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Cardinal invokes Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in march vigil homily

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan invoked the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during a homily at the Jan. 18 Mass that opened the National Prayer Vigil for Life.

Like "Pastor King," as Cardinal Dolan referred to him throughout his homily, "our belief in the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of all human life propels us to concern for human life wherever, whenever, and however it is threatened, from racial antagonism to justice for immigrants, from the war-torn to the hungry," the prelate said.

And, like Rev. King, whose life was the subject of a national holiday three days prior, "our prayers and witness are about civil rights: the civil right to life and to equal protection under the law, guaranteed by our Constitution, for the most fragile, marginalized and threatened -- the tiny, innocent baby in the womb," Cardinal Dolan said.

The Mass, which has attracted more than 10,000 in recent years, was celebrated at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

Rev. King "would be marching with us in the defense of unborn life were not the dignity of his own person and the sanctity of his own life tragically violated 50 years ago this spring," Cardinal Dolan said, referring to the civil rights figure's assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, April 4, 1968.

"Pastor King would often begin his stirring speeches, which still move us, by asking his listeners, 'Why are we here?'" Cardinal Dolan said.

Answering the question himself, the cardinal gave a variety of reasons.

"We are here to advocate and give witness, to advocate for those who cannot yet speak or walk with us, the pre-born baby, whose future is in jeopardy and can be ended by a so-called choice, and to give witness that millions, mostly young people, share a passion for the belief that that little baby has civil rights," he said.

"We are here to fight the heavy temptation -- we must admit the temptation -- to discouragement," he continued.

Another reason, he said, was "to lobby for life," sharing "passion for a society to assist and protect all vulnerable life ... because, to borrow my brother pastor's refrain, 'We shall overcome,'" to which the Mass crowd applauded.

"And there is one final reason why we are here," Cardinal Dolan said. "To pray!"

The opening Mass featured more than 300 clergy concelebrants, including 34 bishops and archbishops, and six U.S. cardinals. Retired Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington did not join in the processions, but instead got to the shrine's sanctuary a few minutes before Mass with the aid of a walker.

While Washington has not been immune to wintry weather for the overnight vigil and next-day March for Life in recent years, this year's events were met with relatively mild temperatures compared to the frigid and slick conditions north, west and -- surprisingly -- south of the nation's capital.

At the Jan. 19 morning Mass that closed the vigil, Bishop Edward M. Burns of Dallas told the story of a young boy who saw an online advertisement for a baseball glove. Wanting the glove but not having the money to pay for it, he wrote a letter to his mother that took the form of an itemized bill for the chores he did around the house -- with the total equaling the cost of the glove.

Knowing his mother must have seen the envelope addressed to her at her place at the dining room table, the boy, a few days later, saw a box at his own place at the table. In the box was the glove he had wanted. But as he was trying it on, he spotted an envelope addressed to him at the bottom of the box. In the letter was his mother's list of services rendered to him -- giving birth to him, changing his diapers, tucking him in at night, drying his tears, bandaging his wounds and holding him tight -- and after each entry came the words "no charge."

"That's sacrificial love," Bishop Burns said, "the type of love God has for us." He added, "He demonstrates that love for us time and time again, and he asks us to demonstrate that sacrificial love for others. ... Our Lord Jesus Christ is an example of sacrificial love."

In echoing the Mass theme "For the Preservation of Peace and Justice," Bishop Burns recalled the words of Deuteronomy 30: "I set before you a choice: death of life. Choose life so that you may live."

"Choosing life comes from a sacrificial love," Bishop Burns said. "We are here to bring attention to the attacks against human life." He told worshippers, "Stay strong, stay dedicated and committed to the cause of life."

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Head of March for Life calls abortion 'social justice cause of our time'

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

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NEW YORK (CNS) -- Charlie Camosy, associate professor in the theology department at Jesuit-run Fordham University, spoke to Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, in advance of this year's annual march in Washington Jan. 19.

She talked about changes in the event and the crowd she has seen over the years, the efforts to unify pro-lifers on a variety of life issues and her own pro-life views.

For her, abortion is "the single most significant social justice cause of our time."

Here's Camosy's Q-and-A with Mancini:

Q: You've been going to the March for Life for many years now. What are some ways that the march has changed since you first started attending?

A: The rally is a little shorter, the crowds have grown, the age demographics have decreased, marcher signs are more diverse and creative. What hasn't change is that the weather often presents extra opportunities for making a sacrificial pilgrimage! Plus that the event is primarily staffed by generous volunteers, and most importantly the issue. Mostly, that we are there -- for the 45th year in a row -- to protest the human rights abuse of today -- abortion.

