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My People

Vol. 28, Issue 10, October 2015

"If my people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." — 2 Chronicles 7:14


Migrants waiting to board a train in in Gevgelija, Macedonia heading to Serbia. Credit Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis

Church Celebrates Mission Sunday

Mission Sunday will be celebrated throughout the Catholic Church on October 18. Pope Francis' Message for the Day, dated May 24, 2015, the feast of Pentecost, follows:

"... The World Mission Sunday 2015 takes place in the context of the Year of Consecrated Life, which provides a further stimulus for prayer and reflection. For if every baptized person is called to bear witness to the Lord Jesus by proclaiming the faith received as a gift, this is especially so for each consecrated man and woman. There is a clear connection between consecrated life and mission. The desire to follow Jesus closely, which led to the emergence of consecrated life in the Church, responds to His call to take up the cross and follow Him, to imitate His dedication to the Father and His service and love, to lose our life so as to gain it. Since Christ's entire existence had a missionary character, so too, all those who follow Him closely must possess this missionary quality.

"The missionary dimension, which belongs to the very nature of the Church, is also intrinsic to all forms of consecrated life, and cannot be neglected without detracting from and disfiguring its charism. Being a missionary is not about proselytizing or mere strategy; mission is part of the 'grammar' of faith, something essential for those who listen to the voice of the Spirit who whispers 'Come' and 'Go forth.' Those who follow Christ cannot fail to be missionaries, for they know that Jesus 'walks with them, speaks to them, breathes with them. They sense Jesus alive with them in the midst of the missionary enterprise' (Evangelii Gaudium, 266).

"Mission is a passion for Jesus and at the same time a passion for His people. When we pray before Jesus crucified, we see the depth of His love which gives us dignity and sustains us. At the same time, we realize that the love flowing from Jesus' pierced heart expands to embrace the People of God and all humanity. We realize once more that He wants to make use of us to draw closer to His beloved people (cf. ibid., 268) and all those who seek Him with a sincere heart. In Jesus' command to 'go forth,' we see the scenarios and ever-present new challenges of the Church's evangelizing mission. All her members are called to proclaim the Gospel by their witness of life. In a particular way, consecrated men and women are asked to listen to the voice of the Spirit who calls them to go to the peripheries, to those to whom the Gospel has not yet been proclaimed.

"The fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's Decree Ad Gentes is an invitation to all of us to reread this document and to reflect on its contents. The Decree called for a powerful missionary impulse in Institutes of Consecrated Life. For contemplative communities, Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, Patroness of the Missions, appears in a new light; she speaks with renewed eloquence and inspires reflection upon the deep connection between contemplative life and mission. For many active religious communities, the missionary impulse which emerged from the Council was met with an extraordinary openness to the mission ad gentes, often accompanied by an openness to brothers and sisters from the lands and cultures encountered in evangelization, to the point that today one can speak of a widespread 'interculturalism' in the consecrated life. Hence there is an urgent need to reaffirm that the central ideal of mission is Jesus Christ, and that this ideal demands the total gift of oneself to the proclamation of the Gospel. On this point there can be no compromise: those who by God's grace accept the mission, are called to live the mission. For them, the proclamation of Christ in the many peripheries of the world becomes their way of following Him, one which more than repays them for the many difficulties and sacrifices they make. Any tendency to deviate from this vocation, even if motivated by noble reasons due to countless pastoral, ecclesial, or humanitarian needs, is not consistent with the Lord's call to be personally at the service of the Gospel. In Missionary Institutes, formators are called to indicate clearly and frankly this plan of life and action, and to discern authentic missionary vocations. I appeal in particular to young people, who are capable of courageous witness and generous deeds, even when these are countercultural: Do not allow others to rob you of the ideal of a true mission, of following Jesus through the total gift of yourself. In the depths of your conscience, ask yourself why you chose the religious missionary life and take stock of your readiness to accept it for what it is: a gift of love at the service of the proclamation of the Gospel. Remember that, even before being necessary for those who have not yet heard it, the proclamation of the Gospel is a necessity for those who love the Master.

"Today, the Church's mission is faced by the challenge of meeting the needs of all people to return to their roots and to protect the values of their respective cultures. This means knowing and respecting other traditions and philosophical systems, and realizing that all peoples and cultures have the right to be helped from within their own traditions to enter into the mystery of God's wisdom and to accept the Gospel of Jesus, who is light and transforming strength for all cultures.

