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Length 27 min.
Age Group A - Adult
Publisher Center for Learning
Topics Catechist Resources

An Overview of This video provides an in-depth look at this new secondary religion series. It presents the concepts, philosophy, strengths, and specifics of the series. This discussion is intended for principals, theology department chairpersons, theology

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  • IMAGE: CNS illustration/Liz AgbeyBy Chaz MuthWASHINGTON (CNS) -- At first glance, it's difficult to distinguish Father Lukasz J. Willenberg as a Catholic priest as he gathers with U.S. Army paratroopers preparing for a training jump at Pope Field near Fayetteville, North Carolina. Instead of wearing the traditional black clerics, the 34-year-old Polish immigrant is sporting fatigues, a camouflage helmet and a contraption strapped to his back that will release a parachute after he jumps out of a military aircraft, along with the scores of other soldiers waiting in that same harness shed on a warm March afternoon earlier this year. Shortly before the men and women are called to board the aircraft, Father Willenberg stands up, and with the heavy jump gear fastened to his fit body, he sluggishly makes his way to the center of the shelter to lead everyone in a prayer. Yes, this priest prays, works, trains and jumps out of airplanes with the men and women in the second battalion of the 3rd Brigade in the U.S. Army's famed 82nd Airborne Division's 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment located at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville. Though he is an ordained priest of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, Father Willenberg also is a captain in the U.S. Army and one of the dwindling numbers of Catholic chaplains serving in the U.S. military. Chaplains have had a presence in the American military since the U.S. Army Chaplains Corps was established July 29, 1775. Military chaplains are commissioned officers serving in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The priests are basically on loan from their dioceses while they serve. Unlike traditional parish priests, most chaplains work side-by-side with their flock. "I spend most of my day with the people I serve with, so my involvement in their lives is definitely more intensified than when I served as a parish priest," Father Willenberg said. "It's the commission of Jesus in the purest sense, to go out and preach and teach and baptize, go everywhere basically and give yourself completely to those you are with." He views his chaplaincy as a way of fulfilling Pope Francis' call to priests to get out of their rectories and smell like the sheep. "It's the beautiful aspect of being a chaplain," Father Willenberg said. "As a priest, there is no greater fulfillment. There are so many opportunities to impact the lives of the people we serve with and their families." To say there is a shortage of Catholic military chaplains currently serving in the U.S. armed forces is an understatement, according to Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services in Washington. The U.S. Department of Defense estimates there are 1.3 million active duty and 811,000 reserve men and women serving in all five branches of the U.S. military, about 25 percent of whom are Catholic. Yet, there are only 214 priests on active duty serving in the U.S. military, accounting for about 8 percent of the chaplain corps, Archbishop Broglio told Catholic News Service during a June interview. It's about 500 priests fewer than the archbishop says there should be just to meet the pastoral needs of the people serving in the armed forces and their families. So, if you break the current numbers down just for the active duty service men and women, there are currently 214 chaplains serving approximately 325,000 Catholics in the U.S. military, or about a priest for every 1,519 Catholic and that doesn't include their family members. The military does contract with priests near several military installations to help out and in some cases serve as the Catholic presence, but there is always a preference for a chaplain who is actually embedded in that particular branch of the armed forces, Archbishop Broglio said. "There is a tremendous gap between the need for Catholic priests and their actual presence in the military," he said. "This means that you have installations where if the archdiocese is unable to find a contractor who might fill in for the military chaplain, there simply isn't a Catholic program." So far the archdiocese has been able to ensure a chaplain is on every aircraft carrier in the U.S. fleet, allowing each of these men to minister to all of the surrounding ships, but with only 48 priests currently serving in the U.S. Navy, Archbishop Broglio isn't sure that can continue to be the case. Contract priests tend to be older clergy members, sometimes they are former military, and in cases where there is no chaplain available, they are able to offer essential Catholic services and can be available for counseling. Though Archbishop Broglio is grateful for each contract priest who serves, he said that "his ability to minister is limited by the fact that he doesn't necessarily have the security clearance and he can't always go where the men and women work." There are a number of reasons why the number of military chaplains has dropped from more than 400 at the turn of the 21st century to the current 214. There are fewer priests serving in U.S. dioceses than during the vocations heyday of the mid-20th century. Though