Browsing News Entries

Chicago workshop seeks to expand immigrant-led ministry nationwide

Chicago, Ill., Jul 18, 2018 / 03:21 am (CNA).- A five-day training session in the Archdiocese of Chicago last week gathered leaders from across the country to learn about starting an immigrant-led service ministry in their dioceses.

The goal of the gathering, according to the archdiocesan website, was to “train diocesan, pastoral and lay leaders from across the United States on how to start this immigrant-led ministry for service, justice and accompaniment in parish communities to serve the needs of immigrants.”

Delegates from 11 dioceses attended the July 11-15 Instituto Pastoral Migratoria at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

Created in 2007 by the Chicago archdiocesan Office of Human Dignity and Solidarity, Pastoral Migratoria seeks to respond to needs created by the lack of comprehensive immigration reform.

The parish-based ministry develops lay leaders who are able to identify and serve immigrants’ social and pastoral needs at a local level. In Chicago, more than 200 Hispanic lay leaders at 40 parishes are involved in the ministry.

The work they do is broad – from workers’ rights issues to financial literacy education to substance abuse awareness and prevention – “anything related to the immigrant community,” said Elena Segura, senior coordinator for immigration in the archdiocese.

“These are leaders who work in cooperation with professional organizations, who come to the parishes and provide the information and critical resources for people to learn and also to become positive members of society, to be integrated in this country,” she said.

Segura stressed that the program empowers immigrants to be leaders in their own parishes, “actors of their own development,” responding to the needs around them and transforming their communities.

“Immigrants have gifts and…they are people who are responding to their baptismal call to engage in bringing the resources needed in their parish communities,” she told CNA.

Often times, the immigrant leaders who are working to serve and accompany their brothers and sisters have themselves experienced a need for accompaniment in making the transition to life in the United States.

“It’s a journey of empowerment, it’s a journey of hope, it’s journey of compassion,” Segura said.

The July 11-15 training session is part of an effort to expand Pastoral Migratoria across the country. In the last year, the Dioceses of Kansas City–Saint Joseph and Stockton launched the program, and organizers hope to begin in three additional dioceses within the coming year.

“The ministry’s goal is to create a nationwide network of Catholic parish-based immigration ministries,” the Archdiocese of Chicago said in a press release.

Participants in the training session received formation and resources rooted in Catholic social teaching to help them implement Pastoral Migratoria in their home dioceses and form collaborative relationships with community partners. They visited Chicago parishes where this ministry is in place, and took part in a prayer vigil at a detention center. All sessions were conducted in Spanish.

Among the dioceses represented at the event were Atlanta, Des Moines, Kansas City–Saint Joseph, Little Rock, Los Angeles, New York, San Bernardino, St. Louis, and Stockton.

The modern miracle of Fatima

Fatima, Portugal, Jul 18, 2018 / 03:00 am (CNA).- While men in the trenches of World War I faced chemical gasses and industrialized weaponry that wrought unprecedented human carnage, an Angel of Peace appeared with a message.

“Do not be afraid. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me: My God I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You,” the angel told three children in rural Portugal in that first of several supernatural encounters that would take place over the course of 1916 and 1917.

When the Virgin Mary appeared to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco on May 13, 1917, she requested, “Say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.”

The Great War did come to an end in 1918, but the story and secrets of Fatima continued to unfold after the first world war until the fall of Communism in 1989. The Virgin Mary entered into the bloodiest century in human history with a message of peace and prayer.

In many ways the events at Fatima encapsulate the history 20th century, and in the long history of the Church, they will be remembered for their deep connections to the most important milestones of the last century.

Today a piece of the Berlin Wall stands in the Fatima square as a permanent monument to the apparition’s connection to 1989. The Bolsheviks’ October Revolution took place the same year as Fatima’s “Miracle of the Sun,” and the Virgin Mary specifically requested that the pope consecrate Russia to Mary, in union with the bishops of the world.

In Fatima’s museum, there is a rosary made from pieces of the Berlin Wall, a gift made by a Portuguese emigrant on May 13, 1991. There is also the ring that Pope John Paul II donated to Our Lady of Fatima in gratitude for her protection during the attempt on his life on May 13, 1981, a date that coincided with the anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. The ring had a special meaning to the pope; Cardinal Stephen Wszynski had given it to him at the beginning of his papacy in 1978. The pope also offered the bullet from the assassination attempt, which fit perfectly into Our Lady of Fatima’s crown.
World War II was also predicted by Our Lady of Fatima. “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI,” recorded Lucia in her third memoir.

