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At meeting in Florida, U.S. bishops decry Sessions’ asylum decision

06/13/2018 - 4:07pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA

By Dennis Sadowski

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CNS) — The U.S. bishops June 13 decried U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision that asylum seekers fleeing domestic or gang violence cannot find protection in the United States.

“At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life,” the bishops’ statement said. They urged the nation’s policymakers and courts “to respect and enhance, not erode, the potential of our asylum system to preserve and protect the right to life.”

Sessions’ decision “elicits deep concern because it potentially strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection,” it said. “These vulnerable women will now face return to extreme dangers of domestic violence in their home country.”

The statement from the bishops came on the first day of their June 13-14 spring assembly in Fort Lauderdale.

Just after opening prayers, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, read the statement from the dais, and the bishops voiced their support.

Announced by Sessions at a June 11 news conference, the decision “negates decades of precedents that have provided protection to women fleeting domestic violence,” it said. “Unless overturned, the decision will erode the capacity of asylum to save lives, particularly in cases that involve asylum seekers who are persecuted by private actors.”

The attorney general reversed an immigration court’s decision granting asylum to a Salvadoran woman who said she had been abused by her husband. He said U.S. asylum laws cannot be used to remedy “all misfortune,” including violence someone suffers in another country or other reasons related to an individual’s “social, economic, family or other personal circumstances.”

In his remarks, Cardinal DiNardo also said he joined Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, “in condemning the continued use of family separation at the U.S./Mexican border as an implementation of the administration’s zero tolerance policy.”

“Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma,” the cardinal said. “Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together.

“While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”

During the morning session, the U.S. bishops also heard a report from Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States.

He talked about the need of church leaders to not just hear young people but to really listen to them, emphasizing that this is what Pope Francis often talks about it.

The nuncio talked about the encuentro process currently underway in the U.S., using it as a strong example of the church listening to the faithful

Regional encuentros are taking place all over the country. There delegates outline priorities that will shape Hispanic ministry for years to come. The regionals lead to the National Fifth Encuentro, or V Encuentro, to be held in Texas in September. Archbishop Pierre also talked about the church’s upcoming Synod of Bishops on young people.

“Young people need to be a priority of the church” today, the nuncio said, “not just for the future of the church. ‘ Young people express a desire of an intentional knowing encounter in Christ rather than a faith reduced to ‘ moralism.”

“I believe many young people desire wholistic formation. They want the church to facilitate an encounter with Jesus,” he said. Such an encounter “provokes the question ‘What interests me in life’ and leads to works of justice and mercy and to live life ‘ with great intensity while loving their neighbor.”

“Young people want to engage in reality” but do not want to be on that journey alone, he added. “They are searching for a strong sense of belonging.”

Also on the agenda for their first day were reports from Father David Whitestone, chair of the bishops’ National Advisory Council, which is marking the 50th anniversary of its formation, and from Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board, which oversees implementation of the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”

Other reports covered the V Encuentro and the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, which will take place at the Vatican in October.

The bishops also heard preliminary presentations on several action items they will be voting on, including:

— Revised guidelines governing Catholic and non-Catholic health care partnerships the audits. The revisions are limited to Part 6 of the “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services,” the document that governs moral questions related to the delivery of health care.

— A new document described as a “pastoral response” to the growing Asian and Pacific Island Catholic community in the United States. “Encountering Christ in Harmony” offers pastoral suggestions to address the concerns and needs of Asian and Pacific Island Catholics.

— Revisions in language to clarify seven of the 17 articles in the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Adults.” The changes offer more specific language in several areas. Article 4 has been revised to protect the seal of the sacrament of reconciliation. Changes in Articles 6 and 12 specifically state that all people who have contact with minors rather than those in positions of trust “will abide by standard of behavior and appropriate boundaries.” In all, seven changes have been proposed for a vote by the bishops.

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Bishops of El Salvador warn against privatizing water

06/13/2018 - 3:45pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jose Cabezas, Reuters


SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (CNS) — El Salvador’s bishops urged lawmakers to discard any plans for privatizing water in the Central American country, saying the poor could not afford to pay the cost of a vital necessity.

In a terse statement, issued June 12 and titled, “We will not allow the poor to die of thirst,” the Salvadoran bishops’ conference cited Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” which said, “Access to potable and secure water is a basic, fundamental and universal human right because it determines the survival of people and therefore is a condition for the exercising of all other rights.”

The bishops continued: “As pastors, we are witnesses to the outcry of our people, who ask for potable water in all homes and could not pay the costs if (water) is turned into a good, which is subject to market forces.”

El Salvador’s legislature is starting debate on a national water law. The legislation is proving controversial because some lawmakers favor increased private-sector participation in water management.

The bishops’ conference preferred that public oversight of water resources be maintained.

“If a law is approved that grants a private entity the right to decide over distribution of water in the nation, denying the state this function, we would be facing an absolutely undemocratic law, which lacks legitimacy,” the bishops said.

“An unjust law that violates the rights of the people cannot be admitted.”

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What is the biggest threat young people face? Mediocrity, Pope says

06/13/2018 - 11:34am

By Elise Harris

Vatican City, Jun 13, 2018 – Pope Francis said Wednesday that the greatest danger modern youth face is not the array of problems that surround them, but rather, the temptation to mediocrity – preferring to stay immobile rather than making a leap toward the next step.

Pointing to the Gospel reading from Mark in which a rich young man kneels in front of Jesus and asks how to obtain eternal life, the pope said this question “is the challenge of every existence: the desire for a full, infinite life.”

Many young people today seek life, but end up destroying themselves by pursuing worldly desires, he said, noting that some people would say it is better “to turn this impulse off, the impulse to live, because it’s dangerous.”

However, “I would like to say, especially to young people: our worst enemy is not concrete problems, no matter how serious or dramatic: the greatest danger is a bad spirit of adaption, which is not meekness or humility, but mediocrity, timidity.”

A young person who is mediocre has no future, Francis said in off-the-cuff remarks, explaining that “they don’t grow, they won’t be successful” because they are “afraid of everything.”

“We need to ask the heavenly Father for the youth of today to receive the gift of a healthy restlessness, the ability not to be satisfied with a life without beauty, without color,” he said, adding that “if young people are not hungry for an authentic life, where will humanity end up?”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square during his weekly general audience, during which he began a new series of catechesis dedicated to the Ten Commandments.