there has been a bit of an uptick in ordinations in recent years, most dioceses and archdioceses are still ending up with a net loss of clergy, because for every priest ordained each year, sometimes two are leaving ministry because of retirement or death. Another factor is that priests tend to be older at ordination than Protestant clergy, making the physical demands and the age requirements of serving in the military more restrictive for many current Catholic priests, Archbishop Broglio said. It's also a difficult decision for a bishop or archbishop to release one of their priests to serve in the military, since most of them are dealing with clergy shortages of their own. When Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin was approached by Father Willenberg about his desire to service as an Army chaplain, the answer wasn't immediately yes. Bishop Tobin's primary responsibility is to Catholics in the state of Rhode Island and he told CNS that losing the "ministry of a fine young priest like Father Luke" was a significant sacrifice for the diocese. He ended up releasing Father Willenberg to serve for at least a three-year tour in the army, but said he struggled with the decision. Numerous recruiting efforts have been employed to bring more priests into the military chaplaincy corps, including biannual discernment retreats for interested eligible clergy. The Archdiocese for the Military Services also now has a full-time vocations director. Though Archbishop Broglio has been encouraged by the number of recruits in recent years, he said it will take years of steady increases to reach the number of Catholic chaplains he really needs. Though the armed forces chaplaincy is most frequently viewed as a positive military component, some Catholic peace organizations object to priests serving in institutions that engage in war. Melkite Father Emmanuel Charles McCarthy of Brockton, Massachusetts, a co-founder of Pax Christi USA, sees a conflict of interest for a follower of Jesus Christ to serve in, and be paid by, a branch of the armed services, which sanction the killing of other humans in combat situations. Father McCarthy doesn't have a problem with priests providing pastoral care to soldiers, airmen, sailors, Marines or members of the Coast Guard. However, he believes that being a commissioned officer in the military makes it impossible for that priest to maintain his objectivity when preaching the Gospel message that killing any human is an act of evil. But Archbishop Broglio and the numerous chaplains interviewed by CNS say chaplains have an essential role in the military. They all say having priests embedded in each branch of the military provides them access to serve as a moral compass to those who make life and death decisions. "A large part of my effectiveness comes because I live the life of the people that I serve," said Father Michael A. Mikstay, a Navy chaplain currently serving at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. "Those hardships that men and women endure in combat, I endure in combat. "That gains me entrance into people's lives that can't be accomplished simply because you're a clergy person," he told CNS during a May interview. "My credibility rests on that very fact that wherever that unit, that command that I'm assigned to goes, I go. Whatever training they do, I do. They're sent to combat, I go. Day in and day out, especially in war, we're there." - - - Follow Muth on Twitter: @Chazmaniandevyl.- - -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/Paul Hackett, ReutersBy Simon CaldwellMANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- Catholic bishops condemned a sharp rise in xenophobic and racist attacks following Britain's vote to leave the European Union. Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster said the "upsurge of racism, of hatred toward others is something we must not tolerate." "We have to say this is simply not acceptable in a humane society, and it should never be provoked or promoted," he said. The June 28 statement from Cardinal Nichols, president of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, came a day after the National Police Chiefs' Council revealed that of 85 complaints of hate crime were received between June 23, the day of the referendum on United Kingdom membership in the EU, and June 26. The figure represented a 57 percent increase in such offenses in a similar period just a month earlier. Xenophobic incidents included the vandalism of the buildings of a Polish social and cultural association in London and the verbal abuse of foreigners on a tram in Manchester, a film of which was sent to Channel 4 News June 28. Far-right nationalists at a rally in Newcastle June 25 unfurled a banner that demanded: "Stop Immigration, Start Repatriation" and, on June 28, a German woman who has lived in Britain since the 1970s wept as she told LBC London radio that she was too scared to leave her house three days after dog excrement was thrown at her windows. She said: "My neighbors told me that they don't want me living in this road and that they are not friends with foreigners." "My friend ... has a grandson who is 7 and who was beaten up because he has a foreign grandmother," she added. Britain has been a primary destination for many citizens of poorer EU countries, with annual net migration reaching 330,000 people a year. Many of the migrants to the U.K. are Catholics from Central Europe, Asia and Africa. Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth told CNS in a June 28 telephone interview that, in his diocese, there were "huge numbers of immigrants from Poland, Kerala (India), the Philippines and Nigeria." "I am extremely sad to think of violence against foreign people who are living here," he said. "There is no justification whatsoever for that. "Many of these immigrants are already beloved members of our communities. They have contributed to local life and organizations," he said. "Britain has always, through the centuries, been a country which has assimilated people from abroad, and they have taken on our values, and also they have made us proud because they have made a great success of it," Bishop Egan said. "Both materially and spiritually, the vast majority of people who are working here and in our diocese are making a wonderful contribution," he added. "To think of violence against them is self-destructive. It is self-harm. We are harming ourselves as much as we are inflicting division and suffering on others." Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton, the diocese based in Bristol, also issued a statement telling Catholics that it was important "to work for the common good and not create barriers of division and prejudice." "We should have a profound respect for one another, and this should be reflected in the way we speak and behave," said the statement posted on the diocesan website June 27. "We need to keep in mind the needs of all citizens, particularly those who may feel marginalized at this present moment, and continue to be a tolerant society, free of racial and religious prejudice," he said. Concerns over the phenomenon of mass migration, and the apparent inability of the U.K. to control its borders, had helped to fuel efforts to take Britain out of the EU in a referendum won by the "Leave" campaigners, with the public voting 52-48 percent to withdraw from the bloc. British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had fought for the U.K. to remain inside the EU, announced his resignation June 24. In the weeks before the referendum, national newspapers such as the Mail on Sunday had exposed how far-right nationalists, including neo-Nazis, had been actively campaigning on the Leave side. Witold Sobkow, Poland's ambassador to the U.K., expressed shock at the surge in xenophobic abuse. Cameron told the House of Commons June 27 that such crimes must be stamped out. "We will not stand for hate crime or these kinds of attacks," he said.- - -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/L'Osservatore Romano, handoutBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In his first public address in almost a year, retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his sincere gratefulness to Pope Francis, saying that his goodness "from the first moment of your election, in every moment of my life here, touches me deeply." "More than the beauty found in the Vatican Gardens, your goodness is the place where I live; I feel protected," Pope Benedict said June 28. Pope Benedict also conveyed his hope that Pope Francis would continue to "lead us all on this path of divine mercy that shows the path of Jesus, to Jesus and to God." Pope Francis led a Vatican celebration for the 65th anniversary of Pope Benedict's priestly ordination. The two were joined by the heads of Vatican offices and congregations and several guests, including a delegation from the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Those gathered gave Pope Benedict a standing ovation as he made his way into the Clementine Hall and took his seat to the right of the pope's chair. A few minutes later, Pope Francis entered the hall and made a beeline for his predecessor, who respectfully removed his zucchetto before greeting him. Pope Francis has made no secret of his admiration for the retired pontiff, often comparing him to a "wise grandfather at home." During his return flight to Rome from Armenia June 26, Pope Francis praised Pope Benedict for "protecting me and having my back with his prayers." Recalling Pope Benedict's promise of obedience to his successor in the days leading up to the conclave, Pope Francis said he had heard that some people have been "sent away" by the retired pontiff after complaining "about this new pope." "If (the report) isn't true, it is well-founded, because this man is like that: a man of his word, a righteous man!" Pope Francis exclaimed. Speaking at the anniversary celebration, Pope Francis praised Pope Benedict's life of priestly service to the church and recalled his writings on Simon Peter's response to "Jesus' definitive call: 'Do you love me?'" "This is the hallmark dominating an entire life spent in priestly service and of the true theology that you have defined -- not by chance -- as 'the search for the beloved.' It is this that you have always given witness to and continue to give witness to today," he said. Even in retirement, he said, Pope Benedict continues to serve the church and "truly contributes with vigor and wisdom to its growth" from the "little 'Mater Ecclesiae' monastery in the Vatican." The monastery, Pope Francis continued, is the complete opposite of those "forgotten corners" society often assigns to those who have reached old age. Instead, like the Porziuncola where St. Francis spent his final days in prayer, the Mater Ecclesiae monastery "has become a 'Franciscan' place that emanates tranquility, peace, strength, faithfulness, maturity, faith, dedication and loyalty which does so much good for me and gives strength to me and to the whole church," Pope Francis said. Congratulating his predecessor, Pope Francis expressed his hope that Pope Benedict "would continue to feel the hand of the merciful God that sustains