Catholic News Service

Top stories selected throughout each day from Catholic News Service. Catholic News Service provides news from the U.S., Rome and around the world in both English and Spanish, in written coverage, images and video reporting.
  1. IMAGE: CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

    By Josephine von Dohlen

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the U.S. Supreme Court justices prepared to hear oral arguments in a case on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program the morning of Nov. 12, Catholics met at Columbus Circle in Washington to pray the rosary for the intention of all DACA recipients, their families and all immigrants in the United States.

    "We're not just praying for the justices to be on the right side today, we're praying for elected officials to wake up and to finally give a solution for the 700,000 DACA recipients living in this country," said Jose Arnulfo Cabrera, a DACA recipient and the director of education and advocacy for migration for the Ignatian Solidarity Network.

    The prayer gathering -- which was followed by a walk to the steps of the Supreme Court, joining others participating in the national Home is Here campaign rally -- was co-sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Justice for Immigrants, the Ignatian Solidarity Network, the Catholic social justice lobby Network and others.

    "It's time that we give them (DACA recipients) a solution. It's time that they are recognized as the Americans that they grew up as, and that they are," Cabrera said. "This is more than just prayers for the justices; this is more than just prayers for DACA recipients. This is also prayers for ourselves because we have a long way to go.... We're praying for that strength to keep it going and keep that fire lit in ourselves."

    In a 2012 executive order, President Barack Obama instituted DACA, a policy allowing immigrants brought as children by their parents into the United States without documents to apply for deferred action from deportation while also applying for a work permit or attending school. In 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to end the DACA program. The resulting legal challenges led to the Supreme Court hearing the case on the program's future.

    Giovana Oaxaca, a DACA recipient and the government relations associate for Network, led more than 50 people in the rosary.

    "We're praying the rosary today for our elected leaders and the justices of the Supreme Court, knowing that God can open minds and change hearts," Oaxaca said. "We commend those in the DACA community and our immigrant brothers and sisters into the loving hands of blessed mother, Virgin de Guadalupe."

    By gathering first in prayer, Oaxaca said the group was making a powerful statement.

    "We are able to bridge a lot of divides by praying together," she said. "It is a solemn thing... but we want everyone to know we have faith and hope."

    Originally from Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, Oaxaca came to the United States at age 3. She received DACA status before applying to college, where she was able to graduate with a degree in political science and economics. Without DACA, she said, it would have been a lot harder to go to college and to afford college.

    The wait to hear the Supreme Court's decision, which is expected to be issued in June, will be "painstaking," Oaxaca said.

    "It will keep us all on our toes," she added, saying that work will continue to place pressure on legislators to "keep the drumbeat going."

    Alyssa Aldape, associate pastor for young adult and youth ministries at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, joined the walk from Columbus Circle to the Supreme Court building. She said she saw her participation in the day's events, "part of her faith."

    "It's a way for me to stand in solidarity with those who are vulnerable," Aldape told the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

    For Valeria Bejar, a DACA recipient who led the group in one of the decades of the rosary, whenever she hears the number 700,000 representing DACA recipients, she said she tries to keep in mind all the other families who might remain in this country without documents.

    "I try to remember it's more like double that," she said.

    As to what the upcoming months might look like as many wait for the Supreme Court's decision, Bejar said she has no idea what to expect.

    "There are so many different things that could happen, but we'll continue the fight," she said.

    Now living in Arizona, Bejar traveled to the Washington area to join other immigrants on a walk from New York City to Washington that ended before the rally. The 230-mile walk began Oct. 26 and Bejar said she joined the group at mile 223.

    "It was a beautiful expression to see the diversity in DACA recipients," Bejar said.

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    Von Dohlen is a reporter at the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

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  2. IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

    By Dennis Sadowski

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles was elected to a three-year term as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during the bishops' fall general assembly in Baltimore.

    The native of Mexico was chosen Nov. 12 with 176 votes from a slate of 10 nominees.

