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Today’s Video: The Feast of the Epiphany; What is your Gift to the Lord Jesus Christ?

01/06/2018 - 1:05pm

Today’s brief video looks at the Feast of the Epiphany: a quick primer of why we celebrate this most sacred day.

Canadian grants for summer jobs: Catholics and traditional Christians need not apply?

01/06/2018 - 6:00am
Campers at a Totus Tuus summer camp in the western United States. In Canada, salaries for counselors at many church camps are partially funded by the Canada Summer Jobs Program, funding that seems to be in jeopardy unless the churches attest to support of abortion, same-sex “marriage,” and related issues. Courtesy photo.

By Gail Finke

The Canada Summer Jobs Program (CSJ) helping small businesses and charities pay salaries for summer workers got an extra $113 million this year, but pro-life organizations and traditional Christians suspect they need not apply.

New restrictions on grants require that both the jobs and the “core mandates” of the organizations offering them respect individual human rights – which in Canada now include gender expression, sexual orientation, and “access to safe and legal abortion.”

Conservative members of parliament object to both the rule and the implications that it might eventually be extended to welfare and other services, as well as to the charitable status of churches and organizations.

The application guideline states that being a religious organization “does not itself constitute ineligibility for this program,” but churches say they don’t know what to expect as the applications are processed.

Funding applications for the organizations, which in the past has included many church camps, began in late December. Last year the program helped pay salaries for nearly 70,000 jobs for people ages 15-30.

In the past, individual Members of Parliament (MPs) approved the applications from groups in the areas they represented. News outlets say this meant that MPs could approve applications from pro-life groups, as well as from churches that follow traditional Christian teachings, and other religious groups with traditional teachings on marriage and related moral issues.

The application now requires applicants to sign an “attestation” that they have read the guidelines, that the summer jobs would not exist without funding assistance, that the organization has all the approvals it needs for the jobs, and that:

“…both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression…”

Read the guideline for applicants here.

According to Statistics Canada, the country has more than 12 million Catholic residents, who make up almost 40% of the population. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a staunch supporter of abortion, considers himself Catholic.

Conservative MP Brad Trost posted a video on Twitter opposing the changes. “In practical terms, this means you have to be with the Liberal Party position on abortion, gay marriage, transgendered rights, all sorts of legislation in the House of Commons,” he said. “Otherwise you will be an ineligible employer for this program. That’s wrong, that’s discrimination.

“If you discriminate in this program, why can’t you discriminate in all others – pensions, welfare, etc.?”

In a post to its members the Canadian chapter of The Gospel Coalition, a group of Evangelical churches, pointed out that none of them could sign the “attestation” and suggested that they consider applying without doing so, to “create a record of government rejecting organizations and individual students for funding on the basis that their religious beliefs do not align with state morality.”

According to “The Toronto Star,” the attestation was added by liberal parliament members because last year some jobs went to students who worked for pro-life organizations. The newspaper quoted Federal Labour Minister Patty Hajdu saying CSJ exists to help create “meaningful work experience for young people that will help grow the economy and strengthen the middle class,” and that the attestation was not designed to exclude church- and other faith-based organizations.

But Campaign Life Coalition, one of Canada’s largest pro-life organizations, says it does just that.

“The Trudeau government is engaging in ideological coercion by demanding that employers who believe killing children before birth is wrong, attest that they support so-called ‘reproductive rights,’” President Jim Hughes said in a mid-December statement. “For the government to deny federal funds to pro-life employers for their summer students, while encouraging grants for pro-abortion organizations, is directly discriminating against millions of Canadians.”

CLC spokesman Jack Fonesca said the change “reeks of a deep-seated, anti-religious bigotry” and “must be stopped.”

The spokesman for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said Friday that the group did not have an official statement on the change.

Churches no longer exempt from FEMA disaster aid

01/05/2018 - 7:35pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency is revising its policies to no longer exclude houses of worship from applying for federal aid to recover from damages caused by natural disasters.

The policy change was outlined in the agency’s revised 217-page manual: “Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide” issued Jan. 2.

This change is not just for damage caused in future disasters but also affects claims made by churches last year from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma because it can be applied retroactively to claims made “on or after Aug. 23, 2017.”

An introduction to the new FEMA manual credits the change in policy to a Supreme Court decision last June, which ruled that Trinity Lutheran Church in Missouri should not have been denied a public benefit just because it is a church. The court’s 7-2 decision specifically referred to the church-run preschool and said it should not be excluded from a state grant program to refurbish its playground surface just because it is a religious entity.

“In light of the Trinity Lutheran decision, FEMA has considered its guidance on private nonprofit facility eligibility,” the agency’s new document says, pointing out that houses of worship would not be excluded from eligibility for FEMA aid on the basis of the religious character or primarily religious use of the facility.

Daniel Blomberg, an attorney for the Becket Fund, representing Texas churches and Florida synagogues that have sued FEMA over not getting federal disaster aid, welcomed the policy change.

“Better late than never,” he said in a statement. “By finally following the Constitution, FEMA is getting rid of second-class status for churches, which in the words of the Supreme Court was ‘odious’ to the First Amendment. We will watch carefully to make sure that FEMA’s new policy implemented to provide equal treatment for churches and synagogues alongside other charities.”

Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus, was similarly pleased with the FEMA decision.

“The destruction due to the flooding and hurricanes is of such a magnitude that the government must help in the response,” he said in a statement.

The Knights of Columbus have given $1.4 million to repair or help rebuild churches that were destroyed or badly damaged in hurricanes last year in Texas, Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization also raised $3.8 million for disaster relief in these areas.

Anderson said church repair has been a key component of Knights’ relief efforts, stressing that “help from both the government and the nonprofit sector in the restoring of churches and other spaces dedicated to religious activities will send an important signal that these communities are coming back, that the spirit of the people is alive and well.” It also helps these houses of worship with the many charitable and social services they provide, he added.

