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Catholic News

IMAGE: CNS photo/ By James RamosHOUSTON (CNS) -- Laredo's Bishop James A. Tamayo is calling church leaders and lay faithful to "extend the compassion of Christ" to those who come to Catholic churches in need.Bishop Tamayo leads the youngest diocese in Texas and the U.S. The south Texas city of Laredo borders the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, and local Catholic leaders are "preparing to help in any way ... should the caravan come to our doorsteps," he said.His comments come as tensions with tear gas and violence rise on the far west part of the U.S.-Mexico border in Baja California. Thousands of people with a caravan from Central America began arriving in Tijuana, Mexico, Nov. 13, and more continue to arrive.Bishop Tamayo said his diocesan and social services staff have met with local and national border officials to ensure that the position of the Catholic Church on immigration is known.The government knows of the church's respect of the nation's laws, he said, &...

IMAGE: CNS photo/

By James Ramos

HOUSTON (CNS) -- Laredo's Bishop James A. Tamayo is calling church leaders and lay faithful to "extend the compassion of Christ" to those who come to Catholic churches in need.

Bishop Tamayo leads the youngest diocese in Texas and the U.S. The south Texas city of Laredo borders the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, and local Catholic leaders are "preparing to help in any way ... should the caravan come to our doorsteps," he said.

His comments come as tensions with tear gas and violence rise on the far west part of the U.S.-Mexico border in Baja California. Thousands of people with a caravan from Central America began arriving in Tijuana, Mexico, Nov. 13, and more continue to arrive.

Bishop Tamayo said his diocesan and social services staff have met with local and national border officials to ensure that the position of the Catholic Church on immigration is known.

The government knows of the church's respect of the nation's laws, he said, "but also of our desire if some (migrants) come in need of health care, if some come to try to reunite with family members, we want to help them through the legal process or if they're at our door and they need food, they need medical care and attention, they want to tell their story and seek asylum from violence and from the governmental structures of their own country, they should be heard."

Respect is key to the process of dialogue with local and national officials, Bishop Tamayo told the Texas Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

"We need to respect them because they have policies and guidelines," he continued. "When we can tell them we know what you must do or what your policies state, we need to help you to see where the church stands too. We respect all of that but in turn we ask you to come to know us. Our church is composed of the people of the community."

Bishop Tamayo said church leaders tell border officials that "as you stand at the border following your law of safeguarding the frontier, we stand too at a border to see that everyone that comes, knocks, that travels across or desires to travel across is respected, is assisted with their questions, their concerns, their immediate needs."

Still, with this "there is a spirit of collaboration," he said.

In Brownsville, Bishop Daniel E. Flores has directly dealt with the federal government.

At a recent lecture in Houston, Bishop Flores described the U.S. government's attempt to survey land owned by the Diocese of Brownsville with goals to eventually build a wall there. While he denied the request and the government has since filed suit, Bishop Flores said he had several "amicable discussions" with federal officials.

"I have great respect for border security agents," he said. "I know many of them personally. Still, I decided not to consent to this request on the grounds that it limits the freedom of the church and is a counter-sign to her mission."

A border wall is not an intrinsic evil, but it is a prudential social disaster, according to Bishop Flores.

"I am a realist," he said. "The government has virtually unlimited resources, the Diocese of Brownsville does not. If in the end the wall is not built on our property, then we have defended our principled position; but, if in the end the barrier is built; it will not be because the church signed a permission. This, would, in fact, speak for itself."

Of the caravan of asylum seekers, Bishop Flores said that "to seek asylum at terrible moments of life is a human right recognized by the laws of the United States as well as of the Republic of Mexico. To ask for asylum is not a crime, and ought to be an orderly process and proceed in a way respecting the laws of each nation."

"Ours is the poverty of a discourse that is governed by mutually exclusive and insufficiently nuanced narratives," he said. "This is abundantly evident in the current discussion about the 'caravan.' Are they a band of marauders, or are they the poor fleeing from marauders? Realistically, I have little reason to doubt that criminal elements infiltrate caravans of immigrants who are in the great majority the poor, who are themselves fleeing from criminal elements controlling vast parts of their native countries."

But there are "just ways" governments can collaborate on to differentiate people and families escaping from "humanly intolerable circumstances" and those "criminal elements that seek to infiltrate and manipulate the vulnerable condition of the immigrant."

Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, who is the chair of the U.S. bishops' migration committee, recently told another Houston audience that caring for immigrants is "rooted in the Gospel" and part of the original religious identity of Catholics. He also strongly faulted the polarized political climate for blurring Church teaching on immigration and dividing God's people.

"As Catholics, we must respect, love and protect the immigrant," Bishop Vasquez said, noting that he was not speaking politically but as a pastor concerned for persons and the well-being of souls.