"Within this complex dynamic, we ask ourselves: 'Who are the first to whom the Gospel message must be proclaimed?' The answer, found so often throughout the Gospel, is clear: it is the poor, the little ones, and the sick, those who are often looked down upon or forgotten, those who cannot repay us (cf. Lk 14:13-14). Evangelization directed preferentially to the least among us is a sign of the Kingdom that Jesus came to bring: 'There is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor. May we never abandon them' (Evangelii Gaudium, 48). This must be clear above all to those who embrace the consecrated missionary life: by the vow of poverty, they choose to follow Christ in his preference for the poor, not ideologically, but in the same way that He identified Himself with the poor: by living like them amid the uncertainties of everyday life and renouncing all claims to power, and in this way to become brothers and sisters of the poor, bringing them the witness of the joy of the Gospel and a sign of God's love.

"Living as Christian witnesses and as signs of the Father's love among the poor and underprivileged, consecrated persons are called to promote the presence of the lay faithful in the service of Church's mission. As the Second Vatican Council stated: 'The laity should cooperate in the Church's work of evangelization; as witnesses and at the same time as living instruments, they share in her saving mission' (Ad Gentes, 41). Consecrated missionaries need to generously welcome those who are willing to work with them, even for a limited period of time, for an experience in the field. They are brothers and sisters who want to share the missionary vocation inherent in Baptism. The houses and structures of the missions are natural places to welcome them and to provide for their human, spiritual, and apostolic support.

"The Church's Institutes and Missionary Congregations are completely at the service of those who do not know the Gospel of Jesus. This means that they need to count on the charisms and missionary commitment of their consecrated members. But consecrated men and women also need a structure of service, an expression of the concern of the Bishop of Rome, in order to ensure koinonia, for cooperation and synergy are an integral part of the missionary witness. Jesus made the unity of His disciples a condition so that the world may believe (cf. Jn 17:21). This convergence is not the same as legalism or institutionalism, much less a stifling of the creativity of the Spirit, who inspires diversity. It is about giving a greater fruitfulness to the Gospel message and promoting that unity of purpose which is also the fruit of the Spirit.

"The Missionary Societies of the Successor of Peter have a universal apostolic horizon. This is why they also need the many charisms of consecrated life, to address the vast horizons of evangelization and to be able to ensure adequate presence in whatever lands they are sent.

"Dear brothers and sisters, a true missionary is passionate for the Gospel. Saint Paul said: 'Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!' (1 Cor 9:16). The Gospel is the source of joy, liberation, and salvation for all men and women. The Church is aware of this gift, and therefore she ceaselessly proclaims to everyone 'what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes' (1 Jn 1:1). The mission of the servants of the Word - bishops, priests, religious, and laity - is to allow everyone, without exception, to enter into a personal relationship with Christ. In the full range of the Church's missionary activity, all the faithful are called to live their baptismal commitment to the fullest, in accordance with the personal situation of each. A generous response to this universal vocation can be offered by consecrated men and women through an intense life of prayer and union with the Lord and his redeeming sacrifice.

"To Mary, Mother of the Church and model of missionary outreach, I entrust all men and women who, in every state of life work to proclaim the Gospel, ad gentes or in their own lands. To all missionaries of the Gospel I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing."

Refugees Must Be Welcomed

(Editor's note: This report was provided by Caritas Internationalis.)

by Caritas Internationalis

Hundreds of thousands of people are arriving in Europe seeking protection and care. Most of them come from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, where they have faced war and poverty.

Pope Francis has called for every parish in Europe to welcome one family. Caritas Internationalis calls upon governments, communities, and all people of good will to welcome refugees while working for peace as a priority in their homelands.

Ensure a welcome

Refugees and migrants arriving in Europe must be welcomed. They need safety, shelter, food, water, and counseling as any initial response.

As soon as possible, refugees and migrants need help to access training and the labor market. Any degrading treatment and discrimination should be condemned and pursued by law.

All people on the move deserve to have their dignity and human rights respected, independent of the legal status which may be attributed to them. Governments have specific international legal responsibilities to refugees.

Current detention and coercive practices must be reformed. The detention of unaccompanied minors and adults with minors must end. Detention would add to the trauma suffered escaping violence and during their journey.