Q: One thing that struck me from when I first started taking high school students to the march nearly two decades ago was the hyper-religiosity of the event. As a theology teacher, I shared many of these commitments, but it made a number of my students uncomfortable and I don't think they returned after high school. The hyper-religiosity of pro-life activists also seems to keep more moderate folks from identifying with the movement more generally and our policy proposals from getting wider traction -- especially in a culture which - wrongly -- sees much of what we do as imposing our religion. Religious commitments are nothing to be embarrassed about, obviously, and many grass-roots movements for basic justice and rights were very religious. But do you see a tension to navigate here?

A: Our experiences differ, so I find it hard to answer this question -- but broadly I would say no. There are a lot of religious signs, but my experience is that it is mostly young people who attend the March for Life. Young people are attracted to this cause because it is the single most critical social justice issue of our time. They are so enthusiastic -- it is contagious! Perhaps that excitement and motivation could be interpreted as "hyper-religiosity," but I see it as attractive unbridled zeal for ending abortion and building a culture of life. Of course, there are always a few "outliers" and some people are led to the pro-life movement through their faith. But, overall -- this is a movement filled with vibrant, passionate, life-affirming young people. I'm older, reserved and suspicious at my age, and I find their confidence and trust inspiring. I love the lack of cynicism in many young people, and admire their hope and goal to "abolish abortion." At the front of the march when we've had some counter-protesters, I've watched young people being spit on and mocked and respond with Christian messages of love. Basically, I agree with St. John Paul II, who said that young people are the best "ambassadors for life."

Q: Especially with the campaign and election of Donald Trump, divisions and fissures within the pro-life movement have become more pronounced in the last couple years. Do you think the March for Life has the chance to contribute to the unity of pro-lifers who disagree about these political matters?

A: We certainly seek to unify and I hope we are successful. I'm convinced that disunity is our biggest enemy. As an organization we quietly do what we can behind the scenes within the movement; whether arranging group meetings or making strategic introductions to draw groups and pro-life leaders together. In a more public way we always seek to have a bipartisan lineup of speakers, although admittedly that has gotten harder in recent years.

Q: What vision did you have in mind when you started running the March for Life? How does the current march reflect who you are as a pro-lifer?

A: When I first became president of the March for Life, it was a surprise, and it happened very quick following the death of MFL founder Nellie Gray. In the beginning, I had some goals, but not an overall big picture vision. These goals included trying to break into mainstream media -- especially showing our enthusiastic young marchers; having a shorter and very engaging rally; positive messaging grounded in the attractiveness of life; drawing in people of all faith; and embracing social media. I believe that we have been successful in these goals and we continue to be more success in these goals each and every year. My ultimate goal is to work myself out of a job by working to make abortion unthinkable and enact laws that reflect the inherent dignity of the human person.

Q: Suppose a reader is on the fence about attending the march. In your view, what should she consider as she makes a decision whether or not to attend?

A: I was just reading an email from a business owner who attended for the first time last year. To paraphrase her, the March for Life is a life changing experience that will restore your hope in the goodness of humanity. I would add to that, how can you not attend? Abortion is the single most significant social justice cause of our time. Every single one of us carries that burden on us and needs to do everything possible to bring it to an end.

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Update: Pope marries couple on flight during Chilean trip

IMAGE: CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano

By Junno Arocho Esteves

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT TO IQUIQUE, Chile (CNS) -- Love was literally in the air as Pope Francis performed an impromptu wedding ceremony at 36,000 feet aboard his flight in Chile.

During his flight to Iquique Jan. 18, the pope was approached by LatAm flight steward Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriaga and asked for a blessing for him and his wife, stewardess Paula Podest Ruiz.

The couple were supposed to be married in their home parish in Santiago Feb. 27, 2010. However, tragedy struck when an earthquake destroyed the church. Eight years later, they remained only civilly married.

Ciuffardi told journalists aboard the flight that, after he explained their story, he asked the pope for their blessing.

At that moment, the pope surprised the couple with offering to marry them right there on the plane.

Ciuffardi said the pope asked the couple, "Well, do you want to get married?"

"I said, 'Well, yes. Are you sure?' Then the pope said, "Are YOU sure?' I told him, 'Yes! Let's get married,'" Ciuffardi recalled excitedly.

The newlywed said he asked his boss and president of LatAm airline, Ignacio Cueto, to be his best man and one of the Vatican prelates drew up a handwritten marriage certificate.

