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Catholic News

IMAGE: CNS photo/EPABy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will visit the United Arab Emirates next year, becoming the first pope to visit the Arabian Peninsula, the Vatican announced.In a Dec. 6 statement, the Vatican said the pope will "participate in the International Interfaith Meeting on 'Human Fraternity'" after receiving an invitation by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi."The visit will take place also in response to the invitation of the Catholic Church in the United Arab Emirates," the Vatican said.The trip Feb. 3-5 will take place less than a week after Pope Francis returns from his Jan. 23-28 visit to Panama for World Youth Day.Shortly after the announcement, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, welcomed the announcement of the pope's visit in a post on his personal Facebook page.The visit, he said "will strengthen our ties and underst...

IMAGE: CNS photo/EPA

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will visit the United Arab Emirates next year, becoming the first pope to visit the Arabian Peninsula, the Vatican announced.

In a Dec. 6 statement, the Vatican said the pope will "participate in the International Interfaith Meeting on 'Human Fraternity'" after receiving an invitation by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

"The visit will take place also in response to the invitation of the Catholic Church in the United Arab Emirates," the Vatican said.

The trip Feb. 3-5 will take place less than a week after Pope Francis returns from his Jan. 23-28 visit to Panama for World Youth Day.

Shortly after the announcement, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, welcomed the announcement of the pope's visit in a post on his personal Facebook page.

The visit, he said "will strengthen our ties and understanding of each other, enhance interfaith dialogue and help us to work together to maintain and build peace among the nations of the world."

In a message published on the visit's official website, Swiss Bishop Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of Southern Arabia, expressed his hope that the pope's "short visit will be a moment of deepening our faith and our adherence to the bishop of Rome."

Although a detailed program of the pope's schedule "will be published before Christmas," Bishop Hinder confirmed that Pope Francis will celebrate a public Mass in Abu Dhabi Feb. 5 and that arrangements are being made to allow as many faithful as possible "to participate in this historic event."

"Let us keep in mind that it will be the first visit of a pope to the Arabian Peninsula," the bishop said.

The Vatican also released the logo and the theme of the papal visit, "Make me a channel of your peace," which is inspired by St. Francis of Assisi's prayer for peace.

The theme, the Vatican statement said, "expresses our own prayer that the visit of Pope Francis to the United Arab Emirates may spread in a special way the peace of God within the hearts of all people of goodwill."

Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, said the theme was also a fitting description of the purpose of the pope's visit which will focus on "how all people of goodwill can work for peace."

"This visit, like the one to Egypt, shows the fundamental importance the Holy Father gives to interreligious dialogue," Burke said. "Pope Francis visiting the Arab world is a perfect example of the culture of encounter."

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican MediaBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians are not people of faith in name only, Pope Francis said; they trust in God, base their lives on his truth and seek to act on the teachings of Jesus.People with faith in God have not put their hope only in words or in "vanity, pride, in the fleeting powers of life," he said. They put their hopes on solid ground -- the Lord, he said in his homily Dec. 6 during morning Mass at his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's Gospel reading in which Jesus tells his disciples that those who act on his teachings will have built their house on solid rock, while those who only listen to his word and do not act will be fools with a vulnerable house built on sand.The pope said the Advent season is a time for people to ask themselves, "Am I Christian in words or in deeds? Do I build my life on the rock of God or on the sand of the world, of vanity? Am I humble? Do...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians are not people of faith in name only, Pope Francis said; they trust in God, base their lives on his truth and seek to act on the teachings of Jesus.

People with faith in God have not put their hope only in words or in "vanity, pride, in the fleeting powers of life," he said. They put their hopes on solid ground -- the Lord, he said in his homily Dec. 6 during morning Mass at his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's Gospel reading in which Jesus tells his disciples that those who act on his teachings will have built their house on solid rock, while those who only listen to his word and do not act will be fools with a vulnerable house built on sand.

The pope said the Advent season is a time for people to ask themselves, "Am I Christian in words or in deeds? Do I build my life on the rock of God or on the sand of the world, of vanity? Am I humble? Do I seek to always lower myself, without pride, and, in that way, serve the Lord?"

Being Christian in name or words only, he said, is a superficial form of belief, like putting on makeup to look the part. It is going only "halfway -- I say I am Christian, but I don't do what Christians do."

