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The important legacy of the US' sole Catholic historically black university

New Orleans, La., Sep 22, 2019 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- This week the country marked National HBCU Week to recognize the accomplishments of historically black colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Earlier this month, leaders from the country’s 101 HBCUs convened in Washington, D.C. for the annual National HBCU Conference, where they spoke to Congress of the ongoing importance of HBCUs, and where President Donald Trump announced that religiously affiliated HBCUs would now receive full federal funding.

“Previously, federal law restricted more than 40 faith-based HBCUs and seminaries from fully accessing federal support for capital improvement projects. This meant that your faith-based institutions, which have made such extraordinary contributions to America, were unfairly punished for their religious beliefs,” Trump said in his Sept. 10 address to the conference.

"This week, our Department of Justice has published an opinion declaring such discriminatory restrictions as unconstitutional. It was a big step. And from now on, faith-based HBCUs will enjoy equal access to federal support," Trump added.

Among the leaders present was President Reynold Verret of Xavier University of Louisiana, the only Catholic historically black college or university in the United States.

In his testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor, Verret emphasized the “critical role” of HBCUs in education.

Verret told CNA that in his testimony, he emphasized that as the U.S. grows in diversity, “the majority of our talents will be black and brown. And if we fail to cultivate that talent, we will actually do ourselves a great damage,” he said.

Students are not always fortunate enough to attend good schools, he added, and if black talents, such as those of Dr. Ben Carson, are not fostered, they will be lost. Carson was a prominent pediatric neurosurgeon before his run for president in 2016 and his current position as U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary,

Speaking about Xavier in particular, Verret said that the faculty encourages their students to consider the needs of their communities and their country when choosing their majors.

“The education of the student at Xavier or at a school like ourselves, it's not just a benefit to that individual student, but a benefit to the larger community that he is contributing to, and to the nation,” Verret said.

The notion of putting one’s talents at the service of another is a critical part of Xavier University’s Catholic foundation, Verret added.

“It's very much in our legacy at Xavier, that that expectation of contributing to more than just me...and we speak of that to our students,” he said. “That the majors that they engage in, whether it's preparing for medicine, preparing for law, or becoming a major artist, will only have meaning when they put it in service of people. It's not so much about my BMW, or my salary.”

The seeds of Xavier University were planted by then-Mother Katherine Drexel in 1915, when she and her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament founded schools to serve Native American and African American populations throughout the United States, including a Catholic secondary school for African-Americans in Louisiana.

By 1917, she also established a preparatory school for teachers, one of the few career tracks available to Black Americans at the time. A few years later, that school was able to offer other degrees as well, and became a full-fledged university in 1925.

In a sense, Verret said, Mother Katherine “rescued the Church from herself” at the time, because she opened an institution where students of all colors were welcome. Xavier University was also the first Catholic university where men and women studied together, he added.

The spirit of Mother Katherine, now St. Katherine Drexel, and her mission to provide a quality education to those in need is still foundational to the mission of Xavier today, Verret said.

“Mother Katherine, when she came here with her sisters in 1915...she had in her mind those who needed an education,” Verret said. “...and every 15 years, maybe even 25 years, we look at ourselves and say - who else needs our service? If Mother Katherine was beginning today, she would have others on her list as well, because this is our mission.”

When it comes to academic performance, Xavier is a school that “is punching above our weight,” Verret said.

Though the school enrolls only 3,000-some students, Xavier ranks first in the country for the number of black graduates who will go on to complete medical school, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

It is also ranked among the nation's top four colleges of pharmacy in graduating African Americans with Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) degrees, and is number one in the nation in awarding bachelor's degrees to African American students in the biological and biomedical sciences, the physical sciences, and physics, and number three in the nation for the number of African American graduates who go on to earn a Ph.D. in science and engineering fields.

Verret said that Xavier’s achievements show the important role that smaller, specialized colleges, such as HBCUs, or women’s colleges, or other religiously-affiliated colleges, can play in American higher education.

“That diversity of education (options) to satisfy young people’s needs is important to us, and HBCUs are one part of that landscape.”

