IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- From newspaper headlines and social
media comments Oct. 12 it seemed there was a family feud going on inside the
Synod of Bishops on the family.
Some cardinals -- apparently 13 of the 74 cardinals participating
in the synod -- wrote Pope Francis a private letter expressing concern about a
part or parts of the synod procedure, especially the appointment of a 10-member
committee to draft the final document the synod will vote on and give to the
pope. The names of the cardinals signing the letter changed over the course of
the day, with four declaring they did not sign any letter and two others saying
the leaked letter published by Italian blogger Sandro Magister is not the
letter they signed.
In addition Oct. 13, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of
Mexico City issued a statement saying, "I never signed the alleged letter
with the attributed content that some mention."
"I recognize that the appropriate place of discussion
is with other synod fathers and under the guide of the pope, who is our
guarantor of unity in the church and who has my utmost respect and
loyalty," Cardinal Rivera added.
The synod is supposed to be a process true to the Greek
roots of the word meaning "walking together." Perhaps more than a family
feud, what happened in mid-October was a family walk. Anyone with a big family --
or even with just a couple very young members -- knows how hard it is to keep
everyone moving at the same pace and on the same trail with no arguments over
rest stops or detours.
Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, writing on
his blog, said the whole letter to-do was a "typically Roman melodrama, not
untinged with psychodrama."
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said concern
expressed in a private letter -- not Magister's leaked and published
"letter" -- that Australian Cardinal George Pell and South Africa
Wilfrid F. Napier said they sent the pope were addressed by Pope Francis and by
Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the synod general secretary, first thing in the
morning Oct. 6.
In his comments that morning, Pope Francis insisted Catholic
doctrine on marriage would not been touched or put into question, Father
Lombardi told reporters at the time, and he asked the synod "not to give
into a 'hermeneutic of conspiracy,' which is sociologically weak and
Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, a synod member appointed by
the pope, tweeted that day that Pope Francis encouraged a "profound discernment"
in order "to understand how the Lord wants his church."
Cardinal Pell told the news site Vatican Insider Oct. 13
that he was "fundamentally satisfied" with the pope's response.
Father Lombardi told reporters that publishing the letter,
or some form of it, a week after the pope responded to the cardinals' concerns
was an "act of disturbance not intended by the signatories -- or at least
of the most authoritative among them."
"It is not surprising" that questions were raised
about the new synod method, which gives more time to small group work and
having them amend the working document rather than write a list of propositions
for the pope, Father Lombardi said. But once the pope decided how he wanted
things done, it was time for synod members to get to work, "which is what
Pope Francis and members of the synod on the family, along
with other guests, were scheduled to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the
establishment of the Synod of Bishops Oct. 17. Blessed Paul VI established the
synod to assist him in governing the universal church by providing him with
counsel based on information and observation drawn from their pastoral and
theological experience around the world. It is not a deliberative body like a
Pope Francis, a Jesuit, has made changes in the synod
process to expand the time for dialogue and to create the time and space needed
for discernment in the style of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Jesuit founder.
"When you are involved in a process of discernment, you
know where you are beginning, but not where you will end up," Father
Spadaro, editor of the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica, told Catholic
News Service Oct. 13. In addition, he said, "discernment is not a
spiritually abstract process -- it involves real people with real life
experiences, concerns and even prejudices."
"Discernment can be experienced as destabilizing, which
can create worry and fear that pillars of certainty are being shaken," he
said. "But discernment according to the thought of St. Ignatius of Loyola
has the Gospel and church tradition as the firm pillars. And Pope Francis, as
the guide of this process of discernment, told synod members clearly at the
beginning that the pillars of church doctrine on marriage are not up for
According to Archbishop Coleridge, two synod members late
Oct. 13 mentioned "the smoke of Satan" entering the church; one said
it would come with changing pastoral practice and the other said it would come
from "an anxious and ideologically driven spirit of partisanship."
Father Spadaro said in the process of discernment, "one
is not just seeking God's will, but a discernment of the spirits at work. The 'spirit
of the world' or the 'evil one' has a full arsenal at his disposal, including
tactics defined as 'sub specie boni,'" or things that appear good.