"The pope said it was historic! Never has a pope performed a wedding on a plane!" Ciuffardi said.

The pope was on his way from Santiago, Chile, to Iquique before heading to Peru later in the day.

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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.

March lauded for witnessing to life; participation in '9 Days' urged

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a message of support for the March for Life in Washington, a Vatican official praised "the tens of thousands" of participants for their witness to the "value of every human life" and for upholding the dignity of life from conception to natural death.

"You give witness to the world of your understanding of the value of every human life and of your commitment to welcome, nurture, protect and integrate every human life from the first moment of conception until natural death," said Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

He made the remarks in a statement dated Jan. 19, the day of this year's march, and addressed to March for Life officials. It also was sent to Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington; and Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia.

In a Jan. 16 statement, New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-life Activities, urged Catholics and others across the country to get involved in the "9 Days for Life" prayer and Action Campaign Jan. 18-26.

"Our prayers matter," he said. The campaign's website is www.9daysforlife.com.

"We bring many needs to God this month, including care for displaced persons, racial harmony, Christian unity and the protection of all human life," Cardinal Dolan said. "Every prayer matters, and if you can't start at the beginning, jump in when you can!"

"9 Days for Life" is the U.S. bishops' annual, pro-life prayer and action campaign surrounding the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton that legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy.

The overarching intention of novena at the center of the event is the end to abortion, and each day treats a different aspect of respecting the dignity of the human person -- from the beginning of life to its natural end.

This year, as part of the Catholic Church's "Share the Journey" campaign supporting displaced persons, one day addresses human trafficking, something migrants and refugees are particularly at risk of suffering.

Participants can make a "digital pilgrimage." They are encouraged to build "a culture of life" through prayer and action and by sharing their experiences on social media with the hashtags #9DaysforLife and #OurPrayersMatter. There also is a Facebook frame participants can use on their profile picture to show their support for life.

In his letter, Archbishop Paglia assured March for Life attendees of his prayers "for the fruitfulness of your undertaking that is so filled with love." He was certain that on Jan. 19 in particular "you will have the blessings and grateful prayers of all the innocent lives for whom you have, over so many years, cared and struggled."

Archbishop Paglia recalled his own participation in the march "one very cold January day more than 20 years ago."

He added: "I join with Cardinal Wuerl of Washington and Bishop Burbidge of Arlington, with all my brother Catholic and Orthodox bishops in the United States, and with all the members of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, in honoring what you do and who you are, and in encouraging you always to remember the love that God has for you his "good and faithful servants."

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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.

Young people at forefront of pro-life fight called 'new Magi' of movement

IMAGE: CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Chicago Catholic

By Joyce Duriga

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Over 5,000 people from Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and other Midwestern states gathered Jan. 14 in Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago for the annual March for Life Chicago commemorating the 45th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Participants carried signs with pro-life messages and balloons during the rally and march through the streets of downtown. The drum line from Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein played in the march.

Chris Murrens of Libertyville brought her two teen-age children to the march and said seeing the many youth and young adults in attendance was "heartwarming" and "inspirational."

"The heavenly Father is smiling. Our Lady is smiling. It's a great day," she told the Chicago Catholic, the archdiocesan newspaper.

Murrens said she brought her two teenagers because she felt it was important to expose them to the event and the message.

"I want them to see how important this is and for them to be part of this generation that is turning things around to become more pro-life," Murrens said. "They are having a wonderful time and getting the message all at the same time."

Young people, especially in their teens, are impressionable and open to new things so that is a pivotal time to share the church's teaching that life is sacred from the womb until natural death, the mother of three said.

"This is when they see so much of what is going on in the world. This is the time when you can really grab their hearts and make a difference for the rest of their lives," she said.

Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich -- one of several speakers who addressed the gathering prior to the march -- applauded the witness of young people and, referring to the recent feast of Epiphany, called them "the new Magi."

"You give us confidence that the energy to protect the child in the womb has not grown weak over these 45 years, but is as youthful, strong and vibrant as you are," the cardinal said. "You are the new Magi in our time, who teach us all to keep our heads up, and amid the darkness of the night at times, to take heart that God is still in the heavens, guiding us like that Bethlehem star and keeping our dreams alive."

Quoting Pope Francis, Cardinal Cupich said that children make society "dream beyond ourselves."