The dialogue between Jesus and the rich young man in Chapter 10 of Mark’s Gospel, the pope said in his address, is “a pedagogical process” in which Jesus wants to guide the man from youth into maturity, beginning with a question about the commandments, and ending with an invitation for the man to sell his belongings.

This process of maturity, Francis said, can only take place “when one begins to accept their own limits. We become adults when we become aware of what is lacking.”

When Jesus asked the man to sell everything he had and give it to the poor, the man could not do it, and was forced to recognize that what he was able to give could not go beyond a certain margin.

The truth of mankind’s limits is one that has been rejected throughout history, often with “tragic consequences,” the pope said, noting that in the Gospels, Jesus offers his help, saying he did not come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to “fulfill them.”

“Jesus gives fulfillment, he comes for this,” he said, adding that the rich man was taken to “the threshold of a leap, where the possibility was opened of ceasing to live for himself and his own works, his own goods, and – precisely because he lacked eternal life – to leave everything to follow the Lord.”

The invitation to the man to sell everything he owned was not a proposal of poverty, but rather “of wealth, the true kind,” Francis said, asking: “who, being able to choose between an original and a copy, would choose the copy?”

“This is the challenge: to find the original, not the copy. Jesus does not offer surrogates, but true life, true love, true wealth!”

In his closing remarks, Pope Francis also prayed for the beginning of the World Cup, which will take place June 14-July 15 in Russia.

Francis offered his greeting to the players and organizers of the games, as well as those who will watch the matches on television or through social media. He prayed that the event would be “an occasion of encounter, of dialogue and fraternity between different cultures and religions, favoring solidarity and peace among nations.

All issues of The Catholic Telegraph from 1831 – 1885 now online

06/13/2018 - 10:45am

All issues of  The Catholic Telegraph from 1831-1885 can now be read online.

Funded by grants from the State Library of Ohio and the Hamilton County Genealogical Society, the Catholic Research Resources Alliance has been working with the archdiocese’s archives to  digitize, index, and post the issues. Now available to read at TheCatholicNewsArchive at this link, the issues are text-searchable.

A separate project with the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is digitizing issues from 1831-1922 (the end of public domain), and will include them in the PLCH Digital Library (see the issues canned so far here).

The Catholic Telegraph began in 1831 and is one of the oldest diocesan publications in the United States and is a “treasure trove of information” to researchers, said Archivist Sarah Patterson. “Having the newspaper online with the Public Library and the CNA means that access to the newspaper is greatly increased to researchers and the general public, which is a primary goal for the archives.

“The Catholic Telegraph is one of our most heavily used records by researchers.”


Catholic groups condemn ruling that limits some asylum seekers

06/12/2018 - 9:05pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Adrees Latif, Reuters

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Asylum seekers fleeing domestic or gang violence need not apply for protection in the United States, said the country’s top law enforcement official at a June 11 news conference explaining why he reversed an immigration court’s decision that granted asylum to a Salvadoran woman who said she had been abused by her husband.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that while a person may suffer threats of violence in another country, “for any number of reasons relating to her social, economic, family or other personal circumstances,” U.S. asylum laws cannot be used to remedy “all misfortune.”

Various organizations, including some Catholic groups, quickly condemned the attorney general’s ruling.

“No longer will the United States of America welcome and protect our vulnerable and abused brothers and sisters who are experiencing persecution and brutality,” said Lawrence E. Couch, director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.

Couch said in a statement that Sessions’ decision was “inherently hostile and cruel.”

“I believe that the American people are a hopeful and welcoming people, but our government is out of sync with our values. The soul of our nation is being tested,” he said.

Last year, in remarks posted on the Department of Justice’s website Oct. 12, 2017, Sessions insinuated that an influx of people was entering the country on false asylum grounds, and said there was “rampant abuse and fraud.”

Sessions made clear in June that violent threats were not enough to be granted asylum, even if a country’s authorities could not help victims.

The ruling could affect adults and children coming from what’s known as the Northern Triangle — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — a region plagued by gang violence, drug trafficking and other social ailments causing people to flee because authorities cannot control the violence nor guarantee safety.

“The mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes — such as domestic violence or gang violence — or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim,” Sessions said in the decision.

Jeanne Atkinson, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., said Sessions’ ruling “sets a dangerous precedent for other victims of violence, including those who are targeted for their religious beliefs.”

Asylum law, she said, “has long recognized that persecution can occur at the hands of entities that a national government is ‘unable or unwilling to control’ including by terrorist groups such as the Islamic State, al-Qaida and the Tamil Tigers.”

But that’s exactly what Sessions says in the ruling, she pointed out, when he says that “claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by nongovernmental actors will not qualify for asylum.”

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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

‘Tag’ movie based on three-decade chase game of Catholic school friends

06/12/2018 - 7:24pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Father Sean Raftis

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A group of Catholic high school friends has kept in touch — literally — since graduating more than 30 years ago from Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane, Washington.

The way they’ve stayed connected — through essentially continuing a version of tag they started in high school — has received mixed reaction from people over the years, but that all changed five years ago when The Wall Street Journal ran a front-page article about them.

The piece gave the group almost instant notoriety, as it was followed up by an ESPN segment and a slew of other interviews. The group of 10, who call themselves the “tag brothers,” hired an agent and started talking about movie potential.

Fast forward years later and now, they’re “it” — to use a tag expression — because the story of the elaborate ways they’ve sneaked up on each other, sometimes in disguise, for one month of the year — as per their signed agreement — is now on the big screen in the movie “Tag,” which releases nationally June 15.

The movie takes the story of this group and runs with it, so to speak, with a fictionalized account. The original 10 friends — nine graduated in 1983 and one in 1984 — includes one priest, Father Sean Raftis, pastor of St. Richard’s in Columbia Falls, Montana. At a reunion, the group was talking about their competitive high school tag and came up with a plan to continue it long distance every February.

In the movie, the group is made up of five friends who have been together since elementary school played by Ed Helms, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson and Hannibal Buress. Like real life, the movie tags occur at unlikely places including a funeral home and the hospital delivery room.

The tag game, like what kids play at recess, involves tagging someone and making them “it” until they tag someone else. This grown-up version isn’t so much running around as it is sneaking up on people who live in different states and have careers, families or ministries. The last person tagged at the end of February is “it” for the year.

