IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Mcerlane, EPABy Michael KellyDUBLIN (CNS) -- Northern Ireland's
Catholic bishops urged Massgoers to support candidates opposed to legalizing
abortion in elections to the region's power-sharing assembly May 5.
In a wide-ranging pastoral
statement ahead of the polls, the bishops also urged Catholics to lobby
lawmakers about issues as diverse as climate change and the right of church-run
organizations to receive government funding.
Catholics at Masses April 30-May
1 were given pamphlets with a list of 10 questions that the faithful are encouraged
to ask candidates, including their parties' policies on abortion and child
"The next assembly term
will see further pressures being brought to bear on politicians to introduce
abortion to Northern Ireland," the bishops said.
"The moral issue here is
not whether what is proposed is abortion 'on demand' or some form of so-called 'limited'
abortion. From a moral point of view, there is no such things as 'limited'
abortion. Abortion is always the deliberate and intentional taking of an
innocent, vulnerable human life, and a direct breach of the commandment 'Thou
shalt not kill,'" the bishops wrote.
"It is never morally
acceptable to support any policy that undermines the sacred inviolability of
the right to life of an innocent person in any circumstances," the bishops
They also appealed for
politicians to tackle child poverty after the votes have been counted.
"It is an indictment on the
priorities and preoccupations of the last assembly that Northern Ireland was
the only region in the U.K. where levels of childhood poverty actually
increased, with over 101,000 children in Northern Ireland now living below the
poverty line," the bishops' letter stated.
The bishops reminded Catholic
voters of Pope Francis' recent comment that there are "no grounds for
considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely
analogous to God's plan for marriage and family."
They also called for a "new
and more constructive political culture" and said a preoccupation with "tribal
issues" and party point-scoring had alienated many people, particularly
the young, from politics.
The letter also reaffirmed the
importance of Catholic education and said the existence of government-funded
faith schools is to be "celebrated and encouraged as part of a genuinely
tolerant society that respects diversity and parental choice."
On climate change, the bishops
wrote: "We encourage the next assembly and executive to play their part in
contributing to those U.N. Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 that are
ethically consistent and to support the many local individuals and organizations
that provide international outreach and outstanding development work in some of
the most disadvantaged regions of the world."- - -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 email@example.com.
IMAGE: CNS filesBy NEW YORK (CNS) -- Jesuit Father
Daniel Berrigan, an early critic of U.S. military intervention in Vietnam who for
years challenged the country's reliance on military might, died April 30. He
The author of several books of
poetry and one of the first Catholic priests to receive a federal sentence for
peace activism, Father Berrigan protested government policies in word and in
deeds, which garnered several stays in jail and in federal prison.
Father Berrigan died in the
company of family. In a statement issued shortly after the priest's death, the
family said, "It was a sacrament to be with Dan and feel his spirit move
out of his body and into each of us and in the world."
"Dan taught us that every
person is a miracle, every person has a story, every person is worthy of
respect," the statement said. "And we are so aware of all he did and
all he was and all he created in almost 95 years of life lived with enthusiasm,
commitment, seriousness and almost holy humor."
The "heavy burden" of peacemaking
will continue among many people, the family added, saying, "We can all
move forward Dan Berrigan's work for humanity."
A funeral Mass was planned for
May 6 at St. Francis Xavier Church in New York. Family members and others were
to gather prior to the Mass for a peace witness followed by a march to the
A poet whose works inspired
people reflect and act on behalf of justice and peace, Father Berrigan began speaking
against U.S. military involvement in February 1965 at a rally in a Protestant
church in New York City.
"To men of conscience, such
works cry out to heaven for redress. They also sow into man's future a poison
which the unborn will be condemned to breathe -- hatreds, divisions, world
poverty, hopelessness. In such an atmosphere, the world comes ever closer to the
actuality of hell," Father Berrigan told the crowd.
He told various groups and retreats
he led over the years that Catholics are called to live a life of nonviolence
as expressed in the Gospel and to protest injustices when they are encountered.
