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New saints inspire Christians to build peaceful world, bishop says

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The church's newest saints represent a diverse group of people who offer encouragement and hope to Christians today through their example, a Brazilian bishop said.

Saints like the "Martyrs of Natal," Brazil, offer a "new opportunity, hope and a renewal of faith" that can bring peace to a world battered by injustice, war and violence, Archbishop Jaime Vieira Rocha of Natal told journalists Oct. 13 during a press briefing.

"The grace of their canonization will certainly help create a society that is less vengeful, less violent, more fraternal," and encourage Catholics to stand up "for the dignity of the people," he said.

Ornate tapestries depicting each of the soon-to-be canonized saints -- who hail from Brazil, Italy, Mexico and Spain -- draped the facade of St. Peter's Basilica as workers busily prepared the square for the Oct. 15 Mass to be presided over by Pope Francis.

The "Martyrs of Natal" -- Blessed Andre de Soveral, a Jesuit priest; Blessed Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, a diocesan priest; Blessed Mateus Moreira, a layman; and 27 others -- were killed in 1645 in a wave of anti-Catholic persecution carried out by Dutch Calvinists in Natal, Brazil.

Father Julio Cesar Souza Cavalcante, an expert on their cause, told journalists that the 30 Brazilian martyrs -- which included priests, laymen and laywomen, families, husbands, wives, children and youth -- are models for all Catholics, especially in Brazil today, who want to follow the pope's call for a "church on the move" that goes out and gives public witness to their faith.

"Martyrdom is always this witness. And to give this witness of faith in a country that today is in an economic, security and health crisis, it is a witness that it is possible to go forward, it is possible to do more," Father Souza said.

The "Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala," Mexico -- Blesseds Cristobal, Antonio and Juan -- will also be declared saints by Pope Francis at the Mass.

The children, whose ages range from 12 to 13, were among the first native converts in Mexico and were killed between 1527 and 1529 for refusing to renounce the faith and return to their people's ancient traditions.

Msgr. Jorge Ivan Gomez Gomez, vicar general of the diocese of Tlaxcala, Mexico, told Catholic News Service that despite their age, the young martyrs proved that "grace acts and that not everything relies on human effort."

With a Synod of Bishops focusing on young people taking place in 2018, the child martyrs "are a motivation so that young men and women may be agents of the evangelization in their own families" and confront the idols of the modern world.

"Young people are immersed in a series of idolatries, which they sometimes passively accept," Msgr. Gomez said. "The martyrs, at their age, had the capacity to confront idolatries that were common in so many places" at the time.

The pope will also canonize Blessed Angelo of Acri, an Italian Capuchin priest who was born Luca Antonio Falcone. He died in 1739 and was beatified by Pope Leo XII in 1825.

A famed preacher, Blessed Angelo proclaimed the good news of the Gospel "in a simple, concrete way and not just by saying words," Capuchin Brother Carlo Calloni, postulator of Blessed Angelo's cause, told CNS.

He was also known for his defense of the poor and "knew how to raise his voice against the powerful of that time," Brother Calloni said.

However, he added, Blessed Angelo combined his sharp wit and intelligence with mercy when it came to the confessional, often spending long hours listening to repentant men and women seeking forgiveness.

Brother Calloni said the Capuchin priest's zeal for saving souls can serve as an example for the church's mission in reaching out to those who have become distant from their faith.

"Blessed Angelo can be the model for those who seek a new way to bring the proclamation (of the Gospel) to the world and that it may be heard by the people," he said.

Pope Francis will also canonize Blessed Faustino Miguez, a Spanish priest and a member of the Piarist Fathers born in 1831. He started an advanced school for girls at a time when such education was limited almost exclusively to boys.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Copyright © 2017 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.

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Vatican: Canada did not seek extradition for diplomat with porn charges

IMAGE: CNS

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Canadian authorities did not request the extradition of a Vatican diplomat who has been charged by police in Canada of accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography, a Vatican spokesman said.

"No request for extradition has come from Canada and no trial has been set at the Vatican" for the diplomat, Msgr. Carlo Capella, who had been working in the United States, said Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, in a written statement Oct. 12.

The Vatican investigation "requires international collaboration, and it has not ended yet," he added.

The Italian monsignor, who had been working at the Vatican nunciature in Washington, was first recalled to the Vatican after the U.S. State Department notified the Holy See Aug. 21 of his possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images.

"The Holy See, following the practice of sovereign states, recalled the priest in question, who is currently in Vatican City," the press office said Sept. 15. The press office said that the Vatican promoter of justice, the chief prosecutor for Vatican City State, had opened an investigation into the matter and that it had begun "international collaboration to obtain elements relative to the case."

Police in Canada then issued a nationwide arrest warrant Sept. 28 on charges of accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography.

"Investigators believe that the offenses occurred while the suspect was visiting a place of worship in Windsor," the police statement said. A spokesman for the Diocese of London, Ontario, which includes Windsor, confirmed at the time "that it was asked to, and did, assist in an investigation around suspicions involving Msgr. Capella's possible violations of child pornography laws by using a computer address at a local church."

While the Associated Press had reported that the U.S. State Department had asked the Vatican to lift the official's diplomatic immunity and that that request was denied, the Vatican said no extradition request had come from Canada.

The latest Vatican statement came after ANSA, the Italian news agency, cited unnamed sources Oct. 12 saying that Msgr. Capella would not be extradited to Canada because of the suspect's diplomatic immunity and that he would be tried in a Vatican tribunal.