    Archbishop Gomez, 67, is the first Latino to be elected president. He has served as conference vice president for the past three years, working alongside Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the outgoing president. His term as president begins when the assembly ends.

    The Los Angeles prelate has been a leading advocate of immigrant rights, often voicing support for newcomers as they face growing restrictions being implemented by the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies.

    In subsequent voting, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, conference secretary, was elected vice president. He was elected on the third ballot by 151-90 in a runoff with Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services.

    Under USCCB bylaws, after the election for president, the vice president is elected from the remaining nine candidates.

    The two top officers begin their terms at the conclusion of the fall assembly Nov. 13.

    In voting for a new secretary, the assembly elected Archbishop Broglio, 112-87, over Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Toledo, Ohio. Archbishop Broglio will serve through the end of the term in 2021.

    The bishops also voted for the chairman of one committee, chairmen-elect of five other conference committees and three representatives on the board of Catholic Relief Services, which is the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency.

    In the first committee vote, there was a tie vote between Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami and Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, for chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty. Each candidate received 121 votes, but Bishop Murry, at 70, became chairman under USCCB bylaws because he is the older of the two candidates. Archbishop Wenski is 69.

    The committee had been chaired by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, but he stepped down earlier this year to undergo treatment for bladder and prostate cancer. Bishop Murry will serve the remaining year of Archbishop Kurtz's term.

    Vote tallies for committee chairmen-elect are:

    -- Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance: Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee elected over Bishop Mark L. Bartchak of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 144-97.

    -- Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs: Bishop Daniel P. Talley of Memphis, Tennessee, elected over Bishop Steven J. Lopes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, 123-114.

    -- Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis: Auxiliary Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of St. Paul and Minneapolis, elected over Bishop Thomas A. Daly of Spokane, Washington, 151-88.

    -- Committee on International Justice and Peace: Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, elected over Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, 140-101.

    -- Committee on Protection of Children and Young People: Bishop James V. Johnson of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, was elected over Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, 167-77.

    Each chairman-elect will begin his three-year term as chairmen at the end of the 2020 fall general assembly.

    In addition, several chairmen-elect chosen last year will become committee chairmen at the end of this year's assembly and will serve three-year terms:

    -- Committee on Catholic Education: Bishop Michael C. Barber of Oakland, California.

    -- Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations: Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, New Jersey.

    -- Committee on Divine Worship: Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of Hartford, Connecticut.

    -- Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development: Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City.

    -- Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth: Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco.

    -- Committee on Migration: Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington.

    A final vote was taken for three seats on the CRS board. Elected were Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut; Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas; and Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas.

     

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  3. IMAGE: CNS photo/Gabriella N. Baez, Reuters

    By Tom Tracy

    MIAMI (CNS) -- Two months after Hurricane Dorian upended life in the northern Bahamas, a newly launched fund will support hundreds of Catholic school students displaced by the storm.

    The Archdiocese of Nassau recently launched the Each One Reach One initiative of its Bahamas Catholic Board of Education. Under the initiative, donors can assist some 220 students from Abaco and Grand Bahamas islands who have enrolled in Catholic schools in and around the Bahamas capital of Nassau on New Providence Island.

    Janelle Albury, development officer with the Bahamas Catholic Board of Education, told Catholic News Service by phone Nov. 8 that Catholic schools in the Bahamas are committed to maintaining affordable fees to ensure Catholic education is available to as many families as possible. Annual fees for Catholic schools in the Nassau Archdiocese start at close to $3,000.

    Albury noted a global children's charity report highlights that getting children back to school is vital for their survival after natural disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons and hurricanes.

    The Each One Reach One fund also will assist 35 displaced Catholic school faculty from the affected areas. All teachers and faculty at St. Francis de Sales Catholic School and Every Child Counts School had to leave Abaco, and those who did not travel to New Providence went to the U.S. or Canada, Albury added. Some teachers chose to resign and return to their home countries.

