40 Catholic institutions plan to divest from fossil fuels
Sunflowers stand in a field near inactive oil drilling rigs in Dickinson, N.D., Jan. 21, 2016. (CNS photo/Andrew Cullen, Reuters)
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Forty Catholic institutions, including the Belgian bishops' conference and a leading church social welfare agency in South Africa, have decided to divest from fossil fuel companies. The organizations cited the call of Pope Francis in his 2015 encyclical, "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," to take steps to protect the environment as well as the importance of making investments that lead to a carbon-neutral economy in an effort to address climate change. Up to 97 percent of climate scientists have attributed climate change to human activity, at least in part. The Oct. 3 announcement came as the monthlong "Season of Creation" ended and the church prepared to observe the feast of St. Francis of Assisi the next day. In most cases, divestment is expected to take several years to accomplish. "What is clear is that momentum in fossil fuel divestment is growing a lot. This is a very concrete sign of the voice of the Catholic community," said Tomas Insua, executive director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, which organized the effort following a divestment conference in Rome earlier this year.
Keeping the garden green: Vatican uses essential oils on outdoor artVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Roughly half of the Vatican's 110 acres is devoted to gardens, and a major project is underway to keep them as "green" as possible.
It's not about watering the plants, although that was a big concern this year with a drought in Italy. The Vatican Museums and the Vatican City governor's office -- which includes the gardeners -- are involved in a five-year project to develop ecologically friendly cleaning agents and techniques to clean, restore and maintain the 570 works of art on display outside. Those works include fountains, statutes and stone plaques. The project involves art experts and biologists, including several dedicated to studying medicinal plants and essential oils extracted from plants. For the Vatican, the project is not just about killing bacteria, removing fungus and algae, controlling rust and chipping off calcium deposits. The entire process is being meticulously documented -- from the original state of degradation to the formulae of substances applied and the long-term tracking of their effectiveness -- in the hopes of being able to offer other cities and institutions "green" methods for preserving outdoor art.
'Love Saves Lives' theme for 2018 March for Life marking Roe decisionWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The theme for the 45th annual March for Life will be "Love Saves Lives: Life Is the Loving, Empowering and Self-Sacrificial Option." The March for Life Education and Defense Fund announced the theme for the 2018 rally and march at a briefing on Capitol Hill Oct. 3 with Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life organization and other pro-life leaders in Washington. She moderated a panel discussion on "how the pro-life movement continues to empower women" with Susan Gallucci, executive director of the Northwest Center, which offers a range of services to pregnant women and new mothers; Chuck Donovan, president of Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research and education institute of the Susan B. Anthony List; and Alison Howard Centofante, director of alliance relations at Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit legal group that supports pro-life, religious freedom and other issues. The March for Life will take place Jan. 19, which is a Friday and comes ahead of the Jan. 22 anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade.
Bible reading is devoting time to a loved one, pope saysVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The importance of the Bible in the life of Christians can be seen in the number of faithful around the world who risk prison and persecution just to possess and read the Bible, Pope Francis said. "Many of our brothers and sisters are in prison on account of the word, and many more have shed their blood as a testimony to their faith in Jesus Christ," Pope Francis said Oct. 5 during a meeting with members of the church relations committee of the United Bible Societies. Addressing members of the group, which translates, prints and distributes Bibles around the world, Pope Francis said that just as "we devote time to those we love," Christians must devote time to reading the word of God, "who desires to talk to us and offer us words of life eternal." "It is vital that the Church today go out to proclaim the Gospel to all, in all places, on all occasions, without delay, reluctance or fear," the pope said. "We do so in obedience to the Lord's missionary mandate, certain of His presence among us until the end of the world."
