IMAGE: REUTERSBy David AgrenMEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The Mexican
bishops' conference and the Vatican have confirmed Pope Francis will visit
Mexico in 2016, marking his first trip to this heavily Catholic country in
throes of unrest over unresolved issues such as violence, crime and corruption.
Auxiliary Bishop Eugenio Lira
Rugarcia of Puebla, conference secretary-general, told Catholic News Service
that the pope would travel to Mexico next year, though dates and details were still
to be determined. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, provided
similar information to the Televisa network, adding the trip would likely take
place during the first half of 2016 and include a stop in the capital, Mexico
Pope Francis has previously
mused about visiting Mexico, home to the world's second-largest Catholic
population. After visiting the Philippines last year, the pope said he wanted
to walk from Mexico into the United States "as a sign of brotherhood and
of help to the immigrants," along with visiting the Basilica of Our Lady
of Guadalupe, the world's most-visited Marian shrine.
He said in September that he had
planned to enter the United States at a border crossing, going from Ciudad
Juarez to El Paso, Texas, but opted to instead visit Cuba after the communist
country and the United States ended their estrangement, with Vatican
Migration -- in the form of
Central Americans traveling through Mexico and and falling victim to criminals
and corrupt public officials -- is one of many potential issues on the agenda
for Pope Francis in Mexico.
A visit in early 2016 would come
as the country continues confronting vices like corruption, which has
implicated the president, and insecurity in states such as Michoacan and
Guerrero, the latter being where 43 students were kidnapped and presumably killed
by police acting in cahoots with criminals in September 2014.
President Enrique Pena Nieto,
whose agenda has focused more on economic reforms than social and security
problems, has traveled twice to the Vatican since Pope Francis' election. In June
2014, his visit followed the bishops' conference issuing an unusually terse
statement on his economic agenda.
Politicians from Pena Nieto's
Institutional Revolutionary Party -- which was founded by the anti-clerical
victors of the Mexican Revolution -- previously avoided public encounters with
prelates, but have sought well-publicized papal audiences in recent years,
reflecting the thaw in church-state relations over the past 25 years.
Pope Benedict XVI made the last
papal trip to Mexico in March 2012, visiting Guanajuato state. His visit drew
an estimated 600,000 people for the final Mass -- doubling expectations --
though his message stayed away from uncomfortable issues such as security.
According to census data, Mexico
remains one of Latin America's most Catholic countries, with 83 percent of the
population professing the faith.- - -Copyright © 2015 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/Matt Mills McKnight, pool via ReutersBy SACRAMENTO,
Calif. (CNS) -- California's bishops expressed disappointment with Gov. Jerry
Brown's Oct. 5 signing of a measure legalizing physician-assisted suicide in
the state, saying the law "stands in direct contradiction to providing
compassionate, quality care for those facing a terminal illness."
"This bill does nothing to
validate the lives of the vulnerable," said the California Catholic
Conference, the public policy arm of the state's bishops, in a
statement soon after Brown's action. The conference added that the legislation "isn't
compassion" and does not support or promote the common good.
"As Catholic bishops in
California, we join hands with the disability rights groups, physicians, other
health care professionals and advocates for the elderly in opposing
physician-assisted suicide as the wrong way to advance the human dignity for
those facing a terminal illness," the conference said.
The prelates also pointed out that the 48
Catholic hospitals in California "provide excellent palliative care
services as all medical facilities for terminally ill patients should but often
In a message the governor wrote
to members of the California Assembly after signing the measure into law, he said
he carefully read the "thoughtful opposition materials presented by a
number of doctors, religious leaders and those who champion disability
rights."Brown, who is Catholic, also said he considered the theological
and religious perspectives about the "deliberate shortening of one's
life" and he read the letters and "heartfelt pleas" of those who
support the bill. He said he discussed the issue with a Catholic bishop, his
own doctors, former classmates and friends who "take varied, contradictory
and nuanced positions."
"In the end, I was left to
reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death," Brown wrote. "I
do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain.
I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the
options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn't deny that right to others."
"This is a dark day for
California and for the Brown legacy," Californians Against Assisted
Suicide said. "Gov. Brown was clear in his statement that this was
based on his personal background. As someone of wealth and access to the
world's best medical care and doctors the governor's background is very
different than that of millions of Californians living in health-care poverty
without that same access -- these are the people and families potentially hurt
by giving doctors the power to prescribe lethal overdoses to patients."
The coalition against the bill said it "is reviewing at all of its
The California Catholic
Conference said it was proud to work with Californians Against Assisted Suicide
and its partners from the disability rights community, advocates for the
elderly, physicians' groups and other health care professionals during the
debate on this measure, and said the bishops would "continue to stand with them in
efforts to protect the most vulnerable Californians."
The conference stressed that the
legislation will "adversely affect the poor, as those with resources will
always have access to palliative care."
It also said the legislation
places the elderly and disabled in "great peril" noting that
"the option to offer the low-cost alternative of lethal drugs instead of
proper medical care is a temptation not long resisted."
