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Refresher on the rules of fast and abstinence during Lent

02/12/2018 - 1:40am

Staff Report

Ash Wednesday is February 14, 2018. Below are some of the rules and regulations binding on Roman Catholics on Ash Wednesday and throughout the penitential season of Lent.

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Encounter the Peace of Christ is an evening where parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Cincinnati will be open for Confession, on Tuesday February 27th from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Summed up succinctly, Roman Catholics must fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Additionally, they must abstain from meat on all Fridays during Lent.

A circular letter by the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship (click here for the letter) suggests, but does not require, that the fast of Good Friday continue on Holy Saturday.

Ash Wednesday is one of two yearly days of obligatory fasting and abstinence for Roman Catholics, along with Good Friday. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the norms of fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59.

Fasting means a person is permitted to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may also be taken, but they are not to equal that of a full meal.

The rule of abstinence from meat is binding upon Catholics aged 14 and onwards.

Members of the Eastern Catholic Churches are to observe the particular law of their own sui iuris Church.

For those outside the age limits, Cannon Law notes that “Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.”

Additionally, the USCCB Questions and Answers about Lent page states the non-age related exemptions.

“Those that are excused from fast and abstinence outside the age limits include the physically or mentally ill including individuals suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes.  Also excluded are pregnant or nursing women.  In all cases, common sense should prevail, and ill persons should not further jeopardize their health by fasting.”

The other obligatory day of fasting and abstinence is Good Friday, the day on which Catholics remember the death of Jesus on the cross. On the U.S. Bishops website, they explain the Good Friday fast should, when possible, last through the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night.

While those are the only two days of full fasting and abstinence required, all of Lent should be a time of spiritual formation and preparation for Easter.

“For all other weekdays of Lent, we strongly recommend participation in daily Mass and a self-imposed observance of fasting,” the bishops wrote in the Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence. “In the light of grave human needs which weigh on the Christian conscience in all seasons, we urge, particularly during Lent, generosity to local,national, and world programs of sharing of all things needed to translate our duty to penance into a means of implementing the right of the poor to their part in our abundance. We also recommend spiritual studies, beginning with the Scriptures as well as the traditional Lenten Devotions (sermons, Stations of the Cross, and the rosary), and all the self-denial summed up in the Christian concept of ‘mortification.'”

The Catholic tradition of “giving something up” for Lent is a pious tradition but according to the USCCB website, it is not regulated by church law.

Re-Posted February 7, 2018

‘Monumental’ FEMA shift opens door to disaster funds for religious groups

02/09/2018 - 9:25pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Ginny Blasi

By David Karas

TRENTON, N.J. (CNS) — Superstorm Sandy-weary diocesan and parish officials lauded a Federal Emergency Management Agency policy change announced earlier this year that reverses a prior exclusion for religious organizations and houses of worship from applying for federal aid to recover from natural disasters.

“This change in eligibility for FEMA public assistance to religious organizations is monumental,” said Joe Cahill, director of the Diocese of Trenton’s Department of Risk Management.

Cahill’s comments came before the Feb. 9 passage of the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act by Congress as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act. The bill, signed into law by President Donald Trump, codifies this change in FEMA policy.

The fairness provision directs FEMA to make disaster relief assistance available to houses of worship “on the same terms as other nonprofit entities,” said a statement released the same day by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which had urged its passage.

These provisions ensure that houses of worship are treated fairly. That’s good not only for houses of worship but for the communities that depend on them,” added the statement issued jointly by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania, chairman of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

When it announced the policy change Jan. 2, FEMA attributed it to a 7-2 U.S. Supreme Court decision last June, which held that Trinity Lutheran Church in Missouri should not have been denied a public benefit just because it is a church.

In urging Congress to pass the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act, the U.S. bishops and others also cited the Trinity Lutheran case.

Damage to Texas churches and Florida synagogues following hurricanes Harvey and Irma sparked additional legal challenges, as well as lawsuits filed against FEMA. In the fall, members of Congress — including Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey — advocated for legislative changes to allow for disaster relief funding eligibility for houses of worship.

In an interview prior to the federal budget bill’s passage, Cahill said the ongoing debate over the funding has resonated across the Diocese of Trenton, particularly in areas affected by Superstorm Sandy.

“The memory of Sandy remains at the Diocese of Trenton,” Cahill told The Monitor, newspaper of The Trenton Diocese. “Many parishes on the barrier islands and other coastal areas have not fully recovered. Some homes remain abandoned or have been demolished.

“Parishioner count has declined in some locations as local economies suffered from the effects of the storm and (as) people moved away for reason of employment or available housing.”

Some 65 individual parish properties incurred more than $14 million in damages and cleanup costs in Superstorm Sandy, Cahill said.

Considerable funds were necessary for removing debris, pumping out flood waters, decontaminating flooded buildings and demolishing water-damaged infrastructure, with churches, chapels, schools, community centers, food pantries, rectories, convents, offices, cemeteries and other diocesan and church properties among the affected sites.

“If FEMA assistance was available early on, it would have eased the cash flow burden on the Diocese and parishes,” Cahill said, “as the cost of emergency work in the early days after the storm was significant and could have covered a portion of the flood insurance deductible for a named storm.”

Under the prior review process, Cahill said that a religious organization would have to prove that assistance was for flood damage to buildings that were not religious in nature — but even then, the process was lengthy.

Msgr. Edward J. Arnister, pastor of St. Rose Parish, remembers all too well the significant damage his parish and school community sustained at the hands of Superstorm Sandy. It took four weeks before the church could reopen, and all electric, heat and air conditioning systems had to be replaced. The parish center and first floor of St. Rose High School had to be completely restored and rebuilt, and the roof of St. Rose Grammar School was torn off by wind and had to be replaced.

“I can’t emphasize enough that good planning and management by the Diocese of Trenton in having adequate flood insurance saved the day,” Msgr. Arnister told The Monitor. “St. Rose would have been in serious financial difficulty without that.” FEMA did provide some limited funding for recovery efforts.

In Congress, Smith introduced the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act first in 2013, and again in 2015 and 2017.

Houses of worship “are hubs in our communities for humanitarian assistance year-round, and especially during times of natural disaster,” he said in an interview before the vote on his legislation as part of the budget bill.

Smith praised the Diocese of Trenton for its “professional and meticulous” response to Superstorm Sandy, noting the significant role that religious organizations play in the wake of a natural disaster.

“So many churches are directly involved in disaster relief and bring with them a cadre of committed volunteers,” he said.

“In every federal disaster, local synagogues, churches — their schools, community centers, and physical houses of worship — provide supplies, food, medicines, shelters and coordination of volunteer services,” Smith said.

“Without them, our national recovery efforts would be significantly diminished and as such, churches should not be discriminated against when applying for federal assistance,” he added.

