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Scalabrini shelter in Guatemala swamped by Hondurans seeking safety

IMAGE: CNS photo/Luis Echeverria, Reuters

By David Agren

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- A Scalabrini migrant shelter in Guatemala City has served 1,700 Hondurans heading north as part of a caravan seeking to reach the U.S. border.

Carlos Lopez, a shelter official, told Catholic News Service the Scalabrini facility in Guatemala normally serves up to 80 guests at a time, but the number of migrants arriving from Honduras has forced the shelter to offer lodging in a nearby school.

Resources, he added, are strained and "staff are exhausted," having worked 48 hours nonstop. Rain is also making life miserable for migrants traveling mostly on foot and sometimes forced to sleep outside.

"We have a soccer field full of people, in the dining room, in every nook and cranny. They're on the bleachers, in the school gym," he said Oct. 18. "The problem now is feeding people and hygiene. ... We're experiencing chaos right now."

A caravan of Hondurans departed the city of San Pedro Sula Oct. 13, but its ranks swelled as it crossed into Guatemala. Lopez said no one was certain of the caravan's exact size, but he compared it to a "snowball going downhill" and estimated it at more than 5,000 participants.

"This is a humanitarian crisis. Here there are 75-year-old elderly women and 2-month-old babies," he said.

The caravan has captured the attention of Trump, who threatened to cut off assistance to Guatemala and Honduras -- $1.1 billion in 2017 and 2018, according to the Washington Office on Latin America -- if the caravan proceeded.

Guatemala issued a statement saying it would stop the caravan, even though Central American countries allow each other's citizens to cross borders freely.

Mexico sent two planeloads of federal police officers to its southern border Oct. 15 as the first migrants in the caravan arrived in the area. The country's foreign ministry said in a statement anyone with the proper papers could enter Mexico, while those planning to apply for asylum could do so. Anyone not meeting the entry requirements would be turned back, however.

In a tweet, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned Central American migrants to stay put, saying the road north poses risks and "if (migrants) cannot come to the U.S. legally, they should not come at all."

The northern triangle of Central America -- Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador -- is one of the most violent regions in the world, though murder rates have declined in recent years. Nicaragua has also experienced an outflow due to political unrest and attacks by police and paramilitaries on the opposition, though many of those migrants head to neighboring Costa Rica.

"Poverty, the lack of opportunities, violence and extortion due to gangs ... (people) can no longer live with such anxiety and, hence, are taking these actions," Lopez said.

In 2017, nearly 299,000 Central Americans were considered refugees or applied for asylum, according to the Jesuit Network with Migrants -- Central America and North America.

"The daily crisis of subsistence ... derived from the imposition of authoritarian political systems and economic models, which exclude, force people to flee their countries to have a dignified life and sometimes save their lives," the network said in a statement Oct. 17.

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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.

Synod about learning from Christ, not producing document, bishop says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Anne Condodina

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The point of the Synod of Bishops on young people is not primarily to produce a document, but instead is to learn from Christ how to "bring God's mercy into the world," Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, said in a homily at the synod.

"We have come to sit at the feet of the 'Divine Physician' and learn from him how to become physicians of broken hearts, among youth, young adults, and all God's people," the bishop said Oct. 18.

Each day a different bishop is chosen to give a homily during midmorning prayer at the synod. Speaking on the feast of Saint Luke, Bishop Caggiano began by asking, "How can one heal a broken heart?"

"It is a question that no disciple of the Lord can avoid asking, since it was to heal broken hearts that our savior came among us," he said.

The young physician, Luke, was among the many doctors who sought to "remedy the brokenness of life" with their own skills and tools. But he learned that there was a better way to heal after the Holy Spirit inspired him: He unlocked the power of divine mercy, the bishop said.

God's mercy offered through the life and death of Jesus healed "hearts burdened by the frailty of disease and old age, hearts that struggle with doubts and fears, hearts that question whether I am either lovable or will ever be loved by anyone," he said.

"My friends, we cannot truly heal anyone on our own," Bishop Caggiano told synod members. "Only Christ brings authentic and lasting healing. Luke understood this and lived his life serving as a simple channel of Christ's mercy."

St. Luke also "gave voice to the poor, the Samaritan, the prodigal son and the women forgotten by society" in a world that had grown blind to the needs of the helpless, he said.

"His Gospel compels us to walk into the shadows of our modern world and become channels of Christ's mercy for those whom the world has left behind," Bishop Caggiano said.

