February 14, 2024 // National

News Briefs: February 18, 2024

Financial Aid Available for National Eucharistic Congress

INDIANAPOLIS (OSV News) – Organizers of the National Eucharistic Congress are making it easier for cash-strapped Catholic families to attend the July 17-21 gathering in Indianapolis. Aid for the congress, which will cap the National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year grassroots initiative launched in June of 2022 under the U.S. Catholic bishops, is now available through a new “Solidarity Fund.” Applicants who can demonstrate need, especially those from underrepresented areas and groups, will be awarded assistance to cover the cost of passes to the congress. Applicants must be prepared to secure their own lodging for the congress. “Led by our bishops, we have raised nearly $1 million to give away so people from all over the country can join us in Indianapolis and return home filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to bring renewal to their families, churches, and communities,” Kris Frank, Vice President of Growth and Marketing for the National Eucharistic Congress, told OSV News. The online application for the Solidary Fund can be found at eucharisticcongress.org/solidarity-fund.

Pope: To Ignore Human Trafficking Is to Be Complicit

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The fight against human trafficking can be won, but it requires eliminating the root causes of the problem, Pope Francis said. Calling for action, the pope appealed for the mobilization of “all our resources in combating trafficking and restoring full dignity to those who have been its victims,” he said in a written message for International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking, observed annually on February 8. “If we close our eyes and ears, if we do nothing, we will be guilty of complicity,” he wrote. The day of prayer is held on the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped by slave traders in Sudan in the late 1870s and sold into slavery before she eventually secured her freedom and became a religious sister in Italy. “Let us remember the wrong she endured, her suffering, but at the same time her strength and her journey of liberation and rebirth to a new life,” the pope wrote. “St. Bakhita encourages us to open our eyes and ears to see those who go unseen and to hear those who have no voice, to acknowledge the dignity of each person, and to fight trafficking and all forms of exploitation,” the pope wrote.

Seattle Archdiocese Announces Plan for  ‘Parish Families’

SEATTLE (OSV News) – On Saturday, February 3, Archbishop Paul D. Etienne released the final list of parish families as part of the Archdiocese of Seattle’s “Partners in the Gospel” strategic planning initiative. More than 170 parishes, missions, and stations have been grouped into 60 parish families – two or more parishes under the leadership of one pastor. The families go into effect on July 1. “This final list of families comes after a year of consultation with the archdiocese’s Presbyteral Council, the Partners in the Gospel Oversight Committee, priests, deacons, parish and school staff, lay leaders, and the public,” officials with the archdiocese said in a note accompanying the list. In a letter to the Catholic community, Archbishop Etienne expressed appreciation to “the thousands of people who engaged in the consultation process by providing insights during the input phase, sharing new ideas and praying for this renewal effort.” Officials with the archdiocese announced that each parish family will decide on its own how to use its buildings, where Masses will be held at different locations, or whether current individual churches will close altogether.

New Study Explores Faith Habits of Catholic Adults

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – As about 15 percent of U.S. adults who were raised Catholic said they had remained practicing Catholics attending weekly Mass into adulthood, researchers at Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and the Peyton Institute for Domestic Church Life conducted the “Future Faithful Families Project” study to examine commonalities in families with children who remained Catholic as adults. The study found participants from these families generally described their households as “warmer and more affectionate than the average family,” with “very good communication,” listening to questions and concerns, rituals of meals eaten together, and faith-filled family routines. Participants emphasized the importance of weekly Mass attendance, and nearly all participants reported doing service work and giving to charity, with many doing so through their parish or a church organization. Mark Gray, Director of CARA Catholic Polls, told OSV News the findings from these qualitative interviews were not meant to be taken as some sort of “checklist” of things to keep one’s child Catholic, but parents could gain insight from the common responses.

USCCB Chairman Criticizes Proposed Immigration Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – While reiterating support for bipartisan cooperation that leads to immigration reform, Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, asserted that the bill now before the U.S. Senate is “flawed, both in terms of substance and form.” In a letter to Senate leadership, Bishop Seitz, who serves as Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, expressed serious concerns about some of the migration-related provisions included in the Senate’s version of the Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2024. Taking no position on the overall measure, Bishop Seitz stated: “We welcome and encourage genuine bipartisan cooperation to address the challenges of our time, but we believe this effort to make sweeping changes to immigration law – particularly in the context of this supplemental funding bill – is flawed, both in terms of substance and form. … Several changes proposed in this bill would unjustly undermine due process and pave the way for avoidable and potentially life-threatening harm to be inflicted on vulnerable persons seeking humanitarian protection in the United States. As shepherds committed to defending the sanctity of human life and upholding the God-given dignity of all, we implore you to reject those changes,” he wrote. In his letter, Bishop Seitz addressed several specific provisions that warranted concern, including those that would severely limit due process for noncitizens, make it even more difficult than it already is under current law for those with bona fide asylum claims to pursue protection in the United States, and create the opportunity for harmful, arbitrary, and counterproductive treatment of vulnerable persons. “We cannot achieve the necessary reform of our immigration system without authentic bipartisanship,” Bishop Seitz concluded, calling for a “transparent, well-informed, bicameral, and truly bipartisan approach” to immigration reform.

Missouri Bishop, Pro-Life Outreach Earn Wins in Super Bowl Wager

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (OSV News) – On Sunday, February 11, the Kansas City Chiefs claimed their second straight NFL championship by beating the San Francisco 49ers in overtime at Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. Before the game, the archbishops of the respective cities engaged in a good-natured – and charitable – wager on the game. Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco and Bishop James V. Johnston of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, agreed to pay up in seafood and steak if their team lost. Both prelates also agreed to wager with a different endgame: a donation to the local pro-life organization of the winner’s choice. The Chiefs’ win ended up being a victory, as well, for Patti Lewis, a cardiology nurse and founder of Alexandra’s House in Kansas City, Missouri. The funds to be donated by Archbishop Cordileone, Lewis said, will further the work of the perinatal hospice she opened in 1997 in honor of her niece, who had died three years earlier from a rare genetic syndrome just 45 days after birth. Lewis told OSV News she will be grateful for any donation resulting from the bishops’ wager.

First responders inspect a mudslide in Studio City, Calif., Feb. 5, 2024, following heavy rains and flooding. One of the wettest storms in Southern California history unleashed at least 475 mudslides in the Los Angeles area after dumping more than half the amount of rainfall the city typically gets in a season in just two days, and officials warned Feb. 6 that the threat was not over yet. (OSV News photo/Aude Guerrucci, Reuters)

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