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Clerical abuse arose from misuse of authority, Chilean priest says

Santiago, Chile, May 23, 2018 / 12:32 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- One of the Chilean priests affected by the abuses of Fr. Fernando Karadima who will meet with Pope Francis in June said Wednesday that such abuses stemmed from misuse of authority.

Fr. Francisco Javier Astaburuaga Ossa accompanied one of Karadima's victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, for nearly 20 years before Cruz went public with his suffering.

He is among the group of nine people who will visit Pope Francis June 1-3, and was one of three priests who spoke at a May 23 press conference in Santiago.

Astaburuaga said it is clear that Karadima's abuses, particularly the abuse of conscience, “started from a poor use of authority … he violated personal freedom, he restricted [his victims] and conditioned them.”

“This is the mark of an abuse,” he said, explaining that this, as well as the structural problems which allowed the crisis to happen in the first place, is something that will likely come up in their discussions with the pope.

Astaburuaga was joined at the Vatican press conference by  Fr. Alejandro Vial Amunátegui and  Fr. Eugenio de la Fuente Lora.

Six other people will also be present at the June meeting with Francis; all of them are either victims of Karadima's abuse of power, conscience, or sexuality, or have helped to accompany the victims. Two of the other priests who will meet with the pope are Fr. Javier Barros Bascuñán and Fr. Sergio Cobo Montalba; the remaining four participants have chosen not to go public.

The meeting is part of an effort to respond to Chile's clerical sex abuse crisis, and follows an similar encounter at the Vatican in April among three more of Karadima's victims: Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton, and Andres Murillo.

“There was a problem, a crisis in the Chilean Church, everyone can see it,” de la Fuente said, explaining that in his view, the process Pope Francis has begun with these meetings “is a very lucid one and we are thankful.”

The three priests said the Roman Pontiff is moving in the right direction, and that their upcoming visit is a sign of hope and a chance to begin repairing the harm done to the Church in Chile. They also noted their joy at the consolation of receiving an invitation from the pope.

The meeting will take place in a “spirit of collaboration” aimed at repairing “the damages done” to the Church in the scandal, Vial said.

Fr. de la Fuente commented that “The meeting itself gives a marvelous [opportunity] to share our personal experience with [Pope Francis], and from this lived experience … to propose solutions to solve this big problem,” of abuse and cover-up, which is largely a problem of power and the misuse of authority.

In a statement signed by Astaburuaga, Vial, de la Fuente, Barros, and Cobo, the priests voiced hope that their stories “can help give a voice to many others who have suffered abuse or who have accompanied people who have been abused.”

After presenting the statement, the priests noted the delicacy of the situation, and that the pope invited them so he could listen to them and give them a chance to share their personal experiences.

Fr. de la Fuente said the pope was clear in his original letter apologizing for having misjudged the situation, saying that the process of re-building the Church in Chile must happen “in short, medium and long term” phases.

Speaking of Cruz, Hamilton, and Murillo, Fr. de la Fuente voiced gratitude for “their testimonies, their courage and their friendship. They have helped the Church a lot.”

The solutions outlining a path forward for the Church in Chile have yet to be decided, he said, explaining that this is something they will discuss with Pope Francis.

Fr. Vial said that while they want to give a voice to victims of abuse, “each case of abuse is different. I could never pretend to represent someone who was abused in a different way and in a different context.”

One of the main goals of their meeting with the pope, he said, is to discuss how to “do as much as possible to avoid the existence of victims of abuse. For us it is very important to collaborate so that there are no more victims of abuse.”

In his comments, de la Fuente stressed that while abuse and pedophilia are problems not exclusive to the Church, they are more serious when they happen in an ecclesial environment “because it is a place of life called to give life and fullness.”

“There is a structure that creates this type of abuse,” he said, explaining that the Church “must be a house of healing.”

The goal is “to try to work at something so that the Church is what Jesus wanted it to be.”

