Various Catholic News

Franciscans mark 800 years of serving in the Holy Land

Crux Now - 2 hours 15 min ago

For 800 years, the Franciscan order has been present in the Holy Land, serving as “ambassadors of the entire People of God,” according to Pope Francis.

The pope commended the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land for their “willingness to accompany the steps of pilgrims from every part of the world through welcome and guidance,” in a message released on Tuesday.

The mission to the Holy Land was commissioned in 1217 by St. Francis of Assisi himself, and over 100 years later – in 1342 – the Holy Land province of the Franciscans were officially declared the custodians of the holy shrines by Pope Clement VI.

“Our presence is an event not only for all Christians but also for all of mankind. Yes, our presence is for all of humanity,” said Franciscan Father Michael Perry, the Minister General of the worldwide Franciscan order, who was in Jerusalem for the celebrations marking the anniversary.

“This was also the view of Francis of Assisi, who wanted to visit the Holy Land, reaching Damietta [a port in Egypt], in a situation where there was ongoing dehumanization. Even today, these dehumanizing movements still exist. The Custody’s vision is to promote dialogue and harmony among people and to promote humanity’s integral development,” Perry said in an interview published on the Custody’s website.

(Perry was referring to the 1218-1219 Siege of Damietta, when Christian knights took the port during the Fifth Crusade, a prolonged operation which took over a year. Near the end of the siege, Francis crossed over the lines and tried to convert the Sultan Al-Kamil before the Muslim leader surrendered the city.)

“Even today, the Franciscan presence has meaning, because it is not only important in order to welcome pilgrims, but also to accompany all of humanity in this area that has experienced horrible expressions of violence. But our presence continues to remember the dignity of every person and we have the vocation of promoting peace among all human beings,” Perry said.

The Custody serves in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, parts of Egypt, Cyprus and the Greek island of Rhodes. It controls dozens of shrines, and shares ownership of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem with the Orthodox and Armenian Churches.

The Franciscans also operate numerous parishes and schools in the Holy Land, and support the local Christian community, so they can stay in the land of Christ’s birth.

“I encourage you to persevere gladly in supporting these brothers of ours, especially the poorest and weakest; in the education of young people – who often risk losing hope in a context that is still without peace – in welcoming the elderly and the care for the sick, living out the works of mercy in a concrete way in daily life,” the pope wrote.

“Assiduous in contemplation and in prayer, simple and poor, obedient to the bishop of Rome, you are engaged also in the present in living in the Holy Land next to brothers of different cultures, ethnicities and religions, sowing peace, fraternity and respect,” the pontiff said, before renewing the mandate of Clement VI.

“You are ambassadors of the entire People of God, who with liberality you have always sustained, especially through the ‘Collection for the Holy Land’ [taken up in Catholic churches every Good Friday], which contributes to ensuring that in the Land of Jesus, faith is made visible in work.”

Christian lawyers threatened by new law society requirement

Catholic Register Canada - News - 4 hours 19 min ago

OTTAWA – The Ontario law society has gone too far by compelling lawyers to submit a “politically correct” statement of principles that may “override core Christian beliefs,” said the president of the Catholic Civil Rights League.

“The law society is moving in a direction to oversee what we believe or think, which is an overreach of its governance role,” said Phil Horgan, a constitutional lawyer.

At issue is a new mandatory requirement by the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) compelling all its members to “create and abide by” a statement of principles which promotes equality, diversity and inclusion.

While that may sound harmless on the surface, Horgan fears the law society’s definition of diversity will be used against lawyers whose Christian beliefs run counter to popular culture. He cited the example of future law school graduates from Trinity Western University who could be denied career opportunities due to religious beliefs.

At three levels of court, the law society has objected to TWU’s community covenant that requires faculty, staff and students to abstain from sex outside of a traditional marriage.

Asked what this says about the law society’s attitude towards current lawyers who support traditional marriage, Horgan said the new mandatory policy contradicts a 2005 policy statement that upholds “respect for religious diversity” and condemns any form of religious discrimination.

“The law society is clearly engaged in a campaign to promote what we recognize are politically correct preferred words in the 21st century,” Horgan said.

