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SEALED WITH GOD'S SPIRIT: A Child's View of Community

Length10 min.
Age GroupPI - Primary -Intermediate
PublisherSt. Anthony Messenger Press
TopicsCatechist Resources
Spirituality

This program is presented as a child's religion class report on Church. A young person's crayon drawings "come alive" in video images depicting what it means to "be Church." Diverse cultures are represented to help children see that "my Church" is broader

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Catholic News Headlines

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Joshua Roberts, ReutersBy Ann RodgersPITTSBURGH (CNS) -- The Pittsburgh Diocese said Bishop David A. Zubik is making every effort to achieve a swift negotiated solution to the diocese's dispute with the federal government over religious freedom in relation to the federal contraceptive mandate, as directed by the U.S. Supreme Court. "We have always been willing to meet with representatives of the government to negotiate a mutually agreeable solution to our impasse over religious freedom," said a diocesan statement issued Aug. 10. In a May 16 unanimous decision in Zubik v. Burwell, a consolidated case of challenges to the contraceptive mandate filed by several Catholic and other religious entities, the Supreme Court sent the case back to lower courts, vacated earlier judgments against those parties opposing the mandate, and encouraged the plaintiffs and the federal government to resolve their differences. Zubik v. Burwell involves the Little Sisters of the Poor, Priests for Life, the Pennsylvania dioceses of Pittsburgh and Erie, the Archdiocese of Washington, and other Catholic and faith-based entities challenging the Affordable Care Act's mandate that most religious and other employers must cover contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients through employer-provided health insurance -- even if the employers oppose the coverage on moral grounds. They see the mandate, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, as a violation of their religious freedom. "Zubik" in the case name is Bishop Zubik, and "Burwell" is HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell. The plaintiffs, who do not fit the narrow exemption to the contraceptive mandate the government gives to churches, argue that providing contraceptive coverage even indirectly through a third party, as the Obama administration allows through what it calls an accommodation, still violates their religious beliefs. The government argues its existing opt-out provision for these employers does not burden their free exercise of religion. "Our counsel and counsel for the other Supreme Court litigants had a meeting with representatives of the Department of Justice, at which we attempted to engage in the kind of resolution talks that the Supreme Court intended in its order," the Pittsburgh Diocese said in its statement. "The government has been slow to offer anything of substance to pursue a negotiated solution, except to mention openness to future meetings." Bishop Zubik initiated the lawsuit against the government on behalf of Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh, arguing that it is a violation of religious freedom to force a religious organization to facilitate access to anything that it teaches is immoral. After Bishop Zubik won an initial victory in the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh in November 2013, the case was appealed until it reached the Supreme Court this year. In its May decision, the high courts urged the lower courts to give the litigants time to find a negotiated solution. The high court also affirmed that the diocese and the others could not be fined during those negotiations. However, the diocese has learned that the Department of Justice is pressuring secular insurance companies that have contracts with the diocese, and with other religious organizations, to begin providing church employees with the objectionable coverage. The Diocese of Pittsburgh, along with several neighboring dioceses, is self-insured through the Catholic Benefits Trust. Catholic Benefits Trust hires secular insurance companies to handle the administration and claims for its plans. Those companies have told the diocese that they recently received letters from the Department of Justice directing them to provide the disputed coverage at their own expense, said Christopher Ponticello, general counsel of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. "Since the Supreme Court issued its ruling strongly directing that the parties negotiate a mutually agreeable resolution to this matter, we have remained hopeful and open to those talks," Ponticello told the Pittsburgh Catholic diocesan newspaper. "It is discouraging to see this aggressive action taken by the government," he said. "We hope to prevail upon the Department of Justice to stop this latest action without having to pursue additional litigation. We have believed from the beginning that an agreement could be reached that would allow the government to accomplish its goals without involving the church in the process." The diocese has not paid anything for its legal representation in Zubik v. Burwell. All costs associated with the litigation have been donated by the legal firm of Jones Day. Mickey Pohl, one of the Jones Day attorneys who has been representing Bishop Zubik, the diocese, Catholic