March 12, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Refugees; immigrants; Gilbert Herrman; When you give alms'; Lent; Call to Continuing Conversion, Rite of Election; Charell and Jeremy Owings; adoption; Our Growing Church; Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia; water; creation; Sudan; Darlow Lampe

 

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What's it like to be an 'invisible' child under China's one-child policy? 

 

Beijing, China, Mar 5, 2017 / 05:31 am (CNA) - For some 35 years, the population of China was strictly controlled by the Communist government’s one-child policy.

Parents were only allowed one child, and additional pregnancies meant forced abortions or hefty fines and penalties, such as the loss of a job. These additional children could be denied family household registration, which is the equivalent of denying them citizenship and basic services such as public transportation and education.

There have been recent relaxations of the one-child policy. Alarmed by an aging population, shrinking workforce and potentially stagnating economy, government officials announced in 2013 that couples could apply to have a second child if either partner was an only child themselves. In 2015, the rule relaxed even further, changing from a one-child policy to a two-child policy for everyone.

But what about the estimated 13 million unregistered second and third children, stuck in the cracks of a government policy that refused to recognize their existence?

A short documentary entitled “Invisible lives: The legacy of China’s family planning rules” from the Thomas Reuters Foundation explores the lives of these people.

“I don’t think the Chinese government has realized the human rights catastrophe caused by the family planning rules,” said Yang Zhizhu, an associate professor of civil law in Beijing.

“The family planning rules have always been a mistake. It’s not that we don’t need them now. It’s that we never needed them.”

In 2010, Zhizhu was suspended from teaching and fined $36,000 – nine times the average income in his district – for having a second child. Since then, Zhizhu has tried to come up with creative ways to fight the policy, including posting a photo of himself online trying to “sell himself” to come up with the money for the fine, and being careful to write and record his experiences of injustice with the policy.

In 2012, the university reinstated his salary, but he is still not allowed to teach.

It wasn’t Zhizhu’s plan to spend his life fighting the family planning rules, but because no one else seems to be doing it, “I have to do it,” he said.

Li Xue is another living casualty of the one-child policy. The second daughter to her parents, who couldn’t afford to pay the fines that would allow her to be registered, Xue has spent her entire life hidden at home, watching her older sister go to school and have friends and get a job.

“You can’t get married without registration,” Xue said. “Then, if you have a child, your child can’t be registered.”

When the one-child policy changed in 2015, it was unclear what that meant for unregistered people like Xue.

“Sometimes I want to travel. But I don’t have an ID, so I cannot. I cannot buy tickets,” she said.

Even though she was denied a public education, Xue has been studying law on her own to sue the police for her right to citizenship. In August 2016, she was granted registration, but has been unable to access state benefits, because she lacks records from the first 23 years of her life.

The policy has also penalized unmarried parents. Liu Chunyan, a single mother, had to choose between paying an exorbitant fine – about $120,000 – or having her daughter be unregistered, and therefore forgo state benefits.

“Unplanned children, if they disappear one day, we don’t even need to de-register them,” Chunyan said. “It’s sad. As if they had never been in this world.”

With the recent relaxation of the policy, it was announced in April last year that unregistered children could be registered without fines. Chunyan registered her daughter, who has since been attending school and struggling to catch up with the other students. So far, she has not been contacted about a fine.

Zhizhu’s family wants more children, but fears additional fines. When the policy changed to a two-child policy in 2015, several Chinese citizens told the New York Times that they weren’t sure the new policy would make them want to have second children, citing the high cost of raising children in China.

Another impact the one-child policy left in its wake is an imbalanced gender ratio. Poor and rural families often preferred boy children over girls, “sometimes even resorting to infanticide to ensure they have a son,” the New York Times reported.

So while many agreed that the one-child policy needed to change, they have viewed the new policies with trepidation. And it is unclear how long it will take culturally to change the minds of a generation who has been raised to believe that one child is best.

“There has been progress over the years, but it doesn’t live up to our hope,” said Mrs. Zhizhu.

“It takes many generations to create the society we wish for.”

 

 

Bishop rejects South Sudan president's day of prayer as a political move 

Juba, South Sudan, Mar 8, 2017 / 12:04 am (CNA/EWTN News) - The call by South Sudan's president for a national day of prayer was met with derision by one of the country's bishops, who called it a “political prayer” and a mockery.