Likewise, Vial stressed the need for pastors to be close to their flocks, and asked the press to be respectful of the communities most impacted by the crisis, “because they are communities, like the whole Church, which are going through a difficult time with a lot of suffering.”

The priests said that given the desire to maintain privacy and confidentiality, they do not plan to make any other public statements until after they return to Chile following their meeting with Pope Francis.

The Holy See press office had announced the group's meeting with Francis May 22. The encounter was scheduled a month ago, and it was said that the pope “wants to demonstrate his closeness to abused priests, to accompany them in their pain and to listen to their valuable views to improve the current preventive measures and the fight against abuses in the Church.”

The nine Chileans will stay at the Vatican's Santa Marta guesthouse. Pope Francis will say Mass for the group June 2, after which there will be a group meeting, followed by private conversations with the pope.

Karadima was convicted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2011 of abusing minors, and sentenced to a life of prayer and penance. He has not been sentenced by civil courts because of Chile's statue of limitations.

A sacerdotal association which Karadima had led, the Priestly Union of the Sacred Heart, was suppressed within a year of his conviction.

Attention to Karadima's abuse has heightened since the 2015 appointment of Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid to the Diocese of Osorno. Barros had been accused of covering up Karadima's abuses.

Pope Francis initially defended Barros, saying he had received no evidence of the bishop's guilt, and called accusations against him “calumny” during a trip to Chile in January. He later relented, and sent Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta to investigate the situation in Chile.

After receiving Scicluna's report, Francis apologized, said that he had been seriously mistaken, and asked to meet the country's bishops and more outspoken survivors in person.

He met with Chile's bishops May 15-17. As a result, each of them tendered letters of resignation, which Pope Francis has yet to accept or reject. The pope also gave the bishops a letter chastising them for systemic cover-up of clerical abuse and calling them to institute deep changes.

Trump at SBA gala: 'Vote for love' and 'vote for life'

Washington D.C., May 23, 2018 / 12:23 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Delivering the keynote address at the Susan B. Anthony List’s Campaign for Life Gala, President Donald Trump emphasized the importance of electing pro-life candidates in the upcoming November midterm elections.

“Between now and November,” said Trump, “we must work together to elect more lawmakers who share our values, cherish our heritage, and proudly stand for life.”

Susan B. Anthony List is a network of organizations that includes a PAC supporting the election of pro-life candidates to Congress.

Trump’s May 22 address highlighted the steps his administration has taken to preserve and promote pro-life values and religious liberty, including the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, which prevents taxpayer dollars from funding abortion overseas.

That move, said Trump, was “a little reminiscent of Ronald Reagan.”

“We’ve appointed a record number of judges who will defend our Constitution and interpret the law as written,” explained Trump, saying that he was likely to have the “all-time record for the appointment of judges.”

Early in his presidency, Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch, widely supported by pro-life advocates, wrote a 2004 dissertation at the University of Oxford on euthanasia and assisted suicide, under the supervision of Catholic legal scholar John Finnis.

Trump used the gala to officially announce that his administration has proposed a rule to prohibit Title X funds from going to abortion clinics.

“For decades, American taxpayers have been wrongfully forced to subsidize the abortion industry” through these funds, Trump told the crowd, who gave him a standing ovation.

“We have kept another promise.”

If the rule becomes policy, clinics such as Planned Parenthood would not be eligible to receive federal Title X funds for family planning services unless they decide to stop performing abortions.

Shifting gears to the upcoming elections, Trump said that his goal is to pass a nationwide ban on abortion after 20 weeks gestation. A bill to that effect has already passed the House of Representatives, but remains stalled in the Senate and is unlikely to pass.

In order for this bill to become law, Trump said the country needs to elect Republicans to Congress, because “the Democratic Party is far outside the American mainstream.” He specifically cited Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Heidi Heitcamp (D-ND), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) as four senators up for reelection who voted against the abortion bill. Each of those senators represents a state Trump won in the 2016 election.