“Fatima is undoubtedly the most prophetic of modern apparitions. The first and second parts of the ‘secret’ . . . refer especially to the frightening vision of hell, devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Second World War, and finally the prediction of the immense damage that Russia would do to humanity by abandoning the Christian faith and embracing Communist totalitarianism,” wrote the former Secretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith Tarcisio Bertone.

Lucia dos Santos, the principal Fatima visionary died in 2005. Her niece, Maria dos Anjos, is still living across the street from Lucia’s little house in Fatima. Now 98 years old, Anjos’ life has spanned all but three years of Fatima’s modern history.

“When she visited us Lucia always said ‘Pray the rosary every day. That is what Our Lady asked,” Anjos told CNA.

Anjos also told CNA how much the city of Fatima has changed in her lifetime. Life across Europe has changed completely since 1917, she said. For one thing, children no longer work as shepherds.

Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto did not travel far within their short lifetimes. They lived simple, austere, and faithful lives. Both died of the Spanish flu pandemic that killed between 50 and 100 million people in the early 20th century.

In perhaps the most poignant symbol of a changing world, what was once the pasture of poor shepherds is now an international pilgrimage destination where people from South Korea, India, Australia, and all over the world come together seeking the sacred.

 

 

 

India to investigate Missionaries of Charity childcare homes after scandal

New Delhi, India, Jul 17, 2018 / 03:28 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- India's Ministry of Women and Child Development announced Monday that it has instructed states to inspect all childcare homes run by the Missionaries of Charity.

The move comes after several children were allegedly sold by an employee of Nirmal Hriday, a Missionaries of Charity home for unwed mothers in Jharkhand state.

Maneka Ghandi, women and child development minister, added July 16 that all childcare and adoption institutions must register with the Central Adoption Resource Authority within the month.

Earlier this month two women affiliated with the Missionaries of Charity, one a religious sister and one an employee, were arrested after a couple complained that they were sold a baby boy, who was then taken back by the shelter.

Anima Indwar, who had worked at the shelter as a sweeper since 2012, and Sister Konsalia (Concelia), were arrested July 4 and 5 in Jharkhand. Another shelter employee is also under investigation.

Indwar admitted that she sold the children. In one deal, a couple from Uttar Pradesh adopted the child and the deal was finalized through the guard. She denied that Sister Konsalia was present during the transaction. She said the baby’s biological mother was involved in the exchange.

Police appear to have been alerted July 3 when a couple from Uttar Pradhesh complained to the Child Welfare Committee in Ranchi, capital of Jharkhand, that a baby boy they received after payment had been taken back.

Police say that a couple reportedly paid 120,000 Indian rupees ($1,760) to Indwar. The couple complained that Indwar took their money in exchange for a child, and that she later took the child back from them without returning the money.

The baby in question was born May 1 to a shelter resident, and was apparently given to the couple two weeks later. On July 1, Indwar reportedly asked the couple to return to the shelter with the baby for some “formalities.” She then took the child from his adoptive parents and did not give him back. The baby is now in state custody.

Sister Konsalia described her experience in a video.

“I came to know that a baby, delivered in May, was missing when the Child Welfare Committee came to check,” she said in a video. “We found out that the baby had been sold off by a staffer.”

Sister Konsalia has recounted her conversation with Indwar.

“When I initially asked the staffer about the baby, she did not want to tell me anything. It was only when I kept pressing for details that they told me the baby had been sold,” she said.

A small portion of the money had been given to the guard, while nine times that amount was given to “a sister.”

Sister Konsalia said that Indwar told her she did not take any money.

The nun said she informed authorities about the matter and said the baby should be brought back.

A police source said that Indwar provided to police a handwritten note from Sister Konsalia asking Indwar to take the blame on herself, Matters India reports.

Sister Konsalia's defenders, including the bishops of India, are asking whether she was an accomplice, or the victim of a coerced confession.

Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, Auxiliary Bishop of Ranchi, speaking to NDTV, charged that police are “treating the whole of Mother Teresa’s organization as a criminal gang.”

Bishop Mascarenhas, speaking in his role as the Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, condemned the shelter staffer accused of selling the babies, but said the rule of law was not being followed in Sister Konsalia’s case.

“Nobody was allowed to meet Sister Konsalia in custody,” he said. “Her advocate could meet her on Wednesday, eight days after her arrest, only after we approached the court,” he said July 12, according to the Hindustan Times. “During the 10 minutes interaction that the advocate could have with her, she said she was forced by the police to give her statement.”

Mascarenhas had objected that the nun was being treated as a criminal. He said she is diabetic with varicose veins, and wasn’t aware of her statement.