The battle over getting federal funds to restore storm-damaged church property has been in a legal tangle since last year when three Texas churches severely damaged by Hurricane Harvey were denied federal aid. The churches filed a lawsuit against FEMA over its policy accusing the agency of religious discrimination. Two Florida synagogues damaged in Hurricane Irma similarly filed lawsuits.

The Texas churches appealed the agency’s decision to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which denied them emergency relief but agreed to hear the case in February. Another request for an emergency injunction for these churches has been pending at the Supreme Court.

The three churches are the Rockport First Assembly of God in Rockport, which lost its roof and steeple and had other structural damage, the Harvest Family Church in Cypress, and Hi-Way Tabernacle in Cleveland, which were both flooded.

President Donald Trump has said on Twitter that places of worship damaged in hurricanes should be able to receive federal aid from FEMA.

This past fall, the issue of FEMA disaster aid going to faith-based groups has been making its way through Congress. In late November, a committee approved the Disaster Recovery Reform Act which would open the doors for church groups to seek FEMA aid, but the bill was awaiting deliberation from the House floor.

Chairmen of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty and the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs supported the measure in letters sent to members of the House and Senate.

The letters, signed by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the religious liberty committee, and Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of Springfield, Massachusetts, chairman of the ecumenical committee, said the bill regarding FEMA aid and houses of worship “is not asking for special treatment, just equal treatment that conforms to constitutional protections.”

“It should be noted that in the aftermath of a natural disaster, houses of worship often play an irreplaceable role in the recovery of a community,” they wrote. “Discrimination that treats houses of worship as ineligible for federal assistance in the wake of a natural disaster, beyond being a legal violation, hurts the very communities most affected by the indiscriminate force of nature.”

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 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

Pope visits sick children on eve of Epiphany

01/05/2018 - 3:57pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano


FIUMICINO, Italy (CNS) — On the eve of Epiphany, when most Italian children wake up to find gifts and candy, Pope Francis visited a pediatric hospital outside Rome.

The pope arrived at the Palidoro Bambino Gesu Hospital at about 3 p.m. Jan. 5 and visited the various wards where about 120 children are receiving treatment, according to the Vatican press office.

The pope greeted the children and “exchanged some words of comfort with the parents who are caring for their children in their tiring and painful trials,” the statement said.

Visiting the hospital, Pope Francis was “continuing the experience of the Mercy Fridays,” visits he made to hospitals, orphanages and other care facilities during the 2015-16 Year of Mercy.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 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

Evangelization on Instagram

01/05/2018 - 6:00am
Debbie Staresinic uses Instagram to market her new book on Theology of the Body meditations and the rosary, but the day posts also give her a chance to evangelize through the photo-sharing app for smart phones. The photos can also be viewed at Search @TOBRosary. Courtesy photo.

Although Debbie Staresinic worked with a professional designer from Faith and Family Productions for her new book of rosary meditations, she has a background in design and photography.

That training helped her do her part to market the book with daily Instagram posts that feature artful photos of the book or of rosaries, or of  brief messages.  Staresinic uses her iPhone to take them, but occasionally features photos by her daughter-in-law Corynne Starestinic.

“There’s an amazing Catholic world on Instagram,” she said. “I know how inspiring it is to open it and see all these beautiful posts about our faith.” Her own posts add to that store with messages about Theology of the Body.

“It’s the answer to so much of what’s wrong in our modern culture,” she said. “I want it to help change the world.”

See more about Staresinic’s book, “Theology of the Body Rosary Meditations,” see “New book of rosary meditations first of its kind.” Follow Staresinic on Instagram at @TOBrosary.

Staresinic often uses pages from the TOB Rosary book, holy cards, rosaries and other devotionals, and other objects in her day Instagram posts. Courtesy photo.

Indulgence available to those who March for Life

01/05/2018 - 6:00am
Mount Notre Dame Students preparing for March for Life in Washington. (Courtesy Photo)Mount Notre Dame Students preparing for the 2017 March for Life in Washington. (Courtesy Photo)

By Gail Finke

The bishops of Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va., announced that participants in the annual March for Life can obtain a plenary indulgence this year.

In a letter sent to the bishops of the United States, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, and Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge said that the indulgence is available to Catholics who “take part in the sacred celebrations, along with the great assembly of people, throughout the whole course of the annual event that is called ‘March for Life.’”

The letter later stipulates that to obtain the indulgence, Catholics must participate in the Masses, rallies, or prayer events that are scheduled for the March, which include a massive Youth Rally and Mass at Capital One Arena, an adult and family rally at St. Matthews Cathedral, and the overnight National Prayer Vigil for Life at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

As is the case with all indulgences, to obtain this one Catholics must also go to Confession, receive Holy Communion pray for the intentions of the pope, and be free from attachment to sin.

The 45th annual March for Life is Jan. 19. This year’s theme is ““Love Saves Lives.” The annual march attracts hundreds of thousands of participants, including thousands from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, who walk from the National Mall to the Supreme Court and the U.S. Capitol on or near the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. While people of many Christian denominations and other religions participate, the majority of marchers are Catholic.

People who cannot attend the March because of age, illness, or other “grave reasons” can also obtain the indulgence by meeting the other conditions and “having offered prayers and their sufferings or the ailments of their own life to the merciful God,” the bishops said.


What is an indulgence?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (No. 1471), an indulgence is “a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven” through Confession. Indulgences can be granted by bishops to Catholics saying certain prayers, visiting shrines, participating in a pilgrimage, and similar acts, just as a priest assigns prayers or actions to express penance after Confession. The so-called “usual conditions” for obtaining one are going to Confession and receiving Holy Communion within a certain number of days before or after performing the act, and praying for the intentions of the pope. They also include a condition much harder to achieve: The person must be free from all attachment to sin.