“Diversity is not a charter principle,” he said. “We’ve argued the proper framework to address that is pluralism. We are not one-minded, we are many-minded. That’s what civil discourse engages.”

Don Hutchinson, former vice president and chief legal counsel to the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, said lawyers are already required to abide by the law. He said there is a difference between abiding by the law and this “new obligation of promotion.”

The terms equality, diversity and inclusion are not defined, he said, nor has the law society outlined penalties for failing to comply.

The new policy has also raised concerns about freedom of speech.

Derek Ross executive director of the Christian Legal Fellowship that represents 700 lawyers, law students, academics and retired judges across Canada, said they are “closely examining the new requirements.

“Certainly, based on our initial review, aspects of the law society’s requirements raise concerns,” he said. “At the same time, we recognize that the law society is trying to combat identified barriers and discrimination faced by members of the profession. But the question remains whether these particular requirements are the appropriate way to address those concerns.”

Vatican asks Indonesian bishop to repay funds he allegedly stole

Catholic Register Canada - News - 5 hours 32 min ago
RUTENG, Indonesia – The Vatican has asked Indonesian Bishop Hubertus Leteng, who recently resigned over allegations of theft and having an affair, to return the church funds he is accused of stealing.

The request over the missing money was not mentioned in an Oct. 11 announcement by Vatican of the resignation.

However, Father Robert Pelita, who participated in a meeting between officials of the Vatican, Indonesian bishops' conference and Ruteng Diocese, told ucanews.com the request was made directly to Bishop Leteng.

"The Vatican representative said that, in principle, the money must be returned," Father Pelita told ucanews.com Oct. 13, although the Vatican did not say when the bishop should pay it back.

Pope Francis approved the resignation of the 58-year-old bishop following the investigation into allegations that he secretly borrowed $94,000 from the Indonesian bishops' conference and $30,000 from the diocese, without providing an accountability report.

In a meeting with the priests in the diocese, Bishop Leteng said the money was being used to fund the education of a poor youth in the United States, but he failed to provide further details.

In protest against Bishop Leteng's actions, 68 priests in the diocese resigned as episcopal vicars and parish priests. They suspected the missing money went to a woman with whom they allege the bishop was having an affair.

Bishop Leteng did not respond to a request to comment publicly on repayment of the missing money.

However, a diocesan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that at a recent meeting Bishop Leteng promised to return the funds.

Since the case went public, he has repaid 75 million rupiah (US$5,555) of the money he took from the diocese, the source said.

Bishop Leteng has said he will gradually repay money owed to the Indonesian bishops' conference.

Officials at the Indonesian bishops' conference refused to comment, saying that the case is under the Vatican's authority.

Bishop Leteng is still in Ruteng, but Father Agustinus Manfred Habur, the bishop's secretary, said that on Oct. 11 the Vatican gave him 10 days to leave the diocese.

"However, where he will move is the secret of the Vatican," he said.

- - -

The original story can be found at https://www.ucanews.com/news/vatican-requires-indonesian-bishop-to-return-stolen-money/80540.

WOODY ALLEN IS RIGHT—BEWARE A WITCH HUNT

Catholic League - 6 hours 11 min ago
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on Woody Allen's words of caution in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal: Jeffrey Katzenberg is right to observe that "There's a pack of wolves" in Hollywood. They must be gotten. But in the quest for justice, it is important not to proceed at a gallop pace lest [...]

Christian lawyers threatened by new law society requirement

Catholic Register Canada - News - 6 hours 19 min ago

OTTAWA – The Ontario law society has gone too far by compelling lawyers to submit a “politically correct” statement of principles that may “override core Christian beliefs,” said the president of the Catholic Civil Rights League.

“The law society is moving in a direction to oversee what we believe or think, which is an overreach of its governance role,” said Phil Horgan, a constitutional lawyer.

At issue is a new mandatory requirement by the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) compelling all its members to “create and abide by” a statement of principles which promotes equality, diversity and inclusion.