Mascarenhas condemned the sale.

“It shouldn’t have happened. But, accusing the entire congregation of Mother Teresa is wrong,” he said July 12.

Babulal Marandi, former chief minister of Jharkhand, visited the shelter July 14 and interacted with the sisters, the news site Matters India reports. He alleged that the case had become a “media trial.” He said the Missionaries of Charity have served society for many years.

“The government should conduct a direct probe instead of issuing statements to the media,” he said.

However, police have said the accusations were filed on the basis of evidence, including confessions by the accused.

All four babies have been recovered by authorities. At the time of the arrests, there were a dozen pregnant women living at the shelter. They have now been transferred to a government-run home.

A spokesperson for the Kolkata-based Missionaries of Charity said that the order stopped dealing with child adoption in India in 2015, and did not take money for adoptions when it did assist in them. The order is conducting their own investigation about the case.

Members of opposition parties have accused India's ruling party, the Hindu-nationalist group the Bharatiya Janata Party, of harassing and persecuting the missionaries on the basis of unbelievable allegations.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has backed the Missionaries of Charity. She accused the BJP government of making “malicious attempts to malign” the charity and the name of Mother Theresa.

Rameshwar Oraon, the leader of Jharkhand Congress and a former police officer, said some police appeared to be taking part in the political controversy over the police action against the Missionaries of Charity.

The Jharkhand police have also called for a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into foreign funds received by Missionaries of Charity institutions. R.K. Mallick, the senior police officer, told NDTV that the recommendation was motivated by irregularities investigators detected.

The Albanian-born Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata in 1950. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, and canonized in 2016. There are now about 3,000 Missionaries of Charity sisters around the world.

In addition to the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, members of the Missionaries of Charity take a fourth vow pledging “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor.”

Kavanaugh’s friends describe man of humility, service, faith

Washington D.C., Jul 17, 2018 / 03:04 pm (CNA).- Long-time friends and associates of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh say he is a sincere Catholic, committed to living the tenets of his faith.

Last week, President Trump nominated Kavanaugh to serve as Associate United States Supreme Court. In a short speech following the announcement, Kavanaugh highlighted his commitment to his faith and his family.

“I've known Brett - Judge Kavanaugh - for 20 years,” Shannen Coffin, an attorney in Washington, D.C., told CNA. “He's a very smart person, but he's a regular guy, too. He's a devoted father, and spouse.”

Judge Kavanaugh has spent the last 12 years on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals but despite that formidable judicial record, Coffin says that there are “no airs about” him and he has a “humility in his approach to judging.”

“He's also the guy who after a day of long meetings with senators, you know, and without fanfare, was serving food to the homeless.”

Coffin said that Kavanaugh “views the role of a judge in the constitutional system not as a political job, but as a job of interpreting statutes and interpreting the Constitution.”

On the topic of religious liberty, Coffin was quick to dismiss anyone who had doubts that Kavanaugh would be a staunch protector of religious freedoms.

“I think they’re fools,” he said bluntly. “I don't have any hesitations in thinking that this is a great appointment for those concerned about religious liberty.”

Kavanaugh is a “vigilant defender of religious liberty,” Coffin said, as evidenced by his line of questioning in the recent court case brought against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, (WMATA) by the Archdiocese of Washington. While that case has yet to be decided, Kavanaugh’s questions and reasoning made it clear that he thought WMATA had acted illegally by prohibiting religious-themed advertisements.

“What really should impress Catholics is that this is a guy who is committed to the fundamental text of the Constitution and protecting those liberties preserved in the Constitution.”

Msgr. John Enzler, CEO and president of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., is another longtime friend of Kavanaugh. Enzler told CNA they first met when Kavanaugh was just 10 years old. At the time, Kavanaugh was a member of Little Flower Parish in Bethesda, where Enzler was serving as a priest.

“He was always a wonderful young guy,” Enzler told CNA.

Kavanaugh attended an all-boys Catholic elementary school before moving on to Georgetown Prep. At Georgetown Prep, Kavanaugh played sports, captaining the basketball team in his senior year.

“They weren’t that talented that particular year, but he was still the captain,” said Enzler.

Like Coffin, Enzler was quick to note that Kavanaugh is “really just a regular guy,” who loves sports, and loves being with friends.

Enzler said he did not know that Kavanaugh would be the president’s Supreme Court nominee until about three hours before the official announcement, but it was Enzler’s presence at the announcement that tipped off some people that Kavanaugh was Trump’s pick.

“When they saw me, they knew Brett was the guy, because they knew I was a friend of Brett's," said Enzler. "I kind of blew the cover, by being there for my friend."