"What Jesus proposes is concreteness, always concrete," like the works of mercy, he said.

The consequence of only trying to look Christian by words alone and without concrete action is having a life lacking in any solid foundation, Pope Francis said.

The Lord provides the strength, he said. "Many times, those who trust in the Lord do not stand out, they are not successful, they are hidden. But they are solid."

"The concreteness of Christian life makes us go forward and build on that rock that is God, that is Jesus," not on "appearances or on vanity, pride, connections. No. The truth."

 

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Jose Luis Aguirre, Catholic San FranciscoBy Dennis SadowskiWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Abby Johnson, who early in her career assisted in carrying out abortions, will be among the speakers during the 2019 March for Life rally Jan. 18 on the National Mall in Washington.Johnson, a one-time Planned Parenthood clinic director, is the founder of And Then There Were None, a ministry that assists abortion clinic workers who have left their position."Unique From Day One: Pro-Life Is Pro-Science" is the theme of the 2019 march, Jeanne Mancini, March for Life president, said during a media briefing Dec. 5 in Washington.Mancini said this year's events will focus on the scientific discoveries that have led to new understanding about life in the womb."Science and technology are on the side of life in large because they show the humanity of the child at a very young age," Mancini told Catholic News Service after the briefing."We can hear and see a baby's heartbea...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jose Luis Aguirre, Catholic San Francisco

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Abby Johnson, who early in her career assisted in carrying out abortions, will be among the speakers during the 2019 March for Life rally Jan. 18 on the National Mall in Washington.

Johnson, a one-time Planned Parenthood clinic director, is the founder of And Then There Were None, a ministry that assists abortion clinic workers who have left their position.

"Unique From Day One: Pro-Life Is Pro-Science" is the theme of the 2019 march, Jeanne Mancini, March for Life president, said during a media briefing Dec. 5 in Washington.

Mancini said this year's events will focus on the scientific discoveries that have led to new understanding about life in the womb.

"Science and technology are on the side of life in large because they show the humanity of the child at a very young age," Mancini told Catholic News Service after the briefing.

"We can hear and see a baby's heartbeat now at six weeks. There are blood tests to know a baby's gender at seven weeks. Now that's changed enormously over the course of the last few years," she said.

The annual march for Life events mark the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, that legalized abortion.

The 2019 march follows encouraging news for the pro-life movement that abortions overall as well as the country's abortion rate continued to decline in 2015, according to data compiled by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC determined that the abortion rate in 2015 -- the last year for which statistics are available -- is at 11.8 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44. The rate has dropped eight of the past nine years since 2006's rate of 15.9; the rate of 15.6 held steady in 2008.

The overall number of abortions also continued to slide. The 2015 number of reported abortions was 638,169, about one-fourth less than the 852,385 reported in 2006. It is down 2 percent from 2014's figure of 652,639.

The number of legal abortions in the United States peaked in the 1980s before beginning a slow but steady decline, interrupted only by the slight rise in, or holding steady of, numbers in the late 2000s.

Two days of events open with the annual March for Life conference and expo Jan. 17. A panel discussion during the conference will include Dr. Grazie Christie, a policy adviser for the Catholic Association; Dr. David Prentice, vice president and research director of the Charlotte Lozier Institute; Rick Smith, founder of Hope Story, a nonprofit organization that helps families with a Down Syndrome child; and Christine Accurso, executive director of Pro Women's Healthcare Centers.

In addition, popular commentator Ben Shapiro planned to bring his podcast to the march for live recording at 10 a.m. (EST) Jan. 18.

The main event, the March for Life Rally, is set for noon at 12th Street NW on the National Mall between Madison Drive and Jefferson Drive. Afterward, participants will gather for the official march on Constitution Avenue between 12th and 14th streets and make their way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The annual Rose Dinner closes the observance the evening after the march.