James King, director of the Office of Social Concerns for the New Jersey Catholic Conference — the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops — visited Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which left in its path significant devastation. King was on hand to support Catholic Charities efforts on the island.

Reflecting on his experience, King shared his observations on how church communities stepped up to provide support to victims, despite the significant damage sustained by those communities themselves.

“I worked with local parishes that converted parts of church buildings into distribution centers for essential items like food and water, despite damage to those buildings,” King said. “Throughout my deployment, I heard numerous times that if it were not for the Catholic Church having numerous facilities throughout the island, some towns would not have received these essential items.”

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Karas is a correspondent for The Monitor, newspaper of the Diocese of Trenton.

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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

Athenaeum News: A Step toward Holy Orders

02/09/2018 - 9:00am
 Father Anthony Brausch, J. Tyler Marsh, Broderick Witt, Thomas Hunyor, Jr., Robert Hale, Stephen Jones, Jacob Lindle, Ethan Hoying. (CT Photo/EL Hubbard)Photo Credit (l to r): Front Row: Elvis ­­­Aguilar, Charles Westerhold, Alexander Elfreich, Chibueze Asiegbulem, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Kevin LeMelle, Randolfo Lemus Arias, Michael Willig. Second Row: Father Anthony Brausch, J. Tyler Marsh, Broderick Witt, Thomas Hunyor, Jr., Robert Hale, Stephen Jones, Jacob Lindle, Ethan Hoying. (CT Photo/EL Hubbard)

Fourteen candidates took a step toward holy orders as they were installed to the Institution of Lector by the Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville, during Mass in the Chapel of St. Gregory the Great February 3. A large crowd was present for the Mass with 52 families in attendance for the installation and Parents-Seminarians Dinner which followed.

Candidates, at the end of the second year of formation, petition for and if selected, receive the Ministry of Lector. This calls them to be servants of the Living Word of God. In proclaiming the readings at liturgy, the lector does more than simply read. Those who exercise the Ministry of Lector must be truly suited and carefully prepared, so that the faithful may develop a warm and living love for Sacred Scripture from listening to the sacred readings.

After the gospel, Archbishop Kurtz sat and Deacon Andrew Wellmann called the candidates forward one by one. The archbishop handed each candidate the Bible saying, “Take this book of Holy Scripture and be faithful in handing on the word of God, so that it may grow strong in the hearts of his people.” The lectors each answered, “Amen” and handed the Bible back to the archbishop.

Congratulations to those installed:

Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Chibueze Raymond Asiegbulem
Ethan Michael Hoying
Stephen Paul Jones
Kevin Andre LeMelle
Jacob Benjamin Lindle
John Tyler Marsh
Charles Albert Westerhold
Michael Anthony Willig
Broderick Michael Witt

Archdiocese of Louisville
Willard Robert Hale

Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph
Randolfo Lemus Arias
Elvis Hernán Aguilar Ramírez

Diocese of Toledo
Alexander O’Neal Elfreich
Thomas Phillip Hunyor, Jr.

Update: Faith essential to story for real-life heroes of ’15:17 to Paris’

02/08/2018 - 6:05pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Warner Bros.

By Denis Grasska

SAN DIEGO (CNS) — It’s almost a miracle that Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone are even alive.

Yet here they are, promoting a major Hollywood film in which they portray themselves. For all three, faith is an essential part of their story.

On Aug. 21, 2015, while on a backpacking trip through Europe, their Paris-bound train was attacked by a terrorist whose arsenal included an assault rifle and 270 rounds of ammunition. The three childhood friends were able to subdue him, saving the lives of the more than 500 passengers on board the train.

They became instant celebrities and were honored by both the French and U.S. governments for their heroism.

The three men happened to be in the right place at the right time. Skills they had developed — including Skarlatos’ and Stone’s military experience, the former’s proficiency with firearms, and the latter’s training in jujitsu and as a medic — all came into play.

And if just one of many variables had been different — had they not been seated where they were, had the terrorist’s rifle not jammed when Stone charged him — it would have resulted in tragedy.

On the day of the train attack, the three friends “survived something … that we really shouldn’t have,” Sadler told Catholic News Service during a Feb. 2 interview with the three heroes. The son of a Baptist minister, he said that fateful day felt “like a biblical moment” for him, reaffirming his conviction that God had a plan for his life.

Stone, a former U.S. Air Force staff sergeant, said “there’s just no way you can deny” that divine providence was at work.

“There’s just too much going on for it to just be coincidence,” offered Skarlatos, a former Army National Guard specialist.

Their story gets the big-screen treatment in a new film, “The 15:17 to Paris,” which will be released in theaters Feb. 9. Directed by Clint Eastwood and based on the memoir the men co-wrote with Jeffrey E. Stern, the film traces their journeys from youth to adulthood, showing how their life experiences prepared them to react as they did.

As far as the three friends are concerned, any account of their story would be incomplete if it left out their Christian faith.

“You can’t tell the story without ‘ the faith element,” Sadler said, because “that’s who we are.”

References to God and prayer can be found throughout the film. The Christian middle school that Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone attended is not portrayed positively, but the three friends and their parents are shown to be people of faith.

When a public school teacher later suggests that Stone’s future is bleak because he is the product of a single-parent household, his mother (portrayed by actress Judy Greer) defiantly declares, “My God is bigger than your statistics.”

In another scene, Skarlatos’ mother (portrayed by Jenna Fischer) tells her son that, in her prayers for his well-being, she had received the assurance that he was destined for something great. Elsewhere, Stone can be seen asking a wounded train passenger if he would like him to pray.

Sadler said he appreciates that the film doesn’t depict the three friends as perfect. They are all Christians, he said, but the film also shows them “doing some things (that are) not so smart.”

Perhaps unlike many other Hollywood films, “The 15:17 to Paris” has provided its stars with opportunities to evangelize. For Stone, it has presented “a huge platform” from which “to spread the word of God.” In each interview he has given, he said, he has tried “to make sure I gave God the credit.”

Grateful to be alive and able to share their story, the three friends also consider themselves blessed to have that story brought to the screen by a filmmaker of Eastwood’s stature.

A poster for Eastwood’s 2006 film “Letters From Iwo Jima,” displayed on the wall of young Spencer’s bedroom in one scene from the film, wasn’t just a clever cameo on Eastwood’s part. In fact, Skarlatos said, it’s an acknowledgement of the fact that both he and Stone “literally grew up on (Eastwood’s) movies.”

In another scene, Skarlatos himself is seen wearing a T-shirt featuring Eastwood’s likeness from the 1985 western “Pale Rider”; it’s a shirt that came from Skarlatos’ own wardrobe.

