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Update: Bishops hear that third-party reporting system may start in February

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Dennis Sadowski

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- A third-party reporting system to field sexual misconduct allegations against bishops could be in place by the end of February, an official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told the bishops during their fall general assembly in Baltimore.

The company awarded the contract for the system is working quickly to implement it so that it is in place well before the May 31, 2020, deadline set by Pope Francis, said Anthony Picarello, USCCB associate general secretary, in a Nov. 13 presentation to the bishops on the final day of their three-day meeting.

The precise date a toll-free hotline will be activated and links on diocesan and eparchial websites and the USCCB website will go live is going to depend on how quickly each diocese or eparchy can implement the program, Picarello said.

The USCCB official explained that the exact date the system will be ready will be communicated with each province, diocese and eparchy.

Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Joliet, Illinois, asked how the system will filter complaints against clergy who, for example, may not exactly follow something as simple as genuflecting after the consecration of the bread and wine at Mass.

Picarello responded that complaints will be filtered so that only those concerns raised in Pope Francis' "motu proprio" "Vos Estis Lux Mundi" ("You are the light of the world") will be addressed through the new mechanism.

"The idea is we want to make sure this system is reserved for this specific, this high priority purpose," Picarello told the bishops.

Issued in May, the pope's document specifically addresses allegations of sexual misconduct and other accusations of actions or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil or church investigations of such misconduct by clergy.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, outgoing USCCB president, called on the metropolitan bishops -- through whom reports from the reporting system will funnel -- "to do our work very well. ... So we can move ahead and have this ready sooner rather than later."

"Our people are looking forward to having this and we will have to work hard to do it," he told the assembly.

Picarello said the USCCB awarded a two-year contract to Denver-based Convercent to implement the reporting system.

The bishops approved the establishment of the reporting system in June. Under it, people would be allowed to make reports of "certain complaints" through a toll-free telephone number as well as online.

Picarello reiterated the system would fall in line with the requirements of Pope Francis' "motu proprio," issued in May.

The "motu proprio" also requires dioceses and eparchies worldwide to establish "one or more public, stable and easily accessible systems for submission of reports."

The USCCB plan calls for all reports to be funneled through a central receiving hub, which would then be responsible for sending allegations to the appropriate metropolitan, or archbishop, responsible for each diocese in a province and to the papal nunciature in Washington. The U.S. has 32 metropolitans.

The metropolitan will be responsible for reporting any allegation to local law enforcement authorities as the first step toward investigating a claim.

The reporting system will be subject to review to determine its effectiveness in three years, as called for under "Vos Estis Lux Mundi."

 

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Bishops urged to heed pope's call: Listen to and accompany young people

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Carol Zimmermann

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The day after the U.S. bishops were encouraged at their Baltimore meeting to bring young people back to the church, they were urged to also pay more attention to and support the teens and young adults among them in parishes and church programs.

To help them do this, they were advised Nov. 12 to use "Christus Vivit" ("Christ Lives") -- Pope Francis' reflection on the 2018 Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment -- as their guide.

"'Christus Vivit' is a call to action for everyone in the life of the church regardless of our age," said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, a delegate to last year's Synod of Bishops on young people.

In remarks on the second day of the bishops' Nov. 11-13 meeting, he acknowledged that many in the room might feel uncertain about how to respond to and help young people in the church, but he said they can find encouragement from the pope's message and, in particular, his sentiment that young people are the church's hope.

The pope's apostolic exhortation -- which is both a letter to young people about their place in the church and a plea for older members to encourage them -- was described by Bishop Caggiano as a call to action and a moment of grace that "we should not and cannot allow to slip away."

For starters, he said his fellow bishops should read the pope's document "from cover to cover and engage in dialogue" about it with church leaders on the diocesan and parish level as a way to enrich church ministries and outreach.

So the bishops would not just take his word for it, Bishop Caggiano also introduced two young adults to them who gave their insights on the pope's document.

Brenda Noriega, coordinator of young adult ministry for the Diocese of San Bernardino, California, told the bishops she was grateful for "Christus Vivit" because it provided a foundation for her work. She said one of her favorite parts of it is where the pope responds to the frustrations of many young people and reminds them that God loves them and that they matter.

