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Update: Parish of teen who escaped abduction credits power of prayer

IMAGE: CNS photo/FBI handout via Reuters

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- For nearly three months, parishioners at St. Peter Catholic Church in Cameron, Wisconsin, were praying for the safe return of one of their own -- 13-year-old Jayme Closs.

When parishioners heard the news that she had escaped her abductor Jan. 10 and was safe, their prayers switched to gratitude.

The parish sign said, "Praise God Welcome Home Jayme," after its Mass times listing. It joined dozens of messages that had sprung up in signs and storefronts across the Wisconsin town and neighboring towns cheering the teen's safety.

"Our prayers have been answered and God is good," parishioner JoAnn Trowbridge told the local NBC affiliate, WEAU, after Jan. 13 Mass at St. Peter. She also said she thinks their prayers may have been answered because "God got sick of us nagging him."

St. Peter, in the Diocese of Superior, is where Jayme attended religious education classes and Mass with her parents, James and Denise, who were murdered Oct. 15, 2018. Their funeral Mass was celebrated at the church Oct. 27.

Superior Bishop James P. Powers said in a Jan. 11 message to priests and parish leaders that he hoped all parishes would add a "thanksgiving petition to God" during Masses that Jayme was found alive and safe. He said that during her nearly three-month captivity, she had to endure "God knows what kind of physical and mental torture as we kept her in our prayers asking for her safe return."

"We now want to keep her in our prayers asking God's healing touch on her body, mind and spirit," he said in a message posted on the Facebook page of the Catholic Herald, Superior's diocesan newspaper.

Jake Patterson, 21, has been charged with couple's murder and with kidnapping Jayme, both of which he has confessed to, according to a criminal complaint released Jan. 14 by the Barron County District Attorney.

Jayme was found in the town of Gordon, about 70 miles from her home in Barron, when she escaped the cabin in the woods where she had been held for 88 days and met a woman walking a dog who took her to a nearby home and called police.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald told reporters when he announced the teen's return that she was back through the "hope and the prayers in this community and what everybody did."

He also primarily praised the teen saying: "She took that first step. Taking that step was just unbelievable." He said when people talk about this kind of situation with their kids they need to advise them: "Never give up hope, keep your prayers alive. When you get into a situation, you never give up."

Jayme is currently staying with an aunt. Her grandfather told The Associated Press that she is "in exceptionally good spirits."

St. Peter Church will hold a special service of Thanksgiving for her return Jan. 20.
During the parish's Jan. 13 Mass, parishioners prayed for Jayme and her family and for all who had searched for the teen while she was missing.

They said they want her to know of their support in the weeks, months and years ahead, particularly that she can "handle this and get her life back together," as one parishioner put it.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

 

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

Foster dialogue, promote solidarity, pope tells Academy for Life

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Marking the Pontifical Academy for Life's 25th anniversary, Pope Francis encouraged the research and advisory body to promote human solidarity and fraternity as part of its mandate to promote human life.

A sense of fraternity between people and nations has been weakened with an erosion of mutual trust and "remains the unkept promise of modernity," Pope Francis said.

"The strengthening of fraternity, generated in the human family by the worship of God in spirit and truth, is the new frontier of Christianity," the pope said in a letter addressed to Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the pontifical academy.

Speaking to reporters at a Vatican news conference Jan. 15, Archbishop Paglia said the letter's title, "The Human Community," indicated how the pope wants pro-life concerns to include a concern for human relationships -- in the family, in society, among nations as well as with creation.

"Life is not an abstract universal concept, it is the human person," and the way human beings live embedded in a specific context interwoven with others, he said.

Christians must rebuild and strengthen human bonds and relationships, the archbishop said, because "the weakening of fraternity, whether we like it or not, contaminates all the human and life sciences."

The pope sent the letter to mark the 25th anniversary of the academy's establishment by St. John Paul II on Feb. 11, 1994.

St. John Paul, the pope said, recognized the "rapid and sweeping changes taking place in biomedicine" and saw the need for greater research, education and communication aimed at demonstrating "that science and technology, at the service of the human person and his fundamental rights, contribute to the overall good of man and to the fulfilment of the divine plan of salvation."

