Now is time to build new world without inequality, injustice, pope says (Sun, 19 Apr 2020)
By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service ROME (CNS) — As the world slowly recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a risk it will be struck by an even worse virus — that of selfish indifference,
Pope Francis said. This … Continue reading → >> Read more
Puerto Rico: ‘An unprecedented level of need’ (Mon, 06 Nov 2017)
Catholic News Service was the first major Catholic news organization to send a photographer and a reporter to tour the island and document the efforts of the church and other organizations to help
many of the people far from the capital of San Juan. Continue reading → >> Read more
Historic Tomb of Michelangelo and altarpiece in dire need of repairs (Wed, 11 Oct 2017)
By Matthew Fowler ROME (CNS) — The historic tomb of Michelangelo and the Buonarroti family altarpiece in the Church of Santa Croce in Florence are in dire need of cleaning and restoration due to
sustained damage over the past 50 … Continue reading → >> Read more
A look back at the Legion of Decency (Thu, 17 Aug 2017)
By Mark Pattison and Julie Asher WASHINGTON (CNS) — It’s summertime and the movies are plentiful. As everyone knows the summer movie season is a big one for Hollywood, and when it comes to a close,
it is followed closely … Continue reading → >> Read more
Jamboree called ‘life-changing event’ for youths, adults (Fri, 28 Jul 2017)
Here’s a dispatch from Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia sent earlier this week by Msgr. John B. Brady from the national Scout jamboree, which closed today. A retired
priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, he became … Continue reading → >> Read more
Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, July 23, 2017 (Fri, 21 Jul 2017)
July 23, Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A. Readings: 1) Wisdom 12:13, 16-19 Psalm 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16
2) Romans 8:26-27 Gospel: Matthew 13:24-33 By Sharon K. Perkins Catholic News … Continue reading → >> Read more
John C. Quinn tended to the ‘least of these’ in U.S. newsrooms (Fri, 14 Jul 2017)
WASHINGTON (CNS) – I’m convinced that around the country, and perhaps the world, there are many letters similar to the one I received in the mail some 18 years ago. It was written by hand and it
ended with a … Continue reading → >> Read more
Some cheese with your ‘whine’: Pope ‘establishes’ complaint-free zone (Fri, 14 Jul 2017)
By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis left a not-so-subtle message outside his office in the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence: anyone who is thinking of
making a fuss, leave your whining at the door. … Continue reading → >> Read more
Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, July 16, 2017 (Thu, 13 Jul 2017)
July 16, Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A. Readings: 1) Isaiah 55:10-11 Psalm 65:10-14
2) Romans 8:18-23 Gospel: Matthew 13:1-23 By Jeff Hedglen Catholic News Service It seems as though every time … Continue reading → >> Read more
Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, July 9, 2017 (Fri, 07 Jul 2017)
The Scriptures this weekend contain a familiar, but difficult text. “Take my yoke upon you,” Jesus says. “For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Continue reading → >> Read more
Church united by Spirit, not personal beliefs, pope says on Pentecost (Sun, 31 May 2020)
Pope Francis greets the crowd as he leads the "Regina Coeli" from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's
Square at the Vatican May 31. (CNS/Vatican Media)
Just as the apostles were united once they received the Holy Spirit, the church is united by that same spirit and not by keeping company just with those who agree on a certain interpretation of
Christian teaching, Pope Francis said on Pentecost.
Celebrating Mass May 31 in St. Peter's Basilica, the pope said that those who give in to the temptation to fiercely "defend our ideas, believing them to be good for everybody and agreeing only
with those who think as we do," adhere to a faith created in their own image and "not what the Spirit wants."
"We might think that what unite us are our beliefs and our morality. But there is much more: Our principle of unity is the Holy Spirit. He reminds us that, first of all, we are God's beloved
children. The Spirit comes to us, in our differences and difficulties, to tell us that we have one Lord — Jesus — and one Father, and that for this reason we are brothers and sisters," he said.
In February, the Vatican had announced that the pope would celebrate Pentecost in Malta. However, the trip was canceled due to the coronavirus, and instead he celebrated the Mass with a limited
congregation present at the basilica's Altar of the Chair.
After celebrating Mass, the pope spoke to the socially distanced faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square before praying the "Regina Coeli." It was the first time the pope addressed the faithful
from the window of the Apostolic Palace since lockdown measures forced an end to all public gatherings.
"Today, now that the square is open, we can return here. It is a pleasure" to see you, the pope said.
Reflecting on the feast of Pentecost, the pope said the coming of the Holy Spirit turned the lives of the apostles "upside down" and made them "courageous witnesses" to Christ's death and
"The feast of Pentecost renews the awareness that the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit dwells in us," he said. "He also gives us the courage to go outside the protective walls of our
'cenacles,' without resting in the quiet life or locking ourselves up in sterile habits."
The pope also recalled the seven-month anniversary of the conclusion of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon and offered prayers for the people of the Amazon region where the pandemic, along with
deforestation and pollution, have added to the suffering of indigenous people.
"I make an appeal so that no one may lack health care assistance. Take care of people; don't save up for the economy. Care for people who are more important than the economy. We, the people, are
temples of the Holy Spirit, the economy isn't," the pope said.