While that may sound harmless on the surface, Horgan fears the law society’s definition of diversity will be used against lawyers whose Christian beliefs run counter to popular culture. He cited the example of future law school graduates from Trinity Western University who could be denied career opportunities due to religious beliefs.

At three levels of court, the law society has objected to TWU’s community covenant that requires faculty, staff and students to abstain from sex outside of a traditional marriage.

Asked what this says about the law society’s attitude towards current lawyers who support traditional marriage, Horgan said the new mandatory policy contradicts a 2005 policy statement that upholds “respect for religious diversity” and condemns any form of religious discrimination.

“The law society is clearly engaged in a campaign to promote what we recognize are politically correct preferred words in the 21st century,” Horgan said.

“Diversity is not a charter principle,” he said. “We’ve argued the proper framework to address that is pluralism. We are not one-minded, we are many-minded. That’s what civil discourse engages.”

Don Hutchinson, former vice president and chief legal counsel to the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, said lawyers are already required to abide by the law. He said there is a difference between abiding by the law and this “new obligation of promotion.”

The terms equality, diversity and inclusion are not defined, he said, nor has the law society outlined penalties for failing to comply.

The new policy has also raised concerns about freedom of speech.

Derek Ross executive director of the Christian Legal Fellowship that represents 700 lawyers, law students, academics and retired judges across Canada, said they are “closely examining the new requirements.

“Certainly, based on our initial review, aspects of the law society’s requirements raise concerns,” he said. “At the same time, we recognize that the law society is trying to combat identified barriers and discrimination faced by members of the profession. But the question remains whether these particular requirements are the appropriate way to address those concerns.”

Links for 10/17/17

Natl Catholic Reporter - 7 hours 3 min ago
Michael Sean Winters rounds up political news and commentary: Preliminary gerrymander reform; flag for the interior secretary; Democrats' contraception trap; stop "othering" poor people

Protesters arrested for blocking pipeline work through nuns’ property

Crux Now - 7 hours 39 min ago

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nearly two dozen people, including a juvenile, were arrested as they blocked workers from starting construction of a short leg of a natural gas pipeline on property owned by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ congregation in Columbia, Pennsylvania.

Singing traditional protest songs, the protesters from the group Lancaster Against Pipelines were charged Oct. 16 with defiant trespass and taken away one by one. They were released after a brief court hearing.

Those arrested were among more than 100 people who had peacefully gathered as construction workers arrived to begin working on a leg of the 183-mile Atlantic Sunrise pipeline being built by Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Williams Partners to carry gas from the Marcellus Shale in northeastern Pennsylvania.

“We will continue to have a presence here. How can we not? We live here. This is our home. These are outside marauders who have come in and seized our property,” said Ann Neumann, a member of the anti-pipeline group.

She said her nephew, Ashton Clatterbuck, 16, was among those arrested. He is the son of Mark Clatterbuck, one of the group’s leaders. The elder Clatterbuck was not arrested.

Work began as soon as the last protester was removed. The congregation’s land is in the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The Adorers have worked loosely with the anti-pipeline group in efforts to block construction.

Chris Stockton, a Williams spokesman, said the court had agreed with the company’s position that construction should begin as soon as possible.

“We respect people’s right to protest, but our focus is on constructing this project in a safe, efficient manner and we’ll work to make sure the workers, the protesters and the police get through this project safely,” Stockton told Catholic News Service.

Construction should last about a month, he said.

The day before construction began, the Adorers invited supporters through their Facebook page to gather for a vigil at a chapel Lancaster Against Pipeline built on the property in July. The simple chapel made of four posts and several cross boards, is located just outside of the pipeline right of way.

The sisters wrote that the pipeline “is a violation of the sanctity of creation, compelling us to challenge its installation through peaceful, prayerful resistance.”

“Ours is a peaceful, prayerful resistance to protect ‘the Holy in all of life,'” the Facebook post said.

The protesters and their supporters met just after sunrise at the chapel before moving to another site on the property, where those who were arrested stood around an excavator holding hands and singing protest songs. The event was broadcast live on Facebook.