HBCUs were founded at a time where it was illegal for black students to attend other institutions of higher education, and so they catered to black students out of necessity. Xavier is still predominately black, Verret said, but it always has been and continues to be accepting of students of all ethnicities and creeds, which was something Mother Katherine anticipated.

“We have an important reservoir of experience and knowledge and intuition about what America should become, which came from the children and descendants of former slaves,” Verret said, but students of all races and creeds are able to receive a good education at Xavier.

Among the other ethnicities at Xavier are a large group of Vietnamese students, as well as students from Iraq who came to the United States during the Iraq war, Verret said. More than 71 percent of Xavier students are African American, while just 19 percent are Catholic, in large part because African Americans in the south are primarily from Protestant or Evangelical ecclesial communities, Verret said.
Still, Verret said, it is important to have HBCUs as predominately black institutions, where black students who are still a minority in this country can go and not feel like they stand out.

Speaking from his own experience as a young college student, Verret said that HBCUs offer students a place where their race is “not an issue.”

“I’m not the representative (of blacks or African Americans). I am the editor of the school newspaper. I am one of the members of the chemistry club, I’m not the black member of the chemistry club,” he said. “It’s a certain freedom that many whites in the United States cannot understand because they're not experiencing that.”

As for it’s Catholic identity, Verret said the school has a strong sense of Catholic service and social justice engrained into its mission.

As one example of service, Verret said that every year, student deans and other peer leaders volunteer their time to help move in new students on campus. When asked why they did so, Verret said one of the student leaders told him: “So that they'll know next year, it’s their turn.”

The school’s sense of service can be seen in its mission statement, which notes: “The ultimate purpose of the University is to contribute to the promotion of a more just and humane society by preparing its students to assume roles of leadership and service in a global society.”

Another example of the school’s Catholic mission, Verret said, is in its spirit of camaraderie and solidarity in its successful pre-med program. Often schools will try to scare off medical or pre-medical students by telling them: “Look to your right and look to your left. One of you won’t be here (by the end),” Verret said.

“That notion, that doesn’t exist at Xavier. We gather and pull each other so that we should all go cross that finish line together.”

Enrollment is back up at Xavier after a couple of years of decline following Hurricane Katrina, Verret noted, and the way that the school, as well as other HBCUs, will preserve their legacy is by “telling their stories” and telling of their current successes, Verret said.

“The other HBCUs are of very different sizes and very different complexions. But at the same time, what I can say is the uniting theme is that they continue to educate and graduate students who go on and are at the core of what America needs to be.”

Hong Kong Catholic leaders: Vatican involvement in protests unlikely

Hong Kong, China, Sep 22, 2019 / 11:01 am (CNA).- Catholics in Hong Kong are continuing to participate in large-scale protests on the island territory, which have been going on now for over 100 days.

Despite the protests’ importance to people of faith, two Catholic leaders in the movement— the island’s auxiliary bishop and a student leader— told CNA that they do not expect the Vatican to weigh in on the situation in Hong Kong.

“It doesn’t seem to me that it’s necessary for the Holy See to get involved in the protests of Hong Kong. On the other hand, I have not spoken with anyone from the Holy See regarding the movement,” Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing told CNA Sept. 19.

Bishop Ha has been publicly supportive of the protests, as has Hong Kong’s bishop emeritus, Cardinal Joseph Zen. Ha has taken part in ecumenical prayer rallies with protesters in the past, urged an increase in prayer and said he is concerned for the safety of the many young people involved in the protests.

A controversial extradition bill, now officially withdrawn, sparked the first large protest on the island in June, when an estimated 1 million marchers took to the streets, chanting and singing.

The bill would have allowed alleged criminals in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China, leading to fears from Catholics and Christians that the Communist Chinese would use the bill to exert pressure on the free exercise of religion in Hong Kong.

Edwin Chow, acting president of the Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students, told CNA that he thinks the Vatican’s delicate relationship with the Chinese government will make it unlikely that Pope Francis will come out in support of the protesters.

"I don't really think that the Vatican will say something on the protests in Hong Kong. I hope they will support, but I don't think that they will," Chow told CNA.