The Wall Street Journal story that made this group famous points out that “players get tagged at work and in bed. They form alliances and fly around the country. Wives are enlisted as spies and assistants are ordered to bar players from the office.”

The story highlighted one of the tags in the 1990s that involved Father Raftis hiding in the trunk of a Honda Accord waiting for Joe Tombari, who lived in California at the time but now teaches math and physics at Gonzaga Prep where the game began.

Mike Konesky, another tagger, drove the car over to Tombari’s with the idea of showing him new golf clubs in his trunk. When the trunk opened, the priest reached his hand out to tag Tombari but didn’t realize he actually reached his friend’s wife who was shocked to see a hand reach out of the trunk, fell backward and hurt her knee.

When everyone attended to Tombari’s wife, Tombari, of course, was tagged.

In a June 10 interview with Father Raftis from Montana days after he returned from the premiere of “Tag” in Los Angeles, the priest told Catholic News Service that the 15 minutes or so he was in the trunk felt like hours. He also felt bad that it involved an injury.

A decade or so later after this tag, Tombari and Konesky went to Montana to nab Father Raftis at church. The two sat in the front row and when the priest saw them he ended up mentioning the game in his homily, stressing the importance of friendship. His friends waited until Mass was over to tag him and then they went out for coffee and doughnuts with parishioners after.

The best tag Father Raftis remembers was when his friend since first grade, Mark Mengert, dressed up like Gonzaga’s mascot, except in the high school’s costume, and tagged Brian Dennehy with a note while he was attending a Gonzaga University basketball game with his wife, all while the real mascot looked over and raised his arms in confusion and security questioned the fake mascot.

All of this sneaking around, at its core, is about friendship and staying connected, said Father Raftis, adding that our whole faith is based on friendship with the communion of saints and angels.

The movie, he said, “gets the friendship thing right.” He notes that it has an age-appropriate R rating for language but the “overwhelming arc of the movie is on the beauty of friendship and staying friends.”

The movie has not yet been rated by CNS. The end features a clip of the original group. But this moment of fame isn’t stopping them. Father Raftis said they plan to keep playing “indefinitely, as long as we can.”

All of the tag brothers attended the movie’s premiere in Los Angeles June 7 and they joined several members of the cast the night before at a dinner at Renner’s home.

This has all been pretty surreal for the Montana priest, who was surprised to see “Tag” on billboards and bus advertisements in Los Angeles. When there was initial talk about a movie about the group, he said he thought it would be for DVD release or on the Hallmark Channel, which is fine, he added.

The movie openings, including one June 12 in Spokane where the original tagging began, is providing a rare chance for the group of tag brothers to be together.

And that’s where the movie comes full circle because, as he put it, the point is: “Get a hold of someone you haven’t been in touch with for a long time and rekindle the friendship.”

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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

Church praised for proactive response on abuse but warned of complacency

06/12/2018 - 4:22pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Peter Finney Jr, Clarion Herald

By Peter Finney Jr.

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — Despite groundbreaking steps the U.S. Catholic Church has taken to prevent the sexual abuse of minors in the past 16 years, a potential “complacency” in following safety protocols could pose a challenge to those hard-won advances.

Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board, shared that view with diocesan safe environment and victims’ assistance coordinators attending the Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference in New Orleans.

The 13-member lay board advises the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on safe environment protocols for children in Catholic parishes, schools and organizations.

In his talk June 6, Cesareo that because a large percentage of abuse claims deal with incidents that happened many years and even decades ago, the issue may appear now to be less urgent.

“The church has responded very concretely to this question and very proactively, but one of the issues now is that because it is now historical — you have newly ordained priests who were children when this broke out — the urgency of it is not there,” he said. “You have bishops who are new. They weren’t there in 2002. The urgency is not there.”

Cesareo, who is president of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, said he was pleased the church has shifted its conversation about sexual abuse of minors “from a legalistic approach to a more pastoral approach, which is very helpful in the process of healing and reconciliation and also in getting the church to understand the real pain that victims have felt and have experienced through the abuse.”

But, he said, because the church has done such a good job dealing with sexual abuse in the past 16 years, “there is this notion that this is a problem in the past, ‘we’ve dealt with it, we don’t have to put as much attention on it, we have the policies in place.'”

“That’s where the complacency comes in,” Cesareo said. “It’s like a hospital. You have the protocols in place and then suddenly someone dies in the operating room. All the protocols were followed, so why did this happen?

“We need to create a culture whereby the church is doing the same thing. Why did this happen? How do we prevent it? How do we strengthen what we’re already doing? That’s where the complacency issue is becoming problematic.”

Cesareo cited encouraging statistics from the most recent audit of how individual dioceses are performing under the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People”: outreach and support was provided to 1,905 victims/survivors; training on abuse prevention and safe environment was provided to more than 4.1 million children and more than 56,000 priests, deacons and candidates for ordination; and background checks have been administered to 97 to 99 percent of all adults serving in ministry with children.

“That’s no small feat,” Cesareo told the conference. “Yet, we are not finished. We can never be finished.”

While some dioceses are going “above and beyond” the charter’s guidelines, Cesareo said, “a number have fallen into a pattern of complacency regarding victim/survivor assistance and child protection efforts.”

He said some dioceses had not completed background checks in a timely fashion and some had kept poor records, “which could potentially lead to unscreened individuals interacting with children.”

Cesareo said accurate parish and school audits are vital in assessing compliance with the charter and also with diocesan policies. He suggested that individual diocesan review boards, which are called on to evaluate allegations of sexual abuse by clergy, should meet regularly — at least annually and ideally four times a year — even if no allegations have come forward.

Bishops can learn a lot by meeting regularly with the experts on the local review boards, Cesareo said.

“It is the belief of the (National Review Board) that diocesan review boards mitigate the risk that allegations will be mishandled and that possible offenders remain in ministry,” Cesareo said.

No other organization in the U.S. has done a better job than the Catholic Church has in setting up safeguards to protect children, he said.

“Absolutely and without any doubt, even though we don’t get the credit,” Cesareo said. “That is clarified, No. 1, by the charter; No. 2, by the audit process that’s in place; No. 3, by the policies and procedures that are in place. All the background checks, all the training that has taken place. There’s no other organization that’s doing what we’re doing.