The congregation has opposed the pipeline since it was proposed three years ago, maintaining that allowing it through their property would run contrary to their 2005 Land Ethic. The document holds that all land created by God is sacred and that the fossil fuel project would desecrate the landscape.

The congregation challenged a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission order authorizing construction and operation of the fossil fuel pipeline in federal court saying it violated the sisters’ right to practice their faith under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and asked that it be rerouted. A federal judge ruled against the sisters Sept. 28, but they have appealed the decision. The judge allowed construction to begin even though the appeal was pending.

Brett Hambright, spokesman for the Office of the Lancaster County District Attorney, said those arrested face a maximum penalty of one year in jail if convicted.

“I want to stress that we take no joy in arresting individuals,” Hambright told NPR. “But it has been a cooperative group that has worked with our police. They were very peaceful and respectful, which is exactly what the police wanted to reciprocate with them as well.”

Department of Justice announces settlement in HHS mandate suits

Crux Now - 7 hours 55 min ago

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A week after issuing new religious freedom guidelines to all administrative agencies in the federal government, the U.S. Department of Justice has settled with more than 70 plaintiffs who had challenged the controversial HHS contraceptive mandate.

The Oct. 13 agreement was reached between the government and the law firm Jones Day, which represented more than 70 clients fighting the mandate. Made public Oct. 16, the agreement states that the plaintiffs would not be forced to provide health insurance coverage for “morally unacceptable” products and procedures, including contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.

“This settlement brings to a conclusion our litigation challenging the Health and Human Services’ mandate obliging our institutions to provide support for morally objectionable activities, as well as a level of assurance as we move into the future,” said Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. in an Oct. 16 letter to priests of the archdiocese.

The mandate originated with the Obama administration. Issued through the Department of Health and Human Services, it required employers – even those with deeply-held religious objections – to provide and pay for contraceptive, abortifacient, and sterilization coverage in their health insurance plans.

The Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., was one of more than 300 plaintiffs who had challenged the mandate, arguing “that the practice of our faith was inextricably tied to the ministries that put that faith into action,” and that as such, they should not be forced to violate their faith to continue their ministries, Wuerl recalled.

The archdiocese and six other plaintiffs had argued their position before the Supreme Court in the case Zubik v. Burwell. In 2016, the high court ruled against the government’s requirement that certain employers provide and pay for what they consider to be morally objectionable services.

“While the Trump Administration’s Executive Order on Religious Liberty and new guidelines and regulations are extremely helpful, the settlement of the Zubik litigation adds a leavening of certainty moving forward,” the cardinal added.

The Department of Justice’s new settlement “removes doubt” and closes these cases challenging the mandate, the cardinal continued. “The settlement adds additional assurances that we will not be subject to enforcement or imposition of similar regulations imposing such morally unacceptable mandates moving forward,” he stated.

On Oct. 6, the Department of Justice revised its guidelines for all government agencies in light of existing religious freedom laws, releasing a set of principles which stated clearly that the government cannot substantially burden religious practices, unless there is a compelling state interest in doing so and those burdens use the least-restrictive means possible.

Thomas Aquinas College, a Catholic college in California and another plaintiff against the HHS mandate also celebrated the protection the settlement brings.

“While we welcomed the broadening of the exemption from the HHS mandate last week by the Trump administration, we have under our agreement today something even better: a permanent exemption from an onerous federal directive – and any similar future directive – that would require us to compromise our fundamental beliefs,” said Thomas Aquinas College president Dr. Michael F. McLean in an Oct. 16 statement.

“This is an extraordinary outcome for Thomas Aquinas College and for the cause of religious freedom.”

In addition to settling the case, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury have also decided to provide partial coverage of the plaintiffs’ attorney fees and costs of the lawsuits.

“This financial concession by the government only reinforces its admission of the burdensome nature of the HHS contraceptive mandate and its violation of the College’s free exercise of religion,” stated Thomas Aquinas College General Counsel, Quincy Masteller.

Protesters arrested for blocking pipeline work through nun's property

Catholic Register Canada - News - 7 hours 59 min ago
WASHINGTON – Nearly two dozen people, including a juvenile, were arrested as they blocked workers from starting construction of a short leg of a natural gas pipeline on property owned by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ congregation in Columbia, Pennsylvania.