President Salva Kiir addressed South Sudan via state-owned media last week to announce a day of prayer on March 10. The country has been embroiled in civil war since December 2013, when Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar, of attempting a coup. The war has been fought between their supporters, largely along ethnic lines, and peace agreements have been short-lived.

“I have been praying for South Sudan every day. This morning, I prayed for South Sudan. That prayer called by Salva Kiir; I will never and never understand. Unless they carry me as a corpse but I will never attend that prayer. It is a political prayer. It is a mockery,” Bishop Santo Loku Pio Doggale, Auxiliary Bishop of Juba, told Voice of America, according to the Sudan Tribune.

“Why should I go [to] pray where there is no holiness, where there is no forgiveness? It is a joke to hear the president of the country calling prayers while at the moment, the soldiers are hunting people across South Sudan.”

He cited the government's army's displacement of numerous people from their homes. “People are being thrown away from their ancestral land. There have been a lot of robbery of the resources of the people.”

Bishop Doggale also charged that Kiir, who is Catholic, “does not even come to church these days.”

Kiir's proposed national day of prayer precedes the March 15 launch of a three-day national dialogue.

“Our time … is now ripe to turn to God and ask him for forgiveness and blessings. We have not been that perfect and we need to submit ourselves to the Almighty through prayers,” Kiir said. “It should be the day we all pray to God and ask Him for forgiveness so that we start a new chapter in our relations as citizens of this nation.”

The national dialogue is being directed by Kiir. One of his spokesmen has said that Machar, the former vice-president, may attend once he has denounced violence. Kiir's direction of the dialogue has been criticized, given his role in the country's civil war.

In January 2016, Bishop Doggale told CNA that the government of South Sudan, as well as that of Sudan, puts political agendas over its people's interests.

“We have crossroads of displaced people in both countries suffering from the political elite who don’t take their people in heart,” he said.

The bishops of South Sudan recently called for dialogue between the country's warring factions, and charged that the forces of both sides are targeting civilians.

“Those who have the ability to make changes for the good of our people have not taken heed of our previous pastoral messages,” the said in their Feb. 23 message. “We need to see action, not just dialogue for the sake of dialogue.”

The bishops said the war has “no moral justification whatsoever,” and expressed concern that some government officials seem to be suspicious of the Church.

 

This priest says Adoration has made Juarez a safer city 

By Bárbara Bustamante

Juarez, Mexico, Mar 7, 2017 / 04:39 pm (CNA/EWTN News) - Juarez, located in the state of Chihuahua in northern Mexico, was considered from 2008 to 2010 to be one of the the most dangerous cities in the world, due to drug trafficking violence and the constant struggles for power and territory between the cartels.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

This fleet of food trucks serves up respect for Austin's homeless 

By Mary Rezac

Austin, Texas, Mar 7, 2017 / 02:50 am (CNA/EWTN News) - Austin, Texas, like any hipster city worth its organic, non-GMO salt, is known for its food trucks.

There are about 1,000 food trucks that roam the streets of the Texas capital, offering barbecue, breakfast tacos, and gourmet grilled cheese to the masses of Pabst Blue Ribbon-swilling millennials who have recently flocked to the city.

But among them, and before them, there was Alan Graham and Mobile Loaves and Fishes.

Mobile Loaves and Fishes is a Christian non-profit founded by Graham and five other men that delivers about 1,200 meals and essentials from 12 food trucks to homeless people on the streets of Austin every night.

The ministry also recently started a village called Community First!, a place where the formerly homeless, volunteers and those desiring a simpler life live together in a village of tiny homes and recreational vehicles in what Graham calls “an RV park on steroids.”

In his newly released book Welcome Homeless, Graham recalls the story and the people behind his ministries, in his raw, straight-shooting, and often humorous voice.    

In October 1996, Graham, a convert to Catholicism, had gone tentatively on a men’s retreat. At first, he was counting down the hours until the “hugs and hand-holding” were over. The retreat was too emotional for his then-very intellectual faith.

But by the end, he experienced a profound change of heart and adopted a philosophy of “just say yes.”