Work for peace

Conflict and poverty in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries are driving people out of their homes. The wars in Syria and Iraq need an urgent, regional solution. The UN Security Council can no longer allow itself to be sidelined. The manufacture and selling of arms fuelling these conflicts must be stopped. Under-resourced humanitarian programs in Syria, Iraq, and across the region need to be properly funded by donor governments.

Countries should address the root causes of involuntary migration, such as inequality and social injustice, poverty, unemployment, lack of development, war, and humanitarian crises.

Safe migration

Caritas calls for safe and lawful ways to migrate. People no longer should have to undertake risky journeys to Europe or other places of destination. Safe legal migration will stop the operations of criminals and traffickers.

European countries - as well as governments in other regions - must make some fundamental changes to allow for larger resettlement and humanitarian admission quotas, expanded visa, and sponsorship and scholarships programs. It is against European values that countries refuse to receive people. Caritas calls on governments of the European Union to decide on a fair system of responsibility sharing, for the sake of human beings in distress.

Responsibility is not one-sided. Those who are welcomed should have the possibility to and contribute to the receiving societies.

Labor Day Statement Focuses On Families

(Editor's note: This Labor Day Statement is reprinted with permission of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). It was issued by Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami on September 7, 2015. Archbishop Wenski is chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the USCCB.)

Families have been receiving a lot of attention recently. In his encyclical, Laudator Si', Pope Francis teaches that of all the groups that play a role in the welfare of society and help ensure respect for human dignity, "outstanding among [them] is the family, as the basic cell of society" (no. 157).

Yet, scarcely a week goes by without a news story highlighting that fewer young adults are choosing to start families than ever before in America. Not long ago, jobs, wages, and the economy were on everyone's mind. Unemployment, poverty, and foreclosures soared as Americans worried, rightly, if we could ever recover. Even with some economic progress, things have not truly improved for most American families. We must not resign ourselves to a 'new normal' with an economy that does not provide stable work at a living wage for too many men and women. The poverty rate remains painfully high. The unemployment rate has declined, yet much of that is due to people simply giving up looking for a job, not because they have found full-time work. The majority of jobs provide little in the way of sufficient wages, retirement benefits, stability, or family security, and too many families are stringing together part-time jobs to pay the bills. Opportunities for younger workers are in serious decline.

The continuing struggles of most families to make ends meet are on display before our eyes, both at home and abroad. This Labor Day, we have a tremendous opportunity to reflect on how dignified work with a living wage is critical to helping our families and our greater society thrive.

Our Families Need Help and Support

Labor should allow the worker to develop and flourish as a person. Work also must provide the means for families to prosper. "Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development, and personal fulfilment" (no. 128). Work is meant to be for the sake of the family. We do not undertake labor for its own sake, but as a way to grow toward lasting and meaningful realities in our lives and communities. Parents are called to be providers and educators to their children, passing down essential values and creating a home environment in which all members of the family can be fully present to one another and grow. Dignity-filled work and the fruits of that labor nourish families, communities, and the common good.

Is there any question that families in America are struggling today? Too many marriages bear the crushing weight of unpredictable schedules from multiple jobs, which make impossible adequate time for nurturing children, faith, and community. Wage stagnation has increased pressures on families, as the costs of food, housing, transportation, and education continue to pile up. Couples intentionally delay marriage, as unemployment and substandard work make a vison of stable family life difficult to see.

Is there any question that too many children feel the tragic pangs of hunger and poverty commonplace in a society that seems willing to accept these things as routine, the cost of doing business? Millions of children live in or near poverty in this country. Many of them are latch key kids, returning to empty homes every day as their working parents struggle to make ends meet.

Human labor, at its best, is a deeply holy thing that ought to honor our dignity as we help God "maintain the fabric of the world" (no. 124, citing Sir 38:34).

Our Human Family is Wounded

Pope Francis continues to rouse our consciences and challenge us to live more thoroughly Catholic lives. Laudator Si' is, in large part, about something called "integral ecology," an idea that our care for and relationships with one another deeply impact our care for the environment, and vice-versa. The Pope writes extensively about the importance of work in that context. "We were created with a vocation to work" (no. 128), and "the analysis of environmental problems cannot be separated from the analysis of human, family, work-related, and urban contexts, nor from how individuals relate to themselves, which leads in turn to how they relate to others" (no. 141). Reminding us that "called into being by one Father, all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate, and humble respect," he calls for a "sense of fraternity [that] excludes nothing and no one" (nos. 89-92).

