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DISCIPLESHIP IN THE CATHOLIC TRADITION,

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 photo/Marcin Mazur, Bishops' Conference of England and WalesBy JERUSALEM (CNS) -- Christians have a responsibility to oppose the construction of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, said bishops from the U.S., Canada and Europe. "This de facto annexation of land not only undermines the rights of Palestinians in areas such as Hebron and East Jerusalem but, as the U.N. recently recognized, also imperils the chance of peace," said bishops who participated in the Holy Land Coordination Jan. 14-19. "So many people in the Holy Land have spent their entire lives under occupation, with its polarizing social segregation, yet still profess hope and strive for reconciliation. Now, more than ever, they deserve our solidarity," said the statement, issued Jan. 19, at the end of the visit. Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, was among the 12 bishops who signed the statement. Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, Quebec, represented Canadian bishops. The statement also was signed by representatives of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences, the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community and the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, as well as bishops from the United Kingdom and other European countries. During their visit, the bishops visited Hebron, West Bank, where the main market area is closed off to accommodate the security needs of some 800 Israeli settlers. Afterward, Bishop Cantu told Catholic News Service, "It becomes clearer that (the settlements) are not just about outlying settlements but something more systematic; more about infiltrating Palestinian land and forcing Palestinians out by making them so uncomfortable with such limited freedom they don't want to continue living there." Three of the bishops also visited the Gaza Strip, where an Israeli blockade has made it difficult to get supplies for reconstruction of buildings destroyed by Israeli shelling. Bishop William Nolan of Galloway, Scotland, one of the bishops who visited Gaza, said he left feeling "sad and helpless" at the poverty and lack of basic commodities. In 2006, a government led by Hamas was elected in Gaza. Israel, the United States and the European Union have listed Hamas -- an Islamic political party with an armed wing -- as a terrorist organization and have imposed economic sanctions against Gaza. In their statement, the bishops said Christians had a responsibility to help "the people of Gaza, who continue to live amid a man-made humanitarian catastrophe. They have now spent a decade under blockade, compounded by a political impasse caused by ill-will on all sides." They also said Christians must continue to encourage nonviolent resistance, as encouraged by Pope Francis. "This is particularly necessary in the face of injustices such as the continued construction of the separation wall on Palestinian land, including the Cremisan Valley," the statement said. The barrier is a series of cement slabs, barbed wire fences and security roads snaking across part of the West Bank. If completed as planned, the separation wall would stretch nearly 400 miles and restrict the movements of 38 percent of residents of the West Bank. Israel maintains that the barrier contributed significantly to a decrease in the number of terrorist attacks, while Palestinians contend that the barrier is simply another Israeli land grab, imprisons them and imposes travel limitations. The bishops said that each year since 1998, they have called for justice and peace, "yet the suffering continues." "So this call must get louder," their statement said. "As bishops, we implore Christians in our home countries to recognize our own responsibility for prayer, awareness and action."- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Robert DuncanVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a craftsman's workshop on the edge of Rome's Campo Verano cemetery, two designers are working to revive what they see as a dying art: burial. Unlike the masons who make the cemetery's gravestones and memorials, Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel are fashioning biodegradable burial pods. Their prototype is an egg-shaped sarcophagus that can hold a corpse in the fetal position. A young tree, chosen ahead of time by the deceased, will be planted over the pod in place of a headstone. Citelli and Bretzel imagine a future where "sacred forests" co-exist with cemeteries. The burial pods are part of a widespread movement focused on "green burial" practices, which use decomposable materials and avoid the use of embalming chemicals. A growing number of Catholic cemeteries offer "green burials," but do so emphasizing how the practices and the motivations behind such a choice must coincide with Catholic faith. "By burying the bodies of the faithful, the church confirms her faith in the resurrection of the body and intends to show the great dignity of the human body as an integral part of the human person whose body forms part of their identity," said an instruction on burial and cremation issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in October. The Catholic Church, it said, "cannot, therefore, condone attitudes or permit rites that involve erroneous ideas about death, such as considering death as the definitive annihilation of the person, or the moment of fusion with Mother Nature or the universe, or as a stage in the cycle of regeneration, or as the definitive liberation from the 'prison' of the body." The Italian pod makers, who named their firm Capsula Mundi (Latin for "earth pod") say the burial process should reflect the natural processes of the world with the dying and recycling of biological materials by other organisms. "We are earth and to earth we will return," said Bretzel, echoing the words from the Book of Genesis spoken during the distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday. Yet Capsula Mundi was inspired not by Catholicism or New Age spirituality but a critique of modern culture. Consumerism, with the many creature comforts it affords, has led people to think of themselves as "outside of nature, of the biological cycle of life," and thus encouraged