    The Category 5 Hurricane Dorian -- which first made landfall Sept. 1 -- resulted in the indefinite closing of St. Francis de Sales School in Abaco, which suffered both high winds and devastating storm surge. Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy, Grand Bahama, has reopened, but many of the homes of students there were destroyed by the hurricane.

    "This program, EORO, intends to provide personal care and individual attention to those most severely impacted by Hurricane Dorian," Nassau Archbishop Patrick Pinder said in a statement. "This is charity alive and on a very human scale. This is what solidarity in action looks like."

    Separately, the Archdiocese of Nassau is appealing for material and financial support for other evacuees who have relocated to New Providence and who are not living in shelters but are living with relatives and who may be in need of assistance with food, blankets, sheets, towels and toiletries.

    That outreach is being managed by the Nassau Archdiocesan Office of Family Life and is a direct response to evacuees coming mostly to New Providence from Mary Star of the Sea Parish on Grand Bahama and St. Francis de Sales and Sts. Mary and Andrew parishes on Abaco.

    A recent report from the Bahamas Catholic Board of Education noted that while Abaco was most severely impacted by the storm, Grand Bahama received significant damage, with only five miles of the island not flooding. Flooded homes impacted approximately 85% to 90% of the student population.

    Electricity and water have been restored on Grand Bahama, but many of the buildings are not livable.

    The Bahamas death toll following Hurricane Dorian stands at approximately 70 people. One estimate puts the material damage there at $7 billion after the storm lingered over Abaco and Grand Bahamas for some 70 hours.

    The country's tourism industry has been appealing to foreigners to visit the country's other islands this holiday season as a means of helping the Bahamas recover economically. Tourism high season there runs from December through April.

    To obtain further information or to receive instructions on making a wire transfer to the initiative, email jalbury@cec.edu.bs.

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  4. IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

    By Chaz Muth

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- It will come as no surprise to anyone who has followed Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez that immigration reform is at the top of his priority list as the newly elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    "That's something I've been working on for almost 25 to 30 years," Archbishop Gomez told Catholic News Service during the U.S. bishops' fall general assembly Nov. 11-13 in Baltimore.

    On Nov. 12, the body of bishops elected him to lead them for a three-year term, and he is the first Latino to hold the USCCB presidency. Archbishop Gomez has served as the conference's vice president since 2016. As president, he succeeds Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston. His term begins at the end of assembly.

    For the 67-year-old shepherd of the largest archdiocese in the U.S., Catholic teaching drives his advocacy for migrant rights, based on biblical principles of welcoming the stranger and upholding the dignity of immigrants and refugees as children of God.

    In fact, the U.S. bishops have listed immigration reform and migration rights as a top priority for many years. The bishops have sparred with the Trump administration over its policies for asylum-seekers at the border.

    Pope Francis also has made migrant rights a top priority during his papacy.

    This topic also is very personal for Archbishop Gomez, who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, and eventually migrated to the U.S., where he has served as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Denver, archbishop in San Antonio and eventually archbishop in Los Angeles.

    "It's really part of my life," he said. "I have relatives and friends... on both sides of the border. So, I think it's important for us to understand that we are all children of God. If we work together, we can find a solution for this reality and come up with a really clear, simple and good immigration system that can address the needs of the people on both sides."

    Violence and poverty at home have been a driving factor for Central Americans seeking refuge in the U.S., but Archbishop Gomez points out that migration is more than an American issue -- it's a global concern.

    According to statistics reported by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, by the end of 2018, "70.8 million individuals have been forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations."

    The Bush and Obama administrations both attempted and failed to get immigration reform passed through Congress to make it easier for immigrants to legally migrate to the U.S.

    The U.S. bishops were in dialogue with previous administrations to develop what they believe is a humane resolution to the immigration debate.

    Archbishop Gomez said he will continue to talk with President Donald Trump, whose administration has been criticized by Catholic advocates for its policy of separating families at the border, its restrictions on immigrants seeking asylum and a proposal to further decrease the number of refugees accepted into the United States.