“We are nine votes away from passing the 20-week abortion bill in the Senate, so we have to get them out there,” Trump told the crowd.

“Democrats like to campaign as moderates at election time, but when they go to Washington, they always vote for the radical Pelosi agenda down the line,” said Trump to applause, before adding “Can you imagine having Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House?”

Trump warned the crowd against growing complacent going into this November’s midterms, saying that unless the Republicans are able to maintain their majorities in the House and senate, it will be impossible to appoint pro-life judges and pass pro-life legislation.

“Every values voter must be energized, mobilized, and engaged, said the president. “You have to get out there.”

“So this November, vote for family. Vote for love. Vote for faith and values. Vote for country. And vote for life.“

Although Trump’s remarks were decidedly partisan, the Susan B. Anthony List is not directly affiliated with a political party, and has supported pro-life candidates from both major political parties. The PAC supported Rep. Steve Lipinski (D-IL) in a contentious 2017 primary election.

 

The Holy Spirit makes our works effective, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, May 23, 2018 / 05:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy Spirit helps Catholics to do good works by giving them the gifts they need to be effective 'salt and light' in the world, Pope Francis said at the general audience Wednesday.

Like Jesus said: “You are the salt of the earth… you are the light of the world,” the pope said May 23, explaining that the images of salt and light “make us think of our conduct, because both the lack and the excess of salt make food disgusting, as the lack and the excess of light prevent us from seeing.”

“Who can really make us salt that gives flavor and preserves from corruption, and light that enlightens the world?” he asked. “It is only the Spirit of Christ!”

Explaining that at the moment of Confirmation the bishop says, “Receive the Holy Spirit, which has been given to you,” Francis said the sacrament is “a great gift of God, the Holy Spirit within us.”

“The Spirit is in our heart, is in our soul. And the Spirit guides us in life, so that we become the right [amount of] salt and the right [amount of] light for men.”

Pope Francis spoke about Confirmation after concluding his weekly reflections on Baptism, which he said is “the first step.” After Baptism, “it is then necessary to behave as children of God, that is, to conform to Christ who works in the holy Church,” he said.

“If in Baptism it is the Holy Spirit that immerses us in Christ, in Confirmation it is Christ who fills us with his Spirit,” he said. In Confirmation, Christ consecrates Catholics “as his witnesses, partakers of the same principle of life and mission, according to the plan of the heavenly Father.”

Becoming involved in Christ’s mission in the world: “This is what the anointing of the Holy Spirit provides,” he continued.

The pope also explained that the sacrament is called “Confirmation” because it “confirms Baptism and strengthens its grace,” noting that in the Italian language, the sacrament is called “Cresima,” to recall the anointing with chrism oil, which confers the power of the Holy Spirit.

It is also appropriate to speak about Confirmation following the celebration of Pentecost, the pope said, because the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples calls to mind the infusion of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation.

“Pentecost, which we celebrated last Sunday, is for the Church what for Christ was the anointing of the Spirit received at the Jordan, or the missionary impulse to consume the life for the sanctification of men, to the glory of God.”

If in every sacrament the Spirit works, it is especially in Confirmation that “the faithful receive the Holy Spirit as a gift,” he concluded. “Christian witness consists in doing only and all that the Spirit of Christ asks of us, granting us the strength to do it.”

At the end of the general audience, Francis pointed out that Thursday, May 24, is the feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “Help of Christians,” which is particularly venerated at the Shrine of Our Mother of Sheshan near Shanghai, China.

This feast day “invites us to be spiritually united to all the Catholic faithful who live in China,” he said, praying for Chinese Catholics, that through the intercession of Our Lady, they would live their faith “with generosity and serenity… fraternity, concord and reconciliation, in full communion with the Successor of Peter.”

“Dearest disciples of the Lord in China, the universal Church prays with you and for you, so that even among the difficulties you may continue to entrust yourselves to God's will. Our Lady will never fail to help you and guard you with her motherly love.”

