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Opening of Christian Archaeological Site of Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates

'The church and monastery shed light on our cultural history, one that we can be proud of.'

The post Opening of Christian Archaeological Site of Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates appeared first on ZENIT - English.

World Refugee Day 2019 to be Celebrated June 20

WASHINGTON—Today is World Refugee Day which is observed in the United States and around the world. World Refugee Day, first celebrated in 2000, is designed to increase awareness of refugees.

Currently, the world is embroiled in the biggest migratory crisis since World War II with more than 25 million refugees around the world.

“We have seen the images of the refugee crisis, and World Refugee Day calls attention to the critical need to assist our refugee brothers and sisters and make them feel a sense of welcome,” said Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration. “It is imperative for us to highlight the contributions refugees make in our communities.”

The Presidential Determination for refugee resettlement was set at an all-time low of 30,000 refugees for the current fiscal year. This comes only one year after half of the 45,000 refugees set forth by the Administration’s determination were resettled in the United States.  

USCCB/MRS, with Catholic Charities USA, will be participating in a Capitol Hill briefing on Thursday for members of Congress and their staff. The briefing will include information about the root causes forcing refugees to flee their home country and the impact of refugee resettlement in the United States. More information on World Refugee Day can be found on the Justice for Immigrants website.

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vazquez, Committee on Migration, refugees, migrants, immigrants, human trafficking, World Refugee Day

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Mark Priceman
O: 202-541-3064


Nigerian Economy Booming but Christians Suffering

Boko Haram a Threat in Northern Part of Country

The post Nigerian Economy Booming but Christians Suffering appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Christians Positive About Plan to Reform Muslim Schools in Pakistan

'The government must do everything possible to improve its citizens and its country.'

The post Christians Positive About Plan to Reform Muslim Schools in Pakistan appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Peruvian Bishops Urge ‘Welcoming Christ in Refugees’

Message for World Refugee Day, June 20, 2019

The post Peruvian Bishops Urge ‘Welcoming Christ in Refugees’ appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Update: U.S. bishops take action to respond to church abuse crisis

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Carol Zimmermann

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- During the June 11-13 spring assembly of the U.S. bishops in Baltimore, it was clear the bishops had to respond to the sexual abuse crisis in the church -- and on the last day of their gathering they approved a series of procedures to begin this process.

On June 13, they voted to implement the document "Vos Estis Lux Mundi" ("You are the light of the world"), issued by Pope Francis in May to help the Catholic Church safeguard its members from abuse and hold its leaders accountable.

The bishops also approved the document "Affirming Our Episcopal Commitments" and promised to hold themselves accountable to the commitments of the charter, including a zero-tolerance policy for abuse. The document says any codes of conduct in their respective dioceses regarding clergy apply to bishop as well.

They voted in favor of the item "protocol regarding available nonpenal restrictions on bishops," which outlines what canonical options are available to bishops when a retired bishop resigns or is removed "due to sexual misconduct with adults or grave negligence of office, or where subsequent to his resignation he was found to have so acted or failed to act."

Their first action was a vote June 12 to authorize the implementation of a third-party system that would allow people to make confidential reports of abuse complaints against bishops through a toll-free telephone number and online. The system, which would be operated by an outside vendor contracted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, should be in place no later than May 31, 2020.

During the first day of the assembly, several speakers discussed the challenge ahead and the need for the bishops to be both transparent and reliant upon lay leadership. The bishops also examined their plans to vote on procedures and policies in response to the abuse crisis, including some they had put aside during their fall general assembly in November at the Vatican's request.

The bishops' postponement of voting on these procedures was addressed from the meeting's onset June 11 in a message from Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican's nuncio to the United States.

He noted that there were "some expressions of 'dissent'" by some U.S. bishops at the previous assembly about postponing votes on items related to the reemergent clergy sexual abuse crisis, but he also stressed that "unity prevails over conflict."

"Working together provides us with the opportunity to speak and to listen," said the message from Archbishop Pierre, read by Msgr. Walter Erbi, charge d'affaires at the Vatican's nunciature in Washington. Archbishop Pierre was at the Vatican for a nuncio meeting.

