Feb. 26, 2017

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

 

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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.”

Muslim refugee hails Pope Francis as the example of religion 

Vatican City, Feb 17, 2017 / 04:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News) - Nur Essa, a Muslim Syrian woman whose family was brought to Rome from Lesbos by Pope Francis last April, said that the openness he has shown to those of different faiths has deeply impressed her.

“For me, I was surprised,” she told CNA. “(He is) very open to all of the cultures, all of the religions, and he sets an example for all the religious people in the world, because he uses religion to serve the human being.”

Essa, 31, has met the Pope on several occasions, most recently during the Pope's visit Feb. 17th to Roma Tre University, a public research university in Rome where she currently studies.

She was one of four students of the university to ask the Pope a question, which he answered during his visit.

Essa's question was about the integration of immigrants in Italy: what they must do to integrate into their host country, but also what the rights of the immigrant are.

Before this, Essa and her husband and their little boy met Pope Francis when he brought them to Rome April 16th, 2016, along with two other Syrian refugee families who had been staying in a camp on the Island of Lesbos. She said that the Pope greeted them and blessed her son.

Essa also had an opportunity to speak with him at length when they were invited to be guests at a lunch Aug. 11th at the Vatican, which Essa said was an “honor.”

“He's very, very modest, a very simple man, a very real human being,” she said.
 
Essa has both an undergraduate degree and a master's in microbiology, and is studying biology at Roma Tre.

She said that she and her husband are both from the city of Damascus in Syria and chose to flee the country because her husband had been asked to join the military service there.

They went from Damascus to Turkey, and then from Turkey to Greece, where they stayed in a refugee camp for one month before they were fortunate enough to be chosen as one of the families the Pope brought back to Rome.

Pope Francis visited Roma Tre University at the request of the Dean of the university, who wanted to invite a public figure for the university's 25th anniversary.

According to Fr. John D'Orazio, who is a Catholic chaplain assigned to the university by the Diocese of Rome, the last pope to make a formal visit was St. John Paul II for the university’s 10th anniversary in 2002.

The chaplaincy just finished constructing its first Catholic chapel for students nearby to the university, something they've been wanting to do for a long time, Fr. D'Orazio said.

He said that although students don't live on campus, they still try “to create opportunities for students to meet together” and to reflect on their Catholic faith and “what it means for them in their own studies and in being citizens in today’s world and in society.”

It's a very diverse campus, he said, with students of no faith or of different religions, including Muslim students. “I think it's very interesting and beautiful to be a chaplain inside of a state university,” he said, “because it means creating dialogue, creating collaboration.”

“It's almost like mission work, because you're working in a place where there are all kinds of different people, different backgrounds, different points of view. So it's a good place to create bridges,” he said.

“Pope Francis talks a lot about creating bridges and not walls. And I think that also the chaplaincy in a state university is all about creating bridges of dialogue and collaboration.”

 

 

Vatican, Jewish museum launch first joint-exhibit on the Menorah 

Vatican City, Feb 21, 2017 / 03:24 pm (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican and the Jewish community in Rome are marking a new step in relations between the two religions by rolling out the first-ever joint exhibition focused entirely on the Menorah – an ancient symbol representing their shared roots.

“The relation between the Catholic Church and the Jewish community is not extrinsic, but is intrinsic,” Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told CNA at the Feb. 20 presentation of the exhibit, quoting St. John Paul II.

“That means we must know the Jewish roots of Christianity and we cannot be Christian without knowledge of the religion of the Jews because the Jews are the mother of Christianity,” he said, adding that in this sense, “it’s very important to know the roots, the family roots, of Christianity.”

Since the Menorah such an important symbol for the Jewish people, to have a joint-exhibit on it “is a very important thing and I think it will be a beautiful opportunity to deepen knowledge about the other religion; about the Jewish tradition, but also the Jewish roots in the Christian world.”

A Menorah is a seven-lamp candelabra made from pure gold and was used by Moses in the desert. According to the Book of Exodus, God asked Moses to create the candelabra and put into the temple in Jerusalem to mark it as a sacred space. The Menorah is still depicted in modern Jewish temples, and a nine-lamp version is lit during the celebration of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

The Menorah is often used in Christian artwork, particularly paintings depicting scenes from the life of Jesus, such as his preaching in the temple Jerusalem.