Details of events are online at http://marchforlife.org/mfl-2019/rally-march-info/.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Yuri Gripas, ReutersBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis expressed his condolences for the death of the 41st president of the United States, George H.W. Bush.Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, sent a telegram to the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, telling him the pope was "saddened to learn of the death" of the former president."Pope Francis offers heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his prayers to all the Bush family," he said in the telegram published by the Vatican Dec. 5."Commending President Bush's soul to the merciful love of almighty God, His Holiness invokes upon all who mourn his passing the divine blessings of strength and peace," Cardinal Parolin wrote.Bush died Nov. 30, at the age of 94 at his home in Houston. He was to be honored with a state funeral in Washington Dec. 5. - - -Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Yuri Gripas, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis expressed his condolences for the death of the 41st president of the United States, George H.W. Bush.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, sent a telegram to the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, telling him the pope was "saddened to learn of the death" of the former president.

"Pope Francis offers heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his prayers to all the Bush family," he said in the telegram published by the Vatican Dec. 5.

"Commending President Bush's soul to the merciful love of almighty God, His Holiness invokes upon all who mourn his passing the divine blessings of strength and peace," Cardinal Parolin wrote.

Bush died Nov. 30, at the age of 94 at his home in Houston. He was to be honored with a state funeral in Washington Dec. 5.

 

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Jesus' way of praying to his father throughout his life is a reminder for Christians that prayer is more than asking God for something but is a way of establishing an intimate relationship with him, Pope Francis said.Prayer is a longing within one's soul that is "perhaps one of the most profound mysteries of the universe," the pope said Dec. 5 during his weekly general audience in the Paul VI audience hall."Even if we have perhaps been praying for so many years, we must always learn!" he said.Beginning a new series of audience talks on the "Our Father," the pope reflected on the disciples' request to Jesus to teach them how to pray.The Gospels, he said, offer "very vivid portraits of Jesus as a man of prayer" who, despite the urgency of his public ministry, often felt the need to withdraw into solitude and pray."In some pages of Scripture, it seems that it is first Jesus'...

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Jesus' way of praying to his father throughout his life is a reminder for Christians that prayer is more than asking God for something but is a way of establishing an intimate relationship with him, Pope Francis said.

Prayer is a longing within one's soul that is "perhaps one of the most profound mysteries of the universe," the pope said Dec. 5 during his weekly general audience in the Paul VI audience hall.

"Even if we have perhaps been praying for so many years, we must always learn!" he said.

Beginning a new series of audience talks on the "Our Father," the pope reflected on the disciples' request to Jesus to teach them how to pray.

The Gospels, he said, offer "very vivid portraits of Jesus as a man of prayer" who, despite the urgency of his public ministry, often felt the need to withdraw into solitude and pray.

"In some pages of Scripture, it seems that it is first Jesus' prayer, his intimacy with the Father, that governs everything," the pope said.

This intimacy, he added, is evident in Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane where he experienced "real agony," yet was given the strength to continue along "the way toward the cross" where even in his final moments, he prayed the Psalms.

"Jesus prayed intensely in public moments, sharing the liturgy of his people, but he also looked for select places, separated from the whirlwind of the world, places that allowed him to descend into the secret of his soul," the pope said.

Pope Francis said that in teaching his disciples to pray, Jesus shows that he is not "possessive of his intimacy with the father" but rather came into the world "to introduce us into this intimacy."

However, he said, the first step in establishing this relationship with God through prayer is humility.

"The first step to pray is to be humble, to go to the father, to go to Our Lady and say, 'Look at me, I'm a sinner, I am weak, I am bad,'" the pope said. "Everyone knows what to say but it always begins with humility. The Lord listens; a humble prayer is always listened to by the Lord."

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican MediaBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Advent season is a time of preparation for the coming of the prince of peace and not a time of making war with those around you, Pope Francis said.As Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, they must also reflect on what they do in their daily lives to become "artisans of peace," the pope said in his homily Dec. 4 during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae."What do I do to help peace in the world?" he asked. "Do I always make some excuse to go to war, to hate, to talk about others? That's warfare! Am I meek? Do I try to build bridges?"In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's reading from the prophet Isaiah in which he prophesies a time of peace after the coming of the Messiah."Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them,&q...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Advent season is a time of preparation for the coming of the prince of peace and not a time of making war with those around you, Pope Francis said.

As Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, they must also reflect on what they do in their daily lives to become "artisans of peace," the pope said in his homily Dec. 4 during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

"What do I do to help peace in the world?" he asked. "Do I always make some excuse to go to war, to hate, to talk about others? That's warfare! Am I meek? Do I try to build bridges?"