Archbishop Pierre's message said that despite the desire among U.S. bishops in November to act quickly to address new crises on clergy sex abuse, the postponement of the votes on the issue allowed the U.S. church to participate more fully at the Vatican's February summit on the protection of minors.

"One of the reasons the Holy Father asked for a delay was that the whole church needed to walk together, to work in a synodal way," Archbishop Pierre said, "with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to make the path forward clearer."

Moving forward was certainly a theme of the assembly, echoed by National Review Board chairman Francesco Cesareo June 11, who called for a greater role for laity in investigating allegations of abuse or reaction to reports of abuse against bishops.

Cesareo also said National Review Board members recommend a thorough review of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" and a revision in the audit process regarding diocesan implementation of the charter, which governs the church's response to clergy abuse allegations.

"A strengthened audit would provide a means for improving your dioceses' existing methods to protect and heal," Cesareo said. "Virtually all your dioceses, including those where problems came to light under the microscope of the media and attorney generals, have easily passed the audit for years, since the bar currently is so low. Now is the time to raise the bar on compliance to ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated."

Cesareo also recommended that the charter "should be revised immediately to explicitly include bishops and demand for greater accountability."

"You have a great opportunity," he said, "to lead by example and help show dioceses and episcopal conferences around the world not only how important it is for lay involvement to ensure greater accountability and transparency, but also how laity and the episcopacy can be co-responsible for the church's well-being."

Both the National Review Board and the National Advisory Council pressed the bishops to encourage Vatican officials to release documents regarding the investigation of misconduct by Theodore E. McCarrick, the former cardinal who was laicized earlier this year. The allegations against him were made public nearly a year ago on June 20, 2018.

The bishops also discussed the upcoming election, the crisis at the border and the issue of young adults leaving the church.

They were urged to do more to support the suffering of immigrant families, to be with them spiritually as pastors and to voice support for legal measures to help them.

"It's so important that our works match our words on this issue," said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, June 11 after a presentation by the working group on immigration issues for the USCCB.

Two bishop members of the group, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles and Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, gave an update of what the U.S. church is doing at the national level and in certain regions of the country on immigration issues.

Bishop Vasquez urged the group to "redouble efforts to offer spiritual support and access to legal and social services to affected families," saying it is "vital that they feel supported by the church during this time of uncertainty."

Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, spoke about an upcoming presentation at the fall meeting on how to respond to the growing number of young people leaving the church.

He said getting the religiously unaffiliated, or "nones," particularly young people, back to the Catholic Church, should be a top priority for the church, noting that 50% of Catholics age 30 and younger have left the church.

"Half the kids that we baptized and confirmed in the last 30 years are now ex-Catholics or unaffiliated," he said, and "one out of six millennials in the U.S. is now a former Catholic."

In anticipation of the 2020 presidential election, the U.S. bishops' quadrennial document that provides guidance to voters on Catholic social teaching won't change, but it will be supplemented by a brief letter and four 90-second videos that reflect the teaching of Pope Francis, the bishops were told.

A small group of no more than 10 protesters stood in largely silent protest June 11 outside the hotel where the meeting was taking place. One of the group's demands was that the bishops report abuse claims first to law enforcement.

"We don't think the church can police themselves," said Becky Ianni, director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests for the Washington area.

At the bishops' Mass at the end of the first day of the spring assembly, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and president of the USCCB, spoke about the challenges faced by early Christians and urged the bishops to follow the example of Barnabas in the Acts of the Apostles who was respected and trusted.

"Today we honor Barnabas in our desire to do God's will and to do it carefully and with discretion but also with what the Holy Father calls boldness -- apostolic boldness," he said.

On the meeting's final day, the bishops also approved wording to keep treatment of the death penalty in the U.S. Catechism for Adults in line with the revised universal catechism.

During the second day of their meeting, the bishops met by regions and provinces in the morning. In the afternoon, they not only voted on the national hotline, but they also approved by electronic vote:

-- Strategic priorities for the 2021-24 USCCB Strategic Plan, in a provisional vote.

-- The second edition of the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States for use in U.S. dioceses.

-- An update to texts last changed in 2003 for the ordination of clergy. The action still requires confirmation by the Vatican.

The bishops also gave their assent by voice vote for the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan, to continue to pursue the sainthood cause of Irving "Francis" C. Houle, a man from Michigan who was said to have received the stigmata 16 years before he died in 2009, but who well before that had "many extraordinary physical and spiritual healings" attributed to him, according to a biography.