Riccardo Di Segni, Chief Rabbi of Rome, told CNA Feb. 20 that the exhibit is “a small but important example” of how Catholics and Jews can “work together for a better world.”

Calling the exhibit “a cultural enterprise, a link between two worlds,” Di Segni said the fact that it’s a joint-exhibition between Catholics and Jews is “a way of teaching the world about common roots and different interpretations” between the two religions.

“The Menorah is a Jewish symbol. It’s not a Christian symbol, but the Christians use this symbol and work with it in many ways,” he said, calling it “a symbol of the connection between the new religion of Christianity and (it’s) Jewish roots.”

Part of what is represented in the exhibit “is the connection between what they call ‘old’ and what they call ‘new.’ So the problem is how to relate to this old symbol,” he said, adding that “to discover this story and to put it in an exhibition is very interesting because by itself it is a history of the relation between Christianity and the Jews.”

Alongside Di Segni and Koch at the presentation of joint-exhibition were Barbara Jatta, the new Director of the Vatican Museums, and Alessandra Di Castro, head of Rome’s Jewish Museum.

The exhibit, titled “Menorah: Worship, History, Legend,” will be shown simultaneously at both the Jewish Museum as well as the Braccio di Carlo Magno Museum in the Vatican, located under the left colonnade in St. Peter’s Square.

It will run May 15-July 23 and will include roughly 130 pieces, including Menorah from different periods and depictions of them in paintings, sarcophagi, sculptures and medieval and Renaissance drawings and manuscripts.

The works displayed will include pieces from the first century up to the modern times century, including the use of the Menorah as part of the crest of the State of Israel.

Divided into three key stages, the exhibit walks visitors through different ages and genres, with the first stage divided into three different sections: Visualizing the Menorah; The Menorah in the temple and in Jewish art: iconography and symbology; and The Menorah in ancient art from Jerusalem to Rome.

The second stage is divided into four sections, and focuses on the Menorah From late antiquity to the 14th century; The Renaissance; The pictorial fortune from the 600s to the 19th century; and Jewish Menorah in applied arts from the late Middle Ages to the beginnings of the 20th century.

While the first stage focuses on the story of the Menorah, its presence in the temple of Jerusalem and its dispersal throughout Rome in both ancient and modern times, the second stage provides an analysis on the Menorah in Christianity, particularly liturgical candelabras, as well as the Menorah’s consistent presence as a strong unifying symbol for Jewish identity throughout history.

In the third stage, the exhibit focuses on the theme “From the First World War to the 21st century,” and offers a panorama of the various representations of the Menorah throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

More than 20 museums throughout the world have lent pieces to the exhibit, including the Louvre in Paris, the National Gallery of London and the Albertina Museum of Vienna.

During the presentation attention also turned to speculation as to the current whereabouts of the solid gold Menorah taken from the temple in Jerusalem by the Romans during their siege in 70AD, but which has gone missing for the past 1,500 years.

The Menorah was originally taken from Jerusalem when its temple was destroyed by the Roman general Titus, who became emperor nine years after that victory. Rumors throughout history have said the Menorah was lost during the Vandal’s Sack of Rome in 455, while others say it was buried in a cave, hidden in the Vatican or thrown into the Tiber, where it still rests.

However, despite the various theories, Di Segni said “nobody knows what had happened” since it disappeared from Jerusalem.

Present at the exhibit instead will be the ancient the Magdala Stone, which was found in 2009 during an archaeological excavation that uncovered an ancient synagogue on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

But regardless of the legends, Di Segni said “it will be very interesting to see how people will visit, what they would say and how they will be impressed.”

“The reaction of the public” is also important, he said, “so we are waiting for this moment.”

This 200 year-old Catholic school is a 'gem' in Baltimore's inner city 

Baltimore, Md., Feb 21, 2017 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News) - Nestled among the mix of shiny new storefronts, foreclosed row houses, parks, and public housing, lies what locals call the “gem of East Baltimore:” St. Frances Academy. Perduring the Civil War, social tumult, economic growth and decline in the neighborhood, the 189-year-old Catholic school still operates from the principles of its foundress, Servant of God Mother Mary Lange.

