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Missionary says Haiti unprepared to accept thousands returning from US

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Nov 22, 2017 / 07:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Trump administration announced Monday it will be ending protected legal residency for an estimated 60,000 Haitians living in the United States, giving them until July 2019 to return to their country.

Thousands of Haitians flocked to the United States in 2010 following a catastrophic earthquake that measured at 7.0 on the Richter scale and which killed more than 200,000, displaced more than 1 million, and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses in and around the country’s capital city, Port-au-Prince.

The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that the “extraordinary conditions” necessitating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians in the United States “no longer exists”.

TPS, a policy begun in 1990, allows people who are unable safely to return to their home nations because of armed conflict, other violence, natural disasters, or other extraordinary and temporary circumstances to remain in the United States while the situation in their home country resolves.

“Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens,” Homeland Security secretary Elaine Duke said in a statement. “Haiti has also demonstrated a commitment to adequately prepare for when the country’s TPS designation is terminated.”

But many question whether Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, would be able to support an influx of 60,000 people returning home after seven years.

David Quinn is a Catholic missionary from Hastings, Neb. who has lived in Haiti since the spring of 2015 with his wife, Andrea, and their two children. While they did not experience the 2010 earthquake first-hand, they did experience Hurricane Matthew, which struck the nation in 2016.

Quinn said the country still has not recovered from the earthquake or the hurricane and is ill-equipped to provide for the people who already live in Haiti.

“They have never recovered from the earthquake from what I can see,” Quinn told CNA.

“They’ve cleaned up some things here and there, but as far as returning to what they had before? Not even close. Their economy hasn’t improved since the earthquake, it’s been continuing to degrade, and many, many people are without work yet.”

In one part of Port-au-Prince, people are still living in tents and “tin boxes”, their homes destroyed seven years ago and never rebuilt, Quinn said. Most people subsist off of simple gardening, selling what they can at the weekly market and living off of a “pittance of an income and a really poor diet.”

“There’s so many people without work already, and if you throw another 60,000 people back into the situation, I don’t know what they would do...how would they feed themselves? ” Quinn said.

When Hurricane Matthew struck, blowing over homes and banana trees, Quinn said the government was not prepared to handle the aftermath and did little to nothing to help their own people.

“If you look at their response even to Hurricane Matthew, right afterwards you go to the local government and you’re like ok, do you have any food stored or anything set aside for how people are going to eat? And they have nothing, they didn’t prepare at all. So it was up to NGOs and us with the Church,” Quinn said, to provide support and bring in international aid.  

Non-profits and charitable organizations are often left to take care of the people of Haiti, Quinn noted, but he added that charity, while necessary, also decreases many people’s drive to work and often perpetuates the cycle of poverty.

“You could work for a whole day and make like a dollar or two, or you can just give me (something), which people often do, because they’re so poor. So it just becomes this kind of cycle of dependence,” Quinn said.

“So if you have a Haitian who’s living in the United States and he’s a productive member of society, and then he goes back to Haiti, then it’s very likely he’s going to become dependent, not productive,” he said.

The decision to end TPS would also not only disrupt the lives of the 60,000 people who have been living in the United States for seven years, Quinn added, but it would also disrupt the lives and sources of income on which many Haitians depend.

“Many, many of them depend on people living in the States, sending money back to their families. So many people depend on that, so if they were to get kicked out, the situation gets incredibly worse, not just for those people but for their families who were getting $100 a month or whatever amount sent back,” he said.

“It’s just really sad to see,” he added. “I can’t imagine having my life set up somewhere else for (almost) a decade, and having it taken away like that.”

Earlier this month, the Catholic bishops of the United States released a report entitled Haiti's Ongoing Road to Recovery: The Necessity of an Extension of Temporary Protected Status, recommending the U.S. government extend TPS for Haitians.