A “plenary” indulgence remits the temporal punishment for all a person’s sins, while a “partial” indulgence remits only some. During the late Middle Ages, bishops and popes offered indulgences for large contributions to build cathedrals and other projects. Although making such donations is generally a charitable and pious act, this practice led to the idea that people could buy forgiveness. Because of this, the Church stopped the practice of assigning indulgences to any financial transaction in 1572. However, misunderstandings about indulgences remained and remain.

For a good introduction to indulgences, see “Myths About Indulgences” at Catholic Answers.

New book of rosary meditations first of its kind

01/05/2018 - 6:00am
Staresinic with Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, who granted the book’s imprimatur and contributed a brief endorsement/introduction. Courtesy photo by Corynne Staresinic.

From the rosary to Theology of the Body, and back

By Gail Finke

The connection between the rosary and St. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (TOB) seemed so clear to Debbie Staresinic that every few months, she searched for a book of TOB rosary meditations. When
the search proved fruitless, she decided to write one.

“I’ve always loved the Blessed Virgin,” said Staresinic, a long-time member of St. Gertrude Parish in Madeira. “But when I did True Devotion to Mary, Louis de Montfort’s devotion, I really learned to pray the rosary. And you know how they say Mary will lead you to Jesus? Soon after that I was introduced to TOB.

“TOB really opened up the Bible to me, and then I began praying the rosary daily.”

Soon she found herself traveling back and forth between Ohio and Philadelphia to study at the Theology of the Body Institute there. And the more she studied the way TOB illuminates why the differences between men and women are as important theologically as they are physically, the more she thought TOB had something to add to the mysteries of the rosary.

“Ephesians 5: 31-32 is central to TOB,” she said. “For this reason a man shall leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.” Staresinic saw the same spousal theme – the so-called “marriage bed of the Cross” – in the mysteries of the rosary.

She found similar thoughts in books, particularly in books by Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception Father Donald Calloway and scripture scholar Dr. Brant Pitre (both of whom now endorse her book) but no detailed explorations or sets of meditations. So she started scribbling notes in class and at prayer. Eventually, she proposed the book as part of satisfying her graduation requirements at the Institute. Now a board member of Ruah Woods, the Cincinnati-based TOB center, she made a related proposal here: If Ruah Woods would publish the book, she would give all proceeds to the center’s work creating TOB curricula for Catholic elementary and high schools.

Debbie Staresinic displayed the Sorrowful Mysteries pages from her book in one of her daily TOB rosary Instagram photos.

The rest is history. Published just before Christmas, “Theology of the Body Rosary Meditations: Contemplating Christ’s Love for His Bride the Church” is a compact guide in the style of missals or prayer books. Divided into four sections for the four sets of mysteries (Staresinic naturally included the Luminous Mysteries added by St. Pope John Paul II), the book is further broken into two-page spreads. Each spread includes a classic painting that illustrates the mystery, with a quotation from the pope saint’s lectures that became collectively known as the Theology of the Body. On the facing page, under the traditional name of the mystery, Staresinic has presented a one-line explanation of the mystery as viewed through TOB, as well as a brief explanation of it. Below that she added a quote from a pope or saint that corroborates the explanation, and a brief prayer.

Staresinic said she hopes the book introduces the rosary to people who study TOB, and TOB to people who love the rosary. “I wouldn’t want anyone to be intimidated by thinking it’s too deep,” she said. “You can think about this forever, but it’s accessible to everyone.

“Pope St. John Paul II identified the problem the modern world has with understanding the human person,” she said. “And he also said that anyone who prays the rosary can’t help but gain a deeper understanding of man. There’s a lot of power in the TOB, and a lot of power in the rosary. I wanted to unite them.”

“Theology of the Body Rosary Meditations: Contemplating Christ’s Love for His Bride the Church” can be purchased at and in local book stores.

For more on this project, see “Evangelization on Instagram.”

More new books by area authors for daily or Lenten reading:

“A Book of Prayers: To the Heavens from the Stars” Chuck Spinner collected prayers and thoughts on prayer from more than 100 celebrities for this compilation, which includes formal prayers, favorite quotes, and personal prayers from actors, athletes, writers, singers, and others. Contributors include
Phyllis Diller, Yogi Berra, General Tommy Franks, Charles Osgood, Mary Lou Retton, and many more. The book is available from

“A Medley of Modern-Day Miracles, Volumes I and II” John Herzog, a lifelong member of St. Bernard Church in Springfield, wrote the first of this two-volume series to document that miracles still happen. He collected accounts of miraculous interventions experienced by acquaintances for the first volume and, after publishing it, was contacted by so many people that he wrote volume two. Both are available from or from the author. For information, or if you have a story to contribute for Volume III, email him at

In op-ed, border bishop pleads for TPS leniency for sake of children

01/04/2018 - 8:36pm

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Days before the U.S. Department of Homeland Security decides whether to extend or terminate a special immigration status for some 200,000 Salvadorans in the U.S., a border bishop pleaded with the Trump administration to think about the well-being of the immigrants’ children who are U.S. citizens.

In a Jan. 2 opinion piece for the Washington-based political website The Hill, Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, said he worries for families in which some members are U.S. citizens and others have a less permanent immigration status.

He asked what will happen to the children of Salvadorans who have Temporary Protected Status, known as TPS, if the program ends and people are forced to return to their homeland. TPS grants a work permit and reprieve from deportation to certain people whose countries have experienced natural disasters, armed conflicts or exceptional situations so they can remain temporarily in the United States.

“A question that burns in my heart is what will happen to these children if their parents are ordered back to El Salvador? What will become of their futures?” Bishop Seitz asked in the opinion piece.

