Holy Name of Jesus - Saint Gregory the Great Parish

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On Tuesday, September 10, 2019 The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture, in partnership with America Media and the Center on Religion and Culture at Fordham University, will be hosting The Popes & The Presidents: Commemorating 35 years of Diplomatic Relations between the United States and the Vatican.

Argentine bishops ask government to declare food emergency

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 6, 2019 / 03:49 pm (CNA).- Catholic bishops in Argentina are calling on the government to declare a food and nutrition emergency in response to heightened inflation and rising poverty rates.

“Faced with a severe increase in homelessness, poverty, unemployment and the indiscriminate increase in the price of the basic food groups, we find ourselves in an emergency food and nutrition situation which essentially affects the most vulnerable, especially children,” said the Bishop's Commission for Pastoral Social Ministry.

The commission asked the government to “provide the necessary measures to declare a food and nutrition emergency throughout our country” and take swift action to remedy the situation.

The bishops asked the government to create early childhood baskets, to be distributed free or at a subsidized cost, offering diapers, medications, vitamins and dietary essentials including milk, meat, fish, eggs, legumes, fruits and vegetables.

They also asked the government to increase “the budget allocated for soup kitchens and schools, community and family gardens, and family and social farming ventures, guaranteeing equity and the quality of the federal food and nutrition assistance services.”

“Pope Francis reminds us that fraternity is the main foundation of solidarity and that effective policies are also needed to promote the principle of fraternity, ensuring people—equal in their dignity and in their fundamental rights—access to goods so that everyone has the opportunity to fully develop themselves as persons,” they said.

In addition, the bishops called on volunteers to help out where they can.

Bishop Carlos Tissera, president of the local Caritas chapter, stressed that food aid from the government “is not enough to alleviate the deficiencies of this time.”

Faced with the current crisis, he said, “Caritas is making their…resources available to the community so more aid can arrive quickly, through their soup kitchens, food stands, neighborhood centers and volunteer teams from all over the country.”

Tissera, who is also bishop of Quilmes, noted that Caritas “is day by day alongside the most vulnerable communities creating hope and encouraging everyone to recognize their dignity, fostering the culture of work, solidarity and the common good.”

Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, who took office in 2015, introduced austerity measures including cuts to years-worth of government subsidies, leading to sharply increasing gas and electrical bills.

Following a drop in investor confidence, the Argentinian peso has dropped in value by more than 20% against the dollar in the last two months, while inflation has climbed above 50%.

Data from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina’s Social Debt Observatory estimates that some 35% of the population is living in poverty.

Archbishop Jorge Lozano of San Juan de Cuyo lamented in a recent statement that “having a job today doesn't ensure getting above the poverty line.”

“Having a job today doesn't ensure getting above the poverty line. There are a lot of people that don't have quality of life in terms of their food, their education. They have a job… but that job is not enough to be able to cover basic necessities.”

Lozano said that there are neighborhoods in the province where “the number of children coming to the soup kitchens has doubled.”

“Food deliveries have been bolstered and in the Church there are several initiatives that Caritas is promoting, but we're overtaxed,” he said.

The archbishop voiced optimism that the national government would respond to the bishops’ call for a food and nutrition emergency to be declared in the country.

“I hope that the necessary means to assure quality food for the entire population will soon be organized,” he said.


Colombian bishop decries assassination of mayoral candidate

Popayan, Colombia, Sep 4, 2019 / 05:29 pm (CNA).- The secretary general of the Colombian bishops' conference has deplored the assassination of Karina García, a mayoral candidate in the country's southwest, and called for an end to the bloodshed in the country.

García, 31, was running for mayor of Suárez, in Cauca Department. She was killed in a Sept. 1 ambush along with her mother and four others.

Bishop Elkin Fernando Álvarez Botero, auxiliary bishop of Medellin, told ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language sister agency, Sept. 3 that “as a Church we receive with profound sorrow this murder of one of the candidates for local office. We sent a message in the past few days with an appeal to avoid all forms of violence in the political campaigns, but this murder is a sign that we're returning to those ways of violence which do not allow us to move forward.”

According to BBC World News Spanish edition, prosecutors indicated that the vehicle the victims were riding in was ambushed by another car crosswise in the middle of the road. Several men got out with high powered weapons, who fired on García and those accompanying her. They then pulled the bodies out of the vehicle and incinerated it.

The Colombian Liberal Party candidate had been warning for several weeks that her life was in danger. She began to get worried when unidentified persons began painting her campaign posters black.

Garcia also charged that fake news started to appear about her saying that if she becomes the mayor of Suárez, she would bring in paramilitaries and take away land from the people, accusations which she denied.

“I ask the other candidates and their supporters to not continue making, in face of these armed groups, irresponsible commentaries about my candidacy (…) For God's sake, don't be irresponsible! This could have consequences for me, even fatal ones,” García said in a video posted a few days ago.

Álvarez told ACI Prensa, “This is a very serious situation. Just as we are saddened by the death of this candidate we are also grieved by all the lives that are being ended in Colombia because of the violence.”