"Taking human life, especially the life of the child in the womb, not only has an impact on that one human being but deeply wounds all of humanity, robs from us our ability to dream and see life as much bigger than our own concerns, challenges and struggles," he said. "Is it any wonder that we are so divided as a nation when we are so fixed only on ourselves, when we can no longer dream and see all that God is doing beyond ourselves?"

The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision robbed the nation of its children and its dreams, he said.

"Now with the recent law passed by our Legislature and signed by our governor, more lives and dreams will be robbed as will family incomes that will be forcibly used to pay for abortions," Cardinal Cupich said referring to legislation Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law in 2017 that provides state health insurance and Medicaid coverage for abortions.

"Can we not better use our tax dollars to support health care for families expecting children, and child care and assistance to parents when their children come into the world?" the cardinal asked. "Can we not better use our tax dollars to keep alive both our children and our dreams as a nation?"

Other speakers at the rally included Illinois Congressmen Dan Lipinski and Peter Roskum and former Planned Parenthood director Ramona Trevino.

Earlier in the day, Cardinal Cupich celebrated the archdiocesan Mass for Life at Holy Name Cathedral attended by a standing-room only crowd. During the Mass, young people brought white roses to the altar, commemorating lives lost to abortion and homicide in Chicago last year.

In the Denver Archdiocese a day earlier, about 3,000 people gathered outside the state Capitol in Denver for the annual Colorado March for Life. The afternoon rally and march were preceded by the celebration of several morning Masses at a number of churches, including one celebrated by Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

"This is the Colorado piece of the largest civil rights movement in our lifetime," Lynn Grandon, archdiocesan Respect Life program director, said in advance of the Jan. 13 gathering.

More pro-life marches were planned around the country. Among those will be the fourth annual OneLife LA Jan. 20 in Los Angeles, followed exactly a week later by Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco.

In Chicago, some of those who attended the Mass and rally also planned to travel to Washington for the national March for Life Jan. 19.

Others preparing to attend the march and rally in the nation's capital included students at Monsignor Bonner Archbishop Prendergast Catholic High School in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Catholic school leaders throughout the U.S. take thousands of their students to the regional or national March for Life events each year in an effort to engage them in the pro-life cause and to eventually pass the torch of leadership to them, said Steven Bozza, director of the Philadelphia archdiocesan Office for Life and Family.

The pro-life activists who have been embroiled in the movement for decades will not be able to go on forever and it's up to the current leaders to prepare the next generation of advocates, Bozza told Catholic News Service during an interview in Drexel Hill.

"We're going to win this battle," he said. "Maybe not tomorrow or next week. Maybe not this year, but we're going to win it. Especially with the new generation coming up."

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Duriga is editor of the Chicago Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Contributing to this story was Chaz Muth in Drexel Hill.

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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.

Bishop: Basilica title honors church's role in diocese, nation's founding

IMAGE: CNS photo/Ashleigh Kassock, Cath

By Zoey Maraist

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNS) -- The Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments declared St. Mary Church in Alexandria a minor basilica, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington announced to parishioners during Mass Jan. 14.

"It is an extraordinary honor to announce that the Holy See has designated St. Mary's in Old Town to be the newest basilica in the United States. This historic announcement recognizes the important role St. Mary's has played in the diocese, the city of Alexandria and even the very founding of our country," he said.

To be named a basilica, a church must have architectural or historic value and meet liturgical requirements, such as an adequate amount of space in the sanctuary and a fitting number of priests. There are only four major basilicas, all in Rome -- St. Peter's, St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major.

There are thousands of minor basilicas throughout the world, including the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore and the Basilica of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Norfolk.

Bishop Burbidge congratulated Father Edward C. Hathaway, pastor of the Alexandria church, and "all of the priests who have served this parish over the generations for their work in bringing St. Mary's to this special day. I pray that Our Lord continues to bless St. Mary's and its community for generations to come!"

A committee from St. Mary began to research the application process for becoming a basilica last January, according to Father Hathaway. Bishop Burbidge approved the application in June, and sent it to the U.S. Conference of Catholics Bishops' Secretariat of Divine Worship. USCCB officials approved the plan in July, and sent it to the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

"Today, we are overjoyed and humbled by the recognition of St. Mary as one of the major churches in the world dedicated to Christ," said Father Hathaway. "Thank you so much, Bishop Burbidge, for being here with us today, and for the encouragement and enthusiasm you have shown during the many months that led to this announcement."

"The naming of St. Mary as a minor basilica brings honor to the entire diocese and to Roman Catholics throughout the country," the priest continued. "As the first Catholic parish in Virginia and West Virginia, learning its history is to gain a greater insight into the spread of the Catholic faith in the former English colonies and throughout our nation."

