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Updated: 56 min 34 sec ago

The Catholic Telegraph wins 2 Catholic Press Association Awards

1 hour 42 min ago

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is home to four Catholic Press Association affiliated news outlets, and all four were honored at the 2017 Catholic Press Association Awards Banquet June 23 in Quebec, Canada.

St. Anthony Messenger magazine led the way among local outlets with 11 awards, including second place for Magazine of the Year: National General Interest Magazine. The Franciscan Media-operated publication totaled three first-place, four second-place, three third-place and one honorable mention awards. Franciscan Media took home 16 awards in the books category as well.

Comboni Missions, the magazine of the Comboni Missionaries, brought home four awards. Comboni Missions was named second place for Magazine of the Year: Mission Magazine, and also earned third place for Best Magazine Coverage of the Year of Mercy. Comboni Missions also won second place for Best Mission Magazine Feature Article and Best Magazine Editorial.

Glenmary Challenge, the magazine of the Glenmary Home Missioners, earned an honorable mention for Magazine of the Year: Mission Magazine, along with three other awards. Glenmary Challenge won first place for Best Personality Profile on a Religious Leader. Glenmary also won a second place and an honorable mention in Best Essay Originating with A Magazine of Newsletter, Mission Magazine.

The Catholic Telegraph brought home a first place for Best Sports Journalism, Sports News for the story “DePaul Cristo Rey joins all Christian athletic league,” by former new media editor John Stegeman. “Stories of same-sex attracted Catholics propel growth of Courage,” also by Stegeman, earned an honorable mention in the larger division of non-weekly diocesan newspapers for Best Feature Writing.

St. Anthony Messenger
First Place: Best Magazine Editorial, “Minding what matters” by Kathleen M. Carroll
First Place: Best In-Depth/Analysis Writing: Analysis, “What Ramadan taught me about Lent” by Joe McHugh
First Place: Best Feature Article: General Interest Magazine, “Franciscan Respite for Refugees” by Toni Cashnelli
Second Place: Magazine/Newsletter of the Year: National General Interest Magazine “St. Anthony Messenger”
Second Place: Best Regular Column: Spiritual Life, “Ask a Franciscan” by Father Pat McCloskey, OFM
Second Place: Best Illustration, Either with Art Work or Photography, “Bags” by Jon Krause.
Second Place: Best Personality Profile: Person of Interest, “The Legacy of St. Maria Goretti” by Rita E. Piro
Second Place: Best Short Story, “My Father is Beautiful” by Liz Dolan.
Third Place: Best Layout of Article or Column: General Interest Magazine, “Flavors of the Bible” by Jeanne Kortekamp.
Third Place: Best Essay Originating with a Magazine or Newsletter: General Interest Magazine, “Mary’s Loneliness,” by Jim Van Vurst, OFM.
Honorable Mention: Best Essay Originating with a Magazine or Newsletter: General Interest Magazine, “The Road to Easter” by Mary Sharon Moore.

Comboni Missions
Second Place: Magazine/Newsletter of the Year: Mission Magazine, “Comboni Missions”
Second Place: Best Feature Article, Mission Magazine. “Pope Francis in Africa”
Third Place: Best Magazine Coverage of the Year of Mercy, articles by Kathleen M. Carroll
Third Place: Best Magazine Editorial, “Crumbs from the Table” by Kathleen M. Carroll

Glenmary Challenge
First Place: Best Magazine Personality Profile, “Brother reaches across brokenness” by Frank Lesko
Second Place: Best Essay Originating With a Magazine/Newsletter: Mission Magazine, “A vision for the future of Appalachia” by Father John S. Rausch
Honorable Mention: Magazine/Newsletter of the Year: Mission Magazine, “Glenmary Challenge”
Honorable Mention: Best Essay Originating With a Magazine/Newsletter: Mission Magazine, “Waiting for the church” by Brother David Henley

The Catholic Telegraph
First Place: Best Sports Journalism: Sports News, “DPCR joins Christian Athletic Conference” by John Stegeman
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Honorable Mention: Best Feature Writing: Non-weekly Diocesan Newspaper, Circulation 25,001 or more, “Stories of Same-Sex Attracted Catholics Propel the growth of Courage” by John Stegeman
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Priests Convocation Mass

2 hours 25 min ago

On Wednesday, June 21, 2017, at the Archdiocesan Priests Convocation in Columbus, celebrated Mass at St. Brigid of Kildare. The four day convocation focused on the sacraments of the church. For the story, go to page 8 on The July Edition of The Catholic Telegraph to be in homes beginning June 27, 2017.

St. Brigid Kildare Church, Dublin OhioSt. Brigid Kildare Church, Dublin Ohio

Circle of Protection mobilizes to change nation’s budget priorities

06/23/2017 - 8:20pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Christian faith leaders pledged anew to build a “circle of protection” around vital social programs identified for deep spending cuts under President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget, saying their action is consistent with biblical principles.

Coming together during a news conference at the National Press Club June 21, more than a dozen leaders, including representatives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities USA, lined up shoulder-to-shoulder in a unified front to defend a broad array of domestic and international aid programs that, they argued, sustain life.

They used strong language in criticizing planned cuts in food and nutrition, education, elderly services, health care, air and water protection, employment training and more. They said they feared that people will be harmed or even die if the budget as proposed is adopted.

“There is a troubling momentum at this time in Washington, D.C., for creating a serious imbalance in overall spending priorities, one that will place those who struggle on the margins of society, on the peripheries, in grave danger,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

Bishop Dewane and the others repeated a simple message: A budget is a moral document that reflects the values and priorities of a country and they are concerned that the priorities being eyed by Washington have gone askew.

What particularly concerns the Circle of Protection group is how the budget assembled by Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, slices $52 billion from programs that help Americans cope with sickness, unemployment and homelessness to pay for a corresponding increase in the Pentagon budget.

The Rev. Carlos Malave, executive director of Christian Churches Together in the USA, charged that “the few” at the top end of the U.S. economy “are denying the masses a future” in the pursuit of power and riches.

“We’re here because we believe in a different world. We’re here because we believe all can have life and life in abundance,” he said, saying a massive increase in military spending does not uphold human dignity.

Bishop Dewane called it “scary” when the defense budget is contrasted with cuts in social services. While he said defense spending is needed, he suggested that some shaving there would be in order.

“One part of the budget (defense) is about defending killing, if you want to put it that way,” he told Catholic News Service. “But the other (reduced social service spending) kills also.”

There has been little appetite in Congress for the stringent Trump budget. Democrats, as expected, have voiced strong opposition to any change in spending priorities. Republicans have described the Trump budget plan simply as a starting point.

The budget that will emerge later this summer is expected to limit the size of the cuts while boosting military spending in some fashion. And there’s likely to be changes in how programs such as Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps, function.

With those expectations looming, the Circle of Protection umbrella group of faith leaders is preparing to up its game to stop what these leaders see as an unfair targeting of poor people.

The Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, an ecumenical advocacy organization, said the group wanted members of Congress to stand up for the Christian values they hold and “speak as people of faith.” He called for a mobilization of religious congregations to tell Congress that programs that promote human life must become a priority for the country.

“Underneath the headlines in Washington, there are moral choices we make,” Rev. Wallis told CNS. “We want to make those moral choices clear. For us, this is not a matter of politics or partisan loyalty.

