Vol. 18 No. 12
June 9 - 22, 2014
Reject mediocrity, Pope encourages young pilgrims
Pope Francis made a phone call to a group of young Italians who were on pilgrimage, encouraging them to embrace hope in God and reject mediocrity. “Don’t let yourselves be discouraged by failure or anxiousness that wants to remove your dreams, that wants to close you into its dark mentality rather
than letting you y in the light of hope. Please, do
not fall into mediocrity, into that mediocrity that lowers and makes us grey, for life is not grey, life is for betting on grand ideas and for great things,” he said in a phone call on June 7 to the participants of the 36th annual pilgrimage from Macerata to Loreto, Italy. The basilica in Loreto is believed to contain the “holy house” where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary at the annunciation. The Pope said that was pleased to be with the young pilgrims “virtu-
ally,” the Holy See Press Ofce reports. He asked
especially for their prayers for the June 8 meeting of prayer at the Vatican with the presidents of Israel and Palestine and the Orthodox Christian Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I.
Pope encourages athletes to play for the Church
Youth from around Italy turned St. Peter’s Square
into a giant playing eld on Saturday as they ran
relays, played basketball and performed karate on a day dedicated to the celebration of sports. As the
Pope arrived in the overowing square participants
welcomed him as their “captain.” He thanked them for the honor. “As captain I urge you not to block yourselves off in defense, but to come on the offense, to play together our match, which is that of the Gospel,” he said May 7. “Sports in the community can be a great missionary tool, where the Church is close to every person to help them become better and to meet Jesus Christ,” he told the enthusiastic crowds.
Pope encourages crime experts to humanize justice
Pope Francis has sent a letter to the participants of an international conference on criminal law, encouraging them to consider a fuller under-standing of justice that moves beyond mere punishment. “It seems to me that the big chal-lenge that we must all face is that the measures taken against evil do not stop with suppression, discouragement and isolation for those who caused it, but help them to reconsider, to walk in the paths of good, to be genuine people far from their miseries, becoming merciful themselves,” he said in a letter to the participants of the 19th International Conference of the International Association of Penal Law and the 3rd Congress of the Latin American Association of Penal Law and Criminology. “Therefore, the Church recom-mends a justice that is humanizing, genuinely reconciling, a justice that leads the offenders, through an educational way and through inspir-ing penance, to complete their rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.” The letter, written in Spanish and dated May 30, focused on the three “steady elements” in the understanding of justice after sin: satisfaction or reparation for damage; confession; and contrition.
Pope Francis honors D-Day soldiers
In a letter sent Friday to French bishops, Pope Fran-cis paid homage to the men who fought in the D-Day invasion of Normandy 70 years ago, which was one of the key turning points in World War II. “His Holiness Pope Francis unites himself wholeheart-edly to the intercession of those who commemorate the tragic events which occurred here seventy years ago, and prays for peace,” read the letter sent June 6 by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, to Bishop Jean-Claude Boulanger of Bayeux (-Lisieux), in whose territory the Normandy landing occurred. On June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy to begin the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation. As many as 13,000 soldiers died that day. The Pope’s
message commended the sacrice of those who “left
their homeland to land on the beaches of Normandy, with the aim of combating Nazi barbarity, freeing occupied France,” and also urged that we “not forget the German soldiers driven into this drama,
like all victims of this war.” “It is tting that today’s
generations express their full appreciation to those
who accepted such a great sacrice.”
Never forget your rst love, Pope encourages
Pope Francis directed his daily homily to his brother bishops and priests, telling them to al-
ways put love of God and their ock rst, before
pursuing a scholastic career. “This is the question I ask myself, my brother bishops and priests: how
is your love today, the love of Jesus? Is it like rst love? Am I as in love today as on the rst day?”
the Pope asked in his June 6 homily. Centering his
reections on the day’s Gospel passage from John
in which Jesus asks Peter three times “Do you love me?” the Roman Pontiff asked those in attendance
“How is your rst love?” explaining that this ques
-tion is not only for married couples, but also those consecrated in the Church. Addressing his fellow priests and bishops, the Bishop of Rome asked whether they still love Jesus as much as they did
when they rst began their ministry, “Or do work
and worries lead me to look at other things, and forget love a little?” Observing how “There are arguments in marriage. That’s normal,” the Pope explained that “when there is no love, there are no arguments: it breaks.” “Do I argue, with the Lord? This is a sign of love. This question that Jesus asks
of Peter brings him to rst love. Never forget your rst love. Never.”
Pope: Half-hearted Catholics aren’t really Catholics at all
Those who insist others pray and believe exactly like they do, those who have alternatives to every church teaching and benefactors who use the church as a cover for business connections may call themselves Catholics, but they have one foot out the door, Pope Francis said. “Many people say they belong to the church,” but in reality have “only one foot inside,” the pope said June 5 at the morning Mass in the chapel of his residence. “For these people, the church is not home,” but is a place they use as a rental property, he said, according to Vatican Radio.
