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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/Remo Casilli, ReutersBy Cindy WoodenYEREVAN, Armenia (CNS) -- A solid, sorrow-tested Christian faith gives believers the strength to overcome even the most horrific adversity, forgive one's enemies and live in peace, Pope Francis said. Arriving in Armenia June 24, Pope Francis went straight to the twin concerns of his three-day visit: Promoting Christian unity and honoring the determined survival of Armenian Christianity despite a historic massacre and decades of Soviet domination. The high profile of the pope's ecumenical concern and the importance of faith in Armenian culture were highlighted by making the trip's first official appointment a visit to the cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church at Etchmiadzin. The arrival ceremony at the airport was defined as informal, but featured a review of the troops and a greeting by a young boy and a young girl, who offered Pope Francis the traditional gifts of bread and salt. His entrance into Holy Etchmiadzin, as it commonly is known, was heralded with the pealing of church bells. As the pope and patriarch processed down the aisle between crowds of flag-waving faithful, a deacon led them, swinging an incense burner. For the first two events on the papal itinerary, the English translations of the speeches of the pope's hosts -- the Armenian Orthodox patriarch and the country's president -- repeatedly used the word "genocide" to describe the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1918. The pope's prepared text for his speech in Italian used the Armenian term "Metz Yeghern" or its Italian equivalent, "the Great Evil." However, when speaking, the pope added the Italian "genocidio." Turkey objects to the term "genocide" and recalled its Vatican ambassador for about a year after Pope Francis in April 2015 quoted St. John Paul II in describing the massacre as the first genocide of the 20th century. Pope Francis, visiting the Orthodox cathedral at Etchmiadzin and addressing government officials later at the presidential palace, did not focus on the tragedy, but on the faith of the country's 3 million people, the need for reconciliation and peace in the region and the role of Christians in showing the world that faith is a power for the good of humanity. For both nights of his trip, Pope Francis was to be the houseguest of Catholicos Karekin II, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church. "This sign of love eloquently bespeaks, better than any words can do, the meaning of friendship and fraternal charity," the pope said. In a world "marked by divisions and conflicts, as well as by grave forms of material and spiritual poverty," he said, people expect Christians to provide a witness and example of mutual esteem and close collaboration. All examples of brotherly love and cooperation, despite real differences existing among Christians, the pope said, "radiate light in a dark night and a summons to experience even our differences in an attitude of charity and mutual understanding." Besides being an example of how dialogue is the only way to settle differences, he said, "it also prevents the exploitation and manipulation of faith, for it requires us to rediscover faith's authentic roots," defending and spreading truth with respect for the human dignity of all. Catholicos Karekin echoed the pope's emphasis on the importance of Christian cooperation "for keeping and cherishing Christian ethical values in the world (and) for strengthening love" which is the only path to true security and prosperity. He told the pope, "after the destruction caused by the Armenian Genocide and the godless years of the Soviet era, our church is living a new spiritual awakening." Nearly 90 percent of Armenia's population belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church; Catholics, mostly belonging to the Eastern-rite Armenian Catholic Church, make up almost 10 percent of the population. At the presidential palace later, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan praised Pope Francis for having used the word "genocide" a year ago. "We don't look for culprits. We don't spread accusations," he said, according to the English text given to reporters. "We simply want things to be called by their names." While the pope and president were meeting privately, Armenian public television broadcast images from the Armenian memorial prayer service Pope Francis presided over at the Vatican last year. They included the clip of him using the word "genocide." Pope Francis told the president and government officials, "Sadly that tragedy, that genocide was the first of the deplorable series of catastrophes of the past century made possible by twisted racial, ideological or religious aims" that extended to "planning the annihilation of entire peoples." Unfortunately, he said, "the great international powers looked the other way.""Having seen the depths of evil unleashed by "hatred, prejudice and the untrammeled desire for dominion," people must make renewed commitments to ensuring differences are resolved with dialogue, he said. "In this regard, it is vitally important that all those who declare their faith in God join forces to isolate those who use religion to promote war, oppression and violent persecution, exploiting and manipulating the holy name of God," Pope Francis said. At a time when Christians are again experiencing discrimination and persecution, he said, it is essential that world leaders make their primary goal "the quest for peace, the defense and acceptance of victims of aggression and persecution, (and) the promotion of justice and sustainable development."