Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Migration and sustainable development – what's the link?

New York City, N.Y., Jul 26, 2017 / 12:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Why do people migrate in the first place? And what if there was a way we could address the international crisis better by going after the root problems?

A priest at the United Nations spoke of the connection between migration and sustainable development, calling on the international community to help make migrants' homelands safer and the immigration process more welcoming.

“All of us know that poverty and the lack of prospects for development frequently spur so many individuals and families to seek ways to survive in distant lands,” said Fr. Michael Czerny, the Undersecretary of the Section for Migrants and Refugees Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

“The profound linkages between migration and development can first be seen, sadly, in the absence or breakdown of many of the pillars of sustainable development that have compelled millions to go on the move,” he said, pointing to hunger, violence, and poverty as many of the reasons why citizens have been uprooted from their homes.

Fr. Czerny's words were addressed to the UN session titled “Contributions of migrants to all dimensions of sustainable development: the linkages between migration of development” on July 24 at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Throughout his address, Fr. Czerny underscored the importance of the “right to remain” in sustainable development, saying that it is the duty of the international community to help citizens remain in their homeland by promoting efforts to improve the conditions within these countries.

“That makes migration a choice, not a necessity,” he said.

He also encouraged efforts that would allow citizens to actively participate in the sustainable development of their own countries, so that local individuals could contribute their talents to rebuilding their own communities.

Additionally, Fr. Czerny believes that when individuals do leave their homelands, they must be welcomed and treated with dignity when they enter a new country.

“Migrants must first be received and treated as human beings, with dignity and full respect for their human rights, and protected against all forms of exploitation or from being permanently socially, economically or legally cast-away,” he said.

Fr. Czerny noted that the success of migrants hinges on “whether they are helped to transition from objects of emergency care to dignified subjects of their own development.”

Because of this, when countries do receive migrants they should make efforts to welcome, protect, promote and integrate them in their community, Fr. Czerny said.  But he also noted that this endeavor should not take away from other, on-going efforts to help those in need on a local level.  

“One way to do this is through the adoption of development and donor policies that set aside a percentage of the direct assistance provided to migrants and refugees for local infrastructure and for the benefit of local families and communities experiencing economic and social disadvantages,” he said.  

He also encouraged migrants themselves to adopt an attitude of openness, saying that they should “respect the values, traditions and laws of the community that takes them in.”

Fr. Czerny then quoted Pope Francis, who recently said that “the presence of so many brothers and sisters who experience the tragedy of immigration is an opportunity for human growth, encounter, and dialogue between cultures in view of the promotion of peace and fraternity among peoples.”

By encouraging sustainable development in countries, Fr. Czerny believes that the international community will not only boost the success of local economies, but also help citizens stay in their homelands and eventually make migration a choice – not an emergency.

“No one should ever be forced to leave his or her home due to lack of development or peace.

Vatican conference aims to build momentum for nuclear disarmament

Vatican City, Jul 25, 2017 / 08:53 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Nuclear disarmament will be the focus of a Vatican conference this Nov. 10-11, following recent progress toward international bans on nuclear weapons.

Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi told CNA that “the Holy See is working to create a public opinion convinced that the world is safer without nuclear weapons, rather than with them.”

The archbishop is delegate secretary to the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, which is working to organize the disarmament conference.

The Holy See has invited Antonio Gutierres, Secretary General of the United Nations, to address the conference. It is not reported whether he has accepted the invitation.

Archbishop Tomasi said that the conference is conceived as a follow-up to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, passed July 7 at the United Nations.

Until the treaty, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction not explicitly banned by any international document.

The treaty passed with 122 votes in favor and one abstention, Singapore. However, 69 countries, namely all nuclear weapons states and all NATO members excepting the Netherlands, did not take part in the vote.

The U.N. decided to start negotiations for the treaty after a series of three conferences on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. The first conference took place in Oslo, Norway in March 2013. The second was held in Nayarit, Mexico in February 2014.

The third conference, held in Vienna, Austria, Dec. 8-9, 2014, was the first meeting on nuclear weapons attended by some nuclear weapons states.

At the end of the Vienna conference, 127 states formally endorsed a humanitarian pledge, with 23 more voting to approve a resolution in its favor. The endorsing states said they were aware that the risk of nuclear weapons use and their “unacceptable consequences” are avoidable only “when all nuclear weapons have been eliminated.”