"(W)hile conditions in Haiti are improving, the country is not yet in a position where it can adequately and safely accept return of the estimated 50,000 Haitian nationals who have received TPS," Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, said in his introduction to the report.

Similarly, in October, the U.S. Bishops recommended that the Trump administration extend TPS for people from Honduras and El Salvador, who would face violence and crime if they were sent back to their countries.

Many lawmakers of both parties have voiced their opposition to the decision to end TPS status for Haitians, including many in Florida, where more than half of TPS Haitians live.

“I traveled to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 and after hurricane Matthew in 2016. So I can personally attest that Haiti is not prepared to take back nearly 60,000 TPS recipients under these difficult and harsh conditions,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), said on Twitter.

TPS status for an estimated 200,000 Salvadorans is set to expire in January, while a decision on the TPS status of 57,000 Hondurans has been deferred for six months.

Pope Francis: At Mass we participate in Calvary

Vatican City, Nov 22, 2017 / 03:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday Pope Francis said that when we attend Mass, it is as if we are approaching Jesus on the Cross at Calvary, and that at every Eucharist we not only experience Christ’s redemption, but we participate in it.

“When we go to Mass, it is as if we go to Calvary, the same,” Pope Francis said Nov. 22. “This is the Mass: to enter into this Passion, death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus.”

When we enter the church for Mass, we should think to ourselves: “I enter Calvary, where Jesus gives his life for me,” the Pope continued, saying he is sure we would respond to this “in silence, in weeping,” and also with joy, because we have been saved from death and sin.

At the general audience, Pope Francis continued his new catechesis on the Mass and the Eucharist by reflecting on what he said is the essential element of every Mass – that it is a "memorial of the Paschal Mystery of Christ."

Imagine that you are actually at Calvary, he continued. In that moment, you would look up and know that the man upon the cross is Jesus. Would you allow yourself to make chit-chat or take pictures? “No, because Jesus (is there)!”

Quoting from Lumen gentium, the Second Vatican Council's dogmatic constitution of the Church, Francis said that “As often as the sacrifice of the cross in which Christ our Passover was sacrificed, is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried on.”

This means, he explained, that Christ’s Passion and death are taking place every time we celebrate Mass, and our participation in the Eucharist, “brings us into the Paschal Mystery of Christ.”

And if we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist, “in faith,” he noted, then “we too can truly love God and neighbor, we can love how He loved us, giving life.”

In the Eucharist, the Lord Jesus, “pours upon us all his mercy and love, as he did on the cross, so as to renew our heart, our existence, and our way of communicating with Him and with our brothers.”

Christ’s Passion and death is the ultimate victory over death, Francis emphasized, because he transformed his death “into the supreme act of love.”

This priest says Adoration has made Juarez a safer city

Juarez, Mexico, Nov 22, 2017 / 03:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Juarez, located in the state of Chihuahua in northern Mexico, was considered from 2008 to 2010 to be one of the the most dangerous cities in the world, due to drug trafficking violence and the constant struggles for power and territory between the cartels.

However, the city of 1.3 million inhabitants dropped off this list thanks to a significant decrease in the number of homicides: from 3,766 in 2010 to 256 in 2015.

Although this drop can be credited to an improvement in the work of local authorities, for Fr. Patrico Hileman – a priest responsible for establishing Perpetual Adoration chapels in Latin America – there is a much deeper reason: Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

“When a parish adores God day and night, the city is transformed,” Fr. Hileman said.

The priest told Radio María Argentina that in 2013 the missionaries opened the first Perpetual Adoration Chapel in Juarez. At that time “40 people a day were dying because two drug gangs were fighting over the city to move drugs into the United States.”

It was the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels, whose former leader Joaquín “el Chapo” Guzmán Loera was recently extradited from Mexico to the United States.

Fr. Hileman recalled that “the parishes were saying that the war wasn't ending because a group of soldiers were with one gang and the police were with the other one. They were killing people, burning houses down so they would leave, fighting over the city.”

