and institutions, inside and outside the country, who, with their financial contributions according to their means, made this construction possible.” He also thanked the lay people, deacons, priests, sisters and others others who got involved and helped the project go forward.

“Thanks for the example you gave us in reminding us that this work does not belong to one group but of all of you!”

Also present at the dedication was the Bishop Domingo Oropesa Lorente of Cienfuegos, whom Pino also thanked for the efforts he made benefiting this great work.

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Pascal Siakam: How a Toronto Raptors star got his start in seminary

Toronto, Canada, Jun 5, 2019 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- When Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam enters Game 3 of the NBA Finals Wednesday night, he will cross himself and then point upward to the sky. The cross will be to help him remember to give glory to God. The finger point will be for his dad.

Siakam is not like most NBA players. He’s played basketball for only nine years. He grew up preferring soccer. And when he first put on a jersey to shoot hoops, Siakam was a seminarian in Cameroon.

Siakam was a reluctant seminarian. At 11, he began St. Andrew’s Seminary School in Bafia, Cameroon, because his father wanted him to go. He never considered defying his father, who, Siakam told ESPN last year, was the best man he had ever known.  

But Siakam was reluctant enough about attending seminary that he made a habit of breaking the rules, hoping the seminary’s director, Father Armel Collins Ndjama, would dismiss him.

"He turned from a very calm child into a very stubborn boy," Father Collins told ESPN in December 2018.

 "At times, I considered dismissing him, but his academic results were so remarkable, we kept him."

And Siakam thinks that seminary left an impact on his life.

It instilled discipline in young Siakam, which, he said, helped him to succeed later in college and then with the Toronto Raptors.

Seminarians at St. Andrew’s were woken up at 5:30 a.m. to start the day with Mass before proceeding to their daily morning chores. They chopped wood, washed dishes, and cleaned laundry with a wooden washing board.

After chores, the students began classes and then returned to church.

They had one hour of recreation, daily from 5 to 6 p.m. The vast majority of the students preferred soccer to playing basketball. The only hoop was crooked, and sat on a crumbling court.

Siakam fell in love with soccer. He almost completely disregarded basketball. But he did attend basketball camps: first one near the seminary, and then one in South Africa. He went mostly so he could visit a sister who lived nearby. While he was there, he was recruited to play basketball in the U.S. He couldn’t say no.

Siakam's father died in 2014, while the basketball star was beginning his career at New Mexico State University.

The lessons of his father's life stay with Siakam. And although he spent a lot of time trying to get kicked out, Siakam told ESPN that seminary “was the best thing that ever happened to [him].”

That was the hope of Fr. Collins, who knew that Siakam was likely not called to the priesthood.

Fr. Collins told ESPN in December that, "I knew we would probably not be able to train him to be a priest, but I still hoped we could teach him to be a man."

Before seminary, Siakam claims he could not make his own bed, wash dishes, or even do his own laundry.

He was the last in his family —“the kid”— so he “didn’t have to do anything,” as his mother made his older siblings do nearly every chore for him if she didn’t do it herself, he described on the Woj Pod podcast.

Seminary “helped me focus on myself and try to better myself and work hard for what I wanted,” he continued. “It could have been easy for me to be the type of kid that didn’t work for what he wanted cause as a kid, I had everything I needed.”

Although seminary did not teach him how to play basketball, it did teach him how to work hard, how to believe in himself, how to be part of a team.

“I think I know why my dad made me go,” he wrote in 2016 on The Players’ Tribune. “He was giving me all the tools I’d need to succeed. Just as important as his dream for his son to play in the NBA was his desire for me to become my own man.”

Bishops of Argentina pledge to respond to report on abuse allegations

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jun 5, 2019 / 12:40 am (CNA).- The bishops’ conference of Argentina has said it is examining and will respond to a new report of more than 60 allegations of sexual abuse by priests and religious in the country.

Officials with the conference said they are working on new protocols and actions to protect minors, following the Vatican summit on the topic earlier this year.

A recent report in La Nación detailed 63 cases of alleged sexual abuse by priests and religious of the Church in Argentina in the last two decades. Of these cases, 17 resulted in convictions, 22 are in judicial process, 24 were not prosecuted and 12 led to dismissal from the clerical state.

Among the cases mentioned are those of Juan Escobar Gaviria, who is now serving a 25-year prison sentence; Nicola Corradi, accused of abusing hearing impaired minors at the Próvolo Institute; and Gustavo Zanchetta, the bishop emeritus of Orán and adviser to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy Apostolic See since December 2017, who is under investigation at the Vatican for alleged sexual abuse and the abuse of power.