Charities and other religious organizations in this litigation, said: "It is extremely disappointing that the Department of Justice is trying to pressure insurers to steamroll the religious objections of Catholics and other people of faith who have been part of this litigation. It is also troublesome that these assaults on freedom of religion have not been the subject of inquiry by the mainstream media during this election cycle." The Aug. 10 statement from the diocese said that "we are aware that the government has made an extremely aggressive interpretation of the court's order in the Zubik case and is apparently trying to take over -- to force our third-party administrators to include the objectionable coverage in our self-insured plans.""We think that is an erroneous reading of what the Supreme Court said," it continued. "Furthermore, as the government seems to acknowledge, because we are self-insured there is no obligation or authority for the third-party administrator to provide the objectionable coverage." If the fines for not facilitating the coverage were imposed, Ponticello said, they would bankrupt Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh. Each year that agency provides about $10 million in services, such as free medical and dental care, and support to homeless women and veterans, to people of all faiths in southwestern Pennsylvania. "The Supreme Court also made clear that we cannot be fined or penalized for refusing to comply with the government's current regulations," the statement said. "Therefore, we believe the government's position is wrong. In order to avoid future litigation, we will try to work through these issues with our insurers, third-party administrators and the government. Our counsel is actively working on this endeavor, and we remain in prayer for a mutually agreeable solution." In late July, the Obama administration opened a public-comment period seeking input on ways the government can comply with religious employers' refusal on moral grounds to cover contraceptives for employees and at the same time make sure those employees get such coverage. - - - Rodgers is general manager of the Pittsburgh Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.- - -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 via EPABy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Hearing the mayor of Amatrice in central Italy say his town no longer exists and knowing there were children who died Aug. 24 in the earthquakes that struck the region, Pope Francis turned his weekly general audience into a prayer service. Beginning the audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis said he had prepared a normal audience talk on how the merciful Jesus is close to people, but given the devastation in central Italy, he decided to lead the recitation of the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary. Later in the day, the Vatican press office said that as a concrete sign of Pope Francis' concern for the earthquake victims, six Vatican firefighters had been sent to Amatrice. They will work under the direction of the Italian government emergency services in searching for victims and offering them assistance. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude-6.2 quake had an epicenter close to Norcia, the birthplace of St. Benedict. Smaller quakes -- at least two of which registered more than 5.0 -- continued for several hours after the main quake. By early evening, the death toll had reached 120 but was expected to rise; more than 350 were reported injured. As emergency workers began digging people out from under the rubble of collapsed buildings and the number of verified deaths climbed, Pope Francis arrived in St. Peter's Square for his general audience. "Hearing the news of the earthquake that has struck central Italy and devastated entire areas, leaving many dead and wounded, I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and my closeness" to everyone in the earthquake zone, especially those who lost loved ones and "those who are still shaken by fear and terror," the pope said. "Having heard the mayor of Amatrice say, 'The town no longer exists,' and knowing that there are children among the dead, I am deeply saddened," Pope Francis said. The pope thanked all the volunteers and emergency workers who were trying to rescue victims people trapped under the rubble. Assuring the people in the region of the prayers and "the embrace of the whole church," the pope asked the estimated 11,000 pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter's Square to join him in praying that "the Lord Jesus, who is always moved by human suffering, would console the brokenhearted and give them peace." At the Benedictine monastery in Norcia, a community growing in fame because of its prayer life and brewery, the 15 monks and five guests were already awake when the first quake hit, Benedictine Father Benedict Nivakoff told Catholic News Service. Aug. 24 is the feast of St. Bartholomew and "on feast days we get up earlier" to pray, he said. "All of the monks and the monks' guests are safe," he said. But the Basilica of St. Benedict suffered "considerable structural damage," and the monastery will need repairs as well. Within a half hour of the first quake, Father Nivakoff said, the square outside the monastery was filled with people "because it is the safest place in town -- around the statue of St. Benedict." While no buildings collapsed, it