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Mercy Mass Aug. 21 in Salina, Aug. 28 in Colby

By The Register

Salina — A priest designated a “Missionary of Mercy” by Pope Francis will give the homily at the Year of Mercy Mass at 4 p.m. Aug. 21 at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Father Chuck Tobin from Missouri will give the homily at the Mass. Prior to the Mass, confessions will be offered at 3 p.m. and a rosary will begin at 3:30 p.m.

“By being designated, he’s been identified as a resource preacher and teacher about the Year of Mercy,” said Father Steve Heina, director of the Office of New Evangelization. “The whole Year of Mercy and everything about these celebrations is all about hope — to communicate and to celebrate the great hope that comes to us in Jesus crucified and risen from the dead.”

Father Tobin, a retired priest from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., is one of more than 1,140 religious deacons and priests that were appointed as a Missionary of Mercy.


Mercy_Mass from Salina Diocese on Vimeo.


“I have a sense of being a witness,” Father Tobin said in an interview after his appointment. “And you know, the priests I was there with, the ‘old battered priests,’ are really good confessors, because they have lived it. Actually, all of us are called to that kind of life: to be caring, compassionate and understanding. This commission, this mandate, is really a call to all our priests to be shepherds in the confessional.”

In addition to preaching at the special Year of Mercy Mass, Father Tobin will preside at the 12:30 p.m. Spanish Mass on Aug. 21 at Sacred Heart Cathedral.


Seminarians immersed in Spanish

The Register

Pittsburg — While a Spanish language immersion program might conjure pictures of Mexico or South America, the reality of the Spanish language immersion experience seminarian Andy Hammeke and Deacon Leo Blasi are on is a different story.

The seminarians spent the summer in Pittsburg, a town of about 20,000 in southeast Kansas at Pittsburg State University, immersing themselves in the Spanish language. 

From when they wake in the morning until 7 p.m. they were only allowed to communicate en Español. The strict “no English” rule is essential; they are completing two semesters of Spanish in eight weeks.

“It’s like drinking from a fire hose,” Deacon Blasi said of the experience.

The men have about five hours of class per day, then spend the afternoon and evening hours studying and preparing for the next day.

“It seems like you’re moving through things quickly and by the time you start figuring it out, you have moved onto something else,” Hammeke said. “One good thing about the program is it provides us plenty of time in the afternoon and evening to study. The fast pace forces you to keep up with studying.”

Bishop Edward Weisenburger said the diocese began sending seminarians to the program about three years ago. The program, which was developed by the Diocese of Wichita about a half a dozen years ago, also provides ongoing spiritual formation for the men.

In all, the immersion program includes eight seminarians —­ the two from the Salina Diocese, three from the Wichita Diocese, two from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau Missouri and one from the Diocese of Springfield, Ill.


College students encourage co­­ntinuing faith

The Register

Attending college for the first time often involves moving away from home and experiencing many new freedoms.

While broadening a student’s world view is valuable, three college upperclassmen encourage college freshman to commit to living their Catholic faith, even while away at college.

Courtney Farmer Hunter Kee Tracie Thibault


Courtney Farmer is a senior majoring in psychology and minoring in theology at Benedictine College in Atchison. She is from Russell and spent the summer working at Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas in Salina.

Hunter Kee is a senior majoring in nursing at Washburn University in Topeka. He is from Beloit and spent the summer working as a CNA in the Mitcell County Hospital in Beloit.

Tracie Thibault is a junior majoring in biology at K-State in Manhattan. She is from Salina, and spent the summer leading Prayer and Action in Hays and Junction City.

Father Fred Gatschet is the campus minister of the Comeau Catholic Campus Center at Fort Hays State University in Hays, a post he has held for 16 years.

“Parents are just scared to death. They are afraid their kids will go off to college and go off the road to debauchery,” Father Gatschet said. “They want to know how to keep their kids Catholic and alive.”


Two from Salina Diocese become FOCUS missionaries

The Register

Salina — Two recent college graduates from the Salina Diocese will become FOCUS missionaries on college campus, aiding students in their spiritual journey.