She said she finds hope with pastors who are willing to listen to young people and "accompany us on the journey like spiritual fathers."

Brian Rhude, program coordinator at the Catholic Apostolate Center in Washington, said he wouldn't be before the bishops at this moment if it hadn't been for the Catholics who accompanied him over the years.

Rhude said he was particularly struck by how Pope Francis warns against looking at all young people with broad strokes and assuming they are all the same. He also said he had been inspired by message in "Christus Vivit" that "our individual stories do not occur in a vacuum" and that as people come to know more about each other they can "form the greater story that God is writing."

Bishop Caggiano stressed the importance of youth and young adult ministry already at work and suggested that bishops find ways to continue to encourage these efforts and invest in them even more, expanding efforts of a more diverse outreach.

"Quite frankly, our ministry will not reach its goal unless every young person is at the table, particularly those who are immigrants, marginalized and poor," he said.

He concluded by stressing that above all, the bishops should "listen more deeply" to young people.

"We do a lot of talking about young people and young adults," he said, "but Pope Francis is asking us in the heart to listen to and learn from them and invite them right now into appropriate leadership in the church."

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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Pope denounces increasing violence against Jewish people

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis warned that violence against Jewish people, which reached a state of horror during World War II, is on the rise again.

During his weekly general audience Nov. 13, the pope reflected on the lives of Priscilla and Aquila, a first-century married couple who accompanied St. Paul in his ministry and were among the Jews expelled from Rome by Claudius Caesar.

Departing from his prepared remarks, the pope said that the world has "seen so many brutalities done against the Jewish people, and we were convinced that this was over."

"But today the habit of persecuting Jews is beginning to be reborn," he said. "Brothers and sisters: this is neither human nor Christian; the Jews are our brothers and sisters and must not be persecuted! Understood?"

The pope's warning came as more countries have reported an escalation in anti-Semitic violence and vandalism across Europe.

In Denmark and Sweden, neo-Nazi groups coordinated acts of vandalism Nov. 10, placing yellow stars inscribed with the German word "Jude" ("Jew") on Jewish gravestones, homes and businesses, the Times of Israel reported.

During the Holocaust, the Nazi regime forced Jewish men, women and children to wear yellow stars on their clothing.

The attacks coincided with the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), when more than 1,400 synagogues, prayer halls and thousands of Jewish shops, apartments and cemeteries were destroyed.

The 2018 Hate Crime Statistics, released Nov. 12 by the FBI, reported that of the 1,617 victims of anti-religious hate crimes reported in the United States, "56.9 percent were victims of crimes motivated by offenders' anti-Jewish bias."

In his main audience talk, the pope continued his series on the Acts of the Apostles, recalling the important role played by Priscilla and Aquila in the early beginnings of the church.

Following their expulsion from Rome, the Jewish couple settled in Corinth where they met St. Paul and welcomed him into their home. Priscilla and Aquila also accompanied the apostle on his travels to Syria.

Pope Francis said that among all of St. Paul's collaborators, Priscilla and Aquila "emerge as models of a married life responsibly committed to the service of the entire Christian community."

The couple, he added, serve as a reminder that "thanks to the faith and commitment to evangelization by so many laypeople like them, Christianity has come to us."

"Let us ask the Father, who has chosen to make of this couple his 'true, living sculpture,' to pour out his Spirit on all Christian couples so that, following the example of Aquila and Priscilla, they may open the doors of their hearts to Christ and their brothers and sisters and transform their homes into domestic churches where they can live a life of faith, hope and charity in fellowship and worship," the pope said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

In darkness, bishops must be heralds of hope, Buffalo bishop says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

ROME (CNS) -- The long nights and rain of November eventually lead to the expectation and joy of Advent and Christmas, which reminds people that Christian hope is the only way forward through difficult moments, said Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York.

"In these times that appear dark, in which we sometimes feel disoriented by the evil and violence that surround us, by the distress of so many of our brothers and sisters, we need hope!" he said, quoting from Pope Francis' catechesis on Christian hope.