“You build up people a lot in your head as to who they are,” he said. But Eastwood turned out to be “just as cool and calm as you would imagine” and “more personable and funny.”

The three friends hope the film will deliver the message that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things and that every life has a purpose.

Sadler is confident that it “does a good job of showing how ordinary the three of us are,” which he hopes will inspire others when they encounter adversity.

“It doesn’t have to be terrorists on a train, but it could be anything they face in their own life,” he said. “Hopefully, it inspires them to know that they’re capable.”

Skarlatos hopes that the film will speak to those who struggle to understand their life’s purpose.

“I just hope people realize that ‘ they might not be on the path that they think they should be on or not doing what they want to do,” he said, “but it’s the thing that they need to do.”

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Grasska is assistant editor of The Southern Cross, newspaper of the Diocese of San Diego.


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Acts of love, courage are signs of God’s grace in the U.S., Trump says

02/08/2018 - 6:02pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Acts of love, courage and sacrifice by first responders, parents and children alike are hallmarks of a country that is rooted in prayer and deep faith in God, President Donald Trump told the National Prayer Breakfast.

The president held up as “American heroes” people from many walks of life who strive to help others as part of their daily routines and in emergencies. He said they are signs of God’s grace during a 14-minute speech Feb. 8 at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

In particular, Trump cited American servicemen and servicewomen around the world “defending our great American flag,” police officers “who sacrifice for their communities,” teachers who “work tirelessly” for their students and parents who “work two and three jobs to give their children a better, a much more prosperous and happier life” as signs of inspiration.

“American heroes reveal God’s calling,” he said.

“All we have to do is open our eyes and look around us and we can see God’s hand in the courage of our fellow citizens. We see the work of God’s love in the power of souls,” he said.

Such actions are powered by prayer, he said.

Trump also revisited a common theme of earlier speeches: the effort to push out Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He said the militants had tortured Christians, Jews and even fellow Muslims in the territories they occupied, but that they had been almost totally overrun.

“Much work will always remain. But we will never rest until that job is completely done,” the president said.

Trump concluded by noting the courage and inspiration of a 9-year-old Brownfield, Texas, girl faced with the possibility of not walking again after several strokes. Sophia Maria Campa-Peters, sitting at a front-row table with her mother at the breakfast, learned from doctors that she would not be able to walk because of the strokes, he said.

“She replied, ‘If you’re only going to talk about what I can’t do, I don’t want to hear about it. Just let me try to walk,'” Trump told the gathering.

As Sophia prepared for surgery Jan. 24 to continue treatment for the disease that caused the strokes, she sought prayers from people. Her goal was 10,000 prayers, Trump continued, but she surpassed the goal, even getting the president and members of his administration to ask God to intervene for her health.

“Today we thank God and she’s walking very well,” he said.

“You may be only 9 years old, but you are already a hero for all of us in this room and all over the world. Thank you, Sophia,” Trump said.

“Through love, courage and sacrifice, we glimpse the grace of almighty God,” the president added. “So through that grace, let us resolve ourselves to ask for an extra measure of strength and devotion and seek a more just and peaceful world where every child can grow up without violence, worship without fear and reach their God-given potential.

“We can all be heroes to everybody and they can be heroes to us. As long as we open our eyes to God’s grace and open our hearts to God’s love, then America will always be the land of the free, home of the brave and the light for all nations.”

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.


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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

Protecting social service safety net is Catholic priority with Congress

02/07/2018 - 8:20pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Catholic advocates visited Capitol Hill Feb. 6 hoping members of Congress were ready to listen to their push for a federal budget that makes the needs of poor and vulnerable people a priority.

Coming at the end of the annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, their visits took on greater urgency as Congress faced a Feb. 8 deadline to pass a budget deal or approve another stopgap spending measure to keep the government operating.

The advocates’ main concern stemmed from the willingness of some in Congress to consider deep cuts in the social service safety net to offset part of the $1 trillion deficit expected over the next decade under the tax reform bill passed in December.

The most vulnerable programs: Medicare and Medicaid; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps; The Emergency Food Assistance Program, or TEFAP; and international humanitarian and poverty-reducing assistance.

Other “asks” included a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young adults who were brought illegally into the country as children; increasing the value of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, a primary vehicle that helps finance new affordable housing projects; and maintaining “strong and vibrant investments” in diplomacy and overseas development that leads to peaceful societies.

Even with a budget that spares deep cuts for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, there’s talk that the 2019 budget plan due out in mid-February from the Office of Management and Budget will zero in on the very programs the advocates want to protect for a significantly smaller share of the federal pie.

In the current Washington environment there are other concerns, of course — climate change, education, Social Security, the minimum wage and worker rights, to name a few. For now though, social services, housing and international aid were deemed the most pressing by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA.

Trying to determine what issues are most important on any given day has given headaches to the three agencies as they see new crises emerge daily and the stances of President Donald Trump shift, seemingly, hour by hour.

Still, the three agencies coordinate as much as possible to ensure there is a consistent message coming from Catholics.

“On the budget stuff, we work on a one-church strategy,” Bill O’Keefe, vice president for government relations and advocacy at CRS, told Catholic News Service.

International humanitarian and poverty-reducing aid has long been supported by CRS and the USCCB. Funding for international programs including disaster assistance, peacekeeping operations, and the President’s Emergency Plan for HIV/AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, totaled about $24.5 billion in fiscal year 2017. That’s about 0.5 percent of the federal budget, noted Stephen Colecchi, director of the USCCB’s Office of International Justice and Peace.

At Catholic Charities USA, addressing the need for affordable housing remains a priority and for officials there increasing the value of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, or LIHTC, is a must.

The tax credit has funded 30 percent of the nation’s 10 million affordable housing units. Catholic Charities agencies nationwide use it as a tool to attract investment in the housing projects they develop.

However, the tax reform act is expected to make the credit less attractive to investors.

With the corporate tax rate reduced from 35 percent to 21 percent, high-level investors are less likely to invest in the construction of new affordable housing projects to take advantage of LIHTC, Stephen Caprobres, executive director of Housing for Hope, Inc. of Catholic Charities Community Services in the Phoenix Diocese, said during a social ministry gathering workshop.

The country already faces a shortage of more than 7 million affordable housing units and should fewer projects be built, housing advocates fear the crunch will worsen.

Social ministry gathering delegates and Catholic agencies aren’t the only ones concerned about potential budget cuts in social services. Nearly 1,000 women religious voiced their views in letters to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, that were supposed to be delivered to his office on Capitol Hill in December.

Two women religious from Ryan’s district, Dominican Sister Erica Jordan of Kenosha and Franciscan Sister Ruth Brings of Janesville, were scheduled to meet with Ryan’s deputy chief of staff, but the meeting was canceled by the time their plane landed in Washington, according to the Catholic social justice lobby Network.

