IMAGE: CNS photo/Lawrence Bryant, ReutersBy Joseph Kenny and Jennifer BrinkerST. LOUIS (CNS) -- Archbishop
Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis called for peace following a not guilty
verdict in the trial of former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley.
Stockley, who is white, was
charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death in 2011 of Anthony Lamar
Smith, an African-American. St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson issued the
ruling after Stockley waived his right to a jury trial.
"If we want peace and
justice, we must come together as a community through prayer, mutual
understanding, and forgiveness," Archbishop Carlson stated. "While
acknowledging the hurt and anger, we must not fuel the fires of hatred and
division. We must ask God for peace in our own hearts and share it with those
Protesters began gathering in downtown
St. Louis soon after the ruling was made public on the morning of Sept. 15.
Media reports had warned of threatened disruptions if Stockley was found not
Protests turned violent, and
more than 120 people were arrested Sept. 17 as protesters attacked police and
broke windows, according to CNN, which also reported that a peaceful protest took
place Sept. 18, not too far from the site of the previous night's violence.
"Violence does not lead to
peace and justice -- they are opposing forces and cannot coexist," the
archbishop said in his statement. "I implore each of you to choose peace!
Reject the false and empty hope that violence will solve problems. Violence
only creates more violence. We must work together for a better, stronger, safer
community, one founded upon respect for each other, and one in which we see our
neighbor as another self."
Archbishop Carlson was to join
other faith leaders from St. Louis for an afternoon interfaith prayer service
for peace and solidarity Sept. 19 in downtown St. Louis.
Two Catholic churches in St.
Louis -- St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Nicholas -- opened for prayer and
conversation after the verdict was announced. An invitation was extended to a
regular peace and justice vigil held every Sunday at 7 p.m. on the stairs of St.
Francis Xavier (College) Church.
At St. Nicholas Church, about
half a dozen people came for the regular 12:15 p.m. Mass. Father Art
Cavitt, who is the pastor and also director of the St. Charles Lwanga Center in St. Louis, said he kept the
church, located just north of downtown, open throughout the day Sept. 15 for
anyone in need of a place to pray or seek pastoral care.
The tensions that arose from
Ferguson and what's happening now, Father Cavitt said, "say something
about us, and our country and humanity and our needs. There's this festering
that has been happening -- in our communities and in ourselves. It's more
reflective of that, than a specific case that pushes a button."
Reflecting on the Sept. 15 feast of
Our Lady of Sorrows, Father Cavitt said that there are people who, like the
Blessed Mother, have been heartbroken time and time again, but yet keep saying
"yes" through the lens of faith.
"It is that witness of
faith, that witness of the Gospel that will carry us through this day in
St. Louis and whatever happens the next day as well," he told the St.
Louis Review, the archdiocesan newspaper.
Assumption Parish in O'Fallon
offered prayers for peace and healing at a free evening concert performance by Christian
singer-songwriter PJ Anderson Sept. 15.
It was "a chance to join
together as God's beloved coming to pray for our metro area and all cities
(and) to resist situations that can pull us apart," said Amanda Suchara,
media coordinator for the parish.
Four Catholic high schools in
St. Louis closed in anticipation of the verdict.
By mid-afternoon Sept. 15,
several hundred people were assembled at a downtown intersection near City
Hall. Students and staff from St. Louis University were
present at different points during the day.
Father Christopher Collins, the
university's assistant to the president for mission and identity, started the
day at St. Louis University's School of Law, just a couple of blocks from the
protest site. He and several other clergy members went to the street to pray
for about half an hour.
As a Jesuit, "you want to
follow in a pastoral way -- to be where people are hurting and to be
present," he said. "We called on God's love for all of us."
A group of several dozen St.
Louis University students connected on GroupMe and went downtown after their
"I came because it's the
right thing to do. I want to stand with my community and protest what's going
on here. It's not right," said junior Michael Winters, who is studying
"The sense of complacency
that people have, in that these sorts of things happen and some people come
down to protest, but then we just sort of let it slide. I think I'm guilty of
this as well, at times," said junior Charlie Revord, who is studying
sociology and economics.
"Today is just a reminder
that we have to keep up the pressure to try and make change," he added.