Earlier, in his homily at Mass, the pope reflected on the second reading from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, in which the apostle says that the church, while composed of many
different parts, is one body.
Despite the many differences and difficulties, the pope said, the Holy Spirit is what unites the church's members as brothers and sisters. He also called on Catholics to "look at the church with
the eyes of the Spirit and not as the world does."
"The world sees us only as on the right or left; the Spirit sees us as sons and daughters of the Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus," he explained. "The world sees conservatives and
progressives; the Spirit sees children of God. A worldly gaze sees structures to be made more efficient; a spiritual gaze sees brothers and sisters pleading for mercy."
Francis said that the secret to unity is that it is a gift of the Holy Spirit and that it is important to understand that God "acts not by taking away, but by giving."
"Why is this important?" the pope asked. "Because our way of being believers depends on how we understand God. If we have in mind a God who takes away and imposes himself, we, too, will want to
take away and impose ourselves: occupying spaces, demanding recognition, seeking power."
"But if we have in our hearts a God who is gift, everything changes. If we realize that what we are is his gift, free and unmerited, then we, too, will want to make our lives a gift," he said.
The pope also warned Christians of the "three enemies" of God's gift that lurk "at the door of our hearts" and impede people from giving themselves to others.
The first enemy, narcissism, "is the tendency to think only of our own needs, to be indifferent to those of others and not to admit our own frailties and mistakes." However, victimhood, the second
enemy, is "equally dangerous," because people close their hearts and are concerned only with their own sufferings.
Pessimism is the final enemy, and it sees everything in "the worst light" and repeatedly says that nothing will return as before.
"When someone thinks this way," the pope said, "the one thing that certainly does not return is hope. We are experiencing a famine of hope, and we need to appreciate the gift of life, the gift
that each of us is. We need the Holy Spirit, the gift of God who heals us of narcissism, victimhood and pessimism."
>> Read more
Washington nonprofit warns against pandemic restrictions on immigration (Sat, 30 May 2020)
A family in Washington poses for a photo near the White House May 23 during the coronavirus pandemic.
(CNS/Reuters/Mary F. Calvert)
The Washington-based American Immigration Council said restrictions issued by the Trump administration during the coronavirus pandemic are being used to implement immigration limitations White
House officials have sought for a long time.
These limits could have wide-ranging repercussions, particularly for immigrant families, and eliminate legal pathways into the U.S., the council said.
In a panel presentation announcing its May 27 report titled "The Impact of COVID-19 Across the U.S. Immigration System," the organization outlined directives from the White House, such as halting
asylum applications at the southern border as well as the process to resettle refugees into the country; increasing deportations, including deportations of children; and suspending visas that would
have allowed for the reunification of families.
Administration officials have said the steps were necessary to stop the propagation of the coronavirus.
Panelists, however, said the measures long had been priorities for the administration, but the White House could not easily pursue them until the pandemic. Some of them had been tied up in the
The Trump administration has used the pandemic to justify travel restrictions and a suspension of immigration to the United States, said Royce Murray, the council's managing director of programs,
who moderated the panel.
"The Trump administration has used the COVID-19 outbreak to pursue restrictive policy changes that it has sought to implement for many years," added Jorge Loweree, the council's policy
That response will have a "cascading impact with consequences that will be felt for years to come," Loweree said during a conference call with
Some would-be migrants won't be able to be reunited with family members in the country, and dramatically fewer individuals will be able to seek humanitarian help from the U.S., given the changes,
While the government took some common sense measures regarding immigration to halt the spread of the coronavirus, it has in other ways failed to create sensible solutions and been "woefully
indifferent to human life" in other ways, such as when it has refused to release migrants from U.S. detention centers during a pandemic, risking their exposure to the virus, and leaving
asylum-seekers stranded in dangerous border towns in Mexico not allowing them to come in, Loweree said.
It has instead used the pandemic "to justify aggressive changes to our immigration systems," he said. That includes what amounts to ending asylum at the southern border, fundamentally altering the
family immigration system, ending the diversity visa lottery, sharply reducing the overall number of noncitizens that can come to the U.S., Loweree said.
Ur Jaddou, director of a project called DHS Watch, which monitors U.S. immigration agencies within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, said the changes have
affected thousands inside and outside of the United States: U.S. consulates in other countries and immigration courts have closed; in-person meetings with officials from U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services, or USCIS, have been halted.
Many immigrants use USCIS to check in for appointments regarding a variety of immigration situations, including citizenship ceremonies, which have been canceled, even though many could take the
oath for citizenship via video, Jaddou said.
Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel for the organization, said that while there seems to be a significant drop in levels of people in detention, it seems to have happened because of an increase
in deportations, which have not stopped, and have in some cases ended up essentially exporting the virus to vulnerable countries.
Guatemala, for example, says at least 20% of its COVID-19 cases have resulted from deportees who contracted the virus in U.S. detention centers.
Reichlin-Melnick said some of those countries have been threatened with sanctions by the White House if they refuse to take in the deportees. Countries such as El Salvador, however, whose
president has been friendly with President Donald Trump, said he would take in asylum-seekers, and, in what seemed to be a quid pro quo, received ventilators from the U.S. and was promised financial
Guatemala, where the president blocked U.S. flights with deportees coming in, did not receive similar offers of help.
