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CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY Daily Feed
Dec. 3, 2017
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: 2017 NCYC; Wheel of Balance; Marita Rother; Stanley Rother; slavery; trafficking; Windthorst water damage; martyred priests; confession; reconciliation; How to go to confession; recipe for codfish cakes; Catholic schools; appeal
Spanish video seeks to erase the stigma of Down syndrome
Madrid, Spain, Mar 21, 2017 / 03:19 pm (CNA/EWTN News) - A recent video ad released by the Down Federation seeks to increase awareness of persons with Down syndrome.
Through a series of videos and photographs, the campaign seeks to challenge the prejudices faced by persons affected by disability, noting that “with appropriate supports, they can carry out any goal that is proposed.”
The campaign was launched in advance of World Down Syndrome Day, which is celebrated all over the world on March 21, and aims to “increase social awareness regarding people with this intellectual disability.”
In the video, four famous Spanish actors – Jordi Rebellón, Vanesa Romero, Eva Isanta and Jesús Olmedo – sit with their eyes closed in front of people with Down syndrome. Little by little, they open their eyes, and break away from the “prejudices, stereotypes, doubts, misgivings and appearances” that the video says “create an invisible blindfold that prevents one from seeing reality.”
The Down Federation of Spain video closes by inviting Spaniards to “open your eyes and look at the person in front of you,” as a concrete way to “change the view of Down Syndrome.”
The video is part of a larger campaign the organization is launching under the theme: “Change your view on Down syndrome.” The group has also hosted a performance by dancers with Down syndrome as well as a chance for the public to read both discriminatory messages and positive messages received by individuals with Down syndrome.
“We want to encourage real change” in the way society views people with Trisomy 21, the genetic disorder that causes Down syndrome, the organization said in a statement.
Agustín Matía, manager of the Down Federation of Spain, told the Spanish newspaper La Razón that “the number of people with this syndrome has remained stable in recent years, between 34,000 and 35,000, but the trend is that this number will decrease, although their lifespans are increasing. There are already people in their 70s and 80s, but births are falling.”
According to previous interviews in 2015 by Matía, Spain has one of the smallest populations of persons with intellectual disabilities in the world, and the lowest rate of Down syndrome diagnoses to births on the planet. In the past, Matía has blamed the abortion of those prenatally diagnosed with Trisomy 21 – along with societal biases – for these incredibly low rates.
“Disability is not assumed. Many people believe, when they see on the street some of these children, that they are unhappy, and it is the opposite. They are very wrong,” Mattia said in a statement on the group’s most recent project.
He also pointed to the need for support from the medical community when a couple is informed that they may have a child with the condition.
Matía also argued that children with Down syndrome “should be integrated into normal schools with the supports they need.” This is something that rarely happens Spanish schools.
What the bishop who resisted the Nazis can teach us today
By Carl Bunderson
Münster, Germany, Mar 22, 2017 / 07:04 am (CNA/EWTN News) - When Father Clemens August von Galen was consecrated Bishop of Münster in October 1933, he chose for his episcopal motto Nec laudibus, nec timore – neither by praises nor by fear, which summed up his ministry throughout Germany's Nazi period.
The motto was taken from the liturgy for episcopal consecration, which prays that the new bishop will love humility and truth, and not be overcome by either praise or fear.
Bishop von Galen wrote in his first pastoral letter that “Neither the praises of men nor fear of men shall move us. Rather, our glory will be to promote the praise of God, and our steadfast effort will be to walk always in a holy fear of God.”
During his entire episcopacy the bishop spoke up against the Nazis' euthanasia program and racial theories, and defended human rights and the cause of justice. He was among the most outspoken of Germany's bishops during that era, and assisted the writing of Pius XI's 1937 anti-Nazi encyclical Mit brennender Sorge.
He was made a cardinal in February 1946, just one month before his March 22 death, and he was beatified in 2005 by Benedict XVI.
Blessed von Galen's motto “would be a great motto to have for a bishop,” Fr. Daniel Utrecht of the Toronto Oratory told CNA. Fr. Utrecht is the author of The Lion of Münster: The Bishop Who Roared Against the Nazis.
Fr. Utrecht was drawn to write about Blessed von Galen because he was a model bishop.
“I was telling some people about him during World Youth Day in 2005, and they said, 'We need bishops like this, why have we never heard of this guy? Someone should write a book about him',” he related.
The priest recalled reading in German a two volume work of Blessed von Galen's documents, letters, and sermons written as a bishop. “They became more and more fascinating, and there just wasn't much in English to read about him. I eventually came to the conclusion that it was up to me to write an English-language biography.”
Blessed von Galen was born into a German noble family in 1878, and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Münster in 1904. As a priest he wrote on the origins and limits of state power, and the importance of voting as a responsibility for the common good rather than doing so for private interests.