    The Catholic Church does defend a nation's right to secure its borders, but most of the world's migrants are leaving their homeland to escape war, violence and extreme poverty, he said. "There is a lot of suffering. Most of them come to our country because they want to provide for their families."

    Ahead of the Nov. 12 oral arguments on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at the U.S. Supreme Court, Archbishop Gomez said there are "no doubt" constitutional and legal questions "raised by DACA and how it was enacted."

    "But we need to be clear: The fate of these young adults should never have been in the courts in the first place," the archbishop wrote in a Nov. 6 column in the Angelus, the online news outlet of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. "And it would not be, if our leaders in Washington would simply set aside their political interests and come together to fix our nation's broken immigration system."

    The "failures" of the nation's leaders in Washington to make "comprehensive reforms to immigration policy "cut across party lines," Archbishop Gomez said.

    DACA was established by President Barack Obama's 2012 executive order, and Trump ordered an end to the program in 2017. Several legal challenges to this order have resulted in a consolidation of three DACA cases now before the high court.

    "Our nation made a promise to these 'Dreamers,'" Archbishop Gomez wrote. "We have a moral obligation. It is time for the president and Congress to honor that promise and live up to this obligation."

    Though he's passionate about immigration reform, the archbishop said he will not be a single-issue president of the USCCB.

    Continuing renewal and reform in the church with regard to the clergy sexual abuse crisis will be an ongoing priority, as will combating clericalism in the church, support and promotion of marriage and the family and evangelization. And he will continue to pray for the laity to become missionary disciples.

    "It has been a challenging time for the church in these past three years," Archbishop Gomez said, and as vice president of the USCCB, he had a leadership role in dealing with the crisis. "I hope I continue to be a source of support for my brother bishops and especially to continue this time of renewal."

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    Follow Muth on Twitter: @chazmaniandevyl

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  5. IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

    By Cindy Wooden

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The devil is real and is so jealous of Jesus and the salvation Jesus offers that he tries everything he can to divide people and make them attack each other, Pope Francis said.

    Celebrating Mass in the chapel of his residence Nov. 12, the pope preached about the day's first reading from the Book of Wisdom, which says: "God formed us to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made us. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world."

    "Some people say, 'But, Father, the devil doesn't exist,'" the pope told the small congregation in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. "But the word of God is clear."

    The devil's envy, which the Book of Wisdom cites, is the root of all his efforts to get people to hate and kill one another. But his first steps, the pope said, are to sow "jealousy, envy and competition" instead of allow people to enjoy brotherhood and peace.

    Some people will say, "'But, Father, I don't destroy anyone.' No? And your gossiping? When you speak ill of another? You destroy that person," the pope said.

    Someone else might say, "But, Father, I've been baptized. I'm a practicing Catholic, how's it possible that I could become an assassin?"

    The answer to that is that "we have war inside of us," the pope said.

    Pointing to the beginning of Genesis, he noted that "Cain and Abel were brothers, but out of jealousy, envy, one destroyed the other." And even today, he said, just turn on the TV news and you see wars, destruction and people dying either because of hatred or because others are too selfish to help.

    "Behind all this, there is someone who moves us to do these things. It's what we call temptation," he said. "Someone is touching your heart to make you follow the wrong path, someone who sows destruction in our hearts, who sows hatred."

    Pope Francis said he cannot help wondering why countries spend so much money on weapons and waging war when that money can be used to feed children at risk of dying of hunger or to bring clean water, education and health care to everyone.

    What is happening in the world, he said, happens also "in my soul and in yours" because of the "devil's seeds of envy" sown abundantly.

    Pope Francis asked the people at Mass with him to pray for an increased faith in Jesus, who became human to battle and to defeat the devil, and for the strength "to not join the game of this great envier, the great liar, the sower of hate."