“We have to get back to valuing life as a gift from God.  Not just that of the community leaders, whose deaths are painful because they're ending the hopes of the country, but of all human lives,” he said.

The bishop recalled the importance of participating in elections, and encouraged the candidates to run “political campaigns according to democratic principles that actually help and not divide.”

“The message we want to send to the candidates and the voters is let's not polarize the country any more, let's seek unity and let's run principled democratic campaigns.”

Álvarez asked “those who still continue to take the path of violence, to be very aware that with violence, death and eliminating people, we're not going to achieve anything for the country.”

“The violence has got to end. No more bloodshed,” he concluded.

Regional and municipal elections will be held in Colombia at the end of October. To be elected are governors for the 32 administrative districts representatives to the district assemblies, mayors of 1,099 towns, city council members, and members of the local administrative boards of the national territory.

The BBC also reported that different institutions maintain that between 200 and 400 community leaders have been killed in the last three years.

Thousands participate in Costa Rican pro-life march

San José, Costa Rica, Sep 4, 2019 / 04:18 pm (CNA).- Thousands participated in Saturday's March for Life in the Costa Rican capital, urging that the president not sign a technical regulation for the performance of therapeutic abortion.

The Aug. 31 event was organized by Wake Up Costa Rica, Democracy in Action, and the Autonomous University of Central America.

Joining the march were politicians who urged president Carlos Alvarado not to sign the “Technical Norm for Non-Punishable Abortion” which would regulate Article 121 of the Criminal Code for the performance of therapeutic abortion in public and private clinics nationwide.

The government announced in early 2019 that the technical norm was being drafted by a team from the Department of Health and was going to be signed by the president during this year, though an exact date has not yet been set.

Pro-life groups however charged that the norm could be a window to allow abortion on demand.

Costa Rica's Criminal Code considers abortion a crime, decriminalized only in cases of risk to the life of the mother. The Political Constitution states in Article 21 that “human life is inviolable.”

Carmen Chan, an opposition legislator of the New Republic Party, said while attending that march that “life is inviolable and no one has the right to put an end to it and our duty is to promote laws and policies that contribute to the improvement of living conditions for Costa Ricans.”

“But no, the direction and the defenses that this government has chosen are quite different, that's why we're on the front lines today as a people, defending the most basic right of all—the right to life – which goes hand in hand with all those social guarantees that correspond to the state to offer,” she said.

Democracy in Action posted on social media that the activity “ended in success” and that “it brought together thousands of people who marched peacefully.” They also said that for 2020 there will be “a lot more.”

“The pro-life people of Costa Rica took to the streets to demonstrate that we're against abortion on demand, and we're not going to remain silent in face of the pretensions of abortion advocates, that we're going to defend life from conception and do so because we are indeed a people of pure life,” Democracy in Action added.

Days prior to the march, the Costa Rican bishops' conference invited all citizens to participate, and thanked the secular organizations that “with great dedication and zeal for promoting the culture of life, have organized this event.”

Border bishops 'filled with mourning' over deaths of migrants

Matamoros, Mexico, Sep 4, 2019 / 12:09 am (CNA).- At the end of their recent semi-annual meeting, Catholic bishops from dioceses along the Texas-Mexico border lamented the challenges facing migrants and called on governments to welcome newcomers and help them adjust to life in a new country.

“We are filled with mourning that many people seeking a better future have lost their lives” in fleeing their homelands, the bishops said.

From 2015-2018, nearly 4,000 migrants had died or gone missing along the route through Mexico to the U.S., the Associated Press reported.

The bishops said they are also deeply saddened by the uncertainty and rejection facing those requesting asylum, as well as growing racism and discrimination toward foreigners.

“The drama of those who suffer deportation, who see their dreams, efforts, and sacrifices cut short and who return penniless and in debt to dangerous conditions pains us,” they said.

“We shall continue to advocate for the human rights of the poor and of migrants, in particular children and young people,” they continued, calling for immigrants to receive “the possibility of integral development, a decent and peaceful life” in their new homeland.

Bishop from along the Texas-Mexico border met Aug. 30-Sept. 1 in the Mexican diocese of Matamoros, across the U.S. border from Brownsville, Texas.

Attending the meeting from the United States were Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Mario Avilés and Bishop Emeritus Raymundo Peña, Bishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio, Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Bishop James Tamayo of Laredo, and Bishop Emeritus Michael Pfeifer of San Angelo.

Participating from Mexico were Bishop José Guadalupe Torres Campos of Ciudad Juárez, Bishop Hilario González García of Linares, Bishop Eugenio Lira Rugarcía of Matamoros, Bishop Jesús José Herrera Quiñonez of Nuevo Casas Grandes, Bishop Enrique Sánchez Martínez of Nuevo Laredo, Bishop Alonso Garza Treviño of Piedras Negras, and Bishop Raúl Vera López of Saltillo.

On Aug. 31, the bishops celebrated Mass next to the Rio Grande, which separates the United States and Mexico, and prayed for migrants, living and deceased.

Speaking with ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language sister agency, Bishop Eugenio Lira of Matamoros stressed that the reality facing migrants is rapidly changing, “and this requires us to be attentive in order to respond appropriately.”