Singing traditional protest songs, the protesters from the group Lancaster Against Pipelines were charged Oct. 16 with defiant trespass and taken away one by one. They were released after a brief court hearing.

Those arrested were among more than 100 people who had peacefully gathered as construction workers arrived to begin working on a leg of the 183-mile Atlantic Sunrise pipeline being built by Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Williams Partners to carry gas from the Marcellus Shale in northeastern Pennsylvania.

"We will continue to have a presence here. How can we not? We live here. This is our home. These are outside marauders who have come in and seized our property," said Ann Neumann, a member of the anti-pipeline group.

She said her nephew, Ashton Clatterbuck, 16, was among those arrested. He is the son of Mark Clatterbuck, one of the group's leaders. The elder Clatterbuck was not arrested.

Work began as soon as the last protester was removed. The congregation's land is in the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The Adorers have worked closely with Lancaster Against Pipelines in efforts to block construction. They built a chapel and filed a lawsuit to block the natural gas pipeline. 

Chris Stockton, a Williams spokesman, said the court had agreed with the company's position that construction should begin as soon as possible.

"We respect people's right to protest, but our focus is on constructing this project in a safe, efficient manner and we'll work to make sure the workers, the protesters and the police get through this project safely," Stockton said.

Construction should last about a month, he said.

The day before construction began, the Adorers invited supporters through their Facebook page to gather for a vigil at a chapel Lancaster Against Pipeline built on the property in July. The simple chapel made of four posts and several cross boards, is located just outside of the pipeline right of way.

The sisters wrote that the pipeline "is a violation of the sanctity of creation, compelling us to challenge its installation through peaceful, prayerful resistance."

"Ours is a peaceful, prayerful resistance to protect 'the Holy in all of life,'" the Facebook post said.

The protesters and their supporters met just after sunrise at the chapel before moving to another site on the property, where those who were arrested stood around an excavator holding hands and singing protest songs. The event was broadcast live on Facebook.

The congregation has opposed the pipeline since it was proposed three years ago, maintaining that allowing it through their property would run contrary to their 2005 Land Ethic. The document holds that all land created by God is sacred and that the fossil fuel project would desecrate the landscape.

The congregation challenged a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission order authorizing construction and operation of the fossil fuel pipeline in federal court saying it violated the sisters' right to practice their faith under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and asked that it be rerouted. A federal judge ruled against the sisters Sept. 28, but they have appealed the decision. The judge allowed construction to begin even though the appeal was pending.

Brett Hambright, spokesman for the Office of the Lancaster County District Attorney, said those arrested face a maximum penalty of one year in jail if convicted.

"I want to stress that we take no joy in arresting individuals," Hambright said. "But it has been a cooperative group that has worked with our police. They were very peaceful and respectful, which is exactly what the police wanted to reciprocate with them as well."

Not listening to God’s word turns Christians into fools, pope says

Crux Now - 8 hours 9 min ago

ROME — Christians who do not really listen to the word of God and are only concerned with outward appearances are corrupt and idolatrous, Pope Francis said.

Foolish men and women believe they listen but instead do their “own thing always” and they transform the word of God with their own “concept of reality,” the pope said Oct. 17 during his morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“Fools do not know how to listen,” he said. “And this deafness will bring them to corruption. The word of God doesn’t enter, there is no place for love and, in the end, there is no place for freedom.”

The pope reflected on the day’s Gospel from St. Luke (11:37-41) in which Jesus rebukes a Pharisee who “was amazed to see that (Jesus) did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal.”

“Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil,” Jesus said.

Those who criticized Jesus, like the Pharisee in the Gospel, were “corrupted by vanity, appearance, by exterior beauty and justice,” the pope said.

Christians today also are at risk of thinking this way, which leads them to become “ideologues of Christianity” rather than true followers of Jesus, he said.

Ideology, the pope added, can become a form of idolatry that enslaves Christians “because they exchanged the truth of God with a lie.”