In their report, La Nación says that the Church in Argentina “for years covered up its priests and religious accused of sexual abuse” through a system of transferring them to new assignments rather than removing them from ministry.

Bishop Sergio Buenanueva of San Francisco warned in a statement that transferring priests accused of sexual abuse was a “habitual” and “totally fatal” practice.

“There is a sick system in the Church that covered up, or inhibited the abuses from coming to light and it ended up favoring the perpetrator,” said Buenanueva, who serves as coordinator of the Pastoral Council for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults of the Argentine Bishops' Conference.

The prelate said they are in the process of making a complete list of the cases, “as other episcopates have done.”

Buenanueva told ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language sister agency, that the bishops’ conference will take “a few days to assess and evaluate” the report.

In March, during the 117th plenary assembly of the Argentine Bishops' Conference, the bishops called for “a radical break” with conditions of sexual abuse, the abuse of power, and cover up.

“We must renew at its roots the lifestyles and formation structures that have made it possible to create in some clerics a sense of superiority and dominion over the faithful and which have facilitated their living, as if they didn't have to give an account of their actions to anyone, in a situation of veritable impunity,” said the Bishop Oscar Ojea of San Isidro, president of the Argentine Bishops' Conference.

Last month, Pope Francis signed the motu propio Vos estis lux mundi (You are the light of the world), which establishes new procedures to prevent and report cases of sexual abuse within the Church.

The norms establish obligatory reporting for clerics and religious, require that every diocese has a mechanism for reporting abuse, and put the metropolitan archbishop in charge of investigations of accusations against suffragan bishops.

The motu proprio also states that every diocese must create a stable mechanism or system through which people may submit reports of abuse or its cover-up. The exact form of the system, which could also be an entire office, will be left to the discretion of the individual diocese, but must be established by June 2020.

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.


Catholic Schools Shine During Commencement Season

Like many of you, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks attending graduations. My Mom even went to the kindergarten graduation of my grandnephew Charlie!

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Mexico’s fifth Walk for Peace draws 40,000 participants

Cuernavaca, Mexico, Jun 4, 2019 / 12:33 am (CNA).- On Saturday, an estimated 40,000 people attended the fifth Walk for Peace in Mexico, organized by the Diocese of Cuernavaca, with the goal of stopping the growing wave of violence caused by the country’s major crime gangs.

The tens of thousands of attendees, most of them dressed in white, began the walk around 9:00 a.m. local time from Our Lady of Miracles parish in Tlatenango, Cuernavaca, to the Plaza de Armas, where Mass was celebrated.

“The reality of the suffering of our people demands of us, without a doubt, an attitude of co-responsibility for this reality that we are facing…Before this bloody holocaust of violence we must not be filled with fear. Even though it is a complicated reality, a prophetic Church is required,” said Bishop Ramón Castro of Cuernavaca in his address to the large crowd.

The prelate also called the main crime gangs to conversion and to remember that the violence also affects their families.

“To the principal cartels that operate in our state…you also are sons of God and, despite everything, the Lord loves you. But it's never too late to make things right and be converted!” he said.

“Violence engenders violence and your fighting over territory, drug distribution, money laundering, arms trafficking, not only harms society but also your own children, brothers and parents. For their sake, for the fear of God, we entreat you: be converted, it's never too late, it's always possible, and may we all be converted into a new culture of peace,” the bishop said.

In his talk, Castro pointed to the troubling statistics that position their state as one of the most dangerous in all of Mexico.

Violence in Morelos state – of which Cuernavaca is the capital – is high, with 14,479 crimes recorded in the first four months of 2019. Out of that figure, 404 crimes were homicides.

In the country overall, some 8,500 intentional homicides were recorded in the first quarter of 2019, an increase of almost 10% compared to the same period in 2018.

The bishop of Cuernavaca also warned that half of the state’s municipalities are forced to pay money to the criminal gangs, and that citizens' fear of reporting crime is increased when they know the police may be in collusion with organized crime.

At the end of the walk, Castro said on Twitter that the walk allowed for an experience of grace and community.

“Our people have felt the refreshing breeze of their Lord. Thousands of people united to strengthen their faith and hope! Violence and hatred don't have the last word! Take courage!” the bishop said.

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.


Exposing the Ugly Ideology of Abortion

The Supreme Court failed to uphold a law that would ban abortion based on the race, sex or disability of the baby. But Justice Thomas took the Court – and our nation – to school about the evil eugenics movement, and its historic and continuing involvement in the effort to keep abortion legal.