"I don't think that Pope Francis or the Vatican will say anything [about] the protests, because I think at the same time they are trying to deal with the Chinese government...so they will not do this thing, they will not support Hong Kong, because [to] support Hong Kong will make China angry."

Sept. 22 marks one year since the Vatican signed a deal with the Chinese government on the appointment of bishops, the details of which have still not been made public.

The provisional deal was intended to unify the underground Church, which is persecuted and faithful to Rome, and the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which is Communist government-sanctioned. It reportedly allows the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association to choose a slate of nominees for bishop, and has drawn significant criticism.

Beijing has for years sought to control religion in China, leading to widespread persecution. The U.S. Commission on International Religion wrote in its 2018 report that last year China “advanced its so-called ‘sinicization’ of religion, a far-reaching strategy to control, govern, and manipulate all aspects of faith into a socialist mold infused with ‘Chinese characteristics.’” Christians, Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and Falun Gong practitioners have all been affected.

Cardinal Zen, in particular, is a sharp critic of the Vatican-China deal, and has called the deal a step towards the “annihilation” of the Catholic Church in China.

Chow said his student group invited Cardinal Zen to celebrate an annual Mass for students Sept. 20.

He said a new protest anthem called "Glory to Hong Kong," which has recently spread virally online, has even made its way into the Masses that the federation have held.

"People in Hong Kong really like this song, and it's become a new anthem of the whole protest," he said.

"At the end of the Mass, we sang...'Glory to Hong Kong,'" he said.

He said a local parish started the practice of singing the anthem at the end of Mass last week, but this week the diocese published a set of guidelines warning against the singing of political anthems at Mass.

"Although the parish is sure that the Lord's ceremonies and the devotees are deeply concerned about the current turmoil in Hong Kong society, they do not agree that the social movement songs are applicable to the sacrificial ceremonies," the diocese Secretary General wrote Sept. 19.

Chow said the young people see the situation differently.

"But we don't think that the diocese has a very good argument. We don't think that they're right, so we still sing the song in today's Mass. And why we sing the song is because we want to pray for Hong Kong."

Last weekend, he said, there was a large protest in the city center, which Chow attended. He said like at many of the previous protests, the police used tear gas and water cannon to break up the protesters.

One of the protesters’ demands is a full investigation into what they see as brutal tactics by the police throughout the protests.

"I think the police are trying to suppress the protests, so sometimes they don't actually approve the protest, but [people] still go outside. But actually for the protests that are not allowed by the police, some people may be afraid that they will be arrested, and will not go out. So I would say that actually the people trying to protest are decreasing."

The protests are becoming more and more aggressive with more and more use of force, he said. Many protest activities, at least one almost every day, are scheduled for the coming two weeks, he said.

Pope Francis: True wealth is found in friendship, not things

Vatican City, Sep 22, 2019 / 05:13 am (CNA).- People and relationships are more valuable than things and the truly wealthy are those who are rich in friends, Pope Francis said during the Angelus Sunday.

“Wealth can encourage the erection of walls, create divisions and discrimination,” the pope said Sept. 22, adding that “Jesus, by contrast, invites his disciples to change course: ‘Make friends with riches.’”

“It is an invitation to know how to transform goods and riches into relationships, because people are worth more than things and count more than the wealth they possess,” he explained.

“In life, in fact,” he continued, “it is not those who have so many riches who bear fruit, but those who create and keep so many bonds, so many relationships, so many friendships through the different ‘riches,’ that is, the different gifts with which God has endowed them.”

In his message before the Angelus, Pope Francis reflected on the day’s Gospel passage from St. Luke, in which Jesus tells his disciples a parable about a rich man and his dishonest, but clever, steward.

The steward had been accused of squandering the assets of his master and was about to be fired. “In this difficult situation, he does not blame someone else, he does not seek justification or let himself be discouraged, but he devises a way out to ensure a peaceful future,” the pope said.

First, he has clarity in his own limits, recognizing that he cannot earn a living by being a manual laborer or begging, the pope said. “Then he acts with cunning, robbing his master for the last time” by calling the debtors and reducing their debts, which makes them want to, in turn, return the favor.

