IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When a big group of people gathers to
discuss something important, people start lobbying, even if that group is the
world Synod of Bishops, said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia.
Pope Francis told participants Oct. 6 "we should avoid
thinking of each other as conspiring against one another, but to work for unity
among the bishops," Archbishop Chaput told reporters at a synod press
briefing at the Vatican Oct. 7.
"I have never been at a church meeting where there
aren't groups that get together and lobby for a particular direction and that's
going on, I assure you," the archbishop said. "That's what happens
when human beings get together. We shouldn't be surprised or scandalized by
that as long as it's done up front and honestly and not in a way that tries to
win rather than to arrive at the truth."
French Archbishop Laurent Ulrich of Lille told reporters he
heard Pope Francis' admonition as an encouragement "to safeguard serenity
in our discussions."
"And the pope told us last year, didn't he, that we
should speak with all freedom and listen to each other with all humility,"
added Peruvian Archbishop Salvador Pineiro Garcia-Calderon of Ayacucho.
A journalist asked the bishops about the possibility that
national or regional bishops' conferences would be given more responsibility
for some matters, including pastoral approaches to marriage, given the
diversity issues impacting families around the world.
The reporter cited Pope Francis' exhortation, "The Joy
of the Gospel," which said: "A juridical status of episcopal
conferences which would see them as subjects of specific attributions,
including genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated.
Excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates the church's
life and her missionary outreach."
Archbishop Chaput responded, "The Catholic Church is
described as 'catholic' if it reaches everywhere and reaches out to everyone in
welcome, but also it believes the same thing everywhere about our relationship
with God and our relationships with one another. Some of that can be handled
better universally and some of that can be handled better locally."
"At the same time, diversity is always in the service
of unity in the Catholic Church," so "I don't think we would say it
is appropriate for bishops' conferences to decide matters of doctrine and
things like that."
Belgian Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp had told the synod Oct. 6,
"In their local churches bishops encounter a great variety of questions
and needs to which they must provide a pastoral answer today."
Responses to the questionnaire set out by the Vatican before
the synod and the consultations bishops carried out in preparation for the synod
showed that many of the most important questions raised "clearly differ
between countries and continents," Bishop Bonny said.
"There is, however, a common theme in those questions, namely
the desire that the church will stand in 'the great river of mercy.' It is
important that the synod give space and responsibility to the local bishops to
formulate suitable answers to the pastoral questions of that part of the people
of God which is entrusted to their pastoral care. The individual bishops'
conferences have a special role in this.
"The synod not only deals with 'the family as church,'
but also with 'the church as family,'" he said. "Every family knows
what it means to work on unity in diversity, with patience and creativity."- - -Copyright © 2015 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 Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Society and the church have
much to learn from the family and, in fact, the bond between the church and the
family is "indissoluble," Pope Francis said.
Families bring needed values and a humanizing spirit to
society and, when they mirror God's love for all, they teach the church how it
should relate to all people, including the "imperfect," the pope said
Oct. 7 during his weekly general audience.
While members of the Synod of Bishops on the family were
meeting in small groups, Pope Francis held his audience with an estimated
30,000 people in St. Peter's Square. He asked them to accompany the synod with
While the Catholic Church insists that governments and the economy
need families and have an obligation to give them greater support, Pope Francis
said, the church itself recognizes that it, too, must have a "family
Using the Gospel story of Jesus telling the disciples he
would make them "fishers of men," Pope Francis said, "a new kind
of net is needed for this. We can say that today families are the most
important net for the mission of Peter and the church."
"It is not a net that imprisons," he said.
"On the contrary, it frees people from the polluted waters of abandonment
and indifference that drown many human beings in the sea of solitude."
Families are the place where individuals learn that they are
"sons and daughters, not slaves or foreigners or just a number on an
identity card," the pope said. "The church must be the family of
Pope Francis asked people to join him in praying that
"the enthusiasm of the synod fathers, animated by the Holy Spirit, would energize
the impulse of the church to abandon its old nets and start fishing again,
trusting in the word of its Lord. Let us pray intensely for this!"
"Christ promised -- and this comforts us -- that even
bad fathers do not refuse to give bread to their hungry children, so it is
impossible that God would not give the Spirit to those who -- even imperfect as
they are -- ask with passionate insistence," he said.
The world itself needs "a robust injection of family
spirit," he said. Even the best organized economic, juridical and
professional relationships are "dehydrated" and anonymous without
concern for people, especially for the weakest members of society.