Pope Francis said the academy's new statutes, issued in 2016, were meant to encourage its activities, expand its fields to include the rapid and complex discoveries and changes unfolding in science, medicine and technology, and recognize the social and relational effects of these new developments.

Today, the pope wrote, the human dimension is being lost.

"Mutual distrust between individuals and peoples is being fed by an inordinate pursuit of self-interest and intense competition that can even turn violent. The gap between concern with one's own well-being and the prosperity of the larger human family seems to be stretching to the point of complete division," he wrote.

People's estranged or strained relationship with others and with the earth is "the result of the scarce attention paid to the decisive global issue of the unity of the human family and its future," the pope said. It reflects the existence of an actual "anti-culture," which is not only indifferent to the community, it is "hostile to men and women and in league with the arrogance of wealth."

Progress has produced a "paradox," he said. Just when humanity has developed the economic and technological resources that make caring for the whole human family and its home possible, "those same economic and technological resources are creating our most bitter divisions and our worst nightmares."

People's awareness of this paradox often leaves them "demoralized and disoriented, bereft of vision," he said, and in even greater need of the hope and joy offered by Christ and of a taste for the beauty of a life lived in fraternity with others on the earth as a common home.

"It is time for a new vision aimed at promoting a humanism of fraternity and solidarity between individuals and peoples," Pope Francis wrote. "We know that the faith and love needed for this covenant draw their power from the mystery of history's redemption in Jesus Christ."

But, he wrote, Christians must reflect whether they have been "seriously focused on the passion and joy of proclaiming God's love for the dwelling of his children on the earth? Or are they still overly focused on their own problems and on making timid accommodations to an essentially worldly outlook?"

"We can question seriously whether we have done enough as Christians to offer our specific contribution to a vision of humanity capable of upholding the unity of the family of peoples in today's political and cultural conditions," he said.

Perhaps, he said, "we have lost sight of its centrality, putting our ambition for spiritual hegemony over the governance of the secular city, concentrated as it is upon itself and its wealth, ahead of a concern for local communities inspired by the Gospel spirit of hospitality toward the poor and the hopeless."

The Pontifical Academy for Life has an important role to play in facing this difficult challenge, the pope said. Its scientific community has shown for the past 25 years how it can enter into dialogue with the world and "offer its own competent and respected contribution."

"A sign of this is its constant effort to promote and protect human life at every stage of its development, its condemnation of abortion and euthanasia as extremely grave evils that contradict the spirit of life and plunge us into the anti-culture of death," the pope wrote.

"These efforts must certainly continue, with an eye to emerging issues and challenges that can serve as an opportunity for us to grow in the faith, to understand it more deeply and to communicate it more effectively to the people of our time," he said.

Pope Francis expressed his hope that the academy would be "a place for courageous dialogue in the service of the common good," a dialogue unafraid of advancing "arguments and formulations that can serve as a basis for intercultural and interreligious, as well as interdisciplinary, exchanges" along with discussions about human rights and duties, "beginning with solidarity with those in greatest need."

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Editors: The pope's letter, "Humana Communitas" can be found in English at:
http://www.academyforlife.va/content/dam/pav/documenti%20pdf/
2019/LETTERA%20PAPA%2025anni/HC%20ENG_DEF_ENG_.pdf

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

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Bishops Express Dismay at Court Ruling Enjoining Moral and Religious Exemption to HHS Mandate

WASHINGTON–In response to Monday’s federal court ruling from Pennsylvania granting a nationwide injunction barring the broadened moral and religious exemption to the HHS mandate, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement:

“Yesterday’s court ruling freezing these common-sense regulations leaves those with conscientious or religious objections to the HHS mandate out in the cold. In a free country, no one should be forced to facilitate or fund things like contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs and devices, which go against their core beliefs. We pray that this decision will be appealed and that future courts will respect the free exercise arguments of the Little Sisters of the Poor and so many others who simply seek the freedom to serve their neighbors without the threat of massive government fines hanging over their heads.”

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Keywords: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, USCCB, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS mandate, Little Sisters of the Poor, abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, contraception, religious liberty, religious freedom, free exercise, freedom to serve

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Pope meets with Chilean bishops, discusses abuse crisis

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