October 25, 2018 // World News

News Briefs: October 28, 2018

Bishops call for better religious education, preparation for mission

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Improved religious education and a stronger sense of belonging to a community were some of the topics touched upon as the Synod of Bishops moved into its final round of speeches. Accepting Pope Francis’ invitation for bishops to be bold at the synod, Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Dowd of Montreal told the assembly Oct. 16, “If I was pope — I know I’m not, but if I was — I’d write an encyclical on four basic questions” all human beings ask in one way or another. The four, he said, are: “Who is God? If God is good, why is there evil in the world? If God is good but there is evil in the world, what has God done about it? If God is good but there is evil in the world and God is doing something about it, how can we be part of it?” The 48-year-old Canadian bishop told synod members that his own religious education in Catholic schools and parishes was “an abysmal failure,” an education that “just gave us pieces and no overall picture.” The Church needs to renew its religious education programs, he said, and should start by trying to respond to the four questions, which “haunt the heart of every person, religious or not.” Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, also acknowledged the “critical situation of the transmission of the faith today” and insisted the best way to combat it is by being better examples for young people and encouraging them to be examples for their peers. 

Young migrants bring vitality, need support, synod members say

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Helping young migrants hold fast to their cultural and religious identity, especially in situations where they are a minority, was a recurring topic at the Synod of Bishops. Blessed Sacrament Father Robert Stark, director of the Office for Social Ministry for the Diocese of Honolulu and regional coordinator for the Vatican’s Migrant and Refugees Section, offered synod members very practical advice for assisting young people on the move. First, he said Oct. 16, Church workers must listen to young people thinking about leaving their homelands and inform them of the dangers. Second, the Church should offer food, shelter and safety to young people in transit. And, when they arrive at their destination, the young should be helped with legal assistance and language classes. “At each phase of their journey, young migrants pass through different dioceses but — from beginning to end — they can be in the same loving, caring church,” Father Stark told the synod. Archbishop Ilario Antoniazzi of Tunis, representing the North African bishops’ conference, told the synod that many of the dioceses of Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco are thriving today because of the young African Catholics who come to their countries for university studies or while awaiting an opportunity to migrate to Europe.

Pope says he’s open to visiting North Korea

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis, at a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said he is willing to visit North Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had asked Moon to tell the pope of the invitation. According to Yonhap, the Korean news agency, Moon’s press secretary told reporters the pope said he would accept “if an (official) invitation arrives and I can go.’” Meeting the South Korean president Oct. 18, the pope praised Moon’s efforts to promote peace in the Korean peninsula. “Move forward without stopping. Do not be afraid,” the pope told Moon according to Yonhap. In a statement released after the meeting, the Vatican said Pope Francis and Moon discussed the Church’s role in promoting “dialogue and reconciliation between Koreans. Strong appreciation was expressed for the common commitment to fostering all useful initiatives to overcome the tensions that still exist in the Korean Peninsula, in order to usher in a new season of peace and development,” the Vatican said. 

All six dioceses in Illinois sued over clergy sexual abuse allegations

CHICAGO (CNS) — Attorney Jeff Anderson, who has represented clergy abuse victims nationwide, filed a lawsuit Oct. 18 in Chicago against all six Catholic dioceses in Illinois and the Illinois Catholic Conference for what he described as an ongoing effort to cover up clergy sexual abuse. The lawsuit wants the state’s dioceses to release all their records on abusive priests.

Anderson filed the suit along with three others who said they were sexually abused by priests. The lawsuit does not seek damages and only claims instances of abuse against children in three of the Illinois dioceses — Rockford, Peoria and Springfield — but according to Anderson, all the dioceses have had a role in covering up clergy sexual abuse. The claims of abuse cited date from the early 1970s through the late 1990s.

All the dioceses issued statements in response to the lawsuit, including the Diocese of Peoria, where diocesan officials said they had not had the opportunity to review all the details of the lawsuit but wished to clarify some of Anderson’s statements, particularly that Peoria Bishop Daniel R. Jenky had ignored some claims made about allegations of abuse by diocesan priests. The Archdiocese of Chicago’s statement said officials had not reviewed the lawsuit in full but that the diocese has taken significant steps to address clergy sex abuse and had posted the names of priests who have been credibly accused of this on its website.