Sarah Stratman of Bennington and Becca Kohl of Hays will begin their first year with Fellowship of Catholic University Students as missionaries.

FOCUS was established in 1998 as a pilot program at Benedictine College in Atchison with two staff members and 24 students. FOCUS is now on more than 125 campuses with more than 550 missionaries nationwide.

Stratman, who graduated in May from K-State with a degree in nutrition and health, will be a missionary at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The assignment at KU is full circle. A friend of hers mentioned FOCUS had a presence at KU and was impressed with the joy of the missionaries.

“She asked me if I’d ever thought about being a FOCUS missionary; that planted the seed,” Stratman said.

During her junior year of college, she attended SEEK, the FOCUS national convention. The idea was further nourished while serving as a staff member of Prayer and Action in 2015.

“(Prayer and action) really changed my life and made me see that we are all made to be saints and made for greatness,” Stratman said. “It inspired me not to live mediocrity anymore.”

During her senior year, she explored several post-graduate options but none seemed like the right fit.

“Then I went to the FOCUS interview weekend. I had never felt so much peace about anything before,” Stratman said. “I knew if they called I would without a doubt say yes.”

Kohl, who graduated in May from Fort Hays State University with a degree tourism and hospitality management, will serve as a missionary at Mt. St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md. 

During her freshman year of college, Kohl said she was involved in leadership with a protestant group on the FHSU campus.

“They asked me about the Catholic faith and I realized I better find out the answers,” she said. 

She became involved in the Comeau Catholic Campus Center at FHSU, which led her to attend the SEEK conference.

“My freshman year, I had a protestant mentor who walked with me in my faith,” Kohl said. “I thought ‘There should be a Catholic version of this!’ FOCUS is that, but so much more.”


Couple shares journey through sterilization and back to NFP

The Register

Editor’s Note: Due to the intensely private nature of sterilization, we have changed the couple’s names to respect their privacy because they live, work and have family in the Salina Diocese.

Three years and two children into their marriage, Sarah and Thomas felt the easiest way to avoid another pregnancy was for Thomas to undergo a vasectomy. 

“We were pregnant five months into our marriage,” Thomas said. 

Their second child was born four moths after their two-year wedding anniversary.

To say life happened all at once would be an understatement. A young couple, they married when Sarah was 19. Thomas was 24. She was working to finish college and he was working to provide for the young family.

“Our hands were really really full really really fast,” Sarah said.

While Sarah was raised Catholic and Thomas converted upon their marriage, the couple was only vaguely familiar with Natural Family Planning (NFP). According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, NFP is defined as “The general title for the scientific, natural and moral methods of family planning that can help married couples either achieve or postpone pregnancies. NFP methods are based on the observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy.

“Since the methods of NFP respect the love-giving (unitive) and life-giving (procreative) nature of the conjugal act, they support God's design for married love.”

 “We used NFP for a short time but after (our oldest) was born, but life was so overwhelming,” Sarah said. 

She was also a full-time college student, in addition to being a wife and new mother.


Iluminando préstamos de día de pago

Nuestro Santo Padre designó 2016 como Año Jubilar de la Merced. Desde los tiempos bíblicos, una de las características de un Año Jubilar ha sido la cancelación de las deudas que estaban más allá de la capacidad de los pobres para pagar. Liberación de la psicológica y material “prisión” de la deuda es la metáfora perfecta de la misericordia de Dios.

En consonancia con el espíritu de la misericordia, me gustaría invitar a todos los ciudadanos de Kansas a tomar las palabras del Papa Francisco 'a pecho para que, juntos, confrontemos y tocemos a una forma particular de pobreza injusta que afecta a decenas de miles de nuestros hermanos y hermanas: préstamo de día de pago endeudamiento. Para hacer frente a esta situación, en palabras del Papa Francisco, significa que debemos comenzar con datos concretos acerca de la industria. Tocar esta pobreza, construyendo sobre la quota del Santo Padre, significa resistir la tentación de voltiar los ojos lejos del sufrimiento de nuestros vecinos; encogiéndose de apagado como el resultado de la irresponsabilidad financiera o la ignorancia que no tiene nada que ver conmigo.