Along with the building, Mother Mary Lange’s legacy has been preserved as well: to educate and form children left behind by society, particularly those of African descent. While the kinds of challenges faced by many of Baltimore’s students have changed over nearly 200 years, what has not is the need for strong, Christ-centered education in the heart of the inner city, say educators at the school.

“The kids really understand and appreciate the legacy. They know the story, they know the history,”  Sister John Francis Schilling, OSP told CNA. “They will tell you in a minute,” she added of the students’ eagerness to share Mother Mary Lange’s story, “and are very proud of it.”

Dr. Curtis Turner, Ed.D,  principal of St. Frances Academy and a deacon of the Archdiocese of Washington, noted that St. Frances Academy still has its eyes on the same goal their founders did –  Christ.

“You’d have 180 souls really in jeopardy if we weren’t here,” the principal said to CNA.

In 1828, a Haitian refugee named Elizabeth Lange began teaching children of African descent, both slave and free, out of her home in Baltimore – a slave state with a large free African-American population.

“Mother Lange started this school because she wanted to teach the children of slaves about the Bible, about religion and realized they couldn’t read,” Sister John Francis recounted. While it wasn’t illegal to teach slaves in Maryland at that time, educating persons of color was socially taboo. Despite this, Lange was determined to teach the girls from her home.

A year later, Sulpician Father Nicholas Joubert approached Lange and asked if she and her co-teacher, Marie Balas, would be willing to start a religious order while continuing their work in girls’ education. Lange responded that she had been wanting to dedicate her life to God, and with the blessing of the Archbishop of Baltimore she took vows and the name “Sister Mary.”

Mother Mary Lange was named the superior of the new congregation, the Oblate Sisters of Providence – the first religious community for women of African descent in the United States.

The new order also rented a house for the community to live in and use as a school house. Today, the school continues to operate in the building it moved into in 1871, and the Oblate Sisters of Providence still help to teach and form St. Frances Academy’s hundreds of students.

Within the building, next to an English classroom and under a science lab, the room of Mother Mary Lange remains virtually undisturbed from how it was left after Lange’s death in 1882. “The kids see it and walk by,” Deacon Turner commented, adding that the emphasis on Mother Lange's present preserves her legacy at the school. “She lived, died and prayed here.”

“It’s one of the few places where we can all claim to be third-class relics,” he joked.

Since the 1820s, both the school and the order have gone through several changes. The main school building has served as a school, a dormitory, and an orphanage over the years, and the campus has expanded to include a gym, classrooms, computer labs, and other facilities. The school has become a co-educational preparatory school.

The order has expanded, with presences in Maryland, New York, Florida, and Costa Rica, and sisters from around the globe. Mother Mary Lange’s cause for sainthood was opened in 1991 by Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore.

In spite of, or perhaps because of, this growth, St. Frances Academy has persisted as the nation’s oldest African-American Catholic educational institution. In addition, the school is the oldest continually operating black educational facility in the United States, predating the founding of  Cheyney University of Pennsylvania – the nation’s oldest Historically Black College – by nearly a decade.

Today, the school remains dedicated to Mother Lange’s vision and her desire to educate all those in need of a good education. “We’re carrying out her mission,” Sister John Francis said. The school continues its work despite the challenges of this mission. “She was a risk-taker, and we’re risk takers,” Sister said.

One of those risks is accepting kids who are deemed high-risk or who are suspended or expelled from school. “We take kids who are risks. Sometimes they call us the second-chance school because we allow kids the opportunity to fail and then come back,” she explained. “We’re pretty much always willing to give them a second chance.”

Another risk is the school’s decision five years ago to house a number of boys who are homeless or who don’t have stable housing or family situations, in the Fr. Joubert Housing Program. “It’s been very successful … These kids are considered to be ‘throwaway’ kids by the city,” Sister John Francis explained. The first class of students to go through the program have graduated and are now in college; both made the National Honor Society while at the Joubert program.

Deacon Turner noted that he and the lay staff who oversee the housing programs seek to treat the boys as their own children, making sure they have home-cooked meals, clothes, things to do on the weekends, and adequate furnishings for their bedrooms: “It’s like we have 16 sons on campus.”

