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DISCIPLES IN MISSION

Length12 min.
Age GroupA - Adult
PublisherPaulist Nathional Catholic Evangelization Assoc.
TopicsEvangelization

Describes the Paulist mission of evangelization and the process (Disciples in Mission) of establishing an evangelization team for your parish.

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  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Gregory A. ShemitzBy Daphnie VegaUNITED NATIONS (CNS) -- While religious freedom in much of the Middle East is under siege and the civil war in Syria seems to have no end in sight, Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus, and others called the United Nations to action.The U.N. plays a crucial role in securing the future of the region, particularly for people being tortured, kidnapped and killed because of their religious beliefs, Anderson said during a daylong conference April 28.Anderson's presentation came during one of three panel discussions at the conference sponsored by the office of the Vatican's permanent observer to the U.N. and joined by In Defense of Christians and other organizations focusing on human rights abuses in the Middle East.Presenters included people who experienced or witnessed atrocities being committed against religious minorities.Led by remarks from Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican's permanent observer to the U.N., the event had an intensely sensitive agenda.A 278-page report submitted to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that was co-authored by the Knights of Columbus and the group In Defense of Christians in March outlined what it called "genocide" being carried out against religious minorities by the Islamic State. Its contents focused largely on Christians who have been murdered and those indigenous communities who will or have been displaced from their region.On March 17, Kerry designated Islamic State actions as genocide, but the United States has yet to offer a plan to respond.The U.N. estimates that more than half of Syria's pre-civil war population of about 22.1 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Four million Syrian refugees now live outside of their homeland. Overall, at least 8 million people have been displaced throughout the region, human rights organizations estimate.Anderson mentioned published threats in the Islamic State's magazine, Dabiq, specifying what the group has called the "Crusader army" from the West. Such threats have not only been carried out in many parts of the Middle East but have haunted the lives of innocent men, women and children, he said.The Knights of Columbus has raised more than $10.5 million for relief since 2014 while partnering with dioceses and religious organizations to provide victims with food, clothing, shelter, education and medical attention, he said.Anderson concluded his presentation by proposing that the U.N. take legal action against the Islamic State and other terrorist groups to prevent the eradication of long-standing and indigenous communities in the Middle East. He called for punishment of the perpetrators and for the establishment of international standards of justice, equality, the rule of law and religious freedom.Sister Maria de Guadalupe Rodrigo, a member of the Congregation of the Incarnate Word who has spent 18 years in the Middle East as a missionary, spoke of her experienced living in Aleppo, Syria, a major battleground in the civil war."I remember the first two months when this all started, we all remained inside," she said. "There were constant explosions and gunshots. We couldn't sleep. But these weeks turned into months and the months into years."Sister Maria de Guadalupe described how children playing on the street collect bullets and trade them with one another because they could find nothing else to play with. Children should not be concerned about safety, but safety is all they think about, she said.A child captured and tortured by ISIS also addressed the conference. Samia Sleman, 15, of Hardan, Iraq, a village north of Mount Sinjar, gave an emotional speech about her time in captivity. A member of the Yazidi minority, Sleman spent six months sequestered along with other girls who were starved, raped and sold to other Islamic State members.Sleman brought attention to the many girls whom Islamic State members take as sex slaves while their mothers are killed for being "too old." Some enslaved girls are as young 7 or 8 years old, she said.Despite the horrific actions of her captors, Sleman, whose family is still being held, spoke on their behalf so the U.N. and world governments would act to end the genocide taking place.In another session, Jacqueline Isaac, vice president of Roads of Success, a Southern California organization addressing human rights in the Middle East, asked, "Where are you, world?"Victims of ISIS are more than numbers, but human beings, she said, as many in the audience rose to their feet and applauded.