Ninja priest? Meet the unlikely new contestant on a hit TV show

Little Rock, Ark., May 23, 2018 / 12:45 am (CNA).- Among the contestants on season 10 of NBC’s American Ninja Warrior, there’s one who stands out.

In addition to being a physical trainer, Father Stephen Gadberry is also a Catholic priest. He hopes that his participation in the upcoming season of American Ninja Warrior will make the clergy appear more human and available.

Physical activity can be a “simple way to start a conversation with a spiritual leader, with a pastor, where [people] may be too nervous or hesitant to start [deeper] conversations right off the bat,” he told CNA.

Contestants on the hit NBC show compete in obstacles courses of increasing difficulty, testing their strength, agility, and skill for a shot at $1 million and the title of “American Ninja Warrior.” The final round takes place on the Las Vegas strip, where participants must complete – among other obstacles – a 75-foot rope climb in under 30 seconds.

Fr. Gadberry was challenged to apply for the show by Sean Bryan, a two-time previous contestant who drew attention for donning a shirt bearing the colors of the papal flag and words “Papal Ninja.”

The Arkansas priest applied for the show in December and two months later received an invitation to participate in the preliminary round in Dallas. Fr. Gadberry said he “would be a bad steward of God’s gifts if [he] didn’t humbly and gratefully accept this opportunity as a moment” to proclaim the Gospel.

“[Evangelizing] is the primary reason for me doing this. The Lord tells us to go out and make disciples of all nations,” he said. “As this platform has stumbled into my lap…I can further deliver the message of the Gospel that I am supposed to as a priest.”

The priest serves as pastor for two parishes in the Arkansas Delta: St. Cecilia Church in Newport and St. Mary Church in Batesville. Having been raised on a farm, Gadberry said he grew up loving hard physical labor. Later in the military, he said he was introduced to the fitness regimen CrossFit.

Gadberry works out for 1-2 hours per day, but said that his workouts do not interfere with his priestly ministry, because he rarely watches television and schedules his exercise regime around his duties as a priest.

While he knows other priests who relax by watching television or building in their workshop, Father Gadberry said exercise has become for him a form of recreation that opens doors for spiritual conversations in the community.

“It has given people opportunities … to start conversations on faith, where before they may have been too intimidated to approach a priest or go to church.”

People periodically ask for his advice on lifting techniques, and once dialogue has been established, conversations sometimes turn toward spiritual and personal questions – ranging from struggles with adultery to trouble with teenagers at home.

Additionally, he said, physical activities take him to what Pope Francis has called “the peripheries.” Besides attending to sick and visiting patients in hospital, the priest is heavily involved with prison ministry. There, he has been able to exercise with inmates, building trust and initiating vulnerable conversations.

“The whole time, we are talking about life problems and struggles,” he said. “The guards loved it because they saw it was changing the guys I was working out with.”

The priest cautioned against judging people who exercise as prideful, stressing that taking care of the body is a form of stewardship.

“Often times, people will stereotype a priest or religious or someone who is devout in their faith as being uber spiritual,” to the point of neglecting the body, he said, warning that this not Catholic teaching.

He added that dietary and exercise disciplines have a correlation to the spiritual life “because virtues are developed through physical discipline.”

Whether they face physical or spiritual obstacles, Fr. Gadberry advised individuals to take challenges one step at a time, rather than stressing too much about the end goal.

“The whole mood of this ninja warrior thing is all about conquering obstacles. You’re not going to get the last obstacle, to hit the buzzer, until you get over the obstacle that is right in front of you,” he said.

“You have enough to worry about, so it doesn’t make sense to stress about the obstacles way off in the future. Just deal with the one you got right in front of you.”

The 10th season of NBC’s American Ninja Warrior will premiere on May 30.
 
 

 

Wounded veterans seek healing and peace in the waters of Lourdes

Lourdes, France, May 23, 2018 / 12:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- American veterans in search of healing attended a recent pilgrimage to Lourdes, through the Archdiocese for Military Services and the Knights of Columbus.

