• 2018 CCAA

    The 2018 Catholic Community Annual Appeal has begun. This year’s themes are “We, though many, are one body in Christ”

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  • TOTUS TUUS 2018

    Parish registration for the Totus Tuus program is now open. Totus Tuus (Latin for Totally Yours) named after St. John

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  • Job Opportunity

    Executive Assistant, Office of the Bishop and Vicar General - The Diocese of Salina is seeking an experienced Executive Assistant.

    Read More
  • Cause for Canonization

    Before becoming bishop of our diocese, Bishop Weisenburger was part of the team that worked on the "Cause of Canonization"

    Read More

Shedding light on discussing sexuality with children, family

The Register

Manhattan — Childhood is often synonymous with innocence.  It can be easy for parents to look at their bright-eyed child(ren) and want to shelter and protect them in every way.  Even with a religious upbringing and vigilant efforts by parents, Father Kyle Berens says society and culture is highly sexualized. What can often be an unintentional first exposure to sexual images can lead a child down a dark path, he said.  “Pornography, unfortunately, is a very common problem,” Father Berens said. “We need to address it as a common problem.  “To act like nothing is happening is a disservice to countless souls who are suffering. To those souls who think they are the only one who are struggling with pornography use or addiction.”

In order to help educate parents and families about how to discuss sexuality, the Salina Diocese is hosting an event: “Let light shine out of darkness” — Empowering FAMILIES to overcome the darkness of an over sexualized culture.  The event is from 3-5 p.m. March 11 at St. Thomas More Church in Manhattan. It will include talks by Dave DiNuzzo, founder of Truemanhood.com, and Lori and Eric Doerneman, creators of The Parenting Dare.

Lori Doerneman, the mother of 8 in Wichita, said as a parent, she was doing everything she thought she should to raise Catholic children.  “I didn’t talk to Eric about pornography because ‘Why would he look at that?’ ” she said.  The line is one she hears over and over from mothers. They know pornography is out there, but think their child would never view pornographic images.  She had the same assumption, until she walked into her son, Eric’s, bedroom during high school.  “He couldn’t get out,” she said of her son’s pornography use. “I could see it was an addiction. He could not just step out of it.”

This led to much research and discussion on the best course for her son, who is now 24, to take. He struggled through a decade of porn addiction, and now joins his mother to talk to parents and families, but also high school and college youth about the dangers of pornography.

DiNuzzo, who lives in Beloit, is the father of four young children. He began the True Manhood ministry a decade ago, after expressing frustration to his wife about a lack of resources for Catholic fathers.  “My wife said ‘Stop complaining and do something about it,’ ” he said.  His approach to discussing sexuality is to use St. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” as a basis.  “I will talk about human sexuality and how it looks, from the background of scripture and virtue,” he said. “I’ll be talking about the value of the human person and how God created us.”

The discussion is one appropriate for all ages, DiNuzzo said.  “I teach this stuff to kids every day,” he said. “The content will be age-appropriate.  “It’s appropriate to teach the Theology of the Body to a child or adult. There’s something age appropriate to talk about — how they value themselves. If they don’t know who they are and that distinction of male/female, they will never understand they were created for love and to love. They’ll have a skewed view of love in general.”

He said St. John Paul II said the opposite of love is not hate, but use.  “We have a culture of using each other and there is emptiness and despair,” DiNuzzo said.  An important aspect of discussion, especially with children, is the words chosen.  He and his wife, Cathrine, have four children, ranging from age five to 10 years old.  “We can teach little kids that you made a mistake or a bad decision, but that does not make you a bad person,” he said.