them to counteract the natural process of decay by embalming, Bretzel said. "In ancient times, monks were buried in the cloister of their convent; they were wrapped in a sheet, but laid in the ground," he said. Opus Dei Father Paul O'Callaghan, an expert on church teaching about end-of-life questions and a professor at Rome's Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, said burial methods often indicate underlying attitudes about the afterlife. Christians recognize, "in all humility, that the body has to go back to where it came from, it goes back to the earth," said Father O'Callaghan, noting that the words "human" and "humility" both come from the Latin word "humus," meaning earth. "The authentic Christian practice," Father O'Callaghan said, is burial "followed by natural decay." The eventual resurrection of the body promised in the Creed will be the "fruit of divine intervention," he said. The priest said he understands why Catholics might be motivated to be ecologically aware when planning for their death and burial. Burial is more ecological than cremation, Father O'Callaghan argued, because the ground can "just take from the body what it wants, rather than the body being burned and heating up the atmosphere" where "most of the organic material is actually lost and is turned into CO2." But Father O'Callaghan also cautions Catholics to understand the philosophy undergirding some green burial initiatives. "When you are promoting something" that deals with death and burial, "normally you have an anthropology, you have a view of what human beings are, and how they work, and where they're destined," he said. "There is a religious element, whether you like it or not." For Citelli, "true immortality is to return to nature. That is where the sharing of and continuity of life take place. Because the transformation of the substances, of the organic material, gives life to death." In the Catholic view, when a person dies, it is not merely that "a part of life has disappeared and can now sort of get mixed up in the ground and in the trees and in the plants," Father O'Callaghan said. "This particular person, who lived in this particular body, and who was loved as a person in this particular form, is being remembered." Because the bodies of Christians have received the Eucharist during their lives, they have been carriers of God, the priest said. A corpse should be seen not only as something loved by other people, "but also from the religious point of view as something that's sacred." Because proposals for ecological burials vary from country to country, bishops and bishops' conferences "need to look into the anthropology, the eschatology and the theology behind" these diverse initiatives, he said. For Father O'Callaghan, the important questions are: "Is there a real affirmation of the human body" as a "carrier of the Holy Spirit?" Is there "a clear element of the name of the person?" Is the commemoration not just of nature, but "of the person and the life they lived?" How is the belief in the resurrection represented? "Very often that is represented by a headstone with a cross, which represents the power and salvation won by Jesus Christ," he said. Comparable symbolism, along with the name and dates of the individual's birth and death, would have to accompany any Christian form of a green burial. "There's a very powerful message of concreteness, of that particular person who died in this particular situation, and his name and the date. The place is there; the cross is there. There is something that speaks to people in that," he said.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • By Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Although great strides have been made through 50 years of ecumenical dialogue, Catholics and Lutherans must continue to work toward becoming a full and visible sign of unity for the world, Pope Francis said. A continued "communion of harmony" will allow Catholics and Lutherans to "find further convergence on points of doctrine and the moral teaching of the church," the pope told members of a pilgrimage from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland Jan. 19. "I pray to the Lord that he may bestow his blessing on the Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue Commission in Finland, which is working diligently toward a common sacramental understanding of the church, the Eucharist and ecclesial ministry," he said. The pope met the Finnish delegation during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The theme chosen for the 2017 observance was: "Reconciliation: The love of Christ compels us." The week of prayer, Pope Francis said, urges Catholics and Lutherans to reconcile and "draw closer to one another anew through conversion." "True ecumenism is based on a shared conversion to Jesus Christ as our Lord and redeemer. If we draw close to him, we draw close also to one another," the pope said. Recalling his visit to Sweden last October to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's efforts to reform the church, the pope said Luther's intention "was to renew the church, not divide her" and that the joint commemoration "was important on both the human and theological-spiritual levels." "The gathering there gave us the courage and strength in our Lord Jesus Christ to look ahead to the ecumenical journey that we are called to walk together," he said. Helping those who suffer persecution and violence, he added, can further unite Christians "on the journey toward full communion." In doing so, the pope said, Catholics and Lutherans can put their witness of faith into practice "through concrete acts of service, fraternity and sharing." Speaking off-the-cuff, Pope Francis thanked Lutheran Archbishop Kari Makinen of Turku for bringing his grandchildren to the meeting. "We need the simplicity of children; they teach us the way to Jesus Christ," the pope said. - - - Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Jonathan Bachman, ReutersBy WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The chairman of the U.S. bishops' domestic policy committee said Jan. 18 that a repeal of the federal health care law should not take place without immediate passage of a plan that preserves people's access to adequate health care and also protects human life, conscience rights and the poor. "Important gains