Among the pilgrims was Charles Baldinger, a West Point-educated infantry officer who had to retire due to Stage 4 brain cancer.

“We came for physical healing with my right side and speech. We got spiritual healing and strength for the journey instead and it was more important,” he said in a video recap for the Knights of Columbus.

The pilgrimage coordinator, Col. Charles Gallia, USMC (Ret.), said the event gives “the moral courage and spiritual strength to address the issues and problems of your life whether they’re physical, mental, moral. That’s the healing power of Lourdes and the Blessed Mother.”

“Understanding the physical and moral wounds of war, there is a need for peace and reconciliation,” Gallia added.

The Warriors to Lourdes pilgrimage, held May 15-22, drew over 200 pilgrims, including 10 from Ukraine. The pilgrimage included opportunities for daily Mass, times for reflection and reconciliation, and the chance to bathe in the waters of Lourdes.

The pilgrimage, now in its fifth year, was sponsored by the Archdiocese for Military Services and the Knights of Columbus. Knights of Columbus Charities covered expenses for veterans and their caregivers.

Father Mark Bristol, a military chaplain, said the Warriors to Lourdes program gives the pilgrims an experience “to encounter God in a powerful way.” Whatever they are undergoing, “they’re not alone and that more importantly there’s people to walk with them to accompany them along the way.”

The American Lourdes pilgrimage joined the 60th annual International Military Pilgrimage, which was launched after World War II to foster reconciliation, peace and healing. Its theme this year is “Pacem in Terris,” a Latin phrase meaning “Peace on Earth” and the title of a 1963 encyclical by Pope St. John XXIII. Forty countries from six continents were represented.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services celebrated Mass for the American pilgrims on May 18 at the Rosary Basilica. His archdiocese serves the spiritual and sacramental needs of about 1.8 million Catholics worldwide.

“The Marian Shrine at Lourdes is a place of hope where healings of many types take place, both physical and spiritual,” Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson said May 14. “It is an opportunity for active-duty personnel, veterans and their caregivers to experience an abundance of peace and consolation while in this holy place.”

Father Zachary Miller, a military chaplain, said that when he left the military, he “never really found closure from my service.”

“I came here not necessarily as a priest, I came here as someone who is wounded, someone who needs healing,” he said. “So I found my closure through Mary through our mother the mother of God the Mother of Peace.”

The celebration of Pentecost Mass with nations from around the world showed “we are here to set an example that we can have a relationship of peace,” he added.

Fr. Jeffrey Laible, another priest on the pilgrimage, reflected on the event’s importance.

“Often times our troops are looking for forgiveness for what they might have seen or done, especially when they’re in combat feeling guilt or shame anger,” the priest said. “Warrior to Lourdes pilgrimage help our service members to experience healing and forgiveness.”

On Saturday evening, a ceremony was held at the War Memorial to show respect for those killed in war. It drew heads of state, ministers, and senior military and religious figures. The memorial was built after the First World War, which ended 100 years ago.

Bishop Antoine de Romanet of the Military Ordinariate of France, the president of the International Military Pilgrimage, laid a wreath at the memorial.

Ahead of the pilgrimage, Archbishop Broglio had urged the pilgrims to pray “for progress in international dialogue, welcome for the immigrant, and a decrease in violence in our communities and the world.”

The archbishop thanked the Knights “who have so generously made possible the pilgrimage of many wounded warriors and infirm veterans who would not otherwise have been able to join in this important international prayer for peace.”

 

Dolan: Pope’s reported remarks to gay man, while ‘beautiful,’ could require clarification  

New York City, N.Y., May 22, 2018 / 08:30 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archbishop of New York said Tuesday that while some recent comments about homosexuality attributed to Pope Francis are “orthodox teaching,” the pope's reported remarks could require clarification.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan affirmed the pope’s recent affirmation of God’s love for a gay man with whom the pontiff visited in Rome, saying: “Jesus would have said that, and so would I. That’s conservative, traditional, Catholic, orthodox teaching. The ‘Catechism’ insists on that.”