It also doesn’t hurt that the boys are also under the sisters’ watchful eye from the convent across the street. “They know that the second they step outside of the Joubert house, they’re within sight of the convent,” Deacon Turner laughed.

The program takes some of the most at-risk students in the city and turns them into the stars of the school, the principal continued. “The funny part is what takes them a while is that they’re the kids who are the most needy, economically, but then they get here and they actually end up being the envy of the rest of the school community.”

As with the success of the boys within the Fr. Joubert Housing Program, St. Frances Academy has managed to thrive in the face of challenges – and do just as well as many area schools with more privileged students. In the past several decades, Catholic schools in Baltimore have faced wave after wave of school closings.

Deacon Turner said that 11 of the academy’s 14 feeder schools have been closed in the past 15 years, and all of its partner Catholic schools in West Baltimore have also been shuttered. “We feel like we’re the last person standing in the breach right now.”

But despite the struggles facing Baltimore’s inner city, the school itself is doing very well: “We’re a poor school, but not a broke school.”  Because of their success, the faculty and administration are focusing on making sure that the tuition remains accessible for the school’s students, more than 84 percent of whom receive federal food aid for lunches.

Yet even though their tuition is considerably less than many of the city’s other Catholic and secular high schools “our kids are going to those same colleges.” The drive – and the stakes – are what set the academy’s students apart.

“The difference that we make isn’t just college or a better college, it’s college or no college – sometimes, it’s life or death without us,” Deacon Turner reflected.

Without St. Frances, many students also would not have had an introduction to what a life with Christ looks like, Deacon Turner said.  “The majority of our students are not Catholic – the vast majority are not Catholic – and I would say at least half are unchurched altogether, so we’re their first introduction to a life with Christ.” In many cases, he continued, a student’s turnaround can be traced to their introduction to a Christian lifestyle and Christ himself.

 “I’ve seen other organizations try to work in the city from a purely secular point of view, and of course they meet with some marginal success, but our success rate is that virtually all our kids go to college. If we tried to do that without Christ in the equation, there’s no way we’d be at that statistic,” Deacon Turner stated.   

“All the challenges that an inner city child faces – economically, socially– in my opinion, can only be overcome with the help of Christ, by introducing them to Jesus.”

 

Life, conversion of Roe v. Wade's Norma McCorvey remembered 

By Matt Hadro

Washington D.C., Feb 20, 2017 / 02:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News) - As the woman at the center of the case legalizing abortion in the U.S. passed away, pro-life leaders hailed her ultimate conversion on the issue and her ensuing struggles to promote life.

“Ultimately, Norma’s story after Roe was not one of bitterness but of forgiveness. She chose healing and reconciliation in her Christian faith,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, stated on Saturday after Norma McCorvey’s passing.

“She overcame the lies of the abortion industry and its advocates and spoke out against the horror that still oppresses so many,” Dannenfelser added. “In her memory and in her honor, we will carry on that work and we pray for her eternal peace.”

Norma McCorvey, the woman “Jane Roe” who was the plaintiff in the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that found a legal right to abortion, died on Saturday at the age of 69.

She had sued the state of Texas as she was pregnant with her third child and wanted an abortion which was illegal in the state. “Back in 1973, I was a very confused 21 year-old with one child and facing an unplanned pregnancy,” McCorvey described in a recent interview posted by VirtueMedia.

Her case was supposedly a rape pregnancy, but she later revealed she had lied about the situation.

“Many believe that she was very much coerced into that situation and was encouraged to lie about the situation being the result of a rape,” Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life commented on McCorvey’s case. There was “a lot of manipulation and lies and pressure” behind her case, she added.

McCorvey’s case went to the Supreme Court which issued the Roe decision, legalizing abortion in all 50 states. Since 1973 there have been over 50 million abortions in the U.S.

Yet as in the other abortion case Doe v. Bolton – decided the same day as Roe – neither plaintiff had an abortion, and both women eventually “had this radical conversion to the truth and dedicated their lives to really protecting the inherent dignity of the human person,” Mancini said.

Despite winning in court, McCorvey had never had the abortion she sought, instead carrying her child to term and giving her daughter up for adoption. She is the mother of three daughters.