Guatemala says at least 20% of its COVID-19 cases have resulted from deportees who contracted the virus in U.S. detention centers.
In an April 24 briefing, Michael Kozak, acting assistant secretary for the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, said, however, that deportations were the safer choice.
"The reason we were so keen to work with partner nations to get their citizens back home, was precisely so as not to leave them in immigration detention facilities where they're — been pressed
together and cannot easily do the kind of social distancing that they should be," he said. "In other words, that they would be much safer to be back home in their homes with their families, and not
in a closed environment like that."
Just across the southern border, migrants find themselves "in a dangerous state of limbo," Reichlin-Melnick said, as they wait in makeshift camps because they're not allowed to seek asylum in the
In desperation, some parents are sending their children alone across the border, hoping they will be allowed to enter, but the children have instead been sent back to their home countries, even if
there's no family on the other side to take them in.
The New York Times reported May 20 that hundreds of cases involving the deportation of
children from the U.S. to other countries have been handled since the pandemic began because, as happens in the other situations involving immigration, a 1944 statute gives the executive branch the
power to block foreigners from entering the U.S. to prevent the spread of disease.
The American Immigration Council, along with other immigrant advocacy groups, has filed a lawsuit against the Executive Office for Immigration Review and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The
suit seeks to "halt these dangerous practices" that have been allowed because of the 1944 law and ensure that government agencies respond to the pandemic "in a way that meets the needs of the
detainees" and those who represent and work with those communities, as well as guarantee the due process "enshrined in the Constitution."
>> Read more
Maryland county withdraws restriction that would have curtailed Eucharist (Fri, 29 May 2020)
This article appears in the Reopening post pandemic feature series. View the full series.
Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori gives Communion to Kevin Marron, a Baltimore Gas and Electric employee,
during a June 2, 2018, Mass at St. Paul Church in Ellicott City, Md. On May 26, 2020, public officials in Howard County, which is in the Baltimore Archdiocese of Baltimore, withdrew regulations that
seemed to disallow the distribution of holy Communion. The rules originally prohibited the distribution food and drink during or after religious services. (CNS/Richard Lippenholz, special to the
Regulations for the reopening of religious institutions developed by a Maryland county that seemed to disallow the distribution of holy Communion were withdrawn after church leaders voiced
Public officials in Howard County in the Archdiocese of Baltimore originally prohibited the distribution food and drink during or after religious services.
The regulation was included in an executive order issued May 26 by Howard County Executive Calvin Ball related to the reopening of churches and in-person religious services.
After the Archdiocese of Baltimore expressed "serious concerns" about the order, the county agreed to withdraw the restriction.
The order allowed barber shops and hair salons to open at 50% of maximum occupancy starting at 7 a.m., May 29. But the same order continued to limit indoor religious gatherings to no more than 10
people; outdoor religious services would be capped at 250 people.
The executive order mandated: "There shall be no consumption of food or beverage of any kind before, during or after religious services, including food or beverage that would typically be consumed
as part of a religious service."
Such a prohibition would restrict the distribution of holy Communion, an integral part of the Mass. In fact, if the priest could not consume the Eucharist after consecration, the Mass would not be
The order also required that all attendees at indoor or outdoor religious services maintain a 6-foot distance and wear face masks or facial coverings at all times.
"For the Catholic community, the reception of Communion is central to faith lives and to our public worship. The Archdiocese of Baltimore has developed thorough and carefully thought-out
guidelines for resuming public Masses, including detailed guidance on the safe distribution of Communion," the archdiocese said in a statement May 27.
"These guidelines respect both the sanctity of the sacrament and the need for abundant caution to protect the health and safety of both those receiving and distributing Communion," the statement
A spokesman for the county, Scott Peterson, said May 28 in a statement that because Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan had announced a modified reopening of restaurants in the state starting May 27, the
county would revisit all restrictions on food consumption. "As we move closer to a full Phase 1 reopening, we will be lifting food consumption restrictions for faith institutions," Peterson said.
The county planned to "work with our faith leaders to provide guidelines that will allow residents to worship safely and all religious leaders to resume practices safely," the spokesman added.
He acknowledged that the archdiocese had already released its guidelines for its first phase of reopening, which began for some parishes May 15, and a second phase, set to begin May 30-31.
He said the archdiocese's guidelines for reopening as well as other will be considered by the county as it executes its plan.
Mary Ellen Russell, archdiocesan spokeswoman, said the archdiocese would continue working with all local jurisdictions. "We are very pleased to hear that Howard County will be lifting its
restrictions on faith institutions regarding food consumption," she said.
"We are grateful to County Executive Ball and his team for working closely with our community and many others to ensure the health and safety of all while respecting essential elements of our
faith traditions. These are unchartered waters for all in leadership, and it is essential that we continue to work together for the common good," Russell said.
Earlier the archdiocese released guidelines for a second phase for beginning the celebration of public Masses where appropriate.
Parishes will be allowed to celebrate Masses starting May 30-31 at one-third of capacity only if a local jurisdiction is allowing religious services for more than 10 people and a parish has taken
all precautions necessary for sanitizing and maintaining social distance.
As of May 28, five counties in the archdiocese allowed larger celebrations. About 20% of the parishes in the archdiocese are expected to celebrate public Masses May 30-31. Parishes are not
required to celebrate public Masses — even if government conditions are met — if the pastor determines the parish is not ready to do so.