In the later years of the Weimar Republic, Blessed von Galen supported the German Centre Party, which worked to present a Christian voice in defense of Catholic interests and human rights in the public square, and entered into coalition governments with other parties in an effort to balance power.
But the priest was unable to sway many of his acquaintances to support the Centre Party – other Catholics were arguing that the Nazi Party was most compatible with Catholic ideals.
Many bishops had barred Catholics from being members of the National Socialist movement. But when Hitler softened his antireligious stance and stated early in 1933 that Christianity would be prominent in Germany's rule, the bishops took him at his word and began allowing Catholics to join the movement.
But when Blessed von Galen was made a bishop later that year, he maintained his anti-Nazi beliefs. Within a year he clashed with government officials over the rights of Catholic schools and the Nazis' racial and anti-Jewish ideology.
He was most outspoken against the Nazi's involuntary euthanasia program, which under which the disabled, mentally ill, deformed, senile, those with Down syndrome, and the incurably sick were killed. The program began in 1939, and more than 70,000 people were euthanized under it.
Blessed von Galen led Catholic protest against euthanasia. He delivered three sermons in the summer of 1941 which condemned the program, as well as Nazi attacks on the Church, and raised public awareness of what has happening. After the sermons' delivery he was nicknamed “The Lion of Münster”, and they resulted in a Nazi propaganda minister, Walter Tiessler, recommending that he be executed.
The bishop remained outspoken against Nazi atrocities throughout World War II, and afterwards spoke up against injustices committed by the occupying Allied forces.
“I see plenty of parallels today,” Fr. Utrecht told CNA. “I hope that people reading the book get it for themselves.” Blessed von Galen's “example of courage and being able to speak out in defense of human life is of interest, very much of interest today, in the fight against abortion and euthanasia … the defense of liberty, religious liberty, the defense of a place for religion in the public square is a very, very big lesson that he has for us.”
In addition to supporting Catholic witness to the value of human life in the face of abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and the dictatorship of relativism, Fr. Utrecht said that the cardinal can speak to Catholics facing political dictatorships as well.
The priest shared how during a recent trip to Germany he met a priest from Africa who is “very keen on making von Galen known to the Africans, because he said 'In many places we have totalitarian governments and not enough of the bishops speak out', – so he thought there was a great parallel there.”
Since Cardinal von Galen was beatified 12 years ago, there is a need to develop devotion to him, Fr. Utrecht reflected. “Greater devotion to him is the next step, not just locally, but worldwide.”
“There are plenty of people who do know about him and who are pushing devotion to him, but it needs kind of a new push, so I hope we can get a push, and not only there, but among English- reading people elsewhere.”
Watch this little girl steal Pope Francis' hat
Vatican City, Mar 22, 2017 / 10:57 am (CNA) - A cute moment was captured on camera Wednesday, as a 3-year-old girl “stole” Pope Francis’ zucchetto – or skull cap – at the papal general audience.
Little Estella lives in Georgia. She was in Rome with her godfather, Mountain Butorac. Waiting in St. Peter’s Square at the general audience, she was invited by a member of the papal security team to go greet the Pope as he came by.
Pope Francis offered the young girl a kiss on the cheek, and she reached up and grabbed his zucchetto. A moment later, she returned the hat to a laughing pontiff.
Took my Goddaughter to meet the pope. She stole his hat! pic.twitter.com/SdSorop3uN
— Mountain Butorac (@MountainButorac) March 22, 2017
Meanwhile, Butorac captured the incident on his phone camera, and posted it to Twitter, where it quickly received more than 8,000 likes.
“It’s exciting!” Butorac told BuzzFeed News. “I’m sure every godparent would love for their godchild to meet the Holy Father. Mine just did and it was not only a special holy moment, but hilarious too!”
Don't lose your humanity in refugee debate, US bishops say
Washington D.C., Mar 22, 2017 / 08:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News) - The intense debate over U.S. refugee and migrant policy is a chance to meet newcomers and understand others' concerns, the country's bishops have said, warning against fear and mistreatment of others.
“It is necessary to safeguard the United States in a manner that does not cause us to lose our humanity,” said the March 22 statement from U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' administrative committee.
“Let us not lose sight of the fact that behind every policy is the story of a person in search of a better life. They may be an immigrant or refugee family sacrificing so that their children might have a brighter future. As shepherds of a pilgrim Church, we will not tire in saying to families who have the courage to set out from their despair onto the road of hope: 'We are with you.'”
Immigrant or refugee families may themselves be seeking security from extremist violence, the bishops said. Their statement, titled “Living as a People of God in Unsettled Times,” aimed to voice solidarity with those who have fled their homes because of violence, conflict or fear.
The statement comes at a time of significant debate over U.S. refugee and immigration policy under President Donald Trump, who campaigned on more restrictive policies.
