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Update: Cardinal's 2011 comments on 9/11 attacks still resonate today

IMAGE: CNS photo/Brendan Mcdermid, Reuters


NEW YORK (CNS) -- In preparing to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said part of his message came from the pastor of St. Peter's Church in Lower Manhattan.

The church became a staging ground for first responders after two hijacked planes crashed in to the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 2001.

"(That priest) said something that really sticks with me," the cardinal remarked in a Sept. 9, 2011, interview. "He said, 'Here in New York, we just don't remember 9/11 -- we celebrate 9/12,' and what he meant is that the nation was not locked into a paralysis of fear, depression, discouragement, somberness."

"This community did not become frantic in (an) unhealthy way," Cardinal Dolan said. "This community did not dwell on revenge and anger. This community immediately began to rescue and rebuild and renew and that's what Sept. 12 stands for."

Each Sept. 11, in New York City, at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Catholic and other religious leaders join with the faithful and community members for moments of silence and special prayers.

The deadliest terrorist attacks ever seen on American soil -- and perpetrated by four hijacked planes -- claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people.

In an early morning tweet Sept. 11, 2019, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington said: "On the anniversary of this tragic day in our nation's history, we pray for all those who died and for ongoing strength and consolation for their loved ones. Pray that God will protect us and our country and fill all the world with the peace that only he can give."

In the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, a midday solemn march and Mass paid tribute to members of the Fire Department of New York and all those who lost their lives in the terror attacks.

Cardinal Dolan's comments on the 10th anniversary of the attacks still resonate today. In 2011, he was asked to reflect on 9/11 in an interview with a television station in Milwaukee, where he was archbishop before being named to head the New York Archdiocese in 2009.

When the 2001 attacks occurred, Cardinal Dolan was an auxiliary bishop of St. Louis. That morning, he recalled, he had just begun celebrating Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows Church for a group of schoolchildren when he got word of what had happened.

"I began to see that that parish had a lot of firemen and policemen, and all of a sudden I kind of saw them come in (to the church) kind of frantic," he told Milwaukee's WISN-TV. "In retrospect it was because of the panic" about the nation being under attack.

"One of them came up to me on the altar while one of the little kids was doing the reading to tell me what was happening ... that there was some tragedy in New York, that the twin towers had been struck by airplanes," the cardinal said, so he called the children to prayer.

"There is nothing more powerful than the prayers of children," he added.

He admitted that when he first heard the news, he felt "some fear," wondering like many Americans if the nation was in for a more "extended attack." There was "some anger" and "an immediate spontaneous desire for revenge," he added, but there also was "obviously solicitude for those who were hurt and their families and how the nation was going to recover."

"Those were all sentiments that I can remember being there at the surface," Cardinal Dolan said, "but I wanted to turn those into prayer and take those to the Lord, and I was inspired by the people around me who were doing that."

He added that when there's time of crisis -- when there's time of famine, depression, war, plague, whatever it might be, there (are) two ways you can go" in response.

You can go away from God and "curse him," he said. "You can give in to depression, feeling sorry for yourself, responding with whining, cynicism, sarcasm."

Or "you can go closer to God, trusting in him and serving his people," Cardinal Dolan said, and in response to 9/11, "the great majority chose" this option.

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Update: South African archbishop compares nation's xenophobia to Nazi Germany

IMAGE: CNS photo/Siphiwe Sibeko, Reuters

By Mwansa Pintu

LUSAKA, Zambia (CNS) -- Zambia's bishops urged South African leaders to do more to stop xenophobic attacks, and a South African archbishop warned of a rising tide of hatred and violence in the country.

"Xenophobia and its resultant chaos are not just criminal but cruel, barbaric and abominable," Zambia's bishops said in a Sept. 7 statement titled, "You were once foreigners in a foreign land."

At least 10 people were killed, two of them foreign nationals, in a wave of riots and xenophobic attacks that began in late August in Pretoria and spread to nearby Johannesburg.

"We are facing a rising tide of hatred and intolerance, no different to the rising tide of hatred in Nazi Germany," said Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg, noting that, "If we do not take urgent action to stop it, there will be nothing left."

Pope Francis, speaking to journalists on the flight from Madagascar to Rome Sept. 10, also made a reference to the Nazis.

A journalist from Mozambique asked Pope Francis to comment on recent expressions of xenophobia afflicting the continent.