Comenzando con hechos concretos, debemos tomar nota que abusar de los pobres al prestar dinero a las personas en crisis en asombrosamente altas tasas de interés es una práctica que fue condenado o restringido por todas las civilizaciones. Este comportamiento abusivo fue reconocido como destructivo y corrosivo para las comunidades y la sociedad. Sin embargo, con la moderna industria de préstamo de día de pago, lo que estaba correctamente etiquetada reprobable y depredador ahora se presenta como amigable, seguro y legítimo; De hecho, se presenta como un servicio financiero altruista. El hecho es que nada podría estar más lejos de la verdad. Entonces, ¿qué es la verdad?


Illuminating payday lending

“In Imitation of Our Master, we Christians are asked to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it.”  (Pope Francis)

Our Holy Father designated 2016 as a Jubilee Year of Mercy. Since biblical times, one of the hallmarks of a Jubilee Year has been the cancellation of debts that were beyond the ability of the poor to pay. Liberation from the psychological and material “prison” of indebtedness is the perfect metaphor for God’s mercy.

In keeping with this spirit of mercy, I would like to invite all Kansans to take Pope Francis’ words to heart so we may, together, confront and touch a particular form of unjust poverty afflicting tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters:  payday loan indebtedness. To confront this situation, in the words of Pope Francis, means we must begin with hard facts about the industry. Touching this poverty, building on the Holy Father’s quote, means resisting the temptation to turn our eyes away from the suffering of our neighbors; shrugging it off as the result of financial irresponsibility or ignorance that has nothing to do with me.  

Beginning with hard facts, we must note that abusing the poor by lending money to those in crisis at astonishingly high interest rates is a practice that was condemned or restricted by every civilization. This abusive behavior was rightly recognized as destructive and corrosive for communities and society. However, with the modern payday loan industry, what was correctly labeled reprehensible and predatory is now presented as friendly, safe and legitimate; indeed, it is presented as an altruistic financial service. The fact is nothing could be further from the truth. So what is the truth?


Women’s conference, ‘Growing in Faith,’ is Aug. 20

By The Register

Colby — The biennial convention of the Salina Diocesan Council of Catholic Women will be Saturday, Aug. 20 at Sacred Heart Church in Colby. 

The convention, themed “Growing in Faith,” includes Mass celebrated by Bishop Edward Weisenburger at 11 a.m.

The trilogy of conference speakers includes Tony Brandt and Chris Stewart, founders of Casting Nets Ministries, and musician Noelle Garcia.

Brandt and Stewart will address how women can evangelize within their homes and families.

“I look at how much good my wife does in evangelization and what good she does with other ladies in the parish,” Brandt said. “(Women) have a unique role at home but also with other women in their parishes for evangelization.”

Brandt and Stewart are husbands and fathers who speak about the seven pillars of evangelization. Their topic is: “Growing your Faith by Sharing Your Faith.”

“Evangelization isn’t just Protestant/Catholic stuff,” Brandt said. “It’s evangelizing people in the pew, our family at home, our children and our spouses. This is what the church is. The church don’t have a mission, the church is a mission.”