One of the parishes that was “desperate” asked the missionaries to open a Perpetual Adoration chapel because they assured that “only Jesus is going to save us from this, only Jesus can give us security.”

The missionaries only took three days to establish the first Perpetual Adoration chapel in Juarez.

Fr. Hileman told how one day, when the city was under a state of siege, a lady was on her way to the chapel to do her Holy Hour at 3:00 in the morning, when she was intercepted by six soldiers who asked her where she was heading.

When the woman told them that she was going to “the little chapel” the uniformed men asked her what place, because everything was closed at that hour. Then the woman proposed  they accompany her to see for themselves.

When they got to the chapel, the soldiers found “six women making the Holy Hour at the 3:00 in the morning,” Fr. Hileman said.

At that moment the lady said to the soldiers: “Do you think you're protecting us? We're praying for you 24 hours a day.”

One of the uniformed men fell down holding his weapon,“crying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The next day at 3:00 in the morning they saw him in civilian clothes doing a Holy Hour, crying oceans of tears,” he said.

Two months after the chapel was opened, the pastor “calls us and says to us: Father, since the chapel was opened there has not been one death in Juarez, it's been two months since anyone has died.”

“We put up ten little chapels in a year,” Fr. Hileman said.

As if that were not enough, “at that time they were going to close the seminary because there were only eight seminarians and now there are 88. The bishop told me me that these seminarians had participated in the Holy Hours.”

Fr. Hileman pointed out that “that is what Jesus does in a parish” when people understand that “we find security in Christ.”

He also noted that “the greatest miracles occur in the early hours of the morning. “

The early morning “is when you're most at peace, when you hear God better, your mind, your heart  is more tranquil, you're there alone for God. If you are generous with Jesus, he is a thousand times more generous with you,” Fr. Hileman said.

 

This article was originally published on CNA Jan. 26, 2017.

The Grace of Suffering

In our suffering, we collaborate with Christ for the salvation of the world. Our suffering is therefore anything but random and meaningless. It is cosmically restorative, even though it may be a horrible burden to the sufferer. John Paul didn’t intend to whitewash suffering. Doing so would have been both insensitive and false. But he did want to show that God can use even suffering for the betterment of humankind. It, like everything else, has a place in the economy of salvation. 

—from the book John Paul II: A Short Biography by Kerry Walters

More than 100 couples get married in Paraguay cathedral

Asunción, Paraguay, Nov 21, 2017 / 07:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Over one hundred couples who had been living together but were not yet married celebrated their marriages in the Asuncion Cathedral in Paraguay Nov. 15.

The couples were able to say  “I do,” thanks to support from the Santa Librada Foundation, which put on a program to prepare the couples for marriage, in collaboration with the Asuncion Archdiocese, and the Community of Missionary Families of Christ.

Children and relatives of the couples participated in a Mass celebrated by Fr. Oscar Gonzalez, Vicar General of the Archdiocese, along with 16 others priests and deacons.

The couples came from 18 parishes from various areas in and around Asuncion. Most of the couples participating in the program reported that they had been unable to afford the cost of a wedding on their own.  

111 couples participated in a program of weekly spiritual formation and psychological support, which aimed to help them “understand more deeply the importance of entering into marriage, especially as a covenant with God, which is fundamental in building and strengthening the family,” a sponsor couple told the Encuentro Weekly.

The Retail Company, a socially minded  business which owns a supermarket chain where most of the newlyweds work, paid for the wedding attire, hairdressing, makeup and transportation, according to the EFE news agency.

The large wedding took place as part of the 50th anniversary of the Santa Librada Foundation, the social outreach arm of a local business group, which provides support and assistance to needy families in Paraguay.  

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Why character counts in the voting booth

Denver, Colo., Nov 21, 2017 / 05:20 pm (CNA).- Sexual misconduct allegations against Republican candidate Roy Moore have brought Alabama’s special election to fill a U.S. Senate seat into the national spotlight.

