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Group from Salina Diocese attends Convocation

What an incredible experience! The nation’s bishops were privileged to interact with some wonderful Catholic people. In my case, not only did I get to know better some of those doing wonderful ministries in parishes throughout our diocese, but I also got to listen to some incredible speakers on the national level.

The background to the Convocation was Pope Francis’ wonderful Encyclical, Evangelium Gaudium. It is there that Pope Francis points out that there are three focuses to evangelization and ministry. The first is that which we typically associate with parish life: Mass and Sacramental ministries, along with parish community events. This focus of ministry grounds the life of practicing Catholics and leads us more deeply into communion with our triune God.  

A second focus of evangelization is to those who no longer practice the Catholic faith regularly. They remain a part of our church, perhaps in an imperfect communion, but they are a part of us. Reaching out to them is critical to the wellbeing of the body of Christ — the Church. 

A third focus of ministry is on those who have no relationship with Christ. This is what most Catholics associate with the term evangelization. For us to preach the Gospel to them, especially by living joyful lives that witness to God’s love and mercy, is crucial. In one way or another the Convocation spoke to each of these levels of ministry and fruitful ideas for evangelization flowed. 

There was a host of different breakout sessions each participant could go to. Like most diocesan representations, our group chose to split up so that the eight of us could cover as many of the topics as possible. I focused on contemporary culture and media, vocations to priesthood and religious life  and the concerns of rural life in America. 

If there were one significant take-away for me, it would be that I don’t want to face God one day never having invited at least one person into the joys and life that I know as a Roman Catholic. What an incredible blessing it would be for our diocese if every member, in the remaining weeks of summer, invited one person who has no church to consider becoming Catholic. After all, there isn’t one community in our diocese that doesn’t have unchurched people. Our RCIA groups would flourish, our parishes would grow, and the body of Christ would be more complete. Success, however, isn’t the key. 

The key is to be an instrument of God’s grace by issuing the invitation. So — if you’re willing — look around, and trust me, you’ll find that person Jesus wants you to invite to the Church. Let go of the fear of rejection or failure. Be the evangelizing Catholic that Christ calls you to be today.­

Annual men’s conference to focus on mission of men

Hays — Catholic men aren’t wimps.

That’s one topic that will be addressed by Dr. Ray Guarendi at the sixth annual Salina Diocesan Men’s Conference on Saturday, Aug. 12 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

Dr. Guarendi is the father of 10, is a clinical psychologist, author, professional speaker and national radio and TV host.  “In my experience as a psychologist, I’ve seen a lot of wimpy men,” he said. “They let their wives carry the domestic load, the discipline load and the Church load.  “I can’t tell you how much a wife complains about men not standing up and being men. The women are not happy about carrying all of that load.”  Dr. Guarendi will also talk about his reversion to the Catholic faith in his talk “The Logic of Being Catholic.”

The day-long conference will begin at 8 a.m. with the Rosary. Other aspects of the conference include Eucharistic adoration, Reconciliation, Mass with Bishop Edward Weisenburger, lunch, and Q&A.  Capuchin Father John Lager, who is the national chaplain of Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), will also present two talks: “Living in Integrity and with Purpose” and “Being a Christian Man in a Secular and Superficial World.”

The theme for the conference, which is open to all men high school and older, is “Men on a Mission.”  “My experience is that if there isn’t a clear direction or mission we are called to keep our eyes on, it’s easy to be distracted and manipulated by culture. It’s easy to get lost,” Father Lager said.

In addition to FOCUS, he is the co-founder of Marked Men for Christ, an international men’s ministry.  “The whole purpose is how do we continue to deepen our own personal spirituality and prayer life,” Father Lager said. “How can we be leaders in our families and parishes and marketplace in today’s world? Without a clear vision of a mission, that will never happen.”

A native of Angelus, Father Lager attended minor seminary in Victoria. His intention was to study for the diocesan priesthood, but the seminary formation drew him to the Capuchin life.