“Catholics in the pew should feel very confident that their children are safe in our schools and in our parishes, that the church is doing everything it can to ensure that kind of culture of safety and healing and that we are being proactive and not forgetting that this has to be always at the forefront of everything we do within the church.”

The 13th annual conference, held June 3-6, drew more than 150 people from across the U.S. working in areas of safe environment, victims’ assistance and pastoral care.

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Finney is executive editor/general manager of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

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Update: Papal diplomat says U.S.-North Korea summit brings hope for peace

06/12/2018 - 3:50pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Talks between the leaders of the United States and North Korea are “truly historic” and bring hope for the start of a new era of peace, said Pope Francis’ ambassador to Korea.

A “very important” new page has been turned, Archbishop Alfred Xuereb, apostolic nuncio to South Korea and Mongolia, told Vatican News June 12.

“It marks the beginning of a still long and arduous journey, but we are hopeful because the start has been very positive, very good,” he said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump met on Singapore’s Sentosa Island for the historic summit June 12. It was the first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.

Afterward, Trump said Kim would work to end North Korea’s nuclear program. Trump promised to end joint military exercises with South Korea.

After the summit, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul, South Korea, and apostolic administrator of Pyeongyang, North Korea, celebrated Mass in Myeongdong Cathedral to pray for prompt execution of the summit agreement.

“When I heard the news that there was a meaningful agreement between the two summits in their first meeting, I deeply thanked God to remember our prayers for reconciliation and union of the Korean people,” Cardinal Yeom said in his homily. “I sincerely wish that the agreement can be promptly executed to achieve the common good not only for Korean people but for all people on the globe.”

He also added prayers for the believers in North Korea to have the freedom of religion and be able to lead humane lives as soon as possible.

Archbishop Xuereb told Vatican News the rhetoric has gone from unleashing “fire and fury” against North Korea to more moderate language “that speaks of peace, of relations based on understanding, therefore, we are truly full of hope and confidence.”

“You can imagine how anxiously the Korean people and the church here in Korea are experiencing this truly historic moment,” the papal nuncio said.

“The Holy See wants to support whatever possible initiative that promotes dialogue and reconciliation” while also taking advantage of being able to take the Gospel message to everyone, he said.

Pope Francis led thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square in prayer June 10, expressing hopes the summit would lead to lasting peace.

“May the talks,” he said, “contribute to the development of a positive path that assures a future of peace for the Korean peninsula and the whole world.”


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Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs to Help the Elderly Poor

06/12/2018 - 2:03pm

Cincinnati, Ohio – June is the time for Spaghetti at the Little Sisters of the Poor, St. Paul’s Home for the Aged. This will be the eighth year the Sisters and staff provide a great home cooked plate of spaghetti and meatballs to the public to raise funds to continue their mission to care for the elderly poor of Cincinnati.

This year the doors open on Saturday, June 23rd for dine-in patrons from 3-7pm. You can purchase your dinner tickets at the door, tickets will not be sold ahead of time. To avoid the crowd there is an option to enjoy hot carry-out meals starting at 2pm. Sauce and meatballs are available for purchase at the event and will be on sale the day before, June 22nd from 1-7pm.

“Each year we are serving more and more people. We hope to make the experience stress free for all guests” says Community Relations Coordinator, Sarah Steffen. This is her third year in charge of the fundraiser and she is excited to continue the tradition of the event again. “This year is special, it marks 150 years of the Little Sisters of the Poor in America and especially Cincinnati. It is an honor to be here during this year of celebration!”

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, Paycor, Novello and Associates, Re/Max Preferred Group and the Pietrykowski Family this year along with many other company sponsors. To find out a full list of all involved go to their website

The Little Sisters of the Poor is a Catholic organization that have offered a home to the elderly poor of Cincinnati for 150 years as of 2018. 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

Hardesty for June: Five ways to keep your faith on campus

06/12/2018 - 9:05am


You just graduated from high school. Congratulations! Now college is on the horizon, a time full of promise and possibility. You will learn a lot, meet interesting people, choose a career, and possibly even find the person you will marry. 

You will also make important decisions about your faith life. A recent study from the Pew Research Center found that two thirds of Catholics who leave the church do so before age 24. What will you do? It all depends on the plan you make now to nurture your faith during the grand adventure that awaits you.

Here are five ways to keep your faith on campus:

1. Own your faith. Let’s be honest: when you go to Mass or confession, it’s probably because your parents or your teachers are taking you there. You are Catholic because, well, that’s what they raised you to be. But, when you’re on your own it’s not up to them anymore. It can’t be. If you’re ever going to live a fully Catholic life, it has to be because that’s what you want. Otherwise it won’t stick. You have to make it yours.

2. Find your why. One of the best ways to make it yours is to put it to the test. Ask the difficult questions: “Why do Catholics believe Jesus is God?” “What’s so bad about premarital sex, getting drunk, or skipping Mass?” “Should I even bother being Catholic anymore?”

These are scary questions, but if Catholicism is true, it should stand up to such criticism, right? And at any rate, you need some answers. Without the “why” behind the “what” you believe and do as a Catholic, your faith will crumble at the first passionate atheist, Protestant, or secular apologist who comes along.

3. Find others to be Catholic with. Faith is confirmed through learning, but it also needs to be lived with others. Christ made us to be a Mystical Body. “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). A group of good Catholic friends can hold you accountable, look out for you, and show you that it’s possible to have fun and enjoy life and still be true to what you believe. Look for a Newman Center or a local parish’s young adult ministry. Look for someone making the sign of the cross before they eat. Look for dirty foreheads on Ash Wednesday. Good Catholics are always around. They can be the support system you need in order to live your faith well.

4. Serve others. I know you’re probably looking forward to that first Spring Break without any chaperones, but what if you went on a mission trip instead? That may sound boring or like too much work, but I can assure you: nothing will make your faith come alive like seeing how it transforms the lives of others. Someone you do not know is waiting on your spiritual or corporal work of mercy. Someone is waiting on you to share your faith with them. When you do, your smile will make them smile, and you will be so glad that you are Catholic.

5. Stay close to the gift-giver. As much as you are preparing for life after high school, keep in mind: your faith does not come from your own striving. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). He gave it, and He can sustain it as long as you remain close to Him. This means prayer and the sacraments. They are your lifeline, the air your soul needs in order to breathe. There is grace in communing with God in prayer, receiving Him in the Eucharist, and returning to Him in confession.