Several yesses and a couple of years later, Graham and his wife, Tricia, found themselves having coffee with a friend who was telling them about an initiative in Corpus Christi, Texas, where multiple churches would pool their resources to provide food for the homeless on cold winter nights.

An entrepreneur at heart, Graham immediately envisioned a catering truck that could deliver meals to the homeless (this was before the food truck boom; at the time ,Graham called them “roach coaches”).

“I woke up the next morning knowing we could franchise it, and bring it to every church, every city, and every state to feed the homeless,” he recalls in his book. “This is how entrepreneurs think: one truck becomes a thousand.”

Through his church group, he recruited six more men to join him and invest in a food truck for the homeless (they started calling themselves “The Six Pack”). One of these men turned out to be an especially key player: Houston Flake.  

Socks and popsicles

Houston, who met Graham through the men’s group at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, was poorly educated and illiterate, but understood the Gospel like no one Graham had ever met.

Houston had experienced chronic homelessness throughout his life, and became a key tour guide for Graham and his crew, who were “clueless” about life on the streets as they began their ministry.

During one meeting, the group had discussed how great it would be if they could get phone cards (pre-cellphone times) to hand out to the homeless whom they would meet.

“Houston looked at us and said, ‘That is the dumbest idea on the face of the planet. They don’t need phone cards. No one wants to talk to them. They don’t want to talk to anybody. You need to put socks on that truck,’” Graham recalled.

To this day, socks are the most desired item on the trucks.

Houston also took Graham out to his “conference room” - to meet some of the homeless who were his friends. It changed Graham’s whole perspective on the population he was about to serve.

Not long after Mobile Loaves and Fishes began, Houston was diagnosed with bladder cancer and given mere weeks to live.

For his dying wish, Houston didn’t want to travel or eat a fancy steak dinner – he wanted to deliver 400 popsicles to homeless children on a hot summer day, a treat those kids rarely experienced.

“He wanted them to choose: Pink? Red? Blue? Purple? Green? He wanted to give that which they did not need but might want. He wanted to give them abundance in fruity, tasty, frozen form,” Graham wrote.  

That philosophy carried over to the food trucks. The people they serve are given options - PB&J, ham and cheese, tacos? Milk, coffee, orange juice? Oranges or apples? It’s a shift from the scarcity mentality found in soup kitchens founded in the Great Depression, to an abundance mentality that is possible in the most abundant country in the world, Graham explained. They are “the little bitty choices that people who live a life in extreme poverty don’t get to make often.”

The solution to homelessness is not just housing

Since the first truck run, the ministry quickly grew. Hungry people would chase down the food trucks as they saw them making their way through the streets of Austin.

The ministry has now expanded to the cities of San Antonio, Texas; Providence, Rhode Island; New Bedford, Massachusetts; and Minneapolis, Minnesota. To date, Mobile Loaves & Fishes has served over 4 million meals, and with more than 18,000 volunteers, it is the largest prepared feeding program to the homeless and working poor in Austin.

But it didn’t stop there. A little over 5 years into the ministry, Graham envisioned an “RV park on steroids”, with the philosophy of “housing first”, which holds that the homeless need housing before they can solve any of their other problems.

However, Graham knew that mere houses were not enough. What these people need and desire, like everyone, is to be known and loved – they needed community. He envisioned a place where people lived life together, knew and cared for each other, sharing kitchens and gardens and conversation.

“It developed from this idea back in 2004, where we went out and bought a gently used RV and lifted one guy off the streets into a privately owned RV park,” he said.

Because of zoning laws and other issues, it took awhile to get the idea off the ground, but the Community First! Village project was finally able to break ground in 2014.

Today, 110 people, most of them formerly homeless, call the village home. Soon, there will be enough housing for 250 people. There are brightly colored tiny homes that would give HG-TV a run for their money, as well as recreational vehicles and “canvas-sided” homes (sturdy tents with concrete foundations).

The homes provide the basics – they are essentially bedrooms – while everything else is communal. There is a communal kitchen and garden and bonfire, and places everywhere to sit and have a conversation.

 “It’s all centered on Genesis 2:15,” Graham said. “Just after God created the Garden of Eden, he took the man, and centered him in the garden to cultivate and care for it. And so the foundation for our entire philosophy of the community is centered on God’s original plan for us, to be settled, to be at peace with each other, to live in community, to be cultivating with the gifts that he has given us, and to serve him by caring for each other.”

