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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?

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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?

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Father Parker works on 2 degrees during program

By The Register

Mundelein, Ill. — While going back to school after completing the seminary could seem daunting, Father Nick Parker said he has a focus for his continuing education.

“I’m going back with a clear purpose in mind,” Father Parker said. “I’ve experienced personally what life is like in a parish, so I can apply my studies to how this will help me in future ministry.”

With two years down and one to go, Father Parker has completed one of his two advanced degrees.

In May he received the Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.). He is now working on his doctorate in sacred theology (S.T.D.) at the same school.­­

“I read and write,” Father Parker said of his tasks. 

The current objective is to complete his doctoral dissertation, which will be between 150 and 400 pages. His chosen topic is the sanctity of marriage, more specifically, sacrifice within marriage according to Catholic philosopher and tehologian Dietrich von Hildebrand.

“In the end it will be somewhat of a commentary and critique of his works,” Father Parker said.

The dissertation will have to be approved by three readers, and he will have to give a public defense of the paper.

Father Parker said the years of parish life before working on his advanced degrees were invaluable. The experience inspired his topic of marriage as a doctoral dissertation. 

“Marriage affects everybody,” Father Parker said. “I wanted to write a dissertation that is academic, but relevant and something I could use for the average person in the parish.”

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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.

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Father O’Donnell works on Canon Law degree

By The Register

Ottawa, Canada —Father Peter O’Donnell is continuing Canon Law studies, a process to receive a licentiate in Canon Law (J.C.L.) that will conclude in June 2017. 

Father O’Donnell completed the first portion of the degree via online course work. He completed six hours per week of course material while assuming duties as the associate pastor of St. Francis Xavier in Junction City. He moved to St. Paul University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in April.

“I miss the regular interaction with parishioners,” Father O’Donnell said. “I miss bringing the sacraments to people and all the elements of parish life that I have come to love.”

One of the primary reasons to train Father O’Donnell in Canon Law is to serve on the Tribunal, which is the judicial branch of the Salina Diocese. The Tribunal primarily handles marriage annulments. Additionally, he said “(Canon lawyers) are in place to assist the bishop with important decisions. They offer expertise for more difficult ecclesiastical duties. They are interested in preserving the law of the Church based on Divine Revelation.”

Advanced studies wasn’t something Father O’Donnell said was a goal as a seminarian. 

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Father Tran says Mass of Thanksgiving

The Register

Salina — Seventeen years after entering religious life, John Tran greeted the congregation at St. Mary Queen of the Universe as Father John Tran.

“It’s been a long journey for me to get to this point,” Father Tran said during his homily. “It’s been almost 17 years to the day that I left this parish, this town, this state, to figure out what God was calling me to do and be. And after 17 years, now I can echo the words of St. Paul today when he says: ‘From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.’

“No more questions like: ‘When are you going to be ordained?’  Or, ‘How much longer?’ Or, ‘Hi Father, oh wait, you’re still not a priest yet?’ ”

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Curtis Martin to speak at men’s conference Aug.­­ 13

By The Register

Hays — The fifth annual Salina Diocesan Men’s Conference will be Saturday, August 13 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

The convention, themed “Come Follow Me” is open to all men high school and older.

The keynote speaker is Curtis Martin, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. In January 1998, FOCUS established its pilot program at Benedictine College in Atchison with two staff members and 24 students. FOCUS now has more than 500 missionaries on 113 campuses, with two new locations opening in Kansas this year: Wichita State University and Emporia State University.

“Christ is not calling a few select to be saints, but he is calling everyone to come to encounter him in a personal way, so that our lives are forever changed,” Martin said in one of his talks. “Like St. Peter, after encountering Jesus in a personal way, you drop your nets and take up our role, following him and become who we are meant to be.”

 The conference is open to men within the Diocese of Salina, and those who are from other dioceses are welcome as well.

Doug Haverkamp from St. George said this will be his third men’s conference.

“The guest speakers have been excellent,” he said, adding he is excited to hear what Martin has to say.

Haverkamp said including his adult son, Jacob, is something he’s done during all of the conferences he’s attended.

“This give the opportunity to truly make time and take time to really think about the Catholic religion and the true meaning of being able to give and reflect upon your own life and how you would like to be able to be a better person,” he said.