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Celebrating the beauty of family

The Register

Salina — He was from a big family; she was from a small one.

Santos Bonilla grew up with nine siblings. Marlene, who he married in 1969, grew up with three siblings.  “The family was a joke that he wanted a small family and I wanted a large family,” Marlene said. “We had five kids, so we both got our wish.”  In advance of the 2017 Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, which is July 23-29, the Bonillas sat down to talk about the year’s theme, which is “It’s time! Say ‘Yes’ to God’s plan for married love.”

Early in their marriage, Santos said they were introduced to Natural Family Planning (NFP), which is defined as methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. These methods are based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

 

They had three children by the time they encountered NFP while they were living in Topeka.  “I thought NFP was kind of crazy because I didn’t know what it was,” Santos said. “I thought they were trying to control me. I thought ‘They’re not going to control me.’   “She started learning it and I was rather resistant because I didn’t know much about my own religion.”  The couple was involved with adult education, which is where the concept was introduced to them.  “We learned it from other Catholics,” Marlene said.

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Now accepting applications for century farm award

Wilson — On Sunday, August 20, the Salina Diocese Catholic Rural Life Commission will sponsor the annual Catholic Rural Life Day. Rural Life Day is at 3 p.m. Aug. 20 at St. Wenceslaus Parish.  

The highlight of the observance is the presentation of the Msgr. John George Weber Century Farm Awards. Any Catholic family who has been in charge of a farm, owned, or operated a farm for one hundred years or more is eligible for the award. 

The 2017 awards are primarily for the parishes in the East Central Deanery, however, any Catholic family in the diocese who meets the criteria for the Century Farm Award may apply. 

The plaque is a nice remembrance of our ancestors and a great way to foster our Catholic heritage and faith. The award ceremony will be followed by refreshments and socializing. 

The stories of the families for the Century Farm Award reflect the growth of the faith and the Church in our diocese. The family story affects and reflects the story of their local parish as well. 

The Rural Life Commission serves the mission of the Church by promoting the care of God's creation and the welfare of the people who depend on it. 

For additional information, please visit http://salinadiocese.org/rural-life, or call Father Rich Daise (785)-462-2179 or Father Brian Lager (785)-434-4658.

Natural Family Planning is empowering, unifying for marriage

For The Register

“NFP? That’s just the Catholic Church’s version of birth control, right?”

“You use NFP? You must want a dozen kids!”

“NFP isn’t a guaranteed method of preventing pregnancy, so you might want to consider an additional method of birth control.”

How many times have you heard, or worse, expressed, any of those statements? I’ve been on the receiving end of such comments (unsurprisingly, I heard the last one from my former OB/GYN) numerous times in the 12 years I’ve been married, and even prior to that as my husband and I were learning the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning (NFP) during our engagement. It doesn’t get any easier to hear the tone of incredulity or shock in the voices of those with whom I’m discussing NFP or my husband’s and my use of it, but I have become much more confident in explaining why we use it. I’d like to share three of those reasons with you here in the hope that it will either confirm what you know and already practice or, if you are not currently utilizing this tool, entice you to give NFP a closer look.

First, NFP is empowering and personal in a way that no birth control can ever be. When taught and learned properly, NFP gives the couple knowledge about the woman’s body — the signs and cycles that make her and her fertility unique. For my husband and me, knowing how my body is supposed to work, how God intended it to work, is a powerful tool and brings a different level of intimacy to our marriage. It not only aids us when it comes to planning our family, but it helps us gain a clear picture of my overall reproductive health. I have friends who have credited NFP with helping them discover health problems or with helping their doctor figure out how to treat those issues. Knowledge is power! 

It further empowers us by teaching that regardless of what our national culture would have us believe, we really can be in control of our sexual desires and delay gratification! (Bet you’ll never hear that from Hollywood!)   