"Let us bring God's mercy into the world, one broken heart at a time."

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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.

INTERVIEW: While World Focuses on Possible Korea Visit, Here’s ZENIT’s Inside Look at Roots of Church in Japan That Awaits Pope Francis in 2019

Missionary in Japan Maria De Giorgi, of the Xaverian Missionary Sisters of Mary, Reflects on the Church in Japan to ZENIT in Bologna’s Communita di Sant’Egidio Encounter ‘Bridges for Peace’

The post INTERVIEW: While World Focuses on Possible Korea Visit, Here’s ZENIT’s Inside Look at Roots of Church in Japan That Awaits Pope Francis in 2019 appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Report: Immigrant aid agencies urge end to family separation policies

IMAGE: CNS/Bob Roller

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A report from two leading faith-based agencies serving immigrants entering the United States from Mexico and Central America called on the federal government to end a policy of separating children from their families and help families comply with immigration law.

The report details the collaboration in July between the U.S. bishops' Office of Migration and Refugee Services and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service to assist more than 1,200 families to reunite after children were separated from adults under the U.S. Department of Justice's "zero tolerance" policy.

The policy caused a crisis at the border in the spring and summer months this year as federal agents jailed adults crossing into the U.S. and placed the children who had accompanied them in detention centers, largely in Texas, Arizona and California.

The faith-based agencies mobilized in July to assist the departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services reunify separated families and provide shelter, food, clothing, counseling and case management.

Dozens of Catholic Charities and Lutheran social service agencies throughout the country also were involved in the reunification effort.

Titled "Serving Separated and Reunited Families: Lessons Learned and the Way Forward to Promote Family Unity," the report outlines the agencies' response and offered a series of recommendations to the federal government, the U.S. Congress, foreign governments and nongovernmental organizations to better serve families traveling north to the U.S.

It said that while little is known about how the forced separation of children and adults will affect young people, initial reports from service providers "indicate that families are experiencing symptoms of trauma, including separation anxiety."

It also suggested alternatives to detention for asylum-seeking families, especially those who pose no threat to the country.

"Such alternatives are often preferable as they avoid inflicting unnecessary and long-lasting trauma on children and families. Additionally, detaining families that do not present a flight or safety risk is an unnecessary use of limited (Department of Homeland Security) resources," the report said.

Leaders of both organizations welcomed the report.

"I am proud of the response of USCCB/MRS, LIRS and our Catholic and Lutheran partners around country, including my brother bishops, to be able to work with the administration to provide support to those vulnerable families," Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Migration, said in a statement accompanying the Oct. 17 release of the report.

"I believe the recommendations made are important and should be seriously considered in order to avoid pain and suffering in the future caused by the separation of families," he said.

In a separate statement, Kay Bellor, vice president of programs for LIRS, praised the agencies for stepping up quickly to aid families.

"As we have been for decades, communities of faith were there, poised and ready, to love and serve our neighbors in need," Bellor said. "It is our deep hope that the lessons learned from this time in our history will prevent the cruel separation of children from their parents from happening again."

As of Sept. 27, nearly 2,300 families had been reunited, according to the report. Some of the reunited families remained in detention facilities, some were reunited in their countries of origin, and some were released to allow them to travel to families and friends throughout the U.S.

The report showed that the flow of immigrants from Mexico had eased, but that refugees from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador shot upward in 2017 and 2018. It cited the growing violence from criminal gang and illegal drug networks in the three countries as reasons cited by immigrants for seeking to enter the U.S.

MRS and LIRS also called for:

-- Better coordination and data collection on immigrants throughout the government to allow for improved tracking of family reunification.

-- The release of families during "normal but extended business hours" from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. to allow families to be safely transported.

-- Reinstating family case management that had been discontinued in 2017 after just 18 months of operation in what originally was a five-year pilot program.

-- Improved training for care providers.

-- Expanding programs that address the causes of migration.

-- Increased coordination among aid agencies to better serve separated families.

MRS and LIRS also encouraged the U.S. government to "commit to immigration policies that are humane and uphold each individual's human dignity. Such policies should also ensure compliance with immigration requirements and be fair to the U.S. taxpayer."

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Editor's Note: The full report can be accessed online at www.justiceforimmigrants.org.

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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, meeting South Korean leader, says he's open to visiting North

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis, at a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said he is willing to visit North Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had asked Moon to tell the pope of the invitation. According to Yonhap, the Korean news agency, Moon's press secretary told reporters the pope said he would accept "if an (official) invitation arrives and I can go.'"