His latest executive order on refugees calls for a 120-day ban on all refugee admissions and an entry ban on most foreign nationals from six predominantly Muslim countries. The order caps refugee admissions at 50,000 for fiscal year 2017, a decline from 85,000 in fiscal year 2016.
Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland blocked the temporary refugee ban and the travel ban from taking effect. The Hawaii-based federal district court said the state of Hawaii's lawsuit against the travel ban made a strong enough case that it unfairly discriminated against Muslims seeking entry into the U.S. and that the ban would significantly injure the state’s tourism industry and university system.
President Trump's other executive orders have sought an increase in immigrant detention centers and the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The U.S. bishops' statement welcomed debate over policy, but criticized the “rhetoric of fear.”
“When we look at one another do we see with the heart of Jesus?” they asked. “Within our diverse backgrounds are found common dreams for our children.”
Catholics need to show solidarity for migrants and refugees, the bishops said. They should pray for an end to the root causes of violence that cause people to flee.
“Meet with members of your parish who are newcomers, listen to their story and share your own,” the statement said. “Hundreds of Catholic parishes across the country have programs for immigrants and refugees both to comfort them and help them know their rights.”
“It is also important to reach out in loving dialogue to those who may disagree with us. The more we come to understand each other’s concerns the better we can serve one another. Together, we are one body in Christ.”
The bishops urged Catholics to call their elected representatives and “ask them to fix our broken immigration system in a way that safeguards both our security and our humanity through a generous opportunity for legal immigration.”
They placed immigration debate in a Christian context.
“To live as a people of God is to live in the hope of the resurrection. To live in Christ is to draw upon the limitless love of Jesus to fortify us against the temptation of fear. Pray that our engagement in the debate over immigration and refugee issues may bring peace and comfort to those most affected by current and proposed national policy changes.”
They cited the Biblical command not to mistreat alien residents, in the Book of Leviticus: “you shall love the alien as yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt.”
Another source for the bishops was Pope Francis’ comments that migration is “that inherent desire for the happiness proper to every human being, a happiness that is to be sought and pursued.”
“For us Christians, all human life is an itinerant journey towards our heavenly homeland,” the Pope said.
Finding God in all things — even coffee
By Casey McCorry / Angelus News
Los Angeles, Calif., Mar 23, 2017 / 03:39 am (CNA) - Any Yelp-savvy person looking for a coffee shop in the midst of the University of Southern California’s surrounding urban streets may be lured by extensive positive reviews and a four-and-a-half star-rating to a little café dozens of reviewers call “an oasis.”
Located behind St. Agnes Korean Catholic Church, the Ignatius Café is very easy to miss. Near the bustling intersection of Adams Blvd. and Vermont Ave., the café is gated discreetly behind hedges, making it easy to understand why countless reviewers have described it as “a hidden gem.”
The Ignatius Café is housed in a beautifully preserved turn-of-the-century home, which stands before blossoming rose bushes, with tables and umbrellas situated under vine arches. Fresh flowers sit on every table of the warmly-decorated house. The overwhelming aroma of the café’s fair trade Ethiopian coffee beans envelope customers in warmth, as cheery volunteers bustle around tables with the most painstakingly-created foamed barista achievements. This is not your average coffee shop. To quote one USC student, “It’s like pressing the pause button on life. Over coffee.”
But the real reason this isn’t your average coffee shop is the patent missionary focus of the café: the statue of Mary standing in gardens as overseer of the café, the church bells ringing on the hour in the background and the visibility of its white-collared founder busily managing the café and greeting every visitor with a luminous smile: Father Robert Choi.
When Father Choi’s superior sent him from Korea to work as a pastor in Los Angeles in 2010, he brought with him an extensive background in coffee brewing. Pour-over coffee had recently been introduced by Japan to Korea and was quickly gaining in popularity. Father Choi received certification and training from the elite Coffee Quality Institute, getting technical training on producing sustainable, high quality coffee while enhancing the livelihoods of the growers. This training equipped Father Choi with a passion for the craftsmanship, social consciousness and esteemed quality for which his café is now known.
As a Korean-speaking pastor with a new parish in a foreign country, Father Choi needed a way to engage his new community in a language he could speak. That’s where his old passion for coffee came in. Coffee would be his simple, humble manner of communicating a grand mystical love that a language barrier impinged him from telling.
— Angelus News (@AngelusNews) March 17, 2017
“The Church should be a place open for all and a method for connecting to the less fortunate. I created the Ignatius Café to fulfill this,” explained Father Choi, “I want it to be a place where anyone, regardless of their beliefs, can come and rest. I want it to be a physical manifestation of the act of practicing love.”