"This happens, for example, when one tries to take the pope's place as the
defender of doctrine or when people let themselves imagine orthodoxy is in
peril, sowing uncertainty and confusion. This is a classic tactic of the enemy,
which is well described by St. Ignatius in his Spiritual Exercises."
When the Holy Spirit speaks, tensions can rise. But that can
be positive because it shows "that the spiritual process is active. It
would be bad if there were a dead calm," Father Spadaro said.
More worrying, he said, is the fact that the letter leaked
to the press expresses concerns that could be interpreted as questioning the
authority of the pope.
"Using the words of Paul VI, the synod is there to
ensure the pontiff is not lacking 'the consolation of the presence' of bishops,
who express their opinion, bringing news and information from various parts of
the world," Father Spadaro said. "Certainly it has no deliberative
power unless it is conceded by the pontiff. It is important not to betray the
spirit of the synod."- - -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/ReutersBy CHICAGO
(CNS) -- Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, saying it is time to "take
meaningful and swift action to address violence in our society," called
for stricter gun control laws in Illinois.
the city of Chicago adopted a tough ordinance to tightly regulate gun stores
here. I applaud Chicago's leadership for taking this important step to protect
our children and families," Archbishop Cupich said in a commentary published Oct. 9 issue in the Chicago Tribune.
this measure to truly be effective, however, the General Assembly must pass a
similar law, especially considering how many guns are sold in gun shops located
outside of Chicago," he added.
be honest. The Second Amendment was passed in an era when organized police
forces were few and citizen militias were useful in maintaining the peace. Its
original authors could not have anticipated a time when the weapons we have a
right to bear now include military-grade assault weapons that have turned our
streets into battlefields," Archbishop Cupich said.
Second Amendment's original intent has been perverted by those who, as Pope
Francis recently commented, have profited mightily. Surely there is a middle
ground between the original intent of the amendment and the carnage we see
today," he added, noting that during the pope's address Sept. 24 to
Congress, many "stood ... to applaud Pope Francis' call for an end to the
weapons industry that is motivated by 'money that is drenched in blood.'"
Cupich called the combination of a ready supply of firearms, the glamorization
of crime, "a society where life is cheap" and untreated mental
illness "a recipe for tragedy."
cited the Oct. 1 massacre at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, where nine
people were murdered and another nine wounded because the victims had "the
misfortune of simply being at school," as well as "nearly a
dozen" who had died from gun violence in the Archdiocese of Chicago in a
recent two-week stretch, as well as "those injured, maimed and traumatized
... simply too many to count."
those wounded, Archbishop Cupich said, were "10- and 11-month-old infants.
Princeton Chew, the 11-month-old, will not remember his grandmother or his
mother, who both died in the Back of the Yards (a Chicago neighborhood) shooting.
He will never know the brother or sister his mother carried."
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has called for "reasonable regulation
and controls for guns, especially handguns," as well as a ban on assault
the 2012 murders of 20 first-graders and six staff members at a Newtown,
Connecticut, elementary school," Archbishop Cupich said, "the USCCB
sent testimony to Congress the following year. 'This is the moment,' said the
USCCB spokesperson who testified before Congress, 'to push for better gun
controls. We want to build a culture of life and confront the culture of
moment," Archbishop Cupich added, "came and went without meaningful
said, "It is no longer enough for those of us involved in civic leadership
and pastoral care to comfort the bereaved and bewildered families of victims of
gun violence. It is time to heed the words of Pope Francis and take meaningful
and swift action to address violence in our society. We must band together to
call for gun control legislation. We must act in ways that promote the dignity
and value of human life. And we must do it now."- - -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/Yannis Kolesidis, EPABy Dale GavlakLESBOS, Greece (CNS) -- Greece
is bracing for thousands more Syrians and other people to land on Lesbos and
other key island crossings from Turkey, as those fleeing conflict remain
undeterred by the worsening weather and colder autumn temperatures in their
desperate search for safety in Europe.
