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Survey: Number of Catholics concerned about Christian persecution rises

More than half of U.S. Catholics say they are very concerned about the persecution of Christians around the world, with this 58 percent figure up by 17 percent from a similar poll a year ago.

Pope to sign letter to young people at popular Marian sanctuary

The place Pope Francis chose to sign his letter to young people is an important and popular sanctuary housing the Holy House of Loreto.

To impeach or not impeach

One could argue there is strong evidence to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. But the question has to be asked: To what end? What would be accomplished?

To protect Earth, change lifestyles, say church, indigenous leaders

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Guatemalan Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini said he notices when he visits family in the U.S. that almost anywhere he goes, the lights seem to be on -- even in the daytime, even if there's enough natural light to illuminate a space.

To him, it signals a culture that he says has to change. Bishop Ramazzini and others who gathered at Georgetown University March 19-21 said the planet can no longer deal with the environmental disruptions such actions produce, leaving vulnerable populations reeling from their adverse consequences. And soon, they said, if nothing is done to curb those actions, no one will escape the consequences that result from such a culture of waste.

Bishop Ramazzini, along with other church leaders, members of indigenous communities, and environmental organizations related to the Catholic Church and other faith-based institutions, gathered in Washington in mid-March ahead of the October Synod of Bishops on the Amazon at the Vatican. Prelates and others at the synod will consider environmental situations in the Amazon and chart a plan of action.

Much of the work will keep in mind Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical "Laudato Si'," which speaks of consumerism and the environmental degradation it causes, such as global warming and displacement of indigenous communities, and calls people to action.

Patricia Gualinga, a member of the Kichwa indigenous community of Sarayaku, Ecuador, told those gathered not to say "those poor people," when referring to indigenous communities or disenfranchised groups such as the poor, who are now facing the consequences of environmental problems.

"Think of yourselves," she warned, because "those poor people" may refer to them and their neighbors someday soon when environmental problems arrive at their doorstep.

Participants at the Washington gathering looked at some of the data showing what can happen if places such as the Amazon keep experiencing deforestation at the current rate. The Amazon serves as the "world's lung," where global emissions of carbon dioxide can be turned into oxygen. Its deforestation is not just displacing indigenous communities who have long called the region home but may also accelerate the warming of the globe, leading to extreme weather patterns everywhere.

The church cares about such issues, said Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, because part of being a Christian means considering "the suffering of our brothers and sisters" and how they might be affected by people's own actions or habits.

Bishop Ramazzini offered as an example the manufactured need for the newest lines of smartphones, which render products released just a year earlier obsolete. The consumer does not stop to consider who might be sacrificing him or herself in another part of the world to manufacture those types of object others want, but do not need.

It's fair to question, then, whether a person who does not care about the well-being of others can be in communion with the church, Archbishop Hollerich said.

In terms of the environment and its relationship to God, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, said Christians must consider the environment as more than nature.

"It's creation. There is a Creator, and that Creator has given this (Earth) to us out of love," he said.

Caring for the planet carries out the culture of life that the church upholds, he said, and yet "we treat the earth, human beings, as if we're the owners, so we can dispose as we like."

Participants called for a shift, an "ecological conversion," that leads to a change of mind, but also a change of lifestyle, one that keeps the stewardship of the planet's resources in mind. They discussed a wide range of topics, including the role of women in the environmental movement; how the church can help indigenous populations facing violence during efforts to maintain their ancestral homes; poverty; and the social exclusion linked with environmental degradation; but also why these questions should matter to Christians and those who care about building a culture of life.

At least eight cardinals attended the Washington gathering, including Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, president of the Pan-Amazonian Church Network, which spearheaded the effort in Washington. The organization based in South America links indigenous communities and Catholic organizations in nine countries to respond to challenges facing those who live in the Amazon.

During a March 20 press conference at Georgetown, Cardinal Hummes said the synod is expected to yield concrete actions and indicate new paths of action.

Communities want action, he said, not just documents that will sit on bookshelves. They want a church that will walk with them, one that is close to them, and an effort to help the planet and humanity requires exactly that kind of solidarity, Cardinal Hummes said.