Sister Kathleen Kanet, a member of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary in New York City, told CNS she came up with the idea of religious sisters writing letters as she read news reports about Ryan, who is Catholic, discussing the need for spending cuts to help balance the federal budget. Network helped coordinate the effort.

Sister Kanet said she thought the speaker should hear from women religious, many of whom see the daily struggles of families living in poverty.

“I’m thinking who can challenge that in the light of Jesus,” she said. “It became so clear to me that religious sisters can do this.”

As of Feb. 7, the letters had yet to be delivered. Network leaders were determining how they might be helpful as budget drama unfolds.

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

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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

German cardinal urges pastoral care, but not ‘blessing’ of gay couples

02/07/2018 - 5:35pm

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) — The president of the German bishops’ conference urged priests to provide better pastoral care to Catholics who are homosexual, but he said, “I think that would not be right” when asked if he could imagine the Catholic Church blessing gay couples.

The German bishops’ conference released an English translation Feb. 7 of remarks Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, conference president, made during a radio interview Feb. 3.

German Catholic media had interpreted the cardinal’s remarks as moving a step back from a suggestion made by Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabruck in January that the Catholic Church should debate the possibility of a blessing ceremony for Catholic gay couples involved in the church.

But some English-language media and blogs portrayed Cardinal Marx’s remarks as meaning he “endorses” such blessing ceremonies.

The coverage led Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia to write a blog encouraging bishops to be clear about what they intend or don’t intend to suggest on the subject.

And, Archbishop Chaput said, “any such ‘blessing rite’ would cooperate in a morally forbidden act, no matter how sincere the persons seeking the blessing. Such a rite would undermine the Catholic witness on the nature of marriage and the family. It would confuse and mislead the faithful. And it would wound the unity of our church, because it could not be ignored or met with silence.”

The Catholic Church insists marriage can be only between a man and a woman. It teaches that while homosexual people deserve respect and spiritual care, homosexual activity is sinful.

In the interview with Cardinal Marx, the journalist said many people believe the church should bless gay unions, ordain women to the diaconate and end obligatory celibacy for priests in the Latin-rite church.

According to the bishops’ conference translation, Cardinal Marx said he did not believe those changes were what the church needs most today. “Rather, the question to be asked is how the church can meet the challenges posed by the new circumstances of life today — but also by new insights, of course. For example, in the field of pastoral work, pastoral care.”

Following the teaching and example of Pope Francis in pastoral care, he said, “we have to consider the situation of the individual, his life history, his biography, the disruptions he goes through, the hopes that arise, the relationships he lives in — or she lives in. We have to take this more seriously and have to try harder to accompany people in their circumstances of life.”

The same is true in ministering to people who are homosexual, he said. “We must be pastorally close to those who are in need of pastoral care and also want it. And one must also encourage priests and pastoral workers to give people encouragement in concrete situations. I do not really see any problems there. An entirely different question is how this is to be done publicly and liturgically. These are things you have to be careful about, and reflect on them in a good way.”

While excluding “general solutions” such as a public ritual, Cardinal Marx said, “that does not mean that nothing happens, but I really have to leave that to the pastor on the ground, accompanying an individual person with pastoral care. There you can discuss things, as is currently being debated, and consider: How can a pastoral worker deal with it? However, I really would emphatically leave that to the pastoral field and the particular, individual case at hand, and not demand any sets of rules again — there are things that cannot be regulated.”

The spokesman of the bishops’ conference said the cardinal was unavailable for further interviews.

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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: In the bleak midwinter

02/07/2018 - 4:52pm

Though it is a Christmas carol, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati awoke to a coating of ice and snow. Today’s A picture says a thousand words celebrates God’s majesty in ice.

St. Louis Church Downtown Cincinnati on a wintry day. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)St. Louis Church Downtown Cincinnati on a wintry day. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Ice coats trees across from St. Louis Church (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Ice coats trees across from St. Louis Church (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain,
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty —
Jesus Christ.

Winter grabs hold of a Wednesday one week from lent. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Winter grabs hold of a Wednesday one week from lent. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Green encased in ice breaking the bonds of brown during an ice storm (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Green encased in ice breaking the bonds of brown during an ice storm (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Many children enjoyed a day off, some delayed, but the brilliance of ice and sun put on a dazzling display (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Many children enjoyed a day off, some delayed, but the brilliance of ice and sun put on a dazzling display (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

Enough for Him, whom Cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom Angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and Archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But only His Mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am? —
If I were a Shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part, —
Yet what I can I give Him, —
Give my heart.

God's creation on a winters day (CT photo/Greg Hartman)God’s creation on a winters day (CT photo/Greg Hartman) A sparrow in a make shift igloo of ice on a midwinters day (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)A sparrow in a make shift igloo of ice on a midwinters day (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) A few hold out berries cling to its mother tree coated in ice (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)A few hold out berries cling to its mother tree coated in ice (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr releases statement regarding Elder/St Xavier Basketball game

02/07/2018 - 2:34pm

I have been made aware of the racially demeaning and hurtful language used by Elder High School students this past Friday during their basketball game against St. Xavier High School.

Behavior such as this is directly contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and falls well short of the expectations that I have of any of our Catholic high schools. Our Catholic faith demands that we respect and love all of God’s children, and our words and actions should reflect this at all times. For that reason, I am deeply dismayed at what occurred this past Friday, and apologize on behalf of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to the St. Xavier student athletes who were the targets of these taunts, as well as to their parents and family members.

I have been in contact with the office of the Elder principal, Mr. Kurt Ruffing, to ensure that this matter is being addressed with the urgency and seriousness that it warrants. I am confident that Mr. Ruffing shares my disappointment in what transpired, as well as my commitment to making this a teachable moment that instills a greater sense of Christian charity and justice in our students.

Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr
Archbishop of Cincinnati

Podcast: Motivation to go to Catholic Mass

02/07/2018 - 2:11pm

“I don’t have time.” “Mass is boring.” “I don’t get anything out of Mass.”

Have you heard these excuses or made those excuses before? Check out Father Schmitz’s podcast on Motivation to go to Catholic Mass.

Pilgrim pope: Benedict says he’s journeying toward God

02/07/2018 - 1:57pm

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — “I am on a pilgrimage toward Home,” retired Pope Benedict XVI wrote, capitalizing the Italian word “casa” or “home.”

Almost exactly five years after announcing his intention to be the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign, Pope Benedict wrote the letter to a journalist from the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

“I am touched to know how many of the readers of your newspaper want to know how I am experiencing this last period of my life,” the 90-year-old retired pope wrote. “In that regard, I can only say that, with the slow diminishing of my physical strength, inwardly I am on a pilgrimage toward Home.”