In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's reading from the prophet Isaiah in which he prophesies a time of peace after the coming of the Messiah.

"Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them," Isaiah writes.

Pope Francis said that while this vision of appears with a certain "rustic charm," the beautiful imagery encapsulates the power of Christ to bring about a peace that is capable of changing lives.

"Many times, we are not at peace, but rather anxious, without hope," he said. "We are used to looking at other people's souls, but you must look at your own soul."

Christians must also seek to build peace within the family because "there is so much sadness in families, many struggles, many small wars, so much disunity at times" and in the world.

"May the Lord prepare our hearts for the Christmas of the prince of peace" by preparing everyone to do their part: "to pacify my heart, my soul, pacify my family, school, neighborhood and workplace" and to become "men and women of peace," the pope said.


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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Kacper Pempel, ReutersBy Jonathan LuxmooreThe Vatican challenged countries gathered for the 24th U.N. Climate Change Conference to focus on the needs of the present and the future as it worked to take swift action.Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, addressed the conference, COP24, in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 3 and told participants, "We are standing before a challenge of civilization for the benefit of the common good.""The Katowice meeting has the fundamental task of developing the Paris Agreement Work Program. This document should be a solid set of guidelines, rules and institutional mechanisms, aimed at facilitating a fair and efficient implementation of the agreement, particularly at the national level," the cardinal said, adding, "We are all aware how difficult this endeavor is.""We know what we can do, and what we have to do becomes an ethical imperative," he told conference participants.The cardinal sai...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Kacper Pempel, Reuters

By Jonathan Luxmoore

The Vatican challenged countries gathered for the 24th U.N. Climate Change Conference to focus on the needs of the present and the future as it worked to take swift action.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, addressed the conference, COP24, in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 3 and told participants, "We are standing before a challenge of civilization for the benefit of the common good."

"The Katowice meeting has the fundamental task of developing the Paris Agreement Work Program. This document should be a solid set of guidelines, rules and institutional mechanisms, aimed at facilitating a fair and efficient implementation of the agreement, particularly at the national level," the cardinal said, adding, "We are all aware how difficult this endeavor is."

"We know what we can do, and what we have to do becomes an ethical imperative," he told conference participants.

The cardinal said COP24's guidelines should have "a clear ethical foundation," including "advancing the dignity of the human person, alleviating poverty and promoting integral human development," with "transparent, efficient and dynamic" measures.

"It is still possible to limit global warming, but to do so will require a clear, forward-looking and strong political will to promote as quickly as possible the process of transitioning to a model of development that is free from those technologies and behaviors that influence the over-production of greenhouse gas emissions," Cardinal Parolin said.

Speaking at a Dec. 3 news conference, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said commitment to combat climate change was "felt in all religions," and he praised the "very positive position" of Pope Francis on the issue.

"If one is a believer and one believes the world is created by God, it must be terrible to see human beings destroying God's creation," Guterres added. "So, I think it's perfectly normal that a religion that believes in the work of the Creator is totally against the destruction of the work of the Creator by human beings."

Josianne Gauthier, secretary-general of the Brussels-based CIDSE, a network of Catholic development agencies in Europe and North America, said Cardinal Parolin's statement had "set the tone" by echoing the hopes of Catholic groups.

"Our main concern is that ambitions shouldn't now slow down or reverse, so we on the ground will be very much behind the Holy See delegation," she told Catholic News Service. "Church representatives are meeting people constantly, lobbying decision-makers, and encouraging governments and states to have the courage of their convictions and push the agenda forward."

"After this very positive beginning, we now need everyone to step up with the kind of commitments public opinion is demanding and vulnerable countries (are) urgently needing, helped by the church's moral leadership," said Gauthier, a Canadian Catholic.

She said CIDSE had joined other faith-based organizations in a Dec. 2 interreligious forum at Katowice's St. Stephen Church to coordinate a "generate input" to the conference, which runs until Dec. 14 and is expected to agree on implementation guidelines for a 1.5-degree Celsius limit on temperature increase, adopted under the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Churches and religious groups are to stage a Dec. 8 climate march and joint "day of reflection, celebration and commitment renewal" Dec. 9 in Katowice's Catholic cathedral, organized by the Katowice Archdiocese, CIDSE, Caritas Internationalis, Franciscans International and the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

"It's important now to keep public opinion mobilized through external events, so those involved show courage, feel supported in their work and interact with civil society, rather than taking policy decisions in a bubble," Gauthier told CNS Dec. 4.