Pornography is a relevant topic for families. DiNuzzo said priests tell him the majority of confessions deal with lust relating to pornography.  “I believe pornography is the devil’s No. 1 tool,” he said. “We are so desensitized as a culture to pornography. It’s everywhere.”  As the mother of eight children, Lori Doerneman said it’s essential to have an open line of communication.   “We talk about pornography all the time,” she said. “Every week, I have an alarm set to sit own and talk with each child and ask them ‘Have you seen anything that makes you uncomfortable?’ ”


Priest’s perspective: Do not lose hope

The Register

About a year ago, Father Kyle Berens was at a conference with college students. One of the speakers, Father Sean Kilcawley, who works with Integrity Restored, urged the clergy in attendance to shed light on a topic often heard in the confessional, but rarely spoken about from the pulpit: pornography.  “Pornography is a physical and spiritual battle,” said Father Berens, the pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Junction City. “You can’t fight one with out the other or you will never win.”  For those struggling with pornography use or addiction, he said a good first step is to go to the sacrament of Reconciliation.  “Hopefully the priest can get them in contact with more help,” Father Berens said.

One spiritual aid in the battle against pornography is making some small sacrifice of food or other activities a person enjoys.  “You give up something to train your body and your will,” Father Berens said. “You learn to say no to something. You learn that you do not have to have what you want the moment you want it.”  Frequent confession is also helpful.  “I tell people it doesn’t matter if for a period of time you need to come in daily or weekly,” he said when dealing with a pornography addiction. “Sin is like cancer. The longer it sits on your soul, the weaker you become.”

The next step is to seek help. For some, this involves professional counseling. For others, it involves finding an accountability partner.  “Is there someone you trust that you can talk to about this outside of the confessional? That’s a good source of stopping pornography use,” Father Berens said. “With minors, I ask if they can talk to their parents. This is often the best thing for them to do.”

A common concern he hears from children is ‘Dad’s going to hate me’ or ‘Mom’s going to kill me.’ Fear of rejection or being shunned or shamed by family is common.  “I ask them ‘Will they really do that, or do you think they’ll be sad because you’re hurting?’ ” he said. “I offer to be present as part of the conversation because I am committed to their recovery and their healing.”  Another aspect of moving forward is to seek appropriate filters or software for electronic devices. 

With sexual images so prevalent in culture, it is difficult to avoid them. Father Berens said some parents are hesitant to talk about sex with children and teens.  “As Catholics, we’ve become so prudish and don’t want to talk about sex,” he said. “Kids are talking about sex and show each other things. If we act like nothing is happening, we’re feeding the naivete.”

Approaching a sexuality discussion should be done with prudence, and age appropriately, he quickly added. He often recommends the book “Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids” by Kristen A Jenson, MA, and Gail Poyner to help parents introduce the topic of pornography to grade school aged children.

Father Berens cautions parents that YouTube is a large source of first exposure to pornography for children.  “If they have electronics that are not monitored, there is no secret that the pornography industry is seeking out children,”  he said.  Often, innocent games or videos that look like popular children’s shows will begin innocently, but introduce nudity or inappropriate content. Likewise, some pornography sites have names similar to those children would type in the Internet, or search for. 


Man journeyed through pornography use, back to relationship with his wife and faith

The Register

When James* married his wife nearly three decades ago, he knew he would never seek a physical relationship with another woman.  Four years into the marriage, however, several circumstance collided and he found himself turning to pornography for gratification.  “I don’t put any blame on my wife,” he said. “I didn’t look at my wife’s situation in our early marriage affectionately. We had young children and my wife stayed at home.”  With young children, James said his wife was exhausted and the physical aspect of their relationship began to slip “so I looked for other places to satisfy myself.”

The rejection of marital affection cut deeply.  “When the rejection came, I took it personally,” he said. “I didn’t once think about looking outside my marriage with another woman,” but magazines and videos seemed like an easy solution … at the time.  And with a “boys will be boys” culture, it was easy to justify to himself.  “I heard the whispers saying ‘You deserve this,’ ” he said. “I wanted to feel good about it and would say ‘This is not cheating on my wife.’ ” 

Yet even as he was ensnared in the visual trap of pornography, he was still outwardly living his Catholic faith.  “The real part I had a problem with was going to Mass on Sunday and receiving Holy Communion,” he said. “I felt like such a traitor.  “I would not even think about going to Confession and confessing it at that time,” he added.

