October 17, 2023 // National

News Briefs: October 22, 2023

Synod Addresses Pain Church Has Caused People

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The synodal way is not an invention of Pope Francis, but it is based on Jesus’ way of inclusivity and listening, and on divine revelation itself, said Redemptorist Father Vimal Tirimanna, a leading moral theologian from Sri Lanka, during the opening session of the third week of the Synod of Bishops on synodality on Monday, October 16. As participants continued with their small group discussions, “the round tables themselves are a symbol of the ecclesiology of Lumen Gentium,” Father Tirimanna said, referring to the Second Vatican Council document on the nature of the Church and the role of its members. “This synodal process is not a private agenda of Pope Francis. It is a continuation of Vatican II,” said Father Tirimanna. He and others spoke to reporters on October 16 about their synod experience. A reporter asked the panel of synod participants whether discussions had included recognizing the hurt or pain the Church may have caused people in the LGBTQ+ community and others as well. Loreto Sister Patricia Murray, Executive Secretary of the International Union of Superiors General, responded by saying, “there is a deep awareness of the pain and suffering that has been caused,” and “the question of hurt and the woundedness of people both individually and collectively” has been brought up “and listened to.” There has also been discussion about “how to symbolically, in a sense, represent that hurt. Some people have said, ‘sorry’ is not enough,” she said.

New Initiative Cultivates Leadership Roles Among U.S. Catholic Hispanics

BOSTON (OSV News) – Looking to increase the number of young Hispanic Catholics serving the Church, professors at Boston College and the University of Notre Dame spearheaded the launch of a new program called Haciendo Caminos, a five-year initiative that helps to support the graduate ministerial education of young Hispanic Catholics born or raised in the United States by allocating resources to instill a profound sense of ecclesial vocation. The program aims to address a disparity in the Church: Even though Hispanic Catholics account for more than 42 percent of U.S. Catholics, the number of U.S.-born Hispanics serving the Church has remained relatively low. “The idea will be to model what other universities and what other dioceses and organizations could be doing,” said Co-founder Hosffman Ospino, a theology and religious educator at Boston College and chair of its Department of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry. Haciendo Caminos, which translates to “building paths,” is a partnership between 18 Catholic institutions where students accepted into the graduate theological or pastoral ministry programs of these institutions can apply for a fellowship of up to $30,000, which can be used to pay for tuition and other essential needs such as housing, childcare, and health-related expenses.

Two U.S Bishops Launch National Catholic Mental Health Campaign

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – Two U.S. bishops have launched the National Catholic Mental Health Campaign amid a global crisis in mental health and a decline in mental health resources in the United States. The campaign was announced on Tuesday, October 10, to coincide with World Mental Health Day, created by the World Federation for Mental Health in 1992 to highlight the importance of mental health. This year’s theme focuses on mental health as a universal human right. Leading the initiative are Archbishop Borys A. Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Robert E. Barron of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth. In an introductory message for the campaign, the bishops said their goals are threefold: to raise greater awareness of the issue, to remove the sense of stigma for those suffering from mental illness, and “to advocate a clear message to all: Everyone who needs help should get help.” The USCCB will host virtual roundtables with bishops and Catholic leaders to discuss ways in which the Church can remove stigma and support those with mental illness.

Two Iowa Dioceses Issue Guidance on Gender, Sexual Identity

DAVENPORT, Iowa (OSV News) – Two of Iowa’s four Catholic dioceses have recently released documents on pastoral guidance regarding gender and sexual identity. The Diocese of Davenport published its “Guidelines for Pastoral Accompaniment of Sexual and Gender Minorities,” effective on Wednesday, October 4. Also this month, Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City issued “Catholic Teaching and Directives on the Human Person and Sexual Identity” for that diocese. The Davenport and Sioux City guidelines both seek to balance a pastoral approach that at once affirms human dignity, Church teaching, and compassionate accompaniment of those who – as Bishop Nickless notes in the Sioux City document – “question or experience distress over their own identity.” The Diocese of Davenport stressed the importance of “a fundamental respect for the dignity of every human person, body and soul, created in the image and likeness of God,” while Bishop Nickless said Catholics “are called to respect the dignity of every person and to welcome each one as Jesus welcomes all.”

Jerusalem Cardinal Offers Himself in Exchange for Israeli Hostages

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Catholic Church’s highest ranking prelate in the Holy Land offered his “absolute availability” to be exchanged for Israeli children taken hostage by Hamas. Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, told reporters during an online meeting on Monday, October 16, that he is willing to do “anything” to “bring to freedom and bring home the children” taken into Gaza during Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, in which more than 1,300 Israelis were killed. The Israeli military said on October 16 that some 200 people, including children and elderly persons, are being held hostage. Returning the hostages held in Gaza is “absolutely necessary” to stopping the ongoing violence between Israel and Hamas, the cardinal said. He expressed the Vatican’s willingness to assist in de-escalation and mediation efforts but said they had not been able to speak with Hamas. Cardinal Pizzaballa said some 1,000 Christians in Gaza are currently sheltering in Church-affiliated buildings because “they don’t know where to go and moving is dangerous.” At the end of his general audience on Wednesday, October 11, Pope Francis condemned Hamas’ terrorist attacks on Israel and pleaded with the militants to free their hostages unharmed, but he also expressed concern about Israel’s tightening siege on Gaza and its impact on innocent civilians. “One who is attacked has the right of self-defense,” the pope said, “but I am very concerned about the total siege under which Palestinians are living in Gaza, where there also have been many innocent victims.”

New York Auxiliary Bishop Edmund J. Whalen carries the monstrance during a Eucharistic procession through Midtown Manhattan in New York City Oct. 10, 2023. The procession and the Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral that preceded it attracted more than 2,000 people. The services, which concluded with benediction at the cathedral, were affiliated with the Napa Institute’s Principled Entrepreneurship Conference taking place in New York City Oct. 10-11. (OSV News photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

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