Pope Francis said this is friendship gained through corruption and an attitude sometimes seen today.

He explained that Jesus presents this example not to encourage dishonesty, but craftiness. As it says in the passage: “And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.”

The steward overcame a difficult situation with a mixture of intelligence and cunning, he said, and added that the key to understanding the parable comes at the end, when Jesus says: “I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”

“Seems a bit confusing, but it is not,” the pope assured, explaining that “The ‘dishonest wealth’ is money – also called ‘devil’s dung’ – and in general material goods.”

He said the “ultimate purpose of this exhortation” to make friends with “dishonest wealth” is to “welcome us into Paradise, if we are able to transform riches into instruments of fraternity and solidarity.”

Then, “there will be not only God, but also those with whom we have shared, administering well, what the Lord has put in our hands.”

Francis said this Gospel passage encourages Catholics to ask the same question the dishonest steward asked: “what will I do now?”

“Faced with our shortcomings and our failures, Jesus assures us that we are always in time to heal the evil done with good. he who has caused tears, make someone happy; he who has embezzled, [give] gifts to those in need.”

This is to act, he continued, with the wisdom of someone who knows his or her identity as a child of God.

Concluding, Francis prayed for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary to help people be “crafty” not in seeking worldly success, but in seeking eternal life, “so that at the time of the final judgment the needy persons we have helped may testify that we have seen and served the Lord in them.”

 

Clandestine medical abortions reportedly on the rise in the US

Washington D.C., Sep 21, 2019 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- While the number of in-clinic abortions in the United States is reportedly down, the sale of illicitly acquired abortion pills may be up, according to recent data from the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute.

According to data from Guttmacher, a total of 339,640 medication abortions occurred in 2017, making up about 39% of all abortions. But because of the “black market” abortion pills acquired online or otherwise surreptitiously, it is difficult to track exactly how many abortions are occurring this way. Researchers told the New York Times that they estimate that secret medical abortions are making up a growing and “irreversible” portion of abortions in the United States.

“This is happening,” said Jill E. Adams, executive director of If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, told the New York Times. “This is an irreversible part of abortion care here in the United States.”

According to Guttmacher’s data and analysis, in-clinic abortions were down by about 19% in 2017 when compared to data from 2011. Guttmacher estimated that the abortion decline could be related to a decrease in overall birthrates, as well as increased contraceptive use and “increases in the number of individuals relying on self-managed (i.e. medical) abortions outside of a clinical setting.”

Chuck Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, said he welcomed the decline in overall abortions, but that he was concerned about the rise in clandestine medical abortions.

“There are several reasons for this positive news, including factors that Guttmacher does their best to ignore,” he said. “American mothers are increasingly choosing life for their children, as well as choosing to identify themselves with the pro-life cause and pro-life policies. This includes the broad protections for women and children being enacted at the state level such as strengthened health and safety standards for abortion facilities, limits on public funding of abortion, parental involvement laws, and increased informed consent.”

“The industry’s migration to chemical self-abortion is deeply disturbing as it carries with it the possibility of increasing the overall abortion rate over time and also carries with it a higher rate of injury, about which women are often under-informed or deceived,” he added.

A medical abortion, sometimes called a chemical abortion, is a two-step process that involves the ingestion of two drugs: mifepristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone, effectively starves the unborn baby by blocking the effects of progesterone. The second drug, misoprostol, is taken up to two days later and induces labor.

Several pro-life clinics throughout the country provide abortion pill reversals, a protocol that involves giving pregnant women additional doses of progesterone to counteract the progesterone-blocking effects of mifepristone, if the woman regrets taking the pill and hopes to reverse the abortion.

Earlier this month, a European doctor filed a lawsuit against the United States Food and Drug Administration in order to continue selling medical abortion pills online. The FDA argued that Dr. Rebecca Gomperts and her group, Aid Access, were in violation of FDA regulations which state that abortion pills cannot be sold online, as part of an FDA risk mitigation program called REMS, which is used for all higher-risk medications.

