Menu

Justice Stevens changed death penalty views during three decades on court

IMAGE: CNS photo/Larry Downing, Reuters

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who served on the court for nearly 35 years, died July 16 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at age 99 after suffering complications from a stroke the previous day.

The justice, who retired in 2010, remained active after retirement, even writing his autobiography, "The Making of a Justice: My First 94 Years," which was just released in April. Last year, he wrote an op-ed published in The New York Times calling for action to end gun violence.

"He brought to our bench an inimitable blend of kindness, humility, wisdom and independence. His unrelenting commitment to justice has left us a better nation," Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement.

Stevens was often portrayed as the leader of the court's liberal side, but he didn't stand by that description, telling The New York Times in 2007: "I don't think of myself as a liberal at all. I think as part of my general politics, I'm pretty darn conservative."

The justice, a Chicago-born Protestant who served as a naval intelligence officer during World War II and was awarded a Bronze Star for his work with a codebreaking team, stood firm on many issues and changed his opinion on others during his time on the high court. Most notably, he changed his views on the death penalty from initially supporting it to renouncing it completely.

He was known as a defender of strict separation of church and state and was against official prayer in schools and vouchers for religious school tuition. He also defended legal abortion, gay rights, and the rights of crime suspects and immigrants in the country without legal documentation facing deportation.

Sister Helen Prejean, a Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille, who is a longtime opponent of capital punishment, posted a thread of tweets July 16 after the announcement of Stevens' death outlining his opinion on the death penalty over the years.

She said he voted with the court's majority in a 1976 case that reinstated the death penalty nationwide after a four-year moratorium and after his retirement he said this was the only vote he regretted.

In a 2008 death penalty case, he wrote that he had come to believe the death penalty was unconstitutional. Prior to that, in 2002, he wrote the decision in Atkins v. Virginia, which ended the death penalty for people with intellectual disabilities, and in 2005, he voted to do away with the death penalty for juvenile offenders.

He also spoke publicly against the death penalty in a number of interviews, calling it a "wasteful enterprise" in 2016 and something the U.S. should do away with under all circumstances in 2010.

In a 2014 interview on the "PBS NewsHour," he said he thought the court had made a grave mistake in formulating rules that "slant the opportunity for justice in favor of the prosecutor" in death penalty cases, especially when "the cost is so high if you make a mistake."

"If you make a mistake in a capital case, there's no way to take care of it later on. The risk of an incorrect execution in any case, to me, is really intolerable. The system should not permit that possibility to exist," he said.

Similarly, in 2005, he also told the American Bar Association that recent evidence that "a substantial number of death sentences have been imposed erroneously" was "profoundly significant because it indicates that there must be serious flaws in our administration of criminal justice."

In an abortion case in 1989, he was the only justice to say that a Missouri statute declaring that life begins at conception violated previous court decisions on abortion and was an "unequivocal endorsement of a religious tenet" that "serves no identifiable secular purpose."

In 1992, he voted to uphold the right to an abortion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which also established the "undue burden" standard for abortion restrictions.

Justice Elena Kagan filled Stevens' seat on the court.

He is survived by two daughters, nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending, the Supreme Court said in a statement announcing his death. He is expected to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

- - -

Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

 

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Being curator of meteorites allows Jesuit to 'find God' in all things

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By James Ramos

HOUSTON (CNS) -- At the Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo near Rome, Jesuit Brother Robert Macke finds his work as the curator of meteorites for the Vatican Observatory -- formally founded in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII -- allows him to, as the Jesuit saying goes, "find God in all things."

"The universe is a big place, and all of it belongs to God's creation, so all of it is a source of wonder and inspiration," he said. "The motto of the Vatican Observatory is 'Deum Creatorem Venite Adoremus' ('Come, Let Us Adore God the Creator'). In studying the universe and all that it contains, we can better appreciate the God who created it. For us, doing science is a form of worship."

Signs of the Apollo missions are found throughout the Vatican Observatory, he said an interview with the Texas Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, from the observatory.

Brother Macke cares for a moon rock from Apollo 17, a goodwill gift from United States to the Vatican. A display case also holds a piece of the "Moon Tree," a sycamore at the Lunar and Planetary Lab in Tucson, Arizona, that was grown from seeds that flew on the Apollo 14 mission.

The Vatican Observatory guestbook has a signature of Frank Borman, dated Feb. 15, 1969, less than two months after he, James Lovell and William Anders became the first three men to orbit the Moon on the Apollo 8 mission, Brother Macke said.

Borman also gave the Observatory a signed print of the famous "Earthrise" photograph, which now hangs on an Observatory wall next to a signed photograph of Eugene Cernan from Apollo 17 that is addressed to St. Paul VI.

In one of the observatory domes, Brother Macke said a photograph shows St. Paul VI watching the Apollo 11 landing from that exact location.

Working with his Vatican Observatory colleagues, including observatory director and fellow Jesuit, Brother Guy Consolmagno, among dozens of other clergy and laity, Brother Macke said "every day is different ... which keeps the work fresh and exciting."

Today, Brother Macke finds the Apollo missions "very inspiring."

"My office is littered with models of the Apollo spacecraft, unmanned space probes, and space telescopes," he said. "My research has even included work with Apollo moon rocks, which has involved several trips to the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center."

He said the Apollo missions reflect a time of unity, a sense that's missing in today's society.

"The Apollo missions ... should serve as a source of inspiration for us all," he said. "Going to the moon was thought to be impossible, but with the whole nation working together toward this goal we could accomplish it. Today we live in a society that is polarized and contradictory. This will get us nowhere. We need to work together. By working together, we can accomplish the impossible."

He pointed out how the Apollo missions were accomplished by human beings and "not by robots."

"The astronauts and the army of support personnel were people who brought their humanity with them," he said. "From the very start, this included religious faith. The crew of Apollo 8, in orbit around the Moon on Christmas of 1968, read to the people of Earth from the Book of Genesis."

While he was born in Fort Worth, Texas, after the Apollo missions, Brother Macke said he's still inspired by others such as the Viking missions to Mars, or the Voyager expeditions to the outer planets.

"My father, who was trained as a geologist but spent his career in the Air Force, would bring us photos from these missions," he said. "He filled our home library with countless books about space and related sciences. I dreamed of visiting these planets myself."

Brother Macke said that since all creation is from God, "it is good, and therefore worthy of study."

"The science that I do is the same science that everybody else does. I collaborate with scientists of all faiths (and no faith) and together we produce good science," he said. "However, for me the context within which I do my science is very much informed by my faith. Science, for me, is an extension of the awe and wonder that I experience when I contemplate God's grandeur and his immeasurable love manifested in the universe that he gave us."

Brother Macke said he loves his work for the Vatican Observatory.

"I find inspiration all around me, from the meteorites that I study to the photographs of deep space hanging on the wall," he said. "I am also very inspired by my fellow astronomers of the Vatican Observatory, all of whom are priests or vowed religious, and all of whom are very accomplished scientists."

"Some days I am in the laboratory performing research. Some days I am talking to school groups about the Vatican Observatory," he said. His days bring him to conferences sharing his research with other collaborators and scientists, creating content for the Observatory's several social media outlets, as well as academic research and paper writing.

"And occasionally, a day might be marked by a papal audience," he said.

- - -

Ramos is a staff writer and designer for the Texas Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Update: Administration to apply 'third country' rule for asylum-seekers

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jose Luis Gonzalez, Reuters

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Trump administration announced the U.S. departments of Justice and Homeland Security are adopting an interim "third country rule" requiring immigrants seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border to first apply for refugee status in another country.

News that the rule was taking effect July 16 brought quick condemnation by Catholic and other immigrant advocates, including the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.

And as it had vowed to do, the American Civil Liberties Union the same day filed suit against the regulation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which is based in San Francisco. Representing four California-based immigrant advocacy groups, the ACLU said the "crackdown" violates federal immigration and regulatory laws. ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt called the new rule the Trump administration's "most extreme run at an asylum ban yet."

Cardinal DiNardo called the new rule "drastically" limiting asylum "unacceptable," especially because it comes on the heels of the "misguided and untenable" actions by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to carrying out deportation orders for some immigrants.

"It is contrary to American and Christian values to attempt to prevent people from migrating here when they are fleeing to save their lives and to find safety for their families," the cardinal said in a July 16 statement.

ICE enforcement actions are creating fear in immigrant communities and now added to "to this climate of fear" is the administration's "further unacceptable action to undermine the ability of individuals and families to seek protection in the United States."