- - -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/Andrew Gombert, EPABy Carol ZimmermannWASHINGTON (CNS) -- With a tie vote June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Obama administration's plan to temporarily protect more than 4 million unauthorized immigrants from deportation. The court's 4-4 vote leaves in place a lower court injunction blocking the administration's immigration policy with the one-page opinion stating: "The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court." Legal experts have called it an ambiguous and confusing political and legal decision that leaves many in a state of limbo. It also puts a lot of attention on the vacant Supreme Court seat that may determine how the case is decided in an appeal. Religious leaders were quick to denounce the court's action as a setback for immigrant families and stressed the urgency of comprehensive immigration reform. Seattle Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio L. Elizondo, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Migration, said the court's decision was a "huge disappointment" and a setback, but he said the focus now needs to be on how to fix the current immigration system. "We must not lose hope that reform is possible," he said. Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, called the court's decision "a sad ruling" and said the president's immigration plan had been "the result of years of painstaking work and committed efforts by migrant advocates, grass-roots organizations, some legislators and the faith community." The bishop was joined in the statement by Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, and the Hope Border Institute, a community organization on the U.S.-Mexico border. The statement also said the court's decision exposes how the current immigration policy in the U.S. "criminalizes and scapegoats immigrants who fight for a better life for their children and families that contribute every day to our economy and communities." In a news briefing, President Barack Obama said the country's immigration system is broken and the Supreme Court's inability to reach a decision set it back even further. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin praised the court's decision for making clear that "the president is not permitted to write laws -- only Congress is," which he said was a "major victory in our fight to restore the separation of powers." At issue in the United States v. Texas case are Obama's executive actions on immigration policy that were challenged by 26 states. The Texas Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state's Catholic bishops, said in a statement that "respect for human life and dignity demands leaders put people before politics." Added Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston: "Our legislators continuously refuse to address immigration policies in a comprehensive manner." "I am deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court's decision ... putting millions of families at risk of being ripped apart," said Dominican Sister Bernardine Karge of Chicago, speaking for the Washington-based group Faith in Public Life. "The stories of immigrant families are intimately woven into the tapestry of this great country, and today's decision threatens our nation's commitment to justice and compassion," she said, adding that she hoped the presumptive presidential nominees and Congress makes comprehensive immigration reform a priority. Jeanne Atkinson, executive director of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. or CLINIC, similarly expressed disappointment in the court's decision and said the responsibility is more than ever on Congress to come up with comprehensive immigration reform. She said the court's decision will put "millions of long-term U.S. residents in fear of law enforcement and at risk of mistreatment in the workplace, by landlords and from abusers due to threats of deportation." Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles similarly urged immigration reform, saying it was not a matter of politics but of "defending human rights and protecting human dignity." The case, argued before the court in April, involved Obama's 2014 expansion of a 2012 program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and creation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, known as DAPA. The programs had been put on hold last November by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, upholding a Texas-based federal judge's injunction against the executive actions. The original DACA program is not affected by the injunction. The states suing the federal government claimed the president went too far and was not just putting a temporary block on deportations, but giving immigrants in the country without legal permission a "lawful presence" that enabled them to qualify for Social Security and Medicare benefits. U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who defended the government, said the "pressing human concern" was to avoid breaking up families of U.S. citizen children, something echoed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, CLINIC, and at least three Catholic colleges, which joined in a brief with more than 75 education and children's advocacy