The news of an increase in medical abortions also comes shortly after a North Dakota judge nixed part of a new law that would have required doctors to inform their patients about abortion pill reversal protocol, as well as after Planned Parenthood announced its plans to expand access to medical abortions through telemedicine.

In response to this increase in medical abortions, a new federal bill has been drafted which aims to preserve restrictions on abortion pills. The Support and Value Expectant Moms and Babies Act (SAVE) was introduced Thursday by pro-life congressional leaders, and was sponsored by Rep. Robert Latta (R-Ohio).

In a Sept. 18 article in the New York Times, Elizabeth Nash, senior state policy manager at the Guttmacher Institute, said that while abortions have decreased throughout the U.S., “there’s no clear pattern linking these declines to new restrictions.”

Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel for Americans United for Life, told the New York Times that the data and analysis from Guttmacher were “a patchwork put together to serve an agenda, and I don’t give any of it any credence whatsoever.”

He said that the Guttmacher Institute simply wants to present the message that “abortion is good, abortion should be legal and state laws that try to limit or regulate abortion are ineffective.”

“I’m sure that there are many factors that have contributed to the decline,” Forsythe told the New York Times. “Some state laws do contribute to a reduction in abortion.”

Several states have passed abortion restrictions in the past year, including Alabama, Arkansas, and Utah, which have passed laws that would ban abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy. Other states, including Georgia, Kentucky, and Ohio, passed heartbeat bills that would restrict abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detected, which typically occurs between six and eight weeks of pregnancy. A lengthy clinic licensure debate in Missouri could mean the closure of the last Planned Parenthood in the state. Most of these laws have yet to go into effect.

Theologian withdraws from German synodal path

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2019 / 03:08 pm (CNA).- A member of the International Theological Commission has announced that she is no longer available to participate in the “binding synodal path” undertaken by the bishops’ conference of Germany.

Marianne Schlosser, a member of the International Theological Commission, cited concerns over both the approach and methodology of the “synodal path” when she announced that she could no longer participate.

Schlosser, a professor of theology at the University of Vienna and the recipient of the 2018 Ratzinger Prize, was invited to take part in the Synodal Way’s forum “on women in ecclesial roles and offices” as an expert.

Saying she could not identify with the intermediate report of the preparatory group, Schlosser raised a number of issues, in particular identifying a “fixation on ordination” of women.

This “fixation” was neither theologically and historically nor pastorally and spiritually justified, she told news agency KNA. The Catholic Church teaches that it has no authority to admit women to priestly ordination.

Schlosser said the discussion about ordination had "been conducted for so long," all arguments had been exchanged and were on the table.

Since it was "not a disciplinary question," the topic "could not be negotiated in a synodal forum with mixed members", i.e. between bishops and laity, she said.

Schlosser had not been present for the two preparatory meetings held sofar.

The theologian also expressed the fear of a progressive polarization of the church in Germany.

On Sep 23, 2014, Pope Francis appointed  Schlosser as a member of the International Theological Commission. She was also appointed a member of the study commission investigating the female diaconate in 2016.

The Bavarian is also an advisor to the Faith Commission of the German bishops’ conference and since January 2018 a member of the Theological Commission of the Austrian bishops’ conference.

A version of this story was first published by CNA Deutsch.

Pope Francis: The Church is a home for the lost

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2019 / 10:59 am (CNA).- No one is lost to Jesus, neither should they be considered lost to the Church and her members, Pope Francis told Catholics in Albano Laziale Saturday.

The pope reflected on the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector, whom Jesus remembered, sought out, and invited to dine with him.

“If we avoid those who seem lost to us, we are not of Jesus,” he said Sept. 21. “We ask for the grace to meet everyone as a brother and not to see anyone as an enemy.”

“How wonderful it would be if our neighbors and acquaintances felt the Church is their home!” he added, speaking during Mass at the Cathedral of St. Pancras in Albano Laziale, a town just south of Rome on Lake Albano.

The pope visited the cathedral to mark its 159th anniversary of elevation to a minor basilica by Pope Pius IX in September 1865.