He described immigration as "one of the most critical challenges the church faces in our hemisphere," with millions of vulnerable people on the move, forced from their homelands by violence and extreme poverty. Millions more live amid crippling fear in the U.S. with serious consequences that Bishop Vasquez said he has witnessed in his own Austin Diocese.

He said an ignorance of church teaching and deep political ideologies are creating hostility around the issue and have cowed some in church leadership from speaking out; nonetheless, he said, "We cannot allow the world to dictate to the church how she understands herself, her role, her mission."

"We need to help our people and our leaders to examine their conscience in light of these principles of Catholic social teaching," Bishop Vasquez said. "Dialogue is needed. Very, very clearly it is evident that dialogue is not taking place."

Bishop Vasquez said immigration issues the church is currently working on include advocating for immigration reform; a permanent solution for the status of "Dreamers," as beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are known, and of other individuals brought into the U.S. illegally as children; and an end to family separation at the border.

"We must remember that they are human beings that are in many instances escaping persecution, targeted by violence and running away from threats," he said. "We must help them to be treated humanely."

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Ramos is a staff writer and designer for the Texas Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

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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/ Kim Kyung-HoonBy David AgrenMEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The chaotic scene in Tijuana Nov. 25 -- when migrants, including women and children, were repelled from the U.S. border with tear gas -- prompted the closure of one of the world's busiest border crossings. It also showed the increasing impatience and despair of thousands of caravan participants, who could spend months in an uncomfortable camp as they wait to present asylum claims to U.S. officials.And while some Catholic migrant advocates criticized U.S. reaction as excessive, some who work with migrants through a network of shelters stretching the length of the country said they tried warning the caravan participants and a migrant advocacy group accompanying it, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, that -- unlike past years, when smaller caravans would cross Mexico -- times had changed. Resources for sustaining thousands of migrants in Tijuana are stretched thin and the current U.S. government has showed few signs of speeding up t...

IMAGE: CNS photo/ Kim Kyung-Hoon

By David Agren

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The chaotic scene in Tijuana Nov. 25 -- when migrants, including women and children, were repelled from the U.S. border with tear gas -- prompted the closure of one of the world's busiest border crossings. It also showed the increasing impatience and despair of thousands of caravan participants, who could spend months in an uncomfortable camp as they wait to present asylum claims to U.S. officials.

And while some Catholic migrant advocates criticized U.S. reaction as excessive, some who work with migrants through a network of shelters stretching the length of the country said they tried warning the caravan participants and a migrant advocacy group accompanying it, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, that -- unlike past years, when smaller caravans would cross Mexico -- times had changed. Resources for sustaining thousands of migrants in Tijuana are stretched thin and the current U.S. government has showed few signs of speeding up the process for accepting asylum applications.

Press reports from Tijuana described a peaceful protest, in which the migrants planned to present their case: that they had come only to work and save their own lives. But the protest was met by a wall of Mexican police officers, prompting the migrants to detour the barricade and head to a train border crossing.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a tweet that some migrants "threw projectiles." In response, "Border Patrol agents deployed tear gas to dispel the group because of the risk to agents' safety. Several agents were hit by the projectiles."

The caravan has crossed closed borders and pushed past police barricades since departing San Pedro Sula, Honduras, in mid-October. Parishes have assisted the original caravan and several subsequent caravans as they passed through southern Mexico; a group of religious offered medical attention, and dioceses have taken up collections.

But now the migrants have run up against the U.S. border and a U.S. administration that has warned that the caravan will not enter the country. The U.S. has allowed fewer than 50 claims to be made daily, even as thousands wait their turn in Mexico.

The caravan also risks becoming unwelcome in Tijuana, where hostile attitudes have already been expressed, border closures hurt the economy and the local government warned resources were running low.

Taking that many people to one border crossing and organizing a march "can't be a good idea. It's a horrific one," said Father Alejandro Solalinde, who operates a migrant shelter in southern Oaxaca state. "But there is no control there whatsoever."

"I ... gave them this advice, but they ignored it because the leaders (the activists) taking them made them believe that they were going to be able to do it, when in reality, it wasn't like that," said Father Solalinde.

Jorge Andrade, coordinator of a collective of Catholic-run migrant shelters, called the U.S. response "excessive." In the spring, Andrade said caravan organizers "have good intentions, but they're exposing (the migrants) to danger."

"Unfortunately, there are groups (of migrants) there that want to cross the border under these circumstances," he said in late November.

Father Andres Ramirez, who works with migrants in Tijuana, called the response "unprecedented" and said such a border closure as occurred Nov. 25 had not happened since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Father Solalinde has refused to accompany migrants farther north than Mexico City, saying the road poses risks such as kidnap. He recounted how one group of migrants, who were evangelicals, and told him: God will take care of us and "touch the heart" of president Donald Trump.