Because Howard County is one of several Maryland jurisdictions that are not allowing religious gatherings of more than 10 people, parishes there could not celebrate public Masses, but could still
have wedding or funeral Masses with a maximum of 10 people in attendance, according to the archdiocesan guidelines.
The archdiocese's statement said that upon learning of the executive order, church leaders shared its second phase guidelines for distribution of holy Communion with the county and expressed "our
own serious concerns about their recent guidance preventing Catholic churches in Howard County from distributing Communion."
"While we recognize and value the urgent desire to guard the health and safety of local communities that is guiding the decisions of our government leaders, we are committed to engaging in
dialogue with them to work together toward a policy going forward that balances the need for free expression of religious faith and the public's health and safety interests," the statement said.
In This Series
In defying shutdown, Minnesota bishops
surrender to the culture warriors
May 29, 2020
L.A. Archdiocese to begin opening churches under detailed
May 27, 2020
Faith leaders: Protecting human life is priority in reopening
May 26, 2020
Minn. bishops modify reopening plan after governor
increases crowd limit
May 26, 2020
New York Archdiocese issues five-phase plan to gradually
May 22, 2020
View all › >> Read more
Some European Catholic leaders echo pope's call for universal basic wage (Fri, 29 May 2020)
A waiter wearing a protective mask serves a customer at an outdoor section of a restaurant in Valencia, Spain, May
18, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (CNS/Reuters/Nacho Doce)
Catholic groups across Europe have echoed Pope Francis' call for a universal basic wage as part of recovery plans after the coronavirus pandemic.
"No one in the church should be against a decent minimum wage which saves people from poverty; this should be defended by Catholics worldwide," said Peter Verhaeghe, policy and advocacy officer
with Caritas Europa. "Its level would need to be clarified by governments, trade unions and employer organizations. But the idea of paying contributions and building up social rights represents a
solidarity system in line with Catholic social teaching."
Verhaeghe told Catholic News Service poverty among working families had risen sharply in Europe, where not all countries had a legal minimum pay structure. He added that a universal basic wage
should be distinguished from the centuries-old ideal of an automatic state income for all citizens, which raised more complex issues.
He said a basic wage would provide a "safety net of last resort" for those with no jobs and no entitlement to unemployment benefits, enabling them to "get out of poverty and reconnect with the
In an April 12 letter to social movements and organized groups of casual laborers, Pope Francis said the COVID-19 pandemic should give rise to consideration of "a universal basic wage" to
guarantee people have the minimum they need to live and support their families.
Meanwhile, another Catholic aid expert told CNS "fragilities in the system" had been exposed during the COVID-19 crisis.
"We've seen how the poor have been much more severely impacted — even in wealthy countries, lower-wage people are suffering from job losses and precarious work conditions and are also more
vulnerable to this disease," said Josianne Gauthier, secretary-general of the Brussels-based CIDSE, which groups 17 Catholic development agencies from Europe and North America.
"This is what's bringing these moral arguments about social justice back to the fore. If we're to heal wounds, this must include correcting pay inequalities and giving people a right to live in
dignity," she said.
Support for a universal basic wage to ensure minimum living standards have been growing across Europe, where some countries have subsidized wages by up to 80 percent during the pandemic.
Poverty-proof income schemes are advocated in the Council of Europe's 1961 European Social Charter and the European Union's 2017 Pillar of Social Rights, but have not been implemented in all
In Spain, where an income boost for 2.3 million people below pension age is to be launched in June, the bishops' conference president, Cardinal Juan Jose Omella, told Diario de Leon May 19 a
universal basic wage should be made permanent "where decent jobs, homes and wages cannot be guaranteed."
Two days later, the cardinal told Spain's Telecinco TV that requests for aid from the church's Caritas organization had tripled during the pandemic, and he said "a decent salary, job and decent
home" should now also be "assured as much as possible to everyone."
Demands for a "social protection network" for those without "jobs, wages and rights" were introduced in mid-May by Spain's conference of religious superiors, Catholic action network, justice and
peace committee and other church organizations.
The Christian Workers Movement in neighboring Portugal said in a mid-May statement it also believed a universal basic wage would give citizens "a more dignified, just and humane life" after the
Calls for a basic wage or similar livelihood guarantees, in line with church teaching, have come from Catholic groups in Austria, where unemployment doubled over the past year, as well as from
Cardinals Reinhard Marx of Germany and Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, president of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community.
Gauthier said there was "wide agreement now across religious and political divisions that real change is needed. We can't just go back to normal, but must emerge stronger and better from this time
"It's the lower-paid workers who've kept everything going during this crisis — those once invisible beneath the system have now had their humanity recognized," she said. "Giving them the same
rights as everyone else is a question of justice, but also of economic logic, since we've seen how much we depend on these people."
>> Read more
Latin American church workers: Pandemic turmoil increases child abuse (Fri, 29 May 2020)
Children are seen in a poor section of Manaus, Brazil, May 19, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Catholic
missionaries in Latin America say they have noticed disturbing signs of an increase in child abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic. (CNS/Reuters/Bruno Kelly)
Catholic missionaries in Latin America say they have noticed disturbing signs of an increase in child abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The social turmoil provoked by the disease and some of the restrictions imposed by governments to avoid the further spread of the virus may be amplifying the risks, they said.