At least 20,000 people from more than 190 countries are attending COP24, including government representatives, academics, business leaders and climate activists from around the world.

The Catholic Church in Poland, which has been criticized in news reports for relying for 80 percent of its energy on coal, circulated a special prayer for COP24 to all parishes and appealed to Catholics to offer spiritual support to climate change campaigners.

 

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Katie RutterBy Katie RutterFERDINAND, Ind. (CNS) -- The sights and sounds of Christmas brightened the massive dome of the Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand as six Sisters of St. Benedict rang out "Silent Night" on hand bells.The gentle chimes of the season soothed the hundreds of people who gathered at the foot of the Ferdinand monastery during the cold Nov. 16 night, while the German tradition launched the Christmas season in the Indiana hamlet.The Benedictines were heralding the opening of the town's Christkindlmarkt, a weekend of vendors, concerts and Christmas cheer. The sisters have bolstered Ferdinand's tradition since the festivities began two decades ago."It's a town celebration and the sisters are very much an integral part of the town of Ferdinand," said Sister Rose Wildeman, the monastery coordinator and director of the hand-bell choir.About 10,000 people -- more than four times the number of Ferdinand residents -- amassed i...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Katie Rutter

By Katie Rutter

FERDINAND, Ind. (CNS) -- The sights and sounds of Christmas brightened the massive dome of the Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand as six Sisters of St. Benedict rang out "Silent Night" on hand bells.

The gentle chimes of the season soothed the hundreds of people who gathered at the foot of the Ferdinand monastery during the cold Nov. 16 night, while the German tradition launched the Christmas season in the Indiana hamlet.

The Benedictines were heralding the opening of the town's Christkindlmarkt, a weekend of vendors, concerts and Christmas cheer. The sisters have bolstered Ferdinand's tradition since the festivities began two decades ago.

"It's a town celebration and the sisters are very much an integral part of the town of Ferdinand," said Sister Rose Wildeman, the monastery coordinator and director of the hand-bell choir.

About 10,000 people -- more than four times the number of Ferdinand residents -- amassed into the small town for its Christkindlmarkt held Nov. 16-18.

The monastery -- its arched windows, turrets and towers seeming to come straight out of medieval Europe -- provided an appropriate backdrop for the weekend.

Ferdinand city officials founded Christkindlmarkt with the intent of transporting attendees to Old World Germany. The event mimics a celebration by the same name held in Nuremberg, Germany, since the 16th century.

"Ferdinand has so many German characteristics about it. It looks like little Bavaria as you come in over the hills," said Diane Hoppenjans, the executive director of Ferdinand Tourism and founder of the celebration.

"You see the church steeple in the center of the town and the village is kind of gathered around it and this huge beautiful monastery," Hoppenjans told Catholic News Service.

The German Catholic community was founded in 1840 by Father Joseph Kundek, a missionary priest from Croatia. The Benedictines, their founding community rooted in Eichstatt, Germany, arrived to teach the local children in 1867.

"I can't imagine Ferdinand without (the monastery) and without the nuns' influence," Hoppenjans said.

"I think it's because of the monastery that we were able to grow the way we did, the way the town did, and that also kind of kept us with that German tradition," she said.

For Christkindlmarkt, the sisters supplied their event hall as one of six locations where vendors set up booths filled with crafts and other items. The nuns also offered tours of their monastery and sold baked goods, including German-inspired desserts like "kuchen," which is a cinnamon or cranberry-topped cake, and springerle and almerle cookies.

"The springerle cookie is a traditional German cookie, it has a licorice flavor. We have molds that some of our sisters brought back in the 1920s," said Sister Jean Marie Ballard, the quality assurance manager for the religious order's bakery.

The evening of Nov. 16 -- the Friday before the events officially began -- the monastery also served as the focal point for Christkindlmarkt Eve. The highlight of the night, accented by the sisters' hand bells and local choirs, is the moment that "Christkindl" emerged from the monastery's doors.