"The rule adds further barriers to asylum-seekers' ability to access life-saving protection, shirks our moral duty, and will prevent the United States from taking its usual leading role in the international community as a provider of asylum protection," the cardinal continued. "Further, while still reviewing the rule, initial analysis raises serious questions about its legality."

He urged President Donald Trump "to reconsider these actions, the new rule and its enforcement-only approach."

"I ask that persons fleeing for their lives be permitted to seek refuge in the U.S. and all those facing removal proceedings be afforded due process. All who are at or within our borders should be treated with compassion and dignity," Cardinal DiNardo added.

Other reaction to the third-country asylum rule included a statement from including Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network.

"Yesterday, Catholics around the world attending Mass heard the 'Parable of the Good Samaritan' and a message of love for one's neighbor proclaimed in the Gospel," Kerr said July 15. "Today, our nation awoke to the news of the president of the United States seeking to shut off access to safety and refuge for Central American families facing horrific violence, repression and poverty in their home countries."

"This is not the act of a good Samaritan -- instead it is an effort that does not honor the inherent dignity of those seeking asylum in our country," Kerr said.

The rule will not only have "a profound impact on Central Americans facing poverty and gang violence" but also will affect people from many other countries fleeing religious persecution and other forms of abuse," he said.

"Asylum is an internationally recognized life-saving process that is firmly embedded in U.S. law and history," said Anna Gallagher, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. "Attempting to subvert this process is a betrayal of American history and our legal system. Asylum-seekers need our protection, not another door slammed in their faces."

Gallagher's comments were included in a joint news release of reaction from several faith groups issues late July 15 by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition.

"As Pope Francis said last week in his return to the immigrant-receiving island of Lampedusa, we are called to be, as Scripture asks, 'those angels, ascending and descending, taking under our wings the little ones, the lame, the sick, those excluded.' Our call to care for others doesn't get much plainer than that," Gallagher added.

Kathryn Johnson, policy advocacy coordinator with the American Friends Service Committee, said that at a time of "multiple refugee crises across the world, the United States should be expanding U.S. protection for refugees, asylum-seekers and others seeking safety and taking in more of the world's persecuted people."

"Instead, she added, "this administration is shamefully putting more refugees' lives in danger through this and other attacks on our asylum system."

The new rule, being published in the Federal Register, says that "an alien who enters or attempts to enter the United States across the southern border after failing to apply for protection in a third country outside the alien's country of citizenship, nationality, or last lawful habitual residence through which the alien transited en route to the United States is ineligible for asylum."

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Update: Faith leaders decry ICE deportations, say action causes fear

IMAGE: CNS photo/ICE, Charles Reed via Reuters

By Julie Asher

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Many Catholic and other faith leaders noted that the Gospel reading for July 14 -- the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was to carry out deportation orders for some immigrants -- was the parable of the good Samaritan from the Gospel of St. Luke.

The story admonishes people to put aside their differences and "help those who are in need of help," such as the immigrants coming across the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum, faith leaders said.

In a July 16 statement, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, condemned ICE enforcement actions, saying that they "separate families, cause the unacceptable suffering of thousands of children and their parents and create widespread panic in our communities."

The cardinal criticized the Trump administration's "enforcement-only approach" to immigration, which includes a new rule requiring asylum-seekers to apply for asylum in the U.S. in countries they go through before arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. Otherwise, these immigrants will be refused asylum protection.

"It is contrary to American and Christian values to attempt to prevent people from migrating here when they are fleeing to save their lives and to find safety for their families," said the cardinal, who urged President Donald Trump to reconsider these policies and noted he recently wrote to Trump to reconsider using such enforcement actions.

"All who are at or within our borders should be treated with compassion and dignity," Cardinal DiNardo added. "Beyond that, a just solution to this humanitarian crisis should focus on addressing the root causes that compel families to flee and enacting a humane reform of our immigration system."

Other leaders criticizing the ICE actions included Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, who said July 13 that her organization strongly opposed "the reported plans of ICE raids this weekend."

"The threats of deportation and family separation are causing anxiety and fear within the vulnerable communities our agencies serve, endangering immigrant rights and safety. Most significant is the lasting psychological damage family separation inflicts upon children," she said. "Such cruel behavior will impact children for the rest of their lives."

"Our Catholic Charities agencies stand committed to providing legal and humanitarian assistance for our immigrant brothers and sisters," she said. "We support the pursuit of legal immigration but recognize that all immigrants, regardless of status, must be treated with basic human dignity and respect."

Sister Markham urged Congress and the Trump administration "to enact comprehensive immigration reform and address the root causes of migration rather than pursue enforcement raids on America's immigrant community."

In Texas, Brownsville Bishop Daniel E. Flores echoed the same concerns, saying: "The threat of mass deportation raids is psychologically cruel to families and children. The actual separation of parents from their children without even a chance for a court appearance is simply reprehensible. Laws ought to treat families and children differently than drug lords."

News reports estimated that about 2,000 people were going to be arrested for deportation. ICE actions were taking place in at least nine cities: New York, Baltimore, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta and Miami. Some news reports reported that ICE actions also would take place in New Orleans.

Mayors in those cities announced they would not allow their law enforcement agencies to cooperate with ICE agents. Thousands across the country protested the agency's actions.

In New York, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan July 13 decried a general negative attitude toward refugees and immigrants that he said he sees among many in this country, a nation of immigrants. His remarks were not issued in direct response to the announced ICE deportations but came after he celebrated Mass that day in the chapel at the St. Francis Xavier Cabrini Shrine in New York City.

The saint, also called Mother Cabrini, is the patroness of immigrants and refugees. An Italian American, she founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a religious community that was a major support to the Italian immigrants to the United States.

"I was moved as I recalled her work among Italian immigrants in the United States in the 19th and early 20th century," Cardinal Dolan wrote in a blog post. "This work inspires me today as the church continues to welcome immigrants from so many different countries, particularly in these troublingly uncertain times."

"It saddens me to admit that many, some even in the church, opposed Mother Cabrini's work. It troubles me that today in too many places hate and malice are directed against immigrants and refugees -- in both words and actions," he added.

"As a pastor, I pray that understanding, respect and love might grow in dealing with newcomers to our land. I am proud of the welcoming that our parishes, schools, charitable, and health care ministries have and do provide," Cardinal Dolan said.

In a July 14 interview on Fox News Channel, Matt Albence, acting ICE director, said "using the term 'raid' does everybody a disservice. We are doing targeted enforcement actions against specific individuals who have had their day in immigration court and have been ordered removed by an immigration judge."

"We are merely executing those lawfully issued judges' orders," he said.

Albence said he could not give details of what the agency was calling "Operation Perspective," but said individuals ICE was targeting came "to this country illegally, had the opportunity to make an asylum claim before an immigration judge, and most of them chose not avail themselves of that opportunity and didn't even show up for their first hearing."

Albence added that in February, ICE gave these individuals an opportunity to turn themselves and arrange "processes for leaving the country." Just 3%, he said, "actually responded, the rest ignored (the request)."

Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the weekend action aligned with ICE's priority to remove criminals from the U.S.

"We've got compassionate, loyal ICE agents who are just doing their job," Mr. Cuccinelli said in a morning interview July 14 with CNN's Jake Tapper. "It shows you how far we've fallen in that it's become news that they would actually go deport people who have removal orders."

In other faith-based reaction, Katie Adams, domestic policy advocate for the United Church of Christ and co-chair of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, said July 12 that having "these raids" take place on a Sunday, "the Christian holy day," is "further proof that these actions are morally bankrupt."

"These raids come from a place of fear, suspicion, and hate; living in that kind of hate is antithetical to the Gospel that teaches love for humanity. Families are sacred, both those we are born with and those we find," Adams said.

The National Council of Churches, also in a July 12 statement, urged the Trump administration to call off the ICE actions, which it labeled as "unconscionable and immoral."

"This is a moment in which God is calling the church to do all it can to stand with those who have sought refuge within our borders and to resist these measures and show compassion toward persons threatened with deportation," the council said.

Back in June, when the Trump administration indicated it planned enforcement operation in major cities to remove thousands of migrant families with deportation orders, the chairman of the U.S. bishops' migration committee criticized the decision, saying broad enforcement actions "instigate panic in our communities and will not serve as an effective deterrent to irregular migration."

"We recognize the right of nations to control their borders in a just and proportionate manner," said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, in a June 22 statement. ICE deportations were later postponed.

"We should focus on the root causes in Central America that have compelled so many to leave their homes in search of safety and reform our immigration system with a view toward justice and the common good," he said, adding the U.S. bishops were ready to work with the administration and Congress to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.