Meeting the South Korean president Oct. 18, the pope praised Moon's efforts to promote peace in the Korean peninsula.

"Move forward without stopping. Do not be afraid," the pope told Moon according to Yonhap.

In a statement released after the meeting, the Vatican said Pope Francis and Moon discussed the church's role in promoting "dialogue and reconciliation between Koreans."

"Strong appreciation was expressed for the common commitment to fostering all useful initiatives to overcome the tensions that still exist in the Korean Peninsula, in order to usher in a new season of peace and development," the Vatican said.

Greeting Moon at the entrance to the library of the Apostolic Palace, the pope said, "Welcome! It is nice to see you."

"I come here as the (South) Korean head of state but I am also Catholic and my baptismal name is Timothy. And for me it is an honor to meet you," Moon replied.

The South Korean leader also thanked the pope for taking time to meet him despite his busy schedule during the Synod of Bishops.

According to the Vatican press pool, Pope Francis and Moon spoke privately for more than 30 minutes, assisted by a translator, Korean Father Han Hyun-taek.

After their private meeting, Moon presented the pope with a Korean artist's sculpture of Christ's face adorned with a crown of thorns. The thorns, Moon explained, "are the sufferings of the Korean people."

Among the gifts the pope gave Moon was a split medallion held together by an olive tree which he said was "a symbol of peace in the Korean Peninsula."

Before departing, Moon thanked the pope again for welcoming him and said, "You are not only the head of the Catholic Church, but also a teacher for humanity."

"I wish you well in your work for peace," the pope replied.

The evening before his meeting with the pope, President Moon attended a Mass for Peace in the Korean Peninsula presided by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state.

Addressing those present after the Mass, President Moon said the historic signing of the Pyongyang Joint Declaration between North and South Korea as well as their commitment to ending the decades-long military confrontation were "blazing the trail for a noble endeavor that will secure the future of peace for the Korean Peninsula and the whole world."

"Right now, on the Korean Peninsula, historic and heartwarming changes are taking place," he said.

President Moon also thanked Pope Francis for blessing "our journey toward peace" and walking "together with us through his prayers."

"Our prayers today will turn into reality for sure," he added. "We will achieve peace and overcome division without fail."

In his homily during the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Cardinal Parolin said that the peace offered by Christ to his disciples after his resurrection is the same peace offered to the hearts of men and women "who search for true life and full joy."

The first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy -- in which God promises the people of Israel that although they are "dispersed to the farthest corner of the heavens, even from there will the Lord, your God, gather you" -- reflects the prospects of peace between North and South Korea, he said.

"The wisdom of Scripture makes us understand that only those who have experienced the inscrutable mystery of the apparent absence of God in the face of suffering, oppression and hatred can fully understand what it means to hear the word peace resound again," the cardinal said.

The Vatican secretary of state said that although peace is built daily through a serious commitment to justice and solidarity as well as the protection of human rights and dignity, it is first and foremost a gift from God that "is not an abstract and distant idea but an experience lived concretely in the daily journey of life."

The peace that God offers, he added, "is not the fruit of a simple compromise" but involves "all the dimensions of life, even the mysterious ones of the cross and the inevitable sufferings of our earthly pilgrimage."

"Christian faith," Cardinal Parolin said, "teaches us that 'peace without the cross is not the peace of Jesus.'"

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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.

Democratic Republic of Congo Faces Rise in Ebola Cases

33 New Confirmed Cases in Past Week

The post Democratic Republic of Congo Faces Rise in Ebola Cases appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Synod2018: Polish Bishops Report on October 18 Sessions

Discussions of Conflict and Modern Slavery

The post Synod2018: Polish Bishops Report on October 18 Sessions appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Pope Francis Receives President of Republic of Korea

Appreciation for Efforts to Reduce Tension on Korean Peninsula

The post Pope Francis Receives President of Republic of Korea appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Cardinal Parolin’s Homily at Mass for Peace in Korea (Full Text)

Prayers that Korean Peninsula May Find Peace after Years of Division

The post Cardinal Parolin’s Homily at Mass for Peace in Korea (Full Text) appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Italy: Pope Receives Antonietta Gargiulo

Survivor of An Attempted Murder by Her Husband

The post Italy: Pope Receives Antonietta Gargiulo appeared first on ZENIT - English.