Plainly translated "Christ Child" and, at one time, an imaginative portrayal of the Baby Jesus, the modern Christkindl is an angel who many European families still believe is the deliverer of gifts at Christmas.

Ferdinand's Christkindl is a close replica of the angel that opens the Nuremberg celebration. Dressed in a white, gold-trimmed gown and portrayed by Ferdinand native Hillary Cremeens, the Christkindl emerged from the monastery to the sound of trumpets and sang a welcoming message.

"Ye men and women folk, who once were children too, be child again today, and do rejoice when the Christ Child invites you all to see this market," she sang, reciting a translated version of Nuremberg's Christkindl message.

Following the angel's welcome, the crowds were invited into the monastery for a German dinner and to visit the sisters' table full of baked goods.

"The sisters are part of our community. They share in a lot of things, they're involved with the Chamber of Commerce, they're involved with this Christkindlmarkt event, they open their home and their hearts to everyone," said Kathy Tretter, a native and member of the committee that organizes Christkindlmarkt.

"This is their home, and their home is Ferdinand," she said.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Rick Wilking, ReutersBy Julie AsherWASHINGTON (CNS) -- When he was running for re-election in 1992, President George H.W. Bush told Catholic News Service that he believed that a strong religious faith could provide "an extra shot of strength when you need it.""I don't believe you can be president without having faith. I really strongly feel that,'' Bush said in a telephone interview that October as he flew en route from a campaign appearance in Kentucky to scheduled stops in Florida.That religious faith which sustained him and his family and was clearly evident during his years in the White House -- and more recently as he mourned the April 17 death of his beloved wife of 73 years, Barbara -- is being noted by many in paying tribute to his life and legacy after his death late Nov. 30 at age 94 at his home in Houston.His spokesman, Jim McGrath, confirmed the death of the former president in a tweet. The cause of his death was not immediately available...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Rick Wilking, Reuters

By Julie Asher

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When he was running for re-election in 1992, President George H.W. Bush told Catholic News Service that he believed that a strong religious faith could provide "an extra shot of strength when you need it."

"I don't believe you can be president without having faith. I really strongly feel that,'' Bush said in a telephone interview that October as he flew en route from a campaign appearance in Kentucky to scheduled stops in Florida.

That religious faith which sustained him and his family and was clearly evident during his years in the White House -- and more recently as he mourned the April 17 death of his beloved wife of 73 years, Barbara -- is being noted by many in paying tribute to his life and legacy after his death late Nov. 30 at age 94 at his home in Houston.

His spokesman, Jim McGrath, confirmed the death of the former president in a tweet. The cause of his death was not immediately available, but he had been in failing health the last few years. In 2012, he announced that he had vascular Parkinsonism, a condition that limited his mobility and required him to use a wheelchair most of the time.

"Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died," said former President George W. Bush, the late president's oldest son. "George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41's life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens."

The White House announced Dec. 1 that a state funeral was being arranged "with all of the accompanying support and honors." President Donald Trump designated Dec. 5 as a national day of mourning. He and first lady Melania Trump planned to attend the funeral at the National Episcopal Cathedral in Washington. The flags at the White House were lowered to half staff.

Air Force One, technically called "Special Air Mission 41," flew to Houston to bring the body of the late president back to Washington. After arrival at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington late in the afternoon Dec. 3, his body was to be transported to the U.S. Capitol Rotunda to lie in state through the early morning of Dec. 5. The public was invited to pay respects beginning Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m. EST through Dec. 5 at 7 a.m. The funeral service was planned for 11 a.m. at the cathedral.

The final "Special Air Mission 41" flight was to return the president's body to Texas late Dec. 5 for funeral services the next day in College Station, Texas. He will be laid to rest the afternoon of Dec. 6 at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, where wife Barbara and their daughter Robin, who died at age 3, are buried.

Catholic leaders, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, joined in "grieving the loss of one of our nation's leaders."

"Notre Dame joins with our nation and world in mourning the passing of President Bush," said Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, president of the Catholic university in South Bend, Indiana. "He was the epitome of a public servant, not just in the Oval Office, but in his eight years as vice president, his many years as a congressman, ambassador and CIA director, and in his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II."

"We were fortunate to host him at Notre Dame on five occasions, and in each instance, the honor was ours," said Father Jenkins said in a Dec. 1 statement. "Our prayers are with the Bush family."

