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Posted on 09/22/2018 23:31 PM (CNA Daily News)
Honolulu, Hawaii, Sep 22, 2018 / 04:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Hawaii law requiring pro-life doctors and pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion was struck down by a federal district court Thursday.
“Hawaii’s pro-life, nonprofit pregnancy centers offer free practical resources, information, and emotional support to women—no matter what choices those women make,” said Derald Skinner, pastor of Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor and president of “A Place for Women in Waipio,” one of the pregnancy centers involved in the case.
“We’re grateful that the state has backed off its unconstitutional attack on our ministry,” Skinner said in a press release. “Our doors remain open and we continue to offer love, care, and compassion for all women and their precious little babies in our community.”
The case involved a Hawaii law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to notify clients about state programs offering free or low-cost “comprehensive family planning services,” including abortion.
The law was challenged by Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor’s pregnancy center, “A Place for Women in Waipio,” as well as the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), which has five affiliated pregnancy centers in the state.
NIFLA was involved in a similar case over the summer, with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in its favor in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra.
That decision, a 5-4 ruling in June, blocked a California law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to post information on state programs to obtain a free or low-cost abortion. The Supreme Court sent the case back to a lower court to be reconsidered, saying, “We hold that petitioners are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the FACT Act violates the First Amendment.”
The Hawaii decision, Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor v. Suzuki, cited the Supreme Court’s ruling in striking down the Hawaii regulation.
NIFLA President Thomas Glessner called the ruling “a major victory for free speech and freedom of religion.”
“Hawaii’s law was particularly egregious,” he said in a statement. “Not only did it force pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion, it also compelled a church to promote abortion inside its building.”
The pro-life centers were represented in the case by Alliance Defending Freedom. Kevin Theriot, senior counsel with the alliance and vice president of the Center for Life, praised the court’s ruling.
“No one should be forced by the government to express a message that violates his or her beliefs, especially on deeply divisive subjects like abortion,” he said.
“In NIFLA v. Becerra, the Supreme Court affirmed that we don’t force people to say things they don’t believe. For that reason, the district court was correct to permanently halt Hawaii’s enforcement of Act 200’s compelled speech requirement.”
Posted on 09/22/2018 21:54 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 22, 2018 / 02:54 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- During his first speech in the Baltics Saturday, Pope Francis told Lithuanian authorities to take pride in their country’s history of welcoming people of different faiths and ethnicities.
“All found a place to live in this land,” the pope said Sept. 22. “Lithuanians, Tartars, Poles, Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Armenians, Germans … Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Old Catholics, Muslims, Jews – lived together in peace until the arrival of totalitarian ideologies that, by sowing violence and lack of trust, undermined its ability to accept and harmonize differences.”
He encouraged Lithuanians to draw strength from their past by recovering their roots of welcoming and keeping alive “all that continues to be most authentic and distinctive about you, everything that enabled you to grow and not succumb as a nation: tolerance, hospitality, respect and solidarity.”
Pope Francis was in Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, for the start of his four-day trip to the Baltic States. His visit falls during the 100th anniversary of the states’ declaration of independence. They had been previously part of the Russian Empire.
They became part of Soviet Union in 1940-1941, endured Nazi domination in 1940-1944, and were returned to the Soviet Union in 1945. In 1991, they regained democratic independence.
The centenary, the pope said, is a “particularly important moment in your life as a nation.”
“It has been a century marked by your bearing numerous trials and sufferings: detentions,
deportations, even martyrdom,” he said. “Celebrating the hundredth anniversary of independence means taking time to stop and revive the memory of all those experiences.”
“In this way, you will be in touch with everything that forged you as a nation, and thus find the key to assessing present challenges and looking to the future in a spirit of dialogue and unity with all those who dwell here, careful to ensure that no one remains excluded.”
After his meeting with the Lithuanian president, authorities, civil society, and diplomatic corps, the pope walked through the streets of the Old City to the Gate of Dawn, one of the ancient points of access to Vilnius.