"They truly thought that God was going to move the heart of this person, but no! no! no! It wasn't like that," Father Solalinde said. He added that some in that group of 250 migrants had gone missing since setting out from Mexico City for Tijuana.

"They wouldn't take into account the current political climate, the (Dec. 1 presidential) transition in Mexico, the bad organization that they had, because they didn't see the opportunity for people to help them," Father Solalinde said, speaking to the haste of many to rush to the border and not fully consider the opportunity to work in Mexico or apply for asylum there.

"These are difficult times (but) it's as if they have this chip, 'They have to go north' and they think that it was going to be the same as the previous times, but it's not like that."

The Mexican government said in a Nov. 25 statement it had detained 98 migrants who were involved in scuffles with police and tried to cross the border at Tijuana.

It added more than 7,400 migrants from various caravans were currently in the border state of Baja California, while 11,000 migrants had been repatriated or deported to Central America since Oct. 19.

The Washington Post reported Nov. 24 the United States and Mexico's incoming government had reached an agreement known as "Remain in Mexico," in which asylum seekers would wait south of the border while their claims are processed in U.S. courts. Incoming Mexican Interior Minister Olga Sanchez Cordero later denied the story, but did not disavow her comments to the Post confirming a deal.

She also denied Mexico would become a "safe third" country, which would mean migrants in Mexico would be considered to have already found safety.

In effect, "Remain in Mexico is the configuration of Mexico as a safe third country," said Andrade.

 

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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/David MaungBy WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The archbishop who chairs the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities cheered news that the abortion rate in the United States continues to shrink, as does the number of abortions overall."I am gratified that the number of abortions in the United States continues to decline," said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, in a Nov. 26 statement. "The reduction in the number of abortions is due to many factors, from declining rates of sexual activity, especially among teens, to pro-life legislative gains."According to a report issued Nov. 21 by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the drop in both abortions overall and the abortion rate has declined each year for a decade.The CDC said 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...

IMAGE: CNS photo/David Maung

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The archbishop who chairs the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities cheered news that the abortion rate in the United States continues to shrink, as does the number of abortions overall.

"I am gratified that the number of abortions in the United States continues to decline," said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, in a Nov. 26 statement. "The reduction in the number of abortions is due to many factors, from declining rates of sexual activity, especially among teens, to pro-life legislative gains."

According to a report issued Nov. 21 by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the drop in both abortions overall and the abortion rate has declined each year for a decade.

The CDC said 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 efforts of the staff and volunteers at crisis pregnancy centers, as well as pro-life educational efforts, are to be commended," Archbishop Naumann said in his statement.

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.

"At the same time, we cannot be content with hundreds of thousands of abortions occurring annually in our nation," Archbishop Naumann added.

Over the past decade, the ratio of abortions to live births has also trended downward. The ratio rose slightly from 2007 to 2008, and held steady in 2010 based on 2009's figures, but has declined from 2006's 233 abortions per 1,000 live births to 2015's 188 abortions per 1,000 live births.

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.

The CDC's numbers are not complete. They do not include California, Florida, Maryland, New Hampshire and Wyoming because they either "did not report, did not report by age, or did not meet reporting standards," the CDC said.

The abortion rate is highest for women in their 20s. Women ages 20-24 had an abortion rate of 19.9, and women ages 25-29 had an abortion rate of 17.9 per 1,000 women in their age group. Together, they accounted for close to 60 percent of all abortions.

White women had an abortion rate close to one-fourth that of black women. White women accounted for an abortion rate of 6.8, while black women had an abortion rate of 25.1. The CDC report, though, noted that abortion rates, ratios and numbers have gone down among all racial and ethnic groups.

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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) -- People would be wise to think about Judgment Day and wonder what God will see when he examines their lives, Pope Francis said."If the Lord were to call me today, what would I do? What will I say? What harvest will I show him?" the pope asked during Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae Nov. 27.In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's reading about the end of the world in the Book of Revelation, in which St. John uses the image of the Lord and angels armed with sharp sickles, reaping the harvest.With the liturgical year coming to a close and the readings focused on the end of time, the pope said it would be good for people to examine their lives and reflect on how they might be judged when their hour has come."We don't like to think about the end," he said. "We always put this thought aside," especially when people are young, "but look how many young people go, how many are called....

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People would be wise to think about Judgment Day and wonder what God will see when he examines their lives, Pope Francis said.

"If the Lord were to call me today, what would I do? What will I say? What harvest will I show him?" the pope asked during Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae Nov. 27.

In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's reading about the end of the world in the Book of Revelation, in which St. John uses the image of the Lord and angels armed with sharp sickles, reaping the harvest.

With the liturgical year coming to a close and the readings focused on the end of time, the pope said it would be good for people to examine their lives and reflect on how they might be judged when their hour has come.

"We don't like to think about the end," he said. "We always put this thought aside," especially when people are young, "but look how many young people go, how many are called. Nobody's life is guaranteed."