In his homily, Pope Francis said it is an easy temptation to close one’s circle, to become an elite group, “but there are so many brothers and sisters who are homesick, who do not have the courage to approach, perhaps because they have not felt welcomed.”

“The Lord wants his Church to be a home among houses, a hospitable tent where every man, a wayfarer of life, meets Him who has come to dwell among us,” he said.

“We give freely, we love the poor and those who cannot repay us,” Francis urged, then “we will be rich in the eyes of God.”

He explained that Zacchaeus was probably hated by the people, “in their eyes, Zacchaeus was the worst...” He added: “But not in the eyes of Jesus, who calls him by his own name, Zacchaeus, which means ‘God remembers.’ In the forgotten city, God remembers the greatest sinner.”

And “the Lord first of all remembers us,” the pope went on. “He does not forget us, he does not lose sight of us despite the obstacles that can keep us away from him. No obstacle makes Jesus forget the essential, the man to love and save.”

“Like Jesus, do not be afraid to ‘cross’ your city, to go to those who are most forgotten, to those who are hidden behind the branches of shame, of fear, of loneliness, to tell them: ‘God remembers you,’” he urged.

Pope Francis also emphasized that Jesus should be the priority. As the Church, he said, let us ask ourselves if Jesus or our own structures and agendas come first.

He advised that, “if like Zacchaeus you are looking for a meaning to life but, not finding it, [and] you are throwing yourself away with ‘surrogates of love,’ such as riches, career, pleasure, some addiction, let yourself be looked at by Jesus.”

 

Medical migrant ordered to leave gets hope of reprieve, highlights similar cases

Washington D.C., Sep 21, 2019 / 08:00 am (CNA).- An immigrant who has lived in the U.S. for more than 16 years while receiving life-saving medical treatments is hoping for a reprieve after being given weeks to leave the country. 

Maria Isabel Bueso, a 24 year-old immigrant from Guatemala, has lived in the U.S. without citizenship since 2003 through temporary extensions of “deferred action,” or delays of deportation, so that she can stay and receive treatment for her rare medical condition.

Bueso traveled from Guatemala to the U.S. with her family in 2003 to participate in clinical trials for her rare genetic disorder. After more than 16 years, she was notified in August that she would not be able to renew her status in the U.S. because the administration would stop considering non-military requests for deferred action. She was given 33 days to leave the country.

On Sept. 19, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would resume granting non-military deferred action on a case-by-case basis, 

Bueso was “thrilled” by the news, her nurse, Wendy Bloom, told CNA, but remained only “cautiously optimistic” until she has full certainty of her status and hopes her case will draw attention to the plight of others like her.

“She’s really nervous until she actually gets an official letter that says ‘you are allowed to stay here,’ then she’ll be ready to have a party,” Bloom, a member of the California Nurses Association, told CNA.

Bueso has become an advocate for other patients with rare diseases—some of who needed to travel from outside the U.S. for treatment.

She has Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome (MPS-VI) which is a rare genetic disorder, and was invited to the U.S. at age seven to participate in clinical trials conducted by Dr. Paul Harmatz at Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, California.

Bueso traveled to the U.S. on a B-2 visa with her family, and has since remained in the country for weekly treatments. Bloom says she has known Bueso for 13 years, and that Bueso has been coming to the hospital for almost 17 years.

After she initially participated in clinical trials for her condition, that program helped develop a commercial drug—Naglazyme—that is now used to treat patients with MPS-VI.

In 2009, Bueso applied for and was granted deferred action of deportation, with a renewal every two years.

Several weeks after her notice to leave the U.S., Bueso testified before the House Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at a hearing held on September 11 on “The Administration’s Apparent Revocation of Medical Deferred Action for Critically Ill Children.”

“The medical treatment I need is not available in Guatemala. If I’m sent back, I will die,” she told members of the subcommittee. Bloom explained that the treatment is expensive and requires special skills to administer; Bueso would not be able to receive the necessary treatment in Guatemala.

On Sept. 2, DHS had announced that it would review the change in policy for “deferred action,” but Bueso’s status was still in limbo.