Bishop Malone, whose diocese recently has undergone an apostolic visitation after more than a year of questions about how the bishop has handled allegations of abuse by diocesan priests, was the principal celebrant and homilist Nov. 12 at a Mass at the Rome Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

The Mass was part of the Nov. 11-15 visit "ad limina apostolorum" -- to the threshold of the apostles -- of the bishops of New York state. On the visit, the bishops pray at the apostles' tombs and meet with Vatican officials and the pope to report on the status of their dioceses.

Wearing bright red vestments for the day's memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop Malone said the 17th-century Basilian monk and martyr "experienced ruthless persecution and intense suffering."

But, he said, "it was clearly hope in Christ and in his Christ-filled mission that kept Josaphat going, that gave him the courage and the endurance to be able to continue working for unity" in the church and "renewal in his own diocese."

Reflecting on this "martyr for unity," Bishop Malone said, "I think in my own diocese and in the life of the church in general, the call for us bishops" is to be "ministers of unity ... especially right now when there is so much tendency toward fragmentation."

The month of November, with its long dark nights, can be "dismal and rainy and drab" and can weigh on people, Bishop Malone said.

But its feasts of All Saints and All Souls as well as the solemnity of Christ the King are the rays of hope that cut through that darkness, ushering the faithful toward Advent and "into a new year of grace with Christmas," he said.

Asking how people can live with hope, the bishop referred to the day's first reading from the Book of Wisdom (2:23-3:9) that says, "grace and mercy are with God's holy ones, and his care is with his elect."

"And that is all of us, all of us who are among the baptized, and I think in a special way we remember (the passage) for ourselves as bishops as being among the elect," he said.

Bishops are anointed and sent "as heralds of hope for our people," for the world and for one another so as to "sustain each other," he said.

Keeping hope a priority in one's life and bringing that hope to others "is not an added or extraordinary duty for us, it's not an add-on; as a matter of fact, we are just doing what we are obliged to do," he said.

"Even when times are difficult and dark," he said, "rejoice in hope."

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

Update: Australian High Court to hear arguments in Cardinal Pell's case

IMAGE: CNS/Robert Duncan

By Michael Sainsbury

SYDNEY (CNS) -- The High Court of Australia has decided to give Cardinal George Pell, 78, a final chance to argue against his conviction on five counts of child sexual abuse.

High Court Justices Michelle Gordon and James Edelman announced Nov. 13 that they referred the cardinal's appeal application to the full, seven-member court. The unusual move means the full court will decide whether to hear the appeal and, if it does, will proceed to hear arguments about why the conviction should be overturned or upheld.

The justices gave Cardinal Pell's lawyers until Jan. 8 to file their arguments for the appeal and said the prosecutors must respond by February. No date for the hearing was announced, but it is unlikely to be before March.

Matteo Bruni, Vatican spokesman, said that while "reiterating its trust in the Australian justice system, the Holy See acknowledges the decision of Australia's High Court to accept Cardinal George Pell's request of appeal, aware that the cardinal has always maintained his innocence."

"At the same time," he said, "the Holy See reaffirms once again its closeness to those who have suffered because of sexual abuse on the part of members of the clergy."

A jury in December unanimously found the cardinal guilty of sexually abusing two 13-year old choirboys in Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral in the 1990s. In August, the conviction was upheld two-to-one by a panel of justices on the Victorian Court of Appeal.

If the High Court decides not to hear the appeal, Cardinal Pell, who has been held at Melbourne Assessment Prison since late February, will serve out his remaining sentence -- the non-parole period of which expires in 2022.

If the full court does hear the appeal, each judge will make his or her own decision and write up the reasons; a majority will decide the case. The court has a range of options: The two simplest are to reject the appeal, leaving Cardinal Pell in prison to serve out his term, or to acquit him, meaning he will immediately walk free.

"For the High Court, there are two questions," Melbourne lawyer Michael Bradley in an article on crikey.com.au. "It may consider that there is a question of legal significance to be dealt with, in relation to the way that an appeal court is required to handle appeals from jury verdicts."

This would revolve around the test that appeal judges should apply to themselves when considering the "safety" of a verdict. Both sides in the case are expected to offer arguments about whether Cardinal Pell could have abused the boys in the cathedral sacristy immediately after Mass and while still wearing his Mass vestments and how that relates to the burden of proof.