No one is on this earth forever; everyone's life will come to an end, he said, and God will want to see what has been harvested -- "the quality of our life."

This examination of conscience will help people understand what things they must fix in their lives and what things should be continued because they are good, the pope said.

"Yes, there will be an end, but that end will be an encounter, an encounter with the Lord. It's true there will be accounting for what I have done, but it will also be an encounter of mercy, of joy, of happiness," he said.

"Thinking about the end, the end of creation, the end of one's life, this is wisdom, the wise ones do it," he 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/Tyler OrsburnBy Carol ZimmermannWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Sister Annie Demerjian has seen a lifetime of suffering in Aleppo, Syria, over the past seven years. Now, as conflict is beginning to die down, her ministry is no longer about getting emergency supplies to those in need as buildings collapsed and food, water and electricity were scarce. The current challenge is to help people begin to rebuild their lives."We are now living the consequences" of years of civil war, she said.As the Syrian city finds its way out of the rubble, Sister Annie and three other Sisters of Jesus and Mary are at work, reopening garment factories and helping people find jobs and develop job skills."Before, we were living day by day or minute by minute," she said, stressing that she and the other sisters never knew when bombs would fall or who would die next."It was a big fear," the 52-year-old sister said in Washington Nov. 27. She was visiting to attend a Nov. 28...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Sister Annie Demerjian has seen a lifetime of suffering in Aleppo, Syria, over the past seven years. Now, as conflict is beginning to die down, her ministry is no longer about getting emergency supplies to those in need as buildings collapsed and food, water and electricity were scarce. The current challenge is to help people begin to rebuild their lives.

"We are now living the consequences" of years of civil war, she said.

As the Syrian city finds its way out of the rubble, Sister Annie and three other Sisters of Jesus and Mary are at work, reopening garment factories and helping people find jobs and develop job skills.

"Before, we were living day by day or minute by minute," she said, stressing that she and the other sisters never knew when bombs would fall or who would die next.

"It was a big fear," the 52-year-old sister said in Washington Nov. 27. She was visiting to attend a Nov. 28 prayer service -- sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need-USA -- honoring today's Christian martyrs at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. She planned to speak to the congregation about enormous suffering in the region and the task of rebuilding.

"Every part of my country has a story to tell, a story that reveals wounds that only time and God's mercy can heal," she said, stressing that the current situation primarily involves "recovering from this heavy burden." Many are mourning those who died and those who fled; children, in particular, have witnessed horrific violence or lost limbs due to explosions and face the "long process of healing."

The death toll from this war is staggering. Earlier this year, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 511,000 people had been killed since fighting began in Syria in March 2011.

The U.N. Refugee Agency said 5.6 million Syrians have left the country and 6.6 million are internally displaced since the war began.

Of those who remain, millions need humanitarian assistance and health care. More than 86,000 lost limbs. Sister Annie said children in particular are suffering, especially the 3 million born during the war who only know of violent destruction. More than 20,000 children were killed in the war, and 2.8 million children have been uprooted from their family homes, she added.

When the fighting first began, Sister Annie and four other sisters in Aleppo who were teaching at the time were told by their provincial that they could leave. They chose to stay, saying they had lived there in good times and would stay during bad times.

"For us it's been a very painful experience, but to be present makes a difference for us and our people," she told Catholic News Service.

And now, she said, the focus is on "supporting our people and letting them stand in dignity to start a new life," stressing that the easier part is the physical rebuilding. "Rebuilding the heart and soul" is the bigger challenge.

She also knows that news about the war in Syria has fallen off the radar for many people.

"At the beginning the news was all about Syria; now there is no news about Syria. It seems like it's finished," she said, stressing, "It's not finished, of course."

In prepared remarks for the vespers service, Sister Annie likened the situation in Syria to someone recovering from a serious operation.

"One thing is the actual experience of the surgery; another thing is the long period of time needed to recover. Syria and its people are, we hope and pray, about to enter the recovery period. It will be long and challenging. It will need much help from friends and neighbors; it will need much patience from the people themselves and the determination to rebuild their lives."

She told CNS that she feels more people need to be aware of the current situation in Syria. She compared it to the words of St. Paul when he said: "If one part of the body is suffering, the whole body is suffering."

"We need to be aware," she said. "We can't just turn the channel" and look away.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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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/Sivaram V, ReutersBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The International Union of Superiors General has called on women religious who have suffered abuse to come forward and report it to their congregations and church and state authorities."If the UISG receives a report of abuse, we will be a listening presence and help the person to have the courage to bring the complaint to the appropriate organizations," it added in a statement published on its website Nov. 23.The group -- whose members are 2,000 superiors general of congregations of women religious across the world, representing more than 500,000 sisters -- said it wished to express "deep sorrow and indignation over the pattern of abuse that is prevalent within the church and society today.""Abuse in all forms: sexual, verbal, emotional or any inappropriate use of power within a relationship, diminishes the dignity and healthy development of the person who is victimized," it added.&...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Sivaram V, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The International Union of Superiors General has called on women religious who have suffered abuse to come forward and report it to their congregations and church and state authorities.

