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Chilean bishops establish ‘Listening Service’ to accompany abuse victims

June 20, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Santiago, Chile, Jun 20, 2018 / 05:17 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Chilean bishops’ conference announced Tuesday the members of a “Listening Service” set up to welcome and guide victims of sexual abuse.

The list was published June 19 after Archbishop Scicluna of Malta and Msgr. Jordi Bertomeu, Pope Francis’ envoys for the Pastoral Mission to Osorno confirmed the creation of this service in order to facilitate the process for victims.

The members of the Listening Service belong to the National Council for the Prevention of Abuse and Accompaniment of the Victims of the Chilean bishops’ conference and will have as their mission “to welcome and guide” those people who could not meet with the papal envoys.

Appointed by Archbishop Scicluna, the members are Pilar Ramírez, the current coordinator of the council; Josefina Martínez; Sister Marcela Sáenz; Fr. Larry Yévenes; and Fr. David Albornoz.

“The members of the National Council who will perform this service will offer a point of contact victims can trust so they can feel supported in the process of the search for the truth with charity and justice,” the statement said.

Two local Churches in Chile also announced this week investigations into priests accused of sexual abuse.

The Diocese of Temuco made known in a June 18 statement the cases of three diocesan priests accused of the sexual abuse of minors.

Pablo Walter Isler Venegas was sanctioned October 20, 2015 for the sexual abuse of minors  and was prohibited from the public exercise of the priestly ministry and pastoral work with adolescents and young people.

He was also “definitively prohibited” from residing in that diocese or from visiting the parishes of Lautaro, Imperial, and Traiguén without the prior and express authorization  of the bishop.

The process began in 2011 when the first accusations were received.

Isler had left the Temuco diocese in 2003, “and was performing various pastoral works in the Prelature of Illapel.”

The diocese explained that  “at the express request of the victims who at the time asked for complete confidentiality, the case had not been made public.”

“From what we have learned over the years,  we realized that respect and protection for the victims in no case exempts us from the moral duty of informing the community of these grave crimes,” the statement says.

The second case involves Juan Carlos Mercado Elgueta who in 2013 submitted his resignation from the priestly ministry following a preliminary investigation for the sexual abuse of minors.

The third priest sanctioned is José Vicente Bastías Ñanco, who is facing a canonical trial for the sexual abuse of minors and who is “temporarily suspended from the public exercise of the ministry.”

The diocese’s statement  reiterated the “firm disposition” of Bishop Héctor Eduardo Vargas Bastidas “to take up the challenges Pope Francis has called for, by ensuring the Church has healthy and safe environments people can trust, for boys, girls and youths.”

And the Vicariate Apostolic of Aysén stated June 18 that it had begun a canonical investigation into Fr. Porfirio Díaz Reyes, accused of the sexual abuse of a minor.

The accusation was made to the Council for Care and Hope of the vicariate June 17 and refers to incidents that took place in the parish in Puerto Aysén in 2002.

As a precautionary measure, the priest “is suspended from the public exercise of the priestly ministry while the investigation lasts,” a statement from the Aysén vicariate apostolic stated.


This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.


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US bishops ask that immigration reform protect families, Dreamers

June 20, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Washington D.C., Jun 20, 2018 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The United States bishops have asked Congress to compromise on immigration reform to give legal protections for undocumented youth, known as “Dreamers,” and ensure respect for human dignity and families at U.S. borders.

A June 19 letter to the House of Representatives stated that the bishops cannot endorse changes to the immigration system that “detrimentally impact families and the vulnerable” as contained in new legislation brought before the House this week.

“We welcome the opportunity to dialogue with lawmakers and to discuss possible opportunities for further compromise,” wrote Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, chairman of the bishops’ committee on migration.

The letter stated immigration legislation should be “bipartisan, provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship, be pro-family, protect the vulnerable and be respectful of human dignity with regard to border security and enforcement.”

Vasquez also reminded House members that family separation at the border can be ended without legislation at the discretion of the administration.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order June 20 ending the policy of family separation, except when there is a risk to the child’s welfare. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan indicated that the lower chamber will vote Thursday on an immigration bill.

H.R. 6136 on border security and immigration reform was introduced June 19 by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and includes a proposal of a framework for Dreamers potentially to receive permanent residence and later citizenship in the U.S.

