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Bishop who investigated sex abuse accused of sex abuse

A Roman Catholic bishop named by Pope Francis to investigate the church’s response to clergy sexual abuse in Buffalo, New York, has himself been accused of sexual abuse of a child, an attorney for the alleged victim notified the church this week.

The only cupcakes I ever bake (or crave)

Helping save the planet with a vegan diet is great. Even better if it can taste good, too. 

As SCOTUS hears DACA arguments, bishop calls for congressional action

Baltimore, Md., Nov 13, 2019 / 09:44 am (CNA).- The USCCB’s migration committee chairman hopes that Congress can come to a solution regarding the situation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy recipients, as the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a case seeking approval to eliminate the program altogether.

Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin told CNA Nov.12 that while he and his brother bishops have been advocating for a congressional solution to DACA, their main concern now was the situation of the approximately 700,000 DACA recipients.

“Those people need also to have someone advocate for them. So the bishops need to speak up and say very clearly that these people, we don't want separation of families," said Vasquez. About 256,000 children have at least one parent with DACA status.

There are fears that if DACA were to be repealed, these people would then be deported, splitting up the family. This is “a big concern for the Church,” said Vasquez.

“The Church is always going to advocate on the side of the family, because the family is very important," he added.

DACA recipients, he said “already are...part of the fabric of this country” and contribute to the economy and to their communities.

“They’re leaders already in many of our parishes and churches,” said the bishop.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in three cases – Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of University of California; McAleenan, Secretary of Homeland Security v. Vidal; Trump, President of U.S. v. NAACP – which concern whether the Trump administration may end DACA outright.

President Barack Obama introduced DACA via executive memorandum in June 2012. It permits people who were brought to the United States illegally as children to apply for temporary protection from deportation and work permits. The program was set to expire in 2017, but this has been delayed after Congress was given a chance to codify parts of DACA into law.

Congress failed to pass DACA into law, and the partisan-based debate over immigration and border security has continued.

The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision about whether President Donald Trump would be permitted to end DACA in the spring or early summer of 2020.

As for Vasquez, he will continue to hope that Congress can come to a solution.

"My hope and prayer is that they would be able to do something, they'd be able to reconcile and come together and take care of these people,” he said. “I think deporting them is the wrong answer. It's not the way to address this issue.”

Bishops urged to heed pope's call: Listen to and accompany young people

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Carol Zimmermann

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The day after the U.S. bishops were encouraged at their Baltimore meeting to bring young people back to the church, they were urged to also pay more attention to and support the teens and young adults among them in parishes and church programs.

To help them do this, they were advised Nov. 12 to use "Christus Vivit" ("Christ Lives") -- Pope Francis' reflection on the 2018 Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment -- as their guide.

"'Christus Vivit' is a call to action for everyone in the life of the church regardless of our age," said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, a delegate to last year's Synod of Bishops on young people.

In remarks on the second day of the bishops' Nov. 11-13 meeting, he acknowledged that many in the room might feel uncertain about how to respond to and help young people in the church, but he said they can find encouragement from the pope's message and, in particular, his sentiment that young people are the church's hope.

The pope's apostolic exhortation -- which is both a letter to young people about their place in the church and a plea for older members to encourage them -- was described by Bishop Caggiano as a call to action and a moment of grace that "we should not and cannot allow to slip away."

For starters, he said his fellow bishops should read the pope's document "from cover to cover and engage in dialogue" about it with church leaders on the diocesan and parish level as a way to enrich church ministries and outreach.

So the bishops would not just take his word for it, Bishop Caggiano also introduced two young adults to them who gave their insights on the pope's document.

Brenda Noriega, coordinator of young adult ministry for the Diocese of San Bernardino, California, told the bishops she was grateful for "Christus Vivit" because it provided a foundation for her work. She said one of her favorite parts of it is where the pope responds to the frustrations of many young people and reminds them that God loves them and that they matter.

She said she finds hope with pastors who are willing to listen to young people and "accompany us on the journey like spiritual fathers."

Brian Rhude, program coordinator at the Catholic Apostolate Center in Washington, said he wouldn't be before the bishops at this moment if it hadn't been for the Catholics who accompanied him over the years.