The pope said he had read about the violence in the newspapers, "but it is not just an African problem. It's a human sickness like measles. It's an illness that enters a country, a continent" and causes people to try to build walls. "Walls leave those who build them all alone; yes, they keep a lot of people out, but those who build walls end up alone and, at the end of history, defeated."

"Xenophobia is an illness" that those infected try to justify, he said. They say they are acting for "'the purity of the race,' to mention a xenophobia from last century. And the (forms) of xenophobia often hitch a ride on so-called political populism. A week or so ago, I said that sometimes I hear things in some places that remind me of the speeches of Hitler in '34."

Africa also has the cultural problem of tribalism, he said, and Africans must learn to resolve it. "What is needed is education," he said, and ways of "bringing people together so that from different tribes a nation can be formed."

"We just commemorated the 25th anniversary of the tragedy in Rwanda; it was an effect of tribalism," he said. Tribalism is "domestic xenophobia, but xenophobia nonetheless."

Zambia's bishops said they were "deeply saddened" by the attacks.

"We fear that if this trend is not curtailed, it may lead to ... alienation of the citizens of South Africa from the rest of the continent," they said in a statement signed by Bishop George Lungu of Chipata, president of the Zambian bishops' conference.

South Africa's leaders should not exacerbate the situation by turning a blind eye to the attacks or making inflammatory statements against African immigrants, they said. "What we are witnessing is a violation of the fundamental human rights" that everyone has, regardless of "religion, race, color, ethnicity and nationality."

While "respecting people's right to hold peaceful marches," Zambia's bishops urged "all Zambians to restrain themselves from any acts of violence or vengeance against South African nationals and their property or businesses."

In early September, students in Zambia's capital, Lusaka, protested outside the South African high commission and also targeted South African-owned shops. In Nigeria's capital, Abuja, and largest city, Lagos, South African-owned businesses were targeted by protesters, who started fires and looted properties. Football federations in Zambia and Madagascar announced that they will not be sending teams to play South Africa, and Air Tanzania has suspended flights to Johannesburg because of the violence.

Zambia's bishops urged South African leaders "to inculcate the spirit of ubuntu" (I am because we are and, because we are, I am) in young people "as this will help them appreciate the spirit of coexistence."

Archbishop Tlhagale, who heads the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference migrants and refugees office, noted reports that South African authorities did "very little to protect the victims" of the latest attacks.

"We received reports of police standing by idly in Pretoria while shops were looted and people attacked," he said.

"Let us be absolutely clear -- this is not an attempt by concerned South Africans to rid our cities of drug dealers" nor "the work of a few criminal elements," he said. "It is xenophobia, plain and simple."

Church teaching "is direct and uncompromising," Archbishop Tlhagale said, noting that God "isn't just concerned about the foreigners. He loves them."

"I appeal to all people of faith, and all people of good will, to speak out and take action," he said.

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Contributing to this story were Bronwen Dachs in Cape Town, South Africa, and Cindy Wooden aboard the papal flight from Madagascar to Rome.


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Catholics, Muslims pray at Vatican for September 11 victims

Vatican City, Sep 11, 2019 / 11:27 am (CNA).- Catholics and Muslims prayed in Vatican City Wednesday for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and of every act of terrorism.

The prayers were a part of the first meeting of a new committee created by the United Arab Emirates for implementing the goals outlined in Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayeb’s joint statement on human fraternity signed in Abu Dhabi Feb. 4.

According to the Holy See Press Office, the committee chose to meet Sept. 11 as “a sign of the will to build life and fraternity where others sowed death and destruction.”

The committee is made up of seven members: two from the Roman curia and five members from the UAE and Egypt. The group selected Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, to be the committee president.

Bishop Ayuso one of 13 men selected by Pope Francis to be elevated to the rank of cardinal Oct. 5.

Pope Francis greeted the committee members Sept. 11 in Casa Santa Marta and gave each of them a copy of the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.”

The document on human fraternity, often referred to Abu Dhabi declaration, invites “all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters.”

The document discusses the importance of religion in building a peaceful and free society and the challenges of an increasingly secular world. It condemns all practices and policies detrimental to human life and freedom.

Within a paragraph about human freedom, the document states that religious plurality is willed by God. “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings,” the document states.

The new committee is one of several initiatives taken by the UAE during what they have proclaimed the “Year of Tolerance.”