There, he prayed a decade of the rosary led by Lithuanian children and gave a speech before the revered icon of Mary, Mother of Mercy.
Referring to the image, he said, “this Mother without Child, radiant with gold, is the Mother of everyone. She sees in every person who comes here what we ourselves fail so often to see: the face of her Son Jesus impressed on our heart.”
He said that because Jesus is impressed on the heart of every man and woman, in every person one encounters it is possible to encounter God, “when we close our hearts for fear of others, when we build walls and barricades, we end up depriving ourselves of the Good News of Jesus, who shares in the history and the lives of others.”
Today is felt the need to look at one another as brothers and sisters, “to discover and experience with joy and peace the value of fraternity,” he continued.
“The Mother of Mercy, like every good mother, tries to bring her family together. She whispers in our ear: ‘Look for your brother, look for your sister.’ In this way, she opens to us the door to a new dawn, a new day.”
The pope concluded his first day in the Baltics with an encounter with youth outside the Vilnius cathedral. There he also venerated the original image of Divine Mercy, usually kept inside Holy Trinity Church.
During the meeting with youth he heard testimonies from two young people, Jonas and Monica, telling them to not ever be afraid “to put your trust in Jesus, to embrace his cause, the cause of the Gospel.”
“It is true that believing in Jesus can often demand taking a leap of blind faith, and this can be frightening,” he said. “But stand firm! Following Jesus is a passionate adventure that gives meaning to our lives and makes us feel part of a community that encourages and accompanies us, and commits us to the service of others.”
“Dear young people, following Christ is something worthwhile!” he said, and stressed that they should not let the world tell them it is better to do everything on their own. “Don’t yield to the temptation of getting caught up in yourself, ending up selfish or superficial in the face of sorrow, difficulty or temporary success.”
He said identity is found in being part of a people, a culture, and though it is at times painful, it is also beautiful and encouraged those present to “aim for holiness through your encounters and your fellowship with other people; be attentive to their needs.”
After the meeting, the pope stopped inside the Cathedral Basilica of St. Stanislaus and St. Ladislaus to pray before the tomb of St. Casimir.
Posted on 09/22/2018 21:36 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 22, 2018 / 02:36 pm (CNA).- Traveling Saturday to Lithuania, Pope Francis joked that, in the eyes of some, Pope St. John Paul II is considered a saint while he himself is considered “a devil.”
The pope’s joke came amidst a Sept. 22 conversation with journalists, the Associated Press reported, during which he was presented a book about Pope St. John Paul II, written by long-time papal photographer Grzegorz Galazka.
Francis joked as he examined the book, reportedly telling reporters “[John Paul II] was a saint, I am a devil.”
“No, you are both saints!” Galazka responded.
The pope has shown a similar penchant for self-deprecating humor in the past.
Talking with reporters in August, he said his role in securing Italy’s reception of controversial controversial migrants had been that of “the devil’s paw.”
In January, Francis joked with cloistered nuns in Peru that they had come to hear him speak only “to get out of the convent a bit to take a stroll.”
In 2015, Pope Francis reportedly joked with then-Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa. After a visit, Correa tweeted that Pope Francis had made a joke based on stereotypes about Argentine vanity. “Being Argentine, they thought I would call myself Jesus II,” Francis reportedly told Correa.
The pope’s trip to Lithuania is the start of a four-day trip through the Baltic states, during which Pope Francis will visit Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, before returning to Rome Sept. 25.
Posted on 09/22/2018 18:39 PM (CNA Daily News)
Dallas, Texas, Sep 22, 2018 / 11:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Hispanic community in the United States produces many fruits, but must be careful to water the roots, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, warned the crowd at V Encuentro.
Cantú, along with Cardinal Blaise Cupich of Chicago, and three lay speakers on a panel, spent the morning praising the unique gifts of the Hispanic community in the United States, but cautioned against growing too complacent in their faith and ignoring the potential of young people.