Labor is one important way we honor our brothers and sisters in God's universal human family. In the creation story, God gives us labor as a gateway into participation with Him in the ongoing unfolding of creation. Human labor, at its best, is a deeply holy thing that ought to honor our dignity as we help God "maintain the fabric of the world" (no. 124, citing Sir 38:34).

This Labor Day, the violation of human dignity is evident in exploited workers, trafficked women and children, and a broken immigration system that fails people and families desperate for decent work and a better life. How do we participate in this wounding of human dignity, through choices about the clothes we wear, food we eat, and things we buy--most of which is unaffordable to the very workers who make it? Do we give a thought to this truth, that for our wants to be met, economic realities are created that cause others to live in ways that we ourselves would not? How can we advance God's work, in the words of the Psalmist, as he "secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, [and] sets captives free" (Ps 146:7)? These are difficult questions to ask, yet we must ask them.

Our Path Forward

We share one common home as part of a larger, single family, so the dignity of workers, the stability of families, and the health of communities are all intertwined. The path to a renewed society is built on authentic solidarity and rooted in faith. It rejects the individualism and materialism that make us indifferent to suffering and closed to the possibility of encounter.

Individual reflection and action is critical. We are in need of a profound conversion of heart at all levels of our lives. Let us examine our choices, and demand for ourselves and one another spirits of gratitude, authentic relationship, and true concern. Pope Francis reminds us that "Saint Therese of Lisieux invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile, or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship ... [and] break with the logic of violence, exploitation, and selfishness" (no. 230). The changes we make to how we live and interact with each other can help change the world.

Yet individual effort should not stand alone. Our faith calling to love one another impels us to share that vision of charity and justice with others, and to go forth and encounter those at the margins. Through collective action and movements, we have to recommit ourselves to our brothers and sisters around the world in the human family, and build systems and structures that nurture family formation and stability in our own homes and neighborhoods. Sufficient decent work that honors dignity and families is a necessary component of the task before us, and it is the Catholic way.

In demanding a living wage for workers we give hope to those struggling to provide for their families, as well as young workers who hope to have families of their own someday. Unions and worker associations, as with all human institutions, are imperfect, yet they remain indispensable to this work, and they can exemplify the importance of subsidiarity and solidarity in action.

This Labor Day and always, let us pray, reflect, and act, seeking to restore our work and relationships to the honored place God has ordained for them.


For parish resources, check out this Labor Day Statement Pastoral Aid.

Catholic Social Teaching on Labor: A Primer

Primer on Poverty, an Option for the Poor, and the Common Good

On Care for Our Common Home (Laudato Si') is the new appeal from Pope Francis addressed to "every person living on this planet" for an inclusive dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. Pope Francis calls the Church and the world to acknowledge the urgency of our environmental challenges and to join him in embarking on a new path. This encyclical is written with both hope and resolve, looking to our common future with candor and humility.

Books Look At Pope Francis' Vatican

by Michael Halm

Pope Francis and the New Vatican is primarily a coffee table book, full of impressive photos by Dave Yoder of Pope Francis, the Vatican, and the people who are the Church. The accompanying text by Robert Draper explaining this "newness" is an added bonus. It is a companion piece to the best selling August 2015 issue of the National Geographic magazine's "Pope Francis Remakes the Vatican" and National Geographic Traveller's August/September "Inside Vatican City." The book and these issues are timed to coincide with Pope Francis' historic first visit to the U.S.

National Geographic has long been known for its excellent photography. This book is more, describing "the interaction between place and culture - the never-ending story to which National Geographic is dedicated."

Although St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI were the first non-Italian popes in centuries, Pope Francis is the first from the New World. Although John Paul II was the most globally mobile pope ever, Pope Francis has been called the most accessible. He is the first Jesuit pope, the first to choose to name himself after Francis of Assisi, lover of the poor and of all creation.

Yoder spent six months following Pope Francis throughout photogenic Vatican. He captured many touching scenes, the first photo of the current pope with his predecessor, the pope emeritus, Francis with parents and children, newlyweds, laity, clergy and religious, the handicapped, the old and young. He shares a photo of Pope Francis alone in the Sistine chapel on Christmas.

Draper draws his insight into the new pope from interviews around the world with many who had never spoken publicly before. It also includes the life story of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, "Padre Jorge." Sprinkled throughout the book are nuggets of the pope's wit and wisdom.