Rhude said he was particularly struck by how Pope Francis warns against looking at all young people with broad strokes and assuming they are all the same. He also said he had been inspired by message in "Christus Vivit" that "our individual stories do not occur in a vacuum" and that as people come to know more about each other they can "form the greater story that God is writing."

Bishop Caggiano stressed the importance of youth and young adult ministry already at work and suggested that bishops find ways to continue to encourage these efforts and invest in them even more, expanding efforts of a more diverse outreach.

"Quite frankly, our ministry will not reach its goal unless every young person is at the table, particularly those who are immigrants, marginalized and poor," he said.

He concluded by stressing that above all, the bishops should "listen more deeply" to young people.

"We do a lot of talking about young people and young adults," he said, "but Pope Francis is asking us in the heart to listen to and learn from them and invite them right now into appropriate leadership in the church."

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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Pope denounces increasing violence against Jewish people

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis warned that violence against Jewish people, which reached a state of horror during World War II, is on the rise again.

During his weekly general audience Nov. 13, the pope reflected on the lives of Priscilla and Aquila, a first-century married couple who accompanied St. Paul in his ministry and were among the Jews expelled from Rome by Claudius Caesar.

Departing from his prepared remarks, the pope said that the world has "seen so many brutalities done against the Jewish people, and we were convinced that this was over."

"But today the habit of persecuting Jews is beginning to be reborn," he said. "Brothers and sisters: this is neither human nor Christian; the Jews are our brothers and sisters and must not be persecuted! Understood?"

The pope's warning came as more countries have reported an escalation in anti-Semitic violence and vandalism across Europe.

In Denmark and Sweden, neo-Nazi groups coordinated acts of vandalism Nov. 10, placing yellow stars inscribed with the German word "Jude" ("Jew") on Jewish gravestones, homes and businesses, the Times of Israel reported.

During the Holocaust, the Nazi regime forced Jewish men, women and children to wear yellow stars on their clothing.

The attacks coincided with the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), when more than 1,400 synagogues, prayer halls and thousands of Jewish shops, apartments and cemeteries were destroyed.

The 2018 Hate Crime Statistics, released Nov. 12 by the FBI, reported that of the 1,617 victims of anti-religious hate crimes reported in the United States, "56.9 percent were victims of crimes motivated by offenders' anti-Jewish bias."

In his main audience talk, the pope continued his series on the Acts of the Apostles, recalling the important role played by Priscilla and Aquila in the early beginnings of the church.

Following their expulsion from Rome, the Jewish couple settled in Corinth where they met St. Paul and welcomed him into their home. Priscilla and Aquila also accompanied the apostle on his travels to Syria.

Pope Francis said that among all of St. Paul's collaborators, Priscilla and Aquila "emerge as models of a married life responsibly committed to the service of the entire Christian community."

The couple, he added, serve as a reminder that "thanks to the faith and commitment to evangelization by so many laypeople like them, Christianity has come to us."

"Let us ask the Father, who has chosen to make of this couple his 'true, living sculpture,' to pour out his Spirit on all Christian couples so that, following the example of Aquila and Priscilla, they may open the doors of their hearts to Christ and their brothers and sisters and transform their homes into domestic churches where they can live a life of faith, hope and charity in fellowship and worship," the pope said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju


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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

In darkness, bishops must be heralds of hope, Buffalo bishop says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

ROME (CNS) -- The long nights and rain of November eventually lead to the expectation and joy of Advent and Christmas, which reminds people that Christian hope is the only way forward through difficult moments, said Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York.

"In these times that appear dark, in which we sometimes feel disoriented by the evil and violence that surround us, by the distress of so many of our brothers and sisters, we need hope!" he said, quoting from Pope Francis' catechesis on Christian hope.

Bishop Malone, whose diocese recently has undergone an apostolic visitation after more than a year of questions about how the bishop has handled allegations of abuse by diocesan priests, was the principal celebrant and homilist Nov. 12 at a Mass at the Rome Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

The Mass was part of the Nov. 11-15 visit "ad limina apostolorum" -- to the threshold of the apostles -- of the bishops of New York state. On the visit, the bishops pray at the apostles' tombs and meet with Vatican officials and the pope to report on the status of their dioceses.