Father Berrigan, with others,
gave birth to the Plowshares movement to oppose nuclear weapons. On Sept.9,
1980, Father Berrigan, his brother Philip, and six other demonstrators were
arrested after entering the General Electric missile plant in King of Prussia,
Pennsylvania, and battering intercontinental ballistic missile nose cones with
hammers and pouring blood over classified defense plans.
Calling themselves the "Plowshares
Eight" from the biblical passage, "And they shall beat their swords
into plowshares," the eight defendants were tried in the Montgomery County
Common Pleas court, where the presiding judge rejected the use of international
law theories of justification for an illegal act. They were found guilty of
burglary, criminal mischief and criminal conspiracy and sentenced in July 1981.
The Berrigan brothers, Oblate Father Carl Kabat and Baltimore lawyer John
Schuchardt received the stiffest sentences, three to 10 years in prison.
The protest was the second major
action for which he was arrested. On May 17, 1968, Father Berrigan and eight
others entered the Selective Service office in Catonsville, Maryland, a Baltimore
suburb, removed 378 files and burned them in an adjacent parking lot with what
they called "homemade napalm."
The "Catonsville Nine,"
as they called themselves, were tried for conspiracy and destruction of
government property in U.S. District Court in Baltimore in October 1968. Father
Berrigan testified that he participated in the burning because he had come to
realize that "one simply cannot announce the Gospel from his pedestal ...
when he was not down there sharing the risks and burdens and the anguish of his
While the presiding judge told
the defendants he was moved by their views and was anxious to terminate the
war. "But people can't take the law into their own hands," he said
before finding the defendants guilty. They were given sentences ranging from
two to three and a half years in jail. Sentenced to three years, Father
Berrigan was ordered to surrender to federal authorities and begin serving his
sentence on April 10, 1970. Instead, he went underground, evading federal
agents for four months.
The Jesuit surfaced occasionally
during those months. In addition to a handful of public appearances at churches
and schools, he published articles in several magazines.
FBI agents eventually arrested
Father Berrigan on Block Island in Long Island Sound and he was sent to the
federal penitentiary in Danbury, Connecticut. In January 1972, the Federal
Parole Board granted Father Berrigan parole for "reasons of health"
and he left prison Feb.24.
Father Berrigan's views at times
led him into conflict with other opponents of U.S. involvement in Vietnam and
even raised the ire of some leaders in the Catholic Church.
Daniel Berrigan was born in
Virginia, Minnesota, May 9, 1921, the fifth of six sons of Thomas Berrigan, a
second?generation Irish?American who was working there as a railroad engineer,
and Frieda (Fromhart) Berrigan, who was of German descent. Fired for militant
Socialist Party activity, the father moved the family to his birthplace,
Syracuse, New York, where they lived on a 10?acre farm.
Because he was frail and had
weak ankles, Daniel was assigned to do household chores while his brothers
tilled the soil under the supervision of their father. Mrs. Berrigan was a
devout, generous woman, always ready to feed and house the needy. "From
the age of 6, Daniel was obsessed by the suffering in the world," she
Attracted to the priesthood from
his earliest years, he sent inquiries to religious orders when he was a senior
in high school. He finally applied to the Jesuits, because their response was
the lowest?keyed of those he received. In 1939, he began the Jesuit training
After his novitiate, he studied
philosophy at Woodstock College in Maryland, taught French, English and Latin
for four years at St. Peter's Prep in Jersey City, New Jersey, studied theology
for three years at Weston College in Massachusetts, and was ordained on June 19,
In July 1953, Father Berrigan
was sent to France for a year of study and ministerial work in a small town
near Lyons. In France, he met some worker?priests who gave him, he later said,
"a practical vision of the church as she should be."
He said there was a "retardation"
of his development when, for two months in 1954, he served as a military
chaplain in Germany.
Returning to New York in the
fall of 1954, he taught French and theology at Brooklyn Prep and led teams of
students working in poverty areas in Brooklyn and Manhattan's Lower East Side.
From 1957 to 1963, he was
professor of New Testament studies at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, where he was
the most popular and controversial teacher on campus. He worked his students
hard and outside of class formed an elite group of followers dedicated to
pacifism, civil rights and radical social work.