The pledge called on all nuclear powers to take concrete measures to reduce the operational status of nuclear weapons and remove them from deployment. It called on nuclear powers to diminish nuclear weapons’ role in their military doctrines and to make “rapid reductions of all types of nuclear weapons.”

Archbishop Tomasi, who attended the Vienna conference in his former position of Holy See Permanent Observer to the U.N. in Geneva, told CNA that the Vienna conference is “particularly important, because it underscores that just being in possession of nuclear weapons is already not ethical.”

The November 2017 conference at the Vatican aims to be another step on the path towards nuclear disarmament.

It would build on the conference to negotiate the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, which took place in New York in March 2017.

Pope Francis sent a message to that conference saying that the doctrine of nuclear deterrence has become ineffective against 21st century threats like terrorism, asymmetrical conflicts, environmental problems and poverty.

These threats, the Pope stressed, are “even greater when we consider the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences that would follow from any use of nuclear weapons, with devastating, indiscriminate and uncontainable effects, over time and space.”

To Pope Francis, the elimination of nuclear weapons is both “a challenge and a humanitarian imperative.” The Pope also asked attendees to promote “reflection on an ethics of peace and multilateral and cooperative security that goes beyond the fear and isolationism that prevail in many debates today.”

As a permanent observer to the United Nations, the Holy See took part in the negotiations. It was granted the possibility to participate at procedural votes during the negotiations, a right that the Holy See usually does not use.

The Holy See is a founder and member state of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and has always praised the developments in nuclear technology while strongly opposing the development of such technology for military purposes.

This was evident in the May 3 remarks of Monsignor Janusz Urbanczyk, the Holy See’s representative to the IAEA.

Addressing the first meeting for the 2020 review conference of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, he stressed that “the Holy See cannot but lament the fact that the potential devastation caused by the use of nuclear weapons so clearly identified over 40 years ago has not been relegated to history.”

 

Charlie Gard raises questions of parents' rights, government limits

London, England, Jul 25, 2017 / 03:18 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- For the past few months the world has watched closely as the parents of a gravely ill British infant fought an intense legal battle over whether or not his life was worth further treatment, which has raised crucial questions.

Among the most potent of these questions regards the ethics of a court stepping in and denying parents the right to seek a treatment which may benefit their child.

British and European courts had sided with officials from Great Ormond Street Hospital, who sought to bar Charlie Gard's parents from seeking treatment for their child overseas.

In comments to CNA July 25, Benjamin Harnwell, founder of the  Rome-based Dignitatis Humanae Institute, said he thought that “the hospital – and the courts – crossed a totalitarian line in refusing to hand the baby over to his parents at their request, so that they could seek further medical attention in the U.S., for which they had secured the funding.”

“I don’t think it’s ever appropriate” for a hospital or court to step in and “advocate” for a patient, especially in the case of a minor whose parents are involved, Harnwell added.

While the Church “certainly doesn't teach that people should be kept alive 'at all costs,'” he said “the question isn't so much about knowing ‘when to let go’ but about the moral responsibility of parents wanting to choose when to make that decision for themselves.”

Harnwell reflected that Church teaching says “the primary role of medicine is to heal, and then to alleviate suffering when being healed is no longer a possibility.”

Harnwell spoke after the parents of British infant Charlie Gard announced July 24 that they decided to end their court case seeking further treatment for the terminally-ill child.

Gard, 11 months, suffers from a rare genetic condition called mitochondrial depletion syndrome, which causes progressive muscle weakness and is believed to affect fewer than 20 children worldwide. He has been in intensive care since October 2016, and has suffered significant brain damage due to the disease; he is currently fed through a tube, requires a ventilator to breathe and is unable to move.

His case first garnered international attention when his parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, were denied the right to transfer him to other hospitals by U.K. courts, despite having raised funds for an experimental treatment from an American doctor. They appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, but were denied a hearing.

Judges argued that prolonging Charlie's life would inflict unnecessary suffering on the infant, and gave doctors at London's Great Ormond Hospital, where Charlie is being treated, permission to take him off life support without his parents' permission.

His life support was to be turned off at the end of June; however, the courts granted an extension so Charlie's parents could have more time with their son.

After international leaders including Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump voiced their support for Charlie and his parents, the courts allowed medical experts to conduct additional tests on the infant.

