IMAGE: CNS photo/Robert DuncanBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If the Catholic Church at every level --
and governments, too -- would listen to young people and give them a voice in
decision-making, they could unleash great potential, said two African young
Vincent Paul Nneji of Nigeria and Tinyiko Joan Ndaba from
South Africa were among the 305 young adults participating in a weeklong
meeting designed to allow young people -- involved Catholics and others -- to
provide input for Pope Francis and the world's bishops, who will meet in a
synod in October to discuss "young people, faith and vocational
Nneji told Catholic News Service March 20 that the
preparatory meeting offers a chance for young Catholics in his country who are
considered "a minority voice" to speak out on important issues.
"When the pope sent a letter on this meeting, we said,
'Finally, the church in Rome has decided to give us a platform; they decided to
give us a listening ear,'" Nneji said.
While struggles with "social injustice, bad leadership,
poverty and financial insecurity" are just some of the difficulties facing
young Nigerian men and women today, Nneji said, "the major challenge is
trying to be a Catholic youth and a light for other people, even in the midst
of the conflicts we face in Nigeria."
African youths today, Nneji added, have "so many things
in our hearts we want to express and want to say," yet they often feel
disregarded. Too many, he said, then resort to violence in the hopes of
"Sometimes when you're not allowed to say these things,
it's like a volcano and when it gets so big," it blows up, he said.
Nneji told CNS he hopes that, through the pre-synod meeting,
the whole world "may see a reason for allowing youths to be heard, for
allowing (young people) to be part of decision-making, even in society."
"If we were allowed to express ourselves, we would have
less violence, we would have more peace in our society and in our world,"
"And of course, in various parts of the world where
youths are being exploited and used for various forms of violence, those things
will reduce, those things will stop because this time around they will say, 'We
have a platform where we can talk, so we don't need to carry guns, we don't
need to carry machetes. We just have to go and dialogue,'" Nneji said.
Ndaba told CNS, "I hope that young people can be given
a chance to change society because I think we have so much potential."
"But we can't do it on our own," she said. "We
need support from the people who have been there before and who can give us
direction where to go."
Ndaba was chosen to attend the meeting by Talitha Kum, the
anti-human trafficking organization where she works. The organization is an international
network of consecrated men and women in 75 countries promoting initiatives
against human trafficking.
While the Catholic Church in South Africa is doing its best to
prevent future cases of human trafficking, she said, the church also must warn young
people of the harm inflicted by those who exploit women, especially when
"the demand is coming from Catholics."
During the opening session of the pre-synod meeting March
19, Blessing Okodion, a young Nigerian rescued from forced prostitution in
Italy, asked Pope Francis what could be done to increase awareness of human
Pope Francis noted that since the vast majority of Italians
are Catholic, the majority of men who use prostitutes in Italy also must be.
"One who goes to a prostitute is a criminal, a
criminal," Pope Francis told the young people. "This is not making
love. This is torturing a woman. Let's not confuse the terms. This is criminal."
As one of many men and women working a to prevent human
trafficking in Africa, Ndaba told CNS she was happy to hear the pope speaking
frankly about a "hidden crime" that is "not talked about so
Human trafficking is an important topic for a youth
gathering, she said, "because most victims of human trafficking are young
people who are trying to find better jobs, a better life so they migrate and
traffickers take advantage of that, most especially with young people.
- - -
Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2018 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) -- After a very public controversy
involving the use of a letter by retired Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis has
accepted the resignation of Msgr. Dario Vigano as prefect of the Vatican
Secretariat for Communication.
Announcing the move March 21, the Vatican published Msgr.
Vigano's letter to Pope Francis asking to resign and Pope Francis' reply
However, Pope Francis asked Msgr. Vigano, 55, to remain at
the secretariat as "assessor" to "make your human and
professional contribution" in assisting whoever is named the new prefect
as the Vatican continues its long and complicated work of unifying its
communications efforts and various media outlets.
The controversy began March 12 at the presentation of a
11-volume series of books, "The Theology of Pope Francis." Msgr.
Vigano had asked the retired pope for a theological reflection on the series.
At the book presentation, Msgr. Vigano read selected
sentences from Pope Benedict's letter declining to write the reflection. The
Secretariat for Communications also published a photograph showing the first
page of the letter, with several lines purposefully blurred, and the second
page, except for the signature, covered by a book.