In 1788, an Irish aide-de-camp of George Washington, Col. John Fitzgerald, held a fundraiser in his home for the construction of a Catholic church. Washington was the first to donate. In 1795, St. Mary was established as a mission of Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown. Eventually, a church was built on South Royal Street, where the contemporary church stands, and was dedicated by Jesuit Father Francis Ignatius Neale in 1827.

Throughout the years, the church has undergone several repairs and renovations. Ministry buildings and offices such as the Lyceum as well as the cemetery are scattered around Old Town. The parish school, one of the largest in the diocese with around 700 students, was established in 1869 after a wave of poor Irish immigrants arrived in the area. Today, St. Mary has 7,100 registered parishioners and dozens of liturgical, fellowship and service ministries.

In the near future, the church will be marked with special signage indicating its new status. As with all basilicas, St. Mary will install an "ombrellino," a silk canopy designed with stripes of yellow and red -- the traditional papal colors -- and a "tintinnabulum," a bell mounted on a pole and carried during some processions.

"Crossed keys, which are the symbol of the papacy, will be placed prominently on the church exterior," said Father Hathaway.

St. Mary also has designed a seal, which all basilicas have. The symbols within the seal pay homage to the diocese, the Jesuits who founded the parish, and to Mary. In the bottom right quadrant of the shield is a ship, representing Alexandria's role as an important port town in colonial times. The vessel further represents the frigates that brought Catholic immigrants to the New World.

"The Ark and The Dove were the two famous ships, chartered by Cecil Calvert to transport 140 colonists to the shores of Maryland," according to a statement from St. Mary. "Similar ships brought the Jesuit founders, as well as many Irish and Scottish merchants, to the port city of Alexandria."

The seal is one of the many ways the new basilica will aim to share its past with visitors.

"We will be looking for ways to communicate our significant history and contribution to Catholicism in the commonwealth and beyond through printed guides and other means," said Father Hathaway.

The parishioners at the Jan. 14 Mass applauded the announcement. Sam Lukawski, a fifth-grader at St. Mary School, was one of the 11 altar servers at the Mass. "I was glad that it became a minor basilica and that it'll be (St. Mary Basilica) instead of St. Mary Church," he told the Arlington Catholic Herald, the diocesan newspaper.

Pat Troy, a longtime parishioner, sent his children to the school and used to host Theology on Tap in his Alexandria bar. He loves the parish for its commitment to Mary, its priests and the fact that it was founded in part by an Irishman. "This was the first time (we) walked down the steps of this historic church as St. Mary Basilica," he said with reverence.

Jonathan Fililpowski and Nicole Hendershot are getting married at St. Mary in April. "We're excited to be able to get married at a basilica. It's a beautiful space to come and be able to worship, tied to the roots of our nation," she said.

Deborah and Glenn Cooper were thrilled by the announcement. "I'm so honored to be part of this historic occasion. It makes me want to go back and probe more into the history of the church and also into the whole meaning of being a basilica," she said.

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Maraist is on the staff of the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Arlington.

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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.

Pope asks forgiveness from victims of clergy sex abuse in Chile

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

SANTIAGO, Chile (CNS) -- Pope Francis, in his first formal speech in Chile, asked forgiveness from those who were sexually abused by priests.

Addressing government authorities and members of the country's diplomatic corps Jan. 16, the pope expressed his "pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the church."

"I am one with my brother bishops, for it is right to ask for forgiveness and make every effort to support the victims, even as we commit ourselves to ensure that such things do not happen again," he said.

Preparations for Pope Francis' visit to Chile Jan. 15-18 were overshadowed by continuing controversy over the pope's decision in 2015 to give a diocese to a bishop accused of turning a blind eye to the abuse perpetrated by a notorious priest.

The pope's appointment of Bishop Juan Barros as head of the Diocese of Osorno sparked several protests -- most notably at the bishop's installation Mass -- due to the bishop's connection to Father Fernando Karadima, his former mentor. Father Karadima was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys.

The protests against the pope's appointment of Bishop Barros gained steam when a video of Pope Francis defending the appointment was published in September 2015 by the Chilean news channel, Ahora Noticias. Filmed during a general audience a few months earlier, the video showed the pope telling a group of Chilean pilgrims that Catholics protesting the appointment were "judging a bishop without any proof."