Featured Events

Catholic News Headlines

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via EPABy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After a strong earthquake struck central Italy and with the early news reporting many deaths and serious damage, Pope Francis turned his weekly general audience Aug. 24 into a prayer service. While the pope and some 11,000 pilgrims and tourists recited the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary in St. Peter's Square, six Vatican firefighters were on their way to the town of Amatrice, about 85 miles east of Rome, to help search for victims under the rubble. The pope sent six Vatican police officers to join them the next day. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.2 quake had an epicenter close to Norcia, the birthplace of St. Benedict and home to a monastery of Benedictine monks, who are attracting a growing number of visitors because of their solemn prayer life and beer brewing business. The monks and their guests were all safe, but the monastery and Basilica of St. Benedict suffered serious structural damage. Smaller temblors -- at least two of which registered more than 5.0 -- continued even 24 hours after the main quake. By early Aug. 25, Italian officials said the death toll had reached 247 and the number of people hospitalized with quake-related injuries was more than 260. When Pope Francis arrived in St. Peter's Square for his general audience just six hours after the main quake, he set aside his prepared audience talk and instead spoke of his "heartfelt sorrow and my closeness" to everyone in the earthquake zone, especially those who lost loved ones and "those who are still shaken by fear and terror." "Having heard the mayor of Amatrice say, 'The town no longer exists,' and knowing that there are children among the dead, I am deeply saddened," Pope Francis said. Assuring the people in the region of the prayers and "the embrace of the whole church," the pope asked the crowd at the audience to join him in praying that "the Lord Jesus, who is always moved by human suffering, would console the brokenhearted and give them peace." Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, asked U.S. Catholics also to pray the rosary for the victims in Italy, as well as for the victims of other natural disasters, including those suffering because of the flooding in Louisiana. "Knowing all too well the personal toll of natural disasters in our own country, let us join with the Holy Father in prayer for everyone suffering from Louisiana to central Italy," the archbishop said in a statement Aug. 24. Bishop Domenico Pompili of Rieti, the diocese that includes Amatrice, said he received a phone call from Pope Francis at 7 a.m. the morning of the earthquake. The quake and first big aftershock were felt in Rome and woke the pope up, he said, adding that Pope Francis said he had celebrated Mass for the victims shortly after 4:30 a.m. Caritas Italy and its diocesan affiliates mobilized immediately with volunteers rushing to the impacted towns, helping with the search and rescue operation, providing food and blankets and helping to staff the tent cities erected by the Italian government outside the damaged towns. The Italian bishops' conference immediately pledged 1 million euros ($1.1 million) for relief efforts and asked all parishes to take up a special collection at Masses Sept. 18 to aid the victims. In Amatrice, one of the hardest-hit towns, three nuns and four of the elderly guests they host in the summer were still missing as of Aug. 25. Four nuns were rescued. Many of the small towns in the region have few residents who live there all year. But in the summer, people return to their families' native towns to visit grandparents and escape the heat of the big cities. The victims of the quake included dozens of children who were spending the last weeks of August with their grandparents. Government officials said an estimated 14,000 people were left homeless by the quake. In addition to houses and apartment buildings turned into rubble, dozens of churches and convents in the region crumbled or were heavily damaged. At the Benedictine monastery in Norcia, the 15 monks and five guests were already awake when the first quake hit, Benedictine Father Benedict Nivakoff told Catholic News Service. Aug. 24 is the feast of St. Bartholomew and "on feast days we get up earlier" to pray, he said. Within a half hour of the first quake, Father Nivakoff said, the square outside the monastery was filled with people "because it is the safest place in town -- around the statue of St. Benedict." While no buildings collapsed, "the facade seems to have detached" from the rest of the basilica and major repairs are likely, he said. The monks announced later Aug. 24 that two Benedictines would stay in Norcia, sleeping in tents outside the city walls, but the rest of the community would move temporarily to Rome as a "precautionary measure" as the aftershocks continued. Assisi is just 45 miles from Norcia and, according to Franciscan Father Enzo Fortunato, the quake was felt strongly at the convent and basilica that suffered major damage from an earthquake in 1997. While the quake woke all the friars, many of whom ran to the Basilica of St. Francis, no damage was visible, he told ANSA, the Italian news agency.