American neurologist Dr. Michio Hirano, who had been willing to offer Gard nucleoside bypass therapy, while acknowledging it would not necessarily heal him, traveled to London for the tests. However, after seeing a new MRI scan this week, Hirano declined to offer the therapy.

The child's life support is expected to be pulled in the next few days, just two weeks shy of his first birthday.

In a tearful statement after the announcement of their decision to drop their court case, Charlie's parents said, “this is one of the hardest things we will ever have to say and we are about to do the hardest thing that we will ever have to do, and that is to let our beautiful little Charlie go.”

“The American and Italian team were still willing to treat Charlie after his recent brain MRI and EEG performed last week, but there is one reason why treatment cannot now go ahead, and that is time,” they said.

“A whole lot of time has been wasted. We are now in July, and our poor boy has been left to lay in a hospital bed for months whilst lengthy court battles have been fought. Tragically, having had Charlie's medical notes reviewed by independent medical experts, we now know that had Charlie been given the treatment sooner, he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little boy.”

In addition to the devastating end to this story, Harnwell pointed to a larger debate society faces.

This, he said, is the debate on whether the state ought to be “the health care provider of last resort,” stepping in as a third party who gets to decide where it's limited resources will be spent.

Inevitably, under a socialized model “it will be the state that decides when to divert its limited resources to other patients it feels will benefit more.”

Harnwell stressed that while he didn't want to “make a political point out of other people’s terrible tragedy,” there is a “very real debate to be had” on the issue.

For Harnwell, Charlie Gard's case is a perfect illustration of the risks involved in allowing third parties “to assume the role of providing our own safety net.”

Socialized healthcare, he said, “offers a universal reach available (ostensibly) to all irrespective of means, but eventually rationing – decided by bureaucrats, and presumably backed up by the courts – will kick in at some point.”

However, while private healthcare is generally available only to those who can afford it, under this system “the customer is king,” Harnwell said, adding that while people generally have good reasons for choosing one or the other, “my own instinct is always to trust people to chose responsibly for themselves.”

The issue also touches on the debate surrounding the push for euthanasia and living wills currently taking place in several countries.

Fr Francesco Giordano, Director of Human Life International in Rome, related the Charlie Gard case to the euthanasia mentality, saying the problem with living wills is that “it basically takes away from the family the right to make decisions.”

In fact, in reality it “takes away the right of the individual, because when an individual in the case of the living will, the person might not be feeling sick at that time, but when they are sick that person might change his or her mind,” he said, noting that sadly, this is often not permitted.

“So basically what's happening is the rights of individuals, the rights of the family unit, are being taken away by the states. That's what we're seeing here, that's what's most concerning for all of us.”

Regardless of the ongoing debates, Harnwell stressed that most importantly right now, “Charlie's family is suffering unimaginably, and they need our prayers.”


Material from EWTN News Nightly was used in this report.

Catholics oppose buffer zone around Kentucky's last abortion clinic

Louisville, Ky., Jul 25, 2017 / 02:36 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pro-life activists in the Archdiocese of Louisville have spoken out against a city ordinance which resulted in the creation of a temporary buffer zone outside Kentucky's only facility where abortions can be procured.

The 15-by-7.5 foot buffer zone outside the EMW Women’s Surgical Center was proposed last week and implemented on a temporary basis Friday. A federal judge is expected to rule today whether it will remain permanently.

The pro-life activists cite concerns that the ordinance would prevent women seeking abortions from obtaining all information necessary for a decision, as it would restrict the activities of sidewalk counselors.

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville sent a statement to the July 19 Metro Council meeting that discussed the buffer zone before its implementation.

“I have always counseled that our pro-life efforts should be courageous, compassionate, and civil and that activities at abortion clinics be conducted in a prayerful, peaceful, and respectful manner that includes respect for just laws,” the archbishop said in his statement. He also noted their goal is to “support the mother and child whenever possible.”

His statement was read by Ed Harpring, who has been a sidewalk counselor for 33 years. Harpring detailed his “call to the sidewalk,” which he said came after seeing ultrasound images of his oldest daughter.

“I felt that God was asking me about the other children in the womb at that same age — who might not ever see the light of day, the children that are losing their lives to abortion,” he said, as reported by the archdiocesan newspaper The Record.

Harpring expressed concern that the buffer zone would impede his ability to inform women of their alternatives. He refers women seeking abortions to the pregnancy center A Women’s Choice, next door to EMW. The center’s resources include free ultrasounds, as well as financial, medical, mental, and spiritual help during pregnancy.

