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Due to violence, Mexican diocese avoids Christmas Masses at high-risk times

December 9, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Villahermosa, Mexico, Dec 9, 2017 / 06:08 am (ACI Prensa).- A diocese in one of Mexico’s most violence-ridden states has indicated it will avoid scheduling Masses for Christmas and its octave at “high risk” times. It has also asked the state’s police to protect parishioners.

“With respect to the problem of insecurity, for the most part the established schedule has been kept, but we are trying to avoid scheduling certain times that could be high risk,” Fr. José Luis Compeán Rueda, vicar general of the Diocese of Tabasco, said at a Dec. 3 press conference in Villahermosa, capital of the Mexican state of Tabasco.

El Heraldo de Tabasco reported that Fr. Compean said he had met with the head of Tabasco’s Department of Public Safety, Jorge Aguirre Carbajal, to talk about the problem of the lack of public safety and said that “they will take appropriate steps as needed.”

“We hope the different state or municipal authorities will take corresponding measures to provide protection, not exclusively to the Church, but to all of society,” he said.

Fr. Compeán noted that during the year end festivities crime increases because people are getting paid Christmas bonuses and buying Christmas presents.

A September report prepared by the Tabasco Citizens’ Observatory revealed that in 2017 Tabasco occupied first place in the nation in kidnappings per capita.

“The State of Tabasco held first place in five categories of crime: kidnapping, aggravated robbery, robbery of businesses, holdups of passersby and livestock rustling” the director of Analysis and Statistics of the Tabasco Citizens’ Observatory, Julia Arrivillaga, told Televisa.

The Catholic Multimedia Center released a report in August showing that Tabasco is one of the most dangerous states for priests, and that Mexico is the most violent country for priests in Latin America.

 

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

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Nearly 80 prisoners baptized in Argentina

December 7, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

San Isidro, Argentina, Dec 8, 2017 / 12:26 am (ACI Prensa).- Seventy-eight prisoners were baptized, confirmed, and received their First Holy Communion in an Argentine prison Dec. 1.

The inmates are entering the Catholic Church after working with the D… […]

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Why is St. Francis Xavier’s arm flying across Canada?

December 5, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Ottawa, Canada, Dec 5, 2017 / 07:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- While he was alive, St. Francis Xavier never got to ride in an airplane. They would not be invented for 400 more years after his death.

But now, his severed arm will get to take a trip across Canada in its very own seat.

The relic of the Jesuit missionary, ordinarily kept in the Church of the Gesù in Rome, will be making a cross-country trip through Canada this winter, as part of an initiative from the university group Catholic Christian Outreach.

The arm of St. Francis Xavier, on display for veneration in Rome.

Angèle Regnier, co-founder of Catholic Christian Outreach, told CBC radio that travelling with the saint’s arm will be “like doing a road trip with a friend.”

“I mean, I know it’s bones, but connected to that is a living friendship with St. Francis Xavier,” she said.

In the Catholic Church, relics are physical objects that have a direct association with the saints or with Jesus. The arm of St. Francis Xavier is considered a first class relic, which is the body or fragments of the body of a saint. The practice of venerating relics has been a Scripture-based tradition in the Church for centuries.

Regnier will be accompanying the saint’s arm on its trip from Rome to Canada, where the relic will make a month-long tour through much of the country.

The fragility of the relic, which is encased in a gold and glass reliquary and has its own padded duffle bag, necessitated that it travel in its own seat on Air Canada.

“We can’t put it underneath. We can’t even put it in the overhead bins. Like, he has to have his own seat,” she told CBC radio.

“You’re trying to explain this to Air Canada. We need to book a seat. He is a person in a way, but it’s not a person, it’s an arm.”

The saint’s arm is a significant relic. With that arm, it is estimated that St. Francis Xavier baptized hundreds of thousands of people during his time as a missionary in Asia. The relic is also considered to be partially incorrupt, which means that it has not decayed in an ordinary way.

Regnier said that the group wanted to bring the saint’s relic to Canada because he is one of their patron saints. While a university student, Francis Xavier was known for being athletic and the “cool guy,” Regnier said. But it was also during time that he underwent a conversion, and his roommate, St. Ignatius of Loyola, became his spiritual mentor.

St. Francis Xavier would become one of the founding members of the Jesuit order, along with St. Ignatius of Loyola and Blessed Peter Faber.

“So for us, as a university student movement, we want university students to come alive in their faith, so we find a lot in common with St. Francis Xavier’s history,” Regnier said.

The saint’s arm will be traveling throughout Canada from Jan. 3 – Feb. 2, during which time the faithful are invited to venerate the relic.

“It’s quite a production,” Regnier said. “We want to touch most of Canada with it.”

The schedule for the relic tour is as follows:
* Jan. 3: Quebec City
* Jan. 5: St John’s
* Jan. 7: Halifax
* Jan. 8: Antigonish, N.S.
* Jan. 10: Kingston, Ont.
* Jan. 12-14: Toronto
* Jan. 16: Winnipeg
* Jan. 18: Saskatoon
* Jan. 20: Regina
* Jan. 21-22: Calgary
* Jan. 24-25: Vancouver
* Jan. 27: Victoria
* Jan. 29-30: Montreal
* Feb. 2: Ottawa

 

 

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Missionary says Haiti unprepared to accept thousands returning from US

November 22, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Nov 22, 2017 / 07:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Trump administration announced Monday it will be ending protected legal residency for an estimated 60,000 Haitians living in the United States, giving them until July 2019 to return to their country.

Thousands of Haitians flocked to the United States in 2010 following a catastrophic earthquake that measured at 7.0 on the Richter scale and which killed more than 200,000, displaced more than 1 million, and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses in and around the country’s capital city, Port-au-Prince.