"If the UISG receives a report of abuse, we will be a listening presence and help the person to have the courage to bring the complaint to the appropriate organizations," it added in a statement published on its website Nov. 23.

The group -- whose members are 2,000 superiors general of congregations of women religious across the world, representing more than 500,000 sisters -- said it wished to express "deep sorrow and indignation over the pattern of abuse that is prevalent within the church and society today."

"Abuse in all forms: sexual, verbal, emotional or any inappropriate use of power within a relationship, diminishes the dignity and healthy development of the person who is victimized," it added.

"We stand by those courageous women and men who have reported abuse to the authorities. We condemn those who support the culture of silence and secrecy, often under the guise of 'protection' of an institution's reputation or naming it 'part of one's culture.'"

"We advocate for transparent civil and criminal reporting of abuse whether within religious congregations, at the parish or diocesan levels, or in any public arena," it said.

"We commit ourselves to work with the church and civil authorities to help those abused to heal the past through a process of accompaniment, of seeking justice, and investing in prevention of abuse through collaborative formation and education programs for children, and for women and men," it said.

Representatives of the UISG had been invited along with the men's Union of Superiors General, presidents of bishops' conferences and others to a February summit called by Pope Francis to address the protection of minors and vulnerable people.

The statement also comes months after police arrested an Indian bishop and charged him with raping a nun.

An Indian nun had accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, India, of raping her in 2014 and then sexually abusing her multiple times over the following two years. Bishop Mulakkal claims the accusations are baseless. He was arrested Sept. 21 after police investigated.

The nun had made numerous complaints, including to the Vatican, but claimed she had gotten no church response to her allegations at the time. Pope Francis accepted the bishop's request to be relieved of his duties Sept. 20.

The nun had explained in a letter that her abuse had gone on for so long because "I had tremendous fear and shame to bring this out into the open. I feared suppression of the congregation and threats to my family members."

She had said many women and nuns suffer clerical abuse. Silence and inaction on the part of church officials to stem clerical abuse will have a "very adverse effect" on women and result in the church losing its credibility, 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/ Kim Kyung-HoonBy David AgrenMEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The chaotic scene in Tijuana Nov. 25 -- when migrants, including women and children, were repelled from the U.S. border with tear gas -- prompted the closure of one of the world's busiest border crossings. It also showed the increasing impatience and despair of thousands of caravan participants, who could spend months in an uncomfortable camp as they wait to present asylum claims to U.S. officials.And while some Catholic migrant advocates criticized U.S. reaction as excessive, some who work with migrants through a network of shelters stretching the length of the country said they tried warning the caravan participants and a migrant advocacy group accompanying it, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, that -- unlike past years, when smaller caravans would cross Mexico -- times had changed. Resources for sustaining thousands of migrants in Tijuana are stretched thin and the current U.S. government has showed few signs of speeding up t...

IMAGE: CNS photo/ Kim Kyung-Hoon

By David Agren

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The chaotic scene in Tijuana Nov. 25 -- when migrants, including women and children, were repelled from the U.S. border with tear gas -- prompted the closure of one of the world's busiest border crossings. It also showed the increasing impatience and despair of thousands of caravan participants, who could spend months in an uncomfortable camp as they wait to present asylum claims to U.S. officials.

And while some Catholic migrant advocates criticized U.S. reaction as excessive, some who work with migrants through a network of shelters stretching the length of the country said they tried warning the caravan participants and a migrant advocacy group accompanying it, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, that -- unlike past years, when smaller caravans would cross Mexico -- times had changed. Resources for sustaining thousands of migrants in Tijuana are stretched thin and the current U.S. government has showed few signs of speeding up the process for accepting asylum applications.

Press reports from Tijuana described a peaceful protest, in which the migrants planned to present their case: that they had come only to work and save their own lives. But the protest was met by a wall of Mexican police officers, prompting the migrants to detour the barricade and head to a train border crossing.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a tweet that some migrants "threw projectiles." In response, "Border Patrol agents deployed tear gas to dispel the group because of the risk to agents' safety. Several agents were hit by the projectiles."

The caravan has crossed closed borders and pushed past police barricades since departing San Pedro Sula, Honduras, in mid-October. Parishes have assisted the original caravan and several subsequent caravans as they passed through southern Mexico; a group of religious offered medical attention, and dioceses have taken up collections.

But now the migrants have run up against the U.S. border and a U.S. administration that has warned that the caravan will not enter the country. The U.S. has allowed fewer than 50 claims to be made daily, even as thousands wait their turn in Mexico.