Older faculty members frowned on
"unprofessional" relationship to students and daring liturgical
innovations. At the end of the 1962?63 school year, his superiors sent him to
Europe for a year. Traveling in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union,
he found that "Christians under Marxism have returned to their pre?Constantinian
situation of being poor, pure and persecuted."
Returning to New York in the
fall of 1964, he began involvement in protest against the war in Vietnam. He
helped to found the controversial Clergy and Laity Concerned About Vietnam.
In November 1965, the Jesuit
superiors sent him to Latin America in what was described as a reporting
assignment for Jesuit Missions magazine. His supporters interpreted the
assignment as an attempt by the New York Archdiocese to silence him.
In March 1966, Father Berrigan
returned to New York and anti?war activities. He was the author of more than 16
books of poetry and essays.
Later in life, his work focused
ministering to people with AIDS in New York City. He also visited Zuccotti Park
in New York to support the brief Occupy Wall Street movement in 2012.- - -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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- For peace in the family, community and
nation, people need to recognize their faults and ask forgiveness, Pope Francis
told thousands of pilgrims, including hundreds of soldiers, sailors and police
officers from around the world.
"In your families, in the various areas where you work,
be instruments of reconciliation, builders of bridges and sowers of
peace," the pope told the police and military attending his Year of Mercy
audience April 30 in St. Peter's Square.
Most of the military and police participating in the special
Holy Year pilgrimage were from Italy, but in his remarks to English-speakers,
the pope also greeted uniformed representatives from the United States, Canada,
Kenya, South Korea and the Philippines as well.
Pope Francis urged members of police forces and military not
to give into discouragement even when war and violence seem to "harden
hearts" and increase hatred. "Continue your faith journey and open
your hearts to God, the merciful father, who never tires of forgiving us. In
the face of the challenges each day brings, let shine your Christian hope,
which is the certainty of the victory of love over hatred and peace over
In his main audience talk, the pope told pilgrims that
people often act as if God moves away from them when they sin, but in fact it
is the sinner who is moving away from God. "He, seeing us in danger, comes
looking for us even more," the pope said.
The Year of Mercy, Pope Francis explained, is a time for
people to turn back to God, knowing that he is always ready to forgive.
As he does frequently, the pope pleaded with priests to be
welcoming and patient in confession, recognizing just how hard it is for many
people to face their sins and acknowledge their need for forgiveness.
"May no one stay far from God because of obstacles
placed in their path by men," the pope said. "I'm underlining this --
it goes for confessors, too. Please, do not place obstacles before those who
want to reconcile with God. The confessor must be a father!"
Pope Francis told the crowd at the audience that once they
experience reconciliation with God, they should look around them and see where
else they need reconciliation, particularly if there are tensions within their
"This year is the year of reconciliation with God and
among us," 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 email@example.com.
IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Gaby ManiscalcoROME (CNS) -- The Trevi Fountain, a Rome landmark, was lit
up in red April 29 in a graphic commemoration of the thousands of modern Christians
martyred for their faith.
The event was sponsored by the Catholic charity Aid to the
Church in Need, which wanted to "draw attention to the dramatic issue of
The evening event also featured four guest speakers who shared
the personal stories of Christians killed for their faith. After the speeches,
the fountain was lit to represent the blood of the Christian martyrs. Throughout
the night, images of Christians persecuted for their faith were projected onto
the fountain. The photos included the four Missionaries of Charity murdered in
Aden, Yemen, in early March.
Pope Francis frequently mentions his belief that today, "perhaps
more than in the early days" of Christianity, Christians are "persecuted,
killed, chased out, robbed just because they are Christians."
In ecumenical gatherings, the pope has noted how the
persecution unites Christians of all denominations. During an audience Feb. 29
with Patriarch Mathias of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the pope
said: "Just as in the early church the shedding of the blood of martyrs
became the seed of new Christians, so today the blood of the many martyrs of
all the churches has become the seed of Christian unity."- - -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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.