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Catholic News Service

Catholic News Service has a rich history of journalistic professionalism and is a leader in the world of Catholic and religious media. With headquarters in Washington, offices in New York and Rome, and correspondents around the world, CNS provides the most comprehensive coverage of the church today. Website URL: http://www.catholicnews.com/

Blessed Stanley Rother

Wearing a red and black traditional Guatemalan shirt that had belonged to martyred U.S. priest Father Stanley Rother, Ronald Arteaga traveled from his village of Santiago Atitlan to witness the Sept. 23 beatification of the pastor he knew as "Padre Aplas."
 
Even though Arteaga was only 10 when now-Blessed Rother was martyred in 1981, he remembers "he was always with the people of Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, and more than that, he identified with our indigenous population."
 
The sleeves on Arteaga's shirt had to be rolled up because, as he recalled, Blessed Rother was a tall man. "He learned to speak Tz'utujil, the language of my people, and he always served the people most in need," Arteaga said.
 
When Blessed Rother was killed, Arteaga recalled, it "broke the hearts of the entire village," but "we had hope that he would receive this honor and thanks be to God that this day has arrived!"
 
An estimated 20,000 packed the Cox Convention Center from across the country and throughout the world to witness the beatification of the native Oklahoman who would become the first U.S.-born martyr. Ordained for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City in 1963, Blessed Rother went to the archdiocesan mission in Santiago Atitlan. He was gunned down in his rectory by three masked men in 1981.
 
Pope Francis recognized the priest's martyrdom last December, making him the first martyr born in the United States and clearing the way for his beatification.
 
"We're amazed at the size of the crowd and delighted so many people are interested in celebrating his life," said Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City during a media availability. "He's a local hero whose reputation goes far beyond Oklahoma."
 
Father Don Wolf, a cousin of Blessed Rother, made an appeal for continued support of the missions the martyr served in Santiago Atitlan and Cerro de Oro.
 
"For the people of his parish in Santiago Atitlan and Cerro de Oro and all of us here in Oklahoma, he has led our eyes unwaveringly to the kingdom of God," Father Wolf said.
 
It was for Father Wolf's ordination in May 1981 that Blessed Rother made his last visit to the United States, which Father Wolf said is a distinction that links his priesthood to his cousin's.
 
"At ordination they invoke the saints ... at my ordination we had one," Father Wolf said. "It's an enormous inspiration and an enormous challenge -- the kind of service his priesthood embodied is the kind of service that I strive to."
 
Francisco "Chico" Chavajay, program coordinator for Unbound Project in Guatemala, was only 1 when Blessed Rother was killed, but grew up in San Pedro, which is near Santiago Atitlan, knowing who "Padre Alpas" was and the impact he had on the community.
 
"My family benefited from the hospital he founded because one of my sisters went to the hospital when I was eight years old, and we didn't have access to a closer hospital," Chavajay recalled. "If it wasn't for his work, it would probably have been a different story for my sister."
 
Chavajay now works for Unbound, an U.S.-based organization founded in 1981 by five lay Catholics, including one who had worked with Blessed Rother in Guatemala. Unbound works with children and the elderly in poor and marginalized communities throughout the world. In Guatemala, Chavajay is responsible for serving more than 60,000 families.
 
"For us, he's like an angel we have in heaven to support this cause," Chavajay said. "We feel that Padre Aplas' hand and prayers in heaven are helping guide us in this life to continue bringing the Gospel and salvation to our brothers and sisters in need."
 
Father Guillermo Trevino traveled from the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, for the beatification. Serving in an area that relies heavily on agriculture, Father Trevino was impressed at Blessed Rother's "ordinariness." The future martyr was raised on his family's farm about three miles from Okarche.
 
"The thing is he was so ordinary, but he had great gifts. In Guatemala he'd be working the farm," said Father Trevino, finding inspiration in his example. In particular, he pointed to a line the late priest uttered that illustrates the devotion he had to his flock: "The shepherd cannot run." "Can I do this?" Father Trevino has asked himself.
 
Dolores Mendoza Cervantes knew Padre Aplas in Santiago Atitlan. Her father, Juan Mendoza Lacan, helped him to translate the Bible into Tz'utujil, and was himself killed less than a year later on June 22, 1982. Dolores came to the U.S. at 16 because she had threats on her own life, but pointed out as a result of their efforts, "all the newer generations can read the language."
 
She now lives in Danube, Calif., with her husband, Robert Cervantes. They said the government at the time considered teaching the Tz'utujil to read a threat.
 