The legislation requires that a
patient with a terminal disease must be physically capable of taking medication
that would end his or her life. It says that a patient must submit written
requests for the medication, that two doctors must approve the request and that
there must be two witnesses.
Other states with laws permitting
physician-assisted suicide are Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.- - -Copyright © 2015 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/Paul HaringBy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As the discussion began at the world
Synod of Bishops on the family, Pope Francis urged members not to act as if the
only question that mattered was the pastoral care of divorced and civilly
remarried Catholics, his spokesman said.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told
reporters Oct. 6 that the pope took the microphone that morning to affirm again
that "Catholic doctrine on marriage has not been touched or put into
Pope Francis told the bishops that the only documents that
are "official" for their work are the speeches he gave at the opening
and closing of last year's synod and the final report voted on by synod members
in October 2014. The report, along with additions made based on responses to a
questionnaire, is the working document for this year's synod, Father Lombardi
The pope also said, "We should not let ourselves be
conditioned by or to reduce the horizons of our work as if the only problem
were that of Communion for the divorced and remarried or not," Father
Lombardi said. The Vatican did not release the text of the pope's remarks.
Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, writing on
his blog, said that during the hour of open discussion at the synod Oct. 5, some
bishops were "uneasy about the impression given by the presentation of
Cardinal (Peter) Erdo in the morning that some key questions are already
decided and seemingly off the table. They felt that such a stance was
Cardinal Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary,
chosen by Pope Francis to introduce the synod's work, had made it appear there
was little support for or possibility that the church would adopt German
Cardinal Walter Kasper's proposal to design a "penitential path" that
eventually would allow some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive
Communion even without an annulment and without a promise to abstain from
Responding to reporters later, Cardinal Erdo said his
report's affirmation of the indissolubility of marriage and moving away from
seeking a pastoral approach to allowing those couples to receive Communion were
the result of the input the synod sought from Catholics around the world after
the extraordinary synod on the family last year.
Using his Twitter account to report Pope Francis' comments
to the synod Oct. 6, Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, a synod member, said the
pope asked the synod "not to give into a 'hermeneutic of conspiracy,' which
is sociologically weak and spiritually unhelpful."
Instead, Father Spadaro tweeted, the pope called for a
"profound discernment" in order "to understand how the Lord
wants his church."
Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical
Council for Social Communications and member of the synod, told reporters the
discussion about the "penitential path" or other forms of outreach to
divorced Catholics "is open. I think the intervention of the pope this
morning ... was to recall that the documents to which we are to refer are the
final report (of the 2014 synod) and his two speeches -- opening and closing
the synod -- which leave open the possibility."
At the same time, the archbishop told reporters, "the
synod does not have this as its only point of reference" as the pope
himself said. "It is just one of the points."
"If everything was concluded with the report yesterday
(by Cardinal Erdo), then what are we doing here?" Archbishop Celli asked.
Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec,
a synod member who also attended last year's extraordinary synod on the family,
said participants see a growing distance between modern cultural attitudes
toward marriage and family life and what the church teaches and proposes.
Catholic pastors have different attitudes about what the
response should be, he said. "One reaction is to emphasize what the
teaching is for fear that, as the culture moves away from that vision, our own
understanding gets diluted. The other fear is that we lose contact with that
culture and that we close in on ourselves and become a kind of a ghetto or a
sect that no longer has an impact on culture."
"All the bishops agree," he said, "that the
teaching of the church coming from Jesus is a gift for the world -- it's not
just for a select few."
The challenge, Archbishop Durocher said, is to not lose the teaching
while learning to enter into dialogue with the world as it is "in a way
that will speak to the world and provoke its imagination and its interest. So
some bishops will emphasize the teaching and some bishops will emphasize the
dialogue," which is the importance and beauty of the synod, he said.
"Cardinal Erdo's talk was a beautiful and classical
presentation of the church's teaching," he said. "Other bishops are
saying, 'This is important. We need to hold on to this. Now how do we enter
into dialogue with this world.'"
Cardinal Erdo's presentation, he said, "is an important
piece, but it is one piece" of finding a way to bring the good news about
the family to the world.
At the official media briefing for the synod, Father
Lombardi and the others charged with summarizing the synod's activity each day
listed dozens of other topics raised by the first 72 synod members to speak:
the challenges to families and the church posed by the "cultural
revolution"; the need to be careful in using language that appears
immediately judgmental; how to help all Catholics and families grow in the
Christian life; war, anti-Christian persecution and migration; violence against
women and children; polygamy; and the role of the family in the new
Preparing priests to minister with and to families was
another topic, said Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, the English-language
briefer. He also listed the topics of the role of the extended family; multiple
calls for better and longer marriage preparation programs; and the need to love
and respect homosexual Catholics, who are "our children, our family, not
outsiders, but our flesh and blood."- - -Copyright © 2015 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/Paul HaringBy Carol GlatzVATICAN
CITY (CNS) -- Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, said
the synod should reflect on the possibility of allowing for female deacons as
it seeks ways to open up more opportunities for women in church life.