The framework would include the same criteria outlined in the DACA program, initiated by President Obama in 2012, which postponed deportation of undocumented immigrants under the age of 30, who had been brought to the U.S. before the age of 16 and lived in the U.S. since June 2007.

The new bill would require applicants also to have no more than one non-traffic-related misdemeanor, including for immigration-related offences; and if not a student or primary caregiver, to demonstrate the ability to maintain an income of at least 125 percent of the poverty line.

The new bill is on the schedule to be considered by the House in the coming week, along with H.R. 4760, which was introduced Jan. 10.

Vasquez responded to immigration bill H.R. 4760 in a statement Jan. 10, calling for financially sound, effective, and safe measures to strengthen national security at the U.S. border, emphasizing that Dreamers and their families “deserve certainty, compassion, generosity, and justice.”

He also acknowledged the nation’s right to control its borders, but cautioned against the introduction of “unrelated, unnecessary, or controversial elements of immigration policy – especially those that jeopardize the sanctity of families or unaccompanied children – into the bipartisan search for a just and humane solution for the Dreamers.”


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LA archbishop welcomes Trump immigration order

June 20, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Jun 20, 2018 / 03:35 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archbishop of Los Angeles said he “welcomes” an executive order signed Wednesday by President Trump, and called on Congress to act on immigration reform.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday titled “Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation,” intended to end the practice of separating children from their parents at the U.S. border, while maintaining the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy illegal entry into the United States.

The executive order said that detained families will be held together, “where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.”

In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, Vice-President of the bishops’ conference, said “I welcome the President’s executive order ending the cruel family separation policy. Now Congress needs to act on immigration. With my brother (bishops) @USCCB, I am disappointed about the bills the House will vote on tomorrow.”

“We need a bipartisan bill like the #USAAct that provides a clear path to citizenship for #Dreamers and secures our borders. And we need it now,” Gomez added in a subsequent tweet.

The executive order laid the blame for family separation on Congress for its “failure to act” as well as court orders that “have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.”

“The Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary), shall, to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, maintain custody of alien families during the pendency of any criminal improper entry or immigration proceedings involving their members,” the order reads.

Minor children are not currently permitted in detention facilities where adults are held. This new executive order calls for the Secretary of Defense to provide the Secretary of Homeland Security with existing facilities that can be used to house a family unit. If these facilities do not exist, they will be constructed.

The 1997 Flores consent decree limits the amount of time that undocumented immigrant children can be held by the federal government, whether they crossed the border with relatives or by themselves. In Wednesday’s executive order, the attorney general was instructed to “promptly file a request” with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to modify this agreement. With the requested modifications, undocumented immigrant families would be able to be detained together during criminal proceedings.

The Attorney General was also ordered to prioritize any cases involving a detained family.

The US bishops’ conference did not respond to a request for comment by deadline. The conference, as well as individual bishops, have been vocal in opposition to family separation at the border.

Speaking at the signing, President Trump said he “didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” and that “it’s a problem that’s gone on for many years, as you know, through many administrations.”

“So we’re keeping families together, and this will solve that problem,” said Trump.

“At the same time, we are keeping a very powerful border and it continues to be a zero-tolerance. We have zero tolerance for people that enter our country illegally.”



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Pope says no to women priests, yes to women in Curial leadership

June 20, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Jun 20, 2018 / 03:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In an interview with Reuters, Pope Francis said more space has to be created for women to take on leading roles in the Roman Curia, but that priestly ordination is not an option.

Responding to a question about women’s ordination to the priesthood, the pope said “there is the temptation to ‘functionalize’ the reflection on women in the Church, what they should do, what they should become.”

“We cannot functionalize women,” he said, explaining that while the Church is referred to as a woman, the Sacrament of Holy Orders is out of the question “because dogmatically it doesn’t work.”

“John Paul II was clear and closed the door, and I will not go back on this. It was something serious, not something capricious,” he said, adding, “it cannot be done.”

However, Francis stressed that while the priesthood is out, women do need to be given more opportunities for leadership in the Roman Curia – a view he said has at times been met with resistance.

“I had to fight to put a woman as the vice-director of the press office,” he said, referring to his decision in 2016 to name Spanish journalist Paloma Garica Ovejero as the Vatican’s deputy spokesperson.