- - -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/Paul HaringBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Moral and ethical concerns must guide medical research so it will always be at the service of protecting human life and dignity, Pope Francis said. In that way, education and research can strive "to serve higher values, such as solidarity, generosity, magnanimity, sharing of knowledge, respect for human life, and fraternal and selfless love," he said April 29, during an audience with people taking part in a conference on adult stem cell research. "Research, whether in academia or industry," he said, "requires unwavering attention to moral issues if it is to be an instrument which safeguards human life and the dignity of the person." U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was in attendance and had addressed the conference with a 29-minute speech on the need to invest in prevention, access and affordability in the fight against cancer. The conference looked at current and experimental techniques in using adult stem cells to fight disease, specifically rare illnesses afflicting children. The April 28-30 conference was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture; its foundation, STOQ, which is an acronym for Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest; and the Stem for Life Foundation, a nonprofit offshoot of the for-profit Caladrius cell-therapy company. Speaking to participants gathered in the Vatican's Paul VI hall, the pope highlighted the conference's emphasis on top-notch medical know-how without overlooking the "ethical, anthropological, social and cultural questions, as well as the complex problem of access to care for those afflicted by rare conditions." People struck by rare diseases "are often not given sufficient attention because investing in them is not expected to produce substantial economic returns," the pope said. In fact, the pope repeated his call against "an economy of exclusion and inequality that victimizes people when the mechanism of profit prevails over the value of human life." "This is why the globalization of indifference must be countered by the globalization of empathy" so that resources will be dedicated to finding cures and people will be allowed access to treatment, he said. "We know that we cannot always find fast cures to complex illnesses, but we can be prompt in caring for these people, who often feel abandoned and ignored," he said. People must be sensitive to everyone regardless of their religious beliefs, social standing or cultural background, he said. In his speech, delivered before the pope arrived, Biden spoke about the attention and comfort he felt when the pope met him and his family privately during the papal visit to the United States in September. Biden lost his 46-year-old son, Beau, to brain cancer in May 2015. The vice president said that during the private meeting in an airplane hangar in Philadelphia, the pope's words, prayers and presence "provided us with more comfort than even he, I think, will ever understand." Biden, a Catholic, said his family, like many others around the world, have seen "how faith can turn loss into hope, and hope into action." "The Holy Father has given hope to so many people, of all faiths, in every part of the world, with his strong words and humble ways," he said. Biden spoke about the U.S. administration's "Moonshot," an initiative he leads and which is aimed at eliminating cancer through prevention -- including from environmental causes -- and greater access to healthcare and affordable treatment. "The best medicine and treatment can't belong only to the privileged and the powerful. It has to belong to everyone," he said. "Cancer is a constant emergency" Biden said, as it causes the deaths of 3,000 people a day in the United States. He urged researchers and scientists to share and publish data and discoveries "immediately," and not hide it for years behind "paywalls." "Why do you wait? What is your rationale?" he said. Faith, in all religions, is animated by hope and love, he said, adding that he had faith global progress was possible.- - -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.

  • By Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Italian authorities arrested six suspects who allegedly received orders from the Islamic State terrorist group to attack the Vatican and the Israeli embassy in Rome. The arrests made in Lombardy and Piedmont April 28 were the result of a joint operation coordinated by the district attorney of Milan and the Italian anti-terrorism agency. According to the Italian news agency ANSA, authorities arrested Abderrahim Moutaharrik and his wife, Salma Bencharki; Abderrahmane Khachia, and three people who have maintained contact with a couple that left Italy to join the Islamic State in Syria. All of the suspects are of Moroccan origin. A warrant has been issued for the couple, Mohamed Korachi and his Italian wife, Alice Brignoli, who are believed to have left for Syria in 2015. Authorities monitored a series of conversations between the suspects via WhatsApp. One of the messages sent to Moutaharrik said: "Dear brother Abderrahim, I send you ... the bomb poem ... listen to the sheik and strike," ANSA reported. Milan prosecutor Maurizio Romanelli told reporters authorities believe the word "sheik" is a reference to Islamic State leader Abu-Bakir Al-Baghdadi. He also said the messages, intercepted in February and March 2016, mentioned a strike against the Israeli embassy as well as against Christian pilgrims in Rome for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. "I swear I will be the first to attack them in this Italy of crusaders, I swear I'll attack it, in the Vatican God willing," a message from one of the arrested suspects stated, according to ANSA. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, expressed his confidence in the current security measures in place for the Holy Year. "The preventative security measures in place to protect pilgrims during the jubilee year are serious and functioning properly, as everyone can see and have witnessed. Therefore, there appears to be no need to modify them," he told Catholic News Service April 29. - - - 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/courtesy Vatican ObservatoryBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Of the many momentous or menial tasks women religious perform, one of the better-kept secrets has been the role of four Sisters of the Holy Child Mary who were part of a global effort to make a complete map and catalog of the starry skies. Up until recently, the women were no more than nameless nuns whose image has long been preserved in a black and white photograph that showed them wearing impeccably ironed habits and leaning over special microscopes and a ledger. But now their identities have been pulled out of obscurity by Jesuit Father Sabino Maffeo, assistant to the director of the Vatican Observatory. He stumbled onto their names as he was going through the observatory archives, "putting papers in order," he told Catholic News Service April 26. Sisters Emilia Ponzoni, Regina Colombo, Concetta Finardi and Luigia Panceri, all born in the late 1800s and from the northern Lombardy region near Milan, helped map and catalog nearly half a million stars for the Vatican's part in an international survey of the night sky. Top astronomers from around the world met in Paris in 1887 and again in 1889 to coordinate the creation of a photographic "Celestial Map" ("Carte du Ciel") and an "astrographic" catalog pinpointing the stars' positions. Italian astronomer and meteorologist, Barnabite Father Francesco Denza, easily convinced Pope Leo XIII to let the Holy See take part in the initiative, which assigned participating observatories a specific slice of the sky to photograph, map and catalog. Father Maffeo, an expert in the observatory's history and its archivist, said Pope Leo saw the Vatican's participation as a way to show the world that "the church supported science" and "was not just concerned with theology and religion." The Vatican was one of about 18 observatories that spent the next several decades taking thousands of glass-plate photographs with their telescopes and cataloging data for the massive project. But the project at the Vatican Observatory began to suffer after Father Denza died in 1894. When Pope Pius X found out the new director wasn't up to the job, he called on Archbishop Pietro Maffi of Pisa to reorganize the observatory and search for the best replacement, Father Maffeo said. In 1906, the archbishop found his man at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. -- Jesuit Father John Hagen who had been heading its observatory there since 1888 and was renowned for his research on "variable" stars, which have fluctuating brightness. Though he had extensive experience in astronomy, Father Hagen never did the kind of measurements and number crunching required for the astrographic catalog, Father Maffeo said. "So he went to Europe to see how they did it and saw that in some observatories there were women who read the (star) positions and wrote them in a book with precise coordinates," the 93-year-old Jesuit priest said. The astronomers told Father Hagen that once the young women "were shown how to do it, they were very diligent," Father Maffeo said. At the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, for example, they even were referred to as "lady computers" because of the skill needed to calculate the coordinates according to set formulae. When Father Hagen wondered where he might be able to hire young women for the Vatican, "he immediately thought -- nuns," and contacted the Sisters of the Holy Child Mary, who were located nearby, Father Maffeo said. Coincidentally, Mary is often symbolized in Catholic Church tradition by a star. In a letter dated July 13, 1909, to the superior general, Mother Angela Ghezzi, Archbishop Maffi said the Vatican Observatory "needs two sisters with normal vision, patience and a predisposition for methodical and mechanical work." Father Maffeo said the sisters' general council was not enthused "about wasting two nuns on a job that had nothing to do with charity." However, Mother Ghezzi was "used to seeing God's will in every request," he said, and she let two sisters go to the observatory. Work for the sisters began in 1910, but soon required a third and later a fourth nun to join the team. Two would sit in front of a microscope mounted on an inclined plane with a light shining under the plate-glass photograph of one section of the night sky. The plates were overlaid with numbered grids and the sisters would measure and read out loud each star's location on two axes and another would register the coordinates in a ledger. They would also check enlarged versions of the images on paper. The Vatican was one of about 10 observatories to complete its assigned slice of the sky. From 1910 to 1921, the nuns surveyed the brightness and positions of 481,215 stars off of hundreds of glass plates. Their painstaking work did not go unnoticed at the time. Pope Benedict XV received them in a private audience in 1920 and gave them a gold chalice, Father Maffeo said. Pope Pius XI also received the "measuring nuns" eight years later, awarding them a silver medal. The Vatican's astrographic