“What if a legislator can say, ‘I’m hearing from my Christian constituents that we have to form a circle of protection because people are in jeopardy?’ That circle has to be broadened. We’re lifting that up,” he said.

The Circle of Protection coalition released a two-page statement during the news briefing. In it, the leaders stressed that the country must address the national debt, but also called on Congress to “approve a budget that weighs the importance of providing for critical needs and that responsibly manages the country’s fiscal issues; but the most vulnerable should not carry the burden of solving this challenge.”

The statement cited how the recently House-passed American Health Care Act would cut more than $800 billion from Medicaid over the next decade and end health insurance under the Affordable Care Act for 23 million people, including 14 million poor individuals. On top of that, the administration’s budget would cut another $600 billion Medicaid in the same period.

Such cuts would place people’s lives at risk, the statement said. Released June 22, the Senate’s health care reform bill, called Better Care Reconciliation Act, proposes similar cuts in Medicaid.

Bishop Dewane said the challenge ahead requires the Circle of Protection members to help lawmakers in Congress see the faces behind the numbers of the federal budget.

“There’s where you make connections if you’re looking at a budget,” he explained to CNS. “Behind every number, there’s human faces. And that’s what I think they’re not seeing. They’re caught up in that number, but behind it are human faces and that’s who we need to look to.”

The leaders acknowledged they face a tremendous challenge in advocating for America’s poor and vulnerable because powerful special interests carry great influence in Congress.

Still, they say they hope their message, rooted in the Bible will sway Congress to act on behalf of vulnerable Americans.

“Wouldn’t that be a great cable news story to see legislators,” Rev. Wallis said, “who expressed their Christian faith, to come together apart from party and say, ‘We are together as Christians going to protect the poor. It’s very simple. It’s very clear. It’s very unified and … it’s very biblical.”

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Editors: The full Circle of Protection statement can be read online at http://bit.ly/2sKtOop.

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

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Copyright © 2017 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 announces pope will attend reconciliation events in Colombia

06/23/2017 - 6:30pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Leonardo Munoz, EPA

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Days after rebels in Colombia announced turning in the last of their cache of weapons over to international observers, the Vatican announced June 23 details of Pope Francis’ September trip to the war-torn South American country.

The pope is scheduled to visit four cities, starting his trip in the Colombian capital of Bogota Sept. 6, followed by day trips to Villavicencio and Medellin Sept. 8 and 9, respectively, and heading back to Rome from Cartagena after Mass Sept. 10.

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos had said the pontiff had promised him he would visit Colombia if the government and the rebel group known as FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias) signed a peace agreement. Though Colombian voters last year rejected a referendum on the peace agreement between the government and FARC, Santos later negotiated a modified deal with Colombian opposition leader and former President Alvaro Uribe. The process came with help from the Vatican, including the pope, who met with the two men in late 2016.

The rebels began turning in their weapons to United Nations observers in early June and all were expected to be turned in by June 20, bringing 52 years of war to an end.

The pope is expected to take part Sept. 8 in several acts of reconciliation, including a Mass and prayer, in Villavicencio, according to a schedule released by the Vatican.

Colombian Vice President Oscar Naranjo said in an interview published June 23 in El Tiempo newspaper that that pope’s trip comes at a time in the country “when the discussion stops being about how to win the war, but how to achieve peace.” The pope’s trip cannot be “just another episode” in the national discourse about peace, said Naranjo.

According to some estimates, more than 220,000 have died in the decades-long conflict, tens of thousands have been injured, and more than 7 million were displaced. Concerns about the end of the conflict were reawakened when a bomb exploded inside a mall bathroom in Bogota June 17, killing three and injuring nine people. Some blamed another rebel group, the National Liberation Army, or ELN (Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional). The group, however, denied involvement and said it doesn’t target civilians.

While in Colombia, the pope also is set to meet in Bogota Sept. 7 with the directive committee of the Latin American bishops’ council, known as CELAM for its Spanish acronym.

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Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina.

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Copyright © 2017 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.

Bishop: ‘Fundamental defects’ persist in Senate’s version of health bill

06/23/2017 - 4:50pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Shawn Thew, EPA

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act contains “many of the fundamental defects” that appeared in the House-passed American Health Care Act “and even further compounds them,” said the bishop who heads the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

The Senate released its health care reform bill in “discussion draft” form June 22.

“As is, the discussion draft stands to cause disturbing damage to the human beings served by the social safety net,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, said in a statement released late June 22. “It is precisely the detrimental impact on the poor and vulnerable that makes the Senate draft unacceptable as written.”

Bishop Dewane criticized the “per-capita cap” on Medicaid funding, which would no longer be an entitlement but have its own budget line item under the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The effect, he said, “would provide even less to those in need than the House bill. These changes will wreak havoc on low-income families and struggling communities, and must not be supported.”

“An acceptable health care system provides access to all, regardless of their means, and at all stages of life,” Bishop Dewane said. “Such a health care system must protect conscience rights, as well as extend to immigrant families.”

He indicated the Better Care Reconciliation Act at least partially succeeds on conscience rights by “fully applying the long-standing and widely supported Hyde Amendment protections. Full Hyde protections are essential and must be included in the final bill.”

However, the bishops “also stressed the need to improve real access for immigrants in health care policy, and this bill does not move the nation toward this goal,” Bishop Dewane said. “It fails, as well, to put in place conscience protections for all those involved in the health care system, protections which are needed more than ever in our country’s health policy.”

Other first-day reaction to the bill was negative.

The Senate’s 142-page draft “is not the faithful way forward,” said a June 22 statement from Sister Simone Campbell, a Sister of Social Service who heads the Network Catholic social justice lobby.

“My faith challenges me to heal the sick and care for the widow and the orphan. This Republican bill does the opposite,” she said, adding, “We urge a no vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act.”

“Learning about the proposed deep cuts in Medicaid passed by the House of Representatives, the American people looked to the Senate. Sadly, the Senate plan proposes even deeper cuts in Medicaid,” said a statement from Larry Couch, director of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd’s National Advocacy Center.

“This wanton disregard for human life must be stopped. Millions of children living in poverty, people with disabilities, and older people in nursing homes will be denied life-saving medicine and care,” Couch added. “Stop this vicious attack on the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

Sister Campbell criticized the Republican-only drafting of the bill, and the announced intent of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, to have a vote on the bill before the Fourth of July recess, which could severely limit debate on the bill or any amendments.

“This bill is a crass political calculation carried out by 13 white, male senators who are out of touch with the realities of millions of ordinary families in every state,” she said. “Democracy works best when there are hearings, debate, and discussion to craft a bill that works for everyone, not just a few senators.”

“Ending the Medicaid expansion at a slower rate still means that millions of Americans will have their health care coverage taken away. Senators who support this bill will be voting to take away health insurance from the elderly, the disabled, and children,” said a June 22 statement from the Rev. David Beckmann, a Lutheran minister who is president of Bread for the World, a Christian anti-hunger lobby.

“Medical bills often drive families, especially those who struggle to make ends meet, into hunger and poverty,” Rev. Beckmann added. “Instead of making our health care system worse, Congress should strive to improve the system so that all Americans have the health care coverage they need.”