For nine years he struggled through the use of pornography. There weren’t many highs, but he can remember the lows vividly, including a time when his wife was out of town with their children. James remained home due to work commitments.  “I would go to the video store and rent DVDs,” he said and explained he would sometimes dub the movies.  On that particular weekend, he became sidetracked by other projects and inadvertently left the DVD in the family’s living room player.  “The TV was off and my son was three or four. He came downstairs and I was in a room and I hear ‘Dad, there’s something really gross on TV,’ ” James said. “I dropped what I was doing, I ran over and shut the TV off right away.  “It makes me shake when I think about it. My son was so young, he doesn’t remember it, thank God, but still. It was a horrible, horrible thing. As a father, I let that evil come into my home.”

The use of pornography was something that continued until he began leading weekend retreats for men. On one of those weekends, a fellow retreat staff member stood in front of the group of more than 60 men and gave a personal testimony about his pornography addiction.  “When I heard that, I thought to myself  ‘I gotta do this. I cannot ride the fence on this,’ ” James said. “We got into our small groups. I started talking about it and the tears flowed. It was a moment of reckoning. I promised my Lord I would work on this.”  Yet acknowledging the problem was only the first step of a slow process. He began with the sacrament of Reconciliation.  “That was one of the first steps,” James said. “It took me awhile to be able to talk to my wife about what I was doing. Then I went to my wife and told her everything.”  As he worked to free himself from the chains of pornography, however, the temptation became more intense.


CCAA in pew solicitation begins

By The Register

Would you use the gifts you received from the Lord to serve one another? Do you realize you are united with others across the diocese into one body in Christ?  The 2018 Catholic Community Annual Appeal (CCAA) is an opportunity to do just that. The gifts given through the 2018 CCAA fund the ministries and programs that serve parishes and individuals across the Salina Diocese. These include youth and adult education and formation as well as seminarian and clergy education and support. 

The Salina Diocese serves more than 44,000 Catholics across 26,685 miles. The diocese spreads east to west from Manhattan to the Colorado border, and north to south from the Nebraska border to just south of I-70. It includes small rural parishes and larger urban parishes. It serves young Catholics to more mature Catholics, leading all to a closer connection with Christ. Everyone in the Diocese is a part of the body of Christ, needing each other and sharing in the generosity of God. Everyone is called to be generous. 

On the weekend of March 3-4 there will be an in-pew solicitation for the CCAA to give people who have not had an opportunity to make a gift the chance to do so. Pledge cards and envelopes will be available in all parishes for those who need them. 

All registered parishioners should have received a packet with a letter in early February from diocesan administrator Father Frank Coady asking for their prayerful consideration and support of this important appeal. Those who did not receive a packet and would like one can call the Office of Development at (785) 827-8746, x 42. Gifts can be given online at https://salinadio.solutiosoftware.com/development/online-giving

At the beginning of the appeal, Father Coady shared an audio message at all Masses. The message in English and Spanish is available on the diocesan website, http://salinadiocese.org.  Everyone across the diocese is encouraged to make a gift. Catholic teachings suggest tithing 10 percent of a family’s income – 5 percent to the parish, 4 percent to other charities, and 1 percent to the diocese. The annual appeal provides an opportunity for all to evaluate their charitable giving and to share their financial gifts with the Salina Diocese.

The pledge card gives the option to give once, quarterly or monthly over 10 months, starting in March and ending in December. Pledging over time allows the donor to spread their gift over multiple months, making a larger gift more comfortable. It is asked that all pledges be paid by the end of the year. 

Last year 20 percent of households in the Salina Diocese gave to the annual appeal. Although this is an acceptable average, it is hoped that this year even more people will make a gift to “serve one another” through the 2018 CCAA.  Charitable giving is a reflection of God’s gifts to us. Giving back to God should reflect God’s generosity to us. Some are blessed more and can give more; some can give less. Whatever the gift amount it is appreciated and needed.