Bush received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Notre Dame in 1992; he had visited the campus more than any other U.S. president.

Holy Cross Father Edward A. Malloy was Notre Dame's president from 1987 to 2005 and presented the honorary degree to Bush during commencement ceremonies that year. He also worked on two of the president's major initiatives -- his Drug Advisory Council and his Points of Light Foundation.

"I found him to be a leader deeply committed to the country he had been elected to serve, a gracious host and a down-to-earth person," Father Malloy said in a statement. "He recognized the importance of American higher education and he sought to enhance it. He also sought to promote a culture of citizen engagement with the great issues of the day."

The National Right to Life Committee, a federation of state right-to-life affiliates and more than 3,000 local chapters, also mourned Bush's death and praised him for a number of pro-life measures he supported as president.

It cited among other actions his administration urging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to pass laws to protect unborn children. He used "the power of his veto to stop 10 bills that contained pro-abortion provisions, including four appropriations bills which allowed for taxpayer funding of abortion," NRLC said in a statement.

"President George H.W. Bush dedicated his administration to advancing pro-life policies to protect mothers and their unborn children," said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. "He used his presidency to stop enactment of pro-abortion laws and promote life-affirming solutions. Our prayers today are with former President George W. Bush and the entire Bush family."

While in office, Bush stated that the "protection of innocent human life -- in or out of the womb -- is certainly the most compelling interest that a state can advance," she added.

With regard to capital punishment, Bush differed with the Catholic Church's opposition to the death penalty, telling CNS that he supported it "in certain instances because I think if somebody murders a police officer that that person ought to pay with his life.''

Bush was criticized by Catholic and other faith leaders as well as peace activists for his decision to go to war in the Persian Gulf after then-Iraq President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

Some months before the U.S.-led war began Aug. 2, 1990, St. John Paul II pleaded for peace in the Gulf. "May leaders be convinced that war is an adventure with no return,'' he said. "By reasoning, patience and dialogue with respect to the inalienable rights of peoples and nations, it is possible to identify and travel the paths of understanding and peace."

Attending the funeral of the pope in 2005, then-former President Bush recalled for reporters how the pontiff had opposed the war, which ended Feb. 28, 1991, citing what he called the pope's "standard position on the use of force" and his concerns about "the long length of the war." One news account said Bush "lamented the fact that he (himself) never engaged in a discussion about the concept of a 'just war.'"

During his pontificate, St. John Paul met with Bush twice at the Vatican, first when Bush was vice president and then when he was president.

"I had the opportunity to express my profound gratitude to the Holy Father for his spiritual and moral leadership,'' Bush said in a statement after the two leaders met privately for more than an hour Nov. 8, 1991.

"His message for peace and the message that he sends across the world to all these countries'' experiencing war and other hardships "is a message of hope and, indeed, a message of peace,'' the president said.

Born in Milton, Massachusetts, June 12, 1924, Bush delayed entrance to Yale University to volunteer for service in World War II. At 18. he was one of the Navy's youngest pilots. After several flying successful bombing missions, he was shot down during one in 1944 and was rescued at sea. The rest of his flight crew perished.

After graduating from Yale, he became an oilman in Texas, but after his successful stint in the oil fields, he spent most of the rest of his life in public service -- including as a two-term congressman from Texas, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, an ambassador, vice president under President Ronald Reagan (1980-1988) and finally president (1988-1992).

He and Barbara married Jan. 6, 1945. As a young couple they suffered through the death from leukemia of daughter Robin at age 3. Throughout their lives they and their whole family mourned her loss. Bush is survived by son George W., the nation's 43rd president, and four other children; 17 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren; and two siblings.

"We are guided by faith," Bush said of his wife and family in that 1992 interview with CNS. "We (are) regular attendees at church and that gives us strength every Sunday. And we just feel that it's important as a family to pray together. We still say our blessings at our meals and we still say our prayers at night.''
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Carol Zimmermann contributed to this story.