What needs to change

The solution to homelessness, Graham said, is not going to be found in new government policies or agencies, but rather in Christians and other people who choose to take care of each other.

“I believe it’s like the old African adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’” Graham said. “We have to step in, the village should step in and care for its own. What we’re doing right now is abdicating that responsibility to our government, which … tries to resolve this issue transactionally, but I believe it’s a relationship issue. Our Kingdom desire is to be wanted by each other, not ‘if you buy me a house I’m going to be happy.’ That’s not where our happiness comes from.”

One of the foundational goals of the ministry is to change the stereotypes that people have about the homeless, so that they are seen as brothers and sisters rather than as other, Graham added.

He recommended that anyone who wants to help the homeless start building relationships with them –  say hello, ask their name, shake their hand, give them a sandwich or a gift card to Chick-fil-A. And then find an organization to volunteer with in your city.

“There’s a giant stereotype around the homeless, and we’re very good as Americans at stereotyping, and so the homeless population (is projected) to be drug addicts, mentally ill, criminals; they’re usually depicted as unkempt or that they don’t pay attention to hygiene, so we develop these preconceived notions that won’t even allow us to roll down our windows anymore to say ‘Hello’ or ‘God Bless,’” he said.

“Those things just aren't true,” Graham said.

“We have five major corporate goals, and goal number one is to transform the paradigm of how people view the stereotype of the homeless. When we change that paradigm, it changes our culture so as to be able to go and love on our brothers and sisters.”

That’s one of his hopes for the book, and the reason he made sure to tell the stories of so many homeless men and women who have directly touched his life.

“What we want to do is spread the kingdom message of a better way to love on our neighbors, so I’m hoping the book will go broad and deep, and people will be inspired to go out there and begin doing what it is that we’re doing, that’s what I hope.”

Because “what’s happening here in Austin, Texas is nothing short of a miracle.”

Croatia will soon hold one of the largest Marian statues in the world 

Šibenik, Croatia, Mar 7, 2017 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News) - A giant 55-foot statue of Our Lady of Loreto is in the works in the coastal city of Primošten, Croatia, which will be known as one of the largest Marian sites in the world when it is completed.

“This project is unique in Croatia and beyond,” stated the Municipality of Primošten, according to Total Croatia News.

“It has been an object of considerable interest and acclaim, and a blessing has been given by the Holy See and Pope Francis,” they continued.

The larger-than-life statue of Our Lady of Loreto is being constructed along the coastline of Primošten, a hill-city about 20 miles south of Šibenik. Primošten is known for its vineyards and beaches, and will now also be marked as the site of one of the biggest Marian statues in the world.

The citizens of Primošten are known to have a particular devotion to Our Lady of Loreto, and the townspeople hold a traditional feast in honor of Our Lady every May 9-10, with a festive procession around the boats and coastline.

On a clear day, the facing coast of Italy will be able to see the Marian monument after its completion.

The construction of the statue has been in collaboration with Cammini Lauretani, which works to connect the dots among Marian shrines across Europe, in a joint effort with the European Cultural Itinerary of the European Council Initiative.

Mayor Stipe Petrina of Primošten has been meeting with leaders from Cammini Laurentani in an effort to link Marian shrines in Italy and Croatia, with the overarching goal of creating sustainable religious tourism and development.

Their most recent meeting took place in Gaj hill, where the organizations were able to see the progress of the statue.

The Croatian municipality has yet to declare when the Marian site will be complete, although they did note that the statue is in the final stages of construction.

 

 

 

How rice bowls can build a 'culture of encounter' this Lent 

Washington D.C., Feb 22, 2017 / 02:50 am (CNA/EWTN News) - Through its annual rice bowl initiative, Catholic Relief Services has announced it will be promoting a “culture of encounter” in its Lenten operation.

“At a time when there is so much conflict in the world, this Lenten program gives people of all ages a way to respond to human suffering with compassion and action,” Joan Rosenhauer, executive vice president of U.S. operations for Catholic Relief Services, stated.