An uproar ensued over the intentional blurring of the
photograph and questions were raised in the media about what exactly the letter
said. In the end, the Vatican released the full text March 17. It showed that
not only had Pope Benedict said he was unable to read the full series, but that
he objected to one of the authors chosen to write one of the volumes.
In his letter of resignation, Msgr. Vigano told Pope Francis
that although it was not intentional, his actions had "destabilized the
complex and great work of reform" with which the pope had entrusted him.
"I think that for me stepping aside would be a fruitful
occasion for renewal," the monsignor wrote.Pope Francis had named Msgr. Vigano prefect of the secretariat when it was created in June 2015. The monsignor had been director of the Vatican Television Center. The new secretariat was charged with unifying into one the offices and tasks previously handled by nine entities: the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; the Vatican press office; the Vatican internet office; Vatican Radio; the Vatican television production studio, CTV; the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano; the Vatican printing press; the Vatican photograph service; and the Vatican publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana.- - -Copyright © 2018 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 photo/Jonathan Ernst, ReutersBy Carol ZimmermannWASHINGTON (CNS) -- In oral
arguments before the Supreme Court March 20, justices seemed skeptical about a
California law that requires pro-life pregnancy centers in the state to visibly
display information about abortions to their clients that the centers say
violates their right to free speech.
A few of the justices asked
about the state's motivation to put the law in place, wondering if it was more
about educating women about state-provided services or if it was meant to
specifically target centers offering pregnancy-related services that clients
might assume are medical facilities.
Justice Elena Kagan said it
would be a problem and a First Amendment issue if the law was "gerrymandered"
to only apply to certain types of service providers.
The law's requirement that licensed
and unlicensed centers disclose their status in advertisements in large type
and in many languages was seen as an "undue burden" by Justice
Anthony Kennedy, who asked if this would apply -- and was told it would -- to
an unlicensed facility that wanted to have a "choose life" or
"pro-life" billboard. Justice Sonia Sotomayor agreed that aspect
of the law, in some cases, was "burdensome and wrong."
The case is the first
abortion-related one to be heard by the court with President Donald Trump's
appointee, Neil Gorsuch, on the bench. The oral arguments drew people from both
sides outside the court in the freezing rain on the first day of spring. Some
signs, held aloft in between umbrellas, said "Patients want care not
coercion" and "Give free speech life."
After the hourlong argument,
Thomas Glessner, president of the National Institute of Family and Life
Advocates, the group representing the pregnancy centers, told the crowd outside
that he felt "very optimistic" about the outcome of this case.
California's attorney general,
Xavier Becerra, tweeted right after the arguments: "Information is power
and all women should know the full range of their #healthcare options! A great
morning with my team at #SCOTUS."
In a March 20 statement,
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York said he prayed the court would "do
the right thing and uphold our fundamental right to free speech when it decides
"Pro-life pregnancy care
centers embody everything that is right and good in our nation: generosity,
compassion and love that is offered to support both mother and child,"
said Cardinal Dolan, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops'
Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
He noted that some government
officials, instead of "applauding and encouraging the selfless and
life-affirming work of these centers" want to "force them to provide
free advertising for the violent act of abortion in direct violation of their
pro-life convictions and the First Amendment."
The case, National Institute of
Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, is about the constitutionality of
the Reproductive FACT Act, a state law which says pregnancy centers must post notices
in their facilities about available low-cost abortion services and also must
disclose if they have medical personnel on staff. The Christian-base centers
provide counseling and often offer supplies of diapers, formula, clothes and
baby items. Centers that failed to comply with the law have been subject to
fines of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses.
Three pregnancy centers
challenged the law in court saying it infringed on their First Amendment rights
to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.
The law was upheld last October
by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that said the state
could regulate professional speech because of its interest in safeguarding
public health and to ensure that "citizens have access to and adequate
information about constitutionally protected medical services like
Last October, a California
Superior Court judge granted a permanent injunction against the state attorney
general preventing him from enforcing the FACT law.
Justice Stephen Breyer said
during the oral arguments that if abortion providers must tell pregnant women
about other options, then pregnancy centers should similarly tell their clients
about outside services. "In law, as you well know, what is sauce for the
goose is sauce for the gander," which he explained as coming down to this:
"If a pro-life state can tell a doctor you have to tell people about
adoption, why can't a pro-choice state tell a doctor, a facility, whatever it
is, you have to tell people about abortion?"
The USCCB and several other
groups including the California Catholic Conference, the Catholic Health
Association of the United States, in friend-of-the-court briefs with the
Supreme Court supporting the pro-life pregnancy centers, stressed that the
government can't force people to say things they don't believe.