"Think with your head; don't let yourself be led by all the lefties who are the ones that started all of this," the pope said. "Yes, Osorno is suffering but for being foolish because it doesn't open its heart to what God says and allows itself to be led by all this silliness that all those people say."

Survivors of abuse and their supporters planned a conference and protests around the pope's arrival.

But Pope Francis made his way to La Moneda, the presidential palace, and was welcomed by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. Thousands were gathered in the square outside the palace, chanting "Francisco, amigo, Chile esta contigo" ("Francis, friend, Chile is with you").

Despite the jovial atmosphere at outside La Moneda, there were serious signs of protest in Santiago.

Chilean media reported vandalism at Divine Providence Parish, not far from O'Higgins Park, where the pope was to celebrate Mass later in the morning. Vandals spray painted the words "complice" ("accomplice") and "papa arde" ("burn, pope") on the facade of the church below a banner welcoming Pope Francis.

Three days earlier, several Chilean churches were firebombed, and police found other, unexploded devices at two other churches in Santiago. Some of the pamphlets included the phrase, "The next bombs will be in your cassock" and spoke of the cause of the Mapuche indigenous group.

"How are you? Where you able to rest?" Bachelet asked the pope when he arrived at the palace. "Perfectly," he responded. The two leaders stood as the national anthems of Chile and Vatican City State were played before entering the courtyard of the palace where about 700 members of the country's government authorities and of the diplomatic corps welcomed the pope with a standing ovation.

In his speech to the country's political leaders, Pope Francis emphasized the need for officials to listen to the people and to value their experiences, cultures, sufferings and hopes.

Included in the pope's list were "children who look out on the world with eyes full of amazement and innocence and expect from us concrete answers for a dignified future."

At that point he told the officials, "I feel bound to express my pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the church."

The pope's acknowledgment of the crimes of sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy was met with a loud applause from the government authorities present.

Looking at the country's social and political life, Pope Francis congratulated the nation for its steady growth in democracy since 1990 when the rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet ended.

The recent presidential elections in November, he said, "were a demonstration of the solidity and civic maturity that you have achieved."

"That was a particularly important moment, for it shaped your destiny as a people founded on freedom and law, one that has faced moments of turmoil, at times painful, yet succeeded in surmounting them. In this way, you have been able to consolidate and confirm the dream of your founding fathers," the pope said.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet is scheduled to hand the office over to President-elect Sebastian Pinera in March.

Chile's future, Pope Francis said, depends on the ability of its people and leaders to listen to those in need and "replace narrow ideologies with a healthy concern for the common good."

The unemployed, native peoples, migrants, the elderly, young people and children all deserve to be listened to while also giving "preferential attention to our common home."

The wisdom of the country's indigenous population, he added, can help Chilean society "transcend a merely consumerist view of life and to adopt a sage attitude to the future."

"The wisdom of the native peoples can contribute greatly to this," Pope Francis said. "From them we can learn that a people that turns its back on the land, and everything and everyone on it, will never experience real development."

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Pope begins seven-day pilgrimage to Chile, Peru

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

SANTIAGO, Chile (CNS) -- Pope Francis arrived in Santiago Jan. 15, the first stop on a seven-day, six-city visit to Peru and Chile, where he will take his message of hope to people on the margins of society.

Arriving in Santiago after more than 15 hours in the air, Pope Francis was greeted by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and a young Chilean girl. He told the crowd he was happy to be in Chile, and he blessed the workers at the airport before being transported to the papal nunciature, where he will stay the three nights he is in Chile.

On Jan. 17, the pope will travel to Temuco and meet with residents of the Mapuche indigenous community. Members of the Mapuche have called for the government to return lands confiscated prior to the country's return to democracy in the late 1980s.

"Chile won't be too difficult for me because I studied there for a year and I have many friends there and I know it well, or rather, well enough. Peru, however, I know less. I have gone maybe two, three times for conferences and meetings," the pope told journalists aboard the papal flight.

There was no mention of increased security for the Chilean visit. Three days earlier, several Chilean churches were firebombed, and police found other, unexploded devices at two other churches in Santiago. Some of the pamphlets included the phrase, "The next bombs will be in your cassock" and spoke of the Mapuche cause.

Before flying to Peru Jan. 18, Pope Francis will visit Iquique, where he will celebrate Mass on Lobito beach.

In Peru Jan. 18-21, will visit Lima, Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo.

He will also meet with the indigenous people of the Amazon during his visit to Puerto Maldonado. The Amazon rainforest includes territory belonging to nine countries in South America and has experienced significant deforestation, negatively impacting the indigenous populations in the area and leading to a loss of biodiversity.