organizations. When the case was argued before the high court in mid-April, Justice Sonia Sotomayor stressed that the 4 million immigrants who might be given a temporary reprieve from deportation "are living in the shadows" and "are here whether we want them or not," adding that the government had limited resources available for deportations. Thomas Saenz, a lawyer representing three mothers in in the country without documentation who have U.S. citizen children, told the court his clients live in "daily fear that they will be separated from their families and detained or removed from their homes." On the day the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case, the plight of families was visible with many gathered in front of the court hours before the arguments began carrying placards saying: "Fight for families," and "Love your neighbor" while a mariachi band played alongside them. Two months later when the court issued its opinion, a small crowd stood on the steps with placards saying: "The fight continues" and "Keep families together." One speaker emphasized that supporters of the president's plan should not go home sad but should be prepared to vote on the issue in November. In his June 23 statement, Archbishop Gomez specifically addressed the immigrant community "suffering from the cruelty and uncertainty caused by this broken immigration system." "Please know that the Catholic Church will never abandon you. You are our family," he said. "We will continue to accompany you and support you and defend your inalienable rights and dignity as children of God."- - - Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.  - - -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 Cindy WoodenABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT TO ARMENIA (CNS) -- Commenting on the peace agreement reached in Colombia, Pope Francis hailed the end of "more than 50 years of war and guerilla warfare and so much bloodshed." Pope Francis told reporters flying with him to Armenia June 24 that he prayed Colombia would "never return to a state of war" again. Although he usually does not answer questions on his flights from Rome to other countries, Pope Francis was asked by his spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, to comment on both the Colombia agreement and the results of a June 23 referendum in England on membership in the European Union. The decision to leave the EU "was the will expressed by the people," the pope said. The English decision, he said, "requires great responsibility on the part of all of us to guarantee the good of the people of the United Kingdom and the good and coexistence of the whole European continent." After his brief response to the questions, Pope Francis returned to his normal routine on outbound flights, walking the length of the plane and personally greeting each of the almost 70 media representatives. He collected letters and books and signed a few autographs. The Colombian government reached a cease-fire agreement June 23 with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC, ending 52 years of hostilities. The government and the Marxist guerillas have been in talks since 2012, reaching agreement on what the parties describe as five pillars. The final pillar, the demobilization of the guerillas, was the most difficult to settle. The other pillars cover political participation, rural development, the illicit economy, and victims of the violence and were settled in earlier negotiations. In the United Kingdom, voters June 23 decided to exit the EU by 52 percent to 48 percent. The decision sent a shock wave through world financial markets and led Prime Minister David Cameron to announce his resignation. The referendum turnout was 71.8 percent as more than 30 million people went to the polls. It was the highest turnout in a UK-wide vote since the 1992 general election. Voters in Great Britain and Wales decided strongly to leave the EU while residents of Northern Ireland and Scotland supported staying in the European bloc. Britain has two years to complete the withdrawal process under EU rules.- - -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/Carlo Allegri, ReutersBy Carol ZimmermannWASHINGTON (CNS) -- As Orlando, Florida, and the nation moves on from the shock of the June 12 nightclub attack, many are finding that there is no set path to find solace. But in the midst of collective mourning over the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, the Catholic Church had something to say not only about the senseless attack on human life but also about finding peace in troubled times and showing solidarity with the suffering. Many U.S. Catholic bishops condemned the shooting at the gay nightclub, which left 50 dead, including the shooter, and more than 50 others injured. Some were critical that the bishops as a group had not specifically noted that victims of the rampage were members of the gay and lesbian community. Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich took the lead in expressing sorrow that the gay community was singled out by the gunman. He said he and the Chicago Archdiocese stood with members of the gay community in the wake of "the heinous crimes" in Orlando "motivated by hate, driven perhaps by mental instability and certainly empowered by a culture of violence." Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, and several other bishops around the country similarly expressed sadness for the gay community's loss and the pain they experienced because of prejudice and hatred. That's a start, some say, hoping those messages will begin to diffuse hateful rhetoric that can lead some people to violence. "Church teaching does not say you should be evil toward people," said Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, who said the heart of the church's message is the need to love our brothers and sisters and welcome all. "We must look at our own conscience" on this, she added. McGuire said that as the country processes the Orlando attack, it should be "a moment for the church to rise and to be a source not only of comfort but of some advocacy and direction" for the church and the nation. She urged church leaders to be even stronger in denouncing gun violence particularly as a pro-life issue and also said the church should show "in every way possible, its solidarity with members of the Islamic religion" based on a possible backlash against Muslims because of the shooter's religion. The Catholic Church certainly has grounds to speak on such issues based on the catechism and other church documents, said Matthew Tapie, director of the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies at St. Leo University in Florida. He said the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that public authorities have the duty to regulate the sale of arms and Catholic social teaching emphasizes that measures are needed to control the production and sale of small arms and light weapons. Tapie also mentioned a 1986 letter to the world's Catholic bishops issued by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that addressed violence toward gays. The letter said it is "deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the church's pastors wherever it occurs." The Catholic Church also has spoken out on the issue of Islamophobia, although there is still work to be done at the local parish level on it, said Jordan Denari Duffner, a research fellow at Georgetown University's Bridge Initiative. Duffner, a panelist at a June 20 discussion on "Faith, Hope and Courage in a Time of Fear," sponsored by Georgetown's Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, stressed that Catholics should recognize that they have a great opportunity right now during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and in the middle of the Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis to come together even if just in conversation. Practical tips to continue the relationship, she said, would include praying for Muslims at Sunday Mass and Catholic groups hosting "iftar" meals for Muslims. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, and break their fast in the evening with prayer and a festive meal called "iftar."Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of the Islamic Society of North America's Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances, said that Ramadan is a time for Muslims to reinforce their faith in the one God of the Abrahamic faiths. "If we are making these sacrifices, if we are shaping our lives to please him, the ultimate one, then he is the one who comes to our rescue when there is something that hurts us" like the Orlando shooting, Syeed said. "When you talk to people of different faiths, we all have the same source of comfort: God."Duffner was not alone in tying the Year of Mercy to the Catholic response to the Orlando shooting. Mathew Schmalz, associate professor of religious studies at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, said that realization should be first and foremost in the minds of Catholics right now. The challenge, he said in a June 16 interview, is to ask what it means to show mercy to the victims, those impacted by the attack and even the perpetrator. "It's a difficult question but something our faith requires us to ask." Schmalz also said the often-repeated phrase "Our thoughts and prayers are with you" is a valid one if it is taken seriously. "A lot of people are saying we don't need prayer, we need action," but the two aren't mutually exclusive, he said. As he sees it, prayer can be a way of making what people do become more meaningful because then it is in light of one's relationship with God. This view was echoed in a June16 webinar for Our Sunday Visitor called: "When Disaster Strikes: Helping Children Cope With Tragedies, Disasters and Acts of Terror." A participant asked how people can support those dealing with the long-term impact of the nightclub attack. Joseph White, a child psychologist and catechetical author based in Austin, Texas, said the first thing to do is pray, then volunteer or contribute with charities responding to the tragedy. If you live in Orlando, show support for those impacted, let them know you think and care about them, he said. And if you don't live there: "Look for ways to be a peacemaker where you live. Combat the culture of death with a culture of peace." - - -Contributing to this story was Colleen Dulle. - - -Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.