During their first meeting, the committee drafted a proposal to the United Nations to define a date sometime between Feb. 3-5 – the anniversary of Pope Francis’ 2019 visit to the UAE – to be proclaimed the “Day of Human Fraternity.” The group also decided to invitate representatives from other religions to join the committee.

At the conclusion of the meeting, each member prayed according to their own tradition for the victims of terrorism. The next meeting of the committee will be held Sept. 20 in New York.

“I think the Abu Dhabi declaration is a global appeal to the ‘civilization of love’ which contrasts with those who want a clash of civilizations,” Ayuso said in an interview with Vatican News Aug 26.

“Prayer, dialogue, respect and solidarity are the only winning weapons against terrorism, fundamentalism and all kinds of war and violence,” the cardinal elect said.

Africa trip planted new seeds of hope, pope says at audience

IMAGE: CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Having gone to Africa as a pilgrim of peace and hope, Pope Francis said he hoped the seeds planted there by his visit would bear abundant fruit for everyone.

Following in the footsteps of evangelizing saints before him, the pope said he sought to bring with him "the leaven of Christ" and his Gospel, which is "the most powerful leaven of fraternity, justice and peace for all people."

Speaking to some 12,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square Sept. 11, the pope recalled his fourth apostolic journey to Africa. He dedicated his general audience talk to a review of some of the highlights from his visit to Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius Sept. 4-10.

The pope said he wanted to "sow the seeds of hope, peace and reconciliation" in Mozambique, which had experienced two devastating cyclones recently and 15 years of civil war.

While the church continues to guide the nation along the path of peace, the pope made special mention of the Rome-based Community of Sant'Egidio, which had facilitated the mediation process that resulted in the nation's 1992 peace agreement.

Speaking off-the-cuff, the pope said, "I would like to take a moment to thank" the lay community for their hard work in this peace process.

He said he also encouraged Mozambique's leaders to keep working together for the common good, and he noted how he saw that kind of cooperation in action at a hospital he visited that helps people, especially mothers and children, with HIV and AIDS.

"I saw that the patients were the most important thing" at the Sant'Egidio-run center, which was staffed by people of different religious beliefs, including the director of the hospital, who was Muslim, he said.

Everyone worked together, "united, like brothers and sisters," he said.

Reflecting on Madagascar, the pope noted how beautiful and rich in natural resources the country is, but that it is still marked by tremendous poverty.

He said he asked that the people there would be inspired by their "traditional spirit of solidarity" in order to overcome the obstacles they face and foster development that respect both the environment and social justice.

In fact, "one cannot build a city worthy of human dignity without faith and prayer," he said when he spoke to contemplative religious women.

Pope Francis said he wanted to visit Mauritius because it has become "a place of integration between different ethnicities and cultures."

Not only was interreligious dialogue well-established there, he said, there were strong bonds of friendship among the leaders of different religions.

"It would seem strange to us, but they have this friendship that is so natural," he said, explaining how touched he was to find a large bouquet of flowers sent to him by the grand imam "as a sign of fraternity."

He said he encouraged government leaders to stay committed to fostering harmony and to protecting democracy.

In his audience talk, the pope also explained why -- before and after every trip -- he always visits Rome's Basilica of St. Mary Major to pray before the basilica's Marian icon "Salus Populi Romani" (health of the Roman people).

He said he prays that she "accompany me on the trip, like a mother, tell me what I must do" and help "safeguard" everything he says and does.


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Update: Memories of 9/11 attacks linger for fire department chaplain

IMAGE: CNS/Reuters

By Allyson Escobar

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CNS) -- Msgr. John Delendick, a longtime New York Fire Department chaplain who is currently pastor of St. Jude Church in Brooklyn, remembers Sept. 11, 2001, vividly.

At the time of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Msgr. Delendick had just finished celebrating Mass at St. Michael's Church in Brooklyn where he was pastor. He jumped in his car and drove as close as he could get and then walked to the scene.

When he got to the twin towers, he ran into other fire department colleagues, including first deputy commissioner William Feehan, who was later killed in the collapse. He also gave absolution to a police officer who ran to him amid a dark cloud of debris and smoke, asking the priest to hear his confession.

He also recalls learning that his colleague and fellow fire chaplain, Franciscan Father Mychal Judge, was among the first known victims of the South Tower's collapse.

"That day, I don't even know the order of what all happened ... Someone just handed me (Father Judge's) helmet and told me he was killed," he told The Tablet, newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

The hardest thing of that day, he said, was people asking him if he had seen their friends, fathers, brothers and sons -- firefighters and first responders at the scene -- and not knowing how to respond. It wasn't until after returning from ground zero that the priest and many families would realize that their friends and loved ones had died.