Bishop Cantu reiterates call to Pentagon to close Guantanamo Bay prisonWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Moral and financial reasons require the Pentagon to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace reiterated in a letter to the secretary of defense. Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, also said in an Oct. 3 letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis that any of the 41 remaining detainees who have been cleared of charges should be transferred to new host countries and that no new detainees should be assigned to the prison. The bishop called for the continuation of periodic review of the cases of the detainees who remain, saying "indefinite detention without trial is also inhumane. Indefinite detention is not only injurious to detainees, but it also compromises the U.S. commitment to the rule of law and undermines our struggle against terrorism," he wrote. "Our ultimate goal is the closure of Guantanamo, a task that ultimately will require congressional approval. Be assured that we will continue to work toward that end," the letter said.
Mali Church leader voices alarm over insurgent attacks on parishesOXFORD, England (CNS) -- Catholic leaders in Mali warned that parishes face a growing assault by Islamic militants despite attempts to enforce a peace deal in the north African country. "Our churches and chapels are now being targeted by extremists, who've told Christians not to gather to pray," said Msgr. Edmond Dembele, secretary-general of the Malian bishops' conference. "The authorities are trying to reimpose control, and we may learn more about what kind of strategy is being followed," he told Catholic News Service Oct. 5. "But we're also alarmed the attacks are being mounted by isolated Islamist groups, acting in their own name." Tensions were running high in September and early October in Mali's central Mopti region after several Catholic churches were ransacked and torched, forcing parishioners to flee. Msgr. Dembele said it was unclear which groups were involved and what their motives were. "We have no security program of our own and we rely on the authorities to provide protection and find solutions," Msgr. Dembele said.
On spirituality and moralityBy Father Thomas Mattison
Pastor of Christ Our Savior Parish in Manchester Center and Arlington
Even a dreadful sinner can be seeking for God. That is why spirituality – the search for God – and morality – the quest for a good life – are not to be equated with
eachother. However, the moral life of a spiritual person will have a definite tone and flavor to it.
One can do moral thinking based on rules or on rights or on mutual advantage or enlightened self-interest or their opposites. But one who is truly seeking God will seek Him also in his actions with, on and in reaction to other people. Thus the fundamental moral question for the spiritual person will be how does this relationship affect my relationship with God? The more truly spiritual the person is, the more his relationships and interactions will be organized around this question.
His hagiographers are fond of repeating that St. Dominic hardly ever spoke to or about anyone or anything but God. But that must not be taken to mean that spiritual people are all “pious and religious;” the other question that they ask in their interactions with others will be How does my relationship with God affect my relationship with this other person?
We can be certain, then, that the most spiritual people will be not only the most missionary minded, but also the most intense seekers of justice and mercy and a
better life for all. They will have discovered the deep-down unity of the first and second great commandments of love for God and neighbor.
That is why it can happen that love of neighbor -- a preoccupation with the sufferings, wants and needs of others -- can often lead to a deep resentment of God and others who seem to be less than interested in creating a utopia here on Earth. Here again, actions and interactions on the horizontal, this worldly plain (morality), are not always indicators of a deep spirituality – even though a deep spirituality will always result in a deep love of neighbor.
Do you remember that Mother Teresa was roundly criticized because she was not concerned about the politics and mechanics of eradicating poverty, sickness and suffering? Her only concern was to help and comfort poor people, sick people, suffering people.
Well, then, how about monks and hermits? They seem not much interested practical charity for the neighbor.
St. Benedict, who is the “father” of most of the monks and hermits of the Church that we know, makes his monks take vows of conversion, stability and obedience. Living out those vows means that they will not flee from their neighbor (stability), that they will not make excuses for themselves when neighborliness grows difficult (conversion) and that they will not allow their own judgment and desires to run their lives or the lives of others (obedience). He calls this a “school of Christ’s service” and a “participation in his cross.” Try living like that for a week you’ll see what he means.
Whether one lives in a monastery or the biggest city in the world, spirituality is always the same; the stage is always the same: the diminishing space between the
spiritual person and the infinite God. The task is always the same: to grow in love. That is why those who come to monasteries looking for a community of saints almost always leave disappointed.
For more about Christ our Savior Parish go to christoursaviorvt.com.