is obvious that many homes are no longer habitable, he said. The monks have set up a reception desk to help meet their neighbors' needs. The basilica, he said, is closed pending an inspection by civil engineers, who were to arrive the afternoon of Aug. 24. However, Father Nivakoff said, "the facade seems to have detached" from the rest of the building and major repairs are likely. Assisi is just 45 miles from Norcia and, according to Franciscan Father Enzo Fortunato, the quake was felt strongly at the convent and basilica that suffered major damage from an earthquake in 1997. Father Fortunato told the Italian news agency ANSA that the quake woke all the friars, many of whom ran to the Basilica of St. Francis. No damage was visible, 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/Paul HaringBy Michael KellyDUBLIN (CNS) -- The trustees of Ireland's national seminary have agreed to bring in a specific policy to protect whistleblowers after serious allegations were made about life in the college. The Aug. 23 announcement also followed a decision by Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to pull his students from St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, after publicly raising misgivings about the life and governance of the 221-year old institution. The archbishop referred to claims of what he described as a "gay culture" in the seminary and further allegations that some seminarians have been using a gay dating app. Archbishop Martin said some of the allegations had been shown to be true. The seminary trustees -- 13 senior Irish bishops, including Archbishop Martin -- said in a statement that "there is no place in a seminary community for any sort of behavior or attitude which contradicts the teaching and example of Jesus Christ." The statement said the trustees "share the concerns about the unhealthy atmosphere created by anonymous accusations, together with some social media comments which can be speculative or even malicious." The trustees agreed to "review current policies and procedures for reporting complaints with a view to adopting best practice procedures for 'protected disclosures' (whistle-blowing)." They said they would ask the Irish bishops' conference to conduct an independent audit and report of governance and statutes in the three Irish seminaries: Maynooth, the Pontifical Irish College in Rome and St. Malachy's College in Belfast, Northern Ireland. They also agreed to reassess future personnel and resource needs for the seminary. The statement said "the trustees accept their responsibility for ensuring that the national seminary adheres to best practice in all areas of training for priesthood and that college staff are trained to the highest level in accordance with requisite professional standards and the requirements of the Holy See." Archbishop Martin first raised concerns publicly in early August when he said "there seems to an atmosphere of strange goings-on there (Maynooth); it seems like a quarrelsome place with anonymous letters being sent around. "There are people saying that anyone who tries to go to the authorities with an allegation are being dismissed from the seminary," the archbishop said. "I don't think this is a good place for students," he added. There was no immediate reaction from Archbishop Martin to the trustees' meeting and no indication as to whether he would change his mind as a result of the trustees' intervention. In early August, he said he had offered to provide an independent person for whistleblowers to approach, but the response to this offer was the publication of more anonymous letters. At the time, the archbishop said authorities in Maynooth "have to find a way to let people come forward with solid evidence to substantiate the allegations."- - -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/CJ Gunther, EPABy Mark PattisonWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Today's "economic and political forces have led to increasingly lowered economic prospects for Americans without access to higher education, which is having a direct impact on family health and stability," said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami.He made the comments as the author of this year's Labor Day statement from the U.S. bishops. Linking the decline in good jobs to family woes, Archbishop Wenski said, "Over half of parents between the ages of 26 and 31 now have children outside of a marriage, and research shows a major factor is the lack middle-skill jobs -- careers by which someone can sustain a family above the poverty line without a college degree -- in regions with high income inequality."The statement, dated Sept. 5, Labor Day, was released Aug. 22. Archbishop Wenski is chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. "Divorce rates and the rate of single-parent households break down along similar educational and economic lines," he continued. "Financial concerns and breakdowns in family life can lead to a sense of hopelessness and despair. The Rust Belt region now appears to have the highest concentration in the nation of drug-related deaths, including from overdoses of heroin and prescription drugs." Archbishop Wenski quoted from Pope Francis' address to Congress during the pope's U.S. visit last September: "I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young. For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair. Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them." The pope added, "We live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family." Archbishop Wenski said, "When our leaders ought to be calling us toward a vision of the common good that lifts the human spirit and seeks to soothe our tendencies toward fear, we find our insecurities exploited as a means to further partisan agendas. Our leaders must never use anxiety as a means to manipulate persons in desperate situations, or to pit one group of persons against another for political gain." In touting the "sanctity of work," Archbishop Wenski said, "Dignified work is at the heart of our efforts because we draw insight into who we are as human beings from it." St, John Paul II, in his encyclical "Laborem Exercens" ("On Human Work"), "reminded us that human labor is an essential key to understanding our social relationships, vital to family formation and the building up of community according to our God-given dignity," the archbishop added. "As we engage with our neighbors and our communities, we quickly find ways to deepen solidarity in a broader way, and to act on the structures and policies that impact meaningful work and family stability," Archbishop Wenski said. "Simply put, we must advocate for jobs and wages that truly provide a dignified life for individuals and their families, and for working conditions that are safe and allow for a full flourishing of life outside of the workplace," he added. "Unions and worker associations, while imperfect, remain an essential part of the effort, and people of faith and goodwill can be powerful leaven to ensure that these groups, so important in society, continue to keep human dignity at the heart of their efforts." And "if you are an employer, you are called to respect the dignity of your workers through a just wage and working conditions that allow for a secure family life," Archbishop Wenski said. "With time, we will begin to restore a sense of hope and lasting change that places our economic and political systems at the service of the human person once more."- - -Editor's Note: The full text of the U.S. bishops' Labor Day statement is available in English and Spanish at, respectively, http://tinyurl.com/hm9dcoa and http://tinyurl.com/goq6kkr.- - -Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison.- - -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.

  • By Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation on the family is an example of the "ordinary magisterium" -- papal teaching -- to which Catholics are obliged to give "religious submission of will and intellect," said an article in the Vatican newspaper. Father Salvador Pie-Ninot, a well-known professor of ecclesiology, said that while Pope Francis did not invoke his teaching authority in a "definitive way" in the document, it meets all the criteria for being an example of the "ordinary magisterium" to which all members of the church should respond with "the basic attitude of sincere acceptance and practical implementation." The Spanish priest's article in L'Osservatore Romano Aug. 23 came in response to questions raised about the formal weight of the pope's document, "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"). For instance, U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke has said on several occasions that the document is "a mixture of opinion and doctrine." Father Pie-Ninot said he examined the document in light of the 1990 instruction from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the vocation of the theologian. The instruction -- issued by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now-retired Pope Benedict XVI -- explained three levels of church teaching with the corresponding levels of assent they require. The top levels are: "Infallible pronouncements," which require an assent of faith as being divinely revealed; and teaching proposed "in a definitive way," which is "strictly and intimately connected with revelation" and "must be firmly accepted and held." A teaching is an example of "ordinary magisterium," according to the instruction, "when the magisterium, not intending to act 'definitively,' teaches a doctrine to aid a better understanding of revelation and make explicit its contents, or to recall how some teaching is in conformity with the truths of faith, or finally to guard against ideas that are incompatible with these truths, the response called for is that of the religious submission of will and intellect." "Amoris Laetitia" falls into the third category, Father Pie-Ninot said, adding the 1990 instruction's statement that examples of ordinary magisterium can occur when the pope intervenes "in questions under discussion which involve, in addition to solid principles, certain contingent and conjectural elements." The instruction notes that "it often only becomes possible with the passage of time to distinguish between what is necessary and what is contingent," although, as the Spanish priest said, the instruction insists that even then one must assume that "divine assistance" was given to the pope. Accepting "Amoris Laetitia" as authoritative church teaching, Father Pie-Ninot said, applies also to the document's "most significant words" about the possibility of people divorced and remarried without an annulment receiving Communion in limited circumstances. - - - Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden- - -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.