     

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  6. IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

    By Carol Zimmermann

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles did not just bemoan the fact many young people are leaving the Catholic Church. He said church leaders need to make it a priority to bring them back.

    The bishop, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, who is known for his website, "Word on Fire," and for hosting the documentary series "Catholicism," offered a five-step plan of sorts to bring the religiously unaffiliated, or "nones," back to the fold.

    He said for starters, the church should lead with its social justice work, getting young people involved with caring for those in need, working in soup kitchens, prison ministries, helping the homeless. Leaders can reinforce this by reiterating messages on social justice from Popes Leo XIII to Francis.

    From there, the church should promote its own writers and artists to show people the beauty of the Catholic faith, he said.

    Another key step -- and he said he's been "banging this drum for a long time" -- is to stop dumbing down the faith. The bishop, who first brought up this issue of church exodus with the bishops at the spring meeting, said young Catholics, or those of any age, should be able to articulate why they believe what they do.

    For starters, "we have to beef up the intellectual content of our religion classes in Catholic schools, our religious education programs, RCIA, confirmation preparation, etc., " he said.

    From his own experience, he said he has been asked very basic questions, particularly on the "AMA" (Ask Me Anything) feature on Reddit, an internet news aggregator, about faith, including: "Who is God and can you prove he exists? Can you explain evil and how do you know that your religion is right?"

    He said it "breaks your heart to realize we haven't communicated our tradition effectively," but that doesn't mean throwing in the towel. Instead, the work begins locally: in one's parish.

    On the parish level, Catholics need to start recognizing that their parishes are not just places where they experience the sacraments, but they should be seen as missionary grounds. This especially holds true with reaching out to young people because as he put it: "Young people aren't going to come to us; we have to go out to them."

    This idea of going out to people is very much in line with Pope Francis' message of accompaniment, he added.

    The bishop's last point was about using social media to turn this trend around stressing: "We should invest lot of time and money to get really good people to work our social media, suggesting that parishes, or even groups of parishes, hire someone to do effective social ministry outreach.

    His presentation prompted more than one hour of discussion from the floor with bishops all in agreement that the drop in church numbers is a deep concern and offering other possibilities to combat it from increased devotion to Mary to opportunities for mission work or strengthening catechetical programs.

    The bishop brought three lay leaders to the podium to help with the discussion, including Brandon Vogt, author and content director for "Word on Fire," who echoed the bishop's point that young people leaving the church is a "huge crisis."

    For every one person who comes into the church, six and a half walk out the back door, he said re-emphasizing the need not only to plug the hole but to "look for those who left."

    He also suggested that just as parishes and dioceses have staff members working on abuse situation, someone should be working at the local level just to reach out to those who left the church. "If it's a priority, lets emphasize it with resources," he added.

    In a new conference after the presentation, Bishop Barron said he wasn't surprised by the lengthy conversation about bringing people back to church because when he first brought up this topic last spring, he said he was supposed to have 10 minutes and it went an hour.

    Yes, there was a lot to take up, but we have to do it, he said, emphasizing that an individual's relationship with the Lord needs to be integrated into the life of the church.

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    Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

     

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  7. IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

    By Rhina Guidos

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- In a brief presentation Nov. 11 to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Boston's Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley told the bishops gathered in Baltimore the Vatican may publish what it knows about the ascent to power of now-disgraced former U.S. Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick by Christmas, or perhaps the New Year.

    McCarrick was dismissed by the Vatican from the clerical state in February following an investigation of accusations that he had abused children early on in his career of more than 60 years as a cleric, and that he also had abused seminarians as a bishop.

    However, he had long been one of the premier U.S. bishops, traveling the world on behalf of the church as an esteemed member of the USCCB, leaving many wondering how he could have ascended in church ranks when many are said to have been aware of his alleged abuses.