"The waves were rolling
fiercely with the salt water nearly choking us," said Syrian Um Tariq, who
identified herself using the familial Arabic nickname, meaning mother of Tariq,
her eldest son. "We thought we were going to die."
"The trip, meant to be a
half-hour long, was a painful three hours in a tightly packed dinghy we feared
would overturn," she told the Catholic News Service of the sea voyage from
Turkey to this Greek island, better known in the past for its olive oil and
Women cried out in panic and men
shouted, desperately holding onto their babies and young children, appealing
for assistance from the volunteers gathered on shore to help them land. Among
the relief groups that help those coming ashore are the international Catholic Caritas organization, the interdenominational OM Greece, EuroRelief and A Drop
in the Sea.
Um Tariq recounted what pushed
her family of four from Hama, Syria, to make such a dangerous trip.
"The Syrian regime arrested
and jailed my eldest son some time ago. We haven't heard about him since. My
husband and I escaped with another son and his wife. We were afraid that the
Syrian army would conscript my son because it has lost so many men in four-and-a-half
years of fighting," she said.
"If he refused to join the
army, they could kill him," said the woman, who wore a black headscarf.
The family hopes to join another son who is now sheltering in Norway.
And so the tide of humanity
fleeing violence in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq continues into Greece, a key
entry point to Europe. Some 169 people reportedly drowned crossing the Aegean
Sea in September; 44 of them were children. As the seas become more violent as
colder autumn weather sets in, aid workers fear the conditions will only
In one week in early October, 7,000
people a day came ashore in Greece, said the International Organization for
Migration. Recently, a 1-year-old was found dead on a boat after it partially
After Syrians, Afghans are the
chief nationality among the nearly half-million people who have landed on Greek
shores from Turkey this year, marking a tenfold increase from 2014.
"We help them to get out of
the water to get safely onto land," said Hein van der Merwe of OM Greece.
"As soon as the refugees
see they get closer to land, they just jump into the water. Sometimes they put
themselves at risk doing this," he said. Afterward, they are given towels
and dry clothes and something to eat and drink.
"We give them information
about the 44-mile trek to the camp for registration and where they can catch
buses," van der Merwe told Catholic News Service.
Caritas is also distributing
vital food and essential items, like diapers, said Evelyn Karastamati, the
group's emergency program coordinator.
Sleeping bags, snacks and mats
are given to those arriving on the islands of Lesbos, Kos and Chios. Caritas
also provides toilets and showers for their use, she told CNS.
"The situation is changing
all the time," Karastamati said, expressing concern. Although the European
Union plans to set up so-called "hotspots" where people will be
registered, fingerprinted and sorted to be ready in Greece and Italy by the end
of November, she said groups aiding the migrants, such as Caritas, have been
given no information on the measure.
Karastamati and other relief
workers are also worried about proposals to make one single camp on Lesbos to
house all the migrants and refugees.
"We are very concerned
because if they put all people together, Syrians with Afghans, they can create
a lot of problems," she said, noting people tend to jockey for priority
The European Union has approved
a plan to spread 160,000 migrants, mostly Syrians and Eritreans, across its
28 member states in order to tackle the continent's worst migration crisis
since World War II.
"But there is no
information at this time about what the Greek authorities in cooperation with
the European Union want to do," Karastamati added.
A European Union official said a
group of Syrian refugees, the first to be officially reassigned from Greece, was
due to be relocated from Greece to Luxembourg under the EU plan around Oct. 18.
However, most migrants make the trek
from Greece to their desired countries of destination, such as Germany and
Sweden, on their own and by their own financial means.
Meanwhile, the cash-strapped
Greek government, struggling to provide for its own citizens, has been turning
some former Olympic facilities in Athens into shelters for mainly Afghan migrants
and others with longer stays as autumn's rains have forced them out of the
However, the government and
local authorities often depend once again on international nongovernmental
organizations, like Caritas and OM Greece, as well as local churches to give
out food, clothing and other items to the migrants.
Catholics in Greece are a
minority, numbering only about 200,000-300,000; the predominant faith is Orthodox.