“It is a great grace in this last, sometimes tiring stage of my journey, to be surrounded by a love and kindness that I never could have imagined,” said the letter, written on stationery with the heading “Benedictus XVI, Papa emeritus.”

Massimo Franco, the journalist, said the letter, dated Feb. 5, was hand-delivered; the newspaper posted it online Feb. 6 and published it on the front page of the print edition Feb. 7.

During a meeting with cardinals Feb. 11, 2013, Pope Benedict stunned the cardinals and the world by saying, in Latin, “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”

He set the date for his retirement as Feb. 28, 2013. And, seen off by dozens of weeping Vatican employees, he flew by helicopter to the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo, where he remained until after Pope Francis was elected.

The day before he left was a Wednesday and the overflowing crowd in St. Peter’s Square made it clear that it was anything but a normal Wednesday general audience.

He told an estimated 150,000 people that his pontificate, which had lasted almost eight years, was a time of “joy and light, but also difficult moments.”

“The Lord has given us so many days of sun and light breeze, days in which the catch of fish has been abundant,” he said, likening himself to St. Peter on the Sea of Galilee.

“There have also been moments in which the waters were turbulent and the wind contrary, as throughout the history of the church, and the Lord seemed to be asleep,” he said. “But I have always known that the Lord is in that boat and that the boat of the church is not mine, it is not ours, but it is his and he does not let it sink.”

A monastery in the Vatican Gardens was remodeled for Pope Benedict, and that is where he has lived for five years, reading, praying, listening to music and welcoming visitors.

Until 2016, the retired pope occasionally would join Pope Francis at important public liturgies, including the Mass for the canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II in 2014 and for the opening of the 2015-2016 Year of Mercy.

Pope Benedict also attended the ceremonies for the creation of new cardinals in 2014 and 2015. But as it became more and more difficult for Pope Benedict to walk, Pope Francis and the new cardinals would get in vans and drive the short distance to the Mater Ecclesiae monastery to pay their respects.

The retired pope’s letter to Corriere della Sera echoed remarks he had made the afternoon of his retirement when he arrived in Castel Gandolfo and greeted crowds there before the very dramatic, globally televised scene of Swiss Guards closing the massive doors to the villa and hanging up their halberds.

“I am a simple pilgrim who begins the last stage of his pilgrimage on this earth,” he told the people. “But with all my heart, with all my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, with all my interior strength, I still want to work for the common good and the good of the church and humanity.”

In “Last Testament,” a book-length interview with journalist Peter Seewald published in 2016, Pope Benedict insisted he was not pressured by anyone or any particular event to resign, and he did not feel he was running away from any problem. However, he acknowledged “practical governance was not my forte, and this certainly was a weakness.”

Insisting “my hour had passed and I had given all I could,” Pope Benedict said he never regretted resigning, but he did regret hurting friends and faithful who were “really distressed and felt forsaken” by his stepping down.

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.

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Vandalism strikes the Society for preserving our Roman Catholic Heritage

02/07/2018 - 1:30pm

In a brazen act of destruction, vandals ruined or badly damaged Catholic religious items and statuary and a miniature sanctuary at the Dayton headquarters of SPORCH (Society for Preserving our Roman Catholic Heritage) in November.

Mary Popp, SPORCH director, estimated more than $40,000 in property was damaged and the old school building where SPORCH is housed suffered considerable water damage. Police told SPORCH that a water pipe appeared to have been jury-rigged by the vandals to burst the day after the nighttime break in.

Police told Popp they suspect teens or young adults, and recovered blood for a DNA test from a glass pane broken to gain entry through a rear door. No arrests have been made.

Two statues made by the Daprato Statuary Company in Chicago were heavily damaged. “From about 100 years ago until maybe the 1960s, Deprato was the Cadillac of religious statues,” Popp said. “I had two matching pieces with glass eyes. We got them years from Illinois, from a person who had stashed them for more than two decades after they were going to throw them out. They did not want to see them thrown out.

“The vandals knocked in the faces of both,” she said. “We are going to try to bring them back because they were Deprato, but it is going to be extremely expensive — $6,000 to $8,000. They are plaster statues with phenomenal finishes. It’s very difficult to match the finishes, and replacing the glass eyes is going to be a chore.”

The vandals also smashed miniature sanctuary. “I had a historical sanctuary and they just a busted those things up,” Popp said. I had some of those pieces specially made, and they are destroyed. Why? It took me 10 years to collect what I needed, and this means I have to start again.”

Religious items were not the only targets. “Everything was thrown off shelves onto the floor,” Popp said. “A reciprocal saw and a miter saw were taken. Other equipment was destroyed, including three computer monitors.”

While the building is insured, SPORCH is not. Founded in 1994 by a group of clergy, religious, laity, and artisans to “preserve the spiritual purpose and enduring beauty of Catholic liturgical printed art items, altar appointments, ordinals, missals, hymnals and other artifices from the Roman Catholic liturgical and cultural heritage of our nation,” SPORCH helps promote traditional liturgical art, and aids priests and parishes who celebrate the Tridentine Latin Mass by selling reproductions of Latin Mass cards (sets of ornate, printed cards set on the altar during Mass) and other items.

One of the group’s missions is to build a bridge between the Catholic traditions of the past and promote continuing them into the church of tomorrow. “The Good Lord took me by the hand to do it,” Popp said. But for now, that tomorrow is on hold as what could be salvaged of the reproductions, books, and art works SPORCH sold throughout the country now sit in a warehouse waiting for the headquarters to be repaired.

Popp said she expects to reopen in a year or less, with volunteers willing to help when the building can be occupied and donations to help with the restoration (accepted online at

The attack was the second major incidence of vandalism against a Catholic site in Dayton at the end of 2017. In early October, two people toppled and smashed large statues at Immaculate Conception Parish’s outdoor Marian shrine. (For story and photos, see, keyword “vandalism”) No arrests have been made in that incident.

Ohio Supreme Court reinstates revocation of Toledo abortion license

02/06/2018 - 5:10pm
The Ohio Supreme Court building (courtesy image)

By Gail Finke

In a 5-2 decision, Ohio’s Supreme Court reversed an appellate court decision regarding the license for one of the state’s largest abortion businesses. The ruling reinstates the Ohio Department of Health’s revocation of the ambulatory surgical facility license for Capital Care Network of Toledo.

A 1996 state law requires all ambulatory surgical facilities, including abortion businesses, to maintain written transfer agreements with area hospitals when medical emergencies arise. These agreements, according to a fact sheet from multi-state law firm Fox Rothschild, LLP, outline specific steps to take in case of specific emergencies, set out the authorizations necessary to make transfers and the necessary documents to do so, and indicate what both the ambulatory surgical facilities and the hospitals are expected to do to treat the emergencies. Fifteen states, including Ohio, require such agreements, and fifteen more require either that the ambulatory surgical facilities have such agreements or that their surgeons have admitting privileges at area hospitals.