Pope Francis is a humble porteno, a life-long resident of Buenos Aires. He, however, has accepted that the Lord has put him in this position and has chosen to enjoy the experience. He has taken on the task of dealing with "the sickness," the worldliness, both within and outside of the old Vatican.

Although he appears spontaneous, Franciscan Ramiro de la Serna says, "He's true to himself, but he understands the consequences of what he says and does." He himself has said, he seldom acts on impulse because "the first answer that comes to me is usually wrong."

It was his behind-the-scenes negotiations that led to the new more open relations between the United States and Cuba. He has continued St. John Paul II's emphasis on divine Mercy by scheduling a Year of Mercy.

As Nancy Gibbs of Time put it, "He has placed himself at the very center of the conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power." He became Time's Man of the Year because he has resisted that temptation to appropriate the power of Christ's vicar to himself.

The National Geographic Society thanks readers "for sharing our belief in the power of science, exploration, and storytelling to change the world." This is especially true when the story is the Greatest Story Ever Told, how God is still working in the world through the Church and working the world out of the Church.

The back of the book includes a timeline making significant events in the papacy. It color codes the popes by nationality, showing the 204 Italians, the last 5th Century African pope (Gelasius), the last 8th Century Asian pope (Gregory III).

There is also, of course, geography, a global map illustrating the shift in the Church southward. Subsaharan Africa and the Philippines have grown greatly in the past century. In 1900 two-thirds of Catholics were Europeans. That is now less than a quarter. American has grown 15%; the United States from 10.7 million to 74.7 million. Brazil increased from 6% to 13%, while Italy fell from 12% to 5% and France from 15% to 7%. This is the reason for the New Evangelization.

Much of Pope Francis and the New Vatican, naturally, is very similar to Rodolfo Felici's Pope Francis: A Photographic Portrait of the People's Pope. It is even more of a "picture book" with a minimal of editing by Fr. Michael Collins. It includes images from his historic trips to Brazil, Israel, South Korea, turkey, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.

Felici, from the family of papal photographers, says, "The picture of the Pope releasing a dove in the sky over St. Peter's Square is one of my personal favorites. It is an image that I was lucky enough to shoot at the beginning of his pontificate and I think it catches well the enthusiasm and joy that Pope Francis communicates."

C. William Anderson comments, "Some may wonder why a photo journal of the Pope is important. Any leader who can claim a following of 1.2 billion people commands attention. I believe only China and, perhaps, India's leaders can make such a claim." Pope Francis sees to claim a following by much of the rest of the world as well.

John Chancellor wrote, "If you appreciate the good that Pope Francis has done for the Catholic Church and the world, then you will really enjoy this book. It is both beautiful and informative. A real treasure tat captures the essence of Pope Francis." The same could apply to National Geographic's.

As a non-Catholic Elisa wrote, "From the beginning, Pope Francis ... was different. To the surprise of many, he has continued to take inspiration from Jesus' humble work with the poor, and to seek out those who are marginalized in society, reaching out to the poor and ill, but also to Rome's prisoners and even to convicted Mafiosa as part of his effort to remind people - Christians and non-Christians alike - of the love that Jesus had for His fellow men and women, no matter how Ôlowly' society may feel they are."

Karie Hoskins shared, "Even though I am not a Catholic (anymore) - I still think he is an inspiration for the world - and a force for good and for much needed and LONG overdue change. This pope seems to have connected with Catholics and non-Catholics alike in his care for the poor, the environment, and peace programs internationally."

Prison to Praise

Friends Of Jesus

by Joe Rickey Knight

(Editor's note: Mr. Knight writes from Kentucky. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)

"You and I must work for peace; it is a duty for us, for all people. The most powerful weapon for achieving peace is love, and loving for God." - Mother Teresa

Almighty and merciful Creator of the cosmos, humanitarians need humanitarians, the wealthy need the wealthy and the wise need the wise.

Christian people need Christian people and all lost sinners need the sinless Savior. Likewise, we all need faith, hope, love, food, water, sunlight, and air. This fervent prayer is for the companionship of kindred spirits. I urge you to listen to my plea for the fellowship of loving friends.

Incredible and infinite heavenly Father, I hear You always heed and also answer the smallest of steadfast prayers. This simple supplication is passionate and sincere. So connect me with at least one tenderhearted companion who cares.