“This is the foolishness of Christians,” the pope said. “There are foolish Christians and foolish pastors. St. Augustine would give them a good clobbering because the foolishness of pastors hurts the flock.”

Francis said that despite the foolishness of his children, Jesus “is always at the door,” knocking and waiting because “he longs for us.”

“Jesus weeps with this longing, he wept over Jerusalem: It was his longing for a people whom he chose, whom he loved, but they went away because of foolishness, they preferred appearances, idols or ideologies,” the pope said.

Senate confirms Callista Gingrich as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See

Natl Catholic Reporter - 8 hours 12 min ago
The Senate confirmed Callista Gingrich as the new U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.

Pope Francis backs International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Vatican Today (VIS) - 8 hours 13 min ago
(Vatican Radio) During the Sunday Angelus in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis reminded the crowds that on Tuesday, 17th October, we mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty . It’s an occurrence that was established 25 years ago by the UN and it continues to challenge leaders and policymakers to put in place appropriate social protection systems and measures that cover everybody, especially the most vulnerable. In his address on Sunday, Pope Francis said “poverty has nothing to do with fatality: it stems from causes that must be recognized and removed”. One organization that is marking the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is Caritas Europa with a call to leaders to ensure that no one is left under the poverty line. Shannon Pfohman , Policy and Advocacy Director of Caritas Europa told Linda Bordoni why it is important to mark a day such as this in 2017 and about how she is looking forward to the establishment by Pope Francis, on November 19th, of the World Day of the Poor. Listen : Shannon Pfohman explains that a Day such as this is an important awareness raising event, globally, because the scourge of poverty is still of enormous proportions. She says that “despite the European Union’s efforts to tackle poverty starting with the 2020 European Strategy Goals which including a target to diminish the number of people in poverty, little has improved” for a number of reasons. “So today it is an important day to remind policy makers and world leaders of the importance to focus attention on the situation of poverty today” she said. Caritas Europa has issued a statement entitled ‘Let’s make poverty history by 2030!”. Pfohman explains that this is related to the Sustainable Development goals adopted by the UN and it refers to the Agenda 2030.  “We are now hoping that this agenda will contribute to ending poverty because the first goal of the SDGs is to end poverty and it has a number of different targets that governments are supposed to adopt and incorporate in their National Plan in order to meet this – and other goals - by 2030” she said. Poverty in Europe Although the European continent is home to many of the world’s richest nations, it is by no mean free from the scourge of poverty. Pfohman said that there are different understandings of what we mean when we speak of poverty: “Pope Francis often refers to material and spiritual poverty”. For the European Commission, poverty is measured, Pfohman explained, by considering three main elements linked to income, to social exclusion and material deprivation and to very low work intensity. “Every fourth person in the EU is experiencing at least one of these three forms of poverty or social exclusion” she said. Pope Francis Pfohman speaks of the boost organizations such as Caritas receive from the Pope. “Pope Francis and the Catholic Social Teaching is the basis for our advocacy message and having a strong speaker like the Pope makes our message louder and heard more globally” she said. World Day of the Poor Looking ahead to the near future she said: “We look forward to him introducing the World Day of the Poor on November 19th which will be an attempt to look at the many forms of material and spiritual poverty that poison people’s hearts and harm their dignity”. Pfohman also said the Pope will be making an appeal to society in the week before November 19th to focus on the globalization of indifference and to put our beliefs into action: “as Pope Francis says we are not talking about statistics, we are talking about people”. Recommendations for European Governments Pfohman also speaks about the work Caritas Europa is doing and says that one of the suggestions for improvement is very much linked to the need for European Governments to revise their social protection system. In this regard, she said, Caritas has a number of recommendations, the first of which sees the family as a vital cell of society and as a safety net: “We wish to ensure the right to family life by promoting a series of family oriented policies”. The second recommendation, she continued, regards fostering inclusive labour markets and recognizing the value of work and people’s contribution to society. The third, regards the revamping of “the social protection system to ensure comprehensive national social provision coverage to meet the needs of all persons residing in the country”. Pfohman says Caritas has numerous other recommendations but she highlights that at Caritas they are also hopeful that the European Pillar of Social Rights which should be proclaimed on November 17th at the EU Social Summit “will be another support for member States in their effort to tackle poverty and social exclusion throughout Europe”.               (from Vatican Radio)...