The caravan also risks becoming unwelcome in Tijuana, where hostile attitudes have already been expressed, border closures hurt the economy and the local government warned resources were running low.

Taking that many people to one border crossing and organizing a march "can't be a good idea. It's a horrific one," said Father Alejandro Solalinde, who operates a migrant shelter in southern Oaxaca state. "But there is no control there whatsoever."

"I ... gave them this advice, but they ignored it because the leaders (the activists) taking them made them believe that they were going to be able to do it, when in reality, it wasn't like that," said Father Solalinde.

Jorge Andrade, coordinator of a collective of Catholic-run migrant shelters, called the U.S. response "excessive." In the spring, Andrade said caravan organizers "have good intentions, but they're exposing (the migrants) to danger."

"Unfortunately, there are groups (of migrants) there that want to cross the border under these circumstances," he said in late November.

Father Andres Ramirez, who works with migrants in Tijuana, called the response "unprecedented" and said such a border closure as occurred Nov. 25 had not happened since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Father Solalinde has refused to accompany migrants farther north than Mexico City, saying the road poses risks such as kidnap. He recounted how one group of migrants, who were evangelicals, and told him: God will take care of us and "touch the heart" of president Donald Trump.

"They truly thought that God was going to move the heart of this person, but no! no! no! It wasn't like that," Father Solalinde said. He added that some in that group of 250 migrants had gone missing since setting out from Mexico City for Tijuana.

"They wouldn't take into account the current political climate, the (Dec. 1 presidential) transition in Mexico, the bad organization that they had, because they didn't see the opportunity for people to help them," Father Solalinde said, speaking to the haste of many to rush to the border and not fully consider the opportunity to work in Mexico or apply for asylum there.

"These are difficult times (but) it's as if they have this chip, 'They have to go north' and they think that it was going to be the same as the previous times, but it's not like that."

The Mexican government said in a Nov. 25 statement it had detained almost 500 migrants who tried to cross the border at Tijuana.

It added more than 7,400 migrants from various caravans were currently in the border state of Baja California, while 11,000 migrants had been repatriated or deported to Central America since Oct. 19.

The Washington Post reported Nov. 24 the United States and Mexico's incoming government had reached an agreement known as "Remain in Mexico," in which asylum seekers would wait south of the border while their claims are processed in U.S. courts. Incoming Mexican Interior Minister Olga Sanchez Cordero later denied the story, but did not disavow her comments to the Post confirming a deal.

She also denied Mexico would become a "safe third" country, which would mean migrants in Mexico would be considered to have already found safety.

In effect, "Remain in Mexico is the configuration of Mexico as a safe third country," said Andrade.

 

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican MediaBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The desire to spend vast amounts on shopping and needless extravagances can prevent Christians from being generous with others, Pope Francis said."Consumerism is a great disease today. I am not saying that we all do this, no. But consumerism, spending more than we need, is a lack of austerity in life; this is an enemy of generosity," the pope said Nov. 26 during Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's Gospel reading from St. Luke in which Jesus noticed wealthy people placing their vast offerings into the treasury while an old widow makes an offering of two small coins."I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood," Jesus said.The pope said Jesus often spoke about and compared the behaviors of the rich and t...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The desire to spend vast amounts on shopping and needless extravagances can prevent Christians from being generous with others, Pope Francis said.

"Consumerism is a great disease today. I am not saying that we all do this, no. But consumerism, spending more than we need, is a lack of austerity in life; this is an enemy of generosity," the pope said Nov. 26 during Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's Gospel reading from St. Luke in which Jesus noticed wealthy people placing their vast offerings into the treasury while an old widow makes an offering of two small coins.

"I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood," Jesus said.

The pope said Jesus often spoke about and compared the behaviors of the rich and the poor, for example, in his parable of the poor man Lazarus or his encounter with the rich young man.

Jesus' assertion that it is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven may cause some to "label Christ as a communist, but the Lord -- when he said these things -- knew that behind wealth there was always an evil spirit: the lord of the world," he said.

The poor widow in the Gospel reading, he continued, "gave the little she had" because she trusted God and knew that "the Lord is more than everything."

Pope Francis said Christians today wondering if their small deeds or acts can help relieve social ills such as poverty and hunger are no different than the widow and the two coins she gave as an offering.

"It's the little things. For example, take a trip to our rooms, let us go to our closets. How many pairs of shoes do you have? One, two, three, four, 15, 20 ... everyone can answer. A bit too much. I knew a bishop who owned 40 pairs. But if you have so many shoes, give half," the pope said. "It is a way of being generous, of giving what we have, of sharing."

Pope Francis called on Christians to be generous with those in need and to pray to God "so that he can free us from the dangerous evil of consumerism" which is "a psychiatric disease" that can enslave.

"Let us ask for this grace from the Lord," the pope said, "this generosity which broadens our hearts and leads us to magnanimity."