“It was incredibly stressful for the family, incredibly stressful, and for all of us that care for her and love her too, it was really heartbreaking,” Bloom said.

Then on Sept. 19, DHS informed the House Oversight Committee that it would once again consider deferred action on a case-by-case basis for non-military immigrants in the U.S.

In the statement, DHS said that USCIS would resume consideration of “non-military deferred action requests on a discretionary, case-by-case basis, except as otherwise required by an applicable statute, regulation, or court order.”

Oversight Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) stated in response that “it appears that the Trump Administration is reversing its inhumane and disastrous decision to deport critically ill children and their families who are receiving life-saving medical treatment in the United States.”

The decision draws attention to the importance of allowing immigrants like Bueso to come to the U.S. for treatment.

“Medical research needs to be ongoing, and if we can’t have the type of patients enrolling in these studies then we have a problem,” Bloom said.

Evangelization is about helping people know God's love, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2019 / 07:15 am (CNA).- Evangelization means first helping people to know God and to know his immense love for them, which is done in part through the witness of one’s life and joy, Pope Francis said Saturday.

“Proclaiming the Lord is witnessing the joy of knowing him, helping to live the beauty of meeting him,” the pope said Sept. 21. “God is not the answer to an intellectual curiosity or a task of the will, but an experience of love, called to become a story of love.”

“Because – it applies to us above all – once we have met the living God, we need to look for him again,” he stated. “The mystery of God is never exhausted, it is as immense as his love.”

Pope Francis reflected on the evangelization those who do not know God in a meeting with the participants of an event from the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, which took place Sept. 19-21, and was called “To meet God: Is it possible? Paths of the New Evangelization.”

In his message, the pope asked how many of one’s neighbors live as if they are slaves to the very objects which should serve them.

People forget the “flavor of life: the beauty of a large and generous family, which fills the day and the night but expands the heart; the brightness found in the eyes of children, which no smartphone can give; the joy of simple things; the serenity that prayer gives,” he said.

“What our brothers and sisters often ask us, perhaps without being able to ask the question, corresponds to the deepest needs: to love and to be loved, to be accepted for what we are, to find peace of heart and a longer lasting joy of entertainment.”

Those present have experienced this in one person, he said: Jesus. “We, who, though frail and sinful, have been flooded by the river in the fullness of God’s goodness, we have this mission: meet our contemporaries to let them know his love.”

Francis said that it is important, therefore, to face and be challenged by the questions of men and women, not pretending to have easy, ready-made answers.

Sharing God with others cannot just be speaking about him – even the devil knows God exists, the pope said – but must be the sharing of life-giving words which leave room for the work of the Holy Spirit.

God is close to everyone, he said, but oftentimes, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, people just do not recognize him.

Francis shared an anecdote: “It is said that once upon a time Pope John, meeting a journalist who told him he did not believe, answered him: ‘Don’t worry! You say that! God doesn’t know, and considers you a child to love just the same.’”

“‘God is love,’ as Scripture says,” Pope Francis pointed out. “God is like that, he does not vary depending on how we behave: he is unconditional love, he does not change.”

This is a beautiful thing to be able to announce to those who have grown lukewarm, who have lost their first enthusiasm for Jesus Christ, he said.

Explaining that because faith is born and reborn from encountering Jesus, he said whatever is an encounter with Christ helps grow faith.

“Draw closer to those in need, build bridges, serve those who suffer, take care of the poor, ‘anoint with patience’ those around us, comfort those who are discouraged, bless those who harm us...” he urged.

“Thus, we become living signs of the Love we proclaim.”

 

Cardinal O'Malley, Bishop McElroy named participants in Amazon synod

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2019 / 06:05 am (CNA).- Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, and Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego are among those chosen by Pope Francis as synod fathers in next month’s Amazon synod.

A full list of the 185 participants in the Special Assembly for the Pan-Amazonian Region was published by the Vatican Sept. 21. The synod is set to take place Oct. 6-27.

Among those taking part are 33 bishops nominated by Pope Francis, including O’Malley and McElroy, the only two United States’ bishops to be synod fathers in the Amazon synod.