Patricia Horton, a director of Louisville Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, also spoke at the meeting. Horton’s group prays in front of clinics.

“I know that when I have important decisions to make if it’s buying a home, having a hip replacement surgery or dying my hair we all want information,” she said. “You cannot make good decisions without information.” She also expressed concerned at her group’s right to free expression being curtailed.

The buffer zone began as a temporary measure on Friday in anticipation of a meeting of Operation Save America (OSA), a fundamentalist group protesting abortion in the state this week. The U.S. Attorney’s office in the city had filed a motion three days prior to enforce the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which bars protestors from blocking those seeking to enter abortion clinics.

The order comes after 11 people from OSA were arrested outside the clinic in May for blocking the clinic’s entrance, according to the Courier-Journal.

“The Lord filled me with his peace and I knew I was obeying his will," said Eva Zastrow, one of those arrested, in speaking to the Courier-Journal. "I chose to sit in front of the doors, I'm not going to balk from the consequences. I'm not going to complain or regret it."

As a result of the arrests, a judge issued a temporary restraining order to keep those arrested and their affiliates away from the clinic entrance. That restraining order led to Friday’s buffer zone.

As part of its week of abortion protests in the city, OSA plans to set up a JumboTron downtown to display an abortion procedure.

Louisville is seen as a key location in the fight against abortion, as it is home to the last clinic in Kentucky that performs abortions. Other clinics have been shut down due to a law requiring that clinics have hospital admitting privileges.

Bomb set off at Mexican Bishops' Conference headquarters

Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 25, 2017 / 02:30 pm (CNA).- Unidentified persons set off an explosive today at the headquarters of the Mexican Bishops' Conference (CEM) in Mexico City. No one was injured, according to a conference spokesman.

A security camera video shared by Bishop Ramon Castro of Cuernavaca shows footage from inside the building of the moment the explosive went off outside the facilities.

“The headquarters of the Mexican Bishops' Conference has been attacked with a three cylinder explosive device,” Bishop Castro said.

“I believe this reflects the situation in Mexico,” he added.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="es" dir="ltr">La sede de la Conferencia Episcopal Mexicana ha sufrido un atentado con bomba molotv de 3 cilindros.Creo que eso refleja la situación de Mex <a href="https://t.co/YTtPq3HoBJ">pic.twitter.com/YTtPq3HoBJ</a></p>&mdash; Mons. Ramón Castro (@MonsRamonCastro) <a href="https://twitter.com/MonsRamonCastro/status/889872150546366464">July 25, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

The conference’s press office director, Aramando Cavazos, explained in a statement that “today in the early hours of the morning, around 1:50 a.m., an unknown type of explosive device was placed at the main door of the CEM building.”

He indicated the explosion only caused “material damage to that door” and said that “no one outside or inside” was injured.

“The pertinent investigations are taking place, as apparently this is not the first case occurring in that area of Mexico City,” he said.

How can the Church promote peace in the Holy Land?

Jerusalem, Jul 25, 2017 / 11:35 am (CNA/EWTN News).- As conflict has erupted once again between Israelis and Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the Latin Patriarchal Vicar said that the Catholic Church has a unique role to play in bringing about justice and peace.

“When two religious communities lay claim to the same area, we have a recipe for disaster, particular when members of the two communities are also involved in a political, territorial and historical conflict,” Fr. David M. Neuhaus told CNA July 24.

“The Church has a very special vocation in Israel/Palestine. Without power of any kind, the Church is free from playing political games and can be a voice that speaks out for truth, justice and peace.”

The Church has important assets “to contribute to building a reality of justice and peace instead of the war and violence that dominate,” he said.

The site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, where the al-Aqsa Mosque is located, was the scene of another round of violence last week when Israeli authorities installed metal detectors at the entrances of the mosque.

Palestinian objection to the metal detectors manifested in mass protests and escalated to include the killing of three Israelis at a Jewish settlement July 21. Four Palestinians were killed in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The controversial metal detectors were removed by Israeli security forces early Tuesday morning.

Fr. Neuhaus said that it can be very difficult to discern what is true and false in the conflict because each side has its own vision of what is happening.

“Why is it so difficult to find a solution to this conflict? Perhaps one part of the difficulty is that each one of the two sides believes in the total justice of its cause and is unwilling to listen with empathy to the other side,” he said.