Msgr. Delendick didn't get back to his parish until 2 a.m. Sept. 12.

As fire department chaplain, in between celebrating memorial Masses for the fallen, Msgr. Delendick would visit "the pile" at ground zero in the months that followed, accompanying families in their search for loved ones.

That first year after 9/11, he doesn't remember how many funerals and memorial Masses he said.

"It's just, you get so many of these funerals, and it just gets to you after a while. ' I love the job, but I also hate it," he said. Every year since the attacks, the New York Fire Department remembers and honors the heroes, especially those who have died years later from illnesses attributed to 9/11.

This Sept. 6 the department added the names of 22 firefighters and recovery workers to the New York Fire Department World Trade Center Memorial Wall inside its Brooklyn headquarters.

One victim of a 9/11 illness honored on the memorial wall was Lt. Timothy O'Neill, a Catholic who died in April after battling pancreatic cancer for two years. O'Neill worked for several months at ground zero during the cleanup efforts.

"My husband risked his life, and he paid the ultimate sacrifice 18 years later," said his widow, Paula O'Neill. "It was a complete shock because he never had any symptoms, but then one day he went for a CT scan. ' He always thought he would get sick after breathing in everything, sometimes without a mask. He just didn't really talk about it, and we never expected the severity of the cancer."

With the help of the federally funded September 11th Victims Compensation Fund, O'Neill was able to be receive treatment for his cancer from his Florida home.

"I still have firemen to this day calling, crying to me," Paula said.

At the Brooklyn ceremony, Father Joseph Hoffman, pastor of St. Barbara in Brooklyn, who also is a New York Fire Department chaplain, read a Bible passage which said: "The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces."

The priest said that working with the fire department is "like serving another parish" and he is honored to work with these men and women.

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Escobar is a reporter for The Tablet, newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn.


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'Just the facts,' pope tells reporters, commenting on news media

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM MADAGASCAR (CNS) -- No one really knows what the future of the news media will be, but it will have no future if reporters and the public cannot distinguish between facts and fiction, Pope Francis said.

Honoring a request from the Spanish news agency EFE to contribute to its collection of views about the future of the media, Pope Francis responded publicly during his flight Sept. 10 from Madagascar to Rome.

When he was a boy, he said, his family did not have a television; instead they listened to the radio and read newspapers. Sometimes, depending on the government in power, they were "clandestine newspapers," distributed under cover of night.

"Compared to today's news industry, it all seems very precarious," he said. But today's media may look just as precarious when people in the future look back.

"What remains, however," he said, is the ability and responsibility of the news media "to inform the audience of an event and to distinguish these facts from narrative," fiction or opinion.

"It is extremely easy to move from the facts to narrative," he said, "and this damages the news industry. It's important to stick to the facts."

Pope Francis said the Catholic Church and its media are not exempt from that danger. "Within the church, when there is a fact, it goes around the corner, and then it gets adorned, it gets embellished. Everyone adds their own contribution, and not even in bad faith."

But "the mission of the journalist is to always stick to the facts: 'The facts are these. My interpretation is this. I was told this.' It distinguishes you from the storyteller."

And if a news report includes an account of something an individual or group believes is true, but the reporter has not witnessed, the reporter must inform readers or listeners, he said. "This is what being objective is all about, and this is one of the values that the news industry needs to retain."

Pope Francis also said journalists must remain human, humane and "constructive."

"The news industry cannot, for example, be used as an instrument of war, as this is inhumane, it destroys," the pope said. "Think back to the propaganda of the dictatorships of the past century. There were dictatorships that communicated well, that tried to sell you the moon. ... They were well structured, they communicated well. They encouraged war, destruction; they were not humane."


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Ideological fixation, not 'loyal criticism,' feeds possibility of schism, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM MADAGASCAR (CNS) -- Pope Francis told reporters he hoped and prayed the Catholic Church would not experience a new schism, but human freedom means people always have had and will have the "schism option."

"I pray that there not be schism, but I am not afraid," Pope Francis told reporters flying from Africa back to Rome with him Sept. 10.

Schisms have occurred throughout church history, he said, and one thing they all have in common is having such a focus on an ideology that they begin reading church doctrine through the lens of that fixation.