As Father Coady said in his letter, “Everyone has received from the generosity of God and these opportunities to give back make us who we are: the body of Christ joined together as one.”

2018 Catholic Community Annual Appeal

The 2018 Catholic Community Annual Appeal has begun. This year’s themes are “We, though many, are one body in Christ” and “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another.”

Father Frank Coady, Diocesan Administrator, sent a letter to every registered parishioner asking them to prayerfully consider a gift to support the ministries and programs that impact parishes across the Salina Diocese. As Father Coady said in the letter “To follow Christ is to have more concern for others than for ourselves. In this, we experience the joy and deep satisfaction that comes from being a servant. To give is to receive.”

He further explains, “the CCAA is your yearly opportunity to put this giving attitude into practice, to experience salvation by serving the ministries, parishes and individuals throughout the diocese…We have all received from the generosity of God and these opportunities to give back make us who we are: the body of Christ joined together as one.”

The Salina Diocese serves more than 44,000 Catholics across 26,685 miles. The diocese spreads east to west from Manhattan to Atwood, and north to south from the Nebraska border to just south of I-70. It includes small rural parishes and larger urban parishes. It serves young Catholics to more mature Catholics, leading all to a closer connection with Christ. The themes this year reflect the diversity of the diocese and calls each of us to be generous.

Click here for the message in English.

Right click here to download

Click here for the message in Spanish.

Right click here to download

CCAA gifts provide the funding for ministries and programs across the diocese that respond to a broad range of needs and interests, and consequently, bind us together as a community of faith. The $1.1 million goal will support four primary categories of ministries and programs in the diocese: Seminarian and clergy education; education and formation for youth and adults; diocesan administration; and national church collections.

Seminarian and clergy education will receive 44 percent of the gifts. These funds provide health care for our clergy, priests’ retirement, and continuing education for active as well as retired priests. In addition, these gifts support the education of seminarians. The diocese has 53 active priests and 20 retired priests, along with 10 seminarians. Priests bring God’s presence into each parish. Seminarians represent the future of our diocese. This is an important need within the Salina Diocese.