Lord God of agape love, I yearn for a friendly and sensitive letter. My petition is for a compassionate and comforting deed; an encouraging act of loving kindness can make the bleak moments better during the gloomy days of utter loneliness and urgent need.

Most High God of Genesis, you said, "It is not good that man should be alone." Therefore, I faithfully pray for loyal friendships from day to day and wait patiently. But each and every day I wonder, dear God, when will you respond to my many requests? When, God, when?

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds:and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:20 NIV)

Protect Victims Of Violence

(Editor's note: This report was provided by Vatican Information Service.)

Vatican City (VIS) - Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States, spoke at the United Nations International Conference on the Protection of Victims of Ethnic and Religious Violence in the Middle East, held September 8 in Paris, France. The prelate remarked that during this past year we have witnessed "unspeakable atrocities committed in the Middle East, which have forced thousands of Christians and members of other religious and ethnic minorities to abandon their homes and seek refuge elsewhere in precarious conditions, involving great physical and moral suffering."

"Fundamental principles, such as the value of life, human dignity, religious freedom, and the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of individuals and peoples are at stake. The phenomenon continues, with the violation of human rights and international humanitarian law by the so-called Islamic State, as well as those perpetrated by other parties to the conflict. The drama of migration during recent weeks, which has compelled Europe to pay greater attention to the situation, is irrefutable proof of this tragedy."

He went on to indicate three key aspects for improving the future of ethnic and religious minorities in the Middle East, beginning with raising awareness in the international community to face the humanitarian emergency and to guarantee minimum conditions of safety for minorities and Christian communities.

"Currently the situation compels us to deal with the humanitarian crisis," but, "in the long term, other suitable measures will have to be taken to ensure their presence in their homelands. Among the challenges to be faced, I would underline those regarding first and foremost the respect for human rights, especially those freedom of religion and conscience. It is important to insist on religious freedom, which obviously includes the freedom to change religion. Indeed, in many countries in the Middle East, freedom of worship exists, although the space for religious freedom is at times extremely limited. Increasing this space for freedom is necessary to guarantee to all those who belong to the various religious communities the true freedom to live and profess their faith. It would appear appropriate for the States in the region to be directly involved, along with the rest of the international community, in protecting the fundamental rights of Christians and members of other religious minorities. It is not a question of protecting one religious community or another, or one ethnic group or another, but of protecting people who belong to the single human family and whose fundamental rights are systematically violated."

The second issue is that of guaranteeing the right of refugees to return to live with dignity and in safety in their country of origin; a right that "must be defended and guaranteed both by the international community and by States, whose citizens are refugees or displaced. It must be emphasized that Christians and other religious minorities do not wish simply to be tolerated but to be considered as citizens to full effect. It is important that this concept of citizenship opens up an ever broader space, as a point of reference for social life, guaranteeing the rights of all, including members of minority groups, through the implementation of adequate legal measures."

Finally, it is important to face the phenomenon of terrorism and to promote interreligious dialogue. "The mechanisms must be found to encourage all, including in particular countries with a Muslim majority, to deal with terrorism in a serious way, with particular attention to the issue of education," observed the prelate. "In this respect, it is important that teaching in schools, internet use, and the preaching of religious leaders do not provide an opportunity for the development of intransigent and extremist attitudes, or radicalization, but instead promote dialogue and reconciliation. Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that care must be taken regarding the use of certain expressions and manifestations, considered sacred by some religions, as occurs from time to time in the West, to avoid acts causing offense to those to whom they are meaningful."

It is also essential to promote interreligious dialogue, which is "an antidote to fundamentalism, which afflicts religious communities. Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious leaders can and must play a fundamental role in favoring both interreligious and intercultural dialogue and education in mutual understanding. Furthermore, they must clearly condemn the abuse of religion to justify violence." Archbishop Gallagher concluded by adding "a positive and respectful separation of religion and State should also be promoted. In this sense, it is necessary to contribute to develop the idea of the need to distinguish between the two spheres, in favor of autonomy and mutual independence, without concealing the indispensable collaboration between them, so that they may coexist without contradicting one another, thanks to dialogue between religious and political authorities and with respect for their respective competences."

Bishops Comment On Proposed Medicare Rules

(Editor's note: The following is a press release from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.)

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) submitted comments on September 4 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The comments relate to a Proposed Rule to incorporate end-of-life decision making or "Advance Care Planning" into the Medicare program.

