Advocates stress that U.S. has moral obligation to welcome refugeesWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Leaders from six organizations want Americans and President Donald Trump to understand that refugees, especially those from war-torn Middle Eastern countries, are average people with careers, comfortable homes and loving families rather than see them as a monolithic threat to the United States. Their appeal during a Feb. 1 news conference at Casa Italiana at Holy Rosary Church in Washington, D.C., came as refugees continued to be denied entry into the U.S. nearly a week after Trump ordered a 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee resettlement program. Officials of Catholic Charities USA, Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., Catholic Relief Services, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and the Center for Migration Studies called on Trump to rescind his presidential memorandum implementing the suspension, saying the country has a moral obligation to welcome people fleeing for their lives. They called the world's refugee crisis a pro-life issue. "One of the issues for many of us in this country is that we can't imagine that the refugee is a person like ourselves, that many of the people that are now caught in camps or horrible situations are people like ourselves who woke up one morning and learned that everything they had was destroyed," said Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA.
Culture alone cannot be blamed for drop in vocations, pope saysVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While there is a need to evangelize a culture that tells young people money equals success and commitments aren't forever, stopping the "hemorrhage" of people leaving religious orders also requires changes from the orders themselves, Pope Francis said. "Alongside much holiness -- there is much holiness in consecrated life -- there also are situations of counter-witness that make fidelity difficult," the pope said Jan. 28 during a meeting with members of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and representatives of religious orders. The congregation was holding a plenary meeting focused on "fidelity and abandonment," examining the factors that contribute to a lifelong commitment to religious vows or to leaving consecrated life. According to the Vatican's Central Statistics Office, from the end of 2004 to the end of 2014, the number of religious-order priests in the world declined by more than 2,500 to just under 135,000; the number of religious brothers dropped by 471 to just over 54,500; and the number of women religious fell by almost 85,000 -- 11 percent -- to about 683,000 religious.
Catholic media may be remedy for challenges church faces, says CNS headWYNNEWOOD, Pa. (CNS) -- Catholic news media might be the remedy for three of the greatest challenges facing the Church in the United States today, according to a leading Catholic journalist who spoke Jan. 30 at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in suburban Philadelphia. Greg Erlandson, director and editor in chief of Catholic News Service, delivered the Cardinal John Foley Lecture for about 50 attendees at the seminary, including Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput. CNS was founded by the U.S. bishops in 1920. The international news service is based in Washington, D.C., with offices at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' headquarters. In his talk, Erlandson recalled the words of Cardinal Foley that could be considered the mission statement of Catholic communicators. Media professionals, the cardinal said only weeks before his death in 2011, have a "sacred bond" with media consumers. "They look to you for information, for formation, for inspiration," the cardinal said at the time, repeating a theme he had offered Catholic journalists many times in his long ministry in the Church and in the Catholic press.
Canadians gather for Mass at church next to mosque where six were killedQUEBEC CITY (CNS) -- People of many faiths gathered for a solidarity Mass at Notre-Dame-de-Foy church, next to the mosque belonging to the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center, where six men were killed by a gunman while they were praying. Cardinal Gerald Lacroix, who had returned from Rome just hours before, called everyone to reject violence. "Men and women of dialogue: This is what we are called to be. Full of respect and truth. Like Jesus, let us be mindful of the needs of those we live with. Let us learn to know them and to advance with them. We have a lot to gain from listening, meeting, and living together. We are made to enrich each other, and we'll do it by learning how to love each other," said Cardinal Lacroix. Muslim leaders and members of the Muslim community, as well as Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and other high-level politicians, were in attendance Jan. 31. The co-founder of the Islamic center, Boufeldja Benabdallah, brought many to tears with his remarks. Referring to Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, the only suspect who is now accused of first-degree murder and attempted murder, Benabdallah said it is not Canada's fault, but the acts of one individual who got lost.
Pope: Like expectant moms, live in joyful expectation of embracing GodVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christian hope isn't about believing in something that may or may not come true, like hoping tomorrow's weather will be pleasant, Pope Francis said. "Christian hope is the expectation of something that already has been fulfilled and that certainly will be attained for each one of us," that is, knowing Christ died and is truly risen so that all of humanity may gain salvation and live together with God, the pope said Feb. 1 during his weekly general audience. Continuing a series of talks on Christian hope, the pope looked at St. Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians and what it teaches about the Christian belief in life after death. The early Christian community at Thessaloniki was firm in its belief in Christ's resurrection, but trusting in one's own resurrection and the resurrection of loved ones was a bit harder to grasp, the pope said. Such doubts and uncertainty still exist today as "we all are a little afraid of dying," he told those gathered in the Paul VI audience hall.
Domestic violence workshopESSEX JUNCTION--The Diocese of Burlington is presenting a free workshop aiding in developing tools to reach out and help victims of domestic violence. This workshop is open to everyone. It will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 22, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Holy Family Parish Center. Lunch is included. Call 658-6110 ext. 1453 or go to vermontcatholic.org to register.
Marriage EncounterISLE LAMOTTE-- The upcoming Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend is March 17-19 at St. Anne’s Shrine. For information or to apply, contact Gary and Lynn
From Father Thomas Mattison, pastor of Christ Our Savior Parish in Manchester Center and Arlington
…The Church is not an organization in which the lay people pay the clergy to administer sacraments to them so that they can get to heaven. It is “the People of God,” formed by baptism and existing in the world to show the world how God wants people to live together in this world as well as in the world to come.
Two great ironies came along with this new insight into the “social” definition of the Church. The society around us became utterly fascinated with individualism, consumerism and “spiritual” introspection. And young men stopped applying for the priesthood in record numbers.
A social definition of human nature lost its luster almost before it began to shine and the generations that grew up in this culture lost interest in a socially defined church whose ministers were charged, above all, with teaching the baptized to recognize and live out their dignity.
We are still trying to figure out what the long-term effects of this will be, but there are some things that are clear already.
A shortage of priests has meant that more and more parishes have no resident pastor. This means that the care and maintenance of the parish properties must be seen to by a group of laity – often the same group who make certain that the church is open and warm and lit up so that all is ready when the priest arrives for Mass.
Parish organizations and programs sometimes go on and thrive or sometimes die. Certainly, the recruitment and training of new participants in this “priest-less” situation goes undone. This results in fatigue and resentment on the part of the doers and surprise on the part of the non-doers when the situation can no longer sustain itself.
(There is, or soon will be, a crisis amongst the clergy who find themselves without a real membership in any community. It won’t be because they have no center of power but because they have no “home” in any of the various parishes where they serve purely as “confectors of the Sacraments.”)
If parish-based Catholicism as we have known it and practiced it is going to continue, it will be because the lay members of the parishes learn to reach out to their neighbors to keep them connected and involved in the life of the community – this would include work projects, catechetics and Mass attendance. This will not solve the clergy’s need for communal life, but it will keep them from getting spread so thin that they cannot do the things they were ordained to do.
For more information on Father Mattison’s parish, go to www.christoursaviorvt.com.