Without a written transfer agreement, no ambulatory surgical facilities in Ohio can receive a license. However, some courts have allowed abortion businesses to continue operating without them, because most Ohio hospitals decline to make such agreements.

Capital Care had a written transfer agreement, but the hospital was 52 miles away from the abortion business, which the DOH found too far away to be considered appropriate for emergency care. Cincinnati attorney Jennifer Branch, who handled the case, told the “Toledo Blade” the business will remain open for abortions by prescription drugs, but that they are allowed only for the first 70 days of pregnancy.

Capital Care is the only abortion business in the city.

In a separate but related case, the Supreme Course also dismissed a suit from a Cleveland abortion business charging that requiring a transfer agreement, along with other restrictions on abortion funding enacted by the state, were illegal. The court denied that Preterm Cleveland had  standing to sue.

Including Capital Care and Preterm, Ohio has eight abortion businesses. Three are within the Archdiocese of Cincinnati: Cincinnati’s Planned Parenthood surgical center and the Sharonville and Kettering “Women’s Med Centers” owned by abortionist Martin Haskell. All have fought the state restrictions. While the Sharonville business lost its surgical license several years ago, it continues to see patients. The Kettering business lost its license in 2017 and has not had a written transfer agreement for more than 10 years. However its owners were granted an injunction to remain open while they appealed the decision, and while the Capital Care case proceeded.

Dayton Right to Life leaders hope the Capital Care decision will result in the Haskell businesses closing their doors for good. The board issued a statement Tuesday saying that it is grateful that the health and safety of women will be protected by the Capital Care decisions. “We also appreciate the Court’s support that the standard of care expected of ALL ambulatory facilities be equally expected of abortion facilities,” said Executive Director Paul Coudron. “Why should women’s care be the exception?”

Lent is time to become aware of false prophets, cold hearts, pope says

02/06/2018 - 3:10pm

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Catholics should use the season of Lent to look for signs and symptoms of being under the spell of false prophets and of living with cold, selfish and hateful hearts, Pope Francis said.

Together with “the often bitter medicine of the truth,” the church — as mother and teacher — offers people “the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting,” the pope said in his message for Lent, which begins Feb. 14 for Latin-rite Catholics.

The pope also invited all non-Catholics who are disturbed by the increasing injustice, inertia and indifference in the world, to “join us then in raising our plea to God in fasting and in offering whatever you can to our brothers and sisters in need.”

The pope’s Lenten message, which was released at the Vatican Feb. 6, looked at Jesus’ apocalyptic discourse to the disciples on the Mount of Olives, warning them of the many signs and calamities that will signal the end of time and the coming of the son of man.

Titled, “Because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold” (Mt. 24:12), the papal message echoes Jesus’ caution against the external enemies of false prophets and deceit, and the internal dangers of selfishness, greed and a lack of love.

Today’s false prophets, the pope wrote, “can appear as ‘snake charmers,’ who manipulate human emotions in order to enslave others and lead them where they would have them go.”

So many of God’s children, he wrote, are: “mesmerized by momentary pleasures, mistaking them for true happiness”; enchanted by money’s illusion, “which only makes them slaves to profit and petty interests”; and convinced they are autonomous and “sufficient unto themselves, and end up entrapped by loneliness!”

“False prophets can also be ‘charlatans,’ who offer easy and immediate solutions to suffering that soon prove utterly useless,” he wrote. People can be trapped by the allure of drugs, “disposable relationships,” easy, but dishonest gains as well as “virtual,” but ultimately meaningless relationships, he wrote.

“These swindlers, in peddling things that have no real value, rob people of all that is most precious: dignity, freedom and the ability to love,” the message said.

The pope asked people to examine their heart to see “if we are falling prey to the lies of these false prophets” and to learn to look at things more closely, “beneath the surface,” and recognize that what comes from God is life-giving and leaves “a good and lasting mark on our hearts.”

Christians also need to look for any signs that their love for God and others has started to dim or grow cold, the pope said.

Greed for money is a major red flag, he wrote, because it is the “root of all evil” and soon leads to a rejection of God and his peace.

“All this leads to violence against anyone we think is a threat to our own ‘certainties’: the unborn child, the elderly and infirm, the migrant, the foreigner among us, or our neighbor who does not live up to our expectations,” the pope wrote.

Another sign of love turned cold is the problem of pollution, he said, which causes creation to become poisoned by waste, “discarded out of carelessness or selfishness.”

The polluted oceans unfortunately also become a burial ground for countless victims of forced migration and “the heavens, which in God’s plan, were created to sing his praises,” are slashed by machinery that rain down instruments of death, he wrote.

Whole communities, he said, also can show signs of a cold lack of love wherever there is selfish sloth, sterile pessimism, the temptation to become isolated, constant internal fighting and a “worldly mentality that makes us concerned only for appearances, and thus lessens our missionary zeal.”

The remedy for these ills can be strengthened during Lent with prayer, almsgiving and fasting, he wrote.

Praying more enables “our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception, and then to find the consolation God offers,” he said in his message.

“Almsgiving sets us free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbor as a brother or sister,” it said.

Urging people to make charitable giving and assistance a genuine part of their everyday life, he asked that people look at every request for help as a request from God himself. Look at almsgiving as being part of God’s generous and providential plan, and helping his children in need.

Finally, “fasting weakens our tendency to violence; it disarms us and becomes an important opportunity for growth,” he said, while also letting people feel what it must be like for those who struggle to survive.

It also “expresses our own spiritual hunger and thirst for life in God. Fasting wakes us up. It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbor,” he wrote, and “revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.”

The pope also reminded people to take part in the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative March 9-10 in which many dioceses will have at least one church open for 24 hours, offering eucharistic adoration and the sacrament of reconciliation.

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Editor’s Note: The text of the pope’s message in English is online at:

The text of the pope’s message in Spanish is online at:


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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

The Catholic Telegraph Bucket List for February

02/06/2018 - 1:53pm

The Catholic Telegraph Bucket List has three places to visit. So when you’re planning day trips, a great way to learn about the many great places and events to attend in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, is to refer to The Catholic Telegraph Bucket List.

Go: “Steal” St. Patrick in Mount Adams
Holy Cross-Immaculata
30 Guido Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
(513) 721-6544
Recommended by: “Telegraph” staff.
Every year since the Irish parish of Holy Cross combined with the German parish of Immaculata, the Ancient Order of Hibernians (and friends) have “stolen” the statue of St. Patrick a few weeks before St. Patrick’s Day and paraded through the streets of Mount Adams with it, accompanied by pipes and drums. It reappears at the annual Cincinnati St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The Crowley family and patrons of Mt. Adams’s Crowley’s Irish Pub are said to be among the miscreants.