DHS was expected to decide by Jan. 8 what to do in the case of Salvadorans with TPS, but various groups in the country, including a national coalition of cities and counties, are clamoring to allow them to stay.

“The Salvadoran TPS recipients we represent have deep roots in our communities. Allowing their TPS status to expire will divide families and harm our cities. Salvadoran TPS recipients have lived in the United States for an average of 21 years and have 192,700 U.S.-born children,” said a letter issued Jan. 3 by Cities for Action, which includes signatures from 19 bipartisan mayors of major U.S. cities including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and Washington.

Salvadoran TPS recipients arrived in the U.S. because of war, earthquakes and other natural disasters, as well as increasing gang violence plaguing the Central American nation.

“These individuals took refuge in our city and have since become deeply embedded in our economy, houses of worship, schools and neighborhoods,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in the Cities for Action letter.

In his op-ed, Bishop Seitz cites the economic contributions of the recipients and said their absence, should TPS end for them, will be felt financially and directly in certain industries, such as home health care and construction, not to mention the loss of taxes they pay to the local and federal government. But there’s a more noble and Christian reason to help TPS recipients, he said.

“How we treat the most vulnerable in our society is reflective of who we are and whether we have learned anything in the 2,000 years since the birth of another immigrant child, born in a stable because his parents could find no room for him at the inn — an event we have just celebrated,” he wrote.

“In my role as a bishop of the Catholic Church, I have served and stood by countless Central American families. I have been a guest in their homes and at their first Communions, graduations, confirmations, weddings. I have seen these families flourish despite incredible obstacles,” he continued.

Ending TPS for Salvadorans would mean putting the lives of the parents as well as their children at risk, and permitting the “possibility of being hunted by gangs and identified for extortion, gang recruitment and worse in a country that they don’t call home,” he added.

In 2017, Bishop Seitz and other bishops traveled to El Salvador and Honduras “to examine conditions on the ground in both countries and to assess whether those conditions merit an end to TPS,” he said.

Their delegation determined “large-scale protection issues if TPS holders are forced to return to their home countries, particularly El Salvador,” he said in the op-ed.

“Will these families face separation and breakdown, so that their U.S.-citizen child can access the benefits of an American education? Or will families stay together and leave to their parents’ home countries, facing a decided lack of opportunity and, worse, extreme violence and possible exploitation? The end of TPS for El Salvador would force such a heartbreaking decision upon thousands of families,” he wrote.

He said he met with youth “who tearfully explained to me why they attempted to migrate north, forced out of their homes, extorted by gangs. I have heard from young girls who faced sexual assault and domestic abuse; teenage boys have spoken with me about being afraid to go to school because of the fear of encountering gangs on the way and having to pay daily to enter and leave their neighborhood.”

If TPS for Salvadorans is not extended, those forced to leave and their U.S.-born children will face those conditions, too, he said.

“Worse, they may be targeted precisely because of their U.S. citizenship status, their American habits and their English-language skills,” he wrote. “I steadfastly pray that our national leaders do not turn their backs on these children by closing the door to their parents.”

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K-8 Grade Students Tuition Assistance

01/04/2018 - 2:47pm

The Catholic Education Foundation is currently accepting applications for 2018-2019 elementary school tuition assistance scholarships. All scholarships are needs-based and can be used at any Catholic elementary school within the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Awards range from $250 to $1,000 per student.


Tuition Assistance Scholarship Details

Level of Need Based on Income: All K-8 grade grants funded by the CEF will be awarded based upon the assessed financial need of our families, performed by a third-party company which will examine a family’s income and suggest a level of need.

$1000 Limit: A grant will not exceed the amount of $1,000 per student, with the amount determined by the financial needs assessment. (This $1,000 is an initial limit; it may increase in future years, dependent on future funds raised and changing policies of the grant program.)

Annual Applications: These grants must be applied for annually, and will be awarded without distinguishing between families based upon religion; however, local parishes/schools could make such differentiations in awards of separate local tuition assistance.

Qualifying for Other Support: These primary school grants will not be provided to any family who already receives, or who qualifies to receive, full tuition support from state-funded Parental Choice programs (the EdChoice Scholarship, the Jon Peterson Scholarship, etc.). However, these grants will be awarded before any form of locally-generated tuition assistance (such as parish or school aid).
Which Schools Apply: Awarded grants may be applied at any Catholic Elementary School recognized by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Qualifying families may select from any one of these Catholic Schools that best fits their situation. In order for Catholic Schools to remain eligible for their students to qualify for these grants, Catholic elementary schools must achieve at or above a minimal level of achievement and compliance, as assessed by viability metrics established by the Catholic Schools Office. These metrics ensure that meet standards for Catholic Identity, Academic Effectiveness, and Operational measures.

Source of Funding: Funds for the Catholic Education Foundation are made possible by the generous donations to the One Faith – One Hope- One Love campaign. Learn more about the campaign and management of the funds here.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are grants available for high school students? Individual tuition assistance grants are only available for elementary school students, K-8.

The Catholic Education Foundation provides a fund for the Catholic high schools within the diocese, based on their poverty level. Please contact your local Catholic high school of interest to learn more about scholarship, grant, and tuition assistance opportunities available. You can find your nearest high school by clicking here.

2. Can I apply before completing my 2017 tax forms?

Yes. FACTS will accept both current year (2017) and previous year (2016) tax forms. To apply you will need your federal income tax return, W-2 forms, and other supporting documentation for non-taxable income.

3. When will I know financial aid has been awarded?

You will receive notification from the Catholic Education Foundation by mid-February.

4. Who determines eligibility for tuition assistance grants?

The Catholic Education Foundation has contracted with FACTS Grant and Aid Management, a 3rd party provider, to evaluate financial eligibility. FACTS bases their calculation on multiple factors including, but not limited to family size, savings, retirement, and core and discretionary spending.