In both countries, he will work to restore trust and encourage healing after scandals left many wounded and angry at the Catholic Church.

Shortly after take-off from Rome, Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, distributed a photo card the pope wished to share with journalists aboard his flight from Rome.

The photo depicted a young Japanese boy shortly after the bombing in Nagasaki, waiting in line, carrying his dead baby brother on his back to the crematorium. On the back of the card, the words "The fruit of war" were written along with Pope Francis' signature.

Before greeting each of the 70 journalists, the pope said that he found the photo "by chance" and "was very moved when I saw this."

"I could only write 'the fruit of war.' I wanted to print it and give it to you because such an image is more moving than a thousand words," he said.

Responding to a journalist's question about nuclear war, Pope Francis said: "I think we are at the very limit. I am really afraid of this. One accident is enough to precipitate things."

The Peru-Chile trip is Pope Francis' fourth to South America. In July 2013, he visited Brazil for World Youth Day. In July 2015, he traveled to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. His trip to Colombia in September was his third visit to the continent as pope.

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Contributing to this story was Jane Chambers in Santiago.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @ArochoJu.

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Fear becomes sin when it leads to hostility toward migrants, pope says

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Being afraid and concerned about the impact of migration is not a sin, Pope Francis said, but it is a sin to let those fears lead to a refusal to help people in need.

"The sin is to allow these fears to determine our responses, to limit our choices, to compromise respect and generosity, to feed hostility and rejection," the pope said Jan. 14, celebrating Mass for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

While fear is a natural human reaction, he said, "the sin is to refuse to encounter the other, the different, the neighbor, when this is in fact a privileged opportunity to encounter the Lord."

Thousands of migrants and refugees now living in Rome, but coming from more than 60 countries, joined Pope Francis and an international group of cardinals, bishops and priests for the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

Sixty of the migrants and refugees carried their homeland's national flags into the basilica before the Mass and hundreds wore the national dress of their countries, including many of the people who read the prayers of the faithful and brought up the gifts at the offertory during the multilingual Mass.

While care for migrants and refugees has been a priority for Pope Francis, the World Day for Migrants and Refugees has been an annual celebration of the Catholic Church for more than 100 years. St. Pius X began the observance in 1914.

After reciting the Angelus in St. Peter's Square after the Mass, Pope Francis announced that "for pastoral reasons" the date of the annual celebration was being moved to the second Sunday of September. The next World Day of Migrants and Refugees, he said, would be marked Sept. 8, 2019.

According to the United Nations, an estimated 258 million people are living outside the country of their birth. The number includes 26 million refugees and asylum seekers, who were forced to flee their homelands because of war or persecution.

In his homily at the Mass, Pope Francis reflected on Jesus' response to the disciples who asked him where he lived. "Come and you will see," Jesus tells them, inviting them into a relationship where they would welcome and get to know each other.

"His invitation 'Come and see!' is addressed today to all of us, to local communities and to new arrivals," the pope said. "It is an invitation to overcome our fears so as to encounter the other, to welcome, to know and to acknowledge him or her."

For the migrants and refugees, he said, that includes learning about and respecting the laws and customs of their host countries. "It even includes understanding their fears and apprehensions for the future," he added.

For people in the host countries, he said, it means welcoming newcomers, opening oneself "without prejudices to their rich diversity," understanding their hopes, fears and vulnerabilities and recognizing their potential.

'In the true encounter with the neighbor, are we capable of recognizing Jesus Christ who is asking to be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated?" Pope Francis asked.

"It is not easy to enter into another culture, to put oneself in the shoes of people so different from us, to understand their thoughts and their experiences," the pope said. That is one reason why "we often refuse to encounter the other and raise barriers to defend ourselves."

People in host countries may be afraid that newcomers "will disturb the established order (or) will 'steal' something they have long labored to build up," he said. And the newcomers have their own fears "of confrontation, judgment, discrimination, failure."

Both set of fears, the pope said, "are legitimate, based on doubts that are fully comprehensible from a human point of view."

Sin, he said, enters the equation only when people refuse to try to understand, to welcome and to see Jesus present in the other, especially "the poor, the rejected, the refugee, the asylum seeker."

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Catholics urged to ignore rhetoric, help immigrants facing deportation

IMAGE: CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

By Beth Griffin

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Catholics have a responsibility to look past the noisy rhetoric of the current debate on immigration and answer the "cry of the poor" by engaging with individuals facing deportation.