For example, he said, “in some border towns, the migrants are no longer going so much to the migrant houses [run by the Church], but are instead camping on the bridges so they don't lose their place to have their asylum request processed. This has required us to adapt and go out to them, bringing food and clothing, providing them the support that we can.”

In addition, the Church continues to serve those who come to migrant houses and service centers, he said.

He also stressed that the bishops “will continue our dialogue with the authorities of our countries so that the life, dignity and fundamental rights of all people continue to be respected… and that situations forcing many people to migrate – such as poverty, inequality and violence – will be eliminated.”

The Mexican bishop emphasized that it is key to “continue above all our task of evangelization, which is the best way to create a culture that respects, promotes and defends the life, dignity and rights of all people, particularly migrants.”

Society must realize that they have been entrusted by God with the wellbeing of migrants, he said, “so that we can, as the pope says, welcome them, integrate them, protect them and help them along.”

Evangelization fosters this whole process, Bishop Lira said, “because it leads us to an awareness that we are all children of the same Father, and therefore brothers. We cannot see the other person as some thing, but someone.”

“The invitation that Jesus makes to us to ‘Do unto others as we would have others do unto us’ will always continue to be timely,” he said.


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

'Enough of the violence' – Mexican archdiocese laments massacre at night club

Veracruz, Mexico, Aug 30, 2019 / 12:53 am (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Xalapa in Mexico called for peace after a massacre at a night club in the town of Coatzacoalcos claimed 26 lives on Tuesday night.

According to the Veracruz state Attorney General's Office, 10 women and 16 men died in the attack, and 11 more people were injured. The office said the attack was clearly deliberate.

The local press reported that a group of armed men entered the Caballo Blanco bar, opened fire and threw Molotov cocktails.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador called the attack “lamentable,” saying “it fills us with sadness.”

López Obrador condemned those responsible for the attack, and noted claims that the attackers may have been previously arrested and released by authorities.

Fr. Manuel Suazo, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Xalapa, told ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language sister agency, that the local Church “deeply laments the tragedy that took place.”

“We journey in solidarity with the relatives who are suffering grief and pain in face of this terrible situation, which once again fills with mourning the homes of many people in Veracruz,” he said.

In the most recent report from the Executive Secretariat of the National System of Public Safety in Mexico, Veracruz had seen 133 first-degree murders in July of this year, making it ninth in the country.

Through July 31, the agency reported 1,550 homicides in the state of Veracruz.

According to the Mexican newspaper El Universal, the first half of 2019 has been the most violent on record in the country, with 17,065 homicides nationwide.

Suazo said that the area is already experiencing a “continued situation of insecurity and violence.” This new tragedy, he said, “makes citizens feel helpless because the insecurity has not been brought under control, but has increased.”

“Enough of the violence and insecurity. Not one more victim! We want to live in peace,” he said.

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


Priestly Laborers in the Vineyard

It’s Labor Day. Can I write a bit about those Jesus called “laborers in the vineyard”? That’s all of us, to be sure, those who labor for Jesus and His reign.

Mexican bishops call for justice following murder of priest

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 27, 2019 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- The bishops of Mexico offered prayers and called for justice after the murder of Fr. José Martín Guzmán Vega, a priest in Matamoros, along the country’s northern border.

Fr. Guzmán Vega was stabbed to death the night of Aug. 22 at his parish, Cristo Rey de la Paz in Matamoros, a border city near Brownsville, Texas.

“We express our solidarity and offer an embrace of faith to his relatives, friends and the lay faithful of the beloved Diocese of Matamoros,” read a statement from the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, published Aug. 23.

“By our faith we know that death is not the end, and that love destroys death, because hope is the victory in face of despair.”

The Mexican bishops expressed their trust that the authorities will investigate to determine the facts of the murder and carry out justice.

“From our faith in the resurrection, we trust with certain hope that the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, has led him to rest in the verdant fields and pastures of eternity with Him,” they said.

The bishops pointed to the death of Fr. Guzmán Vega as an indication of violence as an ongoing problem in Mexican society.

The Catholic Multimedia Center, which keeps a record of murders and attacks against priests in Mexico, said that the attack “joins the long list of religious murdered in recent years.”

“The death of Fr. José Martín makes 27 priests killed from 2012 to 2019… so far this year, several incidents against priests and religious have been recorded, such as the case of a priest shot and wounded in Cuernavaca, Morelos state and death threats against several priests in various areas of Veracruz.”

Bad Law Makes Hard Cases -- Vaccines and Religious Liberty

The law right now shows contempt for religious belief and makes religious believers second-class citizens. This can be seen clearly in a recent court case about religious exemptions from mandatory vaccination. Regardless of what one thinks about vaccinations, this hostility towards religion should be a very grave concern for all.

The Catechists' Advocate

St. Augustine of Hippo, whose feast is celebrated on Aug. 28, was a famous philosopher, bishop and author of many great works, including his Confessions. However, he was also a dedicated catechist and produced what may be the first catechist's manual.