This year the statue will be stolen at the annual Ancient Order of Hibernians Memorial Mass at 2 p.m., Feb. 18. A short parade will follow. Map

The 52nd annual Cincinnati St. Patrick’s Day parade, which will feature the statue, will be held rain or shine March 10, at the Banks.

Do: Have a Lenten meal at St. Anthony of Padua
St. Anthony of Padua
2530 Victory Parkway
Cincinnati, Ohio 45206
(513) 961-0120
Recommended by Erin Queenan Schurenberg, a “Telegraph” contributor:
“The food is homemade, and amazing.” While many parishes have weekly fish fries during Lent, St. Anthony of Padua Maronite Catholic Church in East Walnut Hills invites all to weekly meatless meals featuring Lebanese and other Mediterranean cuisine. The parish also holds a spring and fall “Taste of Lebanon” food festival (pictured) each year.

Lenten dinners begin every Friday after a 6 p.m. prayer service.


Worship: Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy
Our Lady of the Rosary
17 Farragut Road
Cincinnati, Ohio 45218
(513) 825-8626
Recommended by: Julie Ernst, a parishioner at St. Helen in Dayton.
“Learn more about the Eastern Catholic rites by attending a Maronite, Byzantine, or Syro-Malabar Divine Liturgy. It’s also a great opportunity to learn more about different cultures!” More than 20 Eastern Catholic Churches have their own ancient liturgies but are in full communion with Rome. Our Eastern Catholic parishes include St. Barbara Parish in Dayton (Byzantine), Maronite parishes St. Anthony of Padua in Cincinnati and St. Ignatius of Antioch in Dayton, and the Syro-Malabar Catholic Mission that worships at Our Lady of the Rosary. Syro-Malabar Catholics are based in Karala, India, and trace their founding to St. Thomas the Apostle.

A priest in residence at Xavier University celebrates Qurbana (Mass/Divine Liturgy) in Malayalam and English at 4 p.m. Sundays.

For information visit


Here’s the entire Archdiocese of Cincinnati Bucket list map

Why the Farm Bill matters to all of us.

02/06/2018 - 10:54am
 Let the earth bring forth vegetation. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)From Genisis: Then God said: Let the earth bring forth vegetation. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

Every five years, Congress reauthorizes a largely unnoticed piece of legislation dubbed the Farm Bill.

But this important law sets federal budget levels for nutrition programs ranging from SNAP – commonly called Food Stamps – and food pantries, many of them operated by parishes. Additionally, this wide-ranging bill sets agricultural policy from farmers’ insurance to commodity support programs to conservation programs in rural communities to forestry regulation.

This bill even sets guidelines for international aid and development assistance.

Last month, an eclectic group met at Guardian Angels Parish in Mount Washington for a program focusing on the Farm Bill and the vital components it funds and supports. “We anticipate sending messages and letters to the Congressmen in our area to advocate for the principles of the Catholic bishops,” said Tony Stieritz, director of the Archdiocese’s Social Action Office. Congress is supposed to act on the bill this year.

Stieritz helped coordinate the program sponsored by his office, Catholic Rural Life of St. Martin Deanery representing rural areas east of Cincinnati, St. Vincent de Paul, and the OK River Valley Chapter of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association.

“There really is quite a bit that goes into this,” Stieritz said. “The meeting was an educational forum to expose people to all of the important things that are inside the Farm Bill. It was an orientation of our principles as they relate to all of the issues that come under the Farm Bill in relation to Catholic teaching. It was be a call to action in general to provide and make sure the farm bill continues to provide the necessary nutritional assistance to the poor and vulnerable who need help making ends meet and who understandably rely on this safety net.

“Secondly,” Stieritz said, the bill “will help craft and agricultural policy that especially supports small and middle size Ohio family farmers. The United States Conference of Catholic bishops has taken the position that agricultural programs should support small and middle sized farmers over the large corporate farmers that might not generally need subsidies.

“This was a group of folks energized about the Farm Bill. It is a unique piece of legislation in the sense that it brought urban constituents and rural constituents all under the same piece of legislation. We had people from inner-city Cincinnati and some rural Brown County (residents) come to the same event. We very much want to see and create opportunities in this especially divided and polarized culture. We can bring different constituents together around a common set of principles.”

“One (attendee) might grow food and the other might eat food, but we are all being nourished by the gifts from God’s earth and we want to share that together,” Stieritz said.

Stieritz said there were four panelists they were:

Kenny Ring, a conventional farmer who grows corn and soybeans near Georgetown who sees the farm bill from the perspective of how it will impact traditional crops; Julie Kline who comes from organic, ecological food and farming who has a perspective about how to farm bill promote more diverse agriculture and organic support for organic agriculture; a representative from St. Vincent de Paul who knows the importance of support to food banks and the SNAP program, and a woman who receives the benefits herself as a low income person trying to advance in life and who wanted to show how important it is for her to have this safety net.

Julie Kline, of Brown County, was a member of the event planning committee representing a local chapter of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association — a statewide organization promoting sustainability in agriculture for small farmers and gardeners.

As an example, Kline said, “there are a number of programs set to expire that we want to make sure get renewed.

“There are a lot of programs supportive of small farmers and organic growers that we would like to see remain in the new bill. But, they might be threatened. There are about 10 different programs. One would be the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program. It provides money to organic farmers who want to be certified under a national certification program. It ensures the public they are doing things the proper way and it’s fairly costly. There’s a cost share program to help out those farmers.

“A couple others would be the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program for someone who wants to get into farming. I believe it provides low-cost loans for people to get started. Then there’s a Conservation Reserve Program that gives assistance to farmers who want to put their land into conservation…. Instead of croplands, these are wetlands or, if they have a steep hillside, instead of tilling the soil … they put it in grasslands — something more appropriate and the program subsidizes them monetarily for not plowing it or damaging it.”

Pope supports pro-life movement, sets day of prayer for peace in Africa

02/05/2018 - 3:32pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With so many direct attacks on human life, from abortion to war, Pope Francis said he is worried that so few people are involved in pro-life activities.

Reciting the Angelus prayer at the Vatican Feb. 4, Pope Francis marked Italy’s Pro-Life Sunday and also called for a day of prayer and fasting for peace Feb. 23, with special prayers for Congo and South Sudan.

Some 20,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus. Many of them carried the pro-life movement’s green balloons with the message, “Yes to life.”

Thanking all the “different church realities that promote and support life in many ways,” Pope Francis said he was surprised there were not more people involved.

“This worries me,” the pope said. “There aren’t many who fight on behalf of life in a world where, every day, more weapons are made; where, every day, more laws against life are passed; where, every day, this throwaway culture expands, throwing away what isn’t useful, what is bothersome” to too many people.

