March 10, 2018 // World News

News Briefs: March 11, 2018

A painting of Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande is seen in the rectory of San Jose Church in the town of Aguilares, El Salvador. Father Grande was killed 40 years ago, March 12, 1977, while on his way to a novena. (CNS photo/Octavio Duran)

Jesuit colleges to Congress on gun control: ‘Fix this’

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In a Feb. 28 open letter to President Donald Trump and members of Congress, Jesuit Father Michael Sheeran, president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, urged U.S. leaders to listen to the teens who survived the Parkland, Florida, school shooting and help them “fix this” plague of gun violence in the country. “We adults have repeatedly failed to fix this singularly American phenomenon,” said the priest on behalf of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S. He called the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a national tragedy but also said that since it occurred, there have been signs of hope through the voices of its “poised, articulate young survivors.” Father Sheeran said “ending the horrific mass killings in our schools and streets is a great thing we all are called to do” and he urged the president and members of Congress to “to listen and to fix this indeed.” The Sisters of Bon Secours similarly urged political leaders to take action against gun violence, calling for among other things universal background checks and banning civilian ownership of high-capacity weapons and magazines. On the state level, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago urged Illinois legislators to enact restrictions to curtail gun violence particularly after the Parkland shooting.

Bishop listens to DACA recipients’ stories, says: ‘We are with you’

CAMDEN, N.J. (CNS) — Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan of Camden sat at a round table as 16 individuals made their way into the conference room. Once all of his guests arrived, he made his way around the room, asking each individual’s name, shaking hands, welcoming them and thanking them for joining. These guests were students, electrical engineers, firefighters, architects, medical assistants, art therapists. They were taxpayers and community leaders, first responders and parish secretaries. All were under age 30 and came to the United States as babies, toddlers or children. Currently, as “Dreamers” — those with DACA status — they all are now subject to deportation because the Trump administration announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and directed Congress to save it. After taking their seats, they turned to Bishop Sullivan, and his voice rang loud and clear as he addressed the room. “As Catholics, we want you to know that we are doing the best we can as a church to accompany you in a bitter and difficult experience — and one that I can’t even begin to imagine,” he said at the Feb. 23 gathering. “I want you to know that we are with you.” 

For Shakespeare, the play’s the thing; for Caviezel, it’s the script

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Actor Jim Caviezel is at a point in his career where he can choose what film and TV projects he wants to pursue. Even though Caviezel might be best known for his portrayal of Jesus in 2004’s “The Passion of the Christ” — six seasons on CBS’ “Person of Interest” this decade might have topped that — he decided to take on yet another biblical role as St. Luke in the upcoming movie “Paul, Apostle of Christ.” “You don’t go by genre, you go by the script,” Caviezel told Catholic News Service in a Feb. 26 telephone interview to promote the movie. He’s not against movie projects that don’t have a biblical grounding: “It didn’t matter. You can sit down and read comedies. I haven’t found one yet.” But when it came to “Paul,” “Andrew Hyatt wrote a great script. You know the material,” Caviezel said, adding, “Who played Paul was a big part. When they got (James) Faulkner, I knew they’ll be calling him Paul in the street just like they called me Jesus in the street” after “The Passion.” Caviezel liked the script so much, in fact, he became one of the executive producers of “Paul.” He doesn’t worry about being typecast as someone wedded to the biblical film genre, although he had turned down “many, many” offers after “The Passion” for similar roles. 

Confessional is a place of forgiveness, not threats, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Priests must be mindful that the confessional is a place where people can find forgiveness and mercy, not threats and condemnation, Pope Francis said. God “does not want to beat us and condemn us,” but rather “he always looks for a way to enter the hearts” of those who are repentant, the pope said in his homily Feb. 27 at morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. “When we priests — in the Lord’s place — hear confessions, we also must have this attitude of goodness like the Lord, who says, ‘Come, let us talk, there is no problem, there is forgiveness,’ and not with a threat from the beginning,” he said. Reflecting on the day’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah, the pope noted God’s merciful call to conversion and His willingness to forgive even “though your sins be like scarlet.” The relationship between God and His people, the pope said, is like that of the father of a teenager who has done something foolish and must be reproached. 

Pakistan churches start movement to demand justice for Christians

LAHORE, Pakistan (CNS) — Catholic and Protestant churches in Pakistan have started a movement to demand justice for Christian cousins accused of blasphemy, reported Sajid Masih, 26, jumped from the fourth floor of the Punjab headquarters of the Federal Investigation Agency in a suicide attempt Feb. 23. He fractured both legs. Sajid was arrested with his cousin, Patras Masih, 18, for allegedly posting an insulting photo of the burial place of the prophet Muhammad on a Facebook account. More than 200 Christians gathered March 2 in front of the Punjab Assembly in Lahore. Teams from Caritas Pakistan, the Catholic Church’s charitable agency, and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace attended the protest. “Justice for Sajid, Justice for Patras,” cried Pastor Riaz Malik as he pointed his finger at a photograph of Sajid. Sajid claims he was being punished for an act allegedly committed by his cousin and that security authorities had ordered the two men to engage in a homosexual act as they attempted to force confessions from them both. Critics say police duress in such cases is common in Pakistan. 

‘Try Prayer! It Works!’ Contest

EASTON, Mass. —The “Try Prayer! It Works!” Contest has returned for 2018, and students are urged to send in their entries. Deadline for the national competition is May 1.

Sponsored by Family Rosary, the 2018 “Try Prayer! It Works!” Contest encourages children to participate in an inspiring faith experience as they express their beliefs through art, poetry and prose. The competition is open to students in grades K-12 enrolled in a Catholic school, religious education program, parish or other organization, including home school.

This year’s theme, “Mary, the New Eve” helps families reflect on God’s call for their lives and to discuss the importance of Mary. The contest focuses on family faith enrichment in the home. The goal is to bring the Church’s teachings to life around the dinner table with discussion prompts, reflection question, prayer ideas and creativity.

The first place winner in each category receives while the sponsor of each winner also receives $100. The “Try Prayer! It Works!” Contest asks entrants to creatively depict their faith through art, poetry and prose. Students in grades K-12 enrolled in a Catholic school, religious education program, parish, home school or other organization are eligible to participate.

For details or to download an application, go to All entries must be postmarked by May 1. Call Holy Cross Family Ministries at 800-299-PRAY (7729) for more information.

Explosive devices detonated in Mexican border churches

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — The bishop of Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas, has expressed alarm after two church explosions within four days.

“What initially seemed like an isolated incident has taken a new turn, worrying us deeply, as the faithful and citizens in general have the right to a secure environment, both in their homes and in their meeting places,” said a March 4 statement signed by Bishop Eugenio Lira Rugarcia.

“We call on the authorities and society in general to continue working on the construction of a community in which the life, dignity and rights of all are recognized, respected, promoted and defended.

An explosive device, described by the diocese as homemade, was detonated during Mass March 4 inside St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Matamoros, “without causing injuries or material damage.”

The explosion followed a similar incident March 1, when an explosion occurred in the Our Lady of Refuge Cathedral. No injuries or damage were reported at the cathedral, though the diocese initially described the explosion as stemming from a “bottle of acid falling.”

No one has claimed responsibility for making or leaving the devices. Tamaulipas state authorities have identified no suspects in the explosions.

The incidents occurred as Mexico convulses with violence and the state has experienced drug-cartel crimes, including kidnapping and extortion.

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