U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) has also been recently accused of kissing and groping women against their will. During the 2016 presidential campaign, more than a dozen women raised allegations of sexual assault or harassment against Republican candidate Donald Trump.

These accusations have raised public debate about whether a candidate’s personal character should matter in elections, and if so, to what extent.

“Obviously, all of us are sinners. But some sins are especially relevant when deciding whether to give one's vote to a candidate,” said Dr. Kevin Miller, professor of moral theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

“The key purpose of politics is justice – as thinkers from Aristotle to Pope Benedict XVI have taught,” Miller told CNA.

“Thus it should especially be taken into account when a candidate has – based on good evidence – acted unjustly, and even more especially when the candidate's unjust actions have been habitual and/or when the candidate does not give serious indication of repentance against these actions.”

Moore is the Republican nominee in Alabama’s special election to fill a U.S. Senate seat, left vacant when former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions was appointed U.S. attorney general earlier this year.

A former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Moore was removed from the court twice – once for refusing to obey a federal court order to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama judicial building, and later for instructing that same-sex marriage licenses should not be issued after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in 2015.

In recent weeks, nine women have brought allegations of misconduct against Moore, including an accusation of forced sexual contact with a 14-year-old in 1979.

A number of high-profile Republican leaders – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.) – have withdrawn their support from Moore, while others, including Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, continue to support the candidate. One Alabama pastor told the Boston Globe that he would continue to support Moore even if the allegations against him were true.

Franken, who has publicly criticized other public figures accused of sexual misconduct, has apologized for some accusations leveled against him, while maintaining that other allegations are the result of misunderstanding, or have been mischaracterized. While some public figures have defended him, including former colleagues in the entertainment industry, others have called for investigations, or for his resignation.

When a candidate is facing serious allegations of misconduct, how should Catholics respond?

While Church teaching does not dictate which party or candidate a Catholic should choose, it does offer guidelines for Catholics in the voting booth.

In the 2007 document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops outline an approach to political responsibility based upon developing a “well-formed conscience.”

In addition to considering moral issues of grave importance, the document says that voting decisions “should take into account a candidate’s commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue.”

The importance of character and integrity should not be taken lightly, Dr. Miller told CNA.

When there is good evidence that a candidate has habitually or unrepentantly engaged in serious injustice, whether in sexuality or in another area, Miller said, “there is a serious presumption that the candidate ought not be entrusted with decisions about the common good, which consists especially of justice.”

“One doesn't need ‘proof’ that allegations against a candidate are true before one may reasonably decide that such allegations warrant a decision not to vote for the candidate,” Miller continued.

Even when definitive proof is lacking, there may be substantial evidence supporting an allegation, he said. “It is a voter's right and responsibility to make an honest and serious attempt to consider whether such evidence exists. As others have pointed out, a candidate doesn't have a right to one's vote.”

The election of a candidate who has habitually committed serious injustices is likely to cause scandal and a negative influence on culture, Miller said, adding that negative cultural consequences could outweigh the good the candidate might do in office.

Additionally, a candidate who defends serious injustices in his own life may make poor decisions about justice in society, Miller said.

Miller also cautioned that there can be a tendency to be defensive about the candidate that one supports, and to minimize flaws in personal conduct and in policy decisions.

“This is a way in which voting for a ‘bad’ candidate can be bad, not only for justice and the common good, but for the voter's own soul,” he said.

“Thus, there is a serious risk that voting for a ‘bad’ candidate can be the equivalent of trying to gain the world at the expense of one's soul,” he continued, noting that voters must be concerned with personal salvation and the “soul” of political culture.

Miller clarified that deciding not to vote for a candidate in one party does not morally translate to a vote for the candidate of another party.

“There are other alternatives, like voting write-in or third-party – or not voting at all in a particular race,” he said.