Obituary: Mark Klusman Elder Teacher

01/04/2018 - 2:31pm

MARK G. KLUSMAN, renowned Elder High School Teacher, beloved brother of Tom (Nancy) Klusman and Paula (Jennifer Vonnahme) Klusman, devoted uncle of Tom (Jill) Klusman, Amy (Pat) Manger and Matt (Renee) Klusman, and loving great uncle of TC, Katie, Mark, Madison, Tyler, Chloe, Ella, Zane and Ruby. Died, Tuesday, December 26, 2017 age 74. Relatives and friends were invited to the Funeral Mass, Wednesday, January 3, 2018, 10 AM, St Monica-St George Church, Clifton. the Burial was private. A Gathering Reception was held Wednesday evening, January 3, 2018, 4 PM to 8 PM at the Schaeper Center of Elder High School. Please make donations to the Mark Klusman Memorial Scholarship Fund at Elder HS, 3900 Vincent Ave, Cincinnati (45205) or St Monica-St George Church, 328 West McMillian St, Cincinnati (45219). Arrangements entrusted to Rebold, Rosenacker & Sexton Funeral Home. Condolences may be shared with the family and donations completed online at

Update: Congo’s church leaders shocked after 8 dead in anti-Kabila protests

01/04/2018 - 1:21pm



KINSHASA, Congo (CNS) — Church leaders in Congo expressed shock after security forces fired on Catholic protesters, leaving at least eight dead and 120 people detained.

The Dec. 31 protest against rule by President Joseph Kabila was organized by the Kinshasa archdiocesan lay coordination committee. At least a dozen priests were among those detained.

“We condemn with utmost vigor this unjustified violence,” the Congolese bishops’ conference said in a statement Jan. 2.

“We similarly denounce this attack on freedom of worship, which is guaranteed in every democratic state, as well as the profanation of churches and physical aggression against the faithful and their priests.”

The statement said the bishops were “profoundly shocked by such ignoble acts,” and would demand a “serious and objective inquiry” into who was responsible.

Police used tear gas and batons against Massgoers in some of the capital’s 150 parishes and violently broke up attempted marches in which protesters demanded fresh elections in the country.

On Jan. 3, National Public Radio reported that Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa called the response “nothing short of barbaric.” He said people at Mass, armed only with Bibles and rosaries, were attacked with tear gas.

“How can we trust leaders incapable of protecting the population, of guaranteeing peace, justice and love of people?” the cardinal asked a news conference. “How can we trust leaders who trample on religious freedom of the people, religious freedom which is the foundation of all freedom?”

A U.N. spokeswoman said seven deaths had been recorded in Kinshasa, and another at Kananga.

The violence was condemned by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who urged Kabila’s government to show restraint and “respect the rights of Congolese people to free expression.”

The Catholic Church makes up around half the 67.5 million inhabitants of Congo, and the bishops have pressed Kabila to step down since his second and final term expired in December 2016.

Later, a church-brokered accord allowed the president to stay in office, alongside an opposition head of government, pending elections by the end of 2017. However, in November, Congo’s Electoral Commission said the ballot would be postponed until Dec. 23, 2018.

In a November statement, the bishops’ conference said church observers had recorded 56 deaths and 355 arrests in half a year of opposition protests. They urged Kabila to release political detainees and stick to the Dec. 31, 2016, accord.

The rector of Kinshasa’s St. Alphonse Parish, Msgr. Hugues Ndongisila, told Radio France Internationale that police had beaten and robbed Catholics when they sought refuge in his church, also shooting out its stained-glass windows. He said the bodies of two dead protesters had later been collected by the Red Cross.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 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

David Kissell appointed Archdiocese Director of Stewardship

01/04/2018 - 12:16pm
David Kissell Director of the Office of Stewardship, Archdiocese of Cincinnati (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)David Kissell Director of the Office of Stewardship, Archdiocese of Cincinnati (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

David Kissell, an experienced development executive and dedicated Catholic, has been named Director of the Department of Stewardship and Chief Development Officer for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, effective immediately. Kissell had been serving as interim director of the department since December 1.

“I feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to further serve the Archdiocese in this role,” Kissell said. “I look forward to continuing the great work that has taken place in recent years, and to collaborating with parishes to promote stewardship as a way of life to more and more people.”

The Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati, made the appointment upon the recommendation of a search committee.

David Kissell is a graduate of LaSalle High School and holds a BA in Journalism from Ohio University. Kissell has spent his entire career working in development for the Catholic Church. He was Development Director for St. John the Baptist, Dry Ridge for more than 11 years and Director of Development Operations for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati the past four years. Kissell is married with three sons, and is an active member of St. Bernard of Clairvaux parish. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry degree from the Athenaeum of Ohio.

As Director of Stewardship, Kissell will lead a department responsible for the One Faith, One Hope, One Love capital campaign and the annual Catholic Ministries Appeal supporting the evangelistic and charitable mission of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati is the 44th largest Catholic diocese in the country, with more than 450,000 Catholics, and has the sixth largest Catholic school system in terms of enrollment with more than 40,000 students.

Today’s Video: A look at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

01/04/2018 - 11:30am

Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, S.C., was the first native-born citizen[1] of the United States to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church (September 14, 1975). She established the first Catholic girls’ school in the nation in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where she also founded the first American congregation of religious sisters, the Sisters of Charity.

A picture says a thousand words: Taking the plunge for Christ at minus 4 degrees

01/04/2018 - 10:11am

Temperatures were -4 on New Year’s Morning 2018. Many activities were cancelled because of the cold. Many put some logs on the fire, drank some hot beverage and made New Year’s Day, a day to stay in. Not Father Ethan Moore. As is a tradition in Fort Loramie, after the Mass of Consecration it was time to take the plunge for our Blessed Mother. Last year was cold, but no frozen lake. This year in a region enveloped in an artic plunge, the lake was frozen.