    "We made it clear to Cardinal (Pietro) Parolin at the leadership of the curia that the priests and the people of our country are anxious to receive the Holy See's explanation of this tragic situation, how he could become an archbishop and cardinal, who knew what and when," Cardinal O'Malley said of meeting with the Vatican secretary of state in early November. "The long wait has resulted in great frustration on the part of bishops and our people and indeed a very harsh and even cynical interpretation of the seeming silence."

    Cardinal Parolin said the Vatican's intention had been to publish the report before the bishops' November meeting, Cardinal O'Malley reported, "but the investigation has involved various dioceses in the United States as well as many offices" at the Vatican and a much larger than expected "corpus" of information than anticipated.

    In Baltimore, Bishop Earl A. Boyea of Lansing, Michigan, had earlier in the day asked for an update on the Vatican's report, which many of the bishops, by voice vote, also said they wanted to hear,

    "There is a desire and a commitment to be thorough and transparent, so as to answer people's questions and not simply create more questions," Cardinal O'Malley said.

    "I can share with you, I've recently heard the Vatican is indeed working in strenuously on this," said the USCCB's president, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Houston-Galveston. "And they are almost finished, I think, but they are in the process still of more information coming in."

    Cardinal O'Malley's approximately three-minute presentation was short on details, other than to say the Vatican had showed him a "hefty document that has been assembled."

    It is being translated into Italian and will be presented to Pope Francis, he said.

     

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  8. IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

    By Carol Zimmermann

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- In his final address as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston told his fellow bishops that it has been "an honor to serve you, even in the difficult times."

    The 70-year-old prelate thanked the bishops, whom he called brothers, for the last three years and was thanked by them in return when the group gave him a standing ovation at the end of his nine-minute presentation Nov. 11 at the start of the bishops' annual fall meeting in Baltimore.

    "Let's begin anew," he said, at the close of his address, veering away from prepared remarks, and quoting St. Augustine.

    The cardinal, who suffered a mild stroke earlier this year, did not elaborate on specifics of the abuse crisis in the church, particularly highlighted this past year, but spoke of the bishops' continued work of transparency related to dealing with the crisis. He said the abuse measures adopted by U.S. bishops at their meeting last June are "only a beginning. More needs to be done."

    He also pointed out that Pope Francis has "ushered in a new era for bishop accountability" with worldwide measures of accountability.

    "My service as president has been a continual reminder that, indeed, the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it," he said, possibly alluding to challenges beyond the walls of the church. At the end of his talk, he spoke about how today's culture has been overtaken by various ideologies, political divisions and coarse rhetoric.

    "As the followers of Christ, let us take a different path. Follow a simple truth: God is always courteous. Let us be courteous," he urged the bishops.

    The cardinal highlighted key aspects of the work of the U.S. church that he witnessed firsthand in visits during the past few years with Catholic volunteers and migrants at the border, pro-life efforts to protect the unborn and his own conversations with those who had been abused by church leaders.

    He said he went to the border with fellow bishops because "Jesus was already there."

    Speaking to broader audience, he invited "everyone who may hear this to share our journey of solidarity with migrants and refugees."

    He praised the work of volunteers at the border and also for those working at pregnancy centers around the country and those working in public policy arena promoting health care that is comprehensive enough to "nurture every child's right to life."

    Again, speaking to those who might be watching the meeting, the cardinal urged women considering an abortion to call a Catholic parish where they would be provided with potential resources to help.

    "The continued fight to defend unborn children" is a significant challenge and the church will continue in this work, he said, as long as "long as the most innocent lives are left unprotected."

    On the issue of clergy sexual abuse, he said his life had been "forever changed" by meeting with abuse survivors, saying even though some in the church didn't listen to them, they refused to be "relegated to the shadows."

    Their witness, he said, not only brought help to other survivors but it also "fueled the resolve" of fellow bishops to respond with pastoral support and prevention programs, background checks and zero tolerance policies. Survivors have "empowered us with the knowledge needed to respond," he said.

    "We must never stop striving for this justice" for those abused within the church, and to work to be sure it never happens in the future, he stressed.