In the face of these clashes, the Church’s political neutrality has an important role to play, stemming from two important assets, he emphasized.

“One is the Church's way of speaking, formulating words carefully, words that are built on truth, that teach respect and that promote justice and peace. This language is not diplomatic but rather language that works for reconciliation in the respect of truth.”

The second comes from the Church’s “vast network” of institutions, including schools, universities, hospitals, and homes for the elderly, orphans, the handicapped, and more, he said.

“In these institutions, the discourse of the Church is incarnated as the institutions serve one and all with no discrimination, showing that coexistence in mutual respect is not only possible but is the way forward that can open up the future, offering hope for the next generation.”

In the current controversy, Israel maintains it installed the metal detectors as a safety measure after three Arab Israeli gunmen smuggled homemade machine guns into the al-Aqsa Mosque July 14, shooting and killing two Israeli policemen.

Palestinians claim the metal detectors were a way for Israel to enact more control over access to the site, which is governed by a status quo arrangement which Israel has said it will maintain.

East Jerusalem has been occupied by Israel since its victory in 1967's Six-Day War.

Israelis seem to live in perpetual fear and Palestinians in unrelenting anger, Fr. Neuhaus said. “Unfortunately, those who speak the language of reason and understanding are unable to garner the support of the masses, who buy into the simplistic slogans of the dominant political elites.”

The political authority in Israel “repeats that it is not changing the status quo and insists on this particularly in front of the international community,” Fr. Neuhaus said.

But at the same time, there are radicals in Israel “who explicitly endorse a change in the status quo” and have been supported in instances by government ministries.

“The central problem is not restricting access to Al-Aqsa but rather the fear that the Israelis seek to replace Al-Aqsa with a Jewish Temple.”

“Any change to the status quo, however minor, is perceived as preparation for a hidden master plan that Palestinians (and the entire Muslim world) formulate as their worst nightmare. The Israelis are fully aware that this is the case as every threat to the status quo has erupted in similar violence in the past.”

Though the status quo for Christians and their holy places (like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) is less threatened, the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis only serves to worsen the political divide already present among Christians – split between those who are Arabs and thus form one with their Muslim brothers and sisters, and those integrated with the Jewish side.

“Nonetheless, Jewish extremists have manifested their refusal to coexist with Christians in the Holy Land through attacks on churches and other Christian holy sites,” Fr. Neuhaus explained.

Because Christians only make up 2-3 percent of the overall population, they are particularly vulnerable under the ongoing instability and violence, he continued, but “Christians are determined to struggle for full integration in their society, whether Palestinian or Israeli, demanding equal rights and mutual respect.”

“In times of conflict, the Christians are even more insistent in their prayers for peace.”

 

Miguel Perez Pichel contributed to this report.

Vatican turns off fountains to conserve water for drought-hit Rome

Vatican City, Jul 25, 2017 / 07:43 am (CNA/EWTN News).- As the city of Rome and much of Italy experiences a severe drought, the Vatican has turned off its fountains in an effort to preserve water and show solidarity with the city, which may be forced to ration water to about 1 million of the city’s residents.

As far as is known, this is the first time the Vatican has been forced to turn off its some 100 fountains, “so this is an exception,” Greg Burke, Director of the Holy See Press Office, told Reuters TV.

The water that comes into the Vatican is from the same sources as the water to the city of Rome, he said. “This is the Vatican's way of living solidarity with Rome, trying to help Rome get through this crisis.”

A prolonged heatwave in southern Europe and two years of well-below-average rainfall have caused a severe drought in Rome and the surrounding areas.

The two large fountains in St. Peter’s Square – Baroque masterpieces by 17th-century sculptors Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini – were turned off Monday. All 100 fountains will be turned off gradually over the next few days, including those in the Vatican Gardens.

“This decision is very much in line with the Pope’s thinking on ecology: you can’t waste and sometimes you have to be willing to make a sacrifice,” Burke said.

“We have very beautiful gardens in the Vatican. They might not be as green this year, but we'll survive.”

The decision to turn off the fountains is in line with Pope Francis’ commitment to the environment and concern for the protection of “our common home” that he laid out in his 2015 encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si.”

To preserve water, the city of Rome has turned off its drinking fountains and has also begun to turn off or lower the flow of many of its historic fountains. A ban on drawing water from the drought-hit Lake Bracciano, which lies about 25 miles from the city and supplies at least part of its water, will go into effect July 28.