Network, Bread for the World and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd are part of the Interfaith Healthcare Coalition, which also includes as members the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness; the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism; the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative; the United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries; and the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

The American Psychological Association also came out in opposition to the bill, citing the Medicaid cuts and permission to states to waive certain health benefits.

“This so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act is actually worse than the bill passed by the House, because it would undermine Medicaid even more severely, if a little more slowly,” said a June 2 statement by Antonio E. Puente, APA president. “Medicaid is a critical backstop of coverage for mental health treatment, and for millions of older Americans, children and individuals with disabilities. If the goal is to cover more people, why slash Medicaid when it is already much more cost-effective than private sector plans?”

One part of the bill cuts the federal government’s share of funding for Medicaid to 57 percent of its cost over the next seven years. States have picked up the balance of the funding to date.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the government had guaranteed that its funding for adults newly eligible for Medicaid would fall to no lower than 90 percent of their costs. Many states expanded Medicaid coverage for all adults ages 18-65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

The bill would reduce tax credits to help people buy insurance and would defund Planned Parenthood for one year under the bill. It is expected the Senate will take up the measure on the floor during the week of June 26.

According to an Associated Press analysis, the Republicans’ health bill “cuts taxes by nearly $1 trillion over the next decade, mostly for corporations and the richest families in America.”

The Better Care Reconciliation Act which would repeal taxes in the Affordable Care Act — popularly known as Obamacare — and structure subsidies for insurance policy-holders based on their incomes. It also would continue for at least two years to offer reimbursements to health insurance companies for subsidies that reduce out-of-pocket costs for low-income customers of Obamacare plans.

The bill would allow children to stay on their parents’ health plans to age 26. It also would fund $62 billion over eight years to a state innovation fund, which can be used for coverage of high-risk patients, reinsurance and other expenses.

The Congressional Budget Office is expected to issue its “score” of the Senate bill before the end of June.

The CBO’s score of the first House GOP-led Obamacare “repeal and replace” bill, which never came to a vote, estimated that 24 million Americans would lose health insurance over the next decade. Its score on the second bill, which squeaked to a 217-213 victory, estimated that 23 million Americans would lose their health care.

“America deserves better than its failing status quo,” McConnell said June 22 on the Senate floor when introducing the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

But calling it “mean and heartless legislation,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said the bill is “going to gut Medicaid. It’s going to take away care for our seniors” and “from millions of people across the country,” to “give another massive tax cut for the wealthy and well-connected.”

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Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison.

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Copyright © 2017 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.

Venezuela risks becoming Caribbean ‘North Korea,’ former leaders say

06/23/2017 - 4:15pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Miguel Gutierrez, EPA

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Two former Latin American presidents said the world is running out of time to find a solution to the crisis in Venezuela as President Nicolas Maduro aims to consolidate power over the country.

Despite widespread protests, Maduro’s push to “put a group of his friends in what is called a ‘constituent assembly,’ would be the end of democracy and the annihilation of the Republic of Venezuela,” said Jorge Quiroga, former president of Bolivia.

That election “will install a Soviet state in Venezuela, liquidate democracy, end the Congress, cancel elections and turn Venezuela into a sort of Caribbean ‘North Korea,'” he said.

Joined by former Colombian President Andres Pastrana, Quiroga spoke to journalists at the Vatican June 23 on the deteriorating situation in Venezuela and attempts to diffuse the crisis following their meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state.

Protests began after March 29, when the Venezuelan Supreme Court ruled to dissolve the country’s parliament, in which the opposition had a two-thirds majority following the 2015 elections. The unprecedented ruling transferred legislative powers to the Supreme Court, which is comprised of judges nominated by Maduro.

Quiroga said he was grateful for Cardinal Parolin’s call for humanitarian aid, free elections and the release of political prisoners. He also hoped the international community would “insist and persist” on the Vatican’s recommendations.

“The Vatican has enormous moral and political weight and its position — in the name of Cardinal Parolin and the Holy Father — would be a determining factor to reel Venezuela back in toward the path of democracy,” he said.

However, Quiroga added, Maduro’s push for a constituent assembly June 30, comprised mainly of his supporters and aimed at changing the country’s constitution, would “finish off Venezuela and destroy the country.”

Both men also denounced former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero and Ernesto Samper, former Colombian president and current secretary general of the Union of South American Nations, for their indirect support for Maduro despite their roles as impartial negotiators between the government and the opposition.

At a June 21 meeting on immigration in Cochabamba, Bolivian President Evo Morales — flanked by Zapatero, Samper and former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa — expressed his support for the Venezuelan government’s actions against protestors.

“Dale duro, Maduro” (“Hit them harder, Maduro”), Morales said as he, Samper and others raised their fists in solidarity. Correa and Zapatero, however, did not raise their fists.

“What meaning does this have when former presidents ask a dictatorship like the one in Venezuela to ‘hit them harder?’ Do they mean ‘keep killing, continue slaughtering youth who are raising their voices in Venezuela?'” Pastrana asked.

The former Colombian president condemned the indirect support of two negotiators following the release of images showing government forces shooting and killing a 22-year-old protester, saying that their support decreases the likelihood of a peaceful solution.

“I think dialogue has ended in Venezuela, that word has been stricken from the Venezuelan dictionary. There is no dialogue, there is no possibility for dialogue and less, when Zapatero, Samper and Correa are holding hands with Evo Morales and shouting, ‘Hit them harder, Maduro,'” he said.

Quiroga added that he was “profoundly saddened” by Morales’ support for Maduro who continues “repressing and killing young people in the streets of Venezuela; continues detaining and judging civilians in military courts; continues to disband the Congress and muzzle the press.”

He also accused Zapatero as acting as “a foreign operative of the Maduro government,” claiming the former Spanish prime minister tried to act on Maduro’s behalf to “scare” opposition members before the parliamentary election that saw them win a two-thirds majority.

“We know his position and that he’s pretending to be a negotiator,” Quiroga said of Zapatero.

Describing the current situation in Venezuela as a “surrealist dystopia,” Quiroga said that calls made by the Vatican supporting democracy must prevail. However, he said, time is running out.

“The risk is that on June 30, Maduro has decided to deliver the final blow of his coup, calling it a vote for a constituent assembly, but in reality, is a final blow for Venezuelan democracy,” he said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

– – –

Copyright © 2017 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.

Venezuela risks becoming Caribbean ‘North Korea,’ former leaders say

06/23/2017 - 4:15pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Miguel Gutierrez, EPA

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Two former Latin American presidents said the world is running out of time to find a solution to the crisis in Venezuela as President Nicolas Maduro aims to consolidate power over the country.

Despite widespread protests, Maduro’s push to “put a group of his friends in what is called a ‘constituent assembly,’ would be the end of democracy and the annihilation of the Republic of Venezuela,” said Jorge Quiroga, former president of Bolivia.

That election “will install a Soviet state in Venezuela, liquidate democracy, end the Congress, cancel elections and turn Venezuela into a sort of Caribbean ‘North Korea,'” he said.

Joined by former Colombian President Andres Pastrana, Quiroga spoke to journalists at the Vatican June 23 on the deteriorating situation in Venezuela and attempts to diffuse the crisis following their meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state.

Protests began after March 29, when the Venezuelan Supreme Court ruled to dissolve the country’s parliament, in which the opposition had a two-thirds majority following the 2015 elections. The unprecedented ruling transferred legislative powers to the Supreme Court, which is comprised of judges nominated by Maduro.