Wearing bright red vestments for the day's memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop Malone said the 17th-century Basilian monk and martyr "experienced ruthless persecution and intense suffering."

But, he said, "it was clearly hope in Christ and in his Christ-filled mission that kept Josaphat going, that gave him the courage and the endurance to be able to continue working for unity" in the church and "renewal in his own diocese."

Reflecting on this "martyr for unity," Bishop Malone said, "I think in my own diocese and in the life of the church in general, the call for us bishops" is to be "ministers of unity ... especially right now when there is so much tendency toward fragmentation."

The month of November, with its long dark nights, can be "dismal and rainy and drab" and can weigh on people, Bishop Malone said.

But its feasts of All Saints and All Souls as well as the solemnity of Christ the King are the rays of hope that cut through that darkness, ushering the faithful toward Advent and "into a new year of grace with Christmas," he said.

Asking how people can live with hope, the bishop referred to the day's first reading from the Book of Wisdom (2:23-3:9) that says, "grace and mercy are with God's holy ones, and his care is with his elect."

"And that is all of us, all of us who are among the baptized, and I think in a special way we remember (the passage) for ourselves as bishops as being among the elect," he said.

Bishops are anointed and sent "as heralds of hope for our people," for the world and for one another so as to "sustain each other," he said.

Keeping hope a priority in one's life and bringing that hope to others "is not an added or extraordinary duty for us, it's not an add-on; as a matter of fact, we are just doing what we are obliged to do," he said.

"Even when times are difficult and dark," he said, "rejoice in hope."

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

Update: Australian High Court to hear arguments in Cardinal Pell's case

IMAGE: CNS/Robert Duncan

By Michael Sainsbury

SYDNEY (CNS) -- The High Court of Australia has decided to give Cardinal George Pell, 78, a final chance to argue against his conviction on five counts of child sexual abuse.

High Court Justices Michelle Gordon and James Edelman announced Nov. 13 that they referred the cardinal's appeal application to the full, seven-member court. The unusual move means the full court will decide whether to hear the appeal and, if it does, will proceed to hear arguments about why the conviction should be overturned or upheld.

The justices gave Cardinal Pell's lawyers until Jan. 8 to file their arguments for the appeal and said the prosecutors must respond by February. No date for the hearing was announced, but it is unlikely to be before March.

Matteo Bruni, Vatican spokesman, said that while "reiterating its trust in the Australian justice system, the Holy See acknowledges the decision of Australia's High Court to accept Cardinal George Pell's request of appeal, aware that the cardinal has always maintained his innocence."

"At the same time," he said, "the Holy See reaffirms once again its closeness to those who have suffered because of sexual abuse on the part of members of the clergy."

A jury in December unanimously found the cardinal guilty of sexually abusing two 13-year old choirboys in Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral in the 1990s. In August, the conviction was upheld two-to-one by a panel of justices on the Victorian Court of Appeal.

If the High Court decides not to hear the appeal, Cardinal Pell, who has been held at Melbourne Assessment Prison since late February, will serve out his remaining sentence -- the non-parole period of which expires in 2022.

If the full court does hear the appeal, each judge will make his or her own decision and write up the reasons; a majority will decide the case. The court has a range of options: The two simplest are to reject the appeal, leaving Cardinal Pell in prison to serve out his term, or to acquit him, meaning he will immediately walk free.

"For the High Court, there are two questions," Melbourne lawyer Michael Bradley in an article on crikey.com.au. "It may consider that there is a question of legal significance to be dealt with, in relation to the way that an appeal court is required to handle appeals from jury verdicts."

This would revolve around the test that appeal judges should apply to themselves when considering the "safety" of a verdict. Both sides in the case are expected to offer arguments about whether Cardinal Pell could have abused the boys in the cathedral sacristy immediately after Mass and while still wearing his Mass vestments and how that relates to the burden of proof.

The second question is whether an injustice has been done. "The High Court has itself said repeatedly that, putting aside all technical legal grounds, an appeal court must quash a criminal conviction if it concludes that a miscarriage of justice has occurred. If the judges have a serious doubt, then logically the jurors should have had one, too," Bradley wrote.