The three president delegates of the synod are Cardinal Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo, apostolic administrator of Caracas and archbishop of Merida in Venezuela; Cardinal Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno, archbishop of Huancayo in Peru and vice president of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM); and Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Cardinal Claudio Hummes, archbishop emeritus of Sao Paulo in Brazil and president of REPAM is relator general.

The special secretaries are Cardinal-elect Michael Czerny, under-secretary of the Migrant and Refugees section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Bishop David Martinez De Aguirre Guinea, apostolic vicar of Puerto Maldonado in Peru.

Other pontifical nominations include heads of bishops’ conferences, commissions, or councils, such as Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna; Cardinal Bagnasco, archbishop of Genova and president of the Council of European bishops’ conferences; Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising; Cardinal elect Jean-Claude Hollerich, archbishop of Luxembourg and president of the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union; and Archbishop Marcel Madila Basanguka of Kananga, president of the Association of Bishops’ Conferences of Central Africa.

Others nominated include Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life; Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa; Cardinal John Ribat, archbishop of Port Moresby; and Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay.

There are four bishops coming from the Antilles, 12 from Bolivia, 58 from Brazil, 15 from Colombia, seven from Ecuador, 11 from Peru, and seven from Venezuela.

Non-bishops nominated include religious priests from Argentina, Peru, Angola, and Italy; Fr. Anthony Spadaro, director of La Civilta Cattolica; and Fr. Mauricio Garcia Duran, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service.

According to synod norms, there will also be in attendance 15 superior generals, chosen by the Union of Superior Generals (USG).

There will be 25 experts and 55 auditors, as well as six fraternal delegates from other Christian churches, who attend the synod but do not participate in final voting.

Pope Francis is president of the Synod of Bishops and Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri is secretary general.

 

This story was updated.

Married priests are a possible option for the Amazon, says Vatican spokesman

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2019 / 12:00 am (CNA).- Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Dicastery for Communications in the Vatican, said that married priests will be a subject of discussion during the upcoming synod of bishops on the Amazon, which will take place October 6-27 in Rome, but noted that the synod does not have the power to make decisions on the matter.

“The synod will discuss the possibility, for territories like the Amazon, to propose the ordination of married men. That is, the ordination of catechists, older persons who already have a role of responsibility in several communities. But it's not a decision already made, nor is it certain that they synod will arrive at that decision.” Tornielli said in an interview Sept. 19.

“In any case it would not be a decision of the synod but it would be a decision of the pope,” Tornielli said in the interview, which was published on the Facebook page of the Brazilian bishops’ conference.

Tornielli referred to the working document of the synod:

“Affirming that celibacy is a gift for the Church, it is asked, that for the most remote areas of the region, the possibility be studied of priestly ordination for older people, preferably indigenous, respected, and accepted by their community even though they still have a constituted and stable family, for the purpose  of ensuring  the sacraments that accompany and sustain the Christian life,” the working document says.

In the interview, Tornielli explained that “the synod does not approve anything because it is a consultative body, the one who decides is the pope. We know, because we have read it, the synod's Instrumentum laboris mentions the difficulties that communities in remote areas face in receiving the sacraments, and of having priests who can celebrate Mass.”

He also noted that “for many centuries in the Catholic Church there have been married priests. They are the priests of the Eastern Catholic Churches who have returned to full communion with Rome. But note, it's not that priests can marry but that persons already married are ordained, this is for the Easterners.”

“The same thing exists, and perhaps this will be a surprise for our listeners, in the Latin Rite Church, as an exception, from the time of Pius XII. Pope Pacelli received former Anglican priests who wanted to enter into communion with Rome and as they were married they were ordained priests and they support their families,” he continued.

Moreover, Tornielli then said, “Pope Benedict himself with the constitution Anglicanorum coetibus has established that this exception can continue in the case of the Anglicans. So there already are exceptions.”

In effect, in 2009 Pope Benedict XVI approved the creation of personal ordinariates, jurisdictions created to receive the Anglicans who request by the thousands to return to full communion with the Catholic Church. In that framework, married Anglican priests can be ordained as Catholic priests.

 

A version of this story was originally published by ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.