him" and that he may "experience and give witness to God's love." When Pope Francis finished speaking, Pope Benedict clasped his hands together and signaled his thanks to the pope. With a bit of effort, he rose to his feet and stretched out his arms to embrace Pope Francis. After short speeches by Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, the retired pontiff slowly stood up once again to express his gratitude. Despite his frailty, Pope Benedict vividly recalled his ordination 65 years ago, remembering a Greek word a priest ordained with him wrote on the remembrance card of his first Mass: "Eucharistomen" ("We give you thanks"). "I am convinced that this word, in its many dimensions, has already said everything that can be said in this moment," the retired pope said. The word "eucharistomen," he added, can bring everyone closer toward that "new dimension" of thanksgiving given by Christ, who transformed the cross, sufferings and the evils of the world "into grace and blessing." "We want to insert ourselves in this grace of the Lord and thus truly receive the newness of life and help in the transubstantiation of the world. May it be a world not of death but of life, a world in which love has overcome death," he said. - - - 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: REUTERSBy Doreen Abi RaadBEIRUT (CNS) -- Suicide bombers attacked a predominantly Christian village in northeast Lebanon twice in one day, and residents called on the government to support them, saying Islamic State fighters were holed up on the outskirts of town. Two separate sets of four suicide bombers attacked the village of Qaa June 27; the first attack killed five people in addition to the bombers. About 30 people were injured in the two incidents, the second of which occurred near St. Elias Melkite Catholic Church as people were preparing for the funerals of the people killed in the first bombing. The incidents sparked fears that the Syrian civil war was spilling into Lebanon; Qaa is near the border with Syria's Homs district. Local news reports and security sources said the Islamic State group was suspected of the attacks, but no one claimed responsibility. The Lebanese Army has indicated Islamic State hopes to force the Christian community to leave the village and, by controlling Qaa, its militants will be able to start ensure a corridor to the Mediterranean Sea. Melkite Catholic Archbishop Elias Rahal of Baalbek traveled to Qaa after the first attack and told Catholic News Service by phone: "We pray, we pray, we pray for the dead, for the injured. ... We are here for the families and for their children," he said, because people "are shaken by these terrorists." The sounds of people wailing could be heard in the background as he spoke to CNS. "Despite all that has happened," he said, the Christians are holding on to their faith and are determined to maintain their presence in the area. "We are here and we are here to stay." Before the second blast, Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham had visited with wounded who had been taken to a Beirut hospital, about 90 miles from the village. Residents of Qaa had organized patrols to guard their village against such attacks and had been successful until these suicide bombings. The village has a population of about 15,000, predominantly Melkite Catholic, with some Maronite Catholic and Orthodox. Between 20,000 and 30,000 Syrian refugees also live in the area. Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, patriarch of Maronite Catholics, issued a statement June 27 during a pastoral visit to New York, expressing his "extreme sorrow" over the bombings. "The hand of terror carried out once again on Lebanon's soil ... in the dear town of Qaa , a town of peace, love and coexistence," he said. He called on the Lebanese to "return to their national unity and solidarity to confront the terrorist schemes that are being plotted against Lebanon" and urged the Lebanese officials to "shoulder their national responsibilities in order to spare Lebanon more tragedies." Lebanon's army has periodically fought off jihadist factions along the border area with Syria and has sought to clamp down on local cells operating in the area. - - -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/Toby Melville, ReutersBy Jonathan LuxmooreOXFORD, England (CNS) -- European Catholic leaders expressed concern that the decision by United Kingdom voters to leave the European Union threatened unity across the continent, but they also cautioned the EU bloc to rethink its values and priorities. The concerns arose after voters decided June 23 to exit the EU by 52 percent to 48 percent. The decision led Prime Minister David Cameron to announce his resignation and sent shock waves through world financial markets. In London, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said the vote must be respected and that the United Kingdom is setting out on a "new course that will be demanding on all." "Our prayer is that all will work in this task with respect and civility, despite deep differences of opinion," he said in a statement the morning after the vote. "We pray that in this process, the most vulnerable will be supported and protected, especially those who are easy targets for unscrupulous employees and human traffickers. We pray that our nations will build on our finest traditions of generosity, of welcome for the stranger and shelter for the needy. "We now must work hard to show ourselves to be good neighbors and resolute contributors in joint international efforts to tackle the critical problems our world today," he added. Anglican Archbishops Justin Welby of Canterbury and John Sentamu of York said in a joint statement that citizens must "re-imagine both what it means to be the United Kingdom in an interdependent world and what values and virtues should shape and guide our relationships with others." They called for society to remain "hospitable and compassionate, builders of bridges and not barriers" while expressing concern that some immigrants and residents on non-British ethnicity "will feel a deep sense of insecurity." The leaders called for citizens to embrace diversity across the U.K. and affirm "the unique contribution of each and every one." The president of the Polish bishops' conference was similarly diplomatic. Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan told the country's Catholic information agency, KAI, that while the conference respects the voters' decision, "we can't forget unity is better than division, and that European solidarity is an achievement of many generations." "For Christians, the building of unity between peoples, societies and nations is a key summons, ordained by Christ himself," he said. "We're convinced this Christ-like unity is the true source of hope for Europe and the world." Cautioning that the EU's "methods of functioning" included "many worrying features," the archbishop said he remained hopeful "the union of European nations, built on Christ" would still prevail in a "civilization of love." However, retired Archbishop Henryk Muszynski of Gniezno, the former primate of Poland, criticized the outcome, warning that the EU's "purely declaratory notion of solidarity" would have to be "rethought from the beginning." "Brexit is the outcome of separatist, populist and egotistic tendencies, shown at both personal and social level, which have been discernible for a long time in Europe. I fear this decision won't serve Great Britain, Europe or the world," the prelate told KAI. During his flight June 24 at the start of a three-day visit to Armenia, Pope Francis told journalists the referendum "expressed the will of the people," and said it imposed a "great responsibility" on everyone to "ensure the well-being and coexistence of the whole European continent." The Brussels-based Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community marked the outcome by displaying a "Prayer for Europe" on its website, which invoked God's help "in committing ourselves to a Europe of the Spirit, founded not just on economic treaties but also on values which are human and eternal." On June 27, the commission posted a statement from the commission's president, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who said it would organize an October 2017 congress on the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome "to provide religious impulses for the debate on the future of the European Union." "The increasing nationalism in some countries must not become again the trigger of ideological delimitation, hostility and discord," he said. "As church, we will commit ourselves to this with full force." In Germany, the Catholic Church's youngest ordinary, Archbishop Stefan Hesse of Hamburg, told KNA Catholic news agency the vote was a "step backwards for a united Europe," while in neighboring Austria Bishop Agidius Zsifkovics of Eisenstadt described it as "a wake-up call for a new European humanism." He said he hoped the dream of European unity would not be "buried by self-serving gravediggers." "We must warn against the rise of provincial mentalities and group egoisms. Transnational problems and challenges cannot be solved nationally," Bishop Zsifkovics told the Kathpress news agency. "We'll be exposed to numerous dangers if we don't work together for a Europe which cares about its children, stands fraternally by its elderly, protects those seeing its help and promotes and respects the rights of individuals." France's Catholic La Croix daily said the four-month campaign around the referendum had unleashed "often alarming passions." The newspaper added that the vote would oblige Europeans "to revise their cliches" and force EU leaders to contain the possible "contagion" of parallel referendum demands in other member-states. The Belgian church's Cathobel news agency suggested in an online commentary the vote had "damaged the dream of Europe" enunciated by the EU's post-World War II Catholic statesmen -- Robert Schuman, Jean Monnet, Paul-Henri Spaak and Alcide de Gasperi -- and would fuel "the rise of extremist party populism" visible during the refugee crisis. "The end of an adventure also marks the beginning of a new one -- if a dream is damaged, we must give birth to a new dream," Cathobel said. In France, Archbishop Jean-Pierre Grallet of Strasbourg said he was left with "feelings of sadness" that "what we have long fought for has been contradicted." He said he hoped the vote would "create a clarification" rather than just "destabilizing the European project." "I've repeatedly said we should work for a future which is more European than national, but on condition this Europe is an entity we can identify with," Archbishop Grallet said in a June 24 interview on the French bishops' conference website. "I don't know what the English will say now, how they will propose to exit and what their first moves will be," he said. "But we must be realists: we will not build Europe against its peoples, without gaining popular support and a responding properly to their anxieties. Europe may look like a beautiful project; but we should remember it's still highly fragile." - - -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.