Indifference, hatred are the first steps to murder, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Hurling insults and being indifferent to other people’s lives are the first steps along the winding path that leads to killing them, at least figuratively, Pope Francis said. By warning that “whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment,” Jesus equates hatred with murder, the pope said Oct. 17 during his weekly general audience. “Indifference kills. It’s like telling someone, ‘You’re dead to me,’ because you’ve killed them in your heart. Not loving is the first step to killing; and not killing is the first step to loving,” he told thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square. Continuing his series of talks on the Ten Commandments, the pope reflected on Christ’s explanation of the Fifth Commandment, “Thou shall not kill.”

Justice Department opens investigation into abuse claims in Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA (CNS)— The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has received a subpoena as part of a federal grand jury investigating allegations of child sexual abuse and a cover-up of such claims, Church officials confirmed Oct. 18. The subpoena “requires the production of certain documents,” said Ken Gavin, archdiocesan spokesperson, and the archdiocese “will cooperate with the United States Department of Justice in this matter.” The same day, the Diocese of Harrisburg released a statement saying it “will cooperate fully with this inquiry, just as it has with the Office of Attorney General’s investigation,” which resulted in the release last summer of a statewide grand jury report on allegations of sex abuse by priests and other Church workers. Among other diocesan reaction, the Allentown diocese said it, too, would fully cooperate. News reports by the Associated Press say the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District, based in Philadelphia and led by William M. McSwain, had recently begun serving subpoenas in the new statewide probe. The Catholic Church in Pennsylvania consists of eight dioceses: the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the dioceses of Allentown, Altoona-Johnstown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton.

Bishop Cistone, sixth bishop of Saginaw, dies at 69

SAGINAW, Mich. (CNS) — Bishop Joseph R. Cistone of Saginaw, 69, died in his home during the night, according to a diocesan statement Oct. 16. According to local news reports in Michigan, officials responding to an emergency call Oct. 16 at his residence found the bishop was deceased. The Saginaw diocese confirmed the death of Bishop Cistone, saying he died the previous night. He had been scheduled for a medical procedure Oct. 16 to relieve the symptoms of lung cancer, the diocese said. Bishop Cistone’s funeral Mass was celebrated Oct. 23 at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption in Saginaw. Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit was the main celebrant, and the homily was given by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia. Last February Bishop Cistone announced that he had begun treatment for lung cancer, and was optimistic about what was to be a six-month treatment. He had experienced a persistent cough and labored breathing since September 2017, and he sought tests that diagnosed the cancer. On Oct. 17 the Saginaw diocese announced that Pope Francis has appointed retired Bishop Walter A. Hurley of Grand Rapids as apostolic administrator, effective immediately.

Faith-centered primary care clinic takes place of Iowa abortion facility
BETTENDORF, Iowa (CNS) — Before Planned Parenthood of the Heartland opened its Bettendorf clinic in 1999, pro-life advocates prayed fervently against construction of the facility and dropped religious medals into the earth on which it would be built. For the next two decades, they prayed unceasingly for closure of the clinic where abortions were performed. Prayers have been answered in what pro-life advocates call “The miracle on Happy Joe Drive.” The Planned Parenthood building where unborn babies’ lives were ended has been cleansed, cleaned and transformed into a faith-centered primary care clinic and a pregnancy support and resources center. While helping to paint the building’s interior in calming cool colors, a painter told someone that she felt a sense of peace. Twenty years earlier, she had traveled to an abortion provider elsewhere but decided against having an abortion. She is grateful to be a mother to a young adult she chose to give birth to and nurture, pro-life advocates said. The figure-eight-shaped building that was Planned Parenthood now is home to Life & Family Medical Clinic, a faith-centered primary care clinic, and the Women’s Choice Center, which provides support for pregnant women, new parents and their families. Both are pro-life ministries of Life & Family Educational Trust. Board members anticipate opening the new, direct primary care medical clinic in early 2019. 

Honduran Nery Maldonado, right, chats with other migrants as they wait in line Oct. 17 to enter a shelter in Guatemala City. Maldonado and the other migrants are part of a caravan trying to reach the U.S. Maldonado says he lost his feet while riding the freight train called “The Beast” three years ago in Mexico. (CNS photo/Luis Echeverria, Reuters)

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