Enzler said that when they first discussed Kavanaugh’s possible nomination, the judge was concerned about breaking his volunteering commitments. Kavanaugh asked if he could still come to serve the homeless later that week, saying he said wanted to do so regardless of the nomination result.

Kavanaugh called Enzler on Sunday, and said there was a “50-50” chance he would be the nominee, and that he would like for him to attend the announcement were he picked.

“By the way, if I'm chosen or not, I'd still want to come on Wednesday night to serve food, is that okay with you?”

Kavanaugh has been a consistent volunteer at Catholic Charities, coming to serve the homeless about “15, 16 times” over the last few years, Enzler said.

“He’s been here a bunch of times and serving, and nobody knew who he was,” said Enzler. “Not just a one-time thing.”

After the announcement was made last Monday, Enzler said he received another call from Kavanaugh two days later, checking if it would still be okay for him to volunteer that evening. On this occasion the media came too, and Kavanaugh definitely wasn’t the unknown volunteer he had been before.

"This is the guy next door, this is what he's like,” said Enzler. “He's not like some intellectual powerhouse you'd never talk to. This is a guy who's very friendly, very outgoing, very nice, lot of laughter, big smile, wonderful father, wonderful husband, man of faith, lives his faith, goes to church every week."

While Enzler said he was “very happy” for his long-time friend, he is concerned about what his family will face during the nomination proceedings.

“The process is very difficult,” explained Enzler. “Your family and you personally take a lot of heat from people who don’t agree with you.”

Most of all, Enzler believes that Kavanaugh is a “man of complete integrity, and a man of complete honesty” who will make his decisions in court based upon what is best for the nation and what is in-line with the Constitution.

"I'm very proud of him," said Enzler. "He will be a superb justice of the Supreme Court."

 

'Weeping' statue of Mary investigated by N.M. diocese

Las Cruces, N.M., Jul 17, 2018 / 01:15 pm (CNA).- A New Mexican diocese is investigating a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that some Catholics say has been “weeping” for more than a month.

Bishop Oscar Cantú of the Diocese of Las Cruces gave a public update July 15 about the diocesan investigation into an allegedly “weeping” statue of the Virgin Mary. The cast bronze image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been drawing crowds to the church named in her honor in Hobbs, N.M. 


A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Hobbs, N.M., appears to be weeping. Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Las Cruces.

Parishioners first reported seeing tears appearing to stream down the hollow statue in May.

Giving an update on the investigation launched that same month, Bishop Cantú said on Sunday that some had also reported a pleasant smell around the statue.

“Some of the witnesses claimed it smelled of roses, so something similar to the oil I bless and consecrate each year that we use for baptism, for confirmations and for ordination of the priests.” So far, the investigation seems to support these reports. As part of the efforts to determine the origin and nature of the tears, samples were sent for chemical analysis. The results determined that the tears were made of a scented olive oil.

The statue itself is also being examined.  "We examined the interior of the hollow statue," Cantú told reporters. "There's nothing on the interior that's not supposed to be there, except for cobwebs. So we took pictures; we examined it."

It was thought by investigators that the tears might have been the result of residual wax from the casting process, but this appears to have been ruled out. Cantú said that the manufacturers had assured them that the heat of the casting process made it impossible for there to be any moisture left in the statue. Addressing the possibility that the weeping statue could be an hoax, he noted that if it was he could not see how it was being accomplished.

On July 11, it was announced that Bishop Cantú was being transferred to  take up the post of bishop coadjutor in the diocese of San José, California. He is scheduled to take up that post at the end of September. Before he leaves, Cantú said he intends to visit the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe to see the statue for himself.

Before making any final decision on the miraculous nature of the weeping statue, the bishop said he would be seeking advice from a higher authority. “I'm checking best practices," he told reporters. "Certainly, I have a final say, but I would defer to the wisdom of Pope Francis."

In the meantime, the Hobbs church continues to see a steady stream of visitors. Even without formal recognition by church authorities, many are finding it a moving experience.

“I've read most of those written testimonies, and they are stories of tremendous faith, people who have been dealing with terrible suffering in their lives and have felt a tremendous spiritual consolation that Mary walks with us in our tears” Cantú said.

He noted that for many Catholics in the border diocese of Las Cruces, the image of Our Lady crying with them was deeply powerful. “I can't help but think of my own shedding of tears for the poor people who come to our border, fleeing life-threatening situations. The tears of those children who are separated from their parents. There are many reasons we would shed tears, and God stands with us in those moments.”

The diocesan investigation continues.