Featured Events

Catholic News Headlines

  • IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Publicly apologizing on behalf of the whole archdiocese for the "grave harm" caused by former Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron of Agana, Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes said a new chapter of humility, repentance and healing has opened for the Catholic Church in Guam following a Vatican verdict against his predecessor. "I called and still call upon all Catholics on Guam to intensify their prayers and with great humility, offer sacrifice for the grave harm and sins which we have experienced or have enabled in our church," Archbishop Byrnes said during a news conference in Guam March 18. "We hang our heads in shame for the grave evil one member inflicted upon others, in this case the most vulnerable," he said in remarks, which were later released in a written statement. "Our prayers for the victims of child abuse by Bishop Apuron and all victims of abuse here and worldwide continue; so shall our efforts to bring healing and restoration to all victims of clergy sexual abuse and to ensure this never happens again," he said. Archbishop Byrnes, who has been leading the archdiocese since 2016, made his comments after a Vatican tribunal announced March 16 it found Archbishop Agana guilty of some of the accusations made against him, including the sexual abuse of minors. After a canonical trial conducted by the apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Vatican judges imposed the following sanctions on the 72-year-old archbishop: the removal from office and a prohibition from residing in Guam. The archbishop can and will appeal. During the news conference, Archbishop Byrnes said he did not know on what charges the former archbishop had been found guilty and which ones had been dismissed. In fact, he told local reporters, he had received no communication about the trial's findings other than "I got a phone call saying to go to this site" to read the Vatican's public announcement. He said there had been no follow-up from the Vatican either as of March 17 and he assumed the former archbishop was now to be called Bishop Apuron, since losing the office of archbishop meant also losing the title associated with it. "We'll see with the appeal" what the final situation will be, he added. Archbishop Apuron released a statement March 17 through his lawyer, Jacqueline Taitano Terlaje: "While I am relieved that the tribunal dismissed the majority of the accusations against me, I have appealed the verdict. ... God is my witness; I am innocent and I look forward to proving my innocence in the appeals process." Supporters of the archbishop, conversing anonymously with journalists, claimed the archbishop was found guilty on only two of six charges and that the sentence implies those charges were not the most serious ones. Generally, clerics found guilty of sexually abusing minors face either removal from the priesthood or are sentenced to a life of prayer and penance and banned from any public ministry. Archbishop Byrnes said while there is much work and consultation to do in regard to local legal issues, he felt "a sense of relief" when the Vatican verdict had been announced. He said his reaction upon hearing the news was, "OK, good. Something's happened and they're not just stringing us along." The announcement of the verdict from the Vatican investigation, which began in February 2017, had been expected last year, the archbishop had said. Archbishop Apuron is among the highest-ranking church leaders to have been tried by the Vatican for sexual offenses. In a statement released March 16, the Vatican tribunal said, "The canonical trial in the matter of accusations, including accusations of sexual abuse of minors, brought against the Most Reverend Anthony Sablan Apuron, O.F.M.Cap., Archbishop of Agana, Guam, has been concluded." "The apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, composed of five judges, has issued its sentence of first instance, finding the accused guilty of certain of the accusations and imposing upon the accused the penalties of privation of office and prohibition of residence in the Archdiocese of Guam." U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, a noted canon lawyer, was the presiding judge in the canonical investigation of Archbishop Apuron. The statement did not specify the number of charges the archbishop faced, how many of them he was found guilty of or even the nature of the offenses for which he was convicted. "The sentence remains subject to possible appeal," the Vatican statement said. "In the absence of an appeal, the sentence becomes final and effective. In the case of an appeal, the imposed penalties are suspended until final resolution." Archbishop Apuron had been accused of sexually abusing several boys in the 1970s, and, in early January, one of the archbishop's nephews publicly claimed the archbishop had sexually abused him in 1990. Archbishop Apuron continually has denied the abuse allegations. Pope Francis placed Archbishop Apuron on leave in June 2016 after the accusations were made public. The pope named an apostolic administrator to run the archdiocese for several months and then named Coadjutor Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes, a former auxiliary bishop of Detroit, to take over. Until the Vatican court handed down its sentence, Archbishop Apuron had continued to hold the title of archbishop of Agana, but did not hold the faculties, rights or obligations pertaining to the office, because they had been granted to Archbishop Byrnes. The former archbishop greeted Pope Francis at the end of a general audience February 7 in Rome. The Italian website, Vatican Insider, claimed former Archbishop Apuron told the pope, "Holy Father, I wanted to see you before I die."