- - -
Follow Zimmermann on Twitter:
@carolmaczim.- - -Copyright © 2018 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/Christina Lee Knauss, The Catholic MiscellanyBy Christina Lee KnaussWEST
COLUMBIA, S.C. (CNS) -- Mary Burkett never had formal art lessons. Drawing was
something she resolved to try as a hobby in January 2017.
decided to sketch the face of a little boy she saw in a black and white photo
on the internet.
her surprise, Burkett was able to produce his image on the paper with amazing
was like he was already there waiting for me, like he just peeked out at me,"
she told The Catholic Miscellany, newspaper of the Diocese of Charleston. "I
was entirely amazed. I didn't feel like I had drawn him. I felt like he was
hidden in the page."
image is of a boy with a wide-open gaze, fair hair spilling from under a
vintage-style cap cocked back on his head. He looks bemused, as if he was
forced to pause for a portrait on his way out the door to play.
wasn't until later that she discovered the photo was of a Romanian Jewish boy
named Hersch Goldberg. He died at Auschwitz in 1944, one of millions of
children who were victims of the Holocaust.
had a visceral and emotional reaction to the innocent yet haunting face of
Hersch. The fact that his life had been cruelly ended before it ever really
began led her to search out images of other children with similar fates.
felt as if she knew Hersch after drawing him and she wanted to learn the
stories of other children like him. Eventually, she decided she wanted other
people to learn their stories too.
year later, that first drawing of the photo of Hersch Goldberg has blossomed
into a collection Burkett calls "Beloved: Children of the Holocaust."
features Burkett's sketch portraits of 25 other children killed in the
Holocaust, as well as one of Janusz Korczak, a Polish pediatrician who ran an
orphanage for Jewish children in the Warsaw ghetto and was eventually killed at
the Treblinka concentration camp.
wanted to give these children a chance to speak to the world," Burkett said. "I
wanted to honor their precious little lives."
first sketch launched a journey she never dreamed of when she first put pencil
to paper. She has displayed the collection at churches and synagogues, colleges
and universities. Several schools have asked her to speak to classes that are studying
the Holocaust and she has traveled halfway across the country to share her work
who attends St. Peter Church in downtown Columbia, lived in Belgium for several
years as a child, where she learned firsthand of the suffering and death that
European Jews and other groups suffered at the hands of the Nazis. That
perspective, and a lifelong love of children built through motherhood and a
40-year career as a pediatric nurse, likely are part of the reason her
portraits of the children are so riveting.
look at them is to briefly feel as if you have touched a tiny soul. Their eyes,
especially, reach out with a spark of life.
Alida Baruch, who died at Auschwitz in 1942, looks like a Gerber baby. Fani
Silberman, with dimples and tiny hoop earrings, has the twinkling innocence of
a child movie star. Abraham Henselein, although he died at 6, already had an
intense gaze. Perhaps he would have been a future scholar or national leader.
said their expressions convey so much because they were captured in an era when
photos were more rare than today.
weren't used to posing all the time back then, so we get to see more of who
they really were," she said.
said her skill can only come from God. As she is quick to explain, she had no
formal training prior to that January day when she first started to work. Her
artist's tools are spare and simple.
she calls her toolbox is a Ziploc bag with a few simple items. She uses a
pencil in a shade of reddish-brown called sanguine, and smooths edges and lines
with cotton balls and swabs. Burkett does most of her sketch work at a large
table on the second floor of her West Columbia home, before a window where
sunlight spills in on nice days and she can look out at a span of green hills
as she did not expect the "Beloved" collection would exist a year ago, Burkett
says she does not know what the future will bring. All she knows is that the
children who reached out to her from photos have been given a new life through
just try to be faithful to what God is telling me and what he is doing in my
life," she said. "I feel like through this work the children are being honored
and God is being honored. My job now is to shepherd them on the journey. They
have a path in front of them. I think part of that path is to show people the
sanctity of all life and the true love of God."
Note: To view the Beloved collection and learn more about Burkett's work, visit
is a reporter at The Catholic Miscellany, newspaper of the Diocese of
Charleston.- - -Copyright © 2018 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 Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Publicly apologizing on behalf of
the whole archdiocese for the "grave harm" caused by former
Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron of Agana, Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes said a new
chapter of humility, repentance and healing has opened for the Catholic Church
in Guam following a Vatican verdict against his predecessor.