"It's only going to come through coming together, having dialogue and
really standing in solidarity with the people who are suffering."
- - -
and Brinker are staff writers at the St. Louis
Review and Catholic St.
Louis, publications of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.- - -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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To better prepare priests and
pastoral workers to help meet the challenges families face today, Pope Francis is
strengthening the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and
Family and changing its name to the Pontifical John Paul II Theological
Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and Family.
The new institution is to expand and deepen the types of
courses offered as well as take "an analytical and diversified
approach" that allows students to study all aspects and concerns of
today's families while remaining "faithful to the teaching of
Christ," the pope wrote.
The re-foundation of the institute was issued "motu
proprio," on the pope's own accord, in an apostolic letter, "Summa
Familiae Cura" ("Great Care for the Family"). Dated Sept. 8, the
feast of the nativity of Mary, the letter was released at the Vatican Sept. 19.
The original institute for studies on marriage and the
family was established by St. John Paul II in 1982, after the 1980 Synod of
Bishops on the family called for the creation of centers devoted to the study
of the church's teaching on marriage and the family. While the central
institute is based in Rome, there are branches around the world, including in
the United States, Australia, Mexico and India.
Given the newer gatherings of the Synod of Bishops on the
family, those held in 2014 and 2015, and their call for a more pastoral and
missionary approach to modern family life, Pope Francis wrote there is a need
for greater reflection and academic formation in a "pastoral perspective
and attention to the wounds of humanity" while keeping the original
inspiration for the old institute alive.
By amplifying the institute's scope in making it a
"theological" institute that is also dedicated to human
"sciences," the pope said, the institute's work will study -- in a
"deeper and more rigorous way -- the truth of revelation and the wisdom of
the tradition of faith."
The anthropological and cultural changes underway affect
every aspect of human life, he wrote, and that calls for a new approach that is
not limited to pastoral practices and mission "that reflect forms and
models of the past."
"We must be informed and passionate interpreters of
the wisdom of faith" in a context in which individuals find less support
than they had in the past from social structures, relationships and family.
"In the clear proposal of remaining faithful to the
teaching of Christ, we must, therefore, look with the intelligence of love and
with wise realism, at the reality of families today in all of their complexity,
in their light and darkness," the pope wrote.Meeting with reporters the same day, Archbishop Vincenzo
Paglia, chancellor of institute, and Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, president, said
the pope's mandate to revitalize and strengthen the institute is a sign of how
much he supports its work and wants it to make a greater contribution to the
church and have a greater impact on society.
All new statutes, structures and programs will be needed
to help the institute fulfill its expanded mission, they said. Current
personnel and faculty will remain, but there will be new positions and new
hires to offer the expanded course work necessary to better prepare students,
said Archbishop Paglia.
For example, Msgr. Sequeri said, a course that addresses
"the family and economics" is critical when so many family problems
stem from financial difficulties.
"There has to be a theology for the family that
exists," rather than just a theology of the ideal family, he said. The
church must respond to all the contemporary issues people struggle with.
The church has such a long, rich patrimony of teachings
that need to be "relaunched" to provide answers to new questions, he
said, including gender theories and women's issues.
"Mustn't the church participate in some way with its
reflections" by being positive and proactive and "not just pull
back," he asked.
When asked whether having a more expanded approach to
human sciences meant the institute would be hiring or collaborating with
experts who have views not in line with church teaching, Archbishop Paglia said
scientific reflection requires dialogue, including with those who are not
"It's obvious a scientific institute, precisely
because of its nature, cannot be closed up in itself," he said.
"Marriage is not a 'Catholic' question," he
said; it concerns all of humanity. "And we cannot responsibly not enter
into dialogue" with all those who hold dear the whole human family.- - -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 email@example.com.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Gregory A. ShemitzBy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Although she died 100 years ago, St.
Frances Cabrini is a shining example of "love and intelligence" in
ministering to the needs of immigrants and helping them become integral members
of their new homelands, Pope Francis said.
Responding to "the great migrations underway today"
the same way Mother Cabrini did "will enrich all and generate union and
dialogue, not separation and hostility," Pope Francis said in a letter to Sister
Barbara Louise Staley, superior of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of
Jesus, which the saint founded.