Conversely, conventional birth control methods — pills, IUDs, diaphragms, condoms, etc. — are wholly impersonal and are marketed (dare I say, used?) as a fix for something that isn’t broken or to simply make controlling your sexual desires less worrisome. They take meaning away from the act of love that God designed sex to embody and reduce it to merely a physical act that now has a commercial element. Yes, commerce enters into the birth control picture because you have to pay someone else for a product that will help you gain control over your fertility — a bandaid for something that isn’t broken — or let you give in to whatever your body desires whenever the urge strikes. 

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New family life event planned

The Register

Salina — Families are invited to gather July 28 and 29 to join in praise and worship music, Eucharistic adoration and an inspiring message.  This is the first year for Prayer and Praise for Children and Families, which is sponsored by the Office of Family Life.  “In our rural diocese it is difficult to sponsor diocesan wide events with much success due to the large geographical size,” said Corey Lyon, Director of the Office of Family Life. “Many parishes sponsor family events, but it is important for the diocese to organize family events as well to provide opportunities for the faithful to appreciate their belonging to something beyond just their local community.”

In order to cover a larger geographic region, an event is planned in both Colby and Salina.  Mike and Kelley Burns will provide praise and worship music for both events. The Burns’ live in Columbia, Mo., with their four children, ages 3 to 13, two dogs and six chickens. 

Married for 14 years, the duo met while singing in the church choir in college. Mike is a pharmacy manager and Kelley is the part-time director of a local non-profit focused on music education. The couple continues to sing and play music at church as well as volunteer with National Marriage Encounter.

“Our hope is to provide an opportunity for families to pray and worship and draw closer to the heart of Jesus together,” Lyon said. “The young people of our diocese who attend Steubenville Conferences, NCYC, the Diocesan CYO Convention, or other similar events have an opportunity to experience Praise and Worship and eucharistic adoration in a large group. Often, adult Catholics do not often have access to this experience. These can be very powerful moments that draw many people to conversion and are often not long forgotten.”

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Annual Catholic Charities fundraiser is July 23

The Register

Salina — Supporters have the chance to double their donation for the 12th Annual Catholic Charities Fundraiser. Donations up to $100,000 will be doubled, thanks to a multitude of anonymous donors, said Eric Frank, Director of Development for Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas.

“This is the largest donation match we’ve had to date,” Frank said. “Only God can make things like this happen. Now, more families in crisis­ can get the help they need to improve their lives.”  The annual fundraiser contributes to a large portion of the organization’s annual operating budget. The event will be from 5 to 7:30 p.m. July 23 at the Salina Country Club, 2101 E. Country Club Rd., Salina. Seating is limited for the event, and an RSVP is required.

This will be the second year the event is at the Salina Country Club.  “We saw many new faces at the event last year,” Frank said. “Some stated we’re advancing the event to another level.”  Catholic Charities hit the next level, only in terms of location, but last year’s fundraiser raised the most to date — more than $294,000. This year, Frank said the goal is to hit the $300,000 mark.

In April, Catholic Charities celebrated the grand opening of its new location at 1500 S. Ninth in Salina. An anonymous donor and the “Yesterday, Today and Forever” Campaign paid for much of the facility, Frank said. Yet there are a few items left to pay for, as well as the ongoing general operating expenses. 