Communicating this message of love was something St. Agnes Parish was more than eager to do. With his parish supporting him, Father Choi said setting up the café was not difficult. They set it up to rely solely on volunteers and accept payment in the form of donations. All proceeds are given to charities that support disadvantaged groups, including Catholic Relief Services, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Sudan Relief Fund and many others. Interested parishioners go through a rigorous coffee education program and board exam. And then they go to work under the guiding mission of the café, inspired by its namesake, St. Ignatius of Loyola: “Find God in all things.”
It is this prayerful spirit that emanates from the café. You feel it in the deliberate and quiet contemplation of the elderly man hand-sorting coffee beans on the front porch of the café. It’s in the wee hours of every morning when Father Choi operates the café’s roaster. It’s in the sweat of the St. Agnes parishioner who painstakingly weeds the gardens. And it’s in the knowing compassion of a volunteer when a customer forgets their money.
“You can find faith within life and life within faith,” Father Choi said. “Christian life is not defined by finding God through exquisite works, but rather through ordinary instances.”
The “ordinary instances” that Father Choi created the café for have had an extraordinary impact. There have been café frequenters who became interested in Catholicism and were eventually baptized. There were lapsed Catholics who said the café played an integral role in restoring their faith. And the parish’s young adult community has steadily been growing inspired by the welcoming spot to meet. Most customers who come to the café, however, may not recognize the grand evangelizing mission, but may just remember it as a place where they felt at home, where they were loved.
“I love this place. The little ladies who work here are awesome!” one customer said. “You just feel so welcomed here! It feels like going to grandma’s house.”
USC students, professionals, coffee connoisseurs and parishioners alike are given a moment of love in a cup of coffee.
“Coffee is just a means. It’s a way for Father Choi to give people love,” one of the café’s volunteers, Jonathon Ko, said. “Love is what holds this place together. It’s the love the priest shows to the volunteers. And in turn the volunteers show love to the customers. And the customers’ donations impart love to the charity recipients.”
Father Choi has created a philosophy for the coffee creation process that he imparts to each one of his volunteers.
“There is a scientific aspect that cannot be ignored. But, ideally, we will integrate faith with science, prayer with skill and mind with theory,” said Father Choi. “One should approach life as they would for the extraction of a cup of coffee, unifying faith and life in one synonymous relationship.
“Every time I brew a cup of coffee,” he added, “I am able to thank God, bless the farmers who reaped the crops and provide peace to the individual who drinks it. With this sentiment I am able to see God in all things.”
This story originally appeared at AngelusNews.com
Pope Francis prays for victims of deadly London attack
by Elise Harris
Vatican City, Mar 23, 2017 / 06:08 am (CNA/EWTN News) - After four people died in an apparent terrorist attack in London yesterday, Pope Francis has voiced his sorry and solidarity for the victims and their families, entrusting them and the nation to God’s mercy.
“Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and of the injuries caused by the attack central London, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his prayerful solidarity with all those affected by this tragedy,” a March 23 letter signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin read.
The Pope commended the souls of those who died “to the loving mercy of Almighty God,” and prayed for “divine strength and peace upon their grieving families,” while assuring of his prayer for the entire nation.
Francis’ letter comes the day after a deadly March 22 attack on London’s Parliament took the lives of four people.
During the attack, a car apparently plowed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing into the fence surrounding the Parliament building. The assailant then attempted to enter the Parliament building with a knife, stabbing one police officer before being shot by other officers on the grounds.
According to the Guardian, four people were killed, including the police officer who was stabbed and one man believed to be the assailant. About 20 others were reported injured, some severely.
Nearby government buildings were placed on lockdown while authorities worked to ensure the safety of the area. Scotland Yard said the attack is being treated “as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise.”
The incident marks the first mass-casualty terrorist attack in Britain since the 2005 bomb attack on London that claimed the lives of 52 people when four bombers blew themselves up in the city’s public transportation system.
March 22 also marks the one-year anniversary of the Brussels airport bombings that left more than 30 dead and 300 injured. Those bombings were declared the deadliest act of terrorism in Belgium's history.
The use of a vehicle as a weapon yesterday’s London attack is reminiscent of the methods used last year by terrorists in Nice and Berlin.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, issued a March 23 statement to the priests and parishes of his diocese saying yesterday’s attacks “have shocked us all.”
“The kind of violence we have seen all too often in other places has again brought horror and killing to this city,” he said, and urged pastors to lead their people in prayer, particularly for the victims and their families.
He offered special prayers for victim Aysha Frade, who was killed by the car on Westminster Bridge and whose two young children attend the diocese’s St. Mary of the Angels Primary School.
He also offered special prayers for Frade’s husband and a group of French students who were injured in the attack, as well as police officer Keith Palmer, the officer who died, and his family.
“Let our voice be one of prayer, of compassionate solidarity and of calm,” the cardinal said.
“All who believe in God, Creator and Father of every person, will echo this voice, for faith in God is not a problem to be solved, but a strength and a foundation on which we depend.”