- - -Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • By Cindy WoodenROME (CNS) -- When it comes to the Christian life, too many seminaries teach students a rigid list of rules that make it difficult or impossible for them as priests to respond to the real-life situation of those who come to them seeking guidance, Pope Francis said. "Some priestly formation programs run the risk of educating in the light of overly clear and distinct ideas, and therefore to act within limits and criteria that are rigidly defined a priori, and that set aside concrete situations," the pope said during a meeting with 28 Polish Jesuits in Krakow during World Youth Day. The Vatican did not publish details of the pope's meeting July 30 with the Jesuits, but -- with Pope Francis' explicit approval -- a transcript of his remarks to the group was published in late August by Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit journal reviewed at the Vatican prior to publication. According to the transcript, the pope asked the Jesuits to begin an outreach to diocesan seminaries and diocesan priests, sharing with them the prayerful and careful art of discernment as taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. "The church today needs to grow in the ability of spiritual discernment," the pope told the Polish Jesuits. In his spiritual exercises, St. Ignatius provided steps for helping people recognize -- or discern -- where God is working in their lives and what draws them closer to God or pushes them further from God. For St. Ignatius, knowing what is moral and immoral is essential, but knowing what is going on in people's lives helps identify practical ways forward. Without "the wisdom of discernment," the pope said in Krakow, "the seminarians, when they become priests, find themselves in difficulty in accompanying the life of so many young people and adults." "And many people leave the confessional disappointed. Not because the priest is bad, but because the priest doesn't have the ability to discern situations, to accompany them in authentic discernment," the pope said. "They don't have the needed formation." While some laypeople also are called to provide spiritual direction, priests are more often "entrusted with the confidences of the conscience of the faithful," so seminarians and priests particularly need to learn discernment. "I repeat, you must teach this above all to priests, helping them in the light of the exercises in the dynamic of pastoral discernment, which respects the law but knows how to go beyond," the pope said. "We need to truly understand this: in life not all is black on white or white on black," he said. "The shades of grey prevail in life. We must them teach to discern in this gray area." Pope Francis did not mention his apostolic exhortation on the family, "Amoris Laetitia," ("The Joy of Love"), in his talk with the Jesuits in Krakow, but the document repeatedly referred to the importance of discernment for families and for their spiritual guides. Father Salvador Pie-Ninot, a Spanish professor of ecclesiology, wrote in the Vatican newspaper Aug. 24 that the pope referred to the need for discernment 35 times in the exhortation. Especially when dealing with individual Catholics who have been divorced and civilly remarried, Pope Francis wrote, discernment recognizes that, "since the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases, the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same. Priests have the duty to accompany (the divorced and remarried) in helping them to understand their situation according to the teaching of the church and the guidelines of the bishop." - - - Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Joshua Roberts, ReutersBy Ann RodgersPITTSBURGH (CNS) -- The Pittsburgh Diocese said Bishop David A. Zubik is making every effort to achieve a swift negotiated solution to the diocese's dispute with the federal government over religious freedom in relation to the federal contraceptive mandate, as directed by the U.S. Supreme Court. "We have always been willing to meet with representatives of the government to negotiate a mutually agreeable solution to our impasse over religious freedom," said a diocesan statement issued Aug. 10. In a May 16 unanimous decision in Zubik v. Burwell, a consolidated case of challenges to the contraceptive mandate filed by several Catholic and other religious entities, the Supreme Court sent the case back to lower courts, vacated earlier judgments against those parties opposing the mandate, and encouraged the plaintiffs and the federal government to resolve their differences. Zubik v. Burwell involves the Little Sisters of the Poor, Priests for Life, the Pennsylvania dioceses of Pittsburgh and Erie, the Archdiocese of Washington, and other Catholic and faith-based entities challenging the Affordable Care Act's mandate that most religious and other employers must cover contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients through employer-provided health insurance -- even if the employers oppose the coverage on moral grounds. They see the mandate, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, as a violation of their religious freedom. "Zubik" in the case name is Bishop Zubik, and "Burwell" is HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell. The plaintiffs, who do not fit the narrow exemption to the contraceptive mandate the government gives to churches, argue that providing contraceptive coverage even indirectly through a third party, as the Obama administration allows through what it calls an accommodation, still violates their religious beliefs. The government argues its existing opt-out provision for these employers does not burden their free exercise of religion. "Our counsel and counsel for the other Supreme Court litigants had a meeting with representatives of the Department of Justice, at which we attempted to engage in the kind of resolution talks that the Supreme Court intended in its order," the Pittsburgh Diocese said in its statement. "The government has been slow to offer anything of substance to pursue a negotiated solution, except to mention openness to future