Quiroga said he was grateful for Cardinal Parolin’s call for humanitarian aid, free elections and the release of political prisoners. He also hoped the international community would “insist and persist” on the Vatican’s recommendations.

“The Vatican has enormous moral and political weight and its position — in the name of Cardinal Parolin and the Holy Father — would be a determining factor to reel Venezuela back in toward the path of democracy,” he said.

However, Quiroga added, Maduro’s push for a constituent assembly June 30, comprised mainly of his supporters and aimed at changing the country’s constitution, would “finish off Venezuela and destroy the country.”

Both men also denounced former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero and Ernesto Samper, former Colombian president and current secretary general of the Union of South American Nations, for their indirect support for Maduro despite their roles as impartial negotiators between the government and the opposition.

At a June 21 meeting on immigration in Cochabamba, Bolivian President Evo Morales — flanked by Zapatero, Samper and former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa — expressed his support for the Venezuelan government’s actions against protestors.

“Dale duro, Maduro” (“Hit them harder, Maduro”), Morales said as he, Samper and others raised their fists in solidarity. Correa and Zapatero, however, did not raise their fists.

“What meaning does this have when former presidents ask a dictatorship like the one in Venezuela to ‘hit them harder?’ Do they mean ‘keep killing, continue slaughtering youth who are raising their voices in Venezuela?'” Pastrana asked.

The former Colombian president condemned the indirect support of two negotiators following the release of images showing government forces shooting and killing a 22-year-old protester, saying that their support decreases the likelihood of a peaceful solution.

“I think dialogue has ended in Venezuela, that word has been stricken from the Venezuelan dictionary. There is no dialogue, there is no possibility for dialogue and less, when Zapatero, Samper and Correa are holding hands with Evo Morales and shouting, ‘Hit them harder, Maduro,'” he said.

Quiroga added that he was “profoundly saddened” by Morales’ support for Maduro who continues “repressing and killing young people in the streets of Venezuela; continues detaining and judging civilians in military courts; continues to disband the Congress and muzzle the press.”

He also accused Zapatero as acting as “a foreign operative of the Maduro government,” claiming the former Spanish prime minister tried to act on Maduro’s behalf to “scare” opposition members before the parliamentary election that saw them win a two-thirds majority.

“We know his position and that he’s pretending to be a negotiator,” Quiroga said of Zapatero.

Describing the current situation in Venezuela as a “surrealist dystopia,” Quiroga said that calls made by the Vatican supporting democracy must prevail. However, he said, time is running out.

“The risk is that on June 30, Maduro has decided to deliver the final blow of his coup, calling it a vote for a constituent assembly, but in reality, is a final blow for Venezuelan democracy,” he said.

– – –

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

– – –

Copyright © 2017 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.

Guest Commentary: Who is ready to stand up for religious liberty?

06/23/2017 - 8:14am

By Sister Constance Veit, L.S.P.

In college I grew in my Catholic faith and had a strong experience of religious pluralism. I was involved in the Newman Center daily but I also had many non-Catholic friends and even frequented Hillel House, the Jewish student center.

Several of my Jewish friends worked in Hillel’s kosher dining room, and since they couldn’t work on the Sabbath or religious holidays, they got me and some other non-Jewish girls jobs there where we served kosher food and did the dishes on Friday evenings and Jewish holidays.

At 19-years-old, I didn’t know much about Jewish traditions. My orthodox friends took their religious obligations seriously and faithfully observed the weekly Sabbath, or Shabbat as I learned to call it. I tried my best to respect their deeply held convictions, even when I didn’t understand them, since I didn’t want to offend either my friends or their faith. I secretly admired the courage of the orthodox Jewish students who unabashedly proclaimed their religious identity through their yarmulkes, their food choices and other observances.

Through these experiences, I learned to approach other faith traditions with reserved curiosity and respectful appreciation. As I learned more about Judaism, while at the same time examining Catholicism in depth, I came to understand that even when we are at a loss to explain the nuances of our faith experiences to skeptics and unbelievers, this does not weaken the sincerity or strength of our convictions.

Things have changed a lot since my college days. As the Little Sisters have spent the last several years in the limelight due to our Supreme Court case over the HHS contraceptive mandate, we have received valuable support and encouragement from many sources. But we have also been the object of mean-spirited hate mails, uninformed critiques and partisan judgments of our supposed hidden motives. The vitriol directed against us has been both disturbing and disheartening.

Remembering the mutual respect I experienced during my college days, I am deeply saddened to see our current culture’s disdain for traditional religious values, and its apparent amnesia in relation to the intentions of our Founding Fathers. For me the most jarring moment occurred last year when a major political candidate proclaimed, referring to pro-lifers, “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed!”

We claim to live in a pluralistic society that defends human dignity and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Such a society is committed to making room for everyone, including those whose convictions run counter to the mainstream, but who wish to live peaceably with others and contribute to the common good. This does not mean that every individual will find every job or social situation a perfect fit. Nor does it mean that every employer, organization or service provider will be able to satisfy the desires and aspirations of every person who walks through their doors.

In a pluralistic society, religious organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor will inevitably encounter requests for services that run contrary to our beliefs, but refusing to provide such services does not offend the conscience rights of others. Nor does it constitute discrimination or bigotry. It is, rather, a means of safeguarding our personal integrity and the Catholic identity of our organizations.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl said it well in Being Catholic Today: Catholic Identity in an Age of Challenge: “There are some things that the Church simply will not do, and it is not discriminatory to say, ‘We do not do that.’ … We must remain true to who we are. We cannot be expected to embrace error and give up our identity which inspired us to form ministries of teaching, healing and charity in the first place.”

As we observe the sixth Fortnight for Freedom (June 21 through July 4), let’s pray that religious liberty will once again be respected as the most cherished of American freedoms. Let’s pray for the freedom to serve in harmony with the truths of our Catholic faith.

Finally, let’s pray for the wisdom to know how to contribute to a better understanding of this important issue in a way that respects all people of good will.

Sister Constance Veit is director of communications for the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Little Sisters of the Poor Spaghetti Dinner

06/22/2017 - 6:10pm

The last Saturday of June is reserved at the Little Sisters of the Poor for their annual Spaghetti Supper fundraiser. For the past six years, guests have been flocking to 476 Riddle Road in Clifton to get a taste of Sister Mary Imelda’s famous spaghetti sauce.

This year the Little Sisters open their doors on June 24 for dine-in patrons from 3-7 p.m., giving folks an extra hour of time to enjoy the food without the crowd. People will also have the option to enjoy hot carry-out meals starting at 2 p.m. “Last year was record breaking and I want to allow people the opportunity to enjoy the food and atmosphere without feeling crowded or rushed so we plan to open our doors an hour earlier,” Sarah Steffen the event coordinator said. If patrons can’t make the big event Saturday, they can stop in June 23 from 1-7 p.m. to get quarts of sauce and meatballs to enjoy at home.

Skilled Care Pharmacy is a loyal partner that sponsors the event every year. The Supper will also be sponsored by Oberson’s Nursery and Landscapes, Lithko Contracting, Denier Electric, and ECOLAB this year along with many other company sponsors. To find out a full list of all involved go to www.littlesistersofthepoor.org.