"During this unsettling time, we offer our prayers and support to our brothers and sisters," Bishop Vasquez said, "regardless of their immigration status, and recognizing their inherent dignity as children of God."

- - -

Follow Asher on Twitter: @jlasher

 

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Vatican Museums loan Leonardo da Vinci work for special anniversary

IMAGE: CNS photo/A. Bracchetti, Governatorato S.C.V. via The Metropolitan Museum of Art

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci with a painting by the artist that will draw crowds but also pay solemn tribute to the larger-than-life Italian Renaissance painter, architect and inventor.

"Saint Jerome Praying in the Wilderness" -- an unfinished painting on wood on loan from the Vatican Museums -- will be on special exhibit July 15-Oct. 6.

According to the museum, the painting is displayed "in a gallery by itself, starkly illuminated within an otherwise darkened space to heighten the picture's contemplative dimension, which Leonardo intended. The solemn, chapel-like setting will be an evocative nod to the funerals of great Italian artists, which typically featured one of the artist's works as part of the funerary display."

The work depicts St. Jerome during the later part of his life which he spent as a hermit in the desert. Unlike other artists' renditions of St. Jerome, in his study or writing at a desk, this image of the biblical scholar and church father is of an old, gaunt, nearly toothless man, draped in cloths and kneeling in a cave, holding a rock in one hand while beside the silhouette of a lion, his companion in the desert, according to legend.

St. Jerome, who lived from 347 to 420, is known for his translation of most of the Bible into Latin and his commentaries on the Gospels.

New York Times art critic Holland Cotter said those who get the chance to see the painting at the Met will instantly recognize that it is "a work in progress: fined-tuned here, slapped down there."

"Incompleteness is part of its power. And powerful this picture is, as dramatically rich as a three-act opera, with a full-throttle aria of scorching anguish at its center," he wrote. He said the saint and the lion in the work are untamed but that the "real focus is Jerome's agonized face," which he said portrays "inflamed spiritual grief."

The saint's gaze is to the side corner in the direction of a sketched crucifix. Behind him, on the upper left, is a faded landscape that upon a closer look is said to reveal da Vinci's fingerprints.

Max Hollein, the museum's director, said the Met is "thrilled to honor Leonardo da Vinci's legacy by displaying this rare and exceptional painting, as it provides an intimate glimpse into the mind of a towering figure of Western art."

He also noted the St. Jerome painting was one of "possibly six paintings whose authorship by Leonardo has never been questioned."

The artist, famous for the "Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper" paintings, began working on this piece in Milan in 1483 and is said to have kept the painting with him until he died in France in 1519.

Although da Vinci painted a number of religious works, his own faith is subject of speculation.

A Catholic Encyclopedia entry on the artist notes that: "Either through prudence or through scorn of abstract ideas, Leonardo seems to have avoided declaring himself on this subject," but that as an artist, "he accommodated himself perfectly to the Christian tradition."

The Vatican Museums' description of the St. Jerome painting says there is no information about who commissioned the work. "Still in the sketch state, it is one of the most enigmatic works of the great Tuscan painter, sculptor, architect, engineer and philosopher," it adds.

The museum's description said the earliest mention of this painting appeared in the beginning of the 19th century when the Swiss painter Angelica Kaufmann acquired it. Pieces of the panel had been cut in two, the lower half was covering a box and the upper half covered a stool in a shoemaker's shop. A close look at the current exhibition reveals these repair lines.

Throughout the year marking da Vinci's May 2, 1519, death, museums around the world are hosting special exhibits and programs and travel groups are offering special tours to the places where da Vinci lived.

The simple one-piece work in New York adds to the yearlong celebration without a lot of fanfare but clearly with something to say. An overview of the exhibit on the museum's website said the "unfinished painting provides viewers with an extraordinary glimpse into Leonardo's creative process" and "will pay homage to one of the most renowned geniuses of all time."

- - -

Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

 

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Vatican City State set to end sale of single-use plastics

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After current supplies run out, Vatican City State will no longer be selling any single-use plastic items on its tiny territory.

While the European Union pledged in May to ban single-use plastic starting in 2021, the Vatican had already begun limiting its use and soon "it will no longer be sold," said Rafael Ignacio Tornini, head of the department handling Vatican City State's gardens and waste collection.

"We have been making an effort to sort as much (plastic) as possible, and the state has limited all sales of single-use plastic," he told the Italian news agency ANSA July 16.

After all previously stocked items are gone, no more single-use plastic will be sold, he said.

Single-use plastic include bags, water bottles, cutlery, straws and balloons. The top five single-use plastic items polluting European shores are cigarette butts, bottles and caps, food packaging, cotton swab sticks and wet wipes, according to research in 2016 by the European Commission.

The Vatican has long been working to get green, most notably with the installation of a solar power system on the roof of the Paul VI audience hall in 2008.

After starting a recycling program in 2008, Tornini said 55 percent of its municipal solid waste is now being properly sorted and recycled through a private contractor in Italy. Their goal, he said, is to reach EU standards of recycling 70-75 percent of regular waste.

With less than a thousand residents, but thousands of employees and countless visitors, Vatican City produces 1,000 tons of refuse a year.

Individuals are expected to place recyclable items in the correct bins or curbside dumpsters, while the department handles door-to-door pickup of organic waste and cooking oil, he said.

After food waste collection began five months ago, he said, the amount of total unrecycled waste has dropped by 12 to 13 percent each month.

In an effort to better recycle what tourists leave behind, Tornini said, "we have been able to collect about 22 lbs. (10 kg) of plastic a day" from containers under the colonnade of St. Peter's Square.

He said they have had great success in recycling up to 98 percent of waste brought to its "eco-station" that handles "special" waste like batteries, tires, expired pharmaceuticals and other hazardous refuse.

Despite all the recycling programs and equipment put into place, what was really needed, Tornini said, was a change in mentality.

He said, "We took to heart the Holy Father's guidelines in 'Laudato Si'.' Our common home needs safeguarding, and if it doesn't start with us ...."

 

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

When Islamic State came, Iraqi monks had just finished hiding manuscripts

IMAGE: CNS photo/Dalia Khamissy

By Doreen Abi Raad

BEIRUT (CNS) -- The first time a band of Islamic State militants "visited" the monks, they presented the monks with a kind of suggestion, in a nonthreatening manner: "Why don't you become a Muslim?"

Already, the four monks at the ancient Syriac Catholic Mar Behnam Monastery in Khidr, Iraq, had felt they were under siege. Ten days earlier, on June 10, 2014, five carloads of militants roared through the peaceful road leading to Mar Behnam, announcing through megaphones that the Islamic State was in control. Not long before that, the Iraqi army had withdrawn from a checkpoint near the monastery, located southeast of Mosul.

"Visits" from the terrorists the next few weeks intensified: banging on the monastery doors and accusations of the monks being infidels.

"Quite frankly, we were more than frightened," said Syriac Catholic Father Youssef Sakat, who had served as Mar Behnam's superior.

The monks kept up with their regular daily routine of prayer and Mass in the monastery, which dates back to the fourth century. They prayed for protection through the intercession of St. Behnam, a martyr, with faith that "we were in a blessed place," mindful that generations of Syriac Catholic Christians had also faced persecution, and still the faith had endured, Father Sakat told Catholic News Service.

The monastery "was built by local people, stone by stone," he said of Mar Behnam. "I'm sure they put their hearts into their work. I feel it was made with love."

Under Father Sakat's direction since 2012, Mar Behnam had flourished, welcoming up to 250 visitors on weekends -- even from around the world -- for retreats and lodging with the goal of helping people to better understand the monastic life. The monks would engage the children in lively faith-based activities.

"We wanted to show them that Mar Behnam is their home, too," Father Sakat said.

A Muslim friend the monks trusted was keeping them abreast of the worsening situation, but even he was becoming fearful.

"I'm sorry, Father, I can't come to the monastery anymore," he told the priest. "Even I'm being watched. It's becoming very dangerous. They want to kill you."

All the while, Father Sakat was deeply concerned about how to safeguard the chalices and other sacramentals and the monastery's extensive collection of religious manuscripts from inevitable destruction by the militants.

The 630 manuscripts, dating from the 12th to 18th centuries, were written in a range of languages, including Syriac, Greek, French and Latin.

Twice, Father Sakat tried to leave by car, with the intention of taking manuscripts to Qaraqosh, nine miles away. Each time, the militants at the Islamic State checkpoint near Mar Behnam told the priest that he was not allowed to take anything from the monastery.

"It doesn't belong to you," they said. On his third attempt, he was ordered to return to the monastery: "If we see you outside, we will kill you."