The comments filed today by Anthony Picarello, USCCB general counsel, and Michael Moses, associate general counsel, note that while the Catholic Church does not object to encouraging patients to consider future treatment decisions in case they may become unable to communicate their wishes, "the current open-ended proposal has several deficiencies that merit attention before a final rule is considered."

Picarello and Moses note that "the Church has a long and rich tradition on the parameters for such decision making, providing concepts and distinctions that have long played an important role in secular medical ethics as well." They add that "Catholic dioceses and other organizations have actively participated in the nationwide debate on end-of-life decision making and on the pros and cons of various Ôadvance directives.' " They explain that while such directives constitute one approach to advance care planning, they are not the only way, and some documents ignore important ethical distinctions and may be biased toward withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment.

The comment letter also reviews "important statutory guidance on this issue" found in the Patient Self-Determination Act, the Assisted Suicide Funding Restriction Act, and the Affordable Care Act, stating that the safeguards in these laws are not currently reflected in the proposed rule or its preamble.

The USCCB provides the following recommendations for any final rule or published guidance that encourage "advance care planning:"

  • Acknowledge the full range of advance care planning options, including those which rely on discussion and collaboration among family members instead of on pre-packaged documents that may be biased toward withdrawal of treatment;
  • Caution patients about the need to read any document carefully before signing it, to ensure that it fully protects the individual patient's well-being and values, and inform them that additional resources may be available from their religious denomination or other sources of moral guidance;
  • Completely exclude counseling and documents that present lethal actions such as assisted suicide or euthanasia as treatment options;
  • Treat the counseling session as an opportunity for suicide prevention;
  • Reflect current law's commitment to an "equality of life" standard that upholds life with a disability or permanent impairment as having inherent worth.

The comment letter is available at: http://www.usccb. org/about/general-counsel/rulemaking/index.cfm

Light to the Nations

(A Christian Perspective on World News)

Video Series on Catholic Social Teaching Launches

WASHINGTON - A video on "Care for God's Creation" is the first of a seven-part series on Catholic Social Teaching, designed to be an introduction to this body of thought with notable Catholics reflecting on each of the teachings. The video release comes in conjunction with Pope Francis' declaration of September 1 as a day of prayer for creation. The video series is co-sponsored by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Develop-ment of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

"We received the earth as a garden," says Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in the "Care for God's Creation" video. "It would be very unfair if we pass on the earth as a wilderness."

The videos will be released every three weeks in conjunction with notable events on the Church calendar, leading up to the kickoff of CRS' Lenten program CRS Rice Bowl on Ash Wednesday 2016. The series will comprise seven short videos, each highlighting one of the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching as recognized by USCCB:

  • Care for God's Creation
  • Call to Family, Community, Participation
  • Life and Dignity of the Human Person
  • Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers
  • Solidarity
  • Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
  • Rights and Responsibilities

"Catholic Social Teaching is at the core of why and how CRS performs its mission to serve the poorest of the poor and people in need at times of emergency," said Carolyn Woo, CEO and president of CRS. "These teachings are embedded in our identity as employees and servants of God."

"Care for each other and care for creation, what Pope Francis calls integral ecology, are at the heart of our witness as disciples of Jesus Christ. This series will help us put our faith into action," said Jonathan Reyes, executive director of USCCB's Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development.

Cardinal Turkson, Woo and Fr. James Martin, SJ, editor at large for America Magazine, all appear in "Care for God's Creation." The series will also feature: Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, archbishop of Manila and president of Caritas Internationalis; Jonathan Reyes; Lisa Hendey, founder of; Kerry Weber, managing editor, America Magazine; Helen M. AlvarŽ, JD professor of law, George Mason University; and Joan Rosenhauer, executive vice president of U.S. Operations for CRS.

All videos will be posted on CRS' YouTube channel:

(Source: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops press release)

"Cells Of Evangelization" and Parishes

Vatican City (VIS) - This morning (September 5) in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis received more than 5,000 members of the "Cells of Evangelization" from all over the world, accompanied by the Fr. Piergiorgio Perini, parish priest of St. Eustorgio in Milan, Italy, who founded this institution whose statutes were formally recognized by the Catholic Church on April 15 this year. With the help of their "cells", parish priests are able to educate their parishes in evangelization and to continue their ordinary pastoral ministry while also giving it a missionary quality.