"Father Stanley and my father-in-law were brave enough to stand up to them," Robert said. "They knew they were going to be killed someday, but that didn't stop them from translating the Bible into Tz'utujil."
 
 
  • Published in World

Movie review: 'Home Again'

Genteel decorum prevails in the romantic comedy "Home Again" (Open Road). At least, it does so everywhere beyond the confines of its protagonist's bedroom. The result is a morally mixed film in which kindly characters follow the misguided marital and sexual dictates of contemporary society.
 
Although the movie opens with the aforementioned main character, Alice Kinney (Reese Witherspoon), in tears, her situation turns out to be more tumultuous than tragic.
 
Recently separated from her British-born, New York-based husband, Austen (Michael Sheen), Alice has returned to her hometown of Los Angeles, her two young daughters, Isabel (Lola Flanery) and Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield), in tow. There they've settled into the lavish house in which Alice grew up and which she inherited from her father, John (David Netto), a famous director of 1970s arthouse movies.
 
While out on a liquor-fueled spree celebrating her 40th birthday, Alice crosses paths with a trio of promising but broke filmmakers: brothers Harry (Pico Alexander) and Teddy (Nat Wolff) and their pal George (Jon Rudnitsky). Alice and Harry fall for each other at first sight, but he loses his cookies before they have the chance to get physical.
 
The morning after the night before, the lads -- homeless after being turned out of the cheap motel room they were occupying -- stick around, charming Alice's mom, Lilian (Candice Bergen), with their enthusiasm for her series of starring turns in her late husband's pictures. At Lilian's behest, and after some hesitation, Alice agrees to let her new friends take up residence, rent-free, in her guesthouse.
 
Naturally, the polite and considerate youths bond with Isabel and Rosie and, inevitably, Alice and Harry pick up where nausea had forced them to leave off. But back east, Austen, who has all along wanted to reconcile with Alice, is none too pleased to learn of this novel domestic arrangement -- even though he is still in the dark about its sexual aspect.
 
There's a gentle spirit to writer-director Hallie Meyers-Shyer's feature debut. In fact, the daytime interaction between Alice and her three tenants sometimes recalls that between Snow White and her seven dwarfs.
 
But the script presents marital breakup as a form of liberation. And, though it coyly avoids having the romantic leads sleep together within hours of meeting each other by sending Harry off to worship the porcelain idol, Meyers-Shyer obviously takes the duo's subsequent fling as a given.
 
Additionally, the girls' accidental exposure to the relationship -- babysitting Lilian unexpectedly shows up with them, just as Alice and Harry are emerging in the morning -- is milked for laughs.
 
Unsound but not obnoxious, "Home Again" (Open Road) will easily be parsed by grownups, for good and ill. The entertainment value of the positive residue, however, is slight at best.
 
The film contains a benign view of divorce and cohabitation, momentary semi-graphic and brief nongraphic sexual activity, comic brawling, a few uses of profanity and at least one rough and about a half-dozen crude terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
 
  • Published in Reviews

Collection requested for Hurricane Irma relief

The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington has asked his fellow bishops throughout the country to take an emergency collection in their Dioceses during weekend Masses Sept. 23-24 to help those recovering from devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and the southeastern region of the United States.
 
"While emergency outreach was immediate, we know that the road to recovery and the rebuilding of communities will be long and additional support will be needed," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston in a statement issued Sept. 14.
 
The funds collected "will be used in the affected areas to support humanitarian aid, assistance with long-term efforts to restore communities after widespread destruction and for the pastoral and reconstruction needs of the Church in U.S. and the Caribbean," he said.
 
Cardinal DiNardo acknowledged that his call "comes on the heels" of the emergency collection for victims of Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas and Louisiana and held on for days before moving inland.
 
Harvey, too, "caused catastrophic damage and compelled us to respond," he said.
 
"Likewise, Hurricane Irma has been devastating and our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean, especially the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, and the southern U.S. need our help."
 
The earlier call for a collection came in an Aug. 28 letter from Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, as USCCB vice president, suggesting funds be collected during Masses the weekend of Sept. 2-3 or Sept. 9-10.
 
Hardly any place in the path of Hurricane Irma was left untouched. Its strength and size, with 120-plus-mph winds stretching 70 miles from its core, leveled entire islands in the eastern Caribbean, brought unprecedented flooding on Cuba's north coast, devastated the Florida Keys, snapped construction cranes in downtown Miami and targeted cities along Florida's Gulf Coast.
 