Bishops: surge in unaccompanied child migrants a ‘crisis’
WASHINGTON D.C., June 6, 2014—The migration of unac-companied children into the U.S. is a “humanitarian crisis” that demands a “comprehensive re-sponse” from the government, said the head of the U.S. bishops’ immigration committee.“These children are extremely vulnerable to human traffickers and unscrupulous smugglers and must be protected,” said Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Com-mittee on Migration.“Young lives are at stake,” he emphasized.About 60,000 children from Mexico and Latin America are expected to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014, CBS News reports. U.S. government statistics indicate that over 47,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended at the
border in the 2014 scal year, a 90
percent increase over the previous
Bishop Elizondo said in a June 4 statement that child migration is “a very complicated problem” whose roots must be addressed both by the U.S. government and by governments in the region.He said increasing violence from gangs and organized crime in the young migrants’ home coun-tries must be examined.“This is an issue which should not become politicized or give cause for negative rhetoric,” the bishop said.Momentum behind immi-gration reform increased last year as a bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators worked together to introduce legisla-tion aimed at both provid-ing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and securing the U.S. border. In June 2013, the Senate ap-proved the bill in a bipartisan 68-32 vote. However, it stalled in the House of Representa-tives amid sharp divisions within Republican lawmakers.The U.S. bishops’ conference has laid out several goals for com-prehensive immigration reform, including an “earned legalization program” with an “eventual path to citizenship” for those who pass
background checks and pay a ne,
along with “targeted, proportional, and humane” enforcement mea-sures.The conference has also called for a program to help low-skilled migrant workers to enter and work in the U.S. legally, as well as the restoration of due process protec-tions for immigrants, an emphasis
on family unication, and policy
changes to address the deeper causes of immigration.Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, reiterated the call for immigration reform days before the bishops’ spring assembly begins in New Orleans.“As pastors, we see the human consequences of this broken sys-tem each day in our parishes and social service programs, as fami-lies are separated, migrant work-ers are exploited, and our fellow human beings risk everything to find a better life for themselves and the ones they love,” he said June 5.“Our nation should no lon-ger tolerate an unjust system.” Archbishop Kurtz quoted Pope Francis’ words that migrants “do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.”He pledged support for Con-gress in reforming immigration law “in a manner that properly balances the protection of human rights with the rule of law.”
U.S. Mexico border crossing at San Ysidro. Credit: Josh Denmark/U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CC BY-SA 2.0).
Nun wins ‘The Voice Italy,’ leads crowd in Our Father
ROME, Italy, June 6, 2014--In an emotional nale
decided by Italian TV viewers, 25 year-old Sister Cristina Scuccia won the 2014 edition of The Voice Italy on June 5.The Ursuline Sister of the Holy Family capti-vated millions with her talent and charisma. Upon
winning 62 percent of the nal vote, she told the
audience, “I want Jesus to enter into here,” and led the crowds in praying an Our Father.“I wish to thank everyone, my sisters, all the people who have supported me at this moment,” Sister Cristina said when she was announced the winner. She explained that her presence on the program was not about herself, but about “the one who is above. My ultimate gratitude is to the one on high.”Sister Cristina’s mentor, J-Ax, said that the experience has been “incredible” and voiced hope that “this small change we have made together will allow you to go on. My advice, as I told you before, is that you can change things and be an important example out there.”As was the case throughout the competition, Sister Cristina was accompanied during the
nale by members of her community and her
own family.She performed several songs, including one by her mentor J-Ax, as well as “No One,” by Alicia Keys, the song she sang at the begin-ning of the show that garnered worldwide attention.After she finished the Keys song, J-Ax said, “I think I can speak for everyone. This song has changed everyone’s lives. It is a song that has caught the attention of everyone, even Alicia Keys.”“To paraphrase Elvis, 50 million people can’t be wrong,” he said in allusion to the 50 million views the video of the performance has received so far on YouTube.
Before taking part in the nale, Sister Cristina
told the Italian daily La Stampa, “Tonight an incredible adventure that still surprises me is coming to an end.”She hopes the attention that she has gained “will give young people the will and strength to follow their own dreams.”“I don’t deny that I felt somewhat uneasy when reporters asked me what it feels like to be in the spotlight as a religious. I always answer that when I discovered my vocation, I found myself in the arms of Jesus, and by singing I seek to express God’s beauty.”Regarding her future, Sister Cristina said she is leaving it in the hands of Providence. “If they send me overseas I will go. If they want me to keep singing I will do so with my kids at the oratory and I will do so with joy.”
Hundreds of Catholic employers win exemption from HHS mandate
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., June 5, 2014--A federal court has ruled
that the Catholic Benets Associa
-tion and its hundreds of employer members are exempt from a federal mandate requiring coverage of con-traceptives and abortifacient drugs.“We are grateful for the rul-ing, but continue to pray that our leaders recognize that Catholics, whether bishops or businessmen, cannot in good conscience provide insurance that covers drugs and procedures that undermine the dig-nity of the human person and the sanctity of human life,” Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, the
benet association’s vice-president,
said June 5.“Religious freedom entails more than the right to worship and any contrary legislation must be op-posed,” he added.Archbishop William Lori of Bal-timore, the association’s president, also welcomed the decision.