Bishop Cantú, who is in the process of transferring to the San Jose diocese in California, related his experience living in Las Cruces with the current state of the Church in the United States and the Latino community in particular.
In Las Cruces, Cantú encountered a tumbleweed for the first time--a plant that had dried up and detached from its root system and literally tumbled away.
“I wonder sometimes, reflecting on a very changed world, a world that is changing before our very eyes--so rapidly and so drastically, said Cantú.
“I wonder and I worry, sometimes: Are we becoming spiritual tumbleweeds?”
One risks becoming a “spiritual tumbleweed,” he said, if their roots are not sufficiently deep during a dry season, the bishop explained. He spoke during a panel for the National V Encuentro, a gathering of Hispanic Catholics throughout the United States.
“And the dry season is here, my friends, and it will be a long one,” said Cantú. Now is the time, he said, for people to “dig deep so that our roots may find water, that our roots may find living water.”
Cantú recounted a story from his time in seminary, when he accidentally genuflected when entering a row in a movie theater. He said that people today long for something sacred within their “spiritual DNA,” and when they do not encounter this, they end up treating the non-sacred objects things as if they are in fact sacred.
“People are not finding what is truly sacred,” he said, and “because they encounter you and me, that are supposed to show signs of the sacred, and maybe they don't see it.”
People should strive to tap their roots into the “living water” in order to produce sacred fruit, Cantú advised the crowd.
“The human heart still yearns for what is beautiful, for what is truly beautiful, for what is good, and for what is true. We have that. The church has what is truly good, what is truly beautiful and good. His name is Jesus Christ.”
After Cantú spoke, he appeared on a panel with three laypeople--Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services; Brenda Noriega, Young Adults Ministry Coordinator, Diocese of San Bernardino; and Wanda Vásquez, Hispanic Ministry Director, Archdiocese of New York--where they discussed the fruits that had emerged from the four-year V Encuentro process.
Vásquez said it was “amazing” how people came together, and how the eight dioceses in her Encuentro region were able to work alongside each other during the planning stages. She particularly highlighted how the more experienced people were able to share their expertise with younger members, and that while “we are a young church, but we also are an experienced Church.”
Cantú and Noriega both said that young Hispanics need to be included in leadership positions and reminded of their particular talents. Noriega first began working in Hispanic ministry for her diocese at the age of 25, and she reiterated that it was extremely important to “make sure young people are sat at the table” and given positions on things like parish councils.
Cantú said that he often encounters discouraged youth, and that he himself felt similar growing up in a time where “it was a liability to be Hispanic.” He said that when he was applying to seminary, he was praised by a religious sister for being bilingual and fully immersed in two cultures. This sister told him that he would be “a gift to the Church,” and that he hopes the larger Latino community will “never forget that you are a blessing to the Church.”
Callahan reminded the crowd to keep their doors open to the stranger, and to also be cautious about identifying only as “Hispanic Catholics.” He believes the Latino Catholic community has the ability to lift up the entire Church, and should take steps to build bridges with the rest of the Church in the United States.
He advised people that even though the attendees of the non-Spanish Masses at a parish may look different from them, they should go out of their way to interact with them and get to know them.
“Let’s build a united church, so we can start lifting up everyone in the Catholic Church in the United States,” said Callahan, to loud applause.
Cupich, who led the morning prayer, had a slightly more optimistic look on the future of the Church than Cantú. Cupich said that he feels the Church in the United States is experiencing a “new birth,” and the Latino community is a big part of this panel. The cardinal was critical of what he called an “overly rational, logical, cerebral” approach to God in American culture, and that “faith is not only about what we hold, but it is about who holds us.”
This, explained Cupich, is where Latino culture comes in.
“The Latino experience is reminding us that faith is not only about what we hold, but who holds us,” he said.
Cupich said that while like in any birth there are “pains” and “sacrifices,” but he is convinced that the Church, as well as non-Catholic Americans, “will one day look back at the contributi you (Latinos) are making to our faith, and yes, to our nation, and rejoice at the new birth that has taken place.”