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  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Andrew Gombert, EPABy Julie AsherWASHINGTON (CNS) -- U.S. senators must reject any bill that would replace the Affordable Care Act unless such a measure "protects poor and vulnerable people, including immigrants, safeguards the unborn and supports conscience rights," said the chairman of the U.S. bishops' domestic policy committee.Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the Senate to fix problems with the ACA in a more narrow way, rather than repeal it without an adequate replacement. "Both the American Health Care Act legislation from the U.S. House of Representatives and the Better Care Reconciliation Act from the Senate were seriously flawed, and would have harmed those most in need in unacceptable ways," Bishop Dewane said.The House passed its bill to repeal and replace the ACA health care law May 4 with a close vote of 217 to 213. The Senate's version collapsed July 17 after four Republican senators said they couldn't support it, leaving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, short of the 50 votes needed to bring the bill to the floor for a debate."In the face of difficulties passing these proposals, the appropriate response is not to create greater uncertainty, especially for those who can bear it least, by repealing the ACA without a replacement," he said.Bishop Dewane made the comments in a June 20 letter to U.S. senators released July 21.President Donald Trump had lunch with the GOP senators at the White House July 19 in an effort to get them to commit to moving forward a repeal and replace measure. A new Senate draft of a bill was released July 20, and McConnell is expected to hold a vote to begin debate July 25.Bishop Dewane referred back to a Jan. 18 letter in which the U.S. bishops "encouraged Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion to protect vulnerable Americans and preserve important gains in health care coverage and access." That letter reiterated principles he said the bishops laid out when the ACA was being debated in early 2010. "All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care that they can afford, and it should not depend on their stage of life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, where they live, or where they were born," the bishops said at the time. "The bishops' conference believes health care should be truly universal and it should be genuinely affordable.""Before any legislation had been proposed, the bishops were clear" in their Jan. 18 letter to lawmakers, Bishop Dewane said, "that a repeal of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act ought not be undertaken without the concurrent passage of a replacement plan that ensures access to adequate health care for the millions of people who now rely upon it for their well-being."To end coverage for those who struggle every day without an adequate alternative in place would be devastating," he said. "Nothing has changed this analysis." At the same time, "reform is still needed to address the ACA's moral deficiencies and challenges with long-term sustainability," Bishop Dewane said."Problems with the ACA can be fixed with more narrow reforms, and in a bipartisan way," he said, "Congress can extend full Hyde Amendment protections to the ACA, enact laws that protect the conscience rights of all stakeholders in health care, protect religious freedom, and pass legislation that begins to remove current and impending barriers to access and affordability, particularly for those most in need."In an analysis issued late July 20, the Congressional Budget office said the new version would still increase the current number of uninsured Americans by 22 million by 2026. In 2016, 28 million people were uninsured last year; in 2010, just over 48 million were uninsured in 2010, the year the ACA was signed into law by President Barack Obama.It would reduce average premiums in the ACA exchanges by 25 percent in 2026, end the individual and employer mandates, and rescind the Medicaid expansion under the current law. Taxes on investment income and payroll taxes affecting higher-income Americans would remain.- - -Copyright © 2017 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/Tyler OrsburnBy Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The chair of the migration committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged the Trump administration to "ensure permanent protection" for youth who were brought to the U.S. as minors without legal documentation. Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the Committee on Migration Committee, reiterated the bishops' support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a 2012 policy under then-President Barack Obama that, while not providing legal status, gives recipients a temporary reprieve from deportation and employment authorization in the United States as long as they meet certain criteria. During his campaign for president, Donald Trump said he would get rid of the program but later backtracked and it's unclear what will happen to the estimated 750,000 youth who signed up for the program. "DACA youth are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes," said Bishop Vasquez in a July 18 statement. "These young people entered the U.S. as children and know America as their only home. The dignity of every human being, particularly that of our children and youth, must be protected." He urged the administration "to continue administering the DACA program and to publicly ensure that DACA youth are not