With this grace you can be, not another statistic, but a happy Catholic full of life and in love with Jesus.

     Nicholas Hardesty develops new digital courses for Vocare, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s online catechist certification process. Contact him with new course ideas at

Pope leads prayers for U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore

06/11/2018 - 2:00pm


By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Leading thousands of people in prayer, Pope Francis said he hoped the upcoming summit between the United States and North Korea would lead to lasting peace.

After praying the Angelus with an estimated 20,000 people in St. Peter’s Square June 10, the pope said he wanted to convey “a special thought to the beloved Korean people,” and he asked the crowd to pray the “Hail Mary” so that “Our Lady, Queen of Korea, may accompany these talks.”

“May the talks that will take place in the next few days in Singapore contribute to the development of a positive path that assures a future of peace for the Korean peninsula and the whole world,” Pope Francis said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump were to meet on Singapore’s Sentosa Island for the historic summit June 12. It was to be the first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.

Before leading the crowds in praying for the summit, the pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading in which Jesus confronts “two types of misunderstandings” from the scribes and his relatives.

By accusing Jesus of being possessed and using the power of the “prince of demons” to cast out demons, the scribes fell into a great sin of “denying and blaspheming God’s love that is present and works in Jesus,” he said.

Blasphemy, the pope said, “is a sin against the Holy Spirit and the only unforgivable sin because it comes from a closure of the heart to God’s mercy that acts in Jesus.”

Pope Francis told Christians they should go to confession immediately when they are tempted to speak ill of another person because “this attitude destroys families, friendships, the community and even society.”

“Here there is a truly mortal poison: the premeditated malice one uses to destroy the good reputation of the other. May God free us from this terrible temptation,” he said.

Another misunderstanding described in the Gospel reading, the pope continued, comes from Jesus’ family who believed his “new itinerant lifestyle seemed like madness.”

In the Gospel, after Jesus was told that his mother and his brothers and sisters were asking for him, he responds, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Jesus’ response, the pope explained, is not a lack of respect toward his mother but instead it is “the greatest recognition, because she is precisely the perfect disciple who obeyed God’s will in everything.”

Pope Francis said that Christ’s answer also showed that Christians are united not by family bonds but by their “faith in Jesus.”

“Welcoming Jesus’ words makes us brothers and sisters, it makes us members of Jesus’ family,” the pope said. “Speaking ill of others, destroying other people’s reputations, makes us part of the devil’s family.”

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Annual St. Anthony novena concludes with special services June 13

06/11/2018 - 1:41pm
St. Anthony Shrine Holy Thursday Morning (Greg Hartman CT/Photo)St. Anthony Shrine (Greg Hartman CT/Photo)

On June 13, the annual nine-week novena at the National Shrine of St. Anthony of Padua on Colerain Avenue will close with a standing-room-only chapel of pilgrims there to celebrate the saint’s feast day.

“On the actual feast day, things get crazy,” said Toni Cashnelli, spokeswoman for shrine and Franciscan Friary. “Busloads of people, as many as nine or 10 buses, will come to the shrine on the feast of St. Anthony with people who are there specifically to worship to St. Anthony.

“Many of these people are from the Middle East —mostly Iraq — and they have a tremendous devotion to St. Anthony. It’s mostly women and children, a few men, who make up these busloads descending on the shrine all in one day. They have a number of special homilies and Masses at the shrine. The chapel is bursting at the seams. There are people sitting on the floor,” Cashnelli said.

Franciscan Father John Bok said a nine week novena occurs each year on consecutive Tuesdays leading up to the week of the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua.

The 82-year-old priest, who still works a couple of days each week in the Franciscan’s Development Office in Over-the-Rhine, said the novena tradition predates his tenure. But, it has grown immensely over the past decade.

With the crowd, they’ve added additional Masses and novena prayers different times during the day. Many people come — especially Chaldean Catholics, who came from Iraq to this country. They are of the Eastern Right,” Father Bok said.

“In Southfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, there are more Iraqi there than probably anywhere else outside of Iraq — certainly more Catholic Iraqis than anywhere else. A large number of them live in that city and, somehow, in the last 10 years, some Iraqi leaders up there discovered the St. Anthony Shrine here in Cincinnati and decided to do pilgrimages.

“They tend to have a big devotion to St. Anthony. Why? I’m unsure,” said Father Bok. “They fill up the chapel. There are enough pews to take care of them.”

“From what I’ve read and heard, the devotion came about a long time ago and has Catholic tradition because Mary and the Apostles spent nine days in prayer in the upper room between the time of the Ascension and Pentecost,” Father Bok explained. That’s what the tradition is around. The concept behind it is for people to pray steadily. “It is very intense.”

“There is a focus on the novena. People will either ask for favors or grace or make petitions and ask for intercessions,” Father Bok said. Some pilgrims might pray for five hours at the statue of St. Anthony.

Schedule for the Solemnity of St. Anthony of Padua June 13
7:30 a.m. Mass
2:30 p.m. St. Anthony devotions and Benediction
7:00 p.m. Mass
There will be a blessing with the St. Anthony relic and distribution of blessed bread after every service.

St. Anthony (1195-1231) was born in Portugal. He was ordained a priest and joined the Franciscans in missionary work in Morocco. Due to illness, he was forced to return home but his sailing was diverted to Italy because of poor weather. In Italy, he spent his time preaching and praying while living a simple life in cells and caves. In the final years of his short life, St. Anthony taught theology, preached and served as envoy to Pope Gregory IX. He died at the age of 35. He is patron saint of Padua and lost articles. His feast day falls on the date of his death.

Hunt for June: Rejoice and be glad

06/11/2018 - 9:11am

Waiting in joyful hope for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ is becoming more and more difficult. As the Alleluia buzz of the Easter season fades, I am very aware that we are surrounded by danger. If we are not careful, the world and its pleasures can get the best of us.

It is so easy to be discouraged as we listen to the morning news and realize that danger surrounds us and that there is a fragile balance between well being and harm.  Troubles abound in family life, in politics, in the economy and even in our church. Christians throughout the world are being terrorized by hostile governments. There have been more martyrs in the last century then the entire past history of the church. Family life is disintegrating as the divorce rate soars. Lying and cheating plague both world politics and finances. It is enough for us hide our eyes in despair. Persecution plagues us. The church and all who live the Gospel are being persecuted as it has been from the beginning.