“While any sexual expression outside of a man and woman in marriage is contrary to God's purpose, so is not treating anyone, including a gay person, with anything less than dignity and respect,” Dolan added, speaking May 22 during his weekly radio show on Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel.

“What he says is beautiful, don’t you think?” Dolan asked.

The remarks were a response to questions about  Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean victim of sexual abuser Fr. Fernando Karadima, who told the Spanish newspaper El Pais on Friday that Pope Francis told him that it did not matter that he was gay.

“He told me ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like that and he loves you like that and I do not care. The Pope loves you as you are, you have to be happy with who you are,’" Cruz recalled.

Asked about the most controversial aspect of the Holy Father’s remarks, regarding whether God wills that someone experience same sex attraction, Dolan was circumspect, citing “ongoing debate” among “professional circles.”

“Is one born that way, or is it - is it nature or nurture?... I don't think the Holy Father would feel competent to speak on that.”

Dolan noted that while he had no reason to doubt Cruz’s account, the pope’s reported remarks were “third hand: what the pope said to him, he said to the press, so one would want to get a clarification.”

He said his remarks were qualified by “a little bit of ‘wait and see’” adding “let’s find out exactly what the Holy Father said.”

 

Does God make people gay? A theologian responds

Washington D.C., May 22, 2018 / 04:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Sexual attraction does not define identity, a priest has said, after comments attributed to Pope Francis have prompted questions about Catholic doctrine and the nature of sexual orientation.

“Of course God loves all people. This is his defining characteristic: God is love,” Fr. Thomas Petri, OP, told CNA.

“But he does not love sin, indeed he cannot love sin because sin is not only opposed to God but also opposed to the true good and happiness to which he calls every human person.” 

“So while [God] may love every person, he does not love the things we do that separate us from him and harm our dignity as his children,” added Petri, academic dean of the Dominican-run Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.

On Friday, Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean victim of sexual abuser Fr. Fernando Karadima, told the Spanish newspaper El Pais that Pope Francis told him that it did not matter that he was gay.

He said the pope told him, “God made you like that and he loves you like that and I do not care.”

The comments have stirred a controversy about Catholic doctrine on homosexuality, with some media outlets reporting them as a “major shift” in Catholic teaching.

The Vatican does not customarily comment on private conversations involving the pope, and has not confirmed or clarified the remarks Cruz attributed to Pope Francis.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “deep-seated” homosexual inclination is "objectively disordered," but that people with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”

“Inasmuch as all of us have proclivities and disordered desires in our lives, we must be always be vigilant against temptation and repent when we fall,” Petri told CNA.

Furthermore, he added, it is “dangerous” to assert that God made anything that is sinful or causes suffering, including disordered desires, addictions, or diseases such as cancer.

Things that are not good cannot come from a God who is all good, Petri noted, although it is ultimately a mystery why God permits sin and disorder to exist in this life.

“The relationship of God’s almighty will and his infinite goodness to the disorder, sin, violence, and evil we experience in this life is question the Catechism of the Catholic Church says is ‘as pressing as it is unavoidable and as painful as it is mysterious,’” he said.

“What we know,” he added, “is that nothing escapes the providence of God, even disorders, pathologies, sin, and evil. In a very poignant section on providence and the scandal of evil, the Catechism points to the fact that God has created the world and humanity in a state of journeying. Nothing is perfect and so disorders exist.”

However, we can be confident that God works to bring good from the consequences of disorder and evil, “even those who struggle with disordered desires can, by God’s grace, come to embrace their call to be his children and to live in the dignity to which he has called them, even as they may suffer temptation.”

“In fact, it can be in the face of temptation that a person’s reliance on God becomes all the more strong,” he noted.