The second question is whether an injustice has been done. "The High Court has itself said repeatedly that, putting aside all technical legal grounds, an appeal court must quash a criminal conviction if it concludes that a miscarriage of justice has occurred. If the judges have a serious doubt, then logically the jurors should have had one, too," Bradley wrote.

The High Court also could order a retrial or refer the case back to the Victorian Court of Appeal for further consideration.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, said Cardinal Pell had exercised the right that all Australians hold to appeal his conviction to the high court.

"This will prolong what has been a lengthy and difficult process, but we can only hope that the appeal will be heard as soon as reasonably possible and that the high court's judgment will bring clarity and a resolution for all," the archbishop said.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher also welcomed the decision that the High Court would consider the cardinal's appeal and expressed hope the process would be expedient.

"The cardinal has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so, and the divided judgment of the Court of Appeal reflects the divided opinion amongst jurors, legal commentators and within our community," Archbishop Fisher said.

"Many questions remain, and it is appropriate that these will be examined by our highest court."

He said the church would continue to offer pastoral support to Cardinal Pell while he remains in prison and would support "all others affected by today's outcome."

The father of the second victim in the case, now deceased from a drug overdose, was said by his lawyers to be devastated.

On Feb. 27, just after the verdict was published and Cardinal Pell was taken to jail, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced that it was beginning a canonical investigation of the cardinal. The congregation handles the church process for allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the clergy.

However, in August, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the process would not begin until after the Australian legal process ends.

 

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Catholics lead rosary on way to DACA rally outside Supreme Court

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

By Josephine von Dohlen

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the U.S. Supreme Court justices prepared to hear oral arguments in a case on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program the morning of Nov. 12, Catholics met at Columbus Circle in Washington to pray the rosary for the intention of all DACA recipients, their families and all immigrants in the United States.

"We're not just praying for the justices to be on the right side today, we're praying for elected officials to wake up and to finally give a solution for the 700,000 DACA recipients living in this country," said Jose Arnulfo Cabrera, a DACA recipient and the director of education and advocacy for migration for the Ignatian Solidarity Network.

The prayer gathering -- which was followed by a walk to the steps of the Supreme Court, joining others participating in the national Home is Here campaign rally -- was co-sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Justice for Immigrants, the Ignatian Solidarity Network, the Catholic social justice lobby Network and others.

"It's time that we give them (DACA recipients) a solution. It's time that they are recognized as the Americans that they grew up as, and that they are," Cabrera said. "This is more than just prayers for the justices; this is more than just prayers for DACA recipients. This is also prayers for ourselves because we have a long way to go. ... We're praying for that strength to keep it going and keep that fire lit in ourselves."

In a 2012 executive order, President Barack Obama instituted DACA, a policy allowing immigrants brought as children by their parents into the United States without documents to apply for deferred action from deportation while also applying for a work permit or attending school. In 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to end the DACA program. The resulting legal challenges led to the Supreme Court hearing the case on the program's future.

Giovana Oaxaca, a DACA recipient and the government relations associate for Network, led more than 50 people in the rosary.

"We're praying the rosary today for our elected leaders and the justices of the Supreme Court, knowing that God can open minds and change hearts," Oaxaca said. "We commend those in the DACA community and our immigrant brothers and sisters into the loving hands of blessed mother, Virgin de Guadalupe."

By gathering first in prayer, Oaxaca said the group was making a powerful statement.

"We are able to bridge a lot of divides by praying together," she said. "It is a solemn thing ... but we want everyone to know we have faith and hope."

Originally from Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, Oaxaca came to the United States at age 3. She received DACA status before applying to college, where she was able to graduate with a degree in political science and economics. Without DACA, she said, it would have been a lot harder to go to college and to afford college.

The wait to hear the Supreme Court's decision, which is expected to be issued in June, will be "painstaking," Oaxaca said.

"It will keep us all on our toes," she added, saying that work will continue to place pressure on legislators to "keep the drumbeat going."

Alyssa Aldape, associate pastor for young adult and youth ministries at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, joined the walk from Columbus Circle to the Supreme Court building. She said she saw her participation in the day's events, "part of her faith."