The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that the “extraordinary conditions” necessitating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians in the United States “no longer exists”.

TPS, a policy begun in 1990, allows people who are unable safely to return to their home nations because of armed conflict, other violence, natural disasters, or other extraordinary and temporary circumstances to remain in the United States while the situation in their home country resolves.

“Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens,” Homeland Security secretary Elaine Duke said in a statement. “Haiti has also demonstrated a commitment to adequately prepare for when the country’s TPS designation is terminated.”

But many question whether Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, would be able to support an influx of 60,000 people returning home after seven years.

David Quinn is a Catholic missionary from Hastings, Neb. who has lived in Haiti since the spring of 2015 with his wife, Andrea, and their two children. While they did not experience the 2010 earthquake first-hand, they did experience Hurricane Matthew, which struck the nation in 2016.

Quinn said the country still has not recovered from the earthquake or the hurricane and is ill-equipped to provide for the people who already live in Haiti.

“They have never recovered from the earthquake from what I can see,” Quinn told CNA.

“They’ve cleaned up some things here and there, but as far as returning to what they had before? Not even close. Their economy hasn’t improved since the earthquake, it’s been continuing to degrade, and many, many people are without work yet.”

In one part of Port-au-Prince, people are still living in tents and “tin boxes”, their homes destroyed seven years ago and never rebuilt, Quinn said. Most people subsist off of simple gardening, selling what they can at the weekly market and living off of a “pittance of an income and a really poor diet.”

“There’s so many people without work already, and if you throw another 60,000 people back into the situation, I don’t know what they would do…how would they feed themselves? ” Quinn said.

When Hurricane Matthew struck, blowing over homes and banana trees, Quinn said the government was not prepared to handle the aftermath and did little to nothing to help their own people.

“If you look at their response even to Hurricane Matthew, right afterwards you go to the local government and you’re like ok, do you have any food stored or anything set aside for how people are going to eat? And they have nothing, they didn’t prepare at all. So it was up to NGOs and us with the Church,” Quinn said, to provide support and bring in international aid.  

Non-profits and charitable organizations are often left to take care of the people of Haiti, Quinn noted, but he added that charity, while necessary, also decreases many people’s drive to work and often perpetuates the cycle of poverty.

“You could work for a whole day and make like a dollar or two, or you can just give me (something), which people often do, because they’re so poor. So it just becomes this kind of cycle of dependence,” Quinn said.

“So if you have a Haitian who’s living in the United States and he’s a productive member of society, and then he goes back to Haiti, then it’s very likely he’s going to become dependent, not productive,” he said.

The decision to end TPS would also not only disrupt the lives of the 60,000 people who have been living in the United States for seven years, Quinn added, but it would also disrupt the lives and sources of income on which many Haitians depend.

“Many, many of them depend on people living in the States, sending money back to their families. So many people depend on that, so if they were to get kicked out, the situation gets incredibly worse, not just for those people but for their families who were getting $100 a month or whatever amount sent back,” he said.

“It’s just really sad to see,” he added. “I can’t imagine having my life set up somewhere else for (almost) a decade, and having it taken away like that.”

Earlier this month, the Catholic bishops of the United States released a report entitled Haiti’s Ongoing Road to Recovery: The Necessity of an Extension of Temporary Protected Status, recommending the U.S. government extend TPS for Haitians.

“(W)hile conditions in Haiti are improving, the country is not yet in a position where it can adequately and safely accept return of the estimated 50,000 Haitian nationals who have received TPS,” Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, said in his introduction to the report.

Similarly, in October, the U.S. Bishops recommended that the Trump administration extend TPS for people from Honduras and El Salvador, who would face violence and crime if they were sent back to their countries.

Many lawmakers of both parties have voiced their opposition to the decision to end TPS status for Haitians, including many in Florida, where more than half of TPS Haitians live.

“I traveled to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 and after hurricane Matthew in 2016. So I can personally attest that Haiti is not prepared to take back nearly 60,000 TPS recipients under these difficult and harsh conditions,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), said on Twitter.

TPS status for an estimated 200,000 Salvadorans is set to expire in January, while a decision on the TPS status of 57,000 Hondurans has been deferred for six months.

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More than 100 couples get married in Paraguay cathedral

November 21, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Asunción, Paraguay, Nov 21, 2017 / 07:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Over one hundred couples who had been living together but were not yet married celebrated their marriages in the Asuncion Cathedral in Paraguay Nov. 15.

The couples were able to say  “I do,” thanks to support from the Santa Librada Foundation, which put on a program to prepare the couples for marriage, in collaboration with the Asuncion Archdiocese, and the Community of Missionary Families of Christ.

Children and relatives of the couples participated in a Mass celebrated by Fr. Oscar Gonzalez, Vicar General of the Archdiocese, along with 16 others priests and deacons.

The couples came from 18 parishes from various areas in and around Asuncion. Most of the couples participating in the program reported that they had been unable to afford the cost of a wedding on their own.  

111 couples participated in a program of weekly spiritual formation and psychological support, which aimed to help them “understand more deeply the importance of entering into marriage, especially as a covenant with God, which is fundamental in building and strengthening the family,” a sponsor couple told the Encuentro Weekly.

The Retail Company, a socially minded  business which owns a supermarket chain where most of the newlyweds work, paid for the wedding attire, hairdressing, makeup and transportation, according to the EFE news agency.

The large wedding took place as part of the 50th anniversary of the Santa Librada Foundation, the social outreach arm of a local business group, which provides support and assistance to needy families in Paraguay.  

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

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