On their own, the monks could not come up with a solution, Father Sakat said.

He recalled that on July 19, late in the afternoon, "I felt in my heart: I have to hide them now." He chose a long, narrow closet under a stairwell that was used to store cleaning supplies.

"It was the Lord who directed us," Father Sakat said.

Beginning at 8 p.m., the monks worked together, carefully placing the sacramentals and manuscripts into nine steel barrels used for storing grain. With cinderblocks from a monastery renovation project, they built a false wall in the closet, hiding the barrels behind it. With a cement mixture, they painted all the walls to give them the same appearance. Cleaning supplies were put back in place in the closet. The monks even left the closet door ajar, so as not to rouse suspicions of any Islamist intruder.

They finished their work at 3 a.m.

At 1:30 p.m., four Islamic State militants barged through the Mar Behnam door with a sheikh. The monks were given three choices: either become Muslim, pay the jizya tax or leave.

"We prefer to leave," Father Sakat told the Islamists. They were allowed 15 minutes to vacate. Father Sakat was ordered to turn over all the keys to the monastery and vehicles.

Banished from his beloved monastery, as he walked out the door, "I looked back and told Mar (St.) Behnam, 'I did what I had to do. Now I entrust them under your intercession, by the power of God. Keep them safe. They are under your protection,'" Father Sakat recounted of his plea to safeguard the sacramentals and manuscripts.

The monks were ordered into one of the militants' vehicles. Two miles from the monastery, the militants left the monks on the road, warning: "Whoever looks back, we will shoot him."

The monks walked several hours to Qaraqosh. Their reprieve from terrorism was not for long. Soon that city and other Christian villages in the Ninevah Plain also fell to Islamic State.

In June 2015, the Syriac Catholic patriarch called Father Sakat to Lebanon for his new mission, helping Iraqi Christian refugees who had come to Lebanon from Kurdistan, in northern Iraq.

Now the priest heads the Syriac Catholic Holy Family center in an area of Beirut where many Iraqi Christians settled, with the hope of being resettled in Western countries. Initially, there were 1,200 Syriac Catholic families, totaling 6,700 people. Many are now scattered all over the world; 600 families remain in Lebanon, waiting.

In March 2015, the Islamic State blew up part of Mar Behnam, and the monastery remained under the militants' control until the area was liberated in October 2017.

When Father Sakat visited the monastery that December, he said he was shocked at the destruction.

Graffiti covered the walls. The pillars of the altar were incinerated. One by one, all religious phrases, crosses and symbols inscribed into the monastery's stones were drilled out and defaced, including the names of priests inscribed on tombs. Religious statues were smashed, a statue of Mary beheaded.

"It's like they want to erase all the history of Christianity," Father Sakat said.

Father Sakat stood with anticipation as the wall concealing the manuscripts was chiseled away with a jackhammer, to reveal, intact, the nine steel barrels containing the sacramentals and manuscripts.

The manuscripts were individually packed, this time into car trunks to transport them to the Queen of Peace Syriac Catholic Church in Irbil for safekeeping.

Restoration of the monastery is currently in progress, but "it needs some time," Father Sakat said.

"I'm waiting for the Lord's will, to go back (to Mar Behnam)," he added.

- - -

Coverage of international religious freedom issues by Catholic News Service is supported in part by Aid to the Church in Need-USA (www.acnusa.org).

 

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Love of God, love of neighbor are tied together, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/David Mercado, Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Praying that Catholics would understand and act on "the inseparable bond" between love of God and love of neighbor, Pope Francis again appealed for a solution to the crisis in Venezuela.

"We pray that the Lord will inspire and enlighten the parties in conflict so that as soon as possible they arrive at an agreement that puts an end to the suffering of the people for the good of the country and the entire region," the pope said July 14 after reciting the Angelus prayer.

In early June, the U.N. Refugee Agency reported that the number of Venezuelans who had fled the violence, extreme poverty and lack of medicines in their country had reached 4 million since 2015.

In his main Angelus talk, commenting on the Sunday Gospel reading of the story of the good Samaritan, Pope Francis said it teaches that "compassion is the benchmark" of Christianity.

Jesus' story about the Samaritan stopping to help a man who had been robbed and beaten after a priest and Levite just walked by, "makes us understand that we, without our criteria, are not the ones who decide who is our neighbor and who isn't," the pope said.

Rather, he said, it is the person in need who identifies the neighbor, finding it in the person who has compassion and stops to help.

"Being able to have compassion; this is the key," the pope said. "If you stand before a person in need and don't feel compassion, if your heart is not moved, that means something is wrong. Be attentive."

"If you are walking down the street and see a homeless person lying there and you pass without looking at him or you think, 'That's the wine. He's a drunk,' ask yourself if your heart has not become rigid, if your heart has not become ice," the pope said.

Jesus' command to be like the good Samaritan, he said, "indicates that mercy toward a human being in need is the true face of love. And that is how you become true disciples of Jesus and show others the Father's face."

 

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Update: Vatican discovers empty tombs as it searches for missing woman

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Opening the Vatican tombs of a princess and a duchess July 11 in a search for the remains of a young Italian woman missing for more than 30 years, the Vatican found no human remains at all.

"The search had a negative result," said Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office. "No human remains or funeral urns were found."

Now, Gisotti said, Vatican officials will go into the archives to study documents dealing with "structural interventions carried out in the area" of the Teutonic Cemetery at the end of the 1800s and again in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The cemetery, existing since the Middle Ages, is now reserved mainly for German-speaking priests and members of religious orders.

The side-by-side tombs had been marked as the final resting places of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe, who died in 1836, and Duchess Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the mother of King Frederick VII of Denmark, who died in 1840.

Gisotti said July 13 that investigators believe the remains of the noblewomen may have been moved more than 40 years ago when the Pontifical Teutonic College was expanded. They have sealed off two ossuaries -- vaults containing the bones of multiple persons -- in the floor of the college and plan to open them July 20. In Italy, to create space, it is common to move older remains from a tomb to an ossuary or common grave.

A Vatican City State court had ordered the opening of the tombs at the request of the family of Emanuela Orlandi, who disappeared in Rome June 22, 1983, at age 15. She was a Vatican City resident and daughter of a Vatican employee.

In March, the Orlandi family's lawyer revealed the family had been sent a letter with a photo of an angel above a tomb in the Vatican cemetery. The letter said, "Look where the angel is pointing," according to Laura Sgro, the lawyer.

Vatican workers, supervised by Vatican police and a forensic anthropologist, opened the tombs July 11 after a short prayer was recited by the graves. Sgro was present, along with Pietro Orlandi, the brother of the missing woman.

"We want to reemphasize that the Holy See always has shown attention and closeness to the suffering of the Orlandi family, particularly her mother," Gisotti said. Opening the tombs at the family's request was another sign of that concern.

For decades, Orlandi's case has been the obsession of conspiracy theorists who linked her disappearance to Freemasons, organized crime, the attempted assassination of St. John Paul II and other unsubstantiated theories.

Gisotti said that under a marble slab that was believed to be Princess Sophie's tomb there was a large subterranean opening, measuring four meters by 3.7 meters (13 feet by 12 feet), "completely empty."

Moving on to the presumed tomb of Duchess Charlotte, Gisotti said, "no human remains were found."

Relatives of both women were informed, he said.

On the eve of the opening of the tombs, Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication, interviewed Giovanni Arcudi, the forensic anthropologist who was to lead the scientific investigation of the remains in the two tombs in the Vatican's Teutonic Cemetery.

In the interview, published July 10, Arcudi emphasized the need for careful analysis of the remains in the tombs before knowing if they could provide answers to the Orlandi case, which has remained unsolved for more than three decades.

"Apart from the morphological examination of the bones, the DNA examination will be done in any case to reach certainties and to exclude in a definitive and categorical way that there is some evidence in the two tombs that can be attributed to poor Emanuela," Arcudi said.

The anthropologist had expected to find bones in the tombs and had planned to extract and clean them and piece together the skeletal remains to determine the number of deceased persons that were buried as well as their age and sex.

- - -

Contributing to this story was Junno Arocho Esteves at the Vatican.

 

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

All hymns, all the time: 'Great Catholic Music' makes streaming debut

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Chris Cugini, Living Bread Radio

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholics hear hymns in church, but hardly ever on the radio. Now they can augment their weekly diet of hymnody through a new audio web streaming service called Great Catholic Music.

The service launched March 1, just before Lent, and plays a mix of pre-and post-Vatican II hymns and liturgical music all day, every day. "The response so far has been absolutely amazing," said program director Michael Roberts in an interview with Catholic News Service July 11. "The first night that we launched we received an email from someone in Santa Barbara, California, saying, 'Thank you so much.'"