While we have been warned that persecution will be a part of our lives, we yearn for joy. Where can we find a little consolation in the midst of the world’s attacks? Is it really possible to maintain the joy of Easter? Pope Francis offers us a response to this question in his latest apostolic exhortation, “Gaudete et exsultate” (Rejoice and be glad). It is a letter for all of us that brings a message of hope in these dark times.

“We need to acknowledge jubilantly that our life is essentially a gift, and recognize that our freedom is a grace. That is not easy today, in a world that thinks it can keep something for itself, the fruits of its own creativity or freedom.” (5) When we come from a perspective that all is gift we begin to see things differently. God endows us with eyes to see beauty, minds to comprehend the movement of the Divine, hearts to love the others as our own etc. That realization fills us with a freedom and joy the world cannot supply. Pope Francis calls us to reject the values of the secular world and live unselfish lives that know a gift when they see one.

“There is a hierarchy of virtues that bids us seek what is essential. The primacy belongs to the theological virtues (faith, hope, charity), which have God as their object and motive. At the centre is charity.”(60) If want to keep a spirit of joy, the secret is to live lives of charity.  The more we give of ourselves, the more joy we receive. The charity equation is so simple. When we give away what we have by doing the next loving thing, the pay back is a sweet happiness that comes from living in the heart of God.

However, this letter is not all sweet and light. It offers warnings about what it will take to walk with Christ. “We must never forget that when the New Testament tells us that we will have to endure suffering for the Gospel’s sake, it speaks precisely of persecution.” (92) Persecution for you and me is very subtle: We are ridiculed for believing in a myth from the Middle Ages; laughed at for defending the rights of the unborn, dying, and marginalized; ostracized for not buying into the greed and power of the corporate world. 

We must be willing to endure  the consequences of such judgments. Pope Francis reminds us of the beatitude, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for justice sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” 

Pope Francis takes his warning up a notch when he tells us, “The Christian life is a constant battle. We need strength and courage to withstand the temptations of the devil and to proclaim the Gospel. This battle is sweet, for it allows us to rejoice each time the Lord triumphs in our lives.” (158)  So, is he saying that joy comes to us in the end? Yes! When we fight the good fight and endure the tough times, the ridicule, the suffering, we will rejoice with Christ as we celebrate overcoming the worst that Satan can throw at us.

The joy that we yearn for doesn’t come easy. Christianity is not for the faint hearted. Yet, I believe that you and I are up to the task. Easter isn’t just a spring holiday we have already forgotten. It is a lifestyle.

Robert Kennedy’s Catholicism was part of his personal life and politics

06/08/2018 - 7:16pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy John F. Kennedy Library and Museum via Reuters

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Recollections and tributes to Robert F. Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination have mainly highlighted his charisma and determined advocacy for social and racial justice.

But underlying these tributes to the former attorney general, U.S. senator, Democratic presidential candidate and father of 11, also is an unmistakable connection to his Catholic faith.

Inevitable references to Kennedy’s faith come up when mentioning his Irish Catholic family or his funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, but there also are plenty of anecdotes in biographies mentioning that he was an altar server or wore a St. Christopher medal. And then there are his speeches, which often echo Catholic social teaching without coming right out and saying it.

A Newsweek tribute to Kennedy describes one of his speeches as “typically peppered with erudition and an almost ecclesiastic, Catholic compassion.”

That particular speech asked what reason people have for existing “unless we’ve made some other contribution to somebody else to improve their own lives?”

Historians and biographers alike have not shied away from Kennedy’s Catholicism, often saying he was the most Catholic of the Kennedy brothers and that he wasn’t afraid to express his faith.

Larry Tye, author of “Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon” in 2016, said Kennedy’s faith helped him as he grieved the 1963 assassination of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, noting that he kept a missal beside him in the car and thumbed through it to prayers he found consoling.

And instead of just attending Sunday Mass, Tye said, Kennedy was “in the pew nearly every day. His faith helped him internalize the assassination in a way that, over time, freed his spirit.”

Peter Edelman, a Georgetown University law professor who was a legislative aide to Kennedy from 1964 until his death, can attest to this.

He described Kennedy as “assiduous in his practice of his Catholicism” and said his “values and work were certainly based significantly in his faith.”

When asked to explain this more, he told Catholic News Service that when he and Kennedy were in New York City, Kennedy often stopped for a few minutes to go into a church to pray while Edelman said he stayed outside because he is Jewish.

“Robert was the Kennedy who took his Catholicism most seriously. He attended Mass regularly, and prayed with his family before meals and bed,” said Jerald Podair, a history and American studies professor at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Podair, who is currently writing a book about the politics of the 1960s and its links to the rise of President Donald Trump, said Kennedy always wore a St. Christopher medal too, but he said his Catholicism was not limited to his personal life but also showed up in his politics.

As he put it in an email to CNS, Kennedy viewed his faith “as a summons to heal the world, making it a more equal and just place. An example was his strong support for Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers movement, one that itself was steeped in Catholic liturgy and morals.”

Podair said Kennedy was drawn to the farmworkers’ cause — when few other mainstream politicians were — “largely because of its links to Catholicism.” He noted that when Kennedy sat with Chavez as he took Communion at an outdoor Mass after the end of his March 1968 hunger strike, it was a public expression of Kennedy’s firmly believed Catholic view that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.

The historian also said it was no coincidence that when Kennedy lay dying on the floor of the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel after he was shot, a rosary was placed on him by the Mexican-American busboy who had just shaken his hand.

“It meant that he would die as he had lived,” Podair said.

That hotel is long gone, but today in its place is a school and memorial bearing Kennedy’s words, which read in part: “Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, it sends out a tiny ripple of hope.”

The book, “Robert Kennedy: His Life,” written by Evan Thomas in 2002, described Kennedy as a “a romantic Catholic who believed that it was possible to create the kingdom of heaven on earth,” and notes that although Kennedy at times may have lost the certainty of his faith, he never lost the hope.

He also said Kennedy was an altar server when he was growing up and who would even serve that role as an adult if he saw there was no altar server at Mass.

The basics of Catholicism — prayers, Mass and crosses or saint statues in the house — were part of Kennedy’s life with Ethel and their children as well, ranging in age from 16- to not-yet-born when he died.