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Contributing to this report were Dennis Sadowski, Mark Pattison, Rhina Guidos and Christopher Gunty.

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 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

Bishop Blaire dies; recalled for living by a simple code -- 'to serve'

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller


MODESTO, Calif. (CNS) -- Retired Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton died June 18 after a prolonged illness. He died at his retirement residence at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Modesto. He was 77.

The much beloved bishop was recalled by many both in California and across the country as a churchman who lived by a simple code: "We are here to serve, and to do it with a touch of class.

When he was installed as Stockton's fifth bishop Jan. 19, 1999, he told the standing-room-only congregation, "Jesus said, 'Remain in my love.' These words, which were spoken by Jesus to his disciples, are spoken to each and every one of us.''

He said Jesus' words express "the most central and profound truth of our faith. That we are loved by God, and we are called to love one another as God has loved us.''

He linked the sharing of that love to service. "We are committed to service in the world, to serve the kingdom of God in the world,'' he said.

A native of Los Angeles and ordained a priest in 1967, Bishop Blaire retired in January 2018. Before being named to head the six-county Stockton Diocese, he had been an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles for nine years. He was succeeded by Bishop Myron J. Cotta, who at the time of his appointment to Stockton was an auxiliary bishop of Sacramento.

On the national level, Bishop Blaire served as the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pastoral Practices and has been a member of the Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. In 2009, he was elected to a term as chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice, Peace and Human Development.

In 2009, Bishop Blaire one of the first bishops to sign the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation, sponsored by the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change. The pledge offers a series of steps that people can follow to reduce their impact on the environment.

Bishop Blaire also was a former president of the California Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state's Catholic bishops.

In 2007 in an address about the work of the conference, he said the state's Catholic bishops "as pastors" meet with the conference staff "as experts" twice a year to "discern prudential ways to bring the Gospel to bear on legislative, judicial or executive matters."

"We are careful to select only those issues which have a significant moral component or affect the life of the church and her ability to freely minister to our people and in the community," he said.

High on the California Catholic Conference radar were a host of issues, he said, including efforts to have conscience clauses removed from reproductive health legislation which would force Catholic hospitals or individuals to take part in abortions or other procedures in opposition to church teaching.

The address he delivered was during a conference on St. Paul VI's 1967 encyclical "Populorum Progressio." The work of the conference, he said, resonated with the pope's well-known document.

"Listen to the opening words of the encyclical," Bishop Blaire said, then quoted them: "The development of peoples has the church's close attention, particularly the development of those peoples who are striving to escape from hunger, misery, endemic diseases and ignorance; of those ... looking for a wider share in the benefits of civilization and a more active improvement of their human qualities."

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 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

Archbishop joins pope in calling for talks to resolve U.S.-Iran tensions

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services called on President Donald Trump's administration to seek "sustained dialogue ... to de-escalate the current situation that is a danger to both the region and the world."

The archbishop's call for diplomacy rather than military action came in a June 18 letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. His letter was made public June 19.

The correspondence from the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee for International Justice and Peace outlines the Catholic Church's long-held stance that has preferred dialogue and engagement as the best actions to resolve political stalemates.

Archbishop Broglio called on the U.S. to avoid a military confrontation.

"There is little probability that another war in the most volatile region in the world, where the recent and current experiences of conflict in Syria, Iraq and Yemen are vivid, will succeed in bringing peace to the region," Archbishop Broglio wrote.

"A different approach is needed," he added. "The president's recent statement that the United States does not seek war with Iran is encouraging."

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have heightened since early May as several seagoing oil tankers have been the subject of sabotage and attacks. In the most recent incidents June 13, two tankers were targeted with land mines in the Gulf of Oman. One of the tankers was set ablaze.

Trump has accused Iran of being behind the attacks and British officials said they are "almost certain" that Tehran was behind the attacks.

Pompeo told reporters June 18 after a meeting with U.S. military leaders at U.S. Central Command in Florida that Trump "does not want war." However, he said, the U.S. presence in the region was meant as a deterrent to Iran's threats.

Iran has denied any involvement with the ships and has said it will defend its interests.