While she worked at an abortion clinic and later revealed herself as the “Jane Roe” of the Supreme Court decision, she had a sudden turn in the 1990s, joining the pro-life movement and becoming a Christian.

“Norma suffered tremendously at the hands of those who cared more about the institution of abortion than this courageous woman’s life,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, stated on Saturday.

She started the group Roe No More to overturn the Roe decision and reverse its cultural consequences, and was involved with the group Operation Rescue for a time before leaving.

McCorvey revealed that “upon knowing God, I realized that my case which legalized abortion on demand was the biggest mistake of my life,” adding that “abortion scars an untold number of post-abortive mothers, fathers, and families too.”

Yet baptized a Christian, McCorvey felt called to enter the Catholic Church. As she related in an article for the group Priests for Life, she had attended Catholic masses as a child with her mother who was Roman Catholic.

“I liked it so much and was often moved to tears. I felt the presence of God,” she wrote. “There was something very moving about the Catholic ritual and symbolism – the procession with the priest and altar boys, the incense, cross, and candles, the statues and the music. I knew God was everywhere, but in Catholic Churches I always felt especially close to Him.”

Tom Peterson, president and founder of VirtueMedia, recalled meeting Norma as he interviewed her on her conversion to Catholicism and her decision to become pro-life.

“Here is a woman who deeply regrets her decision, who had the courage and the faith to put her face on national television on this message,” he said, a message “to help heal those wounds, to help unknot a very complicated situation that she was a party to.”

Yet “she carried a great price for that,” he added.

“She said it was so heavy on her heart that 50 million babies had died because of her participation in this case. And she talked about the number of wounded women out there who took part in abortion because of her involvement.”

“She suffers great anxiety, and she suffered great physical and mental spiritual battles for many years,” he recalled.

VirtueMedia has launched JaneRoe.com, featuring McCorvey’s testimony and those of mothers who have had abortions and regret them.

When McCorvey decided to enter the Church, she received the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation. After the mass, she recalled what she felt during the Liturgy of the Eucharist:

“I had been taught what this meant. Jesus was not dying again. Rather, He was drawing us all into His sacrifice, making it present to us, allowing us to join our lives, our sufferings, to His. This was and is the sacrifice that saves the world, that conquers the power of death and destroys the power of abortion. There and then I could place in the chalice all the tears I had ever shed over the aborted babies, all the shame I ever felt from having worked in an abortion clinic and having been a poster-girl for the pro-death movement. There and then, just as the bread and wine were being transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, the former Jane Roe could once again rejoice in her own transformation into a new creature in Christ.”

Catholics and pro-life leaders offered prayers for her, her family, and all the victims of abortion.

“Now with Norma’s passing, we certainly pray for the repose of her soul. We certainly pray for her and the aborted babies and the mothers who have passed away, and are now in heaven or purgatory to pray for our country during this pivotal time,” Peterson said.

 

 

US anti-Semitism feared to rise if incidents aren't condemned 

Washington D.C., Feb 21, 2017 / 08:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News) - Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States must be prosecuted and condemned by the government to curb their rise, a religious freedom expert insists.

Regarding recent bomb threats made to Jewish community centers and the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Missouri, there must be “very vigilant enforcement of the law,” said Prof. Daniel Mark of Villanova University, who serves on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

“It’s kind of a shame,” he told CNA, that “a lot of these crimes go unpunished.” They must be recognized for what they are and condemned, he added. “If you’re not willing to recognize what it is and call the thing by its name, you’re going to have a hard time addressing it.”

Jewish leaders have been alarmed at the rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Europe in recent years, from the desecration of synagogues to attacks on Jews wearing religious symbols in public to violent attacks like in 2015, where a gunman who pledged allegiance to ISIS took hostages at a Paris kosher market and killed four.

The incidents have grown so numerous and so serious that questions have been raised about the future of Jewish communities in Europe.

However, the fervor of antisemitism in the U.S. has risen as well, religious freedom advocates have warned.

The Anti-Defamation League reported a sharp rise in violent antisemitic assaults in 2015, and leaders noted a distressing surge in online harassment of Jewish reporters during the 2016 presidential election and the proliferation of antisemitic conspiracy theories on the internet.