The Little Sisters of the Poor is a Catholic organization that has offered a home to the elderly poor of Cincinnati for nearly150 years. St. Paul’s Home is a retirement community that offers assistance to all those in need no matter race, religion, or frailty. In order to care so well for the Residents the Home relies on donations to survive. The Spaghetti Supper is one of the ways the Home works to raise money for the Residents. For questions or more information on the Little Sisters or Spaghetti Supper contact Sarah Steffen at (513)281-8001 or email prcincinnati@littlesistersofthepoor.org.

Under the radar: South Sudan needs media attention, immediate action

06/22/2017 - 4:30pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Carol Glatz

By Carol Glatz

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Copyright © 2017 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.

St. Maria’s Community Farm: A produce stand to benefit the poor

06/22/2017 - 3:56pm

A produce stand for the benefit of the poor is being operated by the Catholic parishes of St. Nicholas, Osgood and St. Louis, North Star, Ohio.

Located on the corner of St. Rt. 705 and U.S. Route 127, North Star, Ohio, St. Maria’s Community Farm welcomes gardeners to donate fruits and vegetables from their gardens or baked goods. The public is invited to come and offer donations for whatever produce they wish to take home.

The produce stand is open every Saturday beginning July 8 and throughout the rest of the summer from 9 a.m. to noon. All proceeds and leftover produce are given to St. Vincent Hotel in Dayton which feeds approximately 1,000 meals a day. Some of the proceeds may be given to other area soup kitchens.

For a map, click here

Scorsese says a boyhood of church and movies continues to inspire him

06/22/2017 - 2:38pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Chaz Muth

By Cindy Wooden

QUEBEC CITY (CNS) — Faith and films have been lifelong obsessions for director Martin Scorsese, obsessions that he said have given him moments of peace amid turmoil, but also challenges and frustrations that, in hindsight, he will accept as lessons in humility.

“For me, the stories have always been about how we should live who we are, and have a lot to do with love, trust and betrayal,” he said, explaining that those themes have been with him since his boyhood spent in the rambunctious tenements of New York and in the peace of the city’s St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, where he was an altar server.

Scorsese spoke June 21 in Quebec City at a joint session of the Catholic Press Association’s Catholic Media Convention and the world congress of Signis, the international association of Catholic media professionals. That evening, both groups presented him with a lifetime achievement award for excellence in filmmaking.

Before Scorsese answered questions posed by author Paul Elie, conference participants watched his film “Silence,” which is based on the novel by Shusaku Endo. The book and film are a fictionalized account of the persecution of Christians in 17th-century Japan; the central figures are Jesuit missionaries, who are ordered to deny the faith or face death after witnessing the death of their parishioners.

Although “Silence” was not nearly as controversial as his 1988 film, “The Last Temptation of Christ,” Scorsese said the two films are connected and not just because an Episcopalian bishop gave him Endo’s book after seeing the 1988 film.

Even before filming began on “The Last Temptation of Christ,” which is based on a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis and explores the human side of Jesus, people were writing letters to the studio and producers complaining about plans to bring it to the big screen.

Recounting the story, Scorsese said a studio executive asked him why he wanted so badly to make the film.

“To get to know Jesus better,” Scorsese said he blurted out. “That was the answer that came to mind. I didn’t know what else to say.”

If one affirms that Jesus is fully divine and fully human, he said, people should be able to look at his humanity.

But Scorsese told his Quebec City audience that his explorations of who Jesus is and what faith really means were by no means exhausted by “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

“The journey is much more involved,” Scorsese said. “It’s just not finished.”

In reading Endo’s novel, working on and off for two decades to make the film and in finally bringing it to completion, Scorsese said he was “looking for the core of faith.”

The climax of the film is when one of the Jesuits gives in and, in order to save his faithful who are being tortured, he tramples a religious image. However, the character believes that act of official apostasy is, in reality, a higher form of faith because, by sacrificing his own soul, he is saving the lives of others.

“It’s almost like a special gift to be called on to face that challenge, because he is given an opportunity to really go beyond and to really get to the core of faith and Christianity,” Scorsese said.

In the end, the priest “has nothing left to be proud of” — not his faith or his courage — and “it’s just pure selflessness,” the director said. “It’s like a gift for him.”

“I think there is no doubt it is a believer’s movie,” he said. “At least for me.”

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.

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Copyright © 2017 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.

In lieu of visit, pope makes major donation to South Sudan charities

06/21/2017 - 2:55pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Carol Glatz

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With a trip to South Sudan postponed indefinitely, Pope Francis is sending close to a half-million dollars to help two church-run hospitals, a teacher training center and farming projects for families as a way to show the people there his solidarity and support.

Because a planned trip with Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury couldn’t happen this year as hoped, Pope Francis “wants to make tangible the presence and closeness of the church with the suffering people through this initiative ‘The Pope for South Sudan,'” Cardinal Peter Turkson told reporters at a Vatican news conference June 21.

“He fervently hopes to be able to go there as soon as possible on an official visit to the nation; the church does not shut hope out of such an afflicted area,” said the cardinal, who is prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

An official visit was meant to draw the world’s attention to a silent tragedy, give voice to those suffering, and encourage conflicting parties to make renewed and greater efforts in finding a peaceful solution to the conflict, the cardinal said.

Already in March, Pope Francis had expressed doubts about the possibility of making the trip, saying in an interview with Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper, that visiting South Sudan would be “important,” but that “I don’t believe that it is possible.” The pope approved the project funding in April, a month before the Vatican announced the trip’s delay.

The initiative is meant to supplement, support and encourage the ongoing work of religious congregations, Catholic organizations and international aid groups on the ground that “generously and tirelessly” help the people and promote peace and development, the cardinal said.

South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011 after decades of war. But just two years after independence, political tensions erupted into violence and abuses. The fighting, displacement, insecurity and drought have led to large-scale hunger and malnutrition across the country. It’s estimated that 3.8 million people have been displaced and at least 28 million are in need of food aid.

A papal donation of about $200,000 will support a program run by Caritas South Sudan, providing fast-growing seeds and farming tools for 2,500 families in areas where it is still possible to grow food.

Some $112,000 will go to fund Solidarity With South Sudan — an international Catholic network, supporting 16 scholarships and a training program for primary school teachers. The teacher training center takes in students from every ethnic group so they can learn and later teach values of tolerance and reconciliation along with basic education.

A contribution of $150,000 will go to fund two hospitals run by the Comboni Missionary Sisters. Comboni Sister Laura Gemignani told reporters that they have extremely few resources to support their small staff and numerous patients.

For example, she said their hospital in Wau sees 300 patients a day — 40,000 a year — but there is only one doctor, who comes in every day and responds to every emergency.

“It’s hard to pay his salary,” she said, but he, the nurses and other staff stay on despite the insecurity and danger.

When they were told to evacuate because of intensified fighting, she said the staff said that as long as they had even just one patient to attend to, they would never leave.

Cardinal Turkson said, “The Holy Father does not forget the unheard and silent victims of this bloody and inhumane conflict, does not forget all those people who are forced to flee from their homes because of abuses of power, injustice and war. He holds all of them in his prayers and his heart.”

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Copyright © 2017 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.

Holiness means being open to God, pope says

06/21/2017 - 1:56pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Being a saint doesn’t require spending long hours in prayer, but rather living life open to God in good times and in bad, Pope Francis said.