Yes, sometimes it feels as if such an effort is much like David facing Goliath, especially given the resources, and the grip a consumerist culture has on the world, Cardinal Hummes said.

"But there's an important detail: David won," he said.

 

 

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

Cardinal leaves hospital, continues recovery in rehabilitation program

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been discharged from St. Joseph Medical Center and "has entered a standard rehabilitation program" to continue his recovery from a mild stroke.

To protect Earth, change lifestyles, say church, indigenous leaders

Guatemalan Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini said he notices when he visits family in the U.S. that almost anywhere he goes, the lights seem to be on — even in the daytime, even if there's enough natural light to illuminate a space.

Polish cardinal, St. John Paul's aide, defends pontiff's record on abuse

A close aide to St. John Paul II has vigorously defended the late pope's handling of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and denied accusations that he ignored the problem during his 27-year pontificate.

Polish cardinal, St. John Paul's aide, defends pontiff's record on abuse

IMAGE: CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters

By Jonathan Luxmoore

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- A close aide to St. John Paul II has vigorously defended the late pope's handling of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and denied accusations that he ignored the problem during his 27-year pontificate.

"Emerging opinions that John Paul II was sluggish in guiding the church's response to sexual abuse of minors by some clerics are prejudicial and contrary to historical facts -- the pope was shocked and had no intention of tolerating the crime of pedophilia," said Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was the pontiff's personal secretary for 39 years.

St. John Paul saw how local churches "dealt with emerging problems and gave help when necessary, often at his own initiative."

The 79-year-old cardinal, who retired in 2016 after 11 years as archbishop of Krakow, was reacting to media criticisms that the Polish pontiff failed to confront abuse claims when they became widespread in the 1980s.

In a March 20 statement to Poland's Catholic Information Agency, KAI, he said the pope had concluded "new tools were needed" when the abuse crisis "began to ferment" in the United States.

He added that the saint had given church leaders new powers to combat it, including indults, or special licenses to ensure "a policy of zero tolerance," for the U.S. and Irish churches in 1994 and 1996.

"These were, for the bishops, an unambiguous indication of the direction in which they should fight," Cardinal Dziwisz said.

"When it became clear local episcopates and religious superiors were still unable to cope with the problem, and the crisis was spreading to other countries, he recognized it concerned not just the Anglo-Saxon world but had a global character," the cardinal said.

Criticisms of St John Paul's record have increased in recent months.

A March 16 commentary in Britain's Catholic weekly, The Tablet, said St. John Paul advanced several cardinals accused ignoring sexual abuse, including U.S. Cardinals Bernard F. Law and Theodore E. McCarrick, Austrian Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer and Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien.

The commentary added that the pope's "turning a blind eye to sexual abuse" had been shaped by communist-era experiences in Poland and had caused "the mess the church is in today."

However, in his statement, Cardinal Dziwisz said St. John Paul had promulgated legal norms of "groundbreaking importance" for tackling abuse crimes in May 2001 -- a year before "a wave of revelations" in the U.S. -- requiring sexual abuse committed by clergy be referred to the Vatican's Apostolic Court.

He added that the pope had presented his own analysis of the crisis to U.S. cardinals in April 2002 following the publication of "Spotlight" claims and had also "known and approved" the launch of Vatican investigations in December 2004 against Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, the Mexican head of the Legionaries of Christ.

"To this day, this analysis serves as a reference point for all those committed to fighting against the crime of sexual abuse of minors by clerics," said Cardinal Dziwisz, who also defended St. John Paul's record in a Polish TV interview during a February Vatican summit on protection of minors.

"It helps diagnose the crisis and indicates the way out, and this has been confirmed by the Vatican summit convened by Pope Francis, who is following with determination the path of his predecessors in fighting against this problem."

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

Bishops say 'sweeping regulations' of Equality Act will harm society

In a joint letter to Congress, the chairmen of three committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said they oppose the Equality Act because it would impose "sweeping regulations to the detriment of society."

'This is my beloved, listen to him'

The Peace Pulpit: This is what we must try to do now during this season of Lent — listen deeply, intently to the Word of God. Isn't it true we need this message more than ever because there is so much violence, such a spirit of hatred in our world.