The High Court also could order a retrial or refer the case back to the Victorian Court of Appeal for further consideration.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, said Cardinal Pell had exercised the right that all Australians hold to appeal his conviction to the high court.

"This will prolong what has been a lengthy and difficult process, but we can only hope that the appeal will be heard as soon as reasonably possible and that the high court's judgment will bring clarity and a resolution for all," the archbishop said.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher also welcomed the decision that the High Court would consider the cardinal's appeal and expressed hope the process would be expedient.

"The cardinal has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so, and the divided judgment of the Court of Appeal reflects the divided opinion amongst jurors, legal commentators and within our community," Archbishop Fisher said.

"Many questions remain, and it is appropriate that these will be examined by our highest court."

He said the church would continue to offer pastoral support to Cardinal Pell while he remains in prison and would support "all others affected by today's outcome."

The father of the second victim in the case, now deceased from a drug overdose, was said by his lawyers to be devastated.

On Feb. 27, just after the verdict was published and Cardinal Pell was taken to jail, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced that it was beginning a canonical investigation of the cardinal. The congregation handles the church process for allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the clergy.

However, in August, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the process would not begin until after the Australian legal process ends.


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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

Pope Francis denounces rise in anti-Semitism 

Vatican City, Nov 13, 2019 / 04:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis denounced rising anti-Semitism Wednesday as an attitude that is inhumane and unchristian.

"The Jewish people have suffered so much in history … And, in the last century, we saw so many brutalities on the Jewish people and we thought that this was over,” Pope Francis said in St. Peter’s Square Nov. 13.

“Today the practice of persecuting the Jews has begun again here and there. Brothers and sisters, this is neither human nor Christian. The Jewish people are our brothers, and they should not be persecuted,” the pope said in a departure from his prepared remarks.

Anti-Semitic violence and harassment has been on the rise in Europe, particularly in Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium, according to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

In October, a man with anti-Semitic beliefs shot and killed two people at a synagogue in Germany on Yom Kippur, and last year a far-right extremist attacked the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 people.  Other deadly attacks on a Jewish supermarket and a school in France in recent years were linked to the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.

The pope’s comments were a part of his reflection on the Biblical account of the expulsion of the Jewish people from Rome by Emperor Claudius in the first century.

The Acts of the Apostles describes how this order affected a married couple, Priscilla and Aquila, who were forced to move from Rome to Corinth.

Pope Francis praised Priscilla and Aquila as Biblical models of married life, hospitality, and lay evangelization.

“These spouses prove to have a heart full of faith in God and generous towards others, capable of making room for those who, like them, experience the condition of a foreigner,” he said.

By welcoming Paul into their home in Corinth, Aquila and Priscilla also welcomed the Gospel of Christ, the pope said. “From that moment their home is imbued with the fragrance of the living Word that vivifies the hearts.”

The home of Priscilla and Aquila became a “house church” for the local Christian community to listen to the Word of God and celebrate the Eucharist, Francis said.

“Even today in some countries where there is no religious freedom and there is no freedom for Christians, Christians gather in a home, some hidden, to pray and celebrate the Eucharist. Even today there are these houses, these families that become a temple for the Eucharist,” the pope added.

In his ongoing weekly catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, Pope Francis described how Aquila and Priscilla traveled with Paul on a missionary journey to Ephesus, and later returned to Rome.

The pope noted that this married couple were among the recipients of Paul’s letter to the Romans, where St. Paul described them as “my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks to save my life.”

“How many families in times of persecution risk their necks to keep the persecuted hidden,” the pope added. “This is the first example: family hospitality, even in bad times.”

Pope Francis prayed, asking God to “pour out his Spirit on all Christian couples so that, following the example of Aquila and Priscilla, they will be able to open the doors of their hearts to Christ and to their brothers and transform their homes into domestic churches.”

“A house is a domestic church, in which to live communion and offer the worship of a life lived in faith, hope and charity. We must pray to these two saints Aquila and Priscilla, so that they teach our families to be like them,” Pope Francis said.