Shortly after Trump’s election to the presidency in November, white nationalist leaders gathered at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. Richard Spencer said “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” and was met with fascist salutes.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum responded that they were “deeply alarmed” at the gathering and its antisemitic rhetoric.

In recent weeks, there have reportedly been dozens of bomb threats made against Jewish community centers in the U.S. A Jewish cemetery in Missouri was vandalized recently and as many as 200 headstones were reportedly damaged.

President Trump must speak out forcefully against such behavior but he has not, advocates warn, and he has even partly enabled such behavior amongst many of his far-right supporters.

“I think in some cases anti-Semites may feel emboldened by the rise of Trump,” Mark noted of the election year incidents.

“Now that’s not to say that Trump himself is not an antisemite in the way they are, but I think again, it is fair to say that Trump probably could have done more during the campaign to make it clear to his supporters that these kinds of attitudes and this kind of behavior is not tolerable, it will not be tolerated.”

Such behavior must be condemned, and Trump did not speak forcefully enough against it during the campaign, Mark insisted.

“Instead it seems like he chose the path of saying just little enough that those people could tell themselves that secretly, he’s on board with them and their bad motives, which I don’t believe he is.”

President Trump denounced antisemitism on Tuesday as he spoke at the newly-opened National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

“This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms,” he said. “The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are a painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”

However, his statement came after weeks of statements – or omissions – that drew more concerns about his administration’s response to anti-Semitism.

In his Jan. 27 remarks on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Donald Trump left out any specific mention of the Jewish people, a mention made by the White House in past years.  

For instance, President Obama in 2015 said that “the American people pay tribute to the six million Jews and millions of others murdered by the Nazi regime.”

In 2016, in his remarks at the Righteous Among Nations Awards Dinner at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., President Obama insisted that “we must confront the reality that around the world, anti-Semitism is on the rise” including in the United States.

Then last week at a Nov. 16 press conference, Trump was asked by reporter Jake Turx, writing for the Jewish magazine “Ami,” about the rise in antisemitic incidents.

While Turx noted there were no accusations of antisemitism leveled against Trump by members of his community, he added that questions do exist of how the Trump administration would respond to the other anti-Semitic incidents nationwide.

As Turx cited reports of bomb threats made against Jewish community centers, Trump interrupted him and scolded him for not asking a simpler question, calling it “not a fair question.” He asked Turx to sit down and told him “I understood the rest of your question.”

“I am the least antisemitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life,” Trump began, calling himself also the “least racist person.” When Turx interrupted to follow up his question, Trump ordered him to “quiet” and said he hated both the “charge” of antisemitism leveled against him and Turx’s “question.”

The day before, at a Feb. 15 joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, Trump was asked by a reporter about the rise in antisemitic incidents:

“And I wonder what you say to those among the Jewish community in the States, and in Israel, and maybe around the world who believe and feel that your administration is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones?”

President Trump responded first by pointing out his Electoral College victory and the “tremendous enthusiasm” for his administration in the country. He then promised to “stop crime in this country” and would work “to stop long-simmering racism” and noted that he had “so many (Jewish) friends” and family.

The advocacy group Human Rights First criticized Trump’s answer, calling it “inappropriate” and saying it “widely missed the mark.”

“The president’s response today once again highlights a deeply concerning trend toward accommodating antisemitic voices and failing to clearly and unequivocally denounce hate,” Susan Corke of Human Rights First stated.

“His inappropriate response is all the more troubling given his campaign’s association with antisemitic tropes, his administration’s embrace of individuals with deep ties to anti-Semitism, and his decision not to include any reference to the Jewish people in his statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.”

On Tuesday, however, Human Rights First commended Trump for finally issuing strong statements against antisemitism, saying they were “necessary and overdue.”

“These declarations, while welcome, are a departure from those made by the president during his campaign and post-inauguration, that animated those with antisemitic and other racist views into reprehensible acts of hatred,” the group continued.

Words must be accompanied by action, they added, like “by improving data collection and providing additional resources to protect communities.”

“A national leader failing to clearly denounce harmful speech can serve to embolden extremist voices and serve as a legitimation of violence,” they stated. “President Trump should make clear immediately that he condemns all forms of antisemitism and intolerance, and that he will do everything in his power to support investigations and prosecutions of hate crimes.”

 

 

Past Issues

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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