This missionary aim requires, above all, "listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit Who continues to speak to His Church and to drive her to take paths that are at times little-known but decisive for the progress of evangelization. Remaining always willing to listen and being careful never to become exhausted by tiredness and the difficulties of the moment, are conditions for overcoming the various obstacles we encounter on the path of evangelization."

The cells, with their daily commitment and in communion with other ecclesial entities, help the parish community to become a family "in which we find the rich and multiform reality of the Church." "Meeting in homes to share the joys and hopes that are present in the heart of every person, is a genuine experience of evangelization that closely resembles what took place in the early years of the Church", remarked the Pope, noting that the Cells are "able to welcome all without judging anyone, to offer the experience of God's presence and love for one's brothers. Welcome is fundamental to evangelization, as it is one of the first signs of the communion to which we are called to bear witness, for having encountered Christ in our life."

The Holy Father exhorted the members of the movement to make the Eucharist the heart of their evangelizing mission, "so that each Cell may be a Eucharistic community where breaking bread is equivalent to recognizing the real presence of Jesus Christ among us." "Your statutes were approved on Divine Mercy Sunday. May you always bear witness to the tenderness of God the Father and His closeness to everyone, especially the weakest and loneliest."

(Source: Vatican Information Service)

National Bible Week Is November 15-21

WASHINGTON - Families, parishes, schools, and other Catholic groups can participate in National Bible Week, November 15-21, with resources provided in English and Spanish and available on the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The theme of the observance is "The Bible: A Book for the Family/ La Biblia: Un Libro para la Familia."

The Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum will celebrate its 50th anniversary on November 18, 2015. National Bible Week logos and a variety of resources that highlight the Bible in Catholic life are available online:

Resources for families include "Enthroning the Bible in the Family" (C—mo entronizar la Biblia en la familia), "Making the Word of God a Part of Your Home" (C—mo hacer que la Palabra de Dios sea parte fundamental del hogar), "Ever Ancient, Ever New: The Art and Practice of Lectio Divina" (Siempre Antigua, Siempre Nueva: El Arte y la Pr‡ctica de Lectio Divina) and "Sharing the Word of God at Home" (Compartiendo la Palabra de Dios en el Hogar).

Resources for parishes include a faith formation session on reading and understanding the Bible, a guide for starting and maintaining a parish Bible study, a family retreat, tips for using the Bible in catechesis and prayer, and a Scripture vigil on the themes of Catholic Social Teaching.

The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine will act as a clearinghouse for activities undertaken by dioceses and other groups, including the Association of Catholic Publishers, the American Bible Society and the Catholic Biblical Federation.

(Source: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops press release)

Pray To Be God's Instrument

by Leiann Spontaneo

In Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To by Anthony DeStefano, my attention was quickly drawn to Chapter 2. I would like to share the author's statements about prayer. He prays, "God make me an instrument." In other words, "Please use me to help someone in need."

DeStefano states that you are going to get such a immediate response that you will find it very difficult to have any doubts about the presence of the Almighty. The author reminds us that doing something for someone else - even we don't want to, even when every fiber of our being tells us not to - is the true definition of love. We are really praying for God Himself to come into our lives and act through us.

Next it is stated that God might not give you one or two individuals but might give you a whole cause to get into right here in our own country. You might be shown one of these great causes and asked by God to throw yourself headlong into it.

Finally, when we ask God to use us as instruments to solve other people's problems, God begins to assist us with our problems as well. See? As the author explains it don't be surprised if you start running into people who are suddenly interested in helping you, the same way you are helping others.

Edge To Edge

Pray The News

Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.

  • We pray for wisdom and compassion as the world addresses the refugee crisis.
  • We pray that refugees will be welcomed and that they will contribute to their new countries.
  • We pray for an end to violence and terrorism and that the refugee crisis will not be used to foster terrorism.
  • We pray for an end to abortion, euthanasia, and all attacks on life and for the victory of the civilization of love over the culture of death.
  • We pray that we will spread the Gospel to all nations and cultures.
  • We pray that from October's saints, including St. Francis of Assisi, and his follower Junipero Serra, who will be declared a saint, and St. Therese of Lisieux, and her parents, Louis and Zolie Martin, who will be proclaimed saints.
  • We pray for all workers to be able to work and provide for their families and that we will reach out to the marginalized.
  • We pray for many conversions as a result of the Pope's trip to Cuba and the United States.

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