A schism is triggered when "an ideology, perhaps a correct one, infiltrates doctrine and it becomes 'doctrine' in quotation marks, at least for a time," he said.

As an example of ideology, the pope cited those who say, "The pope is too communist" because of his criticism of unbridled capitalism and its negative impact on the poor. "The social things I say are the same things John Paul II said. The very same. I copy him."

When ideology takes the place of doctrine, he said, there is the danger of a split in the Christian community.

Pope Francis said small groups of Catholics in the United States are not the only people who criticize him -- there are even people in the Roman Curia who do -- but he tries to learn from the criticism and to find a way to dialogue with critics who are open.

"Criticism always helps," Pope Francis said. "When one is criticized, the first thing to do is to reflect, "Is this true, not true, to what extent" is it valid?

"Sometimes you get angry," he said, but "there are always advantages" to be drawn from listening to critics.

During the inflight news conference, which was briefly interrupted because of turbulence, Pope Francis responded mainly to questions about issues that arose during his visit Sept. 4-10 to Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius. The topics included the contested U.S. military base, Diego Garcia, in the Chagos archipelago, and his teaching on ecology.

But the pope also was asked to respond more fully to an informal comment he made on the flight to Mozambique Sept. 4, when he said that it is "an honor when Americans attack me."

French writer Nicolas Seneze had given the pope a copy of his book, "Comment l'Amerique veut changer de pape," which can be translated as "how America wanted to change popes." Seneze's thesis is that a small group of wealthy U.S. Catholics is engaged in a concerted effort to cast doubt on this pontificate.

"The criticism is not coming just from America, but a bit from everywhere, including the Curia, but at least those who are doing it have the courage" to be public about it, the pope said on the flight back to Rome. What isn't acceptable is when one "smiles so much he shows you his teeth," and then lists criticisms "behind your back."

Criticism is healthy when it is open and when the person doing the critique is willing to listen to the other's reasoning and to dialogue. "This is real criticism," he said.

"Throwing a rock and then hiding your hand" is something else, the pope said. "This isn't useful. It only helps closed little groups who don't want to hear the response to their criticism."

On the other hand, he said, "loyal criticism" can include saying, "I don't like this about the pope" as long at the critic gives an explanation and is willing to hear a response.

Not waiting for or wanting a response "is to not love the church," he said. "It is to follow a set idea (like) changing the pope or changing his style or creating a schism."

He spoke about another ideology he calls "rigorist," which he told reporters is "the ideology of an antiseptic morality" that takes no account of the real lives of the faithful and the obligation of pastors to guide them away from sin and toward living the Gospel.

"There are many schools of rigidity within the Catholic Church today which are not in schism, but are pseudo-schismatic Christian paths, which will not end well," he said.

On the question of the Diego Garcia military base, which is on territory in the Indian Ocean claimed by Mauritius and the United Kingdom, Pope Francis said the nations that belong to and support the United Nations and international courts have an obligation to accept their decisions. The U.N. General Assembly recently adopted a resolution calling on Britain, which leases the base to the U.S. military, to cede the territory to Mauritius.

"I don't know if this is true in this case," the pope said, but a common phenomenon has been that when a people wins its independence and colonizers are forced to leave, "there's always the temptation of taking something in their pockets," like recognizing a new government, but trying to maintain control over the extraction of natural resources.

"In the collective consciousness, there has been the idea that Africa is there to be exploited," the pope said. "We, humanity, must revolt against this."

Pollution, deforestation and desertification are all signs of that kind of attitude, he said.

Recognizing that the earth and its biodiversity are essential for life, Pope Francis said everyone must take action, beginning with small steps. For example, he added, the Vatican recently banned the sale of single-use plastic, such as water bottles, on its territory.


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Florida senators ask Trump to waive visa requirements for some Bahamians

IMAGE: CNS photo/Marco Bello, Reuters

By Tom Tracy

MIAMI (CNS) -- In the wake of Hurricane Dorian, two Florida Republican senators have asked President Donald Trump to waive or suspend certain visa requirements for Bahamian citizens with relatives residing in the U.S.

Hurricane Dorian stalled over the northern Bahamas Sept. 1-3 as one of the strongest storms in Atlantic history. As of Sept. 10, the death toll was at least 50 and was expected to increase as search and rescue operations continued.

"It's important Customs and Border Protection and the Bahamian government work together to clarify the current rules regarding visas in the Bahamas," Sen. Rick Scott said in his statement. His letter was co-signed by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

"As hundreds of thousands of Bahamians seek refuge or start to rebuild after Hurricane Dorian, we cannot have the kind of confusion that occurred last night in Freeport," Scott said.