Great Catholic Music is a project of the Living Bread Radio Network, a group of Catholic radio stations in northeast Ohio. But those stations don't play music. Why not?

"I think a lot of it has to do with licensing. It's not cheap to play music on the radio," said Roberts, who worked at a small oldies-format station for seven years which spent $1,000 a month on licensing. "People are just kind of scared to dip their toe in the water of music," he added. "It's easier for a lot of people not to do music" and rely on talk shows, although with Great Catholic Music, "we felt there was a market for it -- and there really is."

Roberts said Great Catholic Music is based in the same building as a Catholic bookstore in Canton, Ohio, where the owner also sells liturgical music CDs. "She has kept a lot of the demos and a lot of the CDs that she's sold over the years. We literally took the time to download them and dubbed in to our hard drive," Roberts told CNS.

Anybody who remembers listening to hit-music formats regardless of genre will recall how the most popular songs of that moment seemed to be played every couple of hours. Great Catholic Music plays favorites, too, but not nearly that obsessively.

What constitutes "heavy rotation" is 100 or so "songs we've been singing for decades: 'You Are Mine,' 'Blest Are They,' Michael Joncas stuff, the St. Louis Jesuits. We Googled 'top Catholic songs,' and we found several lists compiled by several organizations," Roberts said, adding, "Some of them I may have taken liberties on as the program director."

He added he was planning to go to the National Association of Pastoral Musicians convention in Raleigh, North Carolina, and talk with representatives of what he called "the big three" in liturgical music publishing -- GIA, OCP and WLP, whose hymnals and worship aids are in the vast majority of U.S. parishes -- to add to the current repertoire.

"I hope the publishers come to us and say, 'Here's a demo. Add this song to the rotation, add that song,'" he said, adding the possibility exists for "a show that is just for up-and-coming artists."

Even though Great Catholic Music is loaded with music, it's not 100 percent music.

"Part of this is to inspire. It's not just music, we want to inspire people," Roberts said, adding the website, www.greatcatholicmusic.com, also takes breaks for psalms, Scripture readings and prayers.

"We have some quotes of St. John Paul II, and Archbishop Fulton Sheen and Mother Teresa," he said. "We also have clergy from all over northeast Ohio; by the way, this is where Living Bread Radio and Great Catholic Music come together. We have a clergy member who does a reflection. We take that and put it into rotation for Great Catholic Music. You're hearing a daily reflection of the Mass readings for the day. It's another way to inspire."

Roberts said, "It's a quick break. It's like a commercial interruption, but it's not a commercial."

This early on, adjustments are bound to be made to the mix. Roberts said he's received requests for both more chant and less chant. He fielded a complaint from one listener on Good Friday that the music was "too dirge-y." And trying to salt in Lenten and Advent hymns when there's not a lot to begin with can be tricky, he noted.

Roberts did declare, though, that Christmas music would not be heard on Great Catholic Music until Christmas Eve, but it would continue to be heard through the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

 

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Chile removes statute of limitations on sex abuse cases

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Chilean Presidency via Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As the Catholic Church in Chile continues to deal with the fallout of clerical sexual abuse and its cover-up, the Chilean government passed a law removing the statute of limitations on sex abuse crimes against children.

The new law, which passed the Chilean Congress July 6, ensures that there will be no time limit in prosecuting cases "regarding the kidnapping or abduction of a minor, as well as the torture, unlawful coercion or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and all that occurs during an act of rape, carnal access to a minor, statutory rape or other sexual offenses."

The law also allows victims to take civil action against people or institutions that aided in covering up sex abuse crimes.

"From now on, time will no longer be an accomplice of the abusers, nor an ally of impunity," said Chilean President Sebastian Pinero as he signed the legislation July 11. "From now on, the responsibility of those who abuse our children will be irrevocable, just as the pain they caused our children is irrevocable."

The legislation comes as investigators continue to look into cases involving the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults in the Catholic Church. Reuters news agency reported Chilean government officials said they were currently investigating more than 150 cases of sexual abuse or cover-up in the church.

Among those currently being investigated for possible cover-up are senior members of the clergy, including the last two archbishops of Santiago: Cardinals Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa and Ricardo Ezzati.

In March, Pope Francis accepted Cardinal Ezzati's resignation and named Bishop Celestino Aos Braco of Copiapo as apostolic administrator of the archdiocese.

Although the new law is not retroactive, advocates say it is a major step forward and expressed hope that lawmakers can revise the law in the future for survivors who have been unable to seek justice due to prior limitations.

In an interview with Chilean radio station Diario UChile July 7, Jose Andres Murillo, one of several survivors of abuse by ex-priest Fernando Karadima, said making the law retroactive would be good for survivors and prevent abusers from committing further crimes.

Nevertheless, he said, "it is important to recognize that we're creating legislation and actually catching up with what the International Convention on the Rights of the Child requires of us, and in that sense, I think it's good news."

- - -

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Not the usual suspects: Cardinal wants parish teams of risk-takers

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) -- The papal vicar for Rome has asked every pastor in the diocese to form a "pastoral team" of about a dozen "courageous explorers" to help launch a new neighborhood missionary outreach.

"Don't go looking for those who have shown they are prudent, measured and detail-oriented," Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the papal vicar, wrote in a letter to pastors July 11.

Instead, he said, the team should be made up of "people who draw outside the lines, people whom the Holy Spirit has made passionate about imperfection."

The diocese's 2019-2020 pastoral year is focused on "listening to the cry of the city" and responding with stronger parish communities, a greater focus on Sunday Mass, visiting the poor and lonely, providing concrete assistance to those in need and reaching out to young people and families.

Cardinal De Donatis suggested the priests look for 12 people to serve on the pastoral team. The number is not a requirement, he said, but should send a message to Catholics that the parish is looking "for a small group from which everything set out."

"We do not need competent and qualified professionals as much as Christians who apparently are like everyone else but, in reality, are able to dream, to infect others with their dreams and want to experience something new," the cardinal wrote.

"Perhaps," he told the pastors, "these are people you have tried to contain a bit up until now -- frankly, they can be destabilizing -- but no more; you must draw them near, listen to them, value them and let them act so they can disturb the drowsy tranquility of others."

And, he said, it is possible they will make mistakes, but that is better than having a parish that never tries anything new.

The pastoral team's first responsibility, he said, is to go out into the neighborhood that comprises the parish territory, talk to people, observe and then "map the characteristics" in light of the area's history and the lifestyle of residents. The description should include the presence of schools, workplaces, places where people gather, pockets of greater poverty, areas of "social violence" and the presence of organized crime.

The team must meet often with the pastor and with catechists, leaders of parish groups and youth and young adult ministers to listen to their observations and brainstorm together about how to help all parishioners live their faith more openly and share it with others in the neighborhood, he said.

Cardinal De Donatis said he hope the result would be that "our diocesan church would end up more attentive to others, more aware of people's deepest questions, more convinced of the Good News that it is called to proclaim and more sensitive to God's inspiration."

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Update: Census to go forward without citizenship question

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a July 11 announcement from the Rose Garden, President Donald Trump said he was ending his efforts to add a citizenship question to the census and would instead direct federal agencies by executive order to provide data about the country's citizens and noncitizens to the U.S. Commerce Department.

"We are not backing down on our effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population," Trump said, in a move that ended a legal battle that had continued even after the Supreme Court's decision to block the question was announced more than two weeks earlier.

Although the Justice Department announced July 2 it would no longer argue to have the citizenship question added to the 2020 census, the Trump administration had continued to look at all possible options to get the question included.

A federal judge in Maryland who heard one of the lawsuits on the citizenship question had given White House officials until midday July 5 to provide a credible reason for including the question.

The Justice Department's decision not to move forward with the question -- "Is this person a citizen of the United States?" -- came in response to the Supreme Court's decision to block it from the questionnaire and amid pressing deadlines to begin printing the forms, which started July 1.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement that he strongly disagreed with the high court's ruling over the planned additional question and President Donald Trump tweeted that it was a "very sad time for America when the Supreme Court of the United States won't allow a question of 'Is this person a Citizen of the United States?' to be asked on the #2020 Census."

He also said he asked the Commerce and Justice departments to "do whatever is necessary to bring this most vital of questions, and this very important case, to a successful conclusion."

Earlier that day, the U.S. bishops praised the Supreme Court's decision June 27 to block the Trump administration's citizenship question stressing that "the inclusion of a citizenship question must ensure genuine reasons" for it.