Pope Francis asked for prayers that more people would become aware of the need to defend human life “in this moment of destruction and of throwing away humanity.”

With conflict continuing in many parts of the world, the pope said it was time for a special day of prayer and fasting for peace and that it was appropriate for the observance to take place Feb. 23, a Friday in Lent.

“Let us offer it particularly for the populations of the Democratic Republic of Congo and of South Sudan,” he said.

Fighting between government troops and rebel forces and between militias continue in Congo, especially in the East, but tensions also have erupted as protests grow against President Joseph Kabila, whose term of office ended in 2016. New elections have yet to be scheduled.

South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011 after decades of war. But, just two years after independence, political tensions erupted into violence.

Pope Francis asked “our non-Catholic and non-Christian brothers and sisters to join this initiative in the way they believe is most opportune.”

And he prayed that “our heavenly Father would always listen to his children who cry to him in pain and anguish.”

But individuals also must hear those cries, he said, and ask themselves, “‘What can I do for peace?’ Certainly we can pray, but not only. Each person can say ‘no’ to violence” in their daily lives and interactions. “Victories obtained with violence are false victories, while working for peace is good for everyone.”

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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

Sister Helen Prejean featured speaker at 74th Salesian Guild

02/03/2018 - 10:10pm
Sister Helen Prejean speaking to the 74th annual Salesian Guild (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Sister Helen Prejean speaking to the 74th annual Salesian Guild (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

On February 3rd, Sister Helen Prejean was the keynote speaker at the 74th annual Salesian Guild held at St. Xavier Church in downtown Cincinnati.

Sister Helen, a member of the Congregation of Saint Joseph, is a leading advocate to abolish the death penalty in the United States. Her book Dead Man Walking became a best-seller and was made into a movie starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon in 1995, and later premiered as an opera in San Francisco in 2000.

Here is Sister Helen’s keynote address:

Sister Helen Prejean and as she said with a good friend and mentor, Father George Wilson SJ (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Sister Helen Prejean and as she said with a good friend and mentor, Father George Wilson SJ (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Sister Helen Prejean with The Catholic Telegraph's own Sister Eileen Connelly OSU (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Sister Helen Prejean with The Catholic Telegraph’s own Sister Eileen Connelly OSU (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

Check our website in the near future for more stories on Sister Helen’s visit.

Catholic Schools Week: Today’s video This is La Salle

02/03/2018 - 9:43am

The curtain has come down on Catholic Schools Week 2018, but the celebration of our rich tradition of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Today’s video looks at La Salle High School.

Major flu outbreak prompts dioceses to implement prevention protocols

02/02/2018 - 6:02pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Chaz Muth


WASHINGTON (CNS) — The nationwide flu outbreak has prompted dioceses to take steps to suspend traditional rituals to prevent the spread of the virus as much as possible.

From encouraging a simple nod or a smile during the sign of peace to draining holy water fonts, the actions come as the flu sweeps through virtually every corner of the country in the worst outbreak of the disease in nearly a decade.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Jan. 26 that most people are being infected with the influenza B, or H3N2, virus. Tens of thousands of people have been hospitalized since Oct. 1, the start of the flu season.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops maintains a page on its website devoted to the liturgy and influenza. It offers information about the flu as well as how to prevent the spread of any disease at liturgy.

The page can be found at

Meanwhile, Bishop Edward C. Malesic of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, advised parishioners not to shake hands during the sign of peace and stopped the use of consecrated wine during Communion.

Across the state in Allentown, the diocese implemented similar restrictions. Diocesan spokesman Matt Kerr told local media the practice occurs most years during the flu season.

In the Diocese of El Paso, Texas, Chancellor Patricia Fierro sent a memo to all parishes asking clergy and others to practice proper hygiene during the flu season. The diocese also asked sick parishioners to refrain from drinking from the cup during holy Communion.

“When you take Communion, you’re taking the body and the blood of Christ, so even if you only receive the host and not the precious blood you’re still receiving Communion,” she said.

A posting on the website of the Diocese of Rochester, New York, outlined four protocols to be observed for the celebration of Mass at all faith communities.

Father Paul J. Tomasso, diocesan vicar general and moderator of the curia, said Jan. 24 that parishes should regularly drain holy water fonts and clean them with disinfecting soap. The old holy water should be disposed of in a sacrarium, or special sink.

Other guidelines include distributing Communion without sharing the chalice; sharing the sign of peace without a handshake; and the cleansing of all vessels used at each Mass with hot water and mild soap.

Similar measures were implemented by Bishop Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine, after he reviewed reports about influenza from state health authorities.

The bishop urged parishioners who are sick to stay away from church gatherings and reminded them that they are not obligated to attend weekly Mass when ill. Parishioners also were urged, but not required, to receive Communion in their hand rather than on their tongue. Priests were advised to be careful not to touch the tongues or hands of communicants.

Throughout January, numerous dioceses have outlined similar measures on their websites.

Beyond looking out for the welfare of church members, Catholic agencies are addressing how the flu epidemic is affecting other groups.

The homeless are particularly vulnerable to the flu and organizations who work to protect this population are taking extra efforts to shield them from a potential outbreak, said Augustine Frazier, a senior program manager for the homeless at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington.

That includes special attention to cleaning the sleeping quarters, air vents and bathroom facilities at homeless shelters run by Catholic Charities, Frazier told Catholic News Service Feb. 1.

Catholic Charities also provides frequent medical clinics for the homeless at their facilities where flu shots are always offered, he said.

In addition to being more exposed to the elements during winter, the homeless frequently have compromised immune systems, often miss taking their medications, don’t have adequate warm clothing and often sleep in shelters with hundreds of other people who may be sick, said Dr. Catherine Crosland. She is director of homeless outreach development for Unity Health Care Inc., a Washington-based organization that was providing a medical clinic at Catholic Charities’ Adam’s Place homeless shelter and day resource center.

Crosland gave the flu shot to dozens of homeless men and women during the Feb. 1 clinic day.

“Especially in the homeless population (it’s beneficial) that the more people who get vaccinated the less likely we are to have an outbreak and that is part of something called herd immunity,” she said. “It’s not necessarily the one by one case, but in a group of 100 people, if half of the folks are vaccinated, you have less likelihood of there being an outbreak.”

To date, Dr. Daniel B. Jernigan, director of the Influenza Division in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at CDC, said the agency had not yet compiled the total number of flu deaths, but he noted that 53 children had died.

Based on statistics compiled from previous influenza outbreaks, the agency expects about 710,000 hospitalizations by the end of flu season in mid-May, according to a transcript from a conversation about the flu epidemic on the CDC website that Jernigan joined.

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Chaz Muth contributed to this story.

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