What the poor can teach us

Shortly after his election, Pope Francis explained why he took the name “Francis” as his papal name after St. Francis Assisi. “How I would like a Church that is poor and for the poor,” he said. The notion that the Church shouldn’t just help the poor but also learn from them has, in some ways, […]

The post What the poor can teach us appeared first on Catholic Digest.

Chilean churches looted during protests

Santiago, Chile, Nov 12, 2019 / 11:01 pm (CNA).- Several churches across Chile have been attacked and looted amid anti-government protests in the country.

The demonstrations began in mid-October in Santiago over a now-suspended increase in subway fares.
Other regions joined in the protests, expanding their grievances to inequality and the cost of healthcare.

Protesters broke into Santiago's La Asuncion parish Nov. 8, hauling out pews, confessionals, and statues – which they defaced – to build a barricade. They set the barricade on fire before clashing with police, and sprayed anti-Catholic graffiti on the walls, pillars, and altar of the church.

The next day, the Chilean bishops said that “with many Chileans we are radically opposed to injustice and to violence, we condemn them in all their forms and we hope that the tribunals will identify those responsible and sanction them.”

“The violent protesters only prevent us from looking with due attention to the just claims of the majority of the Chilean people who yearn for real and peaceful solutions … the people are not only tired of injustice, of also of violence, and the great majority hope for dialogue with respect to the reconstruction of the social fabric.”

On Nov. 10, attackers in Talca forced open the doors of the Mary Help of Christians shrine, where they destroyed religious  images and then carried them into the streets along with the church's pews to set them on fire and erect barricades. Before the Carabineros de Chile arrived at the scene, the attackers desecrated the tabernacle.

At a Nov. 12 press conference, Fr. Pedro Pablo Cuello, director of the Salesian presence in Talca, said that “Chile needs to grow, needs to be reconciled, with peace, with justice and equity … This is a desecration of the very face of Jesus.”

Bishop Galo Fernández Villaseca, auxiliary bishop of Santiago and apostolic administrator of Talca, said he was “impacted and moved by the violence one is experiencing which is intensifying  in the country and among us. These are not just material damages, it's an attitude of discord and which attacks the deepest sentiments of a person, our religious sentiments. The desecration of the Blessed Sacrament hurts us deeply.”

“It hurts me that the soul of Chile is wounded, is incapable of dialogue, that the soul of Chile claiming legitimate things that we share to a great extent, is walking down a path that is counterproductive,” Bishop  Fernández said.

He encouraged the practice of “peace, dialogue, to value what is true in the different person and to walk down a path that means progress for all women and men in Chile.”

The Salesian community in turn asked that Chileans “seek peace and the ways of understanding and dialogue … convinced that the great challenge of every society is to achieve a good integration in which all people have a decent life, especially the elderly and children.”

“It's a matter of respecting one another, of working together. We all want to build a new Chile, a Chile truly just and solidary and we will continue working according to our responsibilities as priests and as a Salesian School,” they said.

Bishop Fernández said a Mass of reparation in the church Nov. 12.

Also on Nov. 10, a mob attacked Our Lady of the Angels parish in Viña del Mar, immediately northeast of Valparaiso.

The attackers pulled out statues of Saint Expeditus and Saint Teresa of the Andes from their glass enclosures and destroyed them. They also destroyed some stained glass windows and other windows, sprayed graffiti, and tried to enter the church.  

“This violent action hurts us deeply since the Shrine of Saint Expeditus has always been a refuge for those who suffer and need a place of peace and hope. Not only has a sacred image been broken, but also the home has been violated that welcomes thousands of pilgrims who with faith give over their yearnings and hopes,” the parish said.

Along with expressing their support for the legitimate demands of society, the parish condemned the vandalism and violence and said it is “time for a true constructive dialogue and to seek paths of unity for all of us who live in this land.”

In recent days, the Cathedral of St. James in Valparaiso and Saint Teresa of the Andes parish in Punta Arenas have also been attacked.

More than 20 people have been killed in the protests. Many of the protests are peaceful, but some have included looting and arson, and attacks on public and private property, national heritage buildings, and churches. More than 7,000 demonstrators have been arrested.

President Sebastian Pinera replaced several cabinet ministers last month, but it did not sate the protesters.