In the Keys alone, at least 25 percent of the homes were destroyed and 65 percent suffered significant damage, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Brock Long. "Basically, every house in the Keys was impacted," he told the news media.
 
In a Sept. 12 statement, the U.S. bishops' Executive Committee prayed for "the safety and care of human life" after two catastrophic hurricanes -- Irma and Harvey -- and they urged Catholics around the country to offer their prayers as well as financial support and volunteer help as they can.
 
Irma dwindled to a tropical storm as it neared the Florida-Georgia line early Sept. 11 and had died out over southern states by week's end.
 
"The Church is a channel for grace and solidarity in the wake of natural disasters as it offers solace and support in their aftermath," Cardinal DiNardo said Sept. 14. "However, as is so often the case, the Church itself in these regions is both a long-standing provider of aid and now is in need of tremendous assistance itself."
 
Many church structures "have been damaged and their resources depleted, which makes it even more challenging to provide assistance and pastoral outreach to those in need," he added.
 
 
  • Published in Nation

New tool to use 'Laudato Si'' to measure, rank nations' development

A Catholic university, the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation and a Latin American foundation working on sustainable development have developed a tool to measure and rank countries' efforts in human and environmental development.
 
The idea is to have an effective tool that measures using Pope Francis' encyclical "Laudato Si'" as the basis for the initiative.
 
The "Laudato Si'" Observatory will be launched at the closing of the Ratzinger Foundation's international symposium, scheduled Nov. 29-Dec. 1 in San Jose, said Fernando Sanchez, head of the Catholic University of Costa Rica.
 
Sanchez, a former Costa Rican ambassador to the Vatican, said the observatory hopes to prompt research and "to provide nations' governments an absolutely academic tool ... to promote positive change, which is what the pope is asking us to do, and it would be our major contribution with this symposium."
 
The observatory "stems from taking the encyclical, dividing it into measurable topics -- measurable indicators -- and drawing up a human and environmental index," all of which concern "human development and environmental development," he added.
 
In the 2015 encyclical, Pope Francis urged a conversation that includes everyone and the need for a conversion to bring about lasting change on how people view the environment.
 
Sanchez said the papal encyclical is the framework for the observatory and its output and, compared to other measurements already implemented, "the great difference is that this index will have the church's social doctrine as its anchor."
 
"The possibilities to prompt change with this index are enormous," he said.
 
The symposium, "On Care for Our Common Home, a Necessary Conversion to Human Ecology," aims to make it "utterly clear that the struggle for human, social, environmental development is not an ideological issue," Sanchez said.
 
"It's an issue of survival, it's an issue of responsibility, it's an issue of conscience. That's essential, and it's what the Holy Father tells us. Besides, it's not for some, it's for all," said Sanchez.
 
"And also, he clearly says that it's a real issue ... climate change," although "some new leaders have tried to say it's an invention," said Sanchez, who reaffirmed that "it's real, it's urgent, it's global and it's not ideological."
 
The three-day event, to be held at a luxury hotel on the outskirts of this capital city, features presentations by Cardinal Claudio Hummes, retired head of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy and president of the Brazilian bishops' Commission for the Amazon; Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, head of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education; and Tomas Insua, research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and executive director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement.
 
Sanchez said there is high expectation about general participation in the symposium, because scholars, entrepreneurs, environmentalists and students have been invited.
 
"The great challenge we have here is to take an issue, which is for all an important issue, discuss around it and do it in a simple way, as the pope is doing," he said.
In his view, "one of the pope's marvels ... is that he has managed to 'democratize' the Holy See's message, because everyone understands him. You may be in favor or against him, but you undoubtedly understand him, and this encyclical is a good example," he said.
 
Related:
A former head of Catholic Relief Services will be in Vermont to speak at the “Action for Ecological Justice: Celebrating a Year of Creation” conference at St. Michael's College on Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The conference will be the main event of the Diocese of Burlington’s Year of Creation, a yearlong, statewide, intentional focus on embracing the message of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.”
 
Dr. Carolyn Woo, who from 2012-2016 was president and CEO of CRS, the U.S. Catholic Church's official, international humanitarian and development aid agency, will present a personal look at the encyclical she helped Pope Francis present in Rome, at environmental degradation and its effect on the poor and at measures to minimize further environmental harm from carbon emissions and remediate damage already done.
 
The conference at St. Michael’s College will be open to people of all faiths.
 
General registration is $35 per person and includes morning pastries, lunch and afternoon breakout sessions. Students can register for free.
 
For more information, call Stephanie Clary at 802-846-5822.
 

 
  • Published in World
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