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Tourists take pictures of a lotus flower in Hamyang, South Korea, Aug. 29. Pope Francis said religions can play an important role in protecting the environment and defending human rights in their countries, their communities and their schools. (CNS photo/YONHAP via EPA)

Celebrate creation, pray for environment, say Church leaders in Europe

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholic bishops' conferences and Christian churches in Europe have invited all Christians to pray for the world and the environment during a month-long celebration of creation. "Recent developments remind us of the growing urgency of the continuing climate change, loss of biodiversity, growing piles of waste and many other challenges," said a joint statement by the Council of European Bishops' Conferences, the Conference of European Churches and the European Christian Environmental Network. "Even if we know there are several causes, we cannot forget that part of the problem is due to our selfishness, lack of care and widespread misunderstanding of the world as a source of profit," said the statement, which was released Aug. 31. Because "Christians of all traditions acknowledge creation as a gift from God," the three groups jointly called on all Christians to care for and manage creation with responsibility.

Canadian dioceses rally to help migrants, mostly Haitians, fleeing U.S.

OTTAWA (CNS) -- As waves of asylum seekers continue to cross illegally into Canada from the United States, Catholic Dioceses in Quebec and eastern Ontario are mobilizing to provide them with food, shelter and pastoral support. "It's a gesture of solidarity toward brothers and sisters," said Auxiliary Bishop Alain Faubert of Montreal. An estimated 7,000 men, women and children, primarily Haitians, have entered Canada during the summer since U.S. President Donald Trump ended a program offering temporary asylum to Haitians displaced by that nation's 2010 earthquake. About half the asylum seekers that have crossed into Canada have ended up in Montreal after being processed. Whether they remain in Canada will be determined in coming months at immigration hearings. The Quebec government has been using Montreal's Olympic Stadium as one site to temporarily house people. The province is dealing with long lines of asylum seekers seeking financial assistance, as Montreal's French-speaking Haitian Catholic community of approximately 140,000 people raises money, collects furniture and helps the newcomers find lodging.

Pope offers early new year greetings to world's Jewish communities

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis praised the increasingly friendly and fruitful relations between the Catholic Church and Jewish leaders as he also wished the world's Jewish communities a happy Rosh Hashanah a few weeks early. "In recent decades, we have been able to draw closer to one another and to engage in an effective and fruitful dialogue. We have grown in mutual understanding and deepened our bonds of friendship," he told a delegation of rabbis, led by Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, chief rabbi of Moscow. The pope met last month with representatives of the Conference of European Rabbis, the Rabbinical Council of America and the Commission of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel; the groups are engaged in dialogue with the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. The rabbis presented the pope with their written declaration, "Between Jerusalem and Rome," which, according to the declaration, offers "an important contemporary Jewish Orthodox reflection on the relationship between Judaism and Christianity."

 Georgia Tech punter forgoes final football season for seminary

ATLANTA (CNS) -- Perseverance has been Grant Aasen's longtime ally. In recovering from a life-threatening injury, walking on to the Georgia Tech football team as a punter, and discerning the priesthood, Aasen has demonstrated a desire to succeed. Aasen, who graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in industrial engineering in May, gave up his final year of football eligibility for the seminary. He planned to enter Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans this fall to begin studying for the priesthood. Football has been part of Aasen's life since second grade. The youngest son of Mark and Tina Aasen of Fayetteville, Ga., he grew up a parishioner of Holy Trinity Church in Peachtree City. Aasen, 22, never thought of being a priest as a child. "It was really just never part of the conversation," he said, explaining that his concentration was on sports and school and "figuring out those natural next steps that every kid my age is supposed to take."