Christians should live with the “hope of becoming saints” and with the desire that “work, even in sickness and suffering, even in difficulties, is open to God,” the pope said June 21 during his weekly general audience.

“We think that it is something difficult, that it is easier to be delinquents than saints. No! We can become saints because the Lord helps us. It is he who helps us,” he told the estimated 12,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis rode around in his popemobile, stopping along the way to greet pilgrims and kiss babies. One child casually waved goodbye to the pope as he was handed back to his parents.

In his talk, the pope reflected on the intercession of the saints, who are “older brothers and sisters who have gone along our same path, (gone through) our same struggles and live forever in God’s embrace.”

“Their existence tells us above all that Christian life isn’t an unattainable ideal. And together, they comfort us: We are not alone, the church is made up of innumerable brothers and sisters, often anonymous, who have preceded us and who, through the action of the Holy Spirit, are involved in the affairs of those who still live here,” he said.

Just as their intercession is invoked in Baptism, the pope continued, the church asks for their help in the sacrament of marriage so couples “can have the courage to say ‘forever.'”

“To live married life forever; not like some who say, ‘as long as love lasts.’ No, it is forever. On the contrary, it is better you don’t get married. It’s either forever or nothing. That is why their presence is invoked in the nuptial liturgy,” he said.

The lives of the saints, he continued, served as a reminder that “God never abandons us” and in times of trial and suffering, he “sends one of his angels to comfort us and fill us with consolation.”

There are “angels, sometimes with a face and a human heart because God’s saints are always here, hidden among us,” the pope said.

Another sacrament in which the saints are invoked is Holy Orders, in which candidates for the priesthood lay prostrate on the ground while the bishop and the entire assembly pray the litany of the saints, he said.

“A man would be crushed under the weight of the mission entrusted to him but, in feeling that all of paradise is behind him, that the grace of God will not fail because Jesus is always faithful, he can go forward serenely and refreshed. We are not alone,” the pope said.

Pope Francis told the pilgrims that Christians need saints who lived their lives “aspiring to charity and brotherhood” because without them, the world would not have hope.”

“May the Lord give us the grace to believe so profoundly in him that we become images of Christ for this world,” he said.

Before the general audience, Pope Francis met with members of the U.S. Pro Football Hall of Fame, including Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who will be inducted into the prestigious association Aug. 5.

“As many of you know, I am an avid follower of ‘football,’ but where I come from, the game is played very differently!” the pope said, referring to the fact that “football” refers to the game of soccer in most parts of the world.

The pope said the values of “teamwork, fair play and the pursuit of personal excellence” aren’t just important on the field, but are “urgently needed off the field, on all levels of our life as a community.”

“Our world, and especially our young people, need models, people who show us how to bring out the best in ourselves, to use our God-given gifts and talents and, in doing so, to point the way to a better future for our communities,” he said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Copyright © 2017 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.

Fortnight for Freedom June 21st through July 1st: Freedom for Misson

06/21/2017 - 10:29am
Archbishop of Cincinnati Dennis M. Schnurr (CT Photo/John Stegeman)

Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Office of the Archbishop
100 East Eighth Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
513-421-3131 Ext. 2810

June 8, 2017

My Dear Friends in Christ,

One of the most precious freedoms we have as Americans is the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment to our Constitution. Concerned about increasing threats to that freedom, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2012 launched a Fortnight for Freedom observance from June 21, the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, to July 4, Independence Day. That observance continues in 2017 because religious liberty is still under siege – in this country and around the world.

This year’s theme, “Freedom for Mission,” highlights the important fact that our God-given and constitutionally protected religious liberty is not restricted to our own minds or to houses of worship, as some government entities in our country have redefined it. As Pope Francis said on the eve of the Fortnight in 2014, “Religious freedom is not simply freedom of thought or private worship. It is the freedom to live according to ethical principles, both privately and publicly, consequent to the truth one has found.” That is exemplified in the 14 subthemes of this year’s observance, one for each day of the Fortnight:

• Freedom to serve migrants and refugees;
• May we be God’s servants first;
• Freedom to care for the sick;
• Freedom to bear witness to Truth;
• Freedom to serve God with our whole lives;
• Freedom to seek the Truth;
• For Christians in the Middle East;
• Freedom to serve our communities through education;
• For the freedom of the Church;
• Freedom to serve families seeing and children awaiting adoption;
• Freedom to serve the vulnerable;
• Freedom to build stronger communities;
• For our brothers and sisters in Mexico;
• Freedom to promote a culture of freedom for all.

The Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, “declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom” (no.2). In other words, religious liberty is for everyone. It is not a gift of the state, nor should it ever be the subject of violence by anyone who disagrees with its tenets. Yet, some religious minorities in our nation, including Muslims and Jews, have felt increasingly targeted by hate crimes and under suspicion for their religious beliefs. In addition, local, state, and federal government actions have impinged on our Freedom for Mission in significant ways: Catholic foster care and adoption services have had to shut down because they refuse to comply with government rules that would force them to place children with same-sex couples or unmarried opposite-sex couples who cohabit. Bakers, florists, photographers, and wedding venues who declined to provide services to same-sex weddings for reasons of conscience have been fined or otherwise penalized. Charities have been forbidden by state immigration laws from offering material and pastoral care to undocumented immigrants.

Above all, many Christians and other people of faith around the world are in particular danger today – not only of losing their liberty, but of losing their lives. For example, within the past 12 months a French priest, Fr. Jacques Hamel, was brutally killed while celebrating Mass. More than 100 Coptic Christians were killed in separate attacks in Egypt. In Iraq and Syria, Christians who have lived peaceably with those of other faiths for centuries are now praying that extremists don’t rob them of their future in the cradle of Christianity. These are just dramatic examples that have drawn the world’s attention. Credible estimates put the number of Christians are killed for their faith globally every year at 100,000 or more. And Catholic historians believe the 20th century produced more Christian martyrs than the previous 19 put together.

In light of all this, what can you do to respond??
• Visit the USCCB’s Fortnight for Freedom page and utilize many of the resources there: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/index.cfm
• Answer the “Call to Prayer for Life for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty” from the USCCB. The “Call to Prayer” asks that Catholics celebrate Eucharistic holy hours monthly, pray the rosary daily, fast, and abstain from meat on Fridays. There is a Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/CallToPrayer.
• Visit the “Preserve Religious Freedom!” page of the Archdiocesan website for links to these materials and other past, local resources on religious liberty issues: http://www.catholiccincinnati.org/ministries-offices/catholic-social-action/calendar-events/preservereligiousfreedom/
• During the Fortnight, attend any special prayer opportunities available in your parish, and participate in Mass on July 4, the culmination of the Fortnight. Prayer is powerful!

To highlight the international plight of Christians, the One Church of Mercy Committee, made up of Roman rite and Maronite rite Catholics in the Archdiocese, brought His Beatitude Bechara Peter Cardinal Rai, the Maronite Patriarch, to Cincinnati during the Fortnight for Freedom in 2016. This year, in conjunction with the visit of the Maronite Bishop Elias Zaidan of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles, the Committee will host a screening of the movie, “Our Last Stand” in Cincinnati, a documentary about Christians striving to maintain a presence in the Middle East. It will take place on the afternoon of Saturday, August 12. You can mark your calendars today, and please stay tuned for more details. Contact the Catholic Social Action Office at (513) 421-3131, ext. 2660 or csa@catholiccincinnati.org in the meantime for more information.