Vatican asks Indonesian bishop to repay funds he allegedly stole

Crux Now - 8 hours 20 min ago

RUTENG, Indonesia — Vatican officials have asked Indonesian Bishop Hubertus Leteng, who recently resigned over allegations of theft and having an affair, to return the church funds he is accused of stealing.

The request over the missing money was not mentioned in an Oct. 11 announcement by the Vatican of the resignation.

However, Father Robert Pelita, who participated in a meeting between officials of the Vatican, the Indonesian bishops’ conference and Ruteng Diocese, told ucanews.com the request was made directly to Leteng.

“The Vatican representative said that, in principle, the money must be returned,” Pelita told ucanews.com Oct. 13, although the Vatican did not say when the bishop should pay it back.

Pope Francis approved the resignation of the 58-year-old bishop following the investigation into allegations that he secretly borrowed $94,000 from the Indonesian bishops’ conference and $30,000 from the diocese, without providing an accountability report.

In a meeting with the priests in the diocese, Leteng said the money was being used to fund the education of a poor youth in the United States, but he failed to provide further details.

In protest against Leteng’s actions, 68 priests in the diocese resigned as episcopal vicars and parish priests. They suspected the missing money went to a woman with whom they allege the bishop was having an affair.

Leteng did not respond to a request to comment publicly on repayment of the missing money.

However, a diocesan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that at a recent meeting Leteng promised to return the funds.

Since the case went public, he has repaid $5,555 of the money he took from the diocese, the source said.

Leteng has said he will gradually repay money owed to the Indonesian bishops’ conference.

Officials at the Indonesian bishops’ conference refused to comment, saying that the case is under the Vatican’s authority.

Leteng is still in Ruteng, but Father Agustinus Manfred Habur, the bishop’s secretary, said that on Oct. 11 the Vatican gave him 10 days to leave the diocese.

“However, where he will move is the secret of the Vatican,” he said.

Pope Francis invites prisoners to lunch, instead they escape

Crux Now - 8 hours 35 min ago

BOLOGNA, Italy – They were supposed to be having lunch with Pope Francis.

During his Oct. 1 trip to Bologna, the Holy Father was scheduled to dine with 20 prisoners from a local drug rehabilitation facility, along with refugees and the poor of the area, during a “Lunch of Solidarity” at San Petronio Basilica.

Instead, two of the Italian prisoners shirked their invitation for what they saw as a prime opportunity for escape.

According to Bologna newspaper Il Resto del Carlino, the prisoners escaped sometime during the hour, though it is unclear whether they first ate lunch. They have yet to be found.

The newspaper quoted an official saying the two men are not “unaccustomed to such acts.”

Francis regularly includes prisoners in his trips and events, including washing the feet of prisoners on Holy Thursday and holding a Jubilee Mass for prisoners at the Vatican last year.

Morning Briefing

Natl Catholic Reporter - 8 hours 36 min ago
NCR Today: Callista Gingrich confirmed as ambassador to Holy See; Pope Francis explains 'pastoral risk' of being direct in interviews; 35 new saints named; first-person stories from sisters in Uganda

Vatican asks Indonesian bishop to repay funds he allegedly stole

Natl Catholic Reporter - 9 hours 1 sec ago
The Vatican has asked Indonesian Bishop Hubertus Leteng, who recently resigned over allegations of theft and having an affair, to return the church funds he is accused of stealing.

Human respect: Not only a sin in our time, but a theology

Not long ago I described the Book of Jonah as a cautionary tale against “human respect”. I did not consider at the time how confusing this term can be today. I intended “human respect” to be recognized as a grave sin, yet many assume it to be a fundamental good. I need to sort this out.

Not listening to God's word turns Christians into fools, pope says

Natl Catholic Reporter - 9 hours 52 min ago
Christians who do not really listen to the word of the God and are only concerned with outward appearances are corrupt and idolatrous, Pope Francis said.