“We formed the Catholic Benets
Association to support Catholic employers in providing quality, cost-competitive, morally compli-
ant health care benets for their
employees,” he said June 5. “Yester-day’s decision makes this a reality.”On June 4, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Okla-homa ruled that the more than 450
employer members of the benets
association are exempt from the mandate. The ruling enjoined the U.S. government and its agents from attempting to enforce the mandate against the association’s members.
The benets association’s general
counsel, Martin Nussbaum, said the ruling is “especially gratify-ing” because the lawsuit is the only challenge to the HHS mandate that includes Catholic-owned for-
prot businesses and other non-
exempt organizations like colleges, Catholic Charities and healthcare institutions in addition to houses of worship.The benefits association’s em-ployers include 23 Catholic arch-dioceses and dioceses and almost 2,000 parishes in addition to non-profits and Catholic-owned for-
prot businesses. Its membership
is also open to Catholic religious congregations, Catholic medical facilities, and Catholic universities.
The Catholic Benets Association
formed a subsidy, the Catholic In-surance Company, to allow Catho-lic employers to exercise their faith in what health care coverage they provide to their employees. The association also arranges health provider networks to help Catholic employers provide comprehensive health care that is consistent with Catholic ethics.The Department of Health and Human Services mandate requires employers to provide insurance coverage of sterilization and con-traception, including some drugs that can cause early abortions.Widespread complaint led to a series of changes in the mandate
into its current nalized form. A
religious exemption to the mandate does exist, but it applies primarily to houses of worship and their af-
Religious employers that do not qualify for the exemption are in-stead offered an “accommodation” by the government, under which employees automatically receive contraceptive coverage from the objecting groups’ health insurance issuers.These provisions have contin-ued to draw criticism and legal complaints from hundreds of in-dividuals and organizations who argue that their right to exercise their religious beliefs freely is being violated by the requirements.In addition, neither the exemp-tion nor the accommodation ap-plies to individuals with religious or moral objections who own for-
Wednesday’s federal ruling on the class action lawsuit recognized
that the benets association could
represent all its individual mem-bers without their explicit partici-pation because its members are “so uniform in their beliefs.”The named participants in the lawsuit include the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City, Inc., Archbishop Lori and the Archdiocese of Balti-more.Archbishop Coakley said that the U.S. government has already “ef-fectively granted exemptions from the mandate to various employers whose plans cover more than 130 million employees.”“We’re simply seeking the same exemption for Catholic employ-ers who have religious objections to the unjust requirements of the mandate.”According to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the mandate has prompted some 100 lawsuits from more than 300 plaintiffs, including non-profits, for-profits, Catholic and non-Catholic organizations, and individual states. So far, court decisions have predominantly fa-vored the objecting groups.
A signicant Supreme Court case involving the legal challenge led
by craft store giant Hobby Lobby is expected to be decided later this month.
JAKARTA, June 7, 2014—In response to the Pope for the World Day of Social Com-munications, some young people of the Diocese of Weetbula—Sumba Island, the province of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT)—partici-pated in a seminar on new media and evangelization. Participants come from one of the remotest areas of Indonesia and, unlike the majority of citizens, es-pecially young people, are not familiar with comput-ers and the internet.In response, the local Catholic leadership has facilitated a three-day meeting and discussion, which drew 62 young Catholics from various parishes of the diocese. Some of them - seminar-ians, students, activists, teachers and nurses - have had to travel for 5/6 hours from their places of origin, to reach the diocesan pas-toral Kotiku Loku center, in the north-western part of Sumba district.The main purpose of the workshop was to strengthen missionary communications, to pro-mote social networks and new media. From 7.30 am until 11 pm, they learned the basics of photography and editing thanks to the valuable advice of a professor of the School of Art in Jakarta; they then had lessons in journalism and the use of new media held by the AsiaNews cor-respondent.The lessons were con-cluded with a final practi-cal test, a sort of term pa-per for publication. Once they overcame their ini-tial reluctance, the young Catholics responded with interest and involvement demonstrating ability and potential in the production of “news” related to the world of the Church and to the path of evangeliza-tion.Young Catholic activ-ist Melky, points out that such initiatives should be repeated because they are “not enough”; another par-ticipant adds that he has received “illuminating” advice in the workshop, so as to have greater con-
dence in the media and
the potential contained in a small room and a computer keyboard, with the aim of evangelization. Organizers included Catholic Bishops’ Confer-ence Social Communica-tions Commission (KWI Kosmos); led by Msgr. Pe-trus Turang, the Archbish-op of Kupang, who said that the Indonesian Church promotes seminars and ini-tiatives for “the production of Catholic news, aimed at evangelization.”Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world. Catholics are a small minority of about seven million, or 3 per cent of the population. In the Archdiocese of Jakarta, the faithful reach 3.6 per cent of the population.Although the coun-try’s constitution recog-nises religious freedom, Catholics have been the victims of violence and abuse, especially in areas where extremist visions of Islam are entrenched, like Aceh.Still, Catholics are an ac-tive component in society and contribute to the na-tion’s development as well as to emergency operations when they arise, as was the case in last year’s devastat-
Catholic young people and new media: a seminar to boost the evangelization
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