The 5-4 ruling -- written by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined in part by the other justices -- sent the case back to a lower court saying the administration's reason for adding the citizenship question "seems to have been contrived."

The day the decision was announced, President Donald Trump tweeted that he was asking his lawyers if they can "delay the census, no matter how long" until the "Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision."

Trump told reporters July 1 at the White House: "It's very important to find out if somebody is a citizen as opposed to an illegal."

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' statement on the high court's decision said: "All persons in the United States should be counted in the census regardless of their immigration status." It also reiterated its previous statement on the issue by stressing that "questions regarding citizenship should not be included in the census. We hope that this view will prevail, whether by administrative action or judicial determination."

The statement was issued by Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, of Austin, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Migration.

The census case hit a potential twist in late May, a month after oral arguments, when newly submitted evidence from the files of a deceased Republican strategist put the citizenship question in another light: as a means to create an advantage for whites and Republicans in future elections.

Then in late June, a federal appeals court in Maryland allowed a lower court to study the background of these files.

The government had asked the Supreme Court to rule on the census dispute by the end of June, so that it can finalize the census questionnaire and get the forms printed in time for distribution next year.

During oral arguments about the added census question in April, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said: "There's no doubt people will respond less" to the census questionnaire with a citizenship question, a point which she said "has been proven in study after study."

Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh said citizenship questions were common in other countries and had been on the U.S. forms over the years.

Both Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito said the decision by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to add a citizenship question -- for the first time since 1950 to improve compliance with the Voting Rights Act -- seemed reasonable. But Justice Elena Kagan said Ross' reason for adding this question seemed "contrived."

In its defense, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco said the information it would provide would help enforce the Voting Rights Act. When asked about the question leading to potentially less participation, he said: "There is always going to be a trade-off."

Lawyers for New York, immigrant advocacy groups and the House of Representatives stressed that the question would prevent noncitizens from filling out the census and have a negative financial and political impact on communities with large immigrant populations.

A similar argument was raised in a friend-of-the-court brief opposed to the citizenship question filed by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York and Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens in New York. The brief stressed that the added question would cause a "net differential undercount of people who live in noncitizen and Hispanic households" and would result in a "drastic and unwarranted reduction in funding in states and cities with large populations of such persons" and also would impact social service agencies.

In a USCCB statement issued on the day of oral arguments for the census case, Bishops Dewane and Vasquez stressed the importance of an accurate census count.

"The Catholic Church and other service providers rely on the national census to provide an accurate count in order to effectively serve those in need," said Bishop Dewane.

Bishop Vasquez said all people should be counted in the census, regardless of their citizenship and he said "proposed questions regarding immigration status will obstruct accurate census estimates and ultimately harm immigrant families and the communities they live in."

By one government estimate, about 6.5 million people might decide not to participate in the census with the added citizenship question.

The census is rooted in the text of the Constitution, which requires an "actual enumeration" of the population every 10 years. It determines federal funding for roads and schools, congressional districting and number of congressional representatives.

- - -

Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

 

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Update: Lay role matters in renewing church wounded by abuse, speaker says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Gina Christian, catholicphilly.com

By Gina Christian

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- The laity can lead the way in renewing a church wounded by the decades-long sexual abuse scandal, according to Meghan Cokeley, director of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's Office for the New Evangelization.

Prayer, redemptive suffering, forgiveness and a deeper understanding of the laity's calling can radically revive the church, said Cokeley, who has been touring Philadelphia-area parishes to deliver a talk titled "What Can We Do? The Role of Laity in a Time of Crisis."

Combining Scripture, catechesis and historical examples, the presentation offers "a message of hope" as well as several specific action points to counter feelings of despair and apathy in church life.

During a recent session at St. Hilary of Poitiers Parish in Rydal, Pennsylvania, Cokeley cited the devastating fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in April as "a sign God gave us for these times," one that showed a church "scarred, but still standing."

She noted that as the 850-year-old structure burned, lay bystanders "instinctively ran into the street, rosaries in their hands, praying on their knees and singing hymns" despite grim predictions that the cathedral would be destroyed.

Cokeley pointed out that while the crowd prayed, firefighters formed a human chain to save many of the cathedral's relics and to enable the brigade's chaplain, Father Jean-Marc Fournier, to remove the Blessed Sacrament.

"They say the faith is dead in France. It's not," said Cokeley. "Our prayer matters."

That same passion, she said, is present in "sensus fidei fidelis" ("sense of the faith of the believer"); this cannot be separated from "sensus fidei fidelium," the sense of the faith on the part of all the faithful. "Sensus fidei" can help the church to navigate troubled waters, especially when leaders forsake the helm, she added.

Often confused with public opinion in the pews, the "sensus fidei" was defined in 2014 by the Vatican's International Theological Commission as a "supernatural instinct" for "the truth of the Gospel," which enables active, properly formed Catholics to recognize "authentic Christian doctrine and practice" while rejecting falsehood.

Cokeley noted that a dramatic example of the "sensus fidei" can be found in the laity's rejection of Arianism, a widespread fourth-century heresy that claimed Jesus had been created by God.

Blessed John Henry Newman -- whom Pope Francis has greenlighted for canonization in October -- wrote that the laity upheld true church teaching as the heresy prevailed for some 60 years. In contrast, Cardinal Newman observed, "the body of bishops failed in their confession of the faith," succumbing to confusion and infighting.

Cokeley also said that by knowing the true purpose of church organizational structure, laity can more fully embrace their rightful place in the body of Christ.

"There's a tendency to dismiss the hierarchy due to its failures, or to treat the laity as passive bystanders," she said. "Both are pitfalls."

Cokeley used an image of Guercino's "St. Peter Weeping Before the Virgin," in which the first pope repents to Mary for denying Christ, to illustrate two key dimensions of the church.

Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the writings of St. John Paul II, Cokeley explained that the hierarchical aspect of the church, represented by Peter and therefore called "Petrine," is designed to ensure the holiness of all its members.

The Marian dimension, named for Mary's surpassing sanctity and representing the church's holiness, "precedes the Petrine," the catechism states.

Cokeley said that during the clerical abuse crisis, this order "got flipped, and bishops protected themselves at the expense of the laity."

Intentional, heartfelt forgiveness and redemptive suffering can powerfully redress such wrongs, allowing grace to flow into the lives of both failed leaders and wounded believers, she said.

"When we unite our sufferings with those of Christ -- this is where the power is," she said. "There's a sense that it doesn't do anything, but the saying 'offer it up' is true."

Cokeley acknowledged that while there is a time and a place for activism, the cross shows the true path to transformation.

"The crucifixion of Jesus Christ altered the course of human history," said Cokeley. "And what was Christ doing on the cross? He wasn't signing petitions, he wasn't writing a book, he wasn't enacting policies, although those can be good. He was praying, suffering and obeying the Father."

The rosary is a particularly effective form of prayer, said Cokeley, adding that Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the Fatima visionaries, stressed its unique power to resolve difficulties both great and small.

Displaying an image of Meynier's "Christ Asleep in His Boat," in which Jesus sleeps calmly amid raging waters, Cokeley urged attendees to "curl up next to Jesus" in the storm of scandal.

"The reason Jesus is asleep is because he knows who his Father is, and he is anchored in his Father," she said. "His Father's got this."

For that reason, Cokeley said, lay Catholics should recommit themselves to greater involvement in parish life and to evangelization -- even if such action seems counterintuitive, given the clerical abuse scandal and the secularized culture.

"God uses the works of the devil for his own purposes," she said.

Cokeley concluded her talk by encouraging listeners to view "fidelity as a mission," one that had long-term impact.

"Someday 300 years from now, they're going to read stories about the laypeople who went to church anyway, who prayed for their priests anyway, who kept on evangelizing," she said. "They're going to read stories about how God preserved the church through us."

- - -

Editor's Note: Meghan Cokeley's presentation can be viewed online at https://youtu.be/R6GMWmXw2-0.

- - -

Christian is the senior content producer at CatholicPhilly.com, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Appeals court to uphold ACA; health care a basic human right, says CHA

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

By Elizabeth Bachmann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit considers the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the Catholic Health Association voiced its support for the act, declaring access to health care a basic human right.

CHA is a national organization comprised of 600 hospitals and 1,600 other health care facilities that provide compassionate, nonprofit care to Americans.

In a statement released July 9, CHA emphasized that the ACA brings health care to 20 million Americans, 12 million of whom are low income individuals. "In addition to being harmful to patients' health, the lack of coverage adds unnecessary expense to our nation's health care system and deprives patients with an equitable opportunity for a healthy, productive life."