On May 26, the World Health Organization said the Americas had become the new epicenter of the disease, as Brazil's daily death rate became the highest in the world. The organization is also
concerned about the rising curves in countries like Peru, Chile and El Salvador.
Most countries in the region adopted social distancing measures in mid-March, including broad quarantines in Peru, Argentina and the Dominican Republic. Even in Brazil, where President Jair
Bolsonaro has refused to federally impose such restrictions, state governors and city mayors suspended nonessential activities. Throughout the continent, schools are closed and children are at
That's precisely what is most worrisome, said Brazilian Sister Roselei Bertoldo, a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who works with the Cry for Life Network, which
fights human trafficking and sexual abuse.
"We know that sexual abuse and exploitation most of the times happen inside families. Those problems tend to grow during confinement," Bertoldo told Catholic News Service.
Most children usually denounce abuse at school, she said, "but poor kids don't even have the option of distance education, so we're very worried about them."
During the pandemic, the network had to suspend most of its activities and is currently using the internet to raise awareness on prevention.
"Unfortunately, we frequently get reports from people concerning abuse. We know things are escalating," she said.
The fragility of the state security apparatus in many Latin American regions, intensified with the pandemic, also makes the situation of the victims difficult.
"Families usually fear the aggressor and avoid reporting the case to the police. Now, children are even more vulnerable," Veronica Rubi, director of Caritas in Tabatinga, Brazil, told CNS.
Rubi also is one of the coordinators of a network against human trafficking in the tri-border region. The network was created in 2014 and coordinates sisters, priests, and lay activists from
Tabatinga, Brazil; Leticia, Colombia; and Santa Rosa de Yavari, Peru. In 2019, the three bishops of the region established a cooperation agreement.
"It's very easy to cross the borders. Aggressors may have a sense of impunity, given that they can simply hide in another country," Rubi said.
She said her network had to reduce activities with the pandemic but is trying to talk about prevention in any possible way.
"Caritas donated food for more than 400 families in the region. I talked about it (abuse) with each one of them," Rubi said. Reports concerning cases of abuse keep coming to members of her
In Peru, the number of phone calls to the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations' hotline doubled during the quarantine. A report of the ministry released at the end of April showed 90 cases
of sexual abuse; 59 of them involved underaged victims.
In Madre de Dios department, in the Peruvian Amazon, the government has been combating illegal mining since 2019. Now, with the pandemic, illegal miners may have moved to indigenous reservations,
raising the risks of sexual abuse.
A woman and a child are seen in front of health care workers protesting the lack of proper medical supplies in
early May outside a hospital in Lima, Peru, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Catholic missionaries in Latin America say they have noticed signs of an increase in child abuse during the pandemic.
"All roads have been closed off due to the quarantine and authorities are focusing on that. There's no control in other areas," said Carol Jeri, an official of the local Caritas.
Jeri said illegal miners often set up camps in which the prostitution of underaged girls is a constant risk.
"The church has formed an indigenous pastoral commission and is in touch with several community leaders," she said, adding that they try to address the problems reported to them.
In Colombia, besides the increasing number of abuses at home, different armed groups have intensified recruitment in the countryside. With schools closed, the number of teenagers they have
attracted has doubled, said Nathalia Forero, a social worker who is also a member of tri-border network.
Since the 1960s, a number of Marxist guerrilla organizations have been active in Colombia. Far-right paramilitary groups and drug cartels also mobilize thousands of armed men and women, many of
"Girls who are recruited by armed groups can suffer much violence, including sexual abuse and exploitation," Forero told CNS. For five years, she worked with the congregation of the Daughters of
Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and became familiar with the problem of sex abuse and human trafficking involving children and teenagers. "We feel very impotent at this moment," she said.
Jose Navarro, national coordinator of the Dominican Republic bishops' commission that works with mothers and children, said more risks have been posed to Dominican children and teenagers with the
partial reopening of the quarantine in mid-May.
"The adults went back to work, but the schools remain closed. So, many children are alone at home, which can be a problem," he told CNS.
He said his commission offers formation for families on topics such as child nutrition, health and education. Child abuse will be one of the themes discussed this year.
"This way, we can work on prevention," Navarro said.
Rosario Alfaro, executive director of the Mexican organization Guardianes, which works to prevent child sexual abuse, said it is possible many victims currently being molested will never denounce
what's happening to them during the pandemic.
"It's difficult for us to talk about things that make us feel embarrassed," she told CNS.
Since the pandemic began, Guardianes has had to suspend the courses it offers in schools about abuse prevention. Alfaro said the quarantine makes many adults grow anxious and stressed with
unemployment and the fear of the disease. For adults "unprepared to deal with such emotions, eroticism is the only way to calm down. That's why there are bigger risks of sexual approach of children
and teenagers in a moment like this," she said.
She speculated that the current crisis probably intensified problems such as the production and distribution of child pornography and the sexual exploitation of teenagers, traditionally connected
to tourist spots.
"Each Mexican state has a particular legislation concerning child abuse. It's very difficult for a child to report a case to the police," she said.
Since 2019, Alfaro has been an adviser to the Mexican bishops' child protection council.