Character is not the only factor to be considered in weighing candidates, Miller acknowledged. “There are obviously some policy issues that are extraordinarily serious,” he said, pointing to abortion as an example.

“I think you have to take seriously the gravity of some of the political issues we’re faced with today,” he said. “You also have to take seriously violations of human dignity and justice,” such as some of the allegations being raised against prominent politicians and other leaders.

In the case of a candidate for whom there is evidence of engagement in particularly grave evils and no sign of repentance, Miller said Catholics should at least consider voting third party or abstaining.

In the end, there is no easy formula or flow chart that is guaranteed to give the uniquely correct answer to every question that arises at the ballot box, he said. Catholics should take all factors into account and think about what will serve justice and the common good, not just in the short term, but in the long term.

A part of that discernment, Miller said, is that Catholics consider a candidate’s character and integrity.

“The point is that voters need at least to consider these concerns – in a morally [and] intellectually serious and honest way – rather than simply ignoring [or] dismissing them,” he said.

 

EWTN launches on-demand access to 12,000 programs

Irondale, Ala., Nov 21, 2017 / 04:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- EWTN Global Catholic Network has introduced a new service allowing free on-demand access to a large library of its video content, with more than 12,000 programs available, and more being added regularly.

“EWTN On Demand has something for everyone,” said EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw in a statement on Friday.

 “There’s nothing to fill out, no membership required, and no fees to pay. All you need is an Internet connection and you are good to go,” said EWTN President Doug Keck.

“No one has more hours of Catholic programming on demand than EWTN,” Keck said.

Available at www.ewtn.com/ondemand, the new on-demand service offers content including news, answers to common questions about faith, and book recommendations.

“From news shows like ‘EWTN News Nightly,’ ‘The World Over,’ and ‘EWTN Pro-Life Weekly,’ to classics like ‘Mother Angelica Live,’ ‘Fr. Spitzer’s Universe,’ and ‘Called to Communion,’ EWTN On Demand has you covered!” Warsaw said.

Other available programs include ‘EWTN Live,’ ‘Vaticano,’ ‘Life on the Rock,’ ‘Threshold of Hope,’ and ‘EWTN Bookmark.’ More content will be added to the on-demand collection in the future, the network said.

EWTN Global Catholic Network was launched in 1981 by Mother Angelica of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration. The largest religious media network in the world, it reaches more than 270 million television households in more than 145 countries and territories.

In addition to 11 television channels in multiple languages, EWTN platforms include radio services through shortwave and satellite radio, SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio, and over 500 AM & FM affiliates. EWTN publishes the National Catholic Register, operates a religious goods catalogue, and in 2015 formed EWTN Publishing in a joint venture with Sophia Institute Press. Catholic News Agency is also part of the EWTN family.

Mother Mary Knows Your Voice

Mother Mary knows each voice singularly. She hears the call, perceives the need, and rushes to her child’s side. This sweet Mother of mercy and grace will be there for her children in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts, and fears.

Mary knows your voice. She will hear your call, she will perceive your need, and then she will rush to your side. Call her now. She is waiting to hear your voice above all the others.

—from the book Forgiving Mother: A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace by Marge Steinhage Fenelon

We Belong to God

When you take the full measure of yourself, in Christ, you, too, know your infinite value to the rest of the world, even if the world never knows or sees one thing about you. Every hair on your head is numbered. You are worth more than you know because you have lusts and longings and desires. Unto death and out of love, you consent to hold the tension of the conflict. And your infinite value doesn’t cease when you die. It lives on, into eternity.

Morning Offering

When I wake up every morning, I say, “Lord, thank you for giving me another day. Please grant me the grace to hear and obey you today.” While it only takes a few seconds, that simple prayer sets the tone for the entire day.

Each new day is a gift from the Lord. Beginning with prayer keeps the distractions of daily life at bay, so that we do not lose sight of God’s plan.

—from the book Faith, Hope, and Clarity: How to Know God’s Will
by Gary Zimak