    The cardinal also said the U.S. church must continue to correct clericalism, saying church leaders must be servants of all and said the church must continue its efforts of evangelism, particularly the work begun through the process of Encuentro gatherings across the country.

    At his closing address at last year's fall meeting, Cardinal DiNardo said he opened the meeting expressing some disappointment but said he ended it with hope, referring to his announcement at the start of that meeting that the Vatican wanted the bishops to delay any vote on their response to the abuse crisis until after a global meeting focusing on the issue took place.

    During a Nov. 11 news conference during the first day of the 2019 fall meeting, the cardinal said that he was 85% recovered from his stroke this spring.

    He also reiterated that he still has the hope he had a year ago and that he had expressed at the beginning of his term as president, but he also acknowledged he had no idea three years ago the "rough ride" he would face.

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    Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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  9. IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

    By Dennis Sadowski

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, said Catholic clergy and lay leaders can play a role in bringing together people along the rural-urban divide to build understanding of the need for sensible policies that can end the scourge of gun violence.

    His call came during a 20-minute presentation Nov. 11, the first day of the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    Bishop Dewane, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, outlined the USCCB's long-held stance of the need for "common sense" legislation that governs the availability of guns. But he also said it was time for people to come together so that there is greater understanding of how gun violence affects urban communities in particular.

    The bishop afterward told Catholic News Service that the USCCB's work on the legislative front was important, but that a pastoral response to gun violence was needed.

    "It's time for a different approach," he said.

    He pointed to the need to address gun violence, which has ravaged many urban centers, while acknowledging the legitimate concerns among responsible gun owners of losing access to firearms for hunting or, in some cases, protection.

    Since 1975, the USCCB has issued a series of statements and pastoral letters addressing gun violence. Individual bishops, in their capacity as chairmen of USCCB committees, have sent letters to Congress outlining the conference's concern that lives are being needless lost because of the widening availability of guns, including military-style weapons.

    However, Dewane's call goes beyond legislative efforts and appears to open the door for church leaders to seek a common ground in addressing gun violence.

    "Human life is sacred... and we need to approach this with the full strength of our teaching," he told the assembly.

    Bishop Dewane also said the USCCB is not seeking a total limit to handguns, but would welcome broader background checks and some limits on gun ownership.

    Over the years, he said, the bishops have supported "common sense" actions such as an assault weapon ban, limits on large capacity magazines, a federal law to criminalize gun trafficking, mandatory gun lock and safe storage requirements, improved access to mental health services and assessment of the impact of the portrayal of violence in various media on society.

    Such common sense restrictions on guns would be no different than those already in place on prescription drugs and drivers. But they also are not the full solution, he suggested.

    "Such regulations are helpful, but they will not ban gun violence completely. For that to happen, we need new ways of thinking. At the heart of the epidemic is a shooter. That shooter some how in some way turns inward on pain or isolation or illusions that it becomes possible to become desensitized to others, that he loses all empathy," he said.

    The bishop urged society to look at the "danger signs in others that can lead to the loss of empathy (and see) early signs of self-inwardness."

    "As a society we have become less and less empathetic ourselves, a clear sign that we all are, to a degree, becoming dangerous."

    Bishop Dewane noted that some bipartisan support has emerged for a so-called "red flag" law, which would keep guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people. He also said that there has been some support for mandatory background checks of new gun purchases.

    In the country's current political environment efforts to implement a federal handgun licensing program will go nowhere, he said, because of concerns by millions of gun owners that their Second Amendment rights would be violated. The bishop suggested that individual state Catholic conferences undertake efforts to support gun-related safety legislation as the opportunities arise.

    Bishop Dewane cited evidence in states where gun control measures were enacted, such as Connecticut, of fewer gun deaths and less violence, as opposed to increased gun violence where gun control measures were rescinded, such as Missouri.