priorities for deportation." The bishops join other Catholic institutions worried about the group and urging protection. In May, more than 65 college presidents representing U.S. Catholic institutions asked for a meeting with the Secretary of Homeland Security to talk about immigration policy, particularly DACA, saying they worried about the future of their students. They cited incidents in which DACA recipients have been placed under immigration detention, including a case in which one of them was deported. "Many of these students will leave our campuses for internships, summer programs and jobs. Our prayer is that they return," their letter said, but so far there have been no announcements of what the administration will or won't do regarding the program. In his statement, Bishop Vasquez said that since DACA is not a permanent solution, "I also call on Congress to work in an expeditious and bipartisan manner to find a legislative solution for DACA youth as soon as possible."Some members of Congress had been working on a bipartisan bill to provide relief for "Dreamers," as the DACA recipients are known, but the McClatchy news agency reported July 19 that White House officials said the president would not support the legislative action. The administration already is facing pressure from some groups for not rescinding DACA, as it had promised. In late June, officials from nine states joined Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in urging the Trump administration to end DACA, threatening the government with a lawsuit on Sept. 5 if the program continues. Trump has said at least on a couple of occasions that the decision is more difficult than he first imagined and recently said he's still weighing what to do about it. The country's Catholic bishops will continue efforts to find a humane and permanent resolution "that protects DACA youth," Bishop Vasquez wrote."Additionally, I note the moral urgency for comprehensive immigration reform that is just and compassionate. The bishops will advocate for these reforms as we truly believe they will advance the common good," he said.- - -Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina.- - -Copyright © 2017 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/Armin Weigel, EPABy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- More than 500 boys suffered abuse at the hands of dozens of teachers and priests at the school that trains the prestigious boys choir of the Regensburg Cathedral in Germany, said an independent investigator. Former students of the Domspatzen choir reported that the physical, emotional and even sexual abuse at the school made life there like "a prison, hell and a concentration camp," said Ulrich Weber, the lawyer leading the investigation of claims of abuse at the choir and two associated boarding schools. A "culture of silence" among church leaders and members allowed such abuse to continue for decades, Weber said as he presented the final report on his findings during a news conference in Regensburg July 18. The investigation, commissioned by the Diocese of Regensburg, found that at least 547 former members of the Regensburg Domspatzen boys choir in Germany were subjected to some form of abuse, according to Vatican Radio. Of those victims, 67 students were victims of sexual violence, the radio said. But Weber told the Regensburg news conference that many former victims had declined to come forward during his two-year inquiries into the Domspatzen, adding that he believed the real number could be closer to 700. Regensburg church sources said around 300 financial compensation claims had been received from abuse victims, adding that 450,000 euros (US$518,000) had been paid out by the diocese so far. The 440-page report, which spanned the years between 1945 and the early 1990s, found highly plausible accusations against 49 members of the church of inflicting the abuse, with nine of them accused of being sexual abusive. The Diocese of Regensburg and the Domspatzen choir supplied links to the report and related news stories or resources on their respective web sites: www.bistum-regensburg.de and www.domspatzen.de. In the report, Weber sharply criticized Cardinal Gerhard Muller, who was bishop of Regensburg from 2002 until 2012, when Pope Benedict appointed him to head the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Then-Bishop Muller had "a clear responsibility" in the "strategic, organizational and communication weaknesses" that marked the process he launched of reviewing allegations. Cardinal Muller had ordered the creation of a commission to investigate and search through diocesan archives in the wake of the 2010 abuse crisis. But in an interview with TV2000, the satellite television station owned by the Italian bishops' conference, Cardinal Muller denied he had not done enough as bishop of Regensburg. "I launched the process of investigation" when abuse claims increasingly emerged in 2010, he said in the interview, which aired July 20. Time, resources and assistance were dedicated to "offering justice to victims," he said, and he personally set up a team of experts and appealed to victims to come forward. "Those responsible for abuse are relatively few and a number of them are dead," he said, adding that "unfortunately we can't put dead people on trial, but whatever could be done, juridically and pastorally, the diocese did, just as it does today." He said the elementary school where the choir boys studied was "institutionally independent from the diocese" and that, at the time, it was also very reserved, "very closed, nobody