In its statement, CHA highlights that patients without health insurance are four times more likely to be hospitalized for preventable maladies, making them more difficult and more expensive to treat.

Mercy Sister Mary Haddad, CHA's president and CEO, said the "effort to eliminate access to affordable health care coverage for millions of Americans is unconscionable."

Despite that, the Affordable Care Act is currently under fire for the second time. Back in 2012, an opponent filed a lawsuit arguing that the individual mandate, which requires most individuals buy health insurance or pay a penalty, was unconstitutional. The case reached the Supreme Court, which ruled the mandate constitutional.

Then, in 2017, Congress passed a tax law which did not repeal the mandate, but reduced it to "zero dollars." People are still required by law to purchase state subsidized health insurance, but there is no penalty for ignoring the law.

On Dec. 14, 2018, a Texas federal court ruled that the individual mandate is no longer constitutional, and that, as a result the entire ACA cannot function. The court ruled that the individual mandate is not "severable" from the rest of the ACA. The decision came in a lawsuit filed by the Republican state attorneys general and governors in at least 18 states.

Now the matter is before the 5th Circuit, based in New Orleans. A three-judge panel heard oral arguments July 9 in the case, Texas v. United States.

CHA filed a brief as amicus curiae, or a friend of the court, along with four other national hospital organizations. Altogether, the brief represents 5,000 hospitals and health care facilities across America. In the brief, they argue that the ACA is, in fact, separable from the individual mandate, as evidenced by the fact that the system has existed since 2017 with a "zero dollar" penalty.

Not only that, but the brief outlines all of the programs attached to ACA that will shut down if the 5th Circuit finds the law unconstitutional. These include in-home care for the elderly, programs combating the opioid crisis and other programs that tackle substance abuse issues.

They argue that repealing the ACA completely will leave millions without insurance, harming not only patients, but also hospitals.

"Without coverage, Americans suffer," they wrote. "Those without insurance coverage forgo basic medical care, making them more difficult to treat when they do seek care. This not only hurts patients; it has severe consequences for the hospitals that care for them. Hospitals will bear a greater uncompensated-care burden, which will force them to reallocate limited resources and compromise their ability to provide needed services."

CHA ultimately urged the 5th Circuit to reverse the Texas ruling.

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Diocese looks to open temporary shelter for migrants in county facility

IMAGE: CNS photo/Michael Brown, Catholic Outlook

By Michael Brown

TUCSON, Ariz. (CNS) -- Catholic Community Services in the Tucson Diocese has reached a tentative agreement with Pima County to turn an unused juvenile detention facility into a temporary shelter for asylum-seekers.

The agency, which is the human services arm of the diocese, has operated such a shelter at a former Benedictine monastery since the beginning of the year. It is scheduled to vacate the site July 31 but no alternative had been found to house the 300 to 500 asylum-seekers currently there.

The 83-year-old monastery, formerly home of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, was purchased in September 2017 by developer Russ Rulney, who leased it to Catholic Community Services for its relief efforts. The agency welcomed its first "guests" Jan. 26.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and later Border Patrol, shuttled asylum-seekers from border towns such as Nogales, Arizona, and El Paso, Texas, to Tucson.

Staff noted the difficulties encountered at the monastery, including electrical and plumbing deficiencies, which resulted in the facility having to be closed at least one day in early June.

"The monastery didn't have the right infrastructure," Tucson Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger said during a series of media interviews July 8.

The cost of leasing the detention center is only $100 a year, so "the price is right," the bishop said with a smile. "It feels like it is a tremendous blessing."

The staff has already begun planning to address the stark inside of the new facility, said Catholic Community Services' leaders. The bishop added that the volunteers who staff it exude warmth and welcome. "We think we can match the warmth (of the former monastery) and increase it."

The county board still has to approve the lease, which is scheduled for a vote Aug. 6. Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said in a July 8 memo that he was recommending it be approved. The space is part of the Pima County Juvenile Court Center complex.

"These facilities are available and are presently vacant due to the aggressive and successful alternatives to detention program and implemented by the Juvenile Court," Huckelberry wrote. "The county will pay for building, operating and maintenance cost which will include utilities, food service through the juvenile (center's) kitchen and laundry service through the juvenile (center's) laundry."

Part of the detention center is still in use, and the Catholic agency's shelter facilities will be accessed through a different free-standing entrance that will look less foreboding than a lockdown facility. Signage for the county operation and the Catholic-run area will be clearly marked, church officials said.

"We will still accept drive-up, drop-off donations," said Teresa Cavendish, director of operations at Catholic Community Services.

She added that the care and welcome provided by the scores of volunteers are what make the monastery a successful stop for the asylum seekers, most of whom are women and families with children. "They will continue to be respectful and warm to our guests."

Peg Harmon, executive director of the Catholic agency, noted that "the monastery was an empty building when we first moved in," and staff and volunteers turned it into a livable space.

Cavendish added that she believed once accommodations are made, people will forget that they are entering a former detention facility. "It's what it was. It's not what it will be."

The bishop said that Rulney has agreed to temporarily extend access to the monastery past July 31 until the lease at the detention facility has been approved and operations can be transferred. Rulney has been "extraordinarily generous to us," he said.

Bishop Weisenburger praised the county for making the site available, noting that with access to the local airport and bus facilities, ample parking for volunteers and its turnkey status, "it checks all of our boxes."

The bishop also thanked members of the ecumenical community, which had rallied with volunteers to the monastery site and are expected to continue to support the mission at the detention facility. "The community really rallied beautifully around this project," the bishop said.

Noting the extensive search conducted by county leaders before choosing the detention center, the bishop said, "I don't know that there was any other facility that will meet our needs as well as this one."

"We actually feel in some respects, it's an upgrade."

- - -

Brown is managing editor of Catholic Outlook, newspaper of the Diocese of Tucson.

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

U.S. bishop among nearly 200 faith leaders speaking against war in Iran

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Diocese of Lexington

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Two Catholic bishops are among nearly 200 faith leaders calling on President Donald Trump's administration to pursue diplomacy to resolve conflicts with Iran.

Bishop John E. Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, bishop-president of Pax Christi USA, and Bishop Marc Stenger of Troyes, France, co-president of Pax Christi International, were among the signers of a statement released July 8.

The statement was developed by the National Council of Churches and Sojourners, a Washington-based Christian organization that addresses social justice concerns.

"A United States war with Iran would be an unmitigated disaster, morally and religiously indefensible; U.S. faith leaders must be among the first to rise up, say 'No!' -- and call for better, more effective and life-saving ways forward," the statement said.

Citing the "escalation of confrontation" between the two nations, the statement said "it is time for leaders from our faith communities to point to more effective ways to transform conflict and to speak strongly against military action that could have enormous human and financial costs, and which could easily and broadly escalate."

The leaders also called on the Trump administration to end "harsh and punitive" trade sanctions against Iran and if necessary, establish safeguards for shipping in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran heightened in May and June as several seagoing oil tankers were the subject of sabotage and attacks in the Gulf of Oman. Trump has accused Iran of being behind the attacks and British security officials said they are "almost certain" that Tehran instigated them.

Global observers have said Iran's economy has taken a deep hit because of economic and trade sanctions put in place since the U.S. withdrawal in May 2018 from a multilateral agreement that limits the ability of Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Trump has said since that the withdrawal from the so-called P5+1 pact, the world is a safer place.

Despite the U.S. withdrawal, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China, plus Germany, remain parties to the deal even though Iran has announced that it has surpassed some of the agreement's limits placed on uranium enrichment.

In mid-June, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services made a similar appeal in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The correspondence from the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee for International Justice and Peace outlined the Catholic Church's long-held stance that has preferred dialogue and engagement as the best actions to resolve political stalemates.

Other signers of the new statement include Patrick Carolan, executive director of the Franciscan Action Network; Lawrence Couch, director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd; Loreto Sister Teresia Wamuyu Wachira of Kenya, co-president of Pax Christi International; Sister Carol Zinn, a Sister of St. Joseph, executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious; Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners; and Jim Winkler, president and general secretary of the National Council of Churches. In addition, more than 90 women religious signed the statement.

- - -

Editor's Note: The full statement can be read online at https://bit.ly/32idRXH.

- - -

Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

 

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Smithsonian inquiring about drawings made by children at Catholic center

IMAGE: CNS photo/Courtesy American Academy of Pediatrics via

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Smithsonian Museum of American History is looking at the possibility of acquiring for its collection drawings made by children ages 10 and 11 at a Catholic Charities center in Texas, which may depict their stay at federal detention centers for immigrants near the border.