Thank you for all you do to help preserve and celebrate the Truth that Christ has revealed. May our efforts help freely spread God’s love and mercy to our communities and to the ends of the Earth.

With prayerful best wishes, I am,

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Dennis M. Schnurr
Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr
Archbishop of Cincinnati

A picture says a thousand words: Final 2 stops on Big Ten Festival Weekend

06/21/2017 - 8:59am

On June 9th through June 11th there were 10 Festivals throughout the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The CT Crew was out and about at 6 of them. Today our final 2 stops, St. Maximilian Kolbe in Liberty Township and Assumption in Mount Healthy.

Walking the grounds drumminig up the next Split the Pot. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Walking the grounds drumming up the next Split the Pot. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Take a Chance (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Take a Chance (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) All bets down at the Big Six wheel. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)All bets down at the Big Six wheel. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Entertainment abounded at the 2017 edition of the St. Maximilian Kolbe Festival (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Entertainment abounded at the 2017 edition of the St. Maximilian Kolbe Festival (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Booth Row at the festival (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Booth Row at the festival (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) The Knights Menu (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)The Knights Menu (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Pictures and Selfies abounded with the Cincinnati Bengal Mascot (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Pictures and Selfies abounded with the Cincinnati Bengal Mascot (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Altitude gained at the St. Max Festival (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Altitude gained at the St. Max Festival (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) In line at Assumption (CT Photo/Gail Finke)In line at Assumption (CT Photo/Gail Finke) Up Up and Away (CT Photo/Gail Finke)Up Up and Away (CT Photo/Gail Finke) Visitors enjoying a day at the festival and a Mary Garden! (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Visitors enjoying a day at the festival and a Mary Garden! (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Lots to do on a sunny festival day at Assumption (CT Photo/Gail Finke)Lots to do on a sunny festival day at Assumption (CT Photo/Gail Finke) N 35, N 35 (CT Photo/Gail Finke)Indoor relief from the heat and great food (CT Photo/Gail Finke) Did someone request FreeBird? (CT Photo/Gail Finke)Did someone request FreeBird? (CT Photo/Gail Finke) Good times at the festival (CT Photo/Gail Finke)Good times at the festival (CT Photo/Gail Finke) Lucky Duck Derby (CT Photo/Gail Finke)Lucky Duck Derby (CT Photo/Gail Finke)

Pope accepts early resignation of Vatican’s first independent auditor

06/20/2017 - 5:08pm

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Just two years after being hired to help with the Vatican’s efforts in finance reform, Libero Milone — the Vatican’s first independent auditor who answered only to the pope — handed a request for his resignation to Pope Francis.

The pope accepted Milone’s request, the Vatican announced June 20, after Milone personally presented it to the pope a day earlier.

“While wishing Milone the best in his future endeavors, the Holy See wishes to inform (everyone) that the process of naming a new director of the auditor-general’s office will be underway as soon as possible,” the Vatican’s written statement said.

Pope Francis named Milone to fill the new position of auditor general in June 2015, more than a year after establishing special structures to oversee the Vatican’s finances — the Council for the Economy and the Secretariat for the Economy.

The auditor general has the power to audit the books of any Vatican office and reports directly to the pope. The auditing office currently has 12 people on staff.

Milone, 68, an Italian accountant and expert in corporate risk management, was born in Holland and educated in London. He was chairman and managing partner of Milone Associates and had worked for Falck Renewables, Wind Telecom and Fiat. Until 2007, he was chairman of Deloitte Italy and served three years as a member of the audit committee of the United Nations’ World Food Program.

An independent auditor was a key part of the “separation of powers” necessary for reforming the Vatican’s economic activity, Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, wrote in 2015.

“These reforms are designed to make all Vatican financial agencies boringly successful, so that they do not merit much press attention,” the cardinal wrote.

No reason was given for Milone’s request to step down.

In an interview in March with the Italian daily, Corriere della Sera, Milone said the previous 18 months had been very busy because he had to learn the way things had worked and then oversee 120 offices and foundations that make up the Roman Curia or are associated with the Holy See.

The office had just been completing preliminary studies of all the major assets, finances and economic data of 2015 and 2016. “The next step is auditing the balance sheet up to Dec. 31, 2017, so as to be able to get ready for auditing the whole budget ending Dec. 31, 2018,” he said.

He felt their efforts had paid off by bringing in “a new model of managing the budget and introducing the best international standards,” adding that the real work in reform was, “first of all, cultural.”

When asked if he had met with any resistance, he said, “more than real or actual resistance, often it was about being unaware” of more modern, integrated and transparent accounting standards. They did a lot of training to help people “overcome foreseeable difficulties,” he said.

He said he never regretted accepting the job, which had been offered to him by an international headhunting agency, he said. “On the contrary, I will go all the way with great enthusiasm.”

He said, “I am very motivated by the privilege of being at the service of the pope … and to be able to do my small part of a decisive reform for the Vatican … A reform whose full extent has perhaps still not been well understood.”

Back in September 2015, an employee of the auditor general’s office notified Vatican police that Milone’s computer had been tampered with, the investigation into that tampering led to the second VatiLeaks investigation and trial, according to Vatican Radio.

That trial found Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda, secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, and Francesca Chaouqui, a member of the former Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See, guilty of having roles in the leaking of confidential documents about Vatican finances and acquitted an associate and two journalists.

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Copyright © 2017 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.

New priests follow many paths to answering call to serve God’s people

06/20/2017 - 2:53pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Josephine von Dohlen

WASHINGTON (CNS) — After almost 12 years as an Episcopal priest, Deacon Jonathan Erdman entered into full communion with the Catholic Church along with his family in 2016 and a year later, he is becoming a Catholic priest.

He will be ordained a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter June 29.

This spring, 590 men entered the priesthood in dioceses throughout the United States, according to a report released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington. The report is based on an annual study that the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate conducted for the USCCB.

Leading to his joining the Catholic Church, Deacon Erdman felt something in the background repeatedly calling him to the church, but he said he continually found new ways to distract himself.

“I think often when one hears God calling, a response can be thinking of an excuse,” Deacon Erdman said in a phone interview with Catholic News Service June 14. “Moses said he didn’t have the ability to speak, Jeremiah claimed he was too young, and even Peter asked Jesus to depart because he felt unworthy. I distracted myself with my work in ministry. I told myself that I was needed where I was.”

He recalls teaching a yearly presentation on “What Is the Episcopal Church?” at St. Meinrad Archabbey and Seminary in Indiana. “One of my students joked that it seemed I wanted to be a bit more Catholic with each passing year,” Deacon Erdman said.

Events such as the election of Pope Francis allowed Deacon Erdman to see the unity of the Catholic Church through devotion and prayer, gradually leading him to the doors of the Catholic faith.

The first time Deacon Erdman attended Mass while beginning the discernment process, it happened to be on the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the namesake feast of the ordinariate of which he will soon become a part.

Based in Houston, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is similar to a diocese, but national in scope. It was established in 2012 by the Vatican earlier this year to facilitate and shepherd communities of former Anglicans wishing to join the Catholic faith while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage and traditions.