catalog, which totaled 10 volumes, gave special mention to the sisters, noting their "alacrity and diligence," uninterrupted labors and "zeal greater than any eulogy" could express at a task "so foreign to their mission." The international project to catalog star positions and build a celestial map ended in 1966 and recorded nearly 5 million stars. The catalog consists of more than 200 volumes produced by 20 observatories and the unfinished map is made up of hundreds of sheets of paper -- all work culled from more than 22,000 glass photographic plates of the sky. Father Maffeo said, "Never before had there been a presentation of the stars as vast as this." While the project was quickly eclipsed by huge technological developments in surveying stars, modern-day scientists eventually discovered that comparing the star positions recorded a century earlier with current satellite positions provided valuable information about star motions for millions of stars. The project showed that even in a new era of satellites and software, quaint glass-plate photographs and "lady computers" weren't wholly obsolete. - - -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/Yuri Gripas, ReutersBy Kurt JensenWASHINGTON (CNS) -- House Speaker Paul Ryan apologized for his earlier criticism of recipients of government benefits as "takers and makers," and said Republicans strive for a country that is "open, diverse, dynamic" in a speech at Georgetown University.Ryan's one-hour talk April 27 at the Jesuit-run university's Gaston Hall was billed by him as an effort to reach out to millennials. Political observers described it as an effort to soften his image in preparation for a 2020 run for the presidency.The speech came nearly four years to the day that the Wisconsin Republican told a Georgetown audience, "The work I do as a Catholic holding office conforms to the social doctrine as best I can make of it."This time around, however, Ryan said nothing about his Catholic beliefs."What prompted you to reconsider your previous statements about poor people as takers?" asked Rachel Hirsch, a graduate student."I was just wrong," Ryan replied. "I didn't mean to give offense. ... There are people who get knocked down in life. And to lump an entire category of people in one broad brush is wrong, I think."He added that the only way to deal with his previous rhetoric is, "Just own up to it. Just fess up and fix it."His 2012 remarks at the university were a flashpoint of that year's presidential campaign when he ran for vice president on the Republican ticket headed by Mitt Romney.Ryan had been criticized by advocates of poor and marginalized people for his stance. Rather than chastise, however, charitable organizations, led by Catholic Charities USA, have worked with Ryan and his staff for months to showcase programs that aid poor families, homeless individuals, the sick and the elderly while stressing the importance of a federal partnership to support such efforts because the nonprofits would be overwhelmed if left to provide social services solely on their own.Ryan's words were a version of the apology he has been offering in speeches and TV interviews since January. His language to students was less strident than during his first visit, but he did not get into the specifics of policy proposals."I want to make my case: Why support Republicans? I'm going to go out on a limb and assume the thought had not occurred to most of you. So here's how I'd sum it up: The America that you want is the America that we want -- open, diverse, dynamic. It is what I call a confident America, where the condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life, where we tackle our problems together so that all of us can thrive," Ryan said.In response to a student question, Ryan said action by Congress on immigration reform "will have to wait for the next president" and repeated his familiar accusation of President Barack Obama "going around Congress and making laws" with executive orders.Securing the border, he said, is about "heroin and opiods. This is about ISIS. It's not about Latinos. It's not at all about that."Ryan called for "more competition in student lending" to provide more alternatives in college choices. "Look, I love this school, you've had some awesome basketball teams ... but not everyone can afford a place like this," he said.Ryan did not mention Donald Trump or any other Republican presidential candidates by name. One student, who said he was a Republican, said he was unhappy with both Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and asked Ryan if there was a reason for hope.Ryan maintained his neutrality on the race for the Republican nomination, but added, "I have never seen the well poisoned as much as it is these days. ... I'd like to say it's just the Democrats, but it's not -- it's both."He decried the use of "identity politics" as a successful political strategy. "Now unfortunately, both sides are playing this game. And all it's doing is dividing us as a country," he said.With "45 million people out there in poverty" and anxiety about stagnant wages, "right now in the primaries, it's being accelerated and exacerbated. Gas is being thrown on the fire," he added."Republicans lose personality contests anyway. We always do. I've learned that lesson the hard way. But we win ideas contests. And this is what we want to have is an ideas contest."- - -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.