- - -Copyright © 2018 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 Junno Arocho EstevesSAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO, Italy (CNS) -- Many people admire St. Padre Pio, but too few imitate him, especially in his care for the weak, the sick and those who modern culture treats as disposable, Pope Francis said during Mass at Padre Pio's shrine. "Many are ready to 'like' the page of the great saints, but who does what they do?" the pope asked March 17. "The Christian life is not an 'I like,' but an 'I give myself.'" Pope Francis celebrated the Mass outside the Shrine of St. Pio of Pietrelcina with about 30,000 people after visiting children in the cancer ward of the hospital St. Pio founded, Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (House for the Relief of Suffering). In his homily, the pope reflected on three words that both summarized the day's readings and, he said, the life of Padre Pio: prayer, smallness and wisdom. Smallness, he said, calls to mind those whose hearts who are humble, poor and needy like the young patients cared for in Padre Pio's hospital and those who in today's world are unwanted and discarded. Departing from his prepared text, Pope Francis said he remembers being taught in school about the Spartans, who, "when a boy or girl was born with malformations, they would take them to the top of the mountain and throw them over." "We children would say, 'How cruel,'" the pope said. But, "brothers and sisters, we do the same. With more cruelty and more knowledge. Whatever isn't useful, whatever doesn't produce, is thrown away. This is the throwaway culture. The little ones are not wanted today." "Those who take care of children are on the side of God and defeat the throwaway culture, which, on the contrary, prefers the powerful and considers the poor useless," he said. "Those who prefer the little ones proclaim a prophecy of life against the prophets of death of every age." Only with wisdom, motivated by love and charity for others, can true strength be found, he said. Christians aren't called simply to admire great saints like Padre Pio, but rather to imitate their way of fighting evil wisely "with humility, with obedience, with the cross, offering pain for love." Prayer, he said, is "a gesture of love" that is often stifled by excuses and leads to Christians forgetting that without God "we can do nothing." "We must ask ourselves: do our prayers resemble that of Jesus or are they reduced to occasional emergency calls? Or do we use them as tranquilizers to be taken in regular doses to relieve stress?" the pope asked. Padre Pio recognized throughout his life that prayer "heals the sick, sanctifies work, elevates healthcare and gives moral strength," he said. Pope Francis began his day of tribute to St. Pio with an early morning visit to Pietrelcina, where the Capuchin saint was born in 1887. Thousands waited outside the square of the Chapel of the Stigmata which houses a piece of the elm tree Padre Pio sat in front of when he first received the stigmata -- wounds on his feet, hands and side corresponding to those Jesus suffered at the crucifixion -- in September 1918. Pope Francis entered the chapel where he prayed privately for several minutes before making his way to the square to greet the faithful. Standing in front of an iconic image of a young Padre Pio bearing the wounds of Christ's crucifixion in his hands, the pope said that it was in Pietrelcina that the future saint "strengthened his own humanity, where he learned to pray and recognize in the poor the flesh of Christ." "He loved the church, he loved the church with all its problems, with all its woes, with all its sins -- because we are all sinners; we feel shame -- but the spirit of God has brought us here to this church which is holy. And he loved the holy church and its sinful children, everyone. This was St. Pio," Pope Francis said. Recalling the time in Padre Pio's life when he returned to Pietrelcina while he was ill, the pope said the saintly Capuchin "felt he was assailed by the devil" and feared falling into sin. Departing from his prepared remarks, the pope asked the people if they believed the devil existed. When only a handful of people responded, he told them it didn't seem "they were totally convinced." "I'm going to have to tell the bishop to give some catechesis," he said jokingly. "Does the devil exist or not?" "Yes!" the crowd responded loudly. Christians, he continued, should follow the example of the Capuchin saint who did not fall into despair but instead found refuge in prayer and put his trust in Christ. "All of theology is contained here! If you have a problem, if you are sad, if you are sick, abandon yourself in Jesus' arms," the pope said. - - - Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2018 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/Vatican MediaBy Greg ErlandsonWASHINGTON (CNS) -- What was meant to be an intellectual tribute to Pope Francis has instead become the backdrop to the latest tempest over transparency and this pontificate. On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis, the Vatican publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, unveiled a series of 11 books focusing on the intellectual roots and thought of Pope Francis. Numerous theologians contributed to the volumes, and they are being published in several languages. In a news conference attended by Catholic News Service, Msgr. Dario