"It's a way for me to stand in solidarity with those who are vulnerable," Aldape told the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

For Valeria Bejar, a DACA recipient who led the group in one of the decades of the rosary, whenever she hears the number 700,000 representing DACA recipients, she said she tries to keep in mind all the other families who might remain in this country without documents.

"I try to remember it's more like double that," she said.

As to what the upcoming months might look like as many wait for the Supreme Court's decision, Bejar said she has no idea what to expect.

"There are so many different things that could happen, but we'll continue the fight," she said.

Now living in Arizona, Bejar traveled to the Washington area to join other immigrants on a walk from New York City to Washington that ended before the rally. The 230-mile walk began Oct. 26 and Bejar said she joined the group at mile 223.

"It was a beautiful expression to see the diversity in DACA recipients," Bejar said.

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Von Dohlen is a reporter at the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

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Update: Archbishop Gomez elected USCCB president; first Latino in post

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Dennis Sadowski

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles was elected to a three-year term as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during the bishops' fall general assembly in Baltimore.

The native of Mexico was chosen Nov. 12 with 176 votes from a slate of 10 nominees.

Archbishop Gomez, 67, is the first Latino to be elected president. He has served as conference vice president for the past three years, working alongside Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the outgoing president. His term as president begins when the assembly ends.

The Los Angeles prelate has been a leading advocate of immigrant rights, often voicing support for newcomers as they face growing restrictions being implemented by the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies.

In subsequent voting, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, conference secretary, was elected vice president. He was elected on the third ballot by 151-90 in a runoff with Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services.

Under USCCB bylaws, after the election for president, the vice president is elected from the remaining nine candidates.

The two top officers begin their terms at the conclusion of the fall assembly Nov. 13.

In voting for a new secretary, the assembly elected Archbishop Broglio, 112-87, over Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Toledo, Ohio. Archbishop Broglio will serve through the end of the term in 2021.

The bishops also voted for the chairman of one committee, chairmen-elect of five other conference committees and three representatives on the board of Catholic Relief Services, which is the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency.

In the first committee vote, there was a tie vote between Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami and Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, for chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty. Each candidate received 121 votes, but Bishop Murry, at 70, became chairman under USCCB bylaws because he is the older of the two candidates. Archbishop Wenski is 69.

The committee had been chaired by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, but he stepped down earlier this year to undergo treatment for bladder and prostate cancer. Bishop Murry will serve the remaining year of Archbishop Kurtz's term.

Vote tallies for committee chairmen-elect are:

-- Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance: Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee elected over Bishop Mark L. Bartchak of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 144-97.

-- Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs: Bishop Daniel P. Talley of Memphis, Tennessee, elected over Bishop Steven J. Lopes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, 123-114.

-- Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis: Auxiliary Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of St. Paul and Minneapolis, elected over Bishop Thomas A. Daly of Spokane, Washington, 151-88.

-- Committee on International Justice and Peace: Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, elected over Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, 140-101.

-- Committee on Protection of Children and Young People: Bishop James V. Johnson of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, was elected over Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, 167-77.

Each chairman-elect will begin his three-year term as chairmen at the end of the 2020 fall general assembly.

In addition, several chairmen-elect chosen last year will become committee chairmen at the end of this year's assembly and will serve three-year terms:

-- Committee on Catholic Education: Bishop Michael C. Barber of Oakland, California.

-- Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations: Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, New Jersey.

-- Committee on Divine Worship: Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of Hartford, Connecticut.

-- Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development: Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City.

-- Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth: Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco.

-- Committee on Migration: Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington.

A final vote was taken for three seats on the CRS board. Elected were Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut; Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas; and Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas.

 

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Fund helps displaced Bahamas students, teachers after Hurricane Dorian

IMAGE: CNS photo/Gabriella N. Baez, Reuters

By Tom Tracy

MIAMI (CNS) -- Two months after Hurricane Dorian upended life in the northern Bahamas, a newly launched fund will support hundreds of Catholic school students displaced by the storm.

The Archdiocese of Nassau recently launched the Each One Reach One initiative of its Bahamas Catholic Board of Education. Under the initiative, donors can assist some 220 students from Abaco and Grand Bahamas islands who have enrolled in Catholic schools in and around the Bahamas capital of Nassau on New Providence Island.