    The bishop also raised the possibility of utilizing the USCCB socially responsible invest guidelines to encompass the gun industry. Divestment from gun manufacturers "would send a strong signal," he said.

     

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  10. IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

    By Mark Pattison

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The bishop's ministry and mission, and how he forges communion, was the message in Archbishop Christophe Pierre's address to the U.S. bishops Nov. 11 in Baltimore.

    The "ad limina" reports submitted to the Vatican in advance of U.S. bishops' meetings with Pope Francis and curial officials -- indeed, a handful of bishops were already in Rome for these visits -- "provide a clear picture of how the church in the United States is carrying out its mission," said Archbishop Pierre, the Vatican's nuncio to the United States.

    He mentioned "but a few" -- in his words -- of the challenges bishops face as they gathered in Baltimore for their fall general meeting: "demographic changes; growing numbers of religiously unaffiliated people; the need to engage young people and to build a culture of vocations; welcoming and integration of migrants, especially Hispanics; continuing the fight against all forms of racism; and defending and accompanying the human family."

    Archbishop Pierre said, "Each of us exercises his own specific episcopal ministry, but we also try to work together in a spirit of collegiality as an episcopal body. What are the strengths of this episcopal body, and how is the body serving the needs of the people entrusted to our pastoral care?"

    He suggest collegiality and collaboration as an approach.

    "Do you find that you share experiences with brother bishops?" Archbishop Pierre asked. "It is always edifying to find younger bishops discovering a 'mentor' among the more senior bishops, or to hear of how 'more experienced bishops' have taken the opportunity to share some of their wisdom and experience with younger bishops in a fraternal way."

    Such "collective wisdom," he added, leads to the notion of communion. "As the 'ad limina' visits are upon us, it is good to reflect on the ways in which we exercise our communion with the Holy Father and with the wider church," Archbishop Pierre said.

    The U.S. bishops' visits "ad limina apostolorum" -- to the threshold of the apostles -- began Nov. 4 with a group from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont. As the U.S. bishops met in Baltimore Nov. 11-13, the bishops of the New York region were in Rome for their "ad limina" visits.

    Throughout the rest of November and in December, January and February, another 13 groups of U.S. bishops were traveling to Rome. The visits should conclude Feb. 22 with the bishops of the Eastern Catholic churches in the United States.

    "The pope has emphasized certain themes: mercy, closeness to the people, discernment accompaniment, a spirit of hospitality toward migrants, and dialogue with those of other cultures and religions," the papal nuncio told the bishops gathered in Baltimore. "Do you believe that these are gradually becoming part of the mindset of your clergy and people?"

    Archbishop Pierre said the question is particularly apt as, while Pope Francis has been emphasizing mercy, "paradoxically, people are becoming more and more judgmental and less willing to forgive, as witnessed by the polarization gripping this nation."

    Bishops can reflect on communion with the pope in a theological way, he added, but "we ought to examine it practically, namely by measuring to what extent we as individual and our local churches have received the magisterium of Pope Francis," he added.

    "By now, 'Evangelii Gaudium' ('The Joy of the Gospel') should be the framework for efforts at evangelization," he continued. "Adopting its missionary impulse and being in a permanent state of mission might represent tangible signs of communion with the Holy Father, for it would show the reception and implementation of his teaching as the key to missionary evangelization."

    Communion also is key between bishop and priest, he said. With more priests from other nations serving in dioceses, "we must investigate how this has affected or is affecting the presbyterate within or respective dioceses," Archbishop Pierre said.

    "Many priests are saying they no longer know one another; others, due to the priest shortage, are forced to live in isolation managing multiple parishes," he said. "Our episcopal ministry demands that we act as bridges for our priests, attentive to their life and health, spiritual well-being and their sense of priestly identity and fraternity."

    He asked the U.S. bishops: "Are we still zealous for the things of the Lord? While energy levels may diminish with age, hopefully our love for God and his people has increased, along with our gratitude for the grace of the call."

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