That was the focus of a National Migration Week discussion Jan. 11 at the Church of St. Francis Assisi in New York examining the plight of individuals affected by President Donald Trump's Jan. 25, 2017, executive order on deportation. Presenters discussed practical actions to extend Christian charity and seek justice.

National Migration Week began Jan. 7 and ends with the World Day of Migrants and Refugees Jan. 14.

"We're talking about being correct with our faith response as Christians. Are detention and deportation the right solutions?" Franciscan Father Julian Jagudilla asked the participants. "Are we here for our interests or the interests of the people we serve?"

Father Jagudilla, director of the Migrant Center at St. Francis of Assisi since 2012, detailed routes to legal immigration and said there are more than 12 million people who face removal from the United States because of an irregular or precarious immigration status.

This number is made up of more than 11.4 million people in the country without legal permission and about 700,000 "Dreamers," those currently protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Also included are 325,000 people from 13 countries whose Temporary Protected Status has been terminated, and 60,000 unaccompanied minors who fled Central America in 2014.

The executive order, "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States," described people in the country without legal authorization as being "a significant threat to national security and public safety" and also described the priorities for deporting "removable aliens."

Father Jagudilla said those individuals make up 3 percent of the U.S. population and the reasons cited in the order for their removal are vaguely worded and open to broad interpretation.

The Catholic Church shies away from using provocative words to describe immigrants because such words are "an assault and insult to their dignity" and contradict "what we believe about the value of the human person," Father Jagudilla said.

The Migrant Center was founded at the Franciscan parish in 1999 and has a mission to minister "to people who are alienated, displaced or persecuted, the 'pilgrims and strangers' in our midst and welcome immigrants and migrants of all ethnic backgrounds regardless of political or religious affiliation."

Father Jagudilla said the center has given legal, advocacy and education services to more than 3,000 people since it was reinvigorated in 2012.

Legal assistance is provided by two contract attorneys and trained volunteers. The center's education programs include forums on immigrant rights, labor unions and human rights.

"Our battle cry is, 'The power is in your hands'," Father Jagudilla said. "The accurate info we bring people is power. When you know your rights, you can protect yourself from raids and fraudulent practices."

"Through our campaigns, we cautiously engage the undocumented. They trust us because we are from the church. It is a re-victimization if they turn to the Catholic Church and there is nothing for them," Father Jagudilla said.

Migrant Center volunteers visit people held in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement contract detention facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Lawrence Omojola, the Migrant Center's volunteer liaison officer to the detainees, described the twice-monthly visits as a corporal work of mercy and an expression of hope.

"For some people detained at the airport on their first trip to the United States, we are the first people they interact with from outside the immigration system. We are representatives from the outside world and a reminder that there is a community that remembers them," he said.

Omojola said most of the detainees at the Elizabeth facility have no prior convictions and some are held for more than one year. "They need someone to listen to them. We don't give advice. We reach out and hear their stories," he said.

Omojola conducts an orientation for volunteer visitors from the Migrant Center. They join volunteers from Jesuit-run St. Francis Xavier Parish in Manhattan on visits organized by First Friends, a local organization that works on behalf of detained immigrants and asylum seekers.

Father Jagudilla said 380,000 to 420,000 people are detained in the U.S. each year by immigration authorities. They are held in 47 private, for-profit detention centers and more than 200 county jails.

Jennifer Engelhart became a volunteer visitor with the Migrant Center through the young adult group at St. Francis of Assisi.

"It was really powerful to look into the face of someone who was trying his best to remain hopeful and positive in a tough and uncertain situation," she said of a recent visit. The 37-year-old construction worker she visited was brought from Mexico as a child. His car was pulled over in a traffic stop 15 months ago and he was detained when he could not produce legal documentation.

"You hear about this on the news, but it's not a reality until you speak with someone who tells you his story," she said.

Father Jagudilla gave urgency to his call for a compassionate response to immigrants without papers when he said a colleague in the immigration movement was detained earlier in the day.

Ravi Ragbir, executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, a network of faith and community groups that advocates for immigrants, was arrested Jan. 11 when he appeared for a routine check-in appointment with immigration authorities at the Federal Building in New York.

Ragbir was convicted of a nonviolent felony in 2001 and has fought a deportation order for more than a decade. His arrest sparked street demonstrations in Manhattan.

One of the participants at the St. Francis of Assisi event urged people to call ICE and federal elected officials. The script she offered for the calls included a detention number she said was necessary to identify Ragbir, "even though he's a real person."

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