"I called and still call upon all Catholics on Guam
to intensify their prayers and with great humility, offer sacrifice for the
grave harm and sins which we have experienced or have enabled in our church,"
Archbishop Byrnes said during a news conference in Guam March 18.
"We hang our heads in shame for the grave evil one
member inflicted upon others, in this case the most vulnerable," he said
in remarks, which were later released in a written statement.
"Our prayers for the victims of child abuse by
Bishop Apuron and all victims of abuse here and worldwide continue; so shall
our efforts to bring healing and restoration to all victims of clergy sexual
abuse and to ensure this never happens again," he said.
Archbishop Byrnes, who has been leading the archdiocese
since 2016, made his comments after a Vatican tribunal announced March 16 it found
Archbishop Agana guilty of some of the accusations made against him, including
the sexual abuse of minors.
After a canonical trial conducted by the apostolic
tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Vatican judges
imposed the following sanctions on the 72-year-old archbishop: the removal from
office and a prohibition from residing in Guam. The archbishop can and will appeal.
During the news conference, Archbishop Byrnes said he did
not know on what charges the former archbishop had been found guilty and which
ones had been dismissed. In fact, he told local reporters, he had received no
communication about the trial's findings other than "I got a phone call
saying to go to this site" to read the Vatican's public announcement.
He said there had been no follow-up from the Vatican
either as of March 17 and he assumed the former archbishop was now to be called
Bishop Apuron, since losing the office of archbishop meant also losing the title
associated with it. "We'll see with the appeal" what the final
situation will be, he added.
Archbishop Apuron released a statement March 17 through his
lawyer, Jacqueline Taitano Terlaje: "While I am relieved that the tribunal
dismissed the majority of the accusations against me, I have appealed the
verdict. ... God is my witness; I am innocent and I look forward to proving my
innocence in the appeals process."
Supporters of the archbishop, conversing anonymously with
journalists, claimed the archbishop was found guilty on only two of six charges
and that the sentence implies those charges were not the most serious ones.
Generally, clerics found guilty of sexually abusing minors face either removal
from the priesthood or are sentenced to a life of prayer and penance and banned
from any public ministry.
Archbishop Byrnes said while there is much work and
consultation to do in regard to local legal issues, he felt "a sense of
relief" when the Vatican verdict had been announced.
He said his reaction upon hearing the news was, "OK,
good. Something's happened and they're not just stringing us along." The announcement
of the verdict from the Vatican investigation, which began in February 2017,
had been expected last year, the archbishop had said.
Archbishop Apuron is among the highest-ranking church leaders
to have been tried by the Vatican for sexual offenses.
In a statement released March 16, the Vatican
tribunal said, "The canonical trial in the matter of accusations, including
accusations of sexual abuse of minors, brought against the Most Reverend
Anthony Sablan Apuron, O.F.M.Cap., Archbishop of Agana, Guam, has been
"The apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith, composed of five judges, has issued its sentence of
first instance, finding the accused guilty of certain of the accusations and
imposing upon the accused the penalties of privation of office and prohibition
of residence in the Archdiocese of Guam." U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, a
noted canon lawyer, was the presiding judge in the canonical investigation of
The statement did not specify the number of charges the
archbishop faced, how many of them he was found guilty of or even the nature of
the offenses for which he was convicted.
"The sentence remains subject to possible appeal," the
Vatican statement said. "In the absence of an appeal, the sentence becomes
final and effective. In the case of an appeal, the imposed penalties are
suspended until final resolution."
Archbishop Apuron had been accused of sexually abusing
several boys in the 1970s, and, in early January, one of the archbishop's
nephews publicly claimed the archbishop had sexually abused him in 1990.
Archbishop Apuron continually has denied the abuse allegations.
Pope Francis placed Archbishop Apuron on leave in June
2016 after the accusations were made public. The pope named an apostolic
administrator to run the archdiocese for several months and then named
Coadjutor Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes, a former auxiliary bishop of Detroit,
to take over.
Until the Vatican court handed down its sentence,
Archbishop Apuron had continued to hold the title of archbishop of Agana, but
did not hold the faculties, rights or obligations pertaining to the office,
because they had been granted to Archbishop Byrnes.
The former archbishop greeted Pope Francis at the end of a
general audience February 7 in Rome. The Italian website, Vatican Insider,
claimed former Archbishop Apuron told the pope, "Holy Father, I wanted to
see you before I die."- - -Copyright © 2018 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.