Court: Company can take sisters' land to build natural gas pipeline

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Adorers of the Blood of Christ and other landowners in Lancaster County, Penn., have lost their court case to keep a natural gas pipeline from being built on their property. In an August opinion, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Schmel ordered that Williams Partners and their Transco subsidiary can have permanent right of way of 1.05 acres to build the 42-inch pipeline, as well as another 1.65 acres of right of way on a temporary basis to build it. The pipeline will extend through Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. In a memorandum of opinion supporting his order, Schmel said the company's claimed monthly losses of $500,000 because of the delay in pipeline construction and revenue losses of $33 million a month until it is built was "sufficiently proven" by Williams. Schmel also ordered Williams to pay $329,000 to the Adorers and the other landowners for their property. Schmel discounted the freedom-of-religion argument posed by the Adorers; the landowners were defendants in this case. The order allowed the construction of an outdoor chapel by opponents of the pipeline on their part of the property in question. "Defendant Adorers argue they will suffer harm that implicates their fundamental rights to free exercise of religion and ownership of property if Transco is granted immediate possession. Adorers claim that they 'exercise their religious beliefs by, among other things, caring for and protecting the land they own,' and that their efforts to 'preserve the sacredness of God's Earth' are integral to the practice of their faith," Schmel said.

Top Vatican official discusses terrorist threat, immigration debate

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican obviously is concerned about terrorist threats, "especially for the senseless hatred" it represents, and will continue to remain vigilant, said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state. Speaking to reporters last month, Cardinal Parolin said he had seen the most recent video attributed to Islamic State in which the pope and Vatican are threatened, and "one cannot help but be concerned." However, he said, he did not believe the video prompted extra security measures beyond those that have been in place for some time. For the Year of Mercy 2015-2016, the main boulevard leading to St. Peter's Square was closed to traffic; it never reopened. But while pilgrims approaching St. Peter's Square for Pope Francis' weekly general audience on Wednesdays and his Angelus address on Sundays had already been subjected to security checks, Italian police seemed to take more time doing the checks after the terrorist attack in Barcelona Aug. 17.

Hurricane Harvey relief collection

BURLINGTON-- Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has called on the bishops to consider taking a special collection to support victims of Hurricane Harvey and to provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted Dioceses.
The collection was to be be taken in the statewide Diocese of Burlington Sept. 2-3 or 9-10.
Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne has requested that the special collection be taken at all 73 Vermont Catholic parishes. Funds given to the collection will support the humanitarian and recovery efforts of Catholic Charities USA and will provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted Dioceses through the conference of Catholic Bishops.
“God works through us to serve the greater community especially in times of great need,” the bishop said. “We are called to be generous to the victims of Hurricane Harvey just as so many responded to our needs in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene. Our prayers go out to the families that have lost loved ones and to all who have lost homes and businesses.”

God’s love

By Father Thomas Mattison
We begin with a simple proposition: God loves us in all our uniqueness, with all our warts and wrinkles and all of our oddities and insanities. Were this not so, we would have ceased to exist a long time ago.
The second proposition is that He loves us even when we are troubled, torn, frightened, hurting and guilt-ridden. Were this not so, etc.
The conditions of our individual lives do not change God and certainly do not indicate a change in Him. But, just as a tone deaf individual may find it impossible to enjoy music, the particulars of my existence at a given moment may make it very difficult for me to believe in or care about or entrust myself to this unchanging Lover.
What to do? This is the task of ascetical theology.
Don’t be put off by the word “ascetical.” It sounds like hard things and unbending routines. Actually, it just means things one does when doing what everyone else is doing seems senseless. It points to individual Christian living, with the accent on individual. Neither is it necessarily harsh or punitive; it can be very gradual and gentle — tempering the wind to the shorn lamb.
But it can be very taxing for those who have excelled (or wish to excel) others in their acceptance of and responsiveness to the unchanging love of God.
The saints are the best examples of such “excellent” individuals. There are even “schools” of ascetical theology formed in admiration and emulation of such folk — think: Franciscans, Carmelites, Carthusians, etc., or around the demands of a life focused on a certain kind of work — think: teaching orders, hospital sisters, missionaries.
We will not have time — nor will I have the inclination — to examine each and every one of these in detail. Neither will we be able to work through all the specifics of each “school’s” variations on the common themes. That’s a lifetime’s study. But we can and will be able to look at certain themes and trends that are common to them all. It is in this commonality that we common folk find our natural home.
Father Mattison is pastor of Christ Our Savior Parish in Manchester Center. For more about his parish, visit christoursaviorvt.com.