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New permanent deacon ordained in Kentucky, lives in Salina

By The Register

Lexington, Ky. — The first ordination Deacon Steven Frueh ever attended was his own.

On June 4, Frueh was ordained a permanent deacon in at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Lexington, Ky.

While he was ordained in Kentucky, Frueh now lives in Salina where he is assigned as a permanent deacon at St. Mary Queen of the Universe Parish. 

He began his studies toward the permanent diaconate while a Kentucky resident, but once his move to Kansas was finalized, Bishop Edward Weisenburger requested Frueh complete the five-year program with his class and be ordained by Bishop John Stowe.

Becoming a permanent deacon didn’t happen overnight. Frueh said he and his wife, Kelli, were married in the church and baptized their children, Kyle and Katelyn, Catholic.

“It’s been a progression in my faith over the years,” he said.

As a young boy, Frueh said he would dress up as a priest and “play Mass” for his siblings. As he entered grade school, his interest changed and his objective was to become a state trooper when he grew up.

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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.”

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Catholic News Headlines

  • IMAGE: CNS/Nancy WiechecBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In an effort to help contemplative women religious renew their life and mission in the church and the world, Pope Francis issued a series of new rulings dealing with formation, assets, prayer life, authority and autonomy. The new rulings include a mandate that "initially, all monasteries are to be part of a federation" based on "an affinity of spirit and traditions" with the aim of facilitating formation and meeting needs through sharing assets and exchanging members. Monasteries voting for an exception from joining a federation will need Vatican approval. All institutes of contemplative women religious will need to revise or update their constitutions or rules so as to implement the new norms and have those changes approved by the Holy See. Titled "Vultum Dei Quaerere" (Seeking the face of God), the document focuses on the life of contemplative women religious. Dated June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, it was released by the Vatican July 22, the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. The 38-page document contains 14 new articles ruling on various aspects of life within monasteries and their jurisdiction, including a regulation outlining the criteria needed for a monastery to retain juridical autonomy or else be absorbed by another entity or face closure. The Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life is now charged with creating a new instruction to replace what had been the current -- but now no longer in effect -- "Verbi Sponsa" -- the congregation's 1999 instruction on contemplative life and cloistered nuns. Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, secretary of the congregation, told reporters July 22 that the new apostolic constitution is meant to fill the legislative gaps that have become apparent since Pope Pius XII's apostolic constitution "Sponsa Christi," issued 66 years ago. The bulk of the new document outlines 12 aspects of consecrated life that call for "discernment and renewed norms" in an effort to help contemplative women fulfill their specific vocation and "essential elements of contemplative life," the pope wrote. The document also notes today's pervasive "digital culture" and praises the potential of internet for formation and communication. However, the pope calls for "prudent discernment" in the use of new media so that they don't lead women to "wasting time or escaping from the demands of fraternal life in community" or become harmful to one's vocation or an obstacle to contemplative life. The pope praised contemplative women and expressed the church's long-held esteem for men and women who chose to follow Christ "more closely" by dedicating their lives to him "with an undivided heart" and in a prophetic way. Underlining how much the church and humanity need their prayers, self-sacrifice and evangelizing witness, the pope said it was not easy for today's world to understand their "particular vocation and your hidden mission; and yet it needs them immensely." Like beacons of light, contemplative women are "torches to guide men and women along their journey through the dark night of time," pointing the way to the new dawn and the truth and life of Christ, the pope said. They are "like Mary Magdalene on Easter morning, announce to us: 'I have seen the Lord!'" and Mary, the Mother of God, who contemplates the mystery of God in order to see the world "with spiritual eyes." However, contemplative life can "meet with subtle temptations" -- the most dangerous being: listlessness, falling into mere routine, lack of enthusiasm and hope, and "paralyzing lethargy," he said. To that end, the pope highlighted 12 aspects of contemplative and monastic life that needed particular attention and renewed norms for women: formation; prayer; the word of God; the sacraments of the Eucharist and reconciliation; fraternal life in community; autonomy; federations; the cloister; work; silence; media; and asceticism. The document includes clearer regulations saying that maintaining juridical autonomy will entail having "a certain, even minimal, number of sisters, provided that the majority are not elderly, the vitality needed to practice and spread the charism, a real capacity to provide for formation and governance, dignity and quality of liturgical, fraternal and spiritual life, sign value and participation in life of the local church, self-sufficiency and a suitably appointed monastery building." If a monastery falls short of the criteria, then the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life "will study the possibility of establishing an ad hoc commission made up of the ordinary, the president of the federation, a representative of the federation and the abbess or prioress of the monastery." The commission's aim will be to find ways to revitalize the monastery "or to effect its closure." Pope Francis repeats warnings he has made before in speeches to consecrated men and women, against "the recruitment of candidates from other countries solely for the sake of ensuring the survival of a monastery." Archbishop Rodriguez explained the church is "not closing its doors" to its universal makeup, but that more thorough and careful discernment must be made by superiors and candidates in reflecting upon their reasons for entering monastic life. The document, the archbishop said, also clearly states that nuns charged with formation can receive continued formation for themselves even outside the monastery, in a way that is consistent with their charism. The importance of their own formation cannot be sacrificed, he said, just because they have been called to live a cloistered life. The other major change, the archbishop said is contained in article 10, in which each monastery is to ask the Holy See "what form of cloister it wishes to embrace, whenever a different form of cloister from the present one is called for." "Once one of the possible forms of cloister is chosen and approved, each monastery will take care to comply with, and live in accordance with, its demands," the document said. Other mandatory norms each monastery will have to adhere to: verify the centrality and place of prayer in daily life; provide for "lectio divina" and eucharistic adoration; find ways to involve the local church more; and provide "suitable moments of silence." The archbishop said no document on the life of contemplative men's orders was in the works or being considered. He said work on the constitution began two-and-a-half years ago when the congregation sent out a questionnaire to every monastery, about 4,000 around the world. The responses were compiled and considered in the drafting process of the new constitution, he said, and contemplative women were "greatly listened to." Like the number of religious men and women, the number of contemplative women religious has declined the past decade going from more than 48,000 women in 2000 to less than 39,000 in 2014, he said. Europe remains the continent with the highest numbers of contemplative women -- more than 23,000, followed by the Americas with more than 8,000. - - - Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.- - -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/Carlo Allegri, ReutersBy Mark PattisonWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta has been appointed as chair of a new task force of the U.S. bishops to deal with racial issues brought into public consciousness following a series of summertime shootings that left both citizens and police officers among those dead. The task force's charge includes helping bishops to engage directly the challenging problems highlighted by the shootings. Task force members will gather and disseminate supportive resources and "best practices" for their fellow bishops; actively listening to the concerns of members in troubled communities and law enforcement; and build strong relationships to help prevent and resolve conflicts. "By stepping forward to embrace the suffering, through unified, concrete action animated by the love of Christ, we hope to nurture peace and build bridges of communication and mutual aid in our own communities," said a July 21 statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In addition to creating the task force and appointing its members, Archbishop Kurtz also called for a national day of prayer for peace in our communities, to be held Sept. 9, the feast of St. Peter Claver. Archbishop Gregory is a former USCCB president. Other task force members are Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Social Development; Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee for African-American Affairs; Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development; and retired Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, who is president of the National Black Catholic Congress. The day of prayer, according to a July 21 USCCB announcement about the task force's formation, will "serve as a focal point for the work of the task force." The task force's work will conclude with the USCCB's fall general meeting in November, at which time it will report on its activities and recommendations for future work. "I have stressed the need to look toward additional ways of nurturing an open, honest and civil dialogue on issues of race relations, restorative justice, mental health, economic opportunity and addressing the question of pervasive gun violence," Archbishop Kurtz said. "The day of prayer and special task force will help us advance in that direction." The task force will have bishop consultants, including Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is USCCB vice president, as well as bishops whose jurisdictions have experienced extreme gun violence, or who otherwise bring special insight or experience on related questions. An equal or smaller number of lay consultants with relevant expertise will be appointed soon thereafter, the USCCB announcement said. "I am honored to lead this task force which will assist my brother bishops, individually and as a group, to accompany suffering communities on the path toward peace and reconciliation," said Archbishop Gregory in a July 21 statement. "We are one body in Christ, so we must walk with our brothers and sisters and renew our commitment to promote healing. The suffering is not somewhere else, or someone else's; it is our own, in our very dioceses."