He said he at one point offered a woman the job of heading the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications, but she turned it down because “she already had other commitments.”

Women in the Curia “are few, we need to put more,” he said, adding that it can be either a religious sister or a laywoman, “it doesn’t matter,” but there is a need to move forward with an eye for quality and competency in the job.

“I don’t have any problem naming a woman as the head of a dicastery, if the dicastery doesn’t have jurisdiction,” he said, referring to the fact that some Vatican departments have specific functions in Church governance that require a bishop to do the job. Lay men are also ineligible to oversee offices that require the jurisdictional authority of a priest or bishop.

For example, he said the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy has jurisdiction, so it has to be led by a bishop, but for others, such as the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, “I would not have a problem naming a competent woman,” Francis said.

Women must continue to be promoted, but without falling into “a feminist attitude,” the pope said, adding that “in the end it would be machismo with a skirt. We don’t want to fall into this.”

Pope Francis spoke during an interview with American journalist Phil Pullella of Reuters, which took place Sunday at the pope’s Vatican residence, and was published June 20.

In the interview, the pope touched on a variety of topics, including a possible deal with China on the appointment of bishops, clerical abuse and the ongoing scandal in Chile, the reform of the Roman Curia, and criticism he’s faced.

On the topic of women, Francis said that in his experience, things are usually done better when there is a mixed group working on a task, rather than just men.

“Women have an ability to understand things, it’s another vision,” he said, noting that whenever he has visited prisons run by women, they “seemed to do better,” because women know how to be “mothers” and care for inmates and their needs in a unique way.

“Women know how to manage conflicts better. In these things, women are braver,” he said, adding, “I think it would be so also in the Curia if there were more women.”

Francis noted that some have said inviting more women into the mix might mean there is more gossip, however, he said he does not believe that would be the case, “because we men are also gossipers.”


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Caritas hosts lunch for Italians to encounter migrants, refugees

June 20, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Rome, Italy, Jun 20, 2018 / 12:28 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The papal charity Caritas Internationalis hosted a lunch Tuesday in Rome with immigrants and refugees, hoping to foster a “culture of encounter” during its Global Action Week.

Caritas’ June 17-24 Global Action Week is part of its two-year Share the Journey initiative. Launched by Pope Francis in September 2017, the project is aimed at encouraging a “culture of encounter” and bolstering efforts to welcome warmly immigrants and refugees.

The goal of the project is to shed light on both the challenges and effects of migration at every stage of the journey in order to promote a “shift in thinking” on the issue. It has the support of the ACT Alliance, which is a network of 145 Christian agencies and a variety of other religious congregations and civil society groups worldwide.

As part of the action week, Caritas branches in all regions of the world will organize shared meals with immigrants and refugees, including the June 19 lunch at Rome’s Termini train station, as well as other events aimed at raising awareness and prompting interaction with refugees.

Korkiss Diallo, an Ivorian emigrant living in Italy, spoke at the June 19 lunch about the prejudice migrants face in their new homes.

He said he is not a bad person, but was forced to leave his home country and search for a better life elsewhere due to war.

“Many people think that Africans are bad, that they steal, that they do things that are illegal,” Diallo told journalists.

“I came here I think to have a good life and to have work,” he said, adding that each country has both good and bad people, “so not all are bad, to say that all are bad is not true.”

Diallo, 23, left Ivory Coast in 2011 when violence erupted following the election of a new president. Diallo’s family had supported the losing candidate, and feared they would be targets of the violent upheaval, so he left.

He travelled to Italy from Libya by boat. He had been told the boat ride would only last five hours, but he ended up spending a week stranded at sea with other migrants before being rescued in Italian waters.

Diallo then arrived in Sardinia in 2014, where he sought asylum. He then made his way to Rome and was put in touch with Caritas, who suggested that he participate in “A Refugee in My Home,” in which families welcome migrants or refugees to live with them.

The young migrant agreed, and was placed with an Italian family, who have accepted him as part of the family. Diallo soon learned Italian, enrolled in educational courses, and took a pizza-making class.

He now works seasonal jobs at pizza restaurants in Italy’s northern province of Trentino, and every Sunday he still has lunch with his Italian “parents” who initially took him in.