Janelle Albury, development officer with the Bahamas Catholic Board of Education, told Catholic News Service by phone Nov. 8 that Catholic schools in the Bahamas are committed to maintaining affordable fees to ensure Catholic education is available to as many families as possible. Annual fees for Catholic schools in the Nassau Archdiocese start at close to $3,000.

Albury noted a global children's charity report highlights that getting children back to school is vital for their survival after natural disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons and hurricanes.

The Each One Reach One fund also will assist 35 displaced Catholic school faculty from the affected areas. All teachers and faculty at St. Francis de Sales Catholic School and Every Child Counts School had to leave Abaco, and those who did not travel to New Providence went to the U.S. or Canada, Albury added. Some teachers chose to resign and return to their home countries.

The Category 5 Hurricane Dorian -- which first made landfall Sept. 1 -- resulted in the indefinite closing of St. Francis de Sales School in Abaco, which suffered both high winds and devastating storm surge. Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy, Grand Bahama, has reopened, but many of the homes of students there were destroyed by the hurricane.

"This program, EORO, intends to provide personal care and individual attention to those most severely impacted by Hurricane Dorian," Nassau Archbishop Patrick Pinder said in a statement. "This is charity alive and on a very human scale. This is what solidarity in action looks like."

Separately, the Archdiocese of Nassau is appealing for material and financial support for other evacuees who have relocated to New Providence and who are not living in shelters but are living with relatives and who may be in need of assistance with food, blankets, sheets, towels and toiletries.

That outreach is being managed by the Nassau Archdiocesan Office of Family Life and is a direct response to evacuees coming mostly to New Providence from Mary Star of the Sea Parish on Grand Bahama and St. Francis de Sales and Sts. Mary and Andrew parishes on Abaco.

A recent report from the Bahamas Catholic Board of Education noted that while Abaco was most severely impacted by the storm, Grand Bahama received significant damage, with only five miles of the island not flooding. Flooded homes impacted approximately 85% to 90% of the student population.

Electricity and water have been restored on Grand Bahama, but many of the buildings are not livable.

The Bahamas death toll following Hurricane Dorian stands at approximately 70 people. One estimate puts the material damage there at $7 billion after the storm lingered over Abaco and Grand Bahamas for some 70 hours.

The country's tourism industry has been appealing to foreigners to visit the country's other islands this holiday season as a means of helping the Bahamas recover economically. Tourism high season there runs from December through April.

To obtain further information or to receive instructions on making a wire transfer to the initiative, email [email protected]

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Immigration reform among priorities for new USCCB president

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Chaz Muth

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- It will come as no surprise to anyone who has followed Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez that immigration reform is at the top of his priority list as the newly elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"That's something I've been working on for almost 25 to 30 years," Archbishop Gomez told Catholic News Service during the U.S. bishops' fall general assembly Nov. 11-13 in Baltimore.

On Nov. 12, the body of bishops elected him to lead them for a three-year term, and he is the first Latino to hold the USCCB presidency. Archbishop Gomez has served as the conference's vice president since 2016. As president, he succeeds Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston. His term begins at the end of assembly.

For the 67-year-old shepherd of the largest archdiocese in the U.S., Catholic teaching drives his advocacy for migrant rights, based on biblical principles of welcoming the stranger and upholding the dignity of immigrants and refugees as children of God.

In fact, the U.S. bishops have listed immigration reform and migration rights as a top priority for many years. The bishops have sparred with the Trump administration over its policies for asylum-seekers at the border.

Pope Francis also has made migrant rights a top priority during his papacy.

This topic also is very personal for Archbishop Gomez, who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, and eventually migrated to the U.S., where he has served as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Denver, archbishop in San Antonio and eventually archbishop in Los Angeles.

"It's really part of my life," he said. "I have relatives and friends ... on both sides of the border. So, I think it's important for us to understand that we are all children of God. If we work together, we can find a solution for this reality and come up with a really clear, simple and good immigration system that can address the needs of the people on both sides."

Violence and poverty at home have been a driving factor for Central Americans seeking refuge in the U.S., but Archbishop Gomez points out that migration is more than an American issue -- it's a global concern.

According to statistics reported by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, by the end of 2018, "70.8 million individuals have been forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations."