Crisis pregnancy care returns to Forest Park

01/04/2018 - 6:00am
The new prenatal center opened Jan. 2 in the former Mercy Health offices (shown here) at the Forest Park Square strip center at Kemper and Winton Roads. Courtesy photo. ENLC, Healthy Beginnings team up in area at high risk for abortions

By Gail Finke

A new partnership between two area pro-life powerhouses will bring affordable medical care to pregnant women in one of Greater Cincinnati’s neighborhoods where abortions are most common.

Beginning this month, Dayton-based crisis pregnancy center group Elizabeth New Life Center (ENLC) and Cincinnati-based pro-life medical provider Healthy Beginnings will be sharing offices in a Forest Park strip center. Two of the four ZIP codes that abortion businesses report as having the highest abortion rates in Hamilton County are located in or near Forest Park.

But no crisis pregnancy center or clinic has operated in the neighborhood for several years, said ENLC Executive Director Vivian Koob. While she and Healthy Beginnings Executive Director Sherri Lawson wanted to team up – both organizations do ultrasounds and require similar offices, and neither could afford to operate in the high-rent area fulltime – after several years no Realtors had found them suitable space. So they looked for themselves.

Healthy Beginnings provides affordable prenatal care for Cincinnati-area women like this client, shown with her daughter. In the Forest Park venture, Healthy Beginnings and staff from Elizabeth’s New Life Center crisis pregnancy centers will alternate days in the same office space. Courtesy photo.

“Sherri mapped it out and we took a whole day,” Koob said. “And a Mercy Health space we had seen before was available. Mercy Health had moved into a larger space up the street, but their old space was already set up for medical use, as close to perfect as you could expect.”

“It was almost a miracle,” said Lawson. “The spaces available tend to be in big office parks, set back far from the road and not good for a crisis pregnancy center, or in shopping strips, which require a huge build-out” to convert to medical use. “We’re talking $80-$100,000,” she explained. “But this was ready to go.”

Located in Forest Park Square at Kemper and Winton Roads, in between a Chinese restaurant and a mobile phone store, the new Women’s Center is also across the street from Winton Woods High School, is highly visible from the road, and on a bus line. The two organizations will work out of the suite on alternate days, so women coming for pregnancy tests and ultrasounds when ENLC staff are at work can make appointments for medical care the next day.

“It’s important to get care as soon as possible, because the earlier the prenatal care begins, the more likely it is to have a healthy birth,” Lawson said. For that reason, the pro-life medical practice will begin seeing mothers before they are registered for Medicaid, if they have no insurance and have to enroll in the government program.

Staffed by Tri-Health midwives and nurse practitioners, as well professional sonographers and dieticians, Healthy Beginnings was founded in 1993 as one of the only area prenatal practices that would accept Medicaid. Its current medical director, Dr. William Polzin, is the director of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati and a staff physician in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, as well as MFM co-director of the Cincinnati Fetal Center. He has held the volunteer position with Healthy Beginnings since 2003.

Healthy Beginnings staff will work at the Women’s Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Lawson said, while ENLC volunteers and sonographers will work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Healthy Beginnings gets nearly all its referrals from area crisis pregnancy centers, which it works closely with. In Dayton, ENLC operates a prenatal clinic, but Koob said that working with the Cincinnati clinic in an underserved area was a natural choice.

“We’re following God’s lead,” she said. “We go where the opportunity presents itself.”

Koob has led ENLC since its beginning, merging with several other crisis pregnancy centers and providing steady leadership in a ministry that often has a high turnover. “I truly feel it’s God’s call, my vocation, to be here,” she said.

But Koob adds that she doesn’t rely on God’s Providence – she works hard at professional skill. “We were very fortunate early on to learn about the Mattill Family Foundation, which provided strategic planning training. Now I go out and teach other pregnancy centers about how to set measurable goals for employees and metrics to measure efficiency. I was a rehab supervisor for th state of Ohio for years before I began that, I knew how to do a lot of those things.

“We rely on that and God’s guidance,” she said. “I like to pray, ‘be a lamp unto my feet’ – but that’s about as far as I can see!”

Lawson Said that Healthy Beginnings has a similar approach to business and ministry. While many of the medical professionals who volunteer their work at the clinic have ministry experience – the two dieticians also do prison ministry – the board is expanding training to deal with women at risk for abortion. “We’ve always relied on the pregnancy care centers to do that,” she said, “but we want to give our staff the Heartbeat training used by the clinics, because we see the women every month, and then every week. It’s a myth that a woman makes a decision for life or for an abortion once during her pregnancy. Her circumstances can change. We want our staff to be able to look for red flags, and to know what to say.”

Both ENLC and Healthy Beginnings operate largely on donations (procedures at Healthy Beginnings are only partly paid by insurance or Medicaid) and most of the staff volunteer as a ministry. While many secular people feel suspicious about crisis pregnancy care as coercive, Koob and Lawson are witness to the truth that thousands of women need their care – and their love.

“We just added prayer boxes in all our waiting rooms, and on the first day we had four prayer requests,” Lawson said. “We don’t condemn women. We say, ‘there’s a God who loves you and cares for you.’ It’s what our world’s dying to know.”

The Forest Park Women’s Center will open its doors on Jan. 2. On March 1, the two organizations will hold a joint Open House. Bishop Joseph R. Binzer will bless the venture, and a protestant minister will offer prayer.

Vivian Koob (left) and Sherri Lawson worked together to find a Forest Park location their organizations can share. Courtesy photo.