He was referring to the hundreds of people who on Sept. 8 boarded a ferry in Freeport destined for Port Everglades in Florida, only to be told to get off the boat if they did not have entry visas for the U.S., according to news reports.

"Sen. Rubio and I continue to urge President Trump to waive some visa requirements for those in the Bahamas that have family in the United States. But until that happens, there needs to be clarity on the current rules," he added.

Florida, Scott noted, enjoys deep historical ties with the Bahamas, and, due to proximity, many Floridians have family in the Bahamas. Having prepared for and avoided a direct hit from Hurricane Dorian, Floridians are now eager to help family and friends in the Bahamas.

"I also encourage Customs and Border Protection to work with the Bahamian government to set up a temporary site at their ports of entry. Professionals should be on site to help the many Bahamians trying to leave destruction," Scott said.

He also offered proposals to help families in Bahamas recover, including a change in the U.S. Tax Code to incentivize charitable giving; continued deployment of U.S. Coast Guard and other U.S. entities in providing humanitarian assistance; and a redirect of foreign aid away from countries he said are adversaries of the U.S. to put that aid toward the Bahamas recovery efforts.

For his part, Rubio, who traveled to the Bahamas following the hurricane, urged the U.S. Agency for International Development to request the USS Comfort be repositioned to the Bahamas as soon as possible, as well as any assets needed from the Bataan Amphibious Readiness Group.

In the letter, Rubio wrote that the Navy hospital ship with "its crew of trained medical staff, flight deck and ability to desalinate water, would be ideal in helping the Bahamian people."

It is critical that during this time of need for our neighbors, the United States uses all of our capabilities to continue to assist in the recovery efforts, he wrote. "This includes urgent efforts to save lives."

Regarding the situation with the ferry in Freeport, a Democratic state lawmaker, Rep. Shevrin Jones, has pointed out that many people lack all the proper documents due to the storm.

Americans' kindness cannot end at just giving donations and relief supplies, he said. "It has to extend to us helping our neighbors in the Bahamas have a place to recover while their homes and lives are rebuilt," he tweeted. "The Bahamians just need a temporary place to regroup."

U.S. State Department guidelines state that most individuals traveling to the United States require a visa but that some individuals may travel without a visa on the Visa Waiver Program.

Bahamian citizens who meet certain requirements may apply for admission to the United States without a visa at one of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance facilities located at the Nassau or Freeport International airports, if they meet certain requirements, according to the State Department rules.

But those preclearance station hours of operation may change with short notes in emergency situations such as hurricane watches, the State Department states.

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Editor's Note: Hurricane relief donations to CRS can be sent here: https://support.crs.org/donate/hurricane-dorian and to Catholic Charities USA here: https://app.mobilecause.com/form/RTKRvQ?vid=1snqm.

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Tracy writes for the Florida Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Miami.

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Court orders Mexican Senate to take up pro-family constitutional amendment bill

Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 9, 2019 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- A Mexican federal circuit court has ordered the country's Senate to consider a pro-family constitutional amendment bill filed more than three years ago.

The Mexican Council on the Family (ConFamilia) filed in February 2016 a federal constitutional amendment bill recognizing “the right of man and woman to enter into marriage and found a family.”

The bill also says that marriage “is an institution in the public interest and the natural foundation of the family,” and as such “must be protected by the state.”

The constitutional amendment proposal is the first citizen initiative introduced in the Mexican Senate. It had the support of 200,000 signatures, nearly twice the number required by law.

Under Mexican law, a citizen initiative is a means for citizens to directly file a specific bill or have a particular issue taken up by the Congress.  

In a video message released Sept. 5, Juan Dabdoub, president of ConFamilia, lamented that the previous Legislature of the Mexican Congress ignored the citizen initiative.

“In face of the refusal of the previous legislature, a federal judge ordered that the Senate had to consider the citizen initiative,” he said. However, “distressingly, the Senate again refused to fulfill its obligations and appealed.”

“But they lost the appeal and a court ordered the Senate Board of Directors that it had 20 business days to fulfill its responsibility,” he said

The court indicated that the 20 business days would begin Sept. 3.

“Thus the senators of the current legislature have the opportunity to lay the groundwork for the  fundamental element of society, the family, to be protected, and thereby greatly benefit all of Mexican society.”