For this reason, Caritas depends on its branches in Europe, North and South
America for donations to enable it to reach out to the refugees and
impoverished Greeks alike with humanitarian aid.
Recently, a Caritas volunteer in
Germany was able to track down two missing Afghan children separated from their
family still sheltering in Athens. The volunteer had met the family in one of
Caritas' soup kitchens during a visit to Athens.
"She felt immensely moved
by the Afghan mother's sadness and desperation over not being able to be with
her children," Karastamati explained. "But when she returned to Germany,
she could not think anything else than finding the children."
The Caritas volunteer located
the teenagers in a northern German hospital, where they were admitted for a
short time due to trauma from their migration and separation from
"The family's application
for family reunification has just been accepted, and they are expected to fly
to northern Germany in early November," Karastamati said. "As you can
imagine, they are extremely full of hope and happiness with this news."- - -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.
By Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Allowing civilly remarried divorcees to receive
Communion would not only open the door to the sacrament for all who live in
mortal sin, but also would cause great damage to the church's doctrine on
sanctifying grace, said Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan,
The church must help divorced and remarried
couples "with special charity" and "in a spirit of mercy," but
cannot allow them to receive communion, Archbishop Gadecki, president of the
Polish bishops' conference, told the Synod of Bishops on the family.
addressed the synod Oct. 10, saying he was speaking on behalf of the entire
Polish bishops' conference. The conference posted an English-translation of his
speech on its website Oct. 13.
As baptized people, divorced and remarried
Catholics should be encouraged to continue participating in the life of the
church, the archbishop said. "Let us, therefore, encourage them to listen
to the word of God, to attend the sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in
prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts in favor of
justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the
spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God's grace."
However, the Polish archbishop stressed that
the church's doctrine must not "be led by feelings of false compassion for
people or by modes of thought that -- despite their worldwide popularity -- are
"Admitting to Communion those who continue
cohabiting 'more uxorio'
(as a husband and wife) without the sacramental bond would be contrary to the tradition
of the church," he said. Without an annulment or a promise to abstain from
sexual relations, such couples are living in a state of mortal sin according to
"The Eucharist is the sacrament of the baptized who are in the
state of sacramental grace,"
he said. "Admitting the civilly remarried divorcees to holy Communion
would cause great damage not only to family pastoral ministry, but also to the church's
doctrine of sanctifying grace."
If civilly remarried divorcees are allowed to receive
Communion, the archbishop said, it would open the door to the sacrament
"for all who live in mortal sin," thus eliminating the need for the sacrament
of penance, and it would "distort the significance of living in the state
of sanctifying grace."
"As Pope Francis reminded us, we who are
here do not want and do not have power to change the doctrine of the church,"
the archbishop told the assembly.- - -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/L'Osservatore Romano, handoutBy Nicole Pellicano VATICAN
CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican opened the "Gift of Mercy," a shelter for
homeless men, just a few hundred yards away from St. Peter's Square.
in a Jesuit-owned building, the shelter was created by and is run with funds from
the papal almoner, who has taken a variety of initiatives to assist the homeless
people in the area surrounding the Vatican.
Konrad Krajewski, Pope Francis' almoner, inaugurated the shelter Oct. 7 by
celebrating Mass for the first guests. The shelter offers 34 beds in an open-floor, partitioned
dormitory, according to a statement from the Almoner's Office Oct. 12.The shelter is run
by the Missionaries of Charity, who briefly interview the guests before they are checked in. Because of limited space, the guests may stay for a maximum of 30 days.
The guests agree to abide by a structured schedule with check-in each evening between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.,
followed by lights-out at a set time.
the 6:15 a.m. wake-up call, guests are offered breakfast and have until 8 a.m. to tidy
up their respective areas and use the washrooms. After the shelter closes for
the day, guests can shower and visit the barber at a facility set up under the colonnade in St. Peter's Square. The facility also was established by the papal almoner.
Various locations around the Vatican offer lunch and dinner, including the Vatican soup kitchen at the nearby "Gift of Mary" shelter for women. The shelter for women also is staffed by the Missionaries of Charity.- - -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.