Diallo said he left behind a little sister and a grandmother in Ivory Coast, and plans to visit them for a month this summer before coming back to Italy. He said he eventually wants to bring his sister to Italy with him.

Speaking of the journey he took to get to Italy, Diallo said “I would not recommend to any of my friends in Africa to do this path.”

Speaking of his decision to travel through Libya, Diallo said he did not want to go “because it’s a country without a government. I entered Libya because I didn’t have another choice.”

“To all my friends in Africa I have said, that path is not good to take into Italy. If you don’t have another possibility, stay in Africa.”

However, Diallo said he was “surprised” by the welcome he received, and has gone on to accomplish things he did not think would be possible thanks the support he was given from the beginning of his arrival.

Tommaso, Diallo’s Italian “little brother,” told journalists that Korkiss “has taught a lot to our family, and I hope we have also taught something to him.”

Raffaella, Diallo’s Italian “mother,” told CNA her family chose to accept Diallo into their home because of Pope Francis’ call to welcome migrants. After hearing the pope’s petition, she said she felt moved, so she talked it through with her family, and the agreed to take someone in.

Raffaella said she has tried to create a stable home environment, and to teach Diallo “the same thing I taught my children; respect for people, respect for the rules, how to be a good citizen.”

Regarding the culture of fear and suspicion surrounding migrants, Raffaella said she has experienced this first-hand, especially after they first decided to welcome Diallo into their home.

However, she said the experience of her family has been wonderful, and they have no regrets about the decision to lend a hand to Diallo when he was in need.

She said part of the process has also meant learning how to accept and interact with other cultural and religious traditions. In Europe, “we are more individualistic,” she said, whereas “in African culture they are much more communal,” and often decisions are made together.

In terms of religion, Raffaella said she has also learned to have greater respect for non-Catholics. Diallo is Muslim, so she said the family has had the opportunity to learn things about the Muslim religion they did not know before, and they have learned “to respect him … and his times of prayer.”

In a message supporting the Caritas lunch, Pope Francis urged Catholics to participate in similar events organized throughout the world as part of the action week, such as meals or other activities, which he said raise awareness “on the global scale to support migrants and refugees.”

“Today, I would like to invite everyone – migrants, refugees, Caritas workers and institutions – to grasp the features of this journey that have marked you the most: what hope does your journey lead to? Try to share this thought and celebrate what we have in common,” he said.


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Courage apostolate’s 2018 conference to recall founder’s mission

June 20, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Bridgeport, Conn., Jun 20, 2018 / 11:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Courage International, an apostolate of the Catholic Church which serves people with same-sex attraction who seek to live a chaste life, will host its 30th annual conference this July, focusing on the faith of its founder, Fr. John Harvey, OSFS.

This year would have been Harvey’s 100th birthday. The conference will be held July 12-15 at Villanova University in Philadelphia.

Featuring speakers such as Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and EWTN’s Johnette Benkovic, the theme of this year’s conference is “Faithful to a mission.” Several bishops have also confirmed their attendance.

“The program will focus on themes that were important to Father Harvey’s spirituality and pastoral approach, and we plan to include a number of speakers who worked closely with Father Harvey during the 28 years that he led the Courage apostolate,” said Father Philip Bochanski, Courage International’s executive director, in a June 19 statement.

Harvey was the director of Courage International from its inception in 1980 until his retirement in 2008. He died in 2010, at the age of 92.

Courage offers a 12-step program for people with same-sex attraction, similar to the program in Alcoholics Anonymous. The five goals of Courage International are chastity, prayer and dedication, fellowship, support, and “to live lives that may serve as good examples to others.”

Courage discourages the use of the terms “gay” and “lesbian” to refer to members, saying the organization “sees persons with same-sex attractions first and foremost as men and women created in the image of God.”

Since its founding, the organization has grown to have over 100 chapters in 14 countries. There is also a companion support group, EnCourage, for families and friends of those with same-sex attraction. Members of both Courage and EnCourage will share their personal testimonies at the conference.

 In 2016, Courage and EnCourage received canonical status as a diocesan clerical public association of the faithful.

Immediately preceding the 2018 conference, there will be a “clergy day” for priests, deacons, and seminarians, featuring seminars aiming to teach clergy how to minister properly to people with same-sex attraction.