possible, qualified women should be given higher positions and decision-making
authority within church structures and new opportunities in ministry, he told
Catholic News Service Oct. 6.
a number of proposals he offered the synod fathers to think about, he said, "I
think we should really start looking seriously at the possibility of ordaining
women deacons because the diaconate in the church's tradition has been defined
as not being ordered toward priesthood but toward ministry."
the Catholic Church permits only men to be ordained as deacons. Deacons can preach and preside at baptisms, funerals and weddings, but may not
celebrate Mass or hear confessions.
to participants at the Synod of Bishops on the family Oct. 6, Archbishop Durocher
said he dedicated his three-minute intervention to the role of women in the church --
one of the many themes highlighted in the synod's working document.
working document, which is guiding the first three weeks of the synod's discussions, proposed giving women greater responsibility in the church, particularly through involving them in "the decision-making process, their
participation -- not simply in a formal way -- in the governing of some
institutions; and their involvement in the formation of ordained ministers."
Durocher, who recently ended his term as president of the Canadian Conference
of Catholic Bishops, told CNS that much of his brief talk was focused on the lingering
problem of violence against women, including domestic violence. He said the
World Health Organization estimates that 30 percent of women worldwide
experience violence by their partner.
reminded the synod fathers that in the apostolic
exhortation "Familiaris Consortio" in 1981, St. John Paul II basically told the church that "we have to make
a concerted and clear effort to make sure that there is no more degradation of
women in our world, particularly in marriage. And I said, 'Well, here we are 30
years later and we're still facing these kinds of numbers.'"
He said he recommended one thing they could do to address this problem was,
"as a synod, clearly state that you cannot justify the domination of men
over women -- certainly not violence -- through biblical interpretation,"
particularly incorrect interpretations of St. Paul's call for women to be
submissive to their husbands.
In his presentation the archbishop also noted that Pope Benedict XVI had talked
about the question of new ministries for women in the church. "It's a just
question to ask. Shouldn't we be opening up new venues for ministry of women in
the church?" he said.
addition to the possibility of allowing for women deacons, he said he also
proposed that women be hired for "decision-making jobs" that could be
opened to women in the Roman Curia, diocesan chanceries and large-scale church
initiatives and events.
thing, he said, "would be to look at the possibility of allowing married
couples -- men and women, who have been properly trained and accompanied -- to speak
during Sunday homilies so that they can testify, give witness to the
relationship between God's word and their own marriage life and their own life
as families."- - -Copyright © 2015 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/Matthew BarrickBy Kurt JensenWASHINGTON
(CNS) -- Here are the fun facts about just one group of high school students who
hoped for a glimpse of Pope Francis on the National Mall in Washington Sept.
of students: 26. Adults with them: four. Chartered bus ride overnight from
Springfield, Massachusetts: More than seven hours, arriving shortly after 5 a.m.,
when many thousands were lined up to pass through security.
time on the Mall, as close to the Capitol as they could manage: More than five
hours. Distant view of pope on the Speaker's Balcony after his speech to
Congress, enhanced by Jumbotron screens: All of 10 minutes.
of course. Totally worth it, though, said Sandy Pollette, campus minister for
Holyoke Catholic High School.
trip was intended as a Francis tribute. Holyoke Catholic and Cathedral high
schools are merging next year to form Pope Francis High School in Springfield. A
new school building is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018.
Rep. Richard Neal, D-Massachusetts, who taught history at Cathedral years ago, provided
the tickets and hosted the group at his office for pizza and
wings. The group included students and teachers
from St. Mary and St. Joseph high schools in the Springfield Diocese.
a Catholic, gave the group a quick tour of the Capitol in which his former
teaching style was much in evidence, Pollette recalled. "He was really
good about listening to the students and being honest with them."
of the students called it "the most special day of her life, because not
only is she a faithful person, but also because seeing the pope is a moment in
history. So to put the two together was just amazing to her," Pollette
said in an interview with Catholic News Service.
the balcony, Pope Francis greeted the crowd in Spanish, with a translator, for
just under two minutes, taking special note of "the most important ones
Mall was so crowded, "you couldn't move," Pollette said. "But it
was respectful. Everyone was polite to each other. Everyone knew why they were
was just one discordant note in the day. Some of the students held posters announcing
the new Pope Francis High School, which drew some negative attention from two
passing men when the group was later standing outside the Cannon House Office
teenagers, all forms of heckling are now typically through social media, not in
person. So they received, in Pollette's opinion, "a good learning
experience. One of the hecklers said, 'Did you know that your church is an
abomination?' Our students were dumbfounded. They didn't know what to say."
men were "just ignorant," Pollette assured the group. "But for
someone to direct that at students was shocking. We're quiet New Englanders. It's
quiet up here compared to D.C."
aspect of student field trips was unchanged. "None of them slept on the
way down. They were all too excited. They slept on the return trip."- - -Copyright © 2015 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.