Family ties, the pope said, teach individuals and society
the value of "bonds of fidelity, sincerity, trust, cooperation, respect;
they encourage people to work toward a world that is livable and to believe in
relationships even in difficult situations; they teach people to honor their
word."- - -A video to accompany this
story can be found at https://youtu.be/4-9sQIGCi3w
- - -Copyright © 2015 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/ReutersBy Deirdre C. MaysCHARLESTON, S.C. (CNS) -- Bishop
Robert E. Guglielmone of Charleston asked for prayers for the families of those
killed as well as for those whose homes were destroyed in what officials called
a 1,000-year storm that brought extreme rains that deluged South Carolina.
Authorities said at least 14 people
died and media reported that rescuers have had to pluck hundreds from swamped
cars and flooded houses. Some residents remained in danger Oct. 6 from residual
effects of saturated grounds that can unearth weakened trees and collapse roads.
"We simply ask for prayers, especially for the families of those who lost their lives in this horrific
?storm," Bishop Guglielmone told The Catholic Miscellany, newspaper of the
Charleston Diocese. "Many people lost homes, cars and other possessions, but in
time and with assistance these can be replaced. The strong spirit of our people
in South Carolina and their lively faith will get us through this difficult
time and will sustain us."
State officials declared a state
of emergency Oct. 1 as unprecedented rains and flash flood conditions raged throughout
Bishop Guglielmone canceled the On
Fire With Faith conference set for Oct. 2-3 in Simpsonville, 200 miles
northwest of Charleston. Other diocesan events were postponed and rescheduled.
The National Weather Service
reported that from Oct. 1 to Oct. 5, Charleston saw 23.61 inches of rain, while nearby
Summerville, which also had significant flooding and evacuations, was inundated
by 19.47 inches. Columbia Airport had 10.77 inches.
It was the dams in Columbia, however,
that wrought more damage. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division
reported that of 18 dams officials are closely monitoring, nine have breached
or failed completely and one was intentionally breached to relieve pressure on
it. The dams are part of the 70-mile network of lakes and streams that make up
the Gills Creek Watershed.
The emergency management
division also reported that several rivers remained above flood stage Oct. 6. Mandatory
evacuations were ordered for some areas and a curfew was mandated by Charleston
Msgr. Richard Harris, diocesan vicar general, is
pastor of St. Joseph Church located near one of the flooded areas along Lake
Katherine in Columbia. The church was without power and closed Oct. 4, so Masses
He said he knew of 10
parishioners who had to be rescued by boat. "They have lost everything," Msgr.
One family had to put their
children on their shoulders and carry them through chin-deep water, he added.
Tracy Bates, Catholic Mutual's
claims risk manager for the Diocese of Charleston, had nine reports of damage
from parishes as of the morning of Oct. 6 and that calls continued to come in. St. Mary Our Lady of Hope in
Summerton southeast of Charleston was flooded with about 8 inches of
water and remained submerged Oct. 6.
Bates said water seeped into
Blessed Sacrament School's ground floor and the Carter-May Residence for
assisted living also had water creep into its hallways. On the coastal
peninsula, she received reports that Sacred Heart Church suffered flooding that
submerged its basement boiler room, which houses the electrical system.
Other parishes that have
reported flooding and water damage include the lower chapel at the Cathedral of
St. John the Baptist, Charleston Catholic School, Neighborhood House outreach center, St.
Jude Church in Sumter's youth center building, the library at St. Andrew Church
in Myrtle Beach, St. John the Beloved in Summerville, and the rectory at St. Mary Our Lady of
Ransom in Georgetown.
Bates said crews have
been in to dry out some of the structures as a first step.
"The longer the water sits, the
worse the damage gets," she said. "We also have to worry about mold."
In addition to the bricks and
mortar damage, the diocesan Office of Archives and Records Management was
concerned about historically important items and put out a call to parishes to
offer assistance with documents.
"We're happy to consult with
vendors, help develop records recovery plans, find temporary housing for
records, or make on-site visits," said Brian Fahey, archivist.
Bishop Guglielmone has sent a
request to pastors asking them to take up a special collection within the next several weeks to help parishioners who lost their homes and churches that sustained
Mays is editor of The Catholic
Miscellany, newspaper of the Diocese of Charleston.- - -Copyright © 2015 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: REUTERSBy David AgrenMEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The Mexican
bishops' conference and the Vatican have confirmed Pope Francis will visit
Mexico in 2016, marking his first trip to this heavily Catholic country in
throes of unrest over unresolved issues such as violence, crime and corruption.
Auxiliary Bishop Eugenio Lira
Rugarcia of Puebla, conference secretary-general, told Catholic News Service
that the pope would travel to Mexico next year, though dates and details were still
to be determined. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, provided
similar information to the Televisa network, adding the trip would likely take
place during the first half of 2016 and include a stop in the capital, Mexico
Pope Francis has previously
mused about visiting Mexico, home to the world's second-largest Catholic
population. After visiting the Philippines last year, the pope said he wanted
to walk from Mexico into the United States "as a sign of brotherhood and
of help to the immigrants," along with visiting the Basilica of Our Lady
of Guadalupe, the world's most-visited Marian shrine.