Posted on 09/22/2018 13:22 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Sep 22, 2018 / 06:22 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After the signing Saturday of a provisional Vatican-China deal on the nomination of bishops, the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ recognition of seven illicitly ordained Chinese bishops.
The decision was made “with a view to sustaining the proclamation of the Gospel in China,” according to a Sept. 22 Vatican press brief.
Those bishops who will now be admitted to full communion with the Church are Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai of Rehe; Bishop Joseph Huang Bingzhang of Shantou; Bishop Paul Lei Shiyin of Jiading; Bishop Joseph Liu Xinhong of Wuhu; Metropolitan Archishop Joseph Ma Yinglin of Kunming; Bishop Joseph Yue Fusheng, apostolic administrator of Harbin; and Bishop Vincent Zhan Silu of Funing.
The pope also recognized Bishop Anthony Tu Shihua, who died on Jan. 4, 2017, but, according to the press release, “had expressed the desire to be reconciled with the Apostolic See” before his death.
The statement expressed Francis’ hope that the decision to recognize the bishops, who were ordained by the Chinese government without permission from Rome, would begin a new process “that will allow the wounds of the past to be overcome, leading to the full communion of all Chinese Catholics.”
The Catholic Community in China “is called to live a more fraternal collaboration, in order to promote with renewed commitment, the proclamation of the Gospel,” he continued. “In fact, the Church exists to give witness to Jesus Christ and to the forgiving and salvific love of the Father.”
Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sent a statement commenting on the provisional agreement between the Vatican and China, saying, “today, for the first time all the Bishops in China are in communion with the Bishop of Rome, with the Successor of Peter.”
“Pope Francis, like his immediate Predecessors, looks with particular care to the Chinese People,” he noted. “What is required now is unity, is trust and a new impetus; to have good Pastors, recognized by the Successor of Peter – by the Pope – and by the legitimate civil Authorities.”
Addressing the Catholic community in China, including priests, bishops, religious, and laity, he said the pope asks, “above all, the commitment to make concrete fraternal gestures of reconciliation among themselves, and so to overcome past misunderstandings, past tensions, even the recent ones.”
Parolin said the objective of the deal is pastoral and meant to create greater freedom and autonomy for the Church in China, to aid its mission of spreading the Gospel. Signing the agreement is “of great importance, especially for the life of the Church in China,” he said.
It was also announced Sept. 22 that Pope Francis has established a new diocese in China, “the Diocese of Chengde,” as a suffragan diocese of the See of Beijing, for “the pastoral care of the Lord’s flock and to attend with greater efficacy to is spiritual good.”
Its cathedral will be the church of Jesus the Good Shepherd, which is situated in the administrative division of Shuangluan, “Chengde City.”
According to the statement the diocese's territory will be defined by the civil boundaries of "Chengde City" and will require the modification of the dioceses of Jehol/Jinzhou and Chifeng, as a portion of each will become part of the new diocese.
The new diocese will be composed of roughly 15,000 square miles with a population of around 3.7 million. There are estimated to be around 25,000 Catholics in 12 parishes served by seven priests.
Posted on 09/22/2018 13:19 PM (CNA Daily News)
Dallas, Texas, Sep 22, 2018 / 06:19 am (CNA/EWTN News).- While the so-called summer of scandals has hit the Church hard both in the United States and throughout the world, the faith of Catholics at the National V Encuentro in Grapevine, Texas, remains largely unshaken.
“We’re heartbroken from what we found out, because it doesn’t move my faith,” Rocio Portillo, an Encuentro participant from Las Vegas, told CNA. “It doesn’t move my belief in my Church, and I’m really proud to be Catholic and to be brought up in that faith and to bring that to my children.”
The National V Encuentro, held Sept. 20-23, is the culmination of a years-long process at the parish, diocesan and regional levels of listening to and empowering Hispanic and Latino Catholics.
The public disclosure of allegations of sexual misconduct against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick in June 2018 triggered a succession of public accusations that McCarrick had sexually assaulted or abused seminarians and priests over a period of decades, as well as a further accusation that he had sexually abused a minor.