Following this ban, the city may be forced to ration the water supply in up to eight hour intervals to around half of its 3 million residents.

In southern Italy and Greece, temperatures well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit combined with strong winds have caused forest fires leading to the closure of popular tourist sites, such as Mount Vesuvius near Naples, which had 23 wildfires on its slopes earlier this month.

Wildfires near the Calampiso seaside resort west of Palermo, the capital of Sicily, caused more than 700 tourists to be evacuated by boat July 12.

A Vatican seminar on water in February highlighted the complex challenges faced around the world in making the basic human right to water a reality for all people, including under environmental factors such as drought.

Pope Francis addressed participants in the seminar Feb. 24, reaffirming that water is indeed a basic human right.

“Our right to water is also a duty to water,” he said. “Our right to water gives rise to an inseparable duty. We are obliged to proclaim this essential human right and to defend it – as we have done – but we also need to work concretely to bring about political and juridical commitments in this regard.”

“God the Creator does not abandon us in our efforts to provide access to clean drinking water to each and to all,” he continued.

“With the ‘little’ we have, we will be helping to make our common home a more livable and fraternal place, where none are rejected or excluded, but all enjoy the goods needed to live and to grow in dignity.”

These nuns offer their blindness for the salvation of the world

Santiago, Chile, Jul 25, 2017 / 06:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- This Aug. 15 will mark 90 years since the Sacramentine Sisters of Don Orione were founded to offer something very particular for the salvation of the world: their blindness.

They are a community of blind nuns consecrated to perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and wear a distinctive white habit, a red scapular, and a white Host embroidered on the chest.

“I intend to offer with this new branch of the religious family, as a flower before the throne of the Blessed Virgin, so that she herself, with her blessed hands, offer it to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament,” Saint Luigi Orione told them when he founded the order in Italy Aug. 15, 1927.

This branch of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity (LMSC) has as its mission, according to its constitutions, to offer to God “the privation of sight for those who do not know the truth yet so that they may come to God, the light of the world.”

In addition they seek to support with Eucharistic Adoration and sacrifice “the apostolic action of the LMSC and the Sons of Divine Providence,” the two congregations founded by Saint Luigi Orione.

The congregation is present in Italy, Spain, the Philippines, Kenya, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.

They have been in Chile since 1943 and currently there are three sisters there: Sr. María Luz Ojeda, Sr. Elizabeth Sepúlveda, and Sr. María Pía Urbina, who is on mission in the Philippines at the moment.

These sisters attend computer classes to be able to bring before the Blessed Sacrament the numerous petitions they receive from many faithful through their Facebook account, where they offer to pray for each intention they receive.

Sr. María Luz Ojeda had an accident when she was a child which left her with severe vision problems which gradually increased until at 30 years of age she completely lost her sight.

“Sometimes I personally thank God, since because of this I was able to enter the congregation. Before the Blessed Sacrament I often tell the Lord: 'this is my means of helping you save souls,' and I'm happy,” Sr. María Luz told CNA.

The religious sister explained that “every day in our prayer and Adoration we present to the Lord the poverty, sufferings, and sorrows of humanity.”

“Perhaps what I am going to say may seem like I'm claiming too much  but I am going to have this to present to the Lord on the day he calls me, that I helped him save souls,” Sr. María Luz said.

The sisters dedicate each day of the week for a special intention: Mondays for the sick, Tuesday for young people, Wednesdays for peace, Thursdays for vocations, Fridays for the elderly, Saturdays for children, and Sundays for families.

U.S. Bishops Chairman Appeals to Members of U.S. Senate to Work Together to Remedy Health Care to Serve the Common Good

WASHINGTON—In light of today's Senate Republican vote to address the healthcare law, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, is appealing to Senators on both sides to work together in the days ahead to advance changes that will serve the common good of all. 

Bishop Dewane's full statement follows:

"In the wake of a procedural vote today that opens debate on the amendment process to reform the Affordable Care Act, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) calls on members from both political parties to work together to advance changes that serve the common good. The health care reform proposals currently under consideration would harm millions of struggling Americans by leaving too many at risk of losing adequate health coverage and continue to exclude too many people, including immigrants. We are grateful for the efforts to include protections for the unborn, however, any final bill must include full Hyde Amendment provisions and add much-needed conscience protections. The current proposals are simply unacceptable as written, and any attempts to repeal the ACA without a concurrent replacement is also unacceptable.