He said in September that he had
planned to enter the United States at a border crossing, going from Ciudad
Juarez to El Paso, Texas, but opted to instead visit Cuba after the communist
country and the United States ended their estrangement, with Vatican
Migration -- in the form of
Central Americans traveling through Mexico and and falling victim to criminals
and corrupt public officials -- is one of many potential issues on the agenda
for Pope Francis in Mexico.
A visit in early 2016 would come
as the country continues confronting vices like corruption, which has
implicated the president, and insecurity in states such as Michoacan and
Guerrero, the latter being where 43 students were kidnapped and presumably killed
by police acting in cahoots with criminals in September 2014.
President Enrique Pena Nieto,
whose agenda has focused more on economic reforms than social and security
problems, has traveled twice to the Vatican since Pope Francis' election. In June
2014, his visit followed the bishops' conference issuing an unusually terse
statement on his economic agenda.
Politicians from Pena Nieto's
Institutional Revolutionary Party -- which was founded by the anti-clerical
victors of the Mexican Revolution -- previously avoided public encounters with
prelates, but have sought well-publicized papal audiences in recent years,
reflecting the thaw in church-state relations over the past 25 years.
Pope Benedict XVI made the last
papal trip to Mexico in March 2012, visiting Guanajuato state. His visit drew
an estimated 600,000 people for the final Mass -- doubling expectations --
though his message stayed away from uncomfortable issues such as security.
According to census data, Mexico
remains one of Latin America's most Catholic countries, with 83 percent of the
population professing the faith.- - -Copyright © 2015 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/Matt Mills McKnight, pool via ReutersBy SACRAMENTO,
Calif. (CNS) -- California's bishops expressed disappointment with Gov. Jerry
Brown's Oct. 5 signing of a measure legalizing physician-assisted suicide in
the state, saying the law "stands in direct contradiction to providing
compassionate, quality care for those facing a terminal illness."
"This bill does nothing to
validate the lives of the vulnerable," said the California Catholic
Conference, the public policy arm of the state's bishops, in a
statement soon after Brown's action. The conference added that the legislation "isn't
compassion" and does not support or promote the common good.
"As Catholic bishops in
California, we join hands with the disability rights groups, physicians, other
health care professionals and advocates for the elderly in opposing
physician-assisted suicide as the wrong way to advance the human dignity for
those facing a terminal illness," the conference said.
The prelates also pointed out that the 48
Catholic hospitals in California "provide excellent palliative care
services as all medical facilities for terminally ill patients should but often
In a message the governor wrote
to members of the California Assembly after signing the measure into law, he said
he carefully read the "thoughtful opposition materials presented by a
number of doctors, religious leaders and those who champion disability
rights."Brown, who is Catholic, also said he considered the theological
and religious perspectives about the "deliberate shortening of one's
life" and he read the letters and "heartfelt pleas" of those who
support the bill. He said he discussed the issue with a Catholic bishop, his
own doctors, former classmates and friends who "take varied, contradictory
and nuanced positions."
"In the end, I was left to
reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death," Brown wrote. "I
do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain.
I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the
options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn't deny that right to others."
"This is a dark day for
California and for the Brown legacy," Californians Against Assisted
Suicide said. "Gov. Brown was clear in his statement that this was
based on his personal background. As someone of wealth and access to the
world's best medical care and doctors the governor's background is very
different than that of millions of Californians living in health-care poverty
without that same access -- these are the people and families potentially hurt
by giving doctors the power to prescribe lethal overdoses to patients."
The coalition against the bill said it "is reviewing at all of its
The California Catholic
Conference said it was proud to work with Californians Against Assisted Suicide
and its partners from the disability rights community, advocates for the
elderly, physicians' groups and other health care professionals during the
debate on this measure, and said the bishops would "continue to stand with them in
efforts to protect the most vulnerable Californians."
The conference stressed that the
legislation will "adversely affect the poor, as those with resources will
always have access to palliative care."
It also said the legislation
places the elderly and disabled in "great peril" noting that
"the option to offer the low-cost alternative of lethal drugs instead of
proper medical care is a temptation not long resisted."
The legislation requires that a
patient with a terminal disease must be physically capable of taking medication
that would end his or her life. It says that a patient must submit written
requests for the medication, that two doctors must approve the request and that
there must be two witnesses.
Other states with laws permitting
physician-assisted suicide are Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.- - -Copyright © 2015 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.