 

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/ReutersBy Mark PattisonWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The revelation in late November that a Chinese researcher had edited genes in human embryos and then implanted them in a woman was "a train wreck of a thing to do," said an ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia."Normally clinical research proceeds in phases. First, you verify it works in animals, etc. Second, you verify that it's safe. In small things you verify it's effective," said John Brehany, the center's director of institutional relations. "He skipped all that stuff.""He says, 'I practiced in animals and human embryos.' Even the Chinese officials are saying he violated their standards," Brehany told Catholic News Service in a Nov. 30 telephone interview from Philadelphia. "He said he didn't want to be first, he wanted to set an example, but he's toying with human health. He said he practiced on human embryos, so that means he probably destroye...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The revelation in late November that a Chinese researcher had edited genes in human embryos and then implanted them in a woman was "a train wreck of a thing to do," said an ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia.

"Normally clinical research proceeds in phases. First, you verify it works in animals, etc. Second, you verify that it's safe. In small things you verify it's effective," said John Brehany, the center's director of institutional relations. "He skipped all that stuff."

"He says, 'I practiced in animals and human embryos.' Even the Chinese officials are saying he violated their standards," Brehany told Catholic News Service in a Nov. 30 telephone interview from Philadelphia. "He said he didn't want to be first, he wanted to set an example, but he's toying with human health. He said he practiced on human embryos, so that means he probably destroyed them. He practiced in the context of experimentation."

Brehany was referring to He (pronounced "hay") Jiankui, who first revealed his efforts Nov. 26 during an international gene-editing conference in Hong Kong. He learned the gene-editing technique known as CRISPR while doing advanced research at Rice University in Texas. His partner from Rice may face sanctions from the U.S.-based National Institutes of Health depending on the depth of his involvement in the scheme.

"CRISPR" stands for "clusters of regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats." This is a specialized region of DNA having two distinct characteristics: the presence of nucleotide repeats and spacers.

Newsweek reported Dec. 3 that He has not been seen since participating at the International Summit on Human Genome Editing and may be under house arrest by Chinese authorities.

"The couples were offered free fertility treatment if they participated in this, and that's an unethical inducement," Brehany told CNS. "They might have been told it was a vaccine for AIDS," as the babies' father was HIV-positive, he added; He had said he sought to remove the gene that triggers HIV infection. "In other words, there are multiple, multiple ways this was a hash. It really was a hash."

Gene editing is nothing new, Brehany said. "There's a lot of gene editing that goes on in agriculture and in animals and there have bene some experiments and attempts that have gone on in humans, very carefully done, that have gone on since the 1990s," he added. "A lot of this has not been successful, in part because the human immune system tends to think that new genes that are introduced are foreign bodies."

Tomatoes and animals are one thing. Humans, though, are another.

"There have been a number of attempts at gene editing for things like cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia, a number of conditions that shorten people's life," Brehany said. "When you are introducing changes into somebody's body, they don't go any further. Either they don't go any further, or they die.

"If you introduce changes into a woman's eggs, or a man's sperm, or a human embryo within a very short period after conception, then those genes not only introduce genes into cells but into future generations, and that is both an opportunity in some respects, but it's also controversial for a couple of reasons. He set out to do just that. And again ... in a couple of countries they've approved this for a few things," Brehany said.

One country where some human gene editing is legal is the United Kingdom. It is illegal in the United States, and after the furor erupted at the Hong Kong conference, China said what He had done was illegal in China.

The Catholic Church's position is spelled out in the 2008 Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith document "Instruction 'Dignitas Personae' ('The Dignity of a Person'): On Certain Bioethical Questions." The dignity of a person, the document says, "must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death. This fundamental principle expresses a great 'yes' to human life and must be at the center of ethical reflection on biomedical research."

Other faults Brehany found with He's work included: practicing gene editing on other human embryos first; implanting twin embryos even though one of the twins did not carry the new trait, and may be "a patchwork of cells with various changes"; giving notice of his research only after he started; and having no experience running human research trials.

"On a normal day, in vitro fertilization already separates procreation from conjugal love," Brehany said. "It also introduces the option, and the temptation, of eugenics -- checking out embryos by sight or sophisticated analysis to learn which exhibit optimal health or traits. Those that don't measure up are routinely discarded."

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Editor's Note: The full text of "Instruction 'Dignitas Personae' ('The Dignity of a Person'): On Certain Bioethical Questions" can be found at https://bit.ly/1ry3mL5.

 

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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