Since then, numerous bishops in the United States and Rome have faced questions about when accusations against McCarrick had first been made known to Church authorities, and how he had been allowed to continue in ministry despite widespread rumors of his misconduct.
In the midst of this, a grand jury report detailing hundreds of cases of clerical sexual abuse in six diocese in Pennsylvania was published. While the scandals have not been the focus of the V Encuentro meeting, they have been mentioned numerous times in talks and among participants.
“My friends, we know that this is also a time of pain in our mother Church...as bishops, we have fallen short of what God expects of His shepherds,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the U.S. Bishop’s Conference and head of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, said in his opening remarks at Encuentro on Sept. 20.
“For this, we again ask forgiveness from both the Lord and those who have been harmed, and from you, the People of God. May God grant us the wisdom and resolve to reform and renew His Church. We will continue to support survivors of abuse in their healing. We also commit to stronger protections to ensure the evil of sexual assault and abuse of all kinds is rooted from the Church,” he said.
“Amidst this darkness, the Encuentro is a light that shines and illuminates the way forward. The enthusiasm, the passion, the love, and the joy of the Encuentro process is a means of grace, a gift to us as we rebuild the Church,” he added.
Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio also addressed the scandals in his opening remarks on Thursday, telling participants that they “are right to be heartbroken by the faults of your shepherds,” he said.
“In the reading of God’s word that we have just heard, Saint Peter tells us that we ‘share Christ’s sufferings,’” he added. “Let us pray to God for the victims of the crimes that led to this crisis. Do everything you can for the healing of all the victims of these abuses. And pray also for the perpetrators and for us, your shepherds.”
Fr. José Carlos, a priest from Hobbes, New Mexico, reiterated to CNA that Encuentro delegates have to be “a light in the darkness.”
Carlos Mendez, and Encuentro delegate from Los Angeles, told CNA that the scandals “would not reduce my faith at all, because I follow the Church, I don’t follow the deeds of other people."
Alfredo Portillo, Encuentro delegate from Las Vegas, told CNA that while he is saddened by the news of scandals that seems to come “every day,” he was encouraged by what he saw at the Encuentro meeting.
“I think this came at a perfect moment,” he told CNA. “And from this something new is going to grow, and it’s much needed. This is just a great moment for the Church in the whole world.”
Posted on 09/22/2018 11:39 AM (CNA Daily News)
Beijing, China, Sep 22, 2018 / 04:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- An expected agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China on the appointment of bishops was signed Saturday in Beijing, the Vatican announced.
A Sept. 22 communique said that a meeting was held in which a “Provisional Agreement” was signed concerning “the nomination of Bishops, a question of great importance for the life of the Church,” and creating “the conditions for greater collaboration at the bilateral level.”
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the deal is the beginning, not the end, of a process of dialogue between people from “very different standpoints.”
He said the objective of the accord is “not political but pastoral” and will allow “the faithful to have bishops who are communion with Rome but at the same time recognized by Chinese authorities.”
It was signed by the heads of the Vatican and Chinese delegations: the Vatican undersecretary for Relations with States, Mons. Antoine Camilleri; and Wang Chao, the deputy minister for foreign affairs of the People’s Republic of China.
The announcement did not provide details on the content of the agreement but said it “is the fruit of a gradual and reciprocal rapprochement, has been agreed following a long process of careful negotiation, and foresees the possibility of periodic reviews of its application.”
“The shared hope,” it continued, “is that this agreement may favor a fruitful and forward-looking process of institutional dialogue and may contribute positively to the life of the Catholic Church in China, to the common good of the Chinese people and to peace in the world.”
Earlier this week, the Global Times (a newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party) reported that Chinese government sources have “stressed that the ongoing negotiations [between the Vatican and China] will stay on the religious level, and will not touch on any diplomatic issue such as the establishment of diplomatic ties between Beijing and the Vatican.”