In a 2008 interview with the Boston Globe, Kennedy’s daughter Kerry Kennedy, the seventh child, who was 8 when her father died, said faith was central to her upbringing — especially prayers before and after meals, an out loud Bible reading and Sunday Mass.

Kerry Kennedy, who established the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights in New York, said her faith was influenced by both of her parents, noting that her father thought about being a priest and her mother considered being a nun.

In a June 6 tweet the day of a 50th anniversary memorial service for her father at Arlington National Cemetery, Kerry Kennedy said: “I miss my father every day, but I am strengthened to know the causes he believed in are still championed by brave activists today. His legacy and work are timeless.”

That service, which included numerous tributes and people quoting Kennedy’s own words, began fittingly with an opening invocation by a priest echoing the hope Kennedy so often expressed.

“We are gathered here in a spirit not of mourning, but of hope,” said Jesuit Father Matt Malone, editor of America magazine.

He also added: “Bobby Kennedy still lives in millions of hearts that seek a newer world.”

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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

Space station crew members give pope custom-made blue flight suit

06/08/2018 - 4:22pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — If Pope Francis ever plans an apostolic trip to space, he’s all set after receiving a custom-made blue flight suit with patches of the Argentine flag, his papal coat of arms and a pair of angel wings with his crew name, Jorge M. Bergoglio.

The outfit also came with add-on white mantle, or short cape, just so there would be no mistaking he was still the pope.

The gifts were presented to the pope June 8 by Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli and four other astronauts, who returned from the International Space Station in two groups, one in December and one in February.

The delegation from the Expedition 53 Mission also included Commander Randy Bresnik from Fort Knox, Kentucky; Joe Acaba from Inglewood, California; Mark Vande Hei from Falls Church, Virginia; Sergey Ryazanskiy from Moscow; and some of their family members.

They had requested an audience with the pope during their post-flight tour of Italy, so they could meet him face-to-face after speaking with him via satellite last October, Bresnik told Catholic News Service.

Recalling that conversation from space, Bresnik, who is a Baptist, said, “It was interesting seeing the Catholics on our crew, the Eastern Orthodox crew members, to see everybody energized by talking with the pope, with what he represents.”

It was wonderful to have been able to tell the pope during the link-up what it was like to see “God’s creation from his perspective and how beautiful and fragile it is,” Bresnik said.

The view of earth from space also shows a world without borders, he said. “There aren’t any clashes. You just see this little tiny atmosphere that is the difference between life and death on this planet.”

“It touches people in their soul, I think. I think nobody comes back without a sense of a higher being. Most come back thinking, ‘Hey, God did an amazing job,” Bresnik said.

When asked if he was surprised so many crew members were people of faith and ask how faith fit into their work in the field of science, he said, “it seems the more we learn about science, the more it strengthens your faith because it shows what we don’t know and how complex it is.”

Bresnik’s son Wyatt, 12, showed reporters his Bible; his father had taken it to space, and Wyatt had the pope sign it during their private audience.

Acaba told CNS he believes the international cooperation necessary on the International Space Station can help humanity in its pursuit of peace.

“There’s always politics going on” back on earth, “but the space station is important to a lot of countries so we all learn to work together to keep that project going,” he said. “I think if we can do that for the space station that is an example of what we can do for other things we find to be important.”

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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

A picture says a thousand words: celebrating Chaminade Julienne State Championship

06/08/2018 - 2:39pm

Congratulations to the Eagles baseball team! They won the state championship game against Wapakoneta, 3-1.

Today’s Video: The Sacred Heart of Jesus

06/08/2018 - 1:59pm

The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ is a devotion near and dear to the Comboni Missionaries. Devotion to the Sacred Heart was one of the pillars of St. Daniel Comboni’s spirituality and ministry. The Heart of Jesus is the living symbol of His love for us. It is what we missionaries vow to imitate and pray to make known. In this video, Fr. Jose Alberto Pimentel Guzman explains the beauty, wonder and importance of the Sacred Heart devotion.

Recent development in the Maribel Trujillo-Diaz case

06/08/2018 - 1:19pm

Last year, Maribel Trujillo-Diaz was deported after several rounds in court proceedings. Maribel, a wife, a mother of four was an active member of St. Julie Billiart Parish in Hamilton. Following the Sixth Circuit’s decision earlier this year that the Board of Immigration Appeals “abused its discretion” in not reviewing new evidence in Maribel’s case, the BIA just ruled to remand the case back to an immigration judge. No date has been set yet, but it means that Maribel will have another day in the Cleveland court. For the court rendering, click  BIA MTR Grant

For the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s statement last April, click here

The Catholic Telegraph will update this story as warranted.


The Diaz Family (File Photo)The Diaz Family (File Photo)


06/08/2018 - 1:01pm

Fans Are Being Distributed to Cincinnati Neighbors in Need on Wednesday, June 13, at Liz Carter Outreach Center, 1125 Bank Street, in the West End

CINCINNATI, June 7, 2018 – Deborah’s 9-month-old grandson was sweating and wheezing. The oppressive heat and humidity of Cincinnati’s summer weather was making the boy’s struggle with health issues that much more difficult. So Graham turned to St. Vincent de Paul – Cincinnati for help. Each year, St. Vincent de Paul distributes fans and air conditioners to Greater Cincinnati residents over the course of the summer, and Deborah was able to secure an air conditioner. And it made an immediate impact. Her grandson was finally able to breathe without any help.

That tradition of helping Greater Cincinnati neighbors in need with proper cooling during the hottest days of the summer is something St. Vincent de Paul has been doing for the last 16 years—and is continuing this year.

The first fan distribution for 2018 takes place on Wednesday, June 13, at 1:00 p.m., at St. Vincent de Paul’s Liz Carter Outreach Center, 1125 Bank St., in the West End. All members of media are welcome.

“During visits to the homes of families in need, our volunteers often find sick and elderly neighbors living in dangerously hot apartments with no source of relief from the summer heat,” says Mike Dunn, Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul – Cincinnati. “Many of our elderly neighbors, in particular, have respiratory issues. An air conditioner or fan not only provides relief, but also keeps them healthy and safe as the temperatures climb.”

The first 150 families in line on Wednesday receive a fan. Fans are limited to one per household, and families are only eligible to receive a fan every two years.