meetings." Bishop Zubik initiated the lawsuit against the government on behalf of Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh, arguing that it is a violation of religious freedom to force a religious organization to facilitate access to anything that it teaches is immoral. After Bishop Zubik won an initial victory in the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh in November 2013, the case was appealed until it reached the Supreme Court this year. In its May decision, the high courts urged the lower courts to give the litigants time to find a negotiated solution. The high court also affirmed that the diocese and the others could not be fined during those negotiations. However, the diocese has learned that the Department of Justice is pressuring secular insurance companies that have contracts with the diocese, and with other religious organizations, to begin providing church employees with the objectionable coverage. The Diocese of Pittsburgh, along with several neighboring dioceses, is self-insured through the Catholic Benefits Trust. Catholic Benefits Trust hires secular insurance companies to handle the administration and claims for its plans. Those companies have told the diocese that they recently received letters from the Department of Justice directing them to provide the disputed coverage at their own expense, said Christopher Ponticello, general counsel of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. "Since the Supreme Court issued its ruling strongly directing that the parties negotiate a mutually agreeable resolution to this matter, we have remained hopeful and open to those talks," Ponticello told the Pittsburgh Catholic diocesan newspaper. "It is discouraging to see this aggressive action taken by the government," he said. "We hope to prevail upon the Department of Justice to stop this latest action without having to pursue additional litigation. We have believed from the beginning that an agreement could be reached that would allow the government to accomplish its goals without involving the church in the process." The diocese has not paid anything for its legal representation in Zubik v. Burwell. All costs associated with the litigation have been donated by the legal firm of Jones Day. Mickey Pohl, one of the Jones Day attorneys who has been representing Bishop Zubik, the diocese, Catholic Charities and other religious organizations in this litigation, said: "It is extremely disappointing that the Department of Justice is trying to pressure insurers to steamroll the religious objections of Catholics and other people of faith who have been part of this litigation. It is also troublesome that these assaults on freedom of religion have not been the subject of inquiry by the mainstream media during this election cycle." The Aug. 10 statement from the diocese said that "we are aware that the government has made an extremely aggressive interpretation of the court's order in the Zubik case and is apparently trying to take over -- to force our third-party administrators to include the objectionable coverage in our self-insured plans.""We think that is an erroneous reading of what the Supreme Court said," it continued. "Furthermore, as the government seems to acknowledge, because we are self-insured there is no obligation or authority for the third-party administrator to provide the objectionable coverage." If the fines for not facilitating the coverage were imposed, Ponticello said, they would bankrupt Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh. Each year that agency provides about $10 million in services, such as free medical and dental care, and support to homeless women and veterans, to people of all faiths in southwestern Pennsylvania. "The Supreme Court also made clear that we cannot be fined or penalized for refusing to comply with the government's current regulations," the statement said. "Therefore, we believe the government's position is wrong. In order to avoid future litigation, we will try to work through these issues with our insurers, third-party administrators and the government. Our counsel is actively working on this endeavor, and we remain in prayer for a mutually agreeable solution." In late July, the Obama administration opened a public-comment period seeking input on ways the government can comply with religious employers' refusal on moral grounds to cover contraceptives for employees and at the same time make sure those employees get such coverage. - - - Rodgers is general manager of the Pittsburgh Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Michael KellyDUBLIN (CNS) -- The trustees of Ireland's national seminary have agreed to bring in a specific policy to protect whistleblowers after serious allegations were made about life in the college. The Aug. 23 announcement also followed a decision by Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to pull his students from St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, after publicly raising misgivings about the life and governance of the 221-year old institution. The archbishop referred to claims of what he described as a "gay culture" in the seminary and further allegations that some seminarians have been using a gay dating app. Archbishop Martin said some of the allegations had been shown to be true. The seminary trustees -- 13 senior Irish bishops, including Archbishop Martin -- said in a statement that "there is no place in a seminary community for any sort of behavior or attitude which contradicts the teaching and example of Jesus Christ." The statement said the trustees "share the concerns about the unhealthy atmosphere created by anonymous accusations, together with some social media comments which can be speculative or even malicious." The