The Bush and Obama administrations both attempted and failed to get immigration reform passed through Congress to make it easier for immigrants to legally migrate to the U.S.

The U.S. bishops were in dialogue with previous administrations to develop what they believe is a humane resolution to the immigration debate.

Archbishop Gomez said he will continue to talk with President Donald Trump, whose administration has been criticized by Catholic advocates for its policy of separating families at the border, its restrictions on immigrants seeking asylum and a proposal to further decrease the number of refugees accepted into the United States.

The Catholic Church does defend a nation's right to secure its borders, but most of the world's migrants are leaving their homeland to escape war, violence and extreme poverty, he said. "There is a lot of suffering. Most of them come to our country because they want to provide for their families."

Ahead of the Nov. 12 oral arguments on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at the U.S. Supreme Court, Archbishop Gomez said there are "no doubt" constitutional and legal questions "raised by DACA and how it was enacted."

"But we need to be clear: The fate of these young adults should never have been in the courts in the first place," the archbishop wrote in a Nov. 6 column in the Angelus, the online news outlet of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. "And it would not be, if our leaders in Washington would simply set aside their political interests and come together to fix our nation's broken immigration system."

The "failures" of the nation's leaders in Washington to make "comprehensive reforms to immigration policy "cut across party lines," Archbishop Gomez said.

DACA was established by President Barack Obama's 2012 executive order, and Trump ordered an end to the program in 2017. Several legal challenges to this order have resulted in a consolidation of three DACA cases now before the high court.

"Our nation made a promise to these 'Dreamers,'" Archbishop Gomez wrote. "We have a moral obligation. It is time for the president and Congress to honor that promise and live up to this obligation."

Though he's passionate about immigration reform, the archbishop said he will not be a single-issue president of the USCCB.

Continuing renewal and reform in the church with regard to the clergy sexual abuse crisis will be an ongoing priority, as will combating clericalism in the church, support and promotion of marriage and the family and evangelization. And he will continue to pray for the laity to become missionary disciples.

"It has been a challenging time for the church in these past three years," Archbishop Gomez said, and as vice president of the USCCB, he had a leadership role in dealing with the crisis. "I hope I continue to be a source of support for my brother bishops and especially to continue this time of renewal."

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Don't join devil's game of jealousy, pope says at Mass

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The devil is real and is so jealous of Jesus and the salvation Jesus offers that he tries everything he can to divide people and make them attack each other, Pope Francis said.

Celebrating Mass in the chapel of his residence Nov. 12, the pope preached about the day's first reading from the Book of Wisdom, which says: "God formed us to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made us. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world."

"Some people say, 'But, Father, the devil doesn't exist,'" the pope told the small congregation in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. "But the word of God is clear."

The devil's envy, which the Book of Wisdom cites, is the root of all his efforts to get people to hate and kill one another. But his first steps, the pope said, are to sow "jealousy, envy and competition" instead of allow people to enjoy brotherhood and peace.

Some people will say, "'But, Father, I don't destroy anyone.' No? And your gossiping? When you speak ill of another? You destroy that person," the pope said.

Someone else might say, "But, Father, I've been baptized. I'm a practicing Catholic, how's it possible that I could become an assassin?"

The answer to that is that "we have war inside of us," the pope said.

Pointing to the beginning of Genesis, he noted that "Cain and Abel were brothers, but out of jealousy, envy, one destroyed the other." And even today, he said, just turn on the TV news and you see wars, destruction and people dying either because of hatred or because others are too selfish to help.

"Behind all this, there is someone who moves us to do these things. It's what we call temptation," he said. "Someone is touching your heart to make you follow the wrong path, someone who sows destruction in our hearts, who sows hatred."

Pope Francis said he cannot help wondering why countries spend so much money on weapons and waging war when that money can be used to feed children at risk of dying of hunger or to bring clean water, education and health care to everyone.

What is happening in the world, he said, happens also "in my soul and in yours" because of the "devil's seeds of envy" sown abundantly.

Pope Francis asked the people at Mass with him to pray for an increased faith in Jesus, who became human to battle and to defeat the devil, and for the strength "to not join the game of this great envier, the great liar, the sower of hate."

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]