Past reports on the deal have indicated the substance could be to give the Chinese government some power over episcopal appointments in exchange for bringing the underground Church above ground, ending the split with the state-sanctioned Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.
The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association is under the day-to-day direct supervision of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) due to a major change in March 2018 in which the Chinese government shifted direct control of religious affairs to the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department (UFWD).
Some of the bishops appointed by the Chinese government in the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association also serve as members of the Chinese Communist Party’s National People’s Congress.
New regulations on religious practice in China went into effect in February 2018 that codify the increased scrutiny and pressure on religious activities in China. On September 10, the Chinese government placed further restrictions on evangelization, making it illegal for any religious prayers, catechesis or preaching to be published online. This is being enforced via the country’s extensive internet censorship.
Posted on 09/22/2018 11:26 AM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Sep 22, 2018 / 04:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A new Netflix documentary claims to show both sides of the abortion debate in the U.S., but pro-life advocates say the film depicts old stereotypes and ignores the many women leading the modern pro-life movement.
“In so many cases, it is women who are at the forefront of the movement to value and protect every human life. Sadly, that fact was left out of the documentary,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life.
“Had it been included, viewers would have been given the chance to see that the pro-life movement is fundamentally pro-women, because every abortion harms both mother and unborn child,” she said in a statement to CNA.
According to Netflix, the new documentary “Reversing Roe” seeks to offer “candid and riveting interviews with key figures from both sides of the divide” over abortion. Created by filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, a major focus of the film is the historical development of today’s polarized political views on abortion in the U.S. The movie premiered on September 13.
The documentary includes interviews from abortion advocates including doctor Colleen McNicholas and feminist leader Gloria Steinem, as well as pro-life advocates such as Operation Rescue President Troy Newman and National Right to Life President Carol Tobias.
Critics of the film note that appearances by abortion advocates far outnumber appearances by pro-life advocates, and three of the four pro-life individuals featured in the documentary are white males.
Several prominent women in the pro-life movement say they were contacted by the filmmakers, and in some cases spent multiple hours or days talking to the camera crew, but were not included at all in the final documentary. In addition to Mancini, these women include Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, founder of New Wave Feminists; Catherine Foster, president of Americans United for Life; and Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee who runs And Then There Were None.
“What a waste of their time, actually, to spend two and a half days with me and these other amazing pro-life women and not to use any of that footage,” said Johnson, who founded And Then There Were None as a nonprofit that helps abortion workers leave the industry.
Johnson noted that diverse women were included among the abortion advocates filmed, but the pro-life perspective was largely limited to white men. She suggested that filmmakers were intentional in how they chose to portray the pro-life movement.
“Being a feminist and being pro-life – that those two things go hand-in-hand – that’s something that they outright reject because it does not fit the narrative that they have been trying to put forward for the past almost 46 years.”
She said advocates of abortion often present “this idea that the pro-life movement is out of touch with women and that it is only men who are speaking about abortion in the pro-life movement… That is not true, a majority of national pro-life organizations are led by women.”
Also overlooked was Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, president of New Wave Feminists, a secular, feminist organization that was removed from the official list of sponsors for the Women’s March on Washington 2017 because of its pro-life stance.
“When we look at these feminist issues through a pro-life lens, I think you get a very refreshing and different take, but they weren’t interested in a refreshing and different take - they were interested in the stale, old narrative that this is completely religious, that …it’s men trying to control women’s bodies,” Herndon-De La Rosa told CNA.
She said the film offers an outdated and inaccurate illustration of the pro-life movement, featuring pro-life leaders from the ‘80s and ‘90s and highlighting extremists who have been involved with abortion clinic violence.
“They didn’t have anyone who broke the mold, so it was very clear that a pierced, tattooed, purple-haired feminist didn’t fit the narrative that they were looking for,” she said, describing herself.
“To act as though this is only a religious issue or to act as this is only a male-dominated issue, it’s disingenuous to the American people and a big chunk of American women who do hold these pro-life views.”