Mother Cabrini arrived in New York in 1889 to work with
Italian immigrants, setting up orphanages, schools and hospitals in nine U.S.
cities. Naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1909, she died in Chicago Dec. 22,
The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were holding
their general assembly Sept. 17-23 at the National Shrine of St. Frances Xavier
Cabrini in Chicago.
In her work, particularly among Italian immigrants to the
United States, Mother Cabrini "focused attention on situations of greatest
poverty and fragility, such as the needs of orphans and miners," the pope
wrote in his letter, which was released at the Vatican Sept. 19.
Mother Cabrini also demonstrated "a lucid cultural
sensitivity" by making sure she was in constant contact with local authorities,
the pope said.
"She undertook to conserve and revive in the immigrants
the Christian tradition they knew in their country of origin, a religiosity
which was sometimes superficial and often imbued with authentic popular
mysticism," he wrote. "At the same time, she offered ways to fully
integrate with the culture of the new countries so that the Missionary Mothers
accompanied the Italian immigrants in becoming fully Italian and fully
With dialogue and help integrating, he said, "the human
and Christian vitality of the immigrants thus became a gift to the churches and
to the peoples who welcomed them."
While Mother Cabrini and the sisters had a specific mission
to assist the immigrants and strengthen their faith, he said, Catholics today
cannot forget "that is the vocation of every Christian and of every
community of the disciples of Jesus."
On a more personal note, Pope Francis told the sisters,
"I assure you of my remembrance and prayers with deep affection, both
because I have always known the figure of Mother Cabrini and because of the
special concern I devote to the cause of immigrants."- - -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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy AmericaBy Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) -- A U.S. bishop vigorously defended Jesuit
Father James Martin when a prominent U.S. seminary canceled an invitation it
had extended to the well-known author, who was to speak about Jesus at an October
event, after fringe groups unhappy with the priest's recent book about the
church and the gay community mounted a series of attacks.
Theological College, a national seminary at The Catholic
University of America in Washington, said the cancellation, first made public Sept. 15, came after it "experienced increasing negative feedback from
various social media sites regarding the seminary's invitation" to Father
Martin. It did not name the groups associated with the attacks.
"This campaign of distortion must be challenged and exposed
for what it is -- not primarily for Father Martin's sake but because this
cancer of vilification is seeping into the institutional life of the church,"
said San Diego Bishop Robert W. McElroy in a vigorous defense published by America magazine Sept.
"The concerted attack on Father Martin's work has been
driven by three impulses: homophobia, a distortion of fundamental Catholic
moral theology, and a veiled attack on Pope Francis and his campaign against
judgmentalism in the church," wrote Bishop McElroy.The cancellation of the speech was not the first, Father Martin noted, even though that speech and others he was to give were about Jesus and not the book.In a Sept. 15 Facebook post, the priest wrote about the incident and said the
attacks included "a storm of phone calls, emails and messages to Theological
College, which included, I was told, people screaming at the receptionists who
answered the phone. In the end, they felt that the expected protests and
negative publicity would distract from Alumni Day." Father Martin was to speak
at an Oct. 4 symposium celebrating the 100th anniversary of the seminary's
founding."The organizers were all apologetic and in some cases more
upset than I was. I know that they were under extreme pressure, and in some
cases were overwhelmed by the rage that can be generated by social media: ill
will based on misrepresentations, innuendos, homophobia and especially fear.
Perfect love drives out fear, as 1 John says. But perfect fear also drives out
love," Father Martin wrote.
"Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT
Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity,"
the book that has driven the controversy, grabbed the No. 1 spot on Amazon's
Roman Catholicism category Sept. 18. It has been endorsed by Bishop McElroy, U.S. Cardinal Kevin
J. Farrell, prefect of the Vatican's Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, and Cardinal
Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, and has a long list of endorsements
from other notable Catholics. However, it also was recently criticized by Guinean
Cardinal Robert Sarah in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal.Jesuit Father Matt Malone, editor of America magazine, where
Father Martin is editor at large, defended the priest and the book, which has
been approved by the Jesuits as being in line with church teaching, in a Sept.