Vigano, prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for Communication who oversees LEV, explained that he had asked retired Pope Benedict XVI to "write a page or a page and a half of dense theology in his clear and punctual style that (we) would have liked to read this evening." Pope Benedict responded with "a beautiful, personal letter," Msgr. Vigano said. The retired pope explained that he could not write a theological reflection on the 11 volumes because he had not read them and would be physically unable to do so in time for the March 12 presentation. However, he expressed the hope that the series would contradict "the foolish prejudice of those who see Pope Francis as someone who lacks a particular theological and philosophical formation '" Pope Benedict said the books "reasonably demonstrate that Pope Francis is a man with profound philosophical and theological formation and are helpful to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament." So far, so good. However, when the Secretariat for Communication released a photo of the first page of the letter, two lines at the end of the first page were blurred out, making it look as if someone had intentionally obscured the fact that Pope Benedict had not read the series, and leaving only the words defending his successor. Two days later, some Vatican watchers began writing about the blurred photo. At this point, the blurring, not the book series, became the story. As reported by the Associated Press' lead Vatican reporter, Nicole Winfield, "The Vatican admitted Wednesday that it altered a photo sent to the media of a letter of retired Pope Benedict XVI about Pope Francis. The manipulation changed the meaning of the image in a way that violated photojournalist industry standards." Sources at the Vatican explained that the letter itself was never intended to be made public, which was why the second page was obscured in the carefully staged photo. One source called it a "photo illustration." U.S. photojournalists adhere to strict standards regarding any sort of manipulation of a photographed image. AP norms, which are followed by Catholic News Service, state that "no element should be digitally added or subtracted from any photograph." Whatever the intention on the part of the Vatican Secretariat for Communication, the obscuring of a portion of the letter suggested something they did not want everyone to see. Read in this context, Pope Benedict could be seen to be qualifying his generic support for the publication of the series. For those who attended the news conference, the context of Pope Benedict's comments was clear, and the fact that Msgr. Vigano read out loud the lines that were subsequently obscured in the image makes the incident sound more like a matter of poor judgment than deception. The controversy comes on the heels of the publication of Pope Francis' World Communications Day message, which criticized the phenomenon of "fake news," defining the phrase as "false information based on nonexistent or distorted data meant to deceive and manipulate the reader." The entire incident is a reminder that in a media-sophisticated age, with a media-omnipresent pope, the Vatican communications apparatus must be committed both to transparency and to best journalistic practices. Anything less is a disservice to the church. - - - Erlandson is director and editor-in-chief of Catholic News Service.- - -Copyright © 2018 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/Lilian Muendo, courtesy GSRBy Beth GriffinUNITED NATIONS (CNS) -- Mely Lenario quietly described her harrowing journey from ambitious, naive rural girl trafficked to hopeless, drug-fueled urban prostitute, through slow rehabilitation to a new life as an outreach worker. After she finished her story, hundreds of people in a U.N. conference room jumped to their feet in a sustained ovation. Lenario spoke March 13 on "Preventing Human Trafficking Among Rural Women and Girls," a panel co-sponsored by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations. As an 8-year-old, Lenario was abused by her stepfather in the Philippines. He threatened her at knife point after she watched him rape her sister. When she confronted her mother and neighbors about it, she was placed into a Jesuit-run orphanage for seven years. As a teen, she accepted an offer of work and a free education from an elegant woman visitor who arranged transportation to Cebu, a city distant from her hometown. In Cebu, she was prostituted and forced to use drugs to stay awake all night and improve the glum demeanor that discouraged customers. Lenario begged for release but was told she had to pay for the transportation and other expenses incurred by her traffickers. She resigned herself to a life of prostitution. "I felt hopeless and worthless. I felt already ruined," Lenario said. Ultimately, she met compassionate women and men religious who introduced her to the Good Shepherd Welcome House in Cebu. With their help and five years of effort, she overcame her drug habit, finished high school and trained to be a nurse's aide. "I had to learn how to forgive myself and the people who caused me pain," she said. Lenario now studies social work and serves as an outreach counselor to trafficked women and girls at the Good Shepherd Welcome House. "I want to give them hope. I want to be an inspiration and give voice to all the abused women out there. I want to show them that if I could change my life, they can, too," she said. The U.N. panel was a side event to the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women. It focused on the contributions of women religious to prevent trafficking by providing educational and