Individuals needing an air conditioner should contact St. Vincent de Paul at 513-562-8841, ext. 772, to apply. Recipients of air conditioners must provide documentation of medical need. Appointments are scheduled for approved neighbors to pick up an air conditioner. There is a limit of one air conditioner per family, and families are eligible to receive an air conditioner once every three years.

Last year, St. Vincent de Paul distributed 353 air conditioners and 566 fans to neighbors in need, thanks to more than $44,000 that was donated by individuals in the Greater Cincinnati community. Individuals are asked once again this year to help those less fortunate than they are by:

• Making a financial gift by phone at 513-562-8841, ext. 259, online at, or at any greater Cincinnati Huntington Bank location: $20 provides a fan; $100 provides an air conditioner.
• Donating a new fan or air conditioner at any one of the seven St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Stores. Visit for store locations. According to state law, donated fans and air conditioners must be new.

“We helped over 900 families last summer thanks to the generosity of our local neighbors and community partners,” says Dunn. “Many of the neighbors we serve have children or are elderly with chronic health conditions. Having a fan or air conditioner is often the difference between living comfortably and a visit to the emergency room.”

The fan and air conditioning drive is in partnership with Huntington Bank, WCPO—9 On Your Side, and Braun Heating & Air Conditioning.

Additional fan distributions are scheduled for Wednesday, July 11, and a date to be determined later in the summer.

About St. Vincent de Paul

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul has been providing innovative, practical emergency assistance to Greater Cincinnati and Hamilton County residents in need for 149 years. The organization works personally with those in need, regardless of race or creed, to bridge the spiritual, emotional and material gaps in their lives through home visits provided by neighborhood-based volunteer groups. It also offers groundbreaking initiatives like the Charitable Pharmacy, and a network of nine food pantries and seven thrift stores and donation centers across Cincinnati. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is recognized as a Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics winner by The Better Business Bureau (BBB), a One Award Finalist, and as the Non-Profit of the Year by The CincinnatiUSA Regional Chamber of Commerce. For more information, visit

Synod working document seeks ‘new paths’ of evangelization in Amazon

06/08/2018 - 12:33pm

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church must discover new ways to provide the Eucharist and pastoral support to the people of the Amazon, especially indigenous people threatened by forced displacement and exploitation, a new document said.

The Vatican released the preparatory document for the special Synod of Bishops on the Amazon June 8. The synod gathering in October 2019 will reflect on the theme “Amazonia: New paths for the church and for an integral ecology.”

The connection between care for the environment and the pastoral care of the people who live in the region is highlighted throughout the document, because, it said, “protecting indigenous peoples and their lands represents a fundamental ethical imperative and a basic commitment to human rights.”

“Moreover,” it continued, “it is a moral imperative for the church, consistent with the approach to integral ecology called for by ‘Laudato Si’.”

The document ended with 30 questions about how the church should respond to specific challenges in the region such as injustice, violence and discrimination, particularly against the area’s indigenous people. Responses to the questions will provide material for the synod’s working document.

The questions also sought to identify solutions for a variety of pastoral challenges, particularly the region’s shortage of priests, which means the “impossibility of celebrating the Eucharist frequently in all places.”

Rich in biodiversity, natural resources and cultures, the Amazon rainforest is the largest in the world, covering more than 2.1 million square miles in South America. The rainforest includes territory in Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Suriname, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Guyana and French Guiana.

The region has experienced significant deforestation, negatively impacting the indigenous populations in the area and leading to a loss of biodiversity.

The document’s preamble states that “new paths for evangelization must be designed for and with the people of God” who live in the Amazon, an area that is in “deep crisis” due to “prolonged human intervention in which a ‘culture of waste’ and an extractivist mentality prevail.”

Using the method of “see, judge and act,” the document began with a description of how the region’s rich biodiversity, which provides food and resources for the indigenous population, “is being threatened by expansive economic interests.”

Those threats include logging, contamination of rivers and lakes due to toxins, oil spills and mining, as well as drug trafficking.

The destruction of the land and pollution of the rivers have forced many people to move. The indigenous people who are forcibly dislocated, the document said, often are met with “an attitude of xenophobia and criminalization” that leads to their exploitation. Women are particularly vulnerable to being trafficked for “sexual and commercial exploitation,” it said.

The preparatory document’s section on promoting “pastoral and ecological conversion” highlighted the need to proclaim the Gospel and to “accompany and share the pain of the Amazonian people and to collaborate in healing their wounds.”

“Today the cry of the Amazonia to the Creator is similar to the cry of God’s people in Egypt,” the document said. “It is a cry of slavery and abandonment, which clamors for freedom and God’s care.”

By focusing on the indigenous people and the care for their land, the church is “strengthened in its opposition to the globalization of indifference and to the unifying logic promoted by the media and by an economic model that often refuses to respect the Amazonian peoples or their territories,” the document’s third section said.

It also emphasized “relaunching the work of the church” in the Amazon region “in order to transform the church’s precariously thin presence” through new ministries that respond “to the objectives of a church with an Amazonian face and a church with a native face.”

This includes, it said, fostering “indigenous and local-born clergy” as well as ministerial roles for women in the church.

“Along these lines, it is necessary to identify the type of official ministry that can be conferred on women, taking into account the central role which women play today in the Amazonian church,” the document said.

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, told journalists June 8 that although the church has “a magisterium and a discipline that is already established” restricting priestly ordination to men only, the synod offers a space to freely discuss other ministerial roles for women.

“The emphasis on women — that they should have a space in the church — doesn’t come from” the preparatory document, Cardinal Baldisseri said. “We can listen to the pope who said that there must be space for women in the church at all levels.”

The document does not mention the possibility of allowing married “viri probati” — men of proven virtue — to become priests, a question that Pope Francis has expressed a willingness to study.

“We have to study whether ‘viri probati’ are a possibility. We then also need to determine which tasks they could take on, such as in remote communities, for example,” the pope said in a March 2017 interview with German newspaper Die Zeit.

Cardinal Baldisseri told journalists that the synod preparatory document leaves room for discussion on finding solutions to the lack of priests in the area but does not center on “viri probati” as the only answer to the problem.

“I understand the interest but there are many ministries,” the cardinal said. “It isn’t that those that already exist are definite. The church can also have other ministries. Ministries is an ample word that ranges from the ministry of acolyte to the priesthood.”

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