brought about by the Affordable Care Act must be preserved" as millions of people now rely on the law for their health care, said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. At the same time, he said, any replacement measure also must safeguard human life from conception to natural death, protect conscience rights and provide adequate health care for immigrants, the poor and others on society's margins. Bishop Dewane made the comments in a letter sent to members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The U.S. bishops "supported the general goal of the law to expand medical coverage for many poor and vulnerable people," but they "ultimately opposed the Affordable Care Act because it expanded the role of the federal government in finding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion," Bishop Dewane wrote. "It also failed to provide essential conscience protections and access to health care for immigrants," he added."We recognize that the law has brought about important gains in such coverage and those gains should be protected," he continued. In the days ahead, the U.S. bishops "will examine health care proposals in greater depth and from various perspectives in the days ahead," he said. President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law March 23, 2010. "We remain committed to the ideals of universal and affordable health care and to the pursuit of those ideals in a manner that includes protections for human life, conscience and immigrants," Bishop Dewane told the lawmakers. "We urge you to approach the important debates in the days ahead seeking also to honor these principles for the good of all."The bishop's letter pointed out that U.S. Catholic bishops have "consistently advocated for access to decent health care that safeguards and affirms human life and dignity from conception until natural death." He quoted a 2009 letter to Congress from a previous chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development that said: "All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care that they can afford, and it should not depend on their stage of life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, where they live or where they were born." The 2017 letter also quoted Pope Francis and St. John Paul II's remarks on health care. Bishop Dewane said that in a 2016 address to doctors, Pope Francis said health care is "not a consumer good, but a universal right which means that access to health care services cannot be a privilege." The bishop also noted that St. John XXIII's encyclical "Pacem in Terris" said people have the right to "food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services." In the days ahead, Bishop Dewane said the U.S. Catholic bishops will continue to "examine health care proposals in greater depth and from various perspectives" looking that a replacement health care plan would provide "adequate health care for the millions of people who now rely upon it for their well-being." Of particular concern, he said, are those with limited resources "to meet basic needs such as food and shelter rather than seek medical care." For this group, he said, "an introduction of great uncertainty at this time would prove particularly devastating." - - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Mike NelsonBy Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Acknowledging the fear some immigrants have expressed as Donald Trump becomes president, Jesuit parishes, schools and other communities plan to pray for those who fear him and his proposals on the eve of his Jan. 20 inauguration as the country's 45th president. At least one community said it will declare sanctuary status for itself that evening. The Ignatian Solidarity Network, a social justice education and advocacy organization based in University Heights, Ohio, said in a news release that it asked its partner universities, high schools and parishes to organize events "recognizing the experiences of marginalization that immigrant members of communities throughout the country are experiencing." The result is the event titled "Prayers of Light: A Call to Prayer for Immigrants," taking place from coast to coast Jan. 19 in venues from San Francisco to New Jersey in places large and small in between, such as De Pere, Wisconsin, and St. Louis. Some planned prayer services with candles, Stations of the Cross with stories by immigrants, vigils and calls to political action. "We offer these symbols of light as signs of solidarity for those who may be forced into the shadows of our nation," said Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. "Through action and solidarity, we hope to illuminate the dignity of our immigrant brothers and sisters, and the value of each individual's contribution to this country." The Ignatian Solidarity Network said St. Agnes Church in San Francisco and the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center, also in San Francisco, "will declare sanctuary status" on the evening of the inauguration and others may follow. In the case of a person who does not have legal status to be in the country, a sanctuary site could theoretically shield that person from federal authorities. Ever since Trump won the election in November, several cities and organizations around the country have explored offering sanctuary status for those fearing deportation. During his campaign, Trump vowed to carry out mass deportations and said he would form deportation forces if he became president. However, after winning the presidency, he said he wasn't planning on it. In places like Texas, Republicans are exploring legally prohibiting the idea of offering sanctuary in a city or a site, and are trying to pass bills against offering sanctuary. Some of the organizations taking part in the "Prayers of Light" event will set up phone banks to call elected representatives and ask them to oppose legislation that would punish or ban sanctuary sites. In the 1980s, Catholic churches were part of the sanctuary movement that offered protection, shelter and other necessities to immigrants from Central America seeking refuge in the country, sometimes without legal documentation, as they fled civil conflicts in their home countries. - - - Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Guidos. - - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.