“To learn the names and stories of our brothers and sisters, to include them in our prayers, to contribute our Lenten sacrifices so they can live better, healthier lives; this is the way we deepen our faith, building a culture of encounter and holding up the dignity of each and every one of us,” she added.

“CRS Rice Bowl” is the annual Lenten initiative of Catholic Relief Services. Participating Catholics pray, fast, and give alms to CRS in solidarity with each other and with other needy families throughout the world.

The theme is “encounter,” CRS insists. “Through prayer, we encounter Christ, present in the faces of every member of our human family, so often still walking that long road to Calvary,” they stated.

“Through fasting, we encounter our own obstacles, those things about ourselves that prevent us from loving God and neighbor,” they added. “Through almsgiving, we encounter our brothers and sisters around the world, asking what we can give up so that others might have life to the fullest.”

In addition to accepting donations from Catholics, Rice Bowl provides weekly prayer reflections and its website CRSRiceBowl.org features videos on how to practice Lent, from leaders like Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles.

The program also provides meatless recipes, and opportunities for Catholics to learn about other families around the world helped by CRS and the social teaching of the Church.

CRS claims that only one dollar donated per day of Lent could provide a month’s worth of food for another family in need. Donations could also provide medical care for children or clean drinking water.

“We want to meet people where they are in their day-to-day lives, in schools, in parishes, and on the go.  CRS Rice Bowl is an easy to use tool that helps people deepen their Lenten journey by participating in our Lenten traditions – prayer, fasting and almsgiving - in a time and way that suits them best,” Beth Martin, director for U.S. operations of the program, explained.

Participants can receive email updates from the program by signing up on the website, or they can download the Rice Bowl app onto their smartphones.

A quarter of donations go to local anti-poverty and food programs while three-quarters “goes to support CRS’ humanitarian and development programs overseas, providing life-saving assistance and hope to impoverished and vulnerable communities,” the group said.

Pope Francis, in his Lenten message, asked Catholics to participate in Lenten campaigns “promoted by many Church organizations in different parts of the world, and thus to favor the culture of encounter in our one human family.”

Past Issues

Feb 26, 2017

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Night to shine; Immigration; immigrants; Knights of Columbus; Pete Gomez; this foreign mission; Creole; Robin Doll; Eagle Scout; Quest

Feb 12, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Catholic Schools Week; March for Life; Pro-life; Executive Order; Secular Franciscan Order; teachers; Down Syndrome; Eagle Scout; Bronze Pelican

Jan. 29, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Thank you, religious; SEEK 2017; homeless man to priest; Fourth Sunday; Secret Service to Sacred Heart; Dr. Gerard Brungardt; Martin Luther King; 110 year old nun; Toddler miracle; Letter from undocumented immigrant; health care; immigration

Jan. 15, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Mary helps us share; Tighe donates home to Birthright; Pro-life billboard; Theobald Hattrup; Helen and Steve Eck; Pearl Harbor; Reigning Grace

Dec. 18, 2017

KEYWORDS: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 2016; Pope Francis Christmas schedule; 2016 high school youth rally; Aerospace engineer; Father Stanley Rother; Radio station; Dying girl's letter; Scout nominations; 12 days of Christmas

Dec. 4, 2016

KEYWORDS: Vocations Day; Pope Advent advice; Ex-prostitute; Spearville mission; Pilgrims v. Zombies; Face of God; Mission bazaar; Ness City fall festival; Rural health care; Archbishop Gomez; Bishops congratulate Trump

Nov. 20, 2016

Nov. 6, 2016

Oct. 23, 2016

Oct. 9, 2016


Sept. 25, 2016


Sept. 11, 2016

 
Aug. 7, 2016

July 10, 2016

June 12, 2016

May 29, 2016

May 8, 2016


 April 24, 2016

 April 10, 2016

 March 27, 2016

March 13, 2016

Feb. 28, 2016

 

Feb. 14, 2016


Jan. 31 , 2016

Jan. 17, 2016

Dec. 20, 2015

Dec. 6, 2015

Nov. 15, 2015

Nov. 1, 2015

Oct. 18, 2015

Oct. 4, 2015

Sept. 20, 2015

Sept. 6, 2015

August 9, 2015

July 12, 2015

Jun 14, 2015

May 17, 2015

May 3, 2015

April 19, 2015

Easter, 2015

 

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