employment opportunities for rural girls, women and their families, disrupt the "supply chain" of the trafficking business, and help survivors tell their stories. Trafficked women are "marginalized by an environment that can't meet their needs," Mercy Sister Angela Reed said. Therefore, anti-trafficking strategies must address the root causes of the problem, which include poverty, unemployment, discrimination, violence, rural isolation and lack of access to education, she said. Sister Reed is the coordinator of Mercy Global Action at the United Nations. "Human trafficking is one of the darkest and most revolting realities in the world today," said Msgr. Tomasz Grysa, Vatican deputy ambassador. Vulnerable rural women and girls suffer "compounded marginalization" and are at a "cumulative disadvantage prior to being trafficked," he said. "Their dignity and rights are not adequately respected before they're trafficked, something that makes them more susceptible to much worse violations of their dignity and rights later." Religious sisters are "going to the existential peripheries" to do heroic work, but they cannot do it alone, Msgr. Grysa continued. Trafficking is "a global phenomenon that exceeds the competence of any one community or country. To eliminate it, we need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself." Sister Annie Jesus Mary Louis, a Franciscan Missionary of Mary, is executive director of Jeevan Jharna Vikas Sanstha in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. She said, "Sexual exploitation is big business, governed by the same principles of supply and demand as any commercial activity." The sex industry treats people like products and the sex trade has a supply chain of exploitation driven by demand and fueled by greed, vulnerability and deception. It is an illusion that women and girls freely choose prostitution, she said. The supply chain can be disrupted and trafficking prevented when families have opportunities and feel like society cares about them, Sister Louis said. Families need loving accompaniment and rural women and girls should be protected with at least the same level of investment that is put into labor exploitation, she said. The rural population is disproportionately affected by trafficking, said Mercy Sister Lynda Dearlove, founder of Women at the Well in London. Religious groups with long-term enduring local relationships have an advantage over large organizations in preventing trafficking, she said. "Individuals hold the key to empowering women and girls," she said. Large international funding groups sometimes create an unnecessary layer between donors and those in need, she said. Sister Reed said women must be seen as anti-trafficking advocates. The Religious Sisters of Mercy help women share firsthand accounts to bring women's voices into public policy discussions and prevention efforts. "We need to change the dominant narrative that trafficking is a random act" to an understanding that it is a sign of systemic marginalization and oppression, she said. Successful preventive approaches counter the vulnerability of potential trafficking victims, Sister Reed said. They include providing an adequate standard of living and quality education, fostering human attachment and a sense of belonging in adolescents, and supporting decent work and full participation in society for adults. Sister Sheila Smith, a Sister of the Sacred Heart, who is co-founder of Persons Against the Crime of Trafficking in Humans in Ottawa, Ontario, described the mutual relationship between human rights and human dignity in the context of rural trafficking. "We work tirelessly for prevention because we value each other," she said.- - -Copyright © 2018 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/Vatican MediaBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Praying for God's intercession takes courage, dogged persistence and patience, said Pope Francis. "If I want the Lord to listen to what I am asking him, I have to go, and go and go -- knock on the door and knock on God's heart," the pope said in his homily March 15 at morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. "We cannot promise someone we will pray for him or her and then say an 'Our Father' and a 'Hail Mary' and then leave it at that. No. If you say you'll pray for another, you have to take this path. And you need patience," he said. Pope Francis' homily focused on the day's reading from the Book of Exodus (32:7-14), in which God tells Moses how angry he is that his people have created a golden calf to worship as their god. God threatens to unleash his wrath on them and promises Moses, "Then I will make of you a great nation." Pope Francis said Moses does not take the bait or get involved in "games of bribery." Moses sticks by his people and does not "sell his conscience" for his own gain, the pope said. "And God likes this. When God sees a soul, a person who prays and prays and prays for something, he is moved." Moses had the courage to speak "face-to-face" and truthfully to the Lord, he said, and successfully implored God to relent and not punish his people. "For prayers of intercession, you need two things: courage, that is, 'parrhesia,' and patience," he said. People's hearts must be truly invested in the thing or person they are praying for; otherwise not even courage and patience will be enough to keep going, he added. People should ask God for the grace to pray frankly and freely to God, as sons and daughters would talk to their father, knowing that "my father will listen to me," Pope Francis said.- - -Copyright © 2018 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.