Justice Action Bulletin: World Food Prize protest; Prophetic Resistance Project; honoring Andrew Young

Natl Catholic Reporter - 10 hours 27 sec ago
Welcome to NCR's Justice Action Bulletin, where every Tuesday we bring you the latest news on active nonviolence in the service of peace and justice. 

Pope Francis at Santa Marta: on the folly of hard-hearted Christians

Vatican Today (VIS) - 11 hours 28 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday – the Feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch , Bishop and Martyr. Following the Readings of the Day, the Holy Father reflected on the “foolishness” of those, who are unable to hear the Word of God, preferring appearances, idols, or ideologies – like the people of Jerusalem, whose faithlessness caused Our Lord to weep nostalgic tears. The folly of those who hear not the Word Francis’ reflection took  the word “fools”, which appears twice in the Readings, as his starting point: Jesus says it to the Pharisees (Lk 11: 37-41), while St. Paul refers to the Pagans (Rm 1: 16-25). St. Paul had also deployed the term to refer to the Christians of Galatia, whom he called “fools” because they let themselves be duped by “new ideas”. This word, “more than a condemnation,” explained Pope Francis, “is a signal,” for it shows the way of foolishness leading to corruption. “These three groups of fools are corrupt,” Pope Francis said. Click below to hear our report Jesus told the Doctors of the Law that they resembled whitewashed sepulchres: they became corrupt because they worried only about the “outside of things” being beautiful, but not what is inside, where corruption exists. They were, therefore, “corrupted by vanity, by appearance, by external beauty, by outward justice.” The Pagans, on the other hand, have the corruption of idolatry: they became corrupt because they exchanged the glory of God – which they could have known through reason – for idols. The folly of Christians today There are also idolatries today, such as consumerism – the Pope noted – or such as practiced by those, who look for a comfortable god. Finally, those Christians who sell themselves to ideologies, and have ceased to be Christians, often having rather become, “ideologues of Christianity.” All three of these groups, because of their foolishness, “end up in corruption.” Francis then explains what this foolishness consists of: “Folly is a form of ‘not listening’, one might literally say a nescio , ‘I do not know’, I do not listen. The inability to hearken to the Word: when the Word does not enter, I do not let it in because I do not listen. The fool does not listen. He believes he is listening, but he does not listen. He does his own thing, always – and for this reason the Word of God cannot enter into his heart, and there is no place for love. And if it enters, it enters distilled, transformed by my own conception of reality. The fools do not know how to listen, and this deafness leads to this corruption. The Word of God does not enter, there is no place for love and in the end there is no place for freedom.” Thus, they become slaves, because they exchange “the truth of God with lies,” and worship creatures instead of the Creator: “They are not free and do not listen: this deafness leaves room neither for love, nor for freedom; it always leads us to slavery. Do I listen to the Word of God? Do I let it in? This Word, of which we have heard in the singing of the Alleluia – the Word of God is alive, effective, revealing the feelings and thoughts of the heart. It cuts, it gets inside. Do I let this Word in, or am I deaf to it? Do I transform it into appearance, transform it into idolatry, into idolatrous habits, or into ideology? Thus, it does not enter: this is the folly of Christians.” Concluding exhortation: do not be foolish Pope Francis concludes with an exhortation: to look at the “icons of today's fools,” adding, “there are foolish Christians and even foolish shepherds,” in this day. “Saint Augustine,” he recalled, “takes the stick to them, with gusto,” because “the folly of the shepherds hurts the flock.” “Let us look at the icon of foolish Christians,” urged Pope Francis, “and beside this folly let us look on the Lord who is always at the door,” he knocks and waits. His concluding invitation is therefore that we should consider the Lord’s nostalgia for us: “of the love He had for us first”: “And if we fall into this stupidity, we move away from Him and He feels this nostalgia – nostalgia  for us – and Jesus wept with this longing cry, weeping over Jerusalem: it was nostalgia for a people He had chosen, a people He loved, but who had gone away for foolishness, who preferred appearances, idols, or ideologies.” (from Vatican Radio)...
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