ORDINATION TO THE TRANSITIONAL DIACONATE--Steven Marchand, a seminarian for the Diocese of Burlington, was ordained to the transitional diaconate in Rome Sept. 28 at the Altar of the Chair at St. Peter's Basilica by Bishop James Checchio, former rector of the Pontifical North American College and now bishop of Metuchen, N.J.
In addition to family and friends, Father James Dodson, assistant vocation director for the Diocese of Burlington and pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Northfield and St. Edward Church in Williamstown, represented the Diocese of Burlington. Father Curtis Miller, parochial vicar of Corpus Christi Parish in St. Johnsbury, Lyndonville and Danville, vested the new deacon; they are both from Our Lady of Grace Parish in Colchester. Deacon Marchand, son of Russell and Linda Marchand, was born in 1991 in Burlington. “I am very happy and thankful to God for shedding His grace upon me so richly, though I do not deserve it,” Deacon Marchand said. “I am excited to serve as a deacon here in Rome in preaching to study-abroad students and serving in a special way at the altar. … It is in the diaconate ordination where one promises obedience to your ordinary (local bishop) and become a cleric of that diocese. I feel privileged to be able to call Vermont my home and eagerly anticipating returning in the summer. Deacon Marchand is studying for a year at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in the dogma program while continuing formation at the North American College in Rome. His ordination to the priesthood is scheduled for June 16, 2018, at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington. For more information: pnac.org/diaconate-ordination/welcome.
Vocations eventWHITE RIVER JUNCTION--Rhonda Gruenewald, a vocation promoter and author of “Hundredfold: A Guide to Parish Vocation Ministry,” will be in Vermont to present a day-long workshop open to all who desire to share in this mission to promote vocations in their parishes, but specifically aimed at directors of religious education, catechists and parents.
The workshop will take place at St. Anthony Parish Hall in White River Junction on Saturday, Nov. 4, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with the option of attending the vigil Mass at 4.
“Following the lead of our local shepherd, Bishop [Christopher] Coyne, and in union with the universal shepherd, Pope Francis -- who called for a Synod this fall to focus on ‘Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment’ -- the Vocation Office is seeking to more intentionally engage young people in Vermont,” explained Father Jon Schnobrich, vocations director for the Diocese of Burlington.
Gruenewald, of Houston, also will speak to the priests of the Diocese of Burlington at the annual priest gathering in September.
“Her book proposes a way to build a culture of vocations in a Diocese, beginning at the parish level,” Father Schnobrich said. “Because of the increasing demands on priests, Rhonda's vision seeks to engage the laity in the mission of promoting vocations in a way that relieves a pastor/priest from the tasks of organizing, planning and administrating different vocation events and activities in the parish.”
The aim of this book is to inspire laypersons beginning or reviving a vocation ministry or committee and provide tested activities to bring about a culture of vocations in their parish.
To find out more about this ministry, go to vocationministry.com.
Global Migration CampaignPope Francis will be joined by bishops throughout the United States and the world in launching a global campaign to support persons who have fled their homes seeking a decent and safe life for their families. The campaign will be joined by
Pope Francis, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief
Services, Catholic Charities USA and the Church’s global charitable network, Caritas Internationalis.
Through prayers and acts of compassion and support, you can help mobilize at this pivotal moment, shaping conversations and actions to answer the Gospel call to love our neighbors.
Sept. 27: The official launch in Rome by Pope Francis
Oct. 7–13: Week of Prayer and Action throughout the United States.
For more information, go to crs.org/resource-center/global-migration-campaign.
National Catholic Youth ConferenceINDIANAPOLIS, Ind.--The National Catholic Youth Conference will take place Nov. 16-19 in Indianapolis. For more information: vermontcatholic.org/index.php?sid=5&pid=578&subnav_id=110.
JACKSONVILLE—There will be a retreat at the Dumaine Retreat Center Nov. 4-5. For more information, contact Bill Gavin at 658-6110.