- - -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: By Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When Pope Francis goes to Poland to meet with an expected 2 million young people from around the world, he's going with a firm idea of the dreams, fears and challenges so many of them face. He knows what lies inside the hearts and minds of today's youth, not because of any third-party polling or sophisticated survey, but because Pope Francis practices what he's called an "apostolate of the ear." It takes patience and grace, he told disadvantaged university students in Rome in June, to truly listen to what others have to say -- a call he repeated during his Angelus address this month, warning that people's hectic lives were threatening an already hobbled ability to listen. As pope, a busy ministry that could easily lead to isolation or overscheduling, he has worked hard to make the time to listen to people of all backgrounds in public and private settings. And he has often broken with papal protocol to get an unfiltered look at what today's youth think and feel. He will scrap pre-written speeches and ask his sometimes very young audiences what questions they have. He also does interviews with young people, including those who aren't Catholic or even religious, like when he welcomed six young students and reporters from Belgium in 2014. When they asked why he agreed to do the video interview with them, the pope said because he sensed they had a feeling of "apprehension" or unease about life and "I think it is my duty to serve young people," to listen to and help guide their anxiety, which is "like a seed that grows and in time bears fruit." His latest sit-down with a group of young people came in May when he met with YouTube personalities from different parts of the world. The popular vloggers have a huge following of millions of young people themselves, and so they know beyond their own personal experiences what many kids today are thinking and feeling. The full 50-minute video of that closed-door Q&A was uploaded recently with little fanfare by one of the 11 young people and posted on the YouTube channel, Anna RF. The questions they ask and advice the pope gives offer a good indication of what he's been hearing these past years and what he may hope to convey when he meets with participants at World Youth Day events. Here's a brief look at their biggest concerns and how the pope responded: -- Bullying, exclusion, intolerance: The pope said dial down aggression by showing tenderness and humility. "Aggression is always a sign of insecurity," so try to neutralize the attack by showing good manners, listening, softly asking questions about what the person is trying to say and letting them vent their anger. "You should never react to provocation. It's better to look stupid than respond when you are provoked," he said. Favor encounters and dialogue that look for a sense of belonging that goes beyond racial, religious, ethnic or group identities. "There is something far greater" to which everyone belongs -- the human family, he said. -- Identity and belonging: The pope said people have to feel they belong to something, and if their family or community is broken, then a virtual belonging online can help. Supportive peers online can create a circle of friendship and belonging, and from there "craft a path of hope" for those who feel lost or alone. -- Helping those who feel hopeless or lost: The best thing to do is not to speak, but hold their hand, he said. "We have forgotten the language of gestures and actions" and have gotten too used to words, which sometimes, especially when someone is in pain, "are of no use." -- Immigration and integration: Newcomers need to be able to hold onto their own culture, he said. Europe has such a negative experience of migration because they did not develop healthy policies that fostered integration while allowing people to keep their own culture without being judged or rejected, he said. -- Fostering empathy, understanding among religions in the face of negative media messaging: The relationship between people of different religious beliefs needs to be based on brotherly love because "we all have the same father," he said. People have to listen to each other and look at the positive things each religion proposes in order to build that positive relationship, he said. Solely underlining what divides one religion from another amounts to "putting up a wall" and attacking each other, he added. "What makes us attack, what divides us are fundamentalists," he said, in which individuals think they themselves hold the truth and everyone else is wrong. Starting with the awareness "we are all brothers and sisters," he said, "leads to dialogue." -- Taking a stand on controversial topics, how to fight for what is right: The pope said he is not always successful in quelling the anger his position or words may cause "so if I fail, I always say it is my fault." He said he looks at what went wrong -- not to invent an excuse, but to see where dialogue can be built. "What helps me is to listen," he said. Sit down and hear what others have to say and talk according to the art of persuasion, not aggressive debate, he said. "Persuasion can be peaceful. This is my way." The pope repeatedly shows through his gestures and words that "the root of peace lies in our capacity to listen," as he said at his Angelus address July 17. Listening for the pope ends up being not just a method for gathering information for helping people; the gesture of listening is itself an act of peace.- - -Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.- - -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/Jok Solomun, ReutersBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis sent a high-ranking cardinal to South Sudan to urge a peaceful end to the escalating violence in the country. Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, met with President Salva Kiir in the capital, Juba, July 19 and delivered two letters on the pope's behalf -- one addressed to the nation's president and another to the vice president. The cardinal said the letters, which the pope gave to him prior to his departure to Juba, contained a message calling for peace in the country. The pope's message "can be summarized like so: 'Enough now, enough with this conflict,'" Cardinal Turkson told Vatican Radio July 20. The Ghanaian cardinal noted that "the speed with which the pope reacted to the need of sending a message of solidarity and to call for peace is amazing." "Speaking to him some time ago, he told me, 'I want to go.' These difficult situations are always in the Holy Father's heart," the cardinal said. According to SIR, the Italian bishops' news agency, a local missionary priest confirmed the pope's concern for the increasing violence in the country. "We know that Pope Francis is following every evolution (of the crisis) very closely. Cardinal Peter Turkson was sent by the pope here in these days to us in Juba," said Italian Comboni Father Daniele Moschetti, superior of the Comboni Missionaries in Juba. For nearly a year, South Sudan has been trying to emerge from a civil war caused by political rivalry between Vice President Riek Machar and Kiir, who represent different ethnic groups. Violent clashes spread across the city and left tens of thousands of people dead since the beginning of their rivalry in December 2013. Although a cease-fire is currently in effect in Juba, Father Moschetti said the threat of violence continues to loom large over the people and the church, which includes 350 local and international missionaries. "The climate, including toward the church, is changing: We are all at risk," SIR reported him as saying. - - - Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -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/Sean Gallagher, The CriterionBy Sean GallagherINDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- Violence ripped through the country the first part of July with police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana and the killing of five police officers in Dallas. A day after the July 7 shootings in Dallas, violence ripped through the neighborhood surrounding St. Philip Neri Church on the near east side of Indianapolis when two men were found shot dead at an intersection. On July 10, about 30 people took action to replace the violence around St. Philip with peace by prayerfully walking through the neighborhood, stopping at a makeshift shrine at the location where the two men had been found two days earlier. It was part of a series of nine prayer walks on Sunday afternoons sponsored by St. Philip Neri Parish that began June 5 and concludes July 31. Participants gather at the church and walk along different routes in the surrounding neighborhood for about a mile, praying the rosary in both Spanish and English. "Peace has to start in our own hearts," said Father Christopher Wadelton, St. Philip's pastor. "It will then grow out from our church to our neighborhood and the whole world." Father Wadelton got the idea for the prayer walks from a similar effort made by St. Gabriel Parish in Connersville two years ago after a spate of deaths by heroin overdoses sent shock waves through the small southeastern Indiana town. The priest explained that the prayer walks sponsored by St. Philip began after similar drug problems and a growth in violent crime in the neighborhood. He said it was important that the prayer for peace in the neighborhood actually occur on its streets, and not simply in the parish church. "God's presence is here in the streets," Father Wadelton told The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. "We're not just isolated in our church building at Rural and North streets. We're out in the streets, bringing that visible presence of Christ to the streets." Many of the people who joined Father Wadelton on the prayer walk July 10 said something important was missing from the discussions and news coverage of the shootings and increased racial tensions across the country -- God. St. Philip parishioner Mary Kendall said the walk was "a way to show that God should be more important than anything else. There needs to be an awareness of God. Anger is not the answer." St. Philip parishioner Martha Torres focused on prayer as a means of fostering peace. "It's important for peace, my life, my neighbors -- everybody," she said. "Prayer is very important. You might not see the effect now. But I put it in Jesus' hands." Michael O'Connor sees the violence in the neighborhood around his parish and the nation and feels like changing it is out of his control. That's why he turns to God. "A lot of things in our country are beyond our control. No matter how many training sessions they have for police officers, how many interactive dialogues they have, there's got to be more change of heart," O'Connor said. "Prayer can do that. That's why I come here." As the people in the prayer walk moved on from the site where the two men had been found shot dead July 8, they turned onto another street and saw several Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers standing in the parking lots of a gas station and neighborhood grocery store. Matt Carroll, one of those officers, was glad to see faith-filled people walking on the streets that had been marked by violence. "It's inspiring," said Carroll. "It shows that people care. They're willing to give to their community and do their part to assist." Father Wadelton said that showing care and hope to people in a neighborhood suffering from so much violence and the despair of drugs was a goal in starting the prayer walks. "Seeing a group of people walking and faithfully praying makes people aware that Christ is in the streets with them," he said. "There are people who care about what's going on. It's a strong act of peace and prayer." - - - Gallagher is a reporter at The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.- - -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.