UD’s Marian Library: Just getting started after 75 years

01/03/2018 - 2:39pm
A 1910 photo of pilgrims at the Grotto at Lourdes is one of many historic photos of Marianist sites around the world in the Marian Library’s collection. Courtesy image.

From the University of Dayton’s Marian Library:

The University of Dayton Marian Library, which holds the world’s largest collection of books and artifacts on Virgin Mary, will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2018.

The library is recognized as an international destination for the study and appreciation of Mary. It holds more than 112,000 books, including more than 12,000 rare editions, along with statues, rosaries, art… even wine labels.

“Our mission is to make the Blessed Virgin Mary better known, loved, and served,” said Director Sarah Cahalan. “Whether it is through the prominent scholars who have studied and taught here or the local children who visit each Christmas to see the Nativities, we want the materials and knowledge to be accessible to everyone.”

The library was founded in 1943 with the gift of a single book from former University president, Marianist Father John Elbert, to celebrate the centennials of the Society of Mary arriving in the United States (1849) and the founding of the University by the Marianists (1850).

“I feel like the library is a monument to the Marianist mission of education,” Cahalan said, noting that about 5,000 people visit the library annually. “The anniversary reflects the work of so many people over the years — the founders, the students and researchers who use it, the local community, our dedicated volunteers. They make it a living monument that, at 75 years, is still just at the beginning.”

A graphic prepared for the anniversary highlights some of the thousands of artifacts in the library’s collection. Courtesy image/

The library’s archival and special research collections have grown to cover a broad range of Marian topics, including apparitions of Mary around the world. Its digital collections contain a selection of the library’s approximately 10,000 Catholic holy cards, 9,000 stamps, 3,600 Nativity sets from around the globe, 700 pieces of Marian sheet music, and other materials.

People everywhere can also access centuries of information on the Virgin Mary through the University’s All About Mary website (, which features more than 1,300 entries on Scripture, scholarship, popular culture and more.

“There are so many aspects that make Mary popular,” said Marianist Father Johann Roten, director of research, art, and special projects in the University’s International Marian Research Institute. “She is not only a religious figure, but she is a highly symbolic figure representing womanhood, maternity, affirmation, and affection. Mary leads to Christ, of course, but also to art, history, culture, spirituality, and so many directions because of the role she played and the way her role has become important for individual persons and the whole church.”

The University will celebrate the library throughout 2018, beginning Jan. 25 with a concert of medieval Marian music in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. Tickets are free, but must be reserved in  advance. For more information, see our online calendar of events (click on “events” in the upper menu bar).

Marianist Father Lawrence Monheim, director of the Marian Library in the 1950s, sitting in his office. Courtesy photo.

New Ohio Law Prohibits Abortion Because of Down Syndrome Diagnosis

01/03/2018 - 2:30pm
Babies suspected of having Down Syndrome are frequently aborted; a new Ohio law makes such abortions illegal. Courtesy image.

By Gail Finke

Shortly before Christmas, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a law prohibiting doctors from aborting babies that are likely to have Down Syndrome.

Prenatal tests used to identify likelihood of Down Syndrome often result in their mothers seeking abortions, even though false positives are not rare.

North Dakota and Indiana have similar laws, although Indiana’s was halted by a court not long after it was passed in 2016.

Ohio pro-life organizations hailed the law, while pro-abortion groups condemned it.

“Now that the Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act is law, unborn babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are given a shot at life” Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis said in a statement.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said the law “exploits” families of people with Down Syndrome “a larger anti-choice strategy to systematically make all abortion care illegal.”

A statement from the ACLU in Ohio called the law “blatantly unconstitutional.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s concurrent Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions in 1973 affirmed that abortion is legal for any reason in all states throughout all nine months of pregnancy, allowing states some leeway to regulate it in third trimester. Planned Parenthood v. Casey, decided in 1992, affirmed women’s right to abortion until “fetal viability,” which can now be earlier than the third trimester, but has led to no general changes in abortion laws.

The Ohio law calls for penalties for doctors or others who perform abortions because Down Syndrome is expected, but pro-life critics of the law say it will not be difficult for women or doctors to circumvent.

Don’t confess other’s faults, own up to sins, pope says at audience

01/03/2018 - 2:02pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Fear and the shame of admitting one’s own sins leads to pointing fingers and accusing others rather than recognizing one’s own faults, Pope Francis said.

“It’s difficult to admit being guilty, but it does so much good to confess with sincerity. But you must confess your own sins,” the pope said Jan. 3 at his first general audience of the new year.

“I remember a story an old missionary would tell about a woman who went to confession and she began by telling her husband’s faults, then went on to her mother-in-law’s faults and then the sins of her neighbors. At a certain point, the confessor told her, ‘But ma’am, tell me, are you done?’ ‘No… Yes.’ ‘Great, you have finished with other people’s sins, now start to tell me yours,'” he said.

The pope was continuing his series of audience talks on the Mass, reflecting on the penitential rite.

Recognizing one’s own sins prepares a person to make room in his or her heart for Christ, the pope said. But a person who has a heart “full of himself, of his own success” receives nothing because he is already satiated by his “presumed justice.”

“Listening to the voice of conscience in silence allows us to realize that our thoughts are far from divine thoughts, that our words and our actions are often worldly, guided by choices that are contrary to the Gospel,” the pope said.

Confessing one’s sins to God and the church helps people understand that sin not only “separates us from God but also from our brothers and sisters,” he added.

“Sin cuts, it cuts our relationship with God and with our brothers and sisters, in our family, in society, in the community,” the pope said. “Sin always cuts, separates, divides.”

The penitential rite at Mass also includes asking the intercession of Mary and all the angels and saints, which, he said, is an acknowledgement that Christians seek help from “friends and models of life” who will support them on their journey toward full communion with God.