Pope Francis June 16 called for diplomacy to head off any confrontation.

"I invite everyone to use the instruments of diplomacy to resolve the complex problems of the conflicts in the Middle East," he said after celebrating Mass in Camerino, Italy, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2016. "I renew a heartfelt appeal to the international community to make every possible effort to favor dialogue and peace."

Threats of military action by both countries will do little to resolve the disagreement, two observers of Middle East events told Catholic News Service.

They said Iran's economy has taken a deep hit because of new sanctions put in place since the unilateral U.S. withdrawal from a multilateral agreement that limits the ability of Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

Trump has said since that the withdrawal from the so-called P5+1 pact has made the world a safer place.

Despite the U.S. withdrawal, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China plus Germany remain parties to the deal, which international monitoring agencies have confirmed that Iran continues to follow. However, Iran announced June 17 that it could soon start enriching uranium to just beneath weapons-grade level.

In response, the Pentagon ordered 1,000 more troops to the Middle East. The step is seen as an effort to deter Iran and ease concerns among allies about the security of vital shipping lanes.

George Lopez, retired professor of peace studies at the Kroc Institute for Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, said he doubted that threatening statements from Trump and other administration officials and boosting the military presence in the Middle East will bring Iran to the negotiating table "or get them to heel."

"The Iranians don't look at it that way. They look at it as intimidation or a cavalier announcement," Lopez said. "The Iranian framework is that they have been under attack economically since last year."

He expressed concern that the Trump administration has failed to undertake any diplomatic overtures to Iran since withdrawing from the nuclear accord negotiated in 2015.

Should the U.S. initiate a surgical strike on one of Iran's nuclear facilities to block uranium enrichment -- as some in the administration and in Congress have suggested -- Lopez predicted Iranian leaders would see it "as an act of war."

"We didn't see the towers when they were attacked on 9/11 as a surgical strike. We saw it as an act of war. Why wouldn't any other state do that as such?" he said.

Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association and an occasional collaborator with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Department of International Justice and Peace, said Iran's announcement on uranium enrichment is not surprising given the toll that U.S.-imposed sanctions have taken on the country.

"Slightly exceeding the (uranium) stockpile limit is not a near-term proliferation risk. But once Iran conducts the first violation it becomes easier to breach the deal in more serious ways," she told CNS.

Of more immediate concern, according to Davenport, is the potential for a U.S. attack on an Iranian nuclear facility. "The most likely outcome is Iran deciding to pursue nuclear weapons," she said. "Tehran may decide that developing a nuclear deterrent outweighs the cost that they'll pay in sanctions and diplomatic isolation."

Despite Trump's rhetoric, Davenport said she does not believe he wants to see a war erupt with Iran.

She called on the remaining parties to the nuclear deal to "deliver on sanctions relief," as Iran has sought since the U.S. withdrawal.

"So there is a space (to maintain peace), but it requires more courage from Europe to step and risk international sanctions and to send a strong message to Iran that it's not just Iran that is willing to take some risks to preserve the deal," Davenport explained.

"The deal is not dead yet, and conflict with Iran is not inevitable yet. But Europe in particular has to be much more proactive in the coming weeks to signal that they'll risk U.S. penalties to deliver on sanctions relief."

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Editor's Note: The full text of Archbishop Broglio's letter is online at

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski


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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 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

Dialogue with Islam, ZENIT in Jordan

Articles from June 19, 2019

The post Dialogue with Islam, ZENIT in Jordan appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace Calls for De-escalation of Conflict with Iran

WASHINGTON—In a June 18 letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, USA and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, noted that escalating tensions between the United States and Iran increase the risk of conflict in the Middle East, a region that is already extremely volatile. Reiterating the Bishops’ Conference’s support for the P5+1 agreement with Iran, Archbishop Broglio stated that the U.S. unilateral withdrawal from that agreement and imposition of added economic sanctions has also “exacerbated tensions with close allies and other world powers.” Archbishop Broglio expressed the hope that “the United States will initiate sustained dialogue with allies, world powers and Iran, in order to deescalate the current situation that is a danger to both the region and the world.”

The full text of the letter follows:

Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, Committee on International Justice and Peace, de-escalation, Iran, conflict, Middle East, economic sanctions

Media Contact:
Judy Keane