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Katie RutterBy Katie RutterINDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- Jesus himself might have set the all-time food record when he miraculously served 5,000 men with a few loaves and fish.In this day and age, however, the Indianapolis Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul might hold that title.The Catholic organization leaders host what they believe to be the largest food pantry in the Midwest, if not in the country, giving out groceries to 3,000 families each week.A visit to the food pantry during one of their busiest times -- the week before Thanksgiving -- did not reveal any miraculous loaf-dividing. Rather, the nonprofit showed that the unbelievable becomes possible with a combination of organization, resourcefulness, generosity, sheer volunteer power and faith."We always have enough for our clients," said John Ryan, president of the Indianapolis Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. "Just due to the generosity of our donor base, there's never been a...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Katie Rutter

By Katie Rutter

INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- Jesus himself might have set the all-time food record when he miraculously served 5,000 men with a few loaves and fish.

In this day and age, however, the Indianapolis Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul might hold that title.

The Catholic organization leaders host what they believe to be the largest food pantry in the Midwest, if not in the country, giving out groceries to 3,000 families each week.

A visit to the food pantry during one of their busiest times -- the week before Thanksgiving -- did not reveal any miraculous loaf-dividing. Rather, the nonprofit showed that the unbelievable becomes possible with a combination of organization, resourcefulness, generosity, sheer volunteer power and faith.

"We always have enough for our clients," said John Ryan, president of the Indianapolis Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. "Just due to the generosity of our donor base, there's never been a day when we haven't had enough food."

A fine-tuned system ensures efficiency from the entrance all the way back to the parking lot.

Clients check in with a number and that same number is attached to a shopping cart so that they can claim and load their groceries into their car.

Then, they shuffle through a long line of canned goods, boxed food and perishables, selecting their own food according to a point system.

Of utmost importance to Ryan is that clients are able to choose their own food from some 150 different options.

"A study showed that in a client-choice food pantry there's 40 percent less waste of food because they're actually choosing what they want to eat versus us giving them what they want to eat," he said.

Behind the scenes, the food selections are supplied from a sprawling warehouse. Some rooms are stacked with pallets of canned goods, others are lined with boxes of nonperishables. In one room, saran-wrapped bales of cornflakes stood at least seven-feet high.

Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, the Indiana food pantry received 200 frozen turkeys for volunteers to hand out.

"They'll pick a day, like probably tomorrow morning, and all 200 will fly out the door," Ryan told Catholic News Service during a November interview at the food pantry, without intending the pun.

The group budgets about $330,000 per year for food purchases, which equals out to roughly $2 per family per week. Yet each family walks away with bags of groceries that would have been $50-$75 to purchase in a store.

The almost-biblical multiplication is possible through a cunning resourcefulness acquired by decades of negotiation and market knowledge.

Some food is acquired for free from food drives and big donations. Some is purchased at an extremely low price from at least three Indiana food banks. Some is purchased in bulk -- as in, a tractor-trailer load -- on the open market.

Occasionally, the organization will be contacted by a trucker whose load was rejected by a grocery store that would otherwise be destined for a landfill.

"If they know about us, they'll call us and say, 'Hey, I've got a semi full of green beans here, I'll sell them to you for $3,000,' and we'll say, 'Well, how about $1,000?'" Ryan told CNS.

The Indianapolis Council runs almost entirely on volunteer power. Dedicated individuals, each with unique talents, handle everything from organizing food to directing traffic and managing tax requirements.

A core group of about 20 volunteers, mostly retirees, manage the whole operation, putting in hours akin to a full-time job. About 300 additional people come in on a weekly basis. Thousands more volunteer infrequently, including people from schools and business groups looking for service opportunities.

"I think it's the Holy Spirit at work that draws people, or sends people to our organization, said Ryan, himself a volunteer at the food pantry. "It just happens."

Ryan also credits the Holy Spirit for the financial support that sustains St. Vincent de Paul.

He estimates that 6,000 donors give to their charitable appeals, which are organized every three months.
The Indianapolis Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul also applies for grants to fund large projects, such as the recently completed restroom renovations.

Despite the masses the society serves annually, the group leaders don't get caught up in the numbers.
Ryan said he fights cynicism by simply understanding poverty and attempting to relate to those caught in it.

"I can cite numbers for you off the top of my head," he said. "I can tell you that one in seven people in Indianapolis technically live in poverty. I can tell you that a third of them, 35 percent of them, are children.
"The numbers don't mean anything. You've got to look at those people, look them in the eyes, they are as kind and as appreciative and as generous as anybody you'll meet."

Ryan firmly asserted that, ultimately, those in poverty simply want hope, and prays that God supplies that gift.