Christians also can find the courage to “take off their masks” and seek pardon for their sins by following the example of biblical figures such as King David, Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman and St. Peter.

“To take measure of the fragility of the clay with which we have been formed is an experience that strengthens us,” Pope Francis said. “While making us realize our weakness, it opens our heart to call upon the divine mercy that transforms and converts. And this is what we do in the penitential act at the beginning of Mass.”

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Jesuits denounce threats against outspoken Honduran priest, activists

01/02/2018 - 8:22pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By David Agren

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — The Society of Jesus has denounced threats made against an outspoken Honduran Jesuit who has highlighted accusations of widespread irregularities in the Central American country’s recent presidential election.

The Conference of Provincials in Latin America and the Caribbean said in Dec. 30 statement that the social media hostilities against Father Ismael Moreno Coto — better known as “Padre Melo” — were “reminiscent of the death threats which circulated in El Salvador before the murder of Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande,” a Salvadoran Jesuit murdered in 1977. The Jesuits also defended eight other regional activists being threatened.

“All of the accusations are lies aimed at counteracting the grass-roots organizing and the peaceful and democratic resistance which the accused, along with the people of Honduras, are carrying out at a moment when the popular vote has been disrespected by John Orlando Hernandez and his allies,” said the statement, referring to the incumbent president and official electoral victor.

“This is an attempt to create terror in the people as a strategy to demobilize them,” said the statement, signed by Father Roberto Jaramillo, conference president. “We hold Juan Orlando Hernandez and his allies responsible for the safety and physical and moral well-being of the nine people falsely accused.”

The Nov. 26 Honduran elections returned Hernandez to power, but only after a lengthy vote-counting process marred by unexplained delays and improbable technical difficulties. The incumbent also overcame a large lead held by opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla, who was ahead with a majority of votes counted before a long suspension of the count by the country’s electoral tribunal.

The U.S. government, which has worked closely with Hernandez’s administration on immigration and security issues, recognized the victory Dec. 22, despite irregularities noted by election observers and calls for new elections.

Hernandez has called for dialogue but has been rebuffed by the opposition, including Father Moreno, founder of Radio Progreso. At least 30 people have been killed in protests since the election, according to observers, who allege police repression. A Radio Progreso transmission tower was toppled in December in an act Father Moreno called “sabotage.”

“I’m receiving accusations that put my life at risk,” he tweeted Dec. 29. “This is the open dialogue that the president speaks about and is backed by the U.S. Embassy.”

Father Moreno has long been outspoken in his criticism of Hernandez and the country’s business class, both accused of corruption, improperly capitalizing on concessions and privatizations and failing to stop the slayings of social and environmental activists.

The Honduran bishops’ conference said in a Dec. 21 statement that the country’s electoral tribunal “has not overcome the lack of certainty regarding the election results,” but called for calm and for Hondurans to strive for “a grand social pact through dialogue.”

Calls for dialogue have fallen on deaf ears previously, including after the 2009 coup, when the opposition accused the newly installed president of using the prospect of talk as a means of buying time.

The 2009 coup occurred after opponents accused then-President Manuel Zelaya of illegally preparing an attempted re-election; Honduras had allowed only one four-year term.

However, Hernandez, who supported the coup, convinced the Supreme Court to allow his own attempted re-election — something observers say has poisoned the prospects of dialogue.

“You can’t say the government has been terrible in everything,” said Father German Calix, director of Caritas Honduras. “What people did not tolerate is that the law was violated so (Hernandez) could run as a candidate again. (They) feel like the law has been mocked and could continue being mocked.”

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Bishop Bambera urges prayers for peace after attack on Coptic Christians

01/02/2018 - 5:20pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Amr Abdallah Dalsh, Reuters


WASHINGTON (CNS) — In the wake of a gunman’s attack on a Coptic Orthodox church and a Christian-owned shop near Cairo Dec. 29, killing at least nine people, a U.S. bishop urged Catholics to “pray for peace in Egypt and the Middle East and for all victims of religious and political hatred.”

“I especially ask Catholics to renew their support, love and prayers for our Coptic brethren who are enduring martyrdom for the sake of Christ,” said Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

In his Dec. 29 statement, the bishop also prayed for those who had been injured and killed.

A Dec. 31 Associated Press report said witnesses at the scene of the attack credited local residents and worshippers for keeping the death toll down. The men and women closed an iron gate, preventing the assailant from going inside the church. Others pelted him with rocks as he fled the area by foot because someone hid his motorcycle. One resident is said to have pounced on the gunman while he was reloading his automatic weapon.

The attack began just as Mass ended at the Mar Mina church in the southern Cairo suburb of Helwan. Some people took shelter in an adjacent stationery store.

Initial reports said there was more than one gunman, but updated reports confirmed it was one assailant who was shot and wounded by a police officer.

The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group, which has specifically targeted Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority since December 2016 with a series of church bombings that have killed more than 100 people and wounded many more.

Bishop Bambera’s statement noted there have been more than 2,000 attacks on Coptic Christians by extremists in the past three years.

He recounted recent attacks this year, including the Dec. 22 attack on a church south of Cairo that wounded three people and destroyed the church’s interior. In May, masked militants opened fired on a bus packed with Coptic Christians, including children on their way to the monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor in Maghagha, killing 28 and wounding 22.

The bishop also noted the Palm Sunday attack when suicide bombers struck churches in Alexandria and Tanta, killing 43 people and injuring dozens.

“These attacks represent only some of the many attacks that have occurred over the past several years, targeting faithful of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who account for almost 10 percent of Egypt’s population,” the bishop said.

“In the course of such rampant attacks, Muslims have also been targeted, as well as police, military and members of the news media,” he noted, adding that recent attacks “represent countless numbers of ongoing acts of violence that continue to burden the Egyptian nation.”

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