could go in." "Perhaps there were rumors, but they never reached the diocese," the cardinal said. One of the first Domspatzen student-victims to come forward in 2010 with allegations of sexual abuse, Alexander Probst, told Deutsche Welle July 18 that he had been very frustrated and angry with the way then-Bishop Muller reacted to his claims. He said the bishop accused him of denouncing the church. In the interview, whose link could be found on the Regensburg boys' choir website, Probst said he felt the bishop actively protected abusers, and that "it got even worse when he was appointed head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; it was like putting a fox in charge of the henhouse." "It was only after the new bishop of Regensburg, Rudolf Voderholzer, realized that there was much more to all this than met the eye when things began to get better. Starting in 2015, he personally wanted to cooperate with us," Probst said. Widespread news of the suspected abuse first emerged in 2010 as religious orders and bishops' conferences in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands were faced with a flood new allegations of the sexual abuse of children, mainly at Catholic schools. The boys' choir had been led between 1964 and 1994 by Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of retired Pope Benedict XVI. In an interview with the German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse in 2010, Msgr. Ratzinger apologized to victims at his former school, even though he said he had been unaware of the alleged incidents. "There was never any talk of sexual abuse problems, and I had no idea that molestation was taking place," the priest said, as he recalled his 30 years as the school's choirmaster. Msgr. Ratzinger had said when he served at the school, "there was a climate of discipline and rigor ... but also of human understanding, almost like a family." He knew that the priest who headed the school from 1953 until his death in 1992 had slapped boys in the face, but said he had not considered such punishments "particularly brutal." "If I'd known the exaggerated vehemence with which the director acted, I would have reacted," he said in the 2010 interview. In his report, Weber said Msgr. Ratzinger should have known about at least some cases of physical violence, but that his role "was still not at all clear." Msgr. Michael Fuchs, diocesan vicar general, described Msgr. Ratzinger as a "passionate musician, priest and pedagogue" and an "emotional person," who had personally regretted slapping pupils during his 30 years as the school's choirmaster and apologized to Domspatzen victims. "I have no information to suggest his account, expressed many times, needs to be revised," Msgr. Fuchs told the news conference. Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told Vatican Radio the new report shows how Bishop Voderholzer "has taken seriously all the allegations" and is "very courageous in taking on an issue that has been looming for many years." It is only now that the facts have become "plain, in the light of day" because of establishing and cooperating with a professional, independent investigation, he said. This latest report should inspire church leaders around the world, Father Zollner said, "so that they do the same today because this will help, first of all, those who have been harmed in the past." - - - Contributing to this story was Jonathan Luxmoore. - - - Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz. - - -Copyright © 2017 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 photoAaron P. Bernstein, ReutersBy Julie AsherWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. House budget resolution "will place millions of poor and vulnerable people in real jeopardy" because it reduces deficits "through cuts for human needs" and by trying to slash taxes at the same time, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops' domestic policy committee. "A nation's budget is a moral document," said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. "Congress should choose a better path, one that honors those struggling in our country." Bishop Dewane's July 20 statement was issued in response to the budget resolution that was voted out of the House Budget Committee along party lines July 19. The nonbinding Republican measure is a 10-year budget blueprint that calls for $621.5 billion in national defense spending, provides for $511 billion in nondefense spending and ties cuts to a major overhaul of the U.S. tax code. It makes at least $203 billion in cuts over a decade in Medicaid, food stamps, tax credits for the working poor and other programs that help low-income Americans. The bill also would change Medicare into a type of voucher program for future retirees. "The USCCB is monitoring the budget and appropriations process in Congress very carefully, and is analyzing the proposed House budget resolution in more detail," Bishop Dewane said. "We note at the outset that the proposal assumes the harmful and unacceptable cuts to Medicaid from the American Health Care Act." The House May 4 passed the American Health Care Act to replace the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act. The Senate effort to repeal and replace the health care law collapsed late July 17. In the House budget resolution, "steady increases to military spending ... are made possible by cutting critical resources for those in need over time, including potentially from important programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) that provide essential nutrition to millions of people," Bishop Dewane said. "This would undo a bipartisan approach on discretionary spending from recent years, that, while imperfect, was a more balanced compromise given competing priorities," he added. Catholic Charities USA also rejected the measure's "dramatic cuts in key social safety net programs." Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of the national Catholic Charities network, urged House members "to prioritize and protect programs that support and uplift the poor and vulnerable in our country." "While CCUSA supports the responsible use of our nation's fiscal resources and has worked consistently to improve effectiveness in anti-poverty programs, reforms that seek only to cut our nation's social safety net will further strain efforts to meet individual needs and risk pushing more Americans into poverty," Sister Markham said July 20. She made the comments in a letter to Rep. Diane Black, R-Tennessee, who is chair of the House Budget Committee, and Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky, ranking member. Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity, who is president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, also wrote to Black and Yarmuth expressing her opposition to the budget resolution. "As an organization guided by the social teachings of the Catholic Church, we firmly believe that the federal budget should be informed by moral principles and offer special protections for the poor and vulnerable," she wrote July 18, the day the measure was unveiled. "A budget must be fair and just and cannot be balanced on the backs of those among us who least can afford it," Sister Keehan said. "We recognize that the proper role of federal spending programs should be to lift up the neediest among us enabling them to active participants in society. "Unfortunately, the deep cuts in programs and services assumed by this budget proposal will severely reduce or eliminate access to basic necessities such as food, shelter, health care, education and other social supports that help lift families and individuals out of poverty and improve their health outcomes," she said.- - -Copyright © 2017 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: Catholic News ServiceBy Josephine von DohlenWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic Facebook pages whose sponsors reported had been suddenly removed late July 17 were restored just over 24 hours later. Twenty-one Brazilian-based Catholic Facebook pages, such as a Papa Francisco Brazil page, as well as four English sites, could not publish content July 18 due to Facebook silently taking down their sites. Millions of followers were affected, according to ChurchPOP, a Christian Culture brand website."All pages have now been restored. This incident was triggered accidentally by a spam detection tool. We sincerely apologize for the issue this has caused." a Facebook spokesperson told Catholic News Service in an email sent late afternoon July 19.Among those with pages who were affected was the executive director of Relevant Radio, Father Francis J. Hoffman, affectionately known as "Father Rocky," who has 3.95 million likes from Facebook fans around the world. Relevant Radio reported that on July 17, all the page administrators of the Relevant Radio "Father Rocky" Facebook page found themselves unable to log onto Facebook. Once passing through a security measure, they found the Father Rocky page left "unpublished, with no other details or explanation." Father Rocky livestreams Mass daily from his Facebook page, as well as posts prayers, photos and even educational videos for his almost 4 million followers. Early July 19, Father Rocky posted a picture of a statue of Mary, stating, "Thanks be to God, I am back on Facebook!!" "This serves as a wake-up call and we urge all Relevant Radio listeners and Facebook followers to download the free Relevant Radio App as a secure and reliable resource for the daily Mass and inspirational programs," Father Rocky stated in a news release. The Facebook page, Catholic and Proud, which has over 6 million followers, told CNS in a Facebook message that things appeared to be fine until the evening of July 17, when the page then became unpublished for the next day. "The only notification I received was that we weren't adhering to their policies, but that's it, no reason, no example, absolutely nothing," the Catholic and Proud page wrote to CNS. "That's all we know. The inbox message reply here was also removed, so we couldn't respond to anyone." According to Facebook, protocols aimed at taking down fake pages out of line with commercial spam policies allow for machine searches of posts that have similar comments indicating any abuse of policy. Many religious sites often produce similar comments to spam on their posts, which may cause their sites to go down. When Facebook realized the mistake, they were able to restore the pages. In May 2016, Gizmodo, a design, technology, and politics website, published a piece accusing Facebook of censoring conservative trending topics, specifically the Conservative Political Action Conference and other conservative leaders. Their sources, former Facebook "news curators," even admitted that stories that were covered by conservative outlets could not be trending unless mainstream sites covered similar topics.In response, Facebook's vice president of search, Tom Stocky, released a statement saying, "We take these reports extremely seriously, and have found no evidence that the anonymous allegations are true."- - -Copyright © 2017 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.