"Some elements in the American church," Father Malone said, "have
taken it upon themselves to organize a campaign, not only against the contents
of the book, but against Father Martin himself. In recent weeks, Father Martin
has been subjected to repeated, calumnious attacks in social media and in
print, involving invective that is as appalling as it is toxic. It is one thing
to engage in spirited debate. It is another thing to seek to stymie such debate
through fear, misinformation, or blunt censorship."Though Theological College, with the cancellation of the
invitation made more than a year ago, was seeking to avoid controversy, it
invited more attention. The news of the cancellation ended up appearing in the
pages of major U.S. newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington
Post over the weekend of Sept. 16 and 17.
John Garvey, Catholic university's president, issued a
statement saying the institution regretted any implication that the university
supported the decision by the seminary, adding that "universities and their
related entities should be places of free, civil exchange of ideas. Our culture
is increasingly hostile to this idea."
Garvey said it was "problematic" that groups within the
Catholic Church demonstrate an "inability to make distinctions and to exercise
In his Facebook post, Father Martin, a consultor to the
Vatican's Secretariat for Communications, said the only thing he asked of the
organizations that canceled his talks is that they be honest about the reasons for the cancellations.
"Also, I want to say that none of these cancellations
disturbs me," he said. "I've not lost any sleep over them. ... I want to say that Jesus
is close to me in prayer. So I am at total peace."
Thousands on social media, including high profile Catholics,
voiced support for the Jesuit.
After the Theological College invitation was rescinded, Holy
Trinity Church, in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood, asked Father Martin if
he could instead visit their Jesuit parish around the same time.
"So I look forward to seeing you all in Washington," he
Whether by coincidence or on purpose, on Sept. 18 hackers
briefly took down the international Catholic daily LaCroix International after
it ran the commentary "Catholic Cyber-Militias and the New Censorship" about
the incident. - - -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 email@example.com.
By Marlene QuaroniNORTH MIAMI, Fla. (CNS) -- Thanks to
Father Fritz Bellonce, pastor of Holy Family Church in North Miami, many people
in the area around the church had hot meals after Hurricane Irma knocked out
power to the community.
"The stores and restaurants are
closed," he said. "People are eating potato chips, peanut butter, crackers,
canned food, snacks, whatever nonperishables that you don't have to cook. A hot
meal, right now, is a welcome luxury."
Father Bellonce learned from a
previous hurricane-related experience. As a seminarian in 2005 at St. Vincent
de Paul Regional Seminary near Boynton Beach, he saw long lines of hungry,
tired people waiting outside the few open restaurants in Palm Beach County
after Hurricane Wilma struck.
Before Hurricane Irma arrived,
he got ready: He bought 200 pounds of rice, lots of beans, pork, chicken,
turkey and cooking ingredients -- dishes that are popular in Holy Family's
predominantly Haitian-American community.
"I knew the first place people
in need come to is the church," he told the Florida Catholic newspaper. "We
share what we have. We practice what we preach."
He prepared to serve even as
Holy Family's circular church building suffered severe roof damage.
"There's a hole in the ceiling,
and a puddle of water was inside the gift shop," Father Bellonce said.
"One of the seven air-conditioning units on the church roof blew
Volunteers arrived on Monday to
help clean up debris on church and school grounds. In the Holy Family
schoolyard, a group of young men from a parish organization, TAF-The Atoma
(Greek for "unbreakable") Family, cleared heavy tree branches.
Also clearing debris around the
school were Holy Family School principal Doreen Roberts and her two
granddaughters. So was assistant principal Casey McCoy.
Father Bellonce, with the help
of seminarian Alix Sylien from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, rounded
up volunteers to cook meals in the parish hall kitchen.
Serving Holy Family was a
natural for Sylien: It's his home parish, and he was assigned there during the
summer. He delivered meals in his SUV throughout the neighborhood.
"Many people don't have
transportation to get to the church," Father Bellonce said. "Alix has been a
Those who did have cars, like
Jean Beaubrun, picked up the hot food from the parish hall's kitchen take-out
"This is a blessing," said
Beaubrun, who carried three take-out boxes: for himself, his wife and their
- - -
Quaroni is on the staff of the
Florida Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Miami and the dioceses of
Orlando, Palm Beach and Venice.- - -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 firstname.lastname@example.org.