If the literal mountains of food moved by this St. Vincent de Paul council each day are any indication, God is certainly at work among the poor of Indianapolis. Just this time, his disciples don blue jeans and hand out frozen turkeys rather than raw fish.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob RollerBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When Pope Francis visits Panama for World Youth Day in January, he will meet with young people not able to attend the festivities: some in jail and with some living with HIV.He also will dedicate the altar of Panama's newly renovated 400-year-old cathedral, meet with bishops from Central America and have lunch with some of the young people attending the youth day gathering, according to the schedule released by the Vatican Nov. 20.The pope's visit to Panama Jan. 23-27 will be his 26th trip outside of Italy. During his visit, he will deliver seven speeches and celebrate two Masses as well as a penitential liturgy.The theme for World Youth Day 2019 is taken from the Gospel of St. Luke: "I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."The pope's meeting with young people who will be unable to take part in the activities is a response to the Gospel's call to clothe the naked, vi...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When Pope Francis visits Panama for World Youth Day in January, he will meet with young people not able to attend the festivities: some in jail and with some living with HIV.

He also will dedicate the altar of Panama's newly renovated 400-year-old cathedral, meet with bishops from Central America and have lunch with some of the young people attending the youth day gathering, according to the schedule released by the Vatican Nov. 20.

The pope's visit to Panama Jan. 23-27 will be his 26th trip outside of Italy. During his visit, he will deliver seven speeches and celebrate two Masses as well as a penitential liturgy.

The theme for World Youth Day 2019 is taken from the Gospel of St. Luke: "I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."

The pope's meeting with young people who will be unable to take part in the activities is a response to the Gospel's call to clothe the naked, visit the sick and comfort the imprisoned, the organizing committee said in a Nov. 20 statement.

Archbishop Jose Domingo Ulloa Mendieta of Panama said Pope Francis' meeting with young detainees will be "a very special event" in which "young people deprived of freedom will take part in a penitential liturgy with the Holy Father in an act of repentance, reconciliation and forgiveness," the committee said.

After the closing Mass for World Youth Day, the pope will visit Casa Hogar el Buen Samaritano (Good Samaritan Home), a center dedicated to helping HIV and AIDS patients "regardless of their sex, religion, sexual orientation, geographical origin" and "who lack the resources to live and cope with their illness."

The pope will also pray the Angelus there with young people from the Malambo hospice, which helps people addicted to drugs and alcohol, and from Hogar San Jose, a house for the poor run by the Missionaries of Charity and the Kkottongnae religious congregation.

Here is the detailed schedule released by the Vatican. All times are local, with Eastern Daylight Time in parentheses:

Wednesday, Jan. 23 (Rome, Panama)

-- 9:35 a.m. (3:35 a.m.) Departure from Rome's Fiumicino Airport.

-- 4:30 p.m. Arrival at Tocumen International Airport in Panama.

-- 4:50 p.m. Transfer to the apostolic nunciature.

Thursday, Jan. 24 (Panama)

-- 9:45 a.m. Welcoming ceremony at Palacio de las Garzas presidential palace.

-- 10 a.m. Courtesy visit with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela at Palacio de las Garzas.

-- 10:40 a.m. Meeting with government authorities and the diplomatic corps at Bolivar Palace. Speech by pope.

-- 11:15 a.m. Meeting with Central American bishops in the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. Speech by pope.

-- 5:30 p.m. Welcoming ceremony and gathering with young people in Santa Maria la Antigua Field. Speech by pope.

Friday, Jan. 25 (Panama)

-- 10:30 a.m. Penitential liturgy with juvenile delinquents in Las Garzas de Pacora Juvenile Detention Center in Pacora. Homily by pope.

-- 11:50 a.m. Transfer by helicopter to the apostolic nunciature.

-- 5:30 p.m. Way of the Cross with young people in Santa Maria la Antigua Field. Speech by pope.

Saturday, Jan. 26 (Panama)

-- 9:15 a.m. Mass and dedication of the altar of the Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria la Antigua with priests, men and women religious and lay movements. Homily by pope.

-- 12:15 p.m. Lunch with young people at San Jose Major Seminary

-- 6:30 p.m. Prayer vigil with young people at St. John Paul II Field. Speech by pope.

Sunday, Jan. 27 (Panama)

-- 8:00 a.m. Mass at St. John Paul II Field to mark World Youth Day. Homily by pope.

-- 10:45 a.m. Visit to Casa Hogar el Buen Samaritano (Good Samaritan Home). Speech and Angelus by pope.

-- 4:30 p.m. Meeting with World Youth Day volunteers, the local organizing committee and benefactors at Rommel Fernandez Stadium. Speech by pope.

-- 6:00 p.m. Farewell ceremony at Tocumen International Airport.

-- 6:15 p.m. Departure from Tocumen International Airport.

Monday, Jan. 28 (Rome)

-- 11:50 a.m. (5:50 a.m.) Arrival at Rome's Ciampino Airport.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

 

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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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