As was made clear in the USCCB's letter of July 20, there is much work to be done to remedy the ACA's shortcomings. We call on the Senate to make changes in all of the areas mentioned above. In addition, current and impending barriers to access and affordability under the ACA must be removed, particularly for those most in need. Such changes can be made with narrower reforms that do not jeopardize the access to health care that millions currently receive."

Link to July 20 letter: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/letter-to-senate-on-affortable-care-act-2017-07-20.cfm

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Affordable Care Act (ACA), Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), procedural vote, Hyde Amendment, conscience rights, access, affordability, common good.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


A year after his murder, Fr. Jacques Hamel remembered

Rome, Italy, Jul 25, 2017 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- One year after the brutal killing of Fr. Jacques Hamel, French bishops recalled the beautiful example of the man who lived out every day in simple faithfulness, rooted in the love of Christ.

Archbishop Georges Pontier of Marseille wrote in a statement Monday that Fr. Jacques Hamel, who was murdered by Islamist extremists while celebrating Mass, was, in the words of his sister, Roseline: “above all a man among men.”

“It was this man among men who was killed. It was this man among men, this priest, that has become a symbol of a life lived with each other, for each other, a life of daily fidelity, a life rooted in the love of the One who has made each one of us out of love: Christ.”

“Such a life becomes a model and an encouragement for all,” he said.

The 85-year-old parish priest, Fr. Jacques Hamel, was killed while celebrating Mass July 26, 2016 after two armed gunmen stormed his church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy.

The assailants entered the church and took the priest and four others hostage. Local law enforcement reported that the priest’s throat was slit in the attack, and that both of the hostage takers were shot dead by police. The attackers were identified as Islamist extremists.

Pope Francis issued a statement at the time decrying the “absurd violence.” He later said during a Mass in September 2016 at the Vatican in honor of Fr. Hamel that the slain priest “is blessed now,” according to Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen who was there.

July 26 will mark one year since the assassination of Fr. Hamel, Archbishop Pontier said. “It was one of those unthinkable events that leaves one speechless and becomes a great testimony, a lesson for all.”

“The Christian community, and far beyond it, French society remembers,” he continued. We do not want to forget his family, his relatives, the other victims, his parish, bruised in their deep affection and human ties.”

In the statement, the archbishop also evoked the upcoming Feast of the Assumption, which is celebrated on August 15. This feast, he said, “which brings us together in the middle of the summer,” is a day reserved especially for the French to pray for their country.

“I invite you to pray for France. Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, to raise up many men and women who live their ordinary lives for others and with others. Let the fraternity longed for become a reality. May it inspire our personal choices and the choice of those who exercise responsibilities, of whatever kind.”

To commemorate the day of his death, the Diocese of Rouen, where Fr. Hamel was a priest, plans to hold a special Mass July 26 at the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, at the same hour as the Mass he was celebrating when killed.

After the Mass, the community of the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray will erect a stone in memory of Fr. Hamel and in promotion of peace and fraternity.

In the evening they will hold evening prayer in the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Bonsecours in Rouen, followed by a time of prayer at the tomb of Fr. Hamel.

Fr. Hamel’s sister, Roseline, spoke about her brother April 22 during testimony on modern-day martyrs during a special liturgy said by Pope Francis in the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on Rome’s Tiber Island.

Speaking to the congregation, Roseline said that in his old age Fr. Hamel had been fragile, but “he was also strong. Strong in his faith in Christ, strong in his love for the Gospel and for people, whoever it was, and – I am certain – also for his killers.”

His death, she said, “is in line with the life of a priest, which was one of a life given: a life offered to the Lord, when he said ‘yes’ at the moment of his ordination, a life of service to the Gospel, a life given for the church and her people, above all the poorest.

She pointed to the “paradox” that while alive her brother never wanted to be “at the center,” but that after his death, “has given a testimony for the entire world, the greatness of which we cannot measure.”

After her brother died, Roseline said the reaction of the community was strong. Rather than wanting revenge, there was a desire for “love and forgiveness,” she said, explaining that even Muslims who wanted to show solidarity with Christians came to visit the parish for Sunday Masses in a show of support.

Despite her loss, Roseline said “it’s a great comfort to see how many new encounters, how much solidarity, how much love have been generated by the witness of Jacques,” and prayed that his sacrifice would “bring fruits, so that the men and women of our time can find the path to living together in peace.”