Action for Ecological Justice: Celebrating a Year of Creation

COLCHESTER—“Action for Ecological Justice: Celebrating a Year of Creation” will be presented on Sept. 30 from 10 am to 5 p.m. at St. Michael’s College. The cost is $35 per person; students, free. Breakfast and lunch are included.

Join Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne at this conference hosted by the Catholic Church of Vermont as part of the Year of Creation. The conference will explore, reflect upon and respond to the message of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.” With a keynote address by Dr. Carolyn Woo (former CEO and president of Catholic Relief Services) and perspectives from scientist, politicians, activists, economists, professionals, academics and people of faith, the day promises dynamic conversations about the state of creation and how people can work together for a sustainable future. Registration and information is available at vermontcatolic.org/actionforecojustice.

Post-Abortion Healing Retreat

BURLINGTON--A “Day of Hope” post-abortion healing retreat will take place for persons who are hurting from an abortion. The Project Rachel Ministry will present the one-day retreat aimed at helping heal wounds caused by abortion on Oct. 21 in the Burlington area. This retreat is designed to help women hurting from past abortions experience the personal love of Christ and find hope for healing. The retreat offers a loving and confidential environment with a committed team including trained diocesan staff, a professional counselor, a priest and a woman who has experienced post-abortion healing. All team members are committed to absolute confidentiality.
Registrants will be informed privately of the exact location, which is kept confidential to protect the privacy of those who attend.
Project Rachel is a healing ministry for individuals who have been affected by abortion, helping them to grieve, receive forgiveness and find peace. With one in three women estimated to have had an abortion by age 45, it is likely that there are many Catholics who have been associated with abortion in one way or another who may need and benefit from the love, mercy and support offered by this healing ministry.
For more information about the Day of Hope and the Project Rachel ministry or to speak to a trained Project Rachel professional, call 802-658-4118 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cursillo Renewal Weekend

KILLINGTON--There will be a Cursillo Renewal Weekend of renewal, sharing and community at Mountain Meadows from Friday, Sept. 15, through Sunday, Sept. 17.  This will be a time for prayer, inspirational talks and recommitment to Christ. The cost is $210 for the weekend stay and $75 for Saturday only. Contact Tom Kanya at 802-878-6152 for registration information.

Respect Life Sunday

"Be Not Afraid" is the theme of Respect Life Month 2017, which begins with Respect Life Sunday, celebrated on the first Sunday of October in Dioceses throughout the United States. This year it is Oct. 1. Parishes in Vermont will be sharing pro-life intercessions during Masses on this day, and many will host activities to show support for all life, from conception until natural death. For more information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

National Catholic Youth Conference

BURLINGTON--The National Catholic Youth Conference is an opportunity for Catholic young people come together to pray, learn and grow in their faith. In addition to opportunities to receive the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession, participants attend sessions on topics relevant to living as disciples of Christ in today's world, visit with organizations that provide resources and support to youth, spend time in personal and communal prayer and engage in service to others.
The event will take place in Indianapolis from Nov. 16-19 and draw more than 25,000 youth from throughout the United States. Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne and a Vermont delegation are planning to attend.
The estimated cost: of $900 includes air transportation.
For registration information, contact: Kelley Alderman, Youth and Young Adult Ministry administrative assistant, at 802-658-6110, ext. 1130.

Youth rally

DERBY LINE—There will be a “Youth Blessed Rally” Oct. 14 at St. Edward Church for teens in seventh through 12th grades and their parents. It will take place from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The cost is $10 per person or $20 per family. This event is for families and will include sessions for parents as well as teens. Come for fun, inspiration, food and Sunday vigil Mass. The event will feature Judy McDonald and Ben Walther. For more information: vermontcatholic.org.

Camp Guggenheim

SOUTH BURLINGTON--There will be a youth leadership weekend retreat at Camp Guggenheim in the lower Saranac Lake area of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, N.Y. The cost is $70 per person. A Vermont group will depart from and arrive back at the new Bishop Brady Center, 55 Joy Drive in South Burlington. Departure is at 4 p.m. on Sept. 29 and return is scheduled for 3 p.m. Oct. 1. For more information, contact the
Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry at 802-658-6110 ext. 1130 or visit
Bishop's Fund Annual Appeal