"The church can do much to help. It models and forms behaviors and can guide parents in prevention of sexual abuse and any other kind of violence," she said.
>> Read more
Amazon delivery driver who prayed God would protect sick child says 'God is good' (Sun, 31 May 2020)
CNA Staff, May 31, 2020 / 07:00 am (CNA).- When Monica Salinas went to work on May 2, she didn’t expect to become a viral social
media hit, or the subject of news features across the country. But she did. Because she took a moment to pray, and that moment was caught on camera.
Salinas, 41, delivers packages for Amazon in Idaho. A native of Texas, Salinas lives in Idaho, and along with her mother sings in the parish choir at St. Paul Catholic Church in Nampa, Idaho, outside
?VIDEO | Know the story behind this viral video: Monica Salinas was delivering an order from @amazon when a message touched her heart and
she was moved to pray for a little boy named, Lucas. pic.twitter.com/qyUQFi3w3N
— EWTN News (@EWTNews) May 29, 2020
On her May 2 route, Salinas saw a sign at the door of one customer that gave her a moment’s pause. The sign explained that a child with medical needs lived at the home, and thanked delivery drivers
for delivering the supplies he needed.
The child, nine-month-old Lucas Pearson, has a cardiac condition that has led to feeding issues. He requires thickeners that were being delivered by Amazon.
When Salinas saw the note, she stopped to pray for Lucas.
“I was delivering a package and I saw a message on the door explaining that the baby at home needed many things and was grateful for us delivering things. It touched my heart,” Salinas told
“I said ‘‘Dearest God, please protect this family through your Precious Blood, and this baby, so that he may grow to become a man.’”
After she finished praying, Salinas made the sign of the cross, and left the porch.
Raquel Pearson, Lucas’ mother, saw Salinas praying through the video feature of her Ring doorbell. She was touched.
“My husband and I saw the video and started crying. We were very grateful that a stranger would take time out of her very busy day to pray for our baby,” she told CNA.
“We posted the video on Facebook and people started recognizing her.”
Indeed, people did start recognizing Salinas. The video went viral, and was shared more than 100,000 times. It was featured in national news broadcasts for several days.
Salinas’ mother, Dora Salinas, says the video represents her daughter’s life of faith.
“We both belong to a choir in our parish. She sings, she plays the guitar, she praises God with all her soul always,” Dora Salinas told CNA of her daughter Monica.
“That day she felt compassion for the sick baby and for his parents’ suffering” … That’s why she stopped there for a little while, just a little while to pray, because they (delivery people for
Amazon) are always rushing, they have a very little time to deliver their packages,” Dora added.
Monica Salinas told CNA she hopes the viral video will invite more people to prayer.
“God has always been very important in my whole life…and I would like to let everyone know that God is good. I always tell people, every day, that God is good, one day at a time.”
>> Read more
Amid riots, Minneapolis basilica damaged by fire (Sat, 30 May 2020)
Denver Newsroom, May 30, 2020 / 04:46 pm (CNA).-
The nation’s first basilica sustained fire damage amid the Minneapolis riots that have crippled the city after the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a police officer May 25.
“The Basilica of Saint Mary did withstand minor damage yesterday. No one was injured in the incident. At the time we pray for peace and healing in our city,” a spokesperson for the basilica said in a
statement issued May 30.
The basilica church was dedicated in 1914, as a pro-cathedral for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. It was designated a minor basilica by Pope Pius XI in 1926, the first church in the
country to be so designated.
Photos posted on social media purport to show several fire damaged pews inside the basilica. While the photos do seem to match the appearance of the church’s interior, a basilica spokeswoman told CNA
she could not comment on the photos or verify their authenticity.
People it’s happened. My daughters godparents just sent me these pictures from the Basillica of St. Mary’s in Minneapolis. pic.twitter.com/hFXIrzhNwa
— MrsBrometheus (@MrsBrometheus) May 30, 2020
Mae Desaire, communications director at the basilica, told CNA that the church is focused on praying for the city.
“Our damage in comparison to what is going in the city is really just minimal, and we’d really like to focus on that,” Desaire told CNA.
The basilica will livestream a “Pentecost Evening Prayer for Justice and Peace” Sunday evening, at 5:30pm Central.
Desaire said the basilica’s security personnel will be working with a police investigation into the matter, and with the church’s insurance provider to plan for repairing the damage.
Buildings across the Twin Cities have burned or been destroyed, after protests responding to Floyd’s death have turned into several nights of rioting and looting. Both peaceful demonstrations and
riots have taken place in dozens of other cities across the country.
St. Mary’s Basilica is located near the Minneapolis downtown, and more than a mile from the center of the riots in that city.
>> Read more
UN and US trade criticism over abortion during coronavirus (Sat, 30 May 2020)
CNA Staff, May 30, 2020 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- United Nations Human Rights Council has criticized some U.S. states for using the ongoing
COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to restrict abortion.
“UN experts are concerned some U.S. states – such as Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Iowa, Ohio, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee – appear to be manipulating #COVID19 crisis measures to restrict access to essential #abortion
care,” tweeted the United Nations Special Procedures account on Wednesday, May 27.
The tweet linked to an article published Wednesday on the United Nations Human Rights Council’s
Office of the High Commissioner’s website that further cited the states for classifying elective abortions as a non-essential medical procedure.