In his pastoral experience with people who have same-sex attractions, Petri said some have a harder time believing in God’s love than others.

He added that he has found it useful to compare disordered sexual desires to other disordered desires people experience, whether in relation to food, drink, or other things.

Petri noted that confusion sometimes stems from “the tendency to treat [homosexuality] as an identifying trait of the person, as though it is somehow fixed as an ultimate reality for a person,” Petri said.

“It’s not. The identifying trait of each us is that we are loved by God and children of God. Everything else revolves around that.”

“Attractions, sexual or otherwise, are complicated. They come and go, can alternate and shift, and can often be fickle. Our dignity as human beings is that with grace we are called to become masters of our desires and not servants to them.”

 

 

Archbishop Gomez: It's time for a vote on DACA legislation

Los Angeles, Calif., May 22, 2018 / 03:16 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles is asking Catholics in the archdiocese to contact their representatives urging a vote on bipartisan legislation to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“The Dreamers have been waiting for decades for Congress to do its job and pass immigration reform legislation,” said Gomez in a May 19 statement. “But for many years now, reform has been blocked in the House for political reasons by a minority of lawmakers.”

“This is not about Republicans or Democrats,” the archbishop said, noting that more than 75 percent of Americans support offering permanent legal status to DACA recipients. “It is about right and wrong. People’s lives are in the balance.”

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was an executive action created by President Barack Obama that granted protection from deportation as well as job permits to people who were brought to the United States illegally as children. DACA recipients, also known as “Dreamers,” have to register each year with the program.

In September of 2017, President Donald Trump moved to end DACA, saying that he did not believe he had the executive power to continue the program. Initially, Trump gave Congress six months to codify parts of DACA into law and to create a solution to this issue, but a solution was not reached by the March 5 deadline.

Two federal judges blocked the March 5 expiration date for DACA, and the Supreme Court declined to hear an immediate review from the Trump administration protesting this decision, moving the “deadline” to the fall of 2018.

A federal judge ruled in April that DACA must be kept and begin to accept new applications.

Lawmakers in Congress have been unable to agree on stipulations within a bill, including whether a legislative proposal should include funding for a wall along the southern U.S. border, supported by President Donald Trump.

While several bills have been proposed, none have made it out of committee and onto the House floor for a vote.

One bill in particular, the “Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act of 2018,” has gained the support of the U.S. bishops’ conference. In addition to shielding “Dreamers” from deportation and providing for a path to citizenship for certain qualified persons, the bill – H.R. 4796 – would increase border security and would seek to address corruption in Central America, a major cause of “irregular migration.”

A group of moderate Republicans in Congress has been working to force a vote through a rare procedural tool called a “discharge petition.” If successful, this would bypass the committee stage bring all immigration proposals to the House floor for debate and a vote.

Stressing the need for prayer and action, Archbishop Gomez did not blame a particular political party for the stalled progress on the legislation, instead referring to a “minority of lawmakers.”

He urged Catholics to call their congressmen, to encourage them to come to a solution before time runs out.

“Urge them to do what is right and what the American people want them to do — to allow a vote on DACA.”

 

Take Mary into your home, LA archbishop says on new Marian feast

Los Angeles, Calif., May 22, 2018 / 02:59 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archbishop of Los Angeles encouraged Catholics to love the Blessed Virgin Mary as their mother during a Mass commemorating a newly-proclaimed Catholic feast day.

“Jesus wants you to take Mary into your homes – into your lives and into your hearts,” Archbishop José Gomez  said May 21, during his homily at LA’s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.   

Pope Francis added the Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church to the Roman calendar in February. The feast day will be celebrated annually on the Monday after Pentecost Sunday.

Archbishop Gomez challenged Catholics to receive the Blessed Mother into their homes and hearts.  

“Love Mary as your mother! Ask her to be a mother to you and to never leave you! Ask her to intercede for you and help you grow in faith and to do the will of God,” he said.

Gomez said that “when Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, Mary became the maternal heart of his Church.”