trustees agreed to "review current policies and procedures for reporting complaints with a view to adopting best practice procedures for 'protected disclosures' (whistle-blowing)." They said they would ask the Irish bishops' conference to conduct an independent audit and report of governance and statutes in the three Irish seminaries: Maynooth, the Pontifical Irish College in Rome and St. Malachy's College in Belfast, Northern Ireland. They also agreed to reassess future personnel and resource needs for the seminary. The statement said "the trustees accept their responsibility for ensuring that the national seminary adheres to best practice in all areas of training for priesthood and that college staff are trained to the highest level in accordance with requisite professional standards and the requirements of the Holy See." Archbishop Martin first raised concerns publicly in early August when he said "there seems to an atmosphere of strange goings-on there (Maynooth); it seems like a quarrelsome place with anonymous letters being sent around. "There are people saying that anyone who tries to go to the authorities with an allegation are being dismissed from the seminary," the archbishop said. "I don't think this is a good place for students," he added. There was no immediate reaction from Archbishop Martin to the trustees' meeting and no indication as to whether he would change his mind as a result of the trustees' intervention. In early August, he said he had offered to provide an independent person for whistleblowers to approach, but the response to this offer was the publication of more anonymous letters. At the time, the archbishop said authorities in Maynooth "have to find a way to let people come forward with solid evidence to substantiate the allegations."- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/CJ Gunther, EPABy Mark PattisonWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Today's "economic and political forces have led to increasingly lowered economic prospects for Americans without access to higher education, which is having a direct impact on family health and stability," said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami.He made the comments as the author of this year's Labor Day statement from the U.S. bishops. Linking the decline in good jobs to family woes, Archbishop Wenski said, "Over half of parents between the ages of 26 and 31 now have children outside of a marriage, and research shows a major factor is the lack middle-skill jobs -- careers by which someone can sustain a family above the poverty line without a college degree -- in regions with high income inequality."The statement, dated Sept. 5, Labor Day, was released Aug. 22. Archbishop Wenski is chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. "Divorce rates and the rate of single-parent households break down along similar educational and economic lines," he continued. "Financial concerns and breakdowns in family life can lead to a sense of hopelessness and despair. The Rust Belt region now appears to have the highest concentration in the nation of drug-related deaths, including from overdoses of heroin and prescription drugs." Archbishop Wenski quoted from Pope Francis' address to Congress during the pope's U.S. visit last September: "I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young. For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair. Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them." The pope added, "We live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family." Archbishop Wenski said, "When our leaders ought to be calling us toward a vision of the common good that lifts the human spirit and seeks to soothe our tendencies toward fear, we find our insecurities exploited as a means to further partisan agendas. Our leaders must never use anxiety as a means to manipulate persons in desperate situations, or to pit one group of persons against another for political gain." In touting the "sanctity of work," Archbishop Wenski said, "Dignified work is at the heart of our efforts because we draw insight into who we are as human beings from it." St, John Paul II, in his encyclical "Laborem Exercens" ("On Human Work"), "reminded us that human labor is an essential key to understanding our social relationships, vital to family formation and the building up of community according to our God-given dignity," the archbishop added. "As we engage with our neighbors and our communities, we quickly find ways to deepen solidarity in a broader way, and to act on the structures and policies that impact meaningful work and family stability," Archbishop Wenski said. "Simply put, we must advocate for jobs and wages that truly provide a dignified life for individuals and their families, and for working conditions that are safe and allow for a full flourishing of life outside of the workplace," he added. "Unions and worker associations, while imperfect, remain an essential part of the effort, and people of faith and goodwill can be powerful leaven to ensure that these groups, so important in society, continue to keep human dignity at the heart of their efforts." And "if you are an employer, you are called to respect the dignity of your workers through a just wage and working conditions that allow for a secure family life," Archbishop Wenski said. "With time, we will begin to restore a sense of hope and lasting change that places our economic and political systems at the service of the human person once more."- - -Editor's Note: The full text of the U.S. bishops' Labor Day statement is available in English and Spanish at, respectively, http://tinyurl.com/hm9dcoa and http://tinyurl.com/goq6kkr.- - -Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.