“I’m very grateful to Anglicanism for teaching me what to long for, for teaching me to long for Scripture, to long for the sacraments, to long for a faith rooted in tradition and reason, to long for Incarnated faith, and to long for true unity,” Deacon Erdman told CNS. “I believe these desires pointed me in the direction that God has called me to go. I found these desires satisfied in the Catholic faith.”

After his priestly ordination, he will serve the Community of Our Lady and St. John in Louisville, Kentucky.

Six months after Father Andrew Dawson entered the Catholic Church at Easter 2006, people began to ask him if he had thought about joining the priesthood.

According to the USCCB report on the ordinand class of 2017, 87 percent of men were encouraged by an average of four people to enter the priesthood.

“I remember very vividly sitting up in bed one night, bolt upright, thinking to myself, ‘All these people have said these things and not one time have I ever said no,'” Father Dawson said to CNS June 14. “All I’ve done is make a joke of it, and just dismiss it. I realized that the reason that I hadn’t been able to say no to anyone is because I was asking myself the same question.”

The priesthood eventually became all that Father Dawson would think of in his free time.

Before entering the seminary, Father Dawson worked as an associate director at a Catholic youth camp, Sancta Maria, in Gaylord, Michigan. His experience working at the camp drastically influenced his faith life, as the camp began his intellectual conversion to the Catholic Church.

It was in the chapel at Sancta Maria that he truly came to experience the reality of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. “I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew that what I was looking at was not what I had believed it to be previously,” Father Dawson said. “I needed to go and investigate that’it was so powerful to me.”

Father Andrew said he relates to St. Peter because of how St. Peter is both bold and terrified, both understands and doesn’t understand, how St. Peter puts all his weaknesses out there and still the Lord uses him in a powerful way because of his openness.

Being in the Archdiocese of Detroit also has brought Father Dawson close to the late Capuchin Father Solanus Casey, who will be beatified in Detroit in 2017. Father Dawson wore a relic of Father Casey during his ordination and will serve at St. Fabian Parish in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Father Steven Oetjen’s parents, along with those of 80 percent of the new ordinands, were both Catholic.

They raised Father Oetjen and his siblings in the church, sending them to Catholic schools and Mass every Sunday. But it wasn’t until Father Oetjen went off to study engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh that he began to feel the call to the priesthood.

“Basically, I found myself thrown into this really competitive environment and a very demanding environment, with all the work of engineering it was very busy, very hard to find time for prayer,” Father Oetjen said. “It was also the first time that I was on my own without my family and I knew that I needed to really start to make the faith my own and if I wanted to take the faith seriously, my parents weren’t going to be there anymore to make me.”

Desiring to make his faith his own, Father Oetjen became involved actively with the Newman Center at Carnegie Mellon and he saw in his friends a joy in living a life of virtue that he, too, wanted for himself. It was in the chapel at the Newman Center that he encountered the Blessed Sacrament.

“I found that there in the chapel with the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar in the monstrance, it was the perfect place for me to go every day to encounter our Lord Jesus Christ and to just spend time with him in silence and to pray to him, telling him about all my struggles and challenges, asking him for grace,” Father Oetjen said. “That helped me immensely.”

This devotion to the Blessed Sacrament eventually revealed a little tug on his heart that Father Oetjen felt and discovered to be God calling him to the priesthood.

“Seeking the Lord out in silence and in prayer really filled a gap that was much needed in my life at the time, and it is always there, I always need to pray,” Father Oetjen said. “But I also think it’s a joy that is always going to be growing and it’s a joy that doesn’t mean that everything is always happy go lucky, all the time but even through ups and downs, its an underlying joy, it’s a peace.”

Like 43 percent of those ordained this year, Father Oejten finished his undergraduate degree before entering the seminary.

“I’ve really been in awe now that I’m able to celebrate Mass every day,” Father Oejten said. “I’m looking forward to every day for the rest of my life, God willing, to being able to celebrate the holy sacrifice of the Mass, to preach and teach God people to help them receive the sacraments as fruitfully as they can so that all the grace that God wants to give them can flourish in their lives.”

Father Oejten was ordained June 10 in the Diocese of Arlington, and he will serve at St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church, Virginia.

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Father Ron Williams presented IHM with an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe

06/20/2017 - 11:57am

Father Ron Williams, parochial vicar at Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Anderson Township, presented the parish with an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of America, during the Vigil Mass on June 17.

“Here at Immaculate Heart of Mary, we are blessed with a growing, vibrant, and energetic community of Hispanics from all over Latin America,” Father Williams noted. “They have a beautiful devotion to our Blessed Mother, especially Our Lady of Guadalupe. I am donating this icon to the parish so it can be used as a focus of Marian devotion as needed at Mass and liturgies. Otherwise, it will be on display in the church’s gathering space.”

The icon was created by the Knights of Columbus as part of a world-wide project. Several hundred icons of Our Lady of Guadalupe were distributed to all the state K of C jurisdictions to travel from one Council to another over a two-year period. Ohio received four of them. When the traveling icon program concluded in 2013, Father Williams asked for one of the icons with the hopes of donating it to a parish in our Archdiocese. He was Ohio State Chaplain for the Knights from July 2011 to June 2013.

The icons are photographic reproductions of the original image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. They were framed with a sample of dirt from Tepeyac Hill, where the apparitions took place and the basilica has been located. After Pope Benedict XVI blessed the icons in Rome, they were taken to Denver for the Knights of Columbus’ 129th annual Supreme Convention and distribution to all 70 state jurisdictions of the USA, Canada, Mexico, Philippines, and Poland, as well as Puerto Rico and Guam.

Pope Pius XII declared Our Lady of Guadalupe to be the patroness of the Americas – that is, of all the peoples in North and South America and the Caribbean. Bl. Paul VI gave a golden rose to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. St. John Paul II beatified and canonized St. Juan Diego and made December 12 a feast day for Our Lady of Guadalupe. He also issued the apostolic exhortation “Ecclesia in America,” where he emphasized that the people of the western hemisphere belong to one American continent, and hence Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of America (i.e., singular). Pope Francis recently visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, where he prayed privately before the image and gave a second golden rose.

“Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness for all peoples on the one American continent from Alaska in the north to the tip of South America,” Father Williams said. “Never did Our Blessed Mother claim to be the patroness of only Spanish-speaking people. Rather, she presented herself as a patroness of all Catholics. This icon, therefore, is given to all the people of Immaculate Heart of Mary parish on behalf of the Knights of Columbus.”

Summer Theology on Tap

06/20/2017 - 11:06am

It’s the Summer Theology on Tap. Here’s a great chance to have an evening of Faith, Food, and Fellowship for young adults 18-39 in a casual setting. It all takes place at El Rancho Nuevo 9229 Floer Dr. in West Chester. Gather at 7:00 p.m. for the Social Half-Hour, Talk is at 7:30 p.m. For a map to El Rancho Nuevo click here

Here’s this summer’s menu:

Wednesday July 5, 2017: Fr. Eric Roush talks on Apologetics.

Tuesday July 11, 2017: Matt Hollocroft talks on Evangelization

Tuesday July 18, 2017: Mary Ann Bressler talks on Finding purpose in your life

Tuesday July 25, 2017: Bishop Joe Binzer talks on Catholicism in today’s world.

Theology on Tap is presented by the West Chester Catholic Young Adult Group. For more information, visit their website at www.wccatholicya.org