“Mary is still the heart of the Church, the Mother of the family of God. The Mother of Jesus still goes with us, sharing our joys and hopes, helping us in all the challenges of our daily life. She still opens her arms to us with tender love, to give us comfort and guidance.”

Over 3,000 people attended the Mass. Attendees brought to the Mass written prayer intentions, which will be delivered to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City during an archdiocesan pilgrimage in July.

More than 1,300 Catholic school students, teachers, and chaperones from 22 of the archdiocese’s schools were in attendance. Representatives from each of the 22 schools offered flowers to the Virgin Mary.

The Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Brennan of LA, and several priests of the archdiocese.

In honor of the new feast, an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, blessed by Archbishop Gomez, has been made available to every family in the archdiocese. The gift may be ordered free on AngelusNews.com, the archdiocese’s news site.

 

Pope to meet in June with Chilean clerical abuse victims

Vatican City, May 22, 2018 / 02:51 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis will meet for three days next month with victims of a Chilean priest who committed sexual abuse as well as abuse of power and conscience, in an effort to respond to the country's clerical sex abuse crisis.

The Holy See press office stated May 22 that Pope Francis will receive a second group of victims of Fr. Fernando Karadima and his followers at the Vatican's Santa Marta guesthouse June 1-3.

The group of nine includes five priests who were victims of abuse of power, conscience, and sexuality; two priests who have been assisting the victims; and two lay people.

Most of those coming to the Vatican participated in Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta's investigation of abuse cover-up by the hierarchy in Chile, whick took place in February. The others worked with the investigation after the archbishop's time in Chile.

“With this new meeting, scheduled a month ago, Pope Francis wants to demonstrate his closeness to abused priests, to accompany them in their pain and to listen to their valuable views to improve the current preventive measures and the fight against abuses in the Church,” the Holy See press office said.

The meeting will conclude the pope's first round of meetings with the victims of abuses which occurred at Karadima's Sacred Heart parish in Santiago.

“These priests and lay people represent all the victims of abuses by clerics in Chile, but it is not ruled out that similar initiatives may be repeated in the future.”

The visit will include various meetings “which will take place in an atmosphere of trust and confidentiality.” Pope Francis will say Mass for the group June 2, after which there will be a group meeting, followed by individual conversations.

“The Holy Father continues to ask the faithful of Chile – and especially the faithful of the parishes where these priests carry out their pastoral ministry – to accompany them with prayer and solidarity during these days.”

Francis had met with three more of Karadima's victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton, and Andres Murillo, at the Vatican April 27-30. Cruz, who has same-sex attraction, told a Spanish newspaper May 20 that the pope had told him to accept himself and his attraction, because God made him that way.

Karadima was convicted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2011 of abusing minors, and sentenced to a life of prayer and penance. He has not been sentenced by civil courts because of Chile's statue of limitations.

A sacerdotal association which Karadima had led, the Priestly Union of the Sacred Heart, was suppressed within a year of his conviction.

Attention to Karadima's abuse has heightened since the 2015 appointment of Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid to the Diocese of Osorno. Barros had been accused of covering up Karadima's abuses.

Pope Francis initially defended Barros, saying he had received no evidence of the bishop's guilt, and called accusations against him “calumny” during a trip to Chile in January. He later relented, and sent Scicluna to investigate the situation in Chile.

After receiving Scicluna's report, Francis apologized, said that he had been seriously mistaken, and asked to meet the country's bishops and more outspoken survivors in person.

He met with Chile's bishops May 15-17. As a result, each of them tendered letters of resignation, which Pope Francis has yet to accept or reject. The pope also gave the bishops a lettter chastising them for systemic cover-up of clerical abuse and calling them to institute deep changes.

On May 19, Bishop Alejandro Goić Karmelić of Rancagua suspended several priests after allegations of sexual misconduct were raised against them. He also apologized for not following up when the accusations were first brought to his attention.