- - -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/Nancy WiechecBy Nancy WiechecPHOENIX (CNS) -- As triple-digit temperatures hit the desert Southwest, charities are working overtime to keep homeless and vulnerable people safe. "This is our winter," said Shannon Clancy, chief philanthropy officer for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Phoenix. "Out West when the heat turns up, the need actually increases." So far in June, the Catholic society has opened its dining centers for heat relief and emergency overnight shelter. The homeless and those without proper home cooling can rest and get water and snacks. Emergency rooms see some 2,000 people with heat-related illnesses in the state each year, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.The most vulnerable people are those age 65 and older, people who work or exercise outdoors, infants and children, the homeless, low-income families and those with chronic medical conditions. At least five people have died in Arizona because of the heat. Four of them were hiking June 19.On a Saturday in early June, Charone and Lisa Williams took cover in St. Vincent de Paul's expansive downtown dining room. An excessive heat warning was issued and the temperature rose to a record 115 degrees that day, June 4. Charone takes medication that can make him nauseated and dizzy if he's out in the sun. "We're lucky to find a place like this," he said. The couple has been homeless since March, bouncing between a friend's home and shelters. They have a Section 8 housing voucher but can't find an available apartment. They said they felt "stuck" and weren't sure what they would do next. That day, in the kitchen's walk-in cooler, dining room coordinator Theresa Jones was stacking heavy cases of bottled water. "As long as (water) keeps coming in, we'll be handing it out," she said. "I used to stay out here on the street," Jones told Catholic News Service. "At the time, they didn't have heat relief for the homeless. We had to stay outside in the heat and hope somebody would come by with water and food and ask if we were all right." Jones is no longer homeless, but she recalls trying to sleep in the brutal heat. "You don't want to even move. You're baking, you feel like your whole body will melt. I use to put cardboard down just to separate myself from the hot gravel. It helped very little." Clancy said charities serving the homeless had a sort of awakening in 2005 when some 30 people died of heat-related illnesses during a particularly bad Phoenix summer. Now, the society and its network of parishes and donors mobilize water and volunteer drives and help raise awareness of the community's summertime needs. "If you're out in the elements in heat like this, it's very dangerous," Clancy said. "Your body temperature continues to rise and you may not be able to cool off. Our heat relief efforts bring people inside and give them a chance to do that." The society also dispatches mobile heat relief each weekday. A van filled with water, food, clothing, sunscreen and other resources targets areas where people live in the open. The homeless are not the only concern of the society. Families already struggling to meet expenses also are hit hard in hotter months. "We have high utility bills because of the air-conditioning that's running all summer. We have families with kids out of school, so they may not have access to school food programs, so their food costs go up," Clancy said. It's at this time of year that it gets really stressful for families and they just have a hard time making it through the month with their income." Cheryl Cameron is a single mother of two who works at a food warehouse as a product verifier making about $10 an hour. Cameron and her children eat dinner at St. Vincent's family dining room most evenings. "With what I make, it's difficult," she said. "And summer is a lot harder. We come here for dinner because it helps with our food costs." Cameron said utility bills for the house she lives in with her sister and children can reach as high as $500 a month in the summer. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul assists families in several ways: With daily meals -- more than 4,000 are served each day -- with food boxes, with vouchers for utility payments and with other housing assistance. Last year in Phoenix, the society delivered $3.5 million in direct aid for utilities and shelter. As people leave town for vacations and to escape the heat, summer can create a lull in donations and volunteers, who do the majority of the work for many aid organizations. "Most of us are looking for volunteers to help out and help support us," Clancy said. St. Vincent de Paul and a local TV station teamed up to launch the "Be a Summer Action Hero" campaign encouraging people to hold food and water drives and volunteer or give to the society's summer relief efforts. It also educates about the hot weather and what it means for vulnerable families and individuals. Clancy said Pope Francis' focus on mercy and his call to engage in the Year of Mercy is the perfect opportunity for people to help others. "As Catholics we are always looking for ways that we can engage with people," Clancy said. "It's not so much just handing people food or delivering a food box. It's really offering in that one-to-one service the opportunity for both people to be transformed." Joseph Yanez, who works the mobile outreach unit for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, takes to the streets daily with other outreach specialists from the society looking for people who are in danger and in need of water. He said that when they spot anyone walking the streets without water or another beverage in hand, they stop and offer water. They hand out a pallet of bottled water each day. Yanez said water is like gold in Arizona. "Gold has a meaning, a value of monies," he told CNS. "Water has a meaning and value of life." - - -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.