Posted on 09/22/2018 04:22 AM (CNA Daily News)
Dallas, Texas, Sep 21, 2018 / 09:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Most, if not every, diocese in the United States has some sort of prison ministry. Most do not have a detention center ministry to tend to the spiritual needs of minors detained by the the U.S. Border Patrol.
The Diocese of Brownsville, located in southern Texas along the U.S./Mexico border, isn’t like most dioceses.
While the diocese had been providing services to the detention centers for a long time, Bishop Daniel Flores told CNA that things started to change about four years ago when the number of unaccompanied minors detained at the border started to swell.
“We’ve always had numbers,” Flores said, but 2014 saw a major influx in the number of unaccompanied minors from Central America attempting to cross the U.S. border. This increase in the number of people sparked a realization that something had to be done to care for the unusually high number of people in detention.
"So our prison ministry, you know, kind of morphed into more of a detention center ministry,” Flores told CNA during a closed session with the media at the National V Encuentro conference in Grapevine, Texas on Sept. 21.
This “detention center ministry” would consist of teams who would go into the centers, determine who was there, and then create some sort of spiritual offering.
These teams would “develop opportunities to go in and either offer catechesis or say Mass or hear confessions” as part of an ongoing process to minister to those in the center. This process is “ongoing,” Flores told CNA.
While the diocese tries to have some sort of presence at the centers, this can be challenging due to changes in policy over time.
“The circumstances changes, because, I’ll be honest, the government sometimes changes the rules,” said Flores, “and we try to respect that but we also kind of ask questions” as to why the changes are being made.
Despite this, Flores said the diocese has “very good cooperation” with the centers and is able to address the needs of those who are detained.
“I think the people who work at the detention centers, for the most part, that I know, recognize that it’s important that these young people have access to somebody who can help them have hope and can follow up on their cases,” explained Flores.
This ministry, while important, is “really serious commitment of time,” and is carried out by priests, religious, and laypeople. Flores credited the laypeople who volunteer their time as those “who really make the effort.”
Flores also praised the Latin American apostolic movements that have taken root in the United States for assisting with this effort.
Each minor’s experience in the detention center is different. Some may be there for weeks, and others for months, depending on the circumstances of their case.
The diocese attempts to extend this ministry even after the minors are released from custody. Flores said that after a minor leaves the center, they will attempt to contact a group or charity (such as Catholic Charities) in their destination that will keep tabs on the minor once they arrive.
“It's good to get a phone call that's not asking 'where are your documents?',” said Flores. “It's a phone call (asking) 'how are you doing, and can we help you with something?”
“That makes a big difference."
Posted on 09/22/2018 01:01 AM (CNA Daily News)
Culiacan, Mexico, Sep 21, 2018 / 06:01 pm (ACI Prensa).- The Mexican bishops' conference called for solidarity Friday with the thousands of people affected by heavy rains and flooding in Sinaloa state, which has been declared in a state of emergency by the authorities.
“In concern for the state of Sinaloa which is suffering from the damage left by the heavy rains over the last hours by the tropical depression19-E and its downpour September 19 and 20, we express our communion, joining in prayer,” states the Sept. 21 communiqué.
So far 11 out of Sinaloa's municipios have been affected, as well as several municipalities in neighboring Sonora.
The rains from the tropical depression have caused damage to homes, cars, and farmland, and the evacuation of about 16,000 people.
The bishops' statement indicated that over 32,000 acres of crops have also been seriously damaged in the Carrizo Valley and El Fuerte.
The bishops noted in their statement that “Sinaloa has always been in solidarity with our country in different contingencies and so we ask you to join, with a merciful gesture, a generous spirit and fraternal charity, the special collection in support of our brothers to aid and accompany them now and in the subsequent phases of rehabilitation and reconstruction.”
“We are entrusting to our Caritas Mexico the mission of receiving and transferring funds in order to respond to this emergency,” the statement says.
“We place our brothers in Sinaloa and Sonora under the protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe,” the communiqué concludes.
This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.