In early July, news outlets circulated three drawings of stick figures the children made at a Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley "respite center," which seem as if they're depicting their lives in immigration detention inside cages or fenced spaces. The drawings were made public by the American Academy of Pediatrics after the group toured a U.S. Customs and Border Protection center and other facilities in and around McAllen, Texas, near the border.  

In a statement sent to Catholic News Service July 9, the museum said it "does not publicize nor speculate on potential collecting" prior to acquiring artifacts, but it confirms that on July 4, a curator reached out to the pediatric organization about the children's drawings "as part of an exploratory process."

One of the three drawings in question shows small stick figures behind bars, and taller figures outside of the bars. Another shows a group of smaller figures in a row underneath blankets, as if sleeping, also behind bars, and a taller figure nearby looking over them. The third drawing shows the bars with no figures inside, only toilets and a thick black door.

Sister Norma Pimentel, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus and the center's executive director, told The New York Times that the Catholic Charities center in McAllen has the drawings. The center, which has moved to a variety of locations in the McAllen area since it opened in 2014, provides food, shelter, clothing and travel orientation for migrants recently released by federal immigration officials near the Brownsville-McAllen area.

The story said a member of the pediatric organization took the photos of the drawings during the June visit, but the names of the children who drew them are unknown.  

"The museum has a long commitment to telling the complex and complicated history of the United States and to documenting that history as it unfolds, such as it did following 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, and as it does with political campaigns," said the statement from the museum.

In July 2018, top leaders of the U.S. Conference Catholic Bishops toured a federal detention facility in the area and celebrated Mass with unaccompanied children detained there. They also visited the Catholic Charities respite center and served a meal for incoming immigrant parents and children who had recently been released by immigration officials.

 

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Monastery connects U.S. Catholics to Holy Land, events in Christ's life

IMAGE: CNS photo/Sydney Clark

By Elizabeth Bachmann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Deep inside layers and layers of heavy, cool stone lies a small chamber, about 6 feet by 3 feet, illuminated by the scarlet glow of hanging candles. Carved out of one jagged chamber wall, an unassuming bench stands empty. This is the tomb of Jesus Christ.

Zooming out and up 100 feet, one finds oneself overlooking, not the city of Jerusalem, but a tiny postage stamp of Middle Eastern horticulture and architecture in the great gray and white sea of Washington. This is the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America.

This monastery, built in 1898 by two Holy Land Franciscans, features scaled replicas of the Tomb of Jesus, the Tomb of Mary, the Chapel of the Ascension, the Lourdes Grotto, the Anointing Stone, Calvary, the Gethsemane Grotto, and others. Hemmed with a terracotta-red pergola, the courtyard and sprawling secret gardens burst with blooms or every shade, their slender green arms beckoning visitors to explore its hidden chapels, icons and statues, and to discover the disarming allure of the Holy Land.

Father James Gardiner, a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement, who is director of special projects at the monastery, said the gardens and the replicas are meant to "whet your appetite" for seeing the real things in the Holy Land.

"When people come here, they can get to experience how you're going to have to scrunch down to get into the tomb of Jesus, how only a couple of people can actually fit in there," Father Gardiner told Catholic News Service. "The things are to scale, so they can see the distance from the tomb and the anointing stone to Calvary, they can climb those stairs and see how high it is to get to Calvary if you were in the Holy Land. Things like that, that give people a real time experience of being over in the Holy Land."

In 1219, 800 years ago this year, the Vatican entrusted the safety and guardianship of the Holy Land to the Holy Land Friars of the Order of St. Francis, granting them the Custody of the Holy Land. The Monastery of the Holy Land in America is currently home to 11 Franciscan friars, whose vocation is to safeguard the Holy Land, its sites and its peoples.

To fulfill their vocation, the friars aim to inspire Catholics to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land for real, and then to facilitate that journey. The monastery offers opportunities for pilgrimages monthly, each of which is completely organized and scheduled by the monastery, from hotel reservations to meals to itinerary.

"We do everything for you except say your prayers," Father Gardiner joked.

The friar tried to explain the experience and value of visiting the Holy Land.

"Something just happens to you," he said. "I'll tell you this. I have yet to meet anyone on any pilgrimages that ever been on who haven't said as we are at the airport leaving how they hated to leave. They never say they had a good time, you know, they say, 'I really hate to leave. Something's happened. Something has changed in some way.'"

The Franciscan's particular association with the Holy Land began when St. Francis embarked on his own pilgrimage to there in A.D. 1219. According to historian Franciscan Father Michael F. Cusato, St. Francis was determined to make contact with the Muslim people.
"Francis's intention, first and foremost, was to go and live as a brother among other peoples," Father Cusato said. "His insight, from the spirit in the scriptures, was that he was a creature among other creatures that every living breathing human person is a creature fashioned from the hand of God."

After two failed attempts, Francis succeeded in reaching the Holy Land where he was met with the violence of the Fifth Crusade. In the midst of the blood and the hate, Francis and Islamic Sultan al-Kamil spent eight day in peaceful and respectful exchange of ideas within the sultan's tent.

This year, the monastery celebrates the 800 anniversary of that fateful meeting that first brought Francis to the Holy Land and that witnessed some of the first peaceful interaction between the two faiths.

A reserved historian, Father Cusato is less gung-ho about hopping on a plane to Jerusalem than his brother priest, Father Gardiner, who is currently preparing to embark on his fifth journey of this year. Father Cusato explained that for people who can't or won't journey to the Holy Land, the monastery can be a spiritual refuge.

"I think it is important to enter into the spirit of Jerusalem, the spirit of the holy places, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, not as if you are in the Holy Land yourself although that is a very viable option today ... but it's important to walk and enter into the spirit of Jerusalem, the various holy places the events that took place there," Father Cusato said. "And you can do that here on the grounds of the monastery both within the church and the wider grounds."

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Update: Lavelle's Catholic alma mater cheers her goals, team's World Cup victory

IMAGE: NS photo/Bernadett Szabo, Reuters

By Elizabeth Bachmann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Rose Lavelle skyrocketed from a star player, loping across the soccer fields at her Catholic girls high school in Cincinnati, to a superstar, scoring three goals for the U.S. women's team at the World Cup and winning the Bronze Ball as the third-best player in the tournament.

Her high school, Mount Notre Dame, spent the days before the final excitedly cheering her on via Twitter, and it hosted a school-wide viewing party for the 2013 alumna's game against Thailand June 11. They tweeted in support before the semifinal July 2 against England: "Good Luck to @roselavelle '13 and the Team USA today in the World Cup semifinals! #GoRose."

On July 7, the U.S. won its record fourth FIFA Women's World Cup title and second in a row, beating the Netherlands 2-0 in Lyon, France. LaVelle scored the second goal.

Even as a young high schooler, Lavelle was dazzling on the field, according to Cincinnati.com. Mount Notre Dame celebrated Lavelle's high school athletic accomplishments, including her four-year varsity performance, during which she earned First Team Honors, All-State player, and Cincinnati Enquirer Player of the Year her senior year.

But her passion for soccer dates back even earlier to her elementary school days. St. Vincent Ferrer School posted this along with a photo of a young Lavelle dressed as former superstar Mia Hamm:

"Once upon a time, this little girl dressed up as her hero, Mia Hamm, for a book sharing project. Today, this amazing woman won her own gold medal, wearing the number 16, as part of the United States National Women's Team that won their 4th World Cup Championship AND she won the Bronze Ball as the third-best player in the tournament! Now, little girls everywhere look up to her, and will be working hard to become like Rose."

Hamm was a forward for the U.S. women's national soccer team from 1987 to 2004. Now retired from soccer, she is a two-time FIFA Women's World Cup champion and a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

After Lavelle and her U.S. teammates won in their final 2-0 game against the Netherlands, Mount Notre Dame celebrated in a Facebook post: "She's always been a star to us! It has been an absolute joy to watch Rose Lavelle '13 shine in the World Cup. Can't say we are surprised -- she was voted Most Athletic her senior year! Congratulations to Rose and Team USA! The MND community couldn't be prouder!

After high school, Lavelle went on to play for the University of Wisconsin, playing for the Seattle Sounders summer league team during her time off from school. That's where she was really discovered by coach Jill Ellis, who stood by her during her 2017 hamstring injury, allowing her to blossom into a successful FIFA superstar.

After watching the final with bated breath, Lavelle's hometown alma mater tweeted a joyful tribute to its local celebrity: "Congratulations @USWNT! Couldn't be prouder of our very own @roselavelle! #FIFAWWC19."

- - -

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 cns@catholicnews.com.