“We regret that the above-mentioned states, with a long history of restrictive practices against abortion, appear to be manipulating the crisis to severely restrict women’s reproductive rights,” said
Elizabeth Broderick, vice-chair of the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls, quoted in the article.
“This situation is also the latest expmple illustrating a pattern of restrictions and retrogressions in access to legal abortion care across the country. We fear that, without clear political will to
reverse such restrictive and regressive trends, states will continue pursuing this pattern,” Broderick added.
She further expressed fears that the measures introduced to conserve medical resources to fight the coronavirus would result in women staying pregnant past their state’s legal limit for abortion and
“render abortion services completely inaccessible,” and reiterated her belief that “abortion care constitutes essential health care and must remain available during the COVID-19 crisis.”
Abortion access in the United States has remained a contentious issue throughout the pandemic. Several states sought to halt elective abortions as well as other medical procedures deemed
non-essential, such as knee replacements.
Courts throughout the country reached differing conclusions on the
legality of these rules. Some of these bans, such as the one in Texas, have already expired.
The UN’s criticism of the abortion policies in the U.S. comes less than 10 days after acting USAID Administrator John Barsa sent a letter United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on May 18,
criticizing the United Nations for putting abortion access and other sexual health issues on the same priority as other basic human needs, such as access to food and shelter.
“The U.N. should not use this crisis as an opportunity to advance access to abortion as an ‘essential service,’” wrote Barsa.
“Unfortunately, the Global Humanitarian Response Plan does just this, by cynically placing the provision of ‘sexual and reproductive health services’ on the same level of importance as
food-insecurity, essential health care, malnutrition, shelter, and sanitation. Most egregious is that the Global HRP calls for the widespread distribution of abortion-inducing drugs and abortion
supplies, and for the promotion of abortion in local country settings.”
Barsa cited President Donald Trump’s priority of “defending innocent life” in his letter, and reminded Guterres that Trump told the U.N. General Assembly that the organization has “no business
attacking the sovereignty of nations that wish to protect innocent life.”
“To use the COVID-19 pandemic as a justification to pressure governments to change their laws is an affront to the autonomy of each society to determine its own national policies on health care,”
said Barsa. “The United States stands with nations that have pledged to protect the unborn.”
Three days later, on May 21, the U.N. refuted this claim and said that they would not use the pandemic to promote abortion.
"Any suggestion that we are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to promote abortion is not correct," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at the time, noting that “we do not seek to
override any national laws.”
>> Read more
Ahead of Pentecost, Supreme Court backs California coronavirus limits on churches (Sat, 30 May 2020)
Denver Newsroom, May 30, 2020 / 11:53 am (CNA).-
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of California’s limits on the number of people who may attend a church service, in a decision that saw justices debating whether religious services were being treated
more strictly than similar gatherings under restrictions aimed to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Chief Justice John Roberts, a President George W. Bush appointee, joined four Democrat-appointed justices in the 5-4 majority Friday. His opinion emphasized the need to defer to elected officials
amid efforts to respond to the Covid-19 epidemic.
“The precise question of when restrictions on particular social activities should be lifted during the pandemic is a dynamic and fact-intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement,” he said,
adding that local officials are “actively shaping their response to changing facts on the ground.”
Precedent entrusts to elected officials judgments about the safety and health of the people, he said, and they have especially broad latitude in areas of “medical and scientific uncertainties.”
“Where those broad limits are not exceeded, they should not be subject to second-guessing by an ‘unelected federal judiciary,’ which lacks the background, competence, and expertise to assess public
health and is not accountable to the people,” he continued.
The decision responded to an emergency appeal from the South Bay United Pentecostal Church and its senior pastor Bishop Arthur Hodges III, who had challenged California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order
limiting churches to 25% of their normal maximum capacity, with 100 people maximum at any service. The church said it would follow other guidance on social distancing and hygiene.
Roberts said “comparable secular gatherings” have similar or more strict restrictions, including “lectures, concerts, movie showings, spectator sports, and theatrical performances, where large groups
of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time.”
“And the order exempts or treats more leniently only dissimilar activities, such as operating grocery stores, banks, and laundromats, in which people neither congregate in large groups nor remain in
close proximity for extended periods,” he said.
In a mid-May interview, Hodges stressed the need for in-person events at his church.
“For example, it’s essential for people to be baptized,” he told NBC San Diego. “But you can’t baptize yourself. You have to have the church, the clergy, to do that.”
In a May 29 post on Twitter, Hodges said “a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is necessary to avoid civil disobedience by thousands of churches in California and other states on this Pentecost
Sunday, May 31.”
The church had filed an injunction request alleging that state and local officials “intentionally denigrated California churches and pastors and people of faith by relegating them to third-class
citizenship,” City News Service reports. It objected to the placement of places of worship in Stage 3 of California’s reopening plan. This stage includes movie theaters, salons and gyms. The church
also argued that manufacturing and warehouses had been arbitrarily classed in Stage 2, a faster track for reopening.
Roberts said the restrictions “appear consistent with the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.” He rejected the claim that it is “indisputably clear” the government limitations are
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, however, said the occupancy cap “indisputably discriminates against religion, and such discrimination violates the First Amendment.”
“The church would suffer irreparable harm from not being able to hold services on Pentecost Sunday in a way that comparable secular businesses and persons can conduct their activities,” he said in
“The basic constitutional problem is that comparable secular businesses are not subject to a 25% occupancy cap, including factories, offices, supermarkets, restaurants, retail stores, pharmacies,
shopping malls, pet grooming shops, bookstores, florists, hair salons, and cannabis dispensaries,” he continued.
Kavanaugh said the state must offer a “compelling justification” to distinguish between religious worship services and “the litany of other secular businesses that are not subject to an occupancy
“California has not shown such a justification,” he said, noting the importance of the church’s willingness to abide by state rules that apply to comparable secular business, including social
distancing and hygiene rules.
“I would grant the Church’s requested temporary injunction because California’s latest safety guidelines discriminate against places of worship and in favor of comparable secular businesses. Such
discrimination violates the First Amendment,” he said.
Kavanaugh’s dissent was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch. Justice Samuel Alito dissented but did not join the opinion.
The court rejected a different appeal from two Chicago-area churches that challenged a 10-person limit on attendees at religious services. Before the court took action, Gov. Jay Pritzker increased
the limit to 100 attendees per service.
The churches, Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church of Chicago and Logos Baptist Ministries of Niles, Ill., had both sought to open ahead of the Christian holy day of Pentecost.
>> Read more
Everything you need to know about Pentecost (Sat, 30 May 2020)
Denver, Colo., May 30, 2020 / 11:52 am (CNA).- This weekend, the Church celebrates Pentecost, one of the most important feast days of
the year that concludes the Easter season and celebrates the beginning of the Church.
Here’s what you need to know about the feast day:
The timing and origins of Pentecost
Pentecost always occurs 50 days after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and ten days after his ascension into heaven. Because Easter is a moveable feast without a fixed date, and Pentecost depends
on the timing of Easter, Pentecost can fall anywhere between May 10 and June 13.
The timing of these feasts is also where Catholics get the concept of the Novena - nine days of prayer - because in Acts 1, Mary and the Apostles prayed together “continuously” for nine days after
the Ascension leading up to Pentecost. Traditionally, the Church prays the Novena to the Holy Spirit in the days
The name of the day itself is derived from the Greek word "pentecoste," meaning 50th.
There is a parallel Jewish holiday, Shavu`ot, which falls 50 days after Passover. Shavu’ot is sometimes called the festival of weeks, referring to the seven weeks since Passover.
Originally a harvest feast, Shavu`ot now commemorates the sealing of the Old Covenant on Mount Sinai, when the Lord revealed the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai. Every year, the Jewish people renew
their acceptance of the gift of the Torah on this feast.
What happens at Pentecost?
In the Christian tradition, Pentecost is the celebration of the person of the Holy Spirit coming upon the Apostles, Mary, and the first followers of Jesus, who were gathered together in the Upper
A “strong, driving” wind filled the room where they were gathered, and tongues of fire came to rest on their heads, allowing them to speak in different languages so that they could understand each
other. It was such a strange phenomenon that some people thought the Christians were just drunk - but Peter pointed out that it was only the morning, and said the phenomenon was caused by the Holy
The Holy Spirit also gave the apostles the other gifts and fruits necessary to fulfill the great commission - to go out and preach the Gospel to all nations. It fulfills the New Testament promise
from Christ (Luke 24:46-49) that the Apostles would be “clothed with power” before they would be sent out to spread the Gospel.
Where’s that in the bible?
The main event of Pentecost (the strong driving wind and tongues of fire) takes place in Acts 2:13, though the events immediately
following (Peter’s homily, the baptism of thousands) continue through verse 41.
Happy Birthday, Church
It was right after Pentecost that Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, preached his first homily to Jews and other non-believers, in which he opened the scriptures of the Old Testament, showing how
the prophet Joel prophesied events and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
He also told the people that the Jesus they crucified is the Lord and was raised from the dead, which “cut them to the heart.” When they asked what they should do, Peter exhorted them to repent of
their sins and to be baptised. According to the account in Acts, about 3,000 people were baptised following Peter’s sermon.
For this reason, Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Church - Peter, the first Pope, preaches for the first time and converts thousands of new believers. The apostles and believers, for the
first time, were united by a common language, and a common zeal and purpose to go and preach the Gospel.
Pentecost vestments and customs around the world
Typically, priests will wear red vestments on Pentecost, symbolic of the burning fire of God’s love and the tongues of fire that descended on the apostles.
However, in some parts of the world, Pentecost is also referred to as “WhitSunday”, or White Sunday, referring to the white vestments that are typically worn in Britain and Ireland. The white is
symbolic of the dove of the Holy Spirit, and typical of the vestments that catechumens desiring baptism wear on that day.
An Italian Pentecost tradition is to scatter rose leaves from the ceiling of the churches to recall the miracle of the fiery tongues, and so in some places in Italy, Pentecost is sometimes called
Pascha Rosatum (Easter roses).
In France, it is tradition to blow trumpets during Mass to recall the sound of the driving wind of the Holy Spirit.
In Asia, it is typical to have an extra service, called genuflexion, during which long poems and prayers are recited. In Russia, Mass goers often carry flowers or green branches during Pentecost
This article was originally published on CNA June 2, 2017.
>> Read more