Criminal charges against the Vatican diplomat were made possible after Pope Francis approved new and expanded criminal laws in 2013, which are applicable to all Vatican employees around the world. Any direct employee of the Holy See, which includes those working in a Vatican office or nunciature, can face a criminal trial at the Vatican as well as face criminal prosecution in the country where the crimes occurred.

The new amendments, which went into effect in September 2013, brought Vatican law into detailed compliance with several international treaties like the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Vatican's updated laws define and set out penalties for specific crimes against minors, including child prostitution, sexual violence against children and producing or possessing child pornography.

 

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Copyright © 2017 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.

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Find ways to keep migrant families together, Vatican official says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Overly strict immigration laws do not discourage migration, and more must be done to keep migrant families together, a Vatican representative said.

"The migrant family is a crucial component of our globalized world, but in too many countries the presence of the families of migrant workers is often legally impeded," said Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva.

"If we truly wish to leave no one behind, we must devise frameworks that help keep families together, including migrant families. The human vacuum left behind when a father or a mother migrates alone is a stark reminder of the toughness of the choice to migrate and of the fundamental right to be able to stay at home in dignity," he said.

Archbishop Jurkovic spoke Oct. 12 about regularized migration during a U.N. session preparing for a global compact for migration dedicated to facilitating safe, orderly and regular migration around the world.

"A tangible sign of increasing inequalities, socio-economic imbalances and unregulated globalization," he said, is the fact that there are some 1 billion people in the world with some sort of migratory status.

The constant and increased recourse to irregular or illegal ways to migrate is yet another symptom of a system that does not manage migration effectively, he said.

"Regrettably, all too often, the response to irregular migration is a short-term one, with a strong emphasis placed on security," he said.

"But while it is right and just to respect the legitimate interests of the receiving countries, it is possible and highly recommended to reconcile these interests with migrants' rights," he added.

Some ways to do that, he said, would include keeping migrant families together as well as making available more legal and "dignified pathways" for migration.

"Overtly strict immigration laws and restrictive immigration policies, including limits to migrants' access to social services, hardly discourage migration," he said.

"Desperation and hope always prevail over restrictive policies. Unfortunately, the same is true for profits, hence, turning to an irregular workforce becomes the likely response when there is a strong demand for 'cheap' labor," he said.

Policies should also be attentive to the hidden problems migrants may face when in a country illegally, the archbishop said.

"They find themselves ignored and neglected, gripped by the constant fear of expulsion or deportation. Out of desperation, they are compelled to accept dangerous work conditions, and often end up being exploited and abused," he said.

"Indubitably, every state has the sovereign right and responsibility to regulate the movement of people and should do so with a clear system of migration laws," Archbishop Jurkovic said.

"However, the approach to migration in all of its aspects, including irregular migration, should begin first and foremost from the perspective of the human person, and his or her fundamental rights as such, with special attention given to unaccompanied minors, the elderly, and those with special needs.

"In this regard, states should avoid the criminalization of irregular migrants and ensure the respect of the principle of non-refoulement," that is, to forbid countries from forcibly returning asylum seekers to a country where they would likely be persecuted.

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Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.

 

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Copyright © 2017 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.

Have courage, pray fervently, pope tells churches facing persecution

IMAGE: CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- No matter how much suffering Christians face in the world, God never forgets those who trust in and serve him, Pope Francis told leaders of Eastern Catholic churches.

The courage to "knock at the door" of God's heart and "the courage of faith (are) needed when you pray -- to have faith that the Lord is listening," the pope told patriarchs, metropolitans, bishops, priests and lay members of the Eastern churches during his homily in Rome's St. Mary Major.

The special Mass of thanksgiving Oct. 12 marked the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, an office that supports the Eastern Catholic churches, and the Pontifical Oriental Institute, which offers advanced degrees in Eastern Christian liturgy. During the morning Mass, the Sistine Chapel choir sang with a choir of Eastern seminarians studying in Rome, and an Eastern priest chanted the day's Gospel reading in Arabic.

In his homily, the pope recalled the congregation was founded during the tumultuous time of World War I and that, today, another kind of world war continued to rage with "so many of our Christian brothers and sisters of the Eastern churches experiencing tragic persecutions and an ever-more disturbing diaspora."

The 23 Eastern Catholic churches include the Chaldean, Syriac Catholic, Coptic Catholic, Melkite and Maronite churches as well as the Ukrainian Catholic Church, the largest of all the Eastern churches. Their presence in the East and Middle East has been threatened by decades of crises, oppression and war.

Pope Francis said the difficult situations they face beg many questions, most of all, "Why?"

How many times do they hear from the lay faithful or experience the feeling that "We see the wicked, those with no scruples, look out only for themselves, crushing others, and it seems that everything goes so well for them, they get whatever they want, and they only think about savoring life," the pope said.

Like in the day's first reading from the prophet Malachi, the people wonder why evildoers prosper. But God tells them he listens "attentively" and has noted all those who fear the Lord and trust in him no matter what, the pope said.

"God does not forget his children, his memory is for the righteous, for those who suffer, who are oppressed and ask, 'Why?' and yet they do not stop trusting in the Lord," the pope said.

"How many times the Virgin Mary, on her journey, asked herself, 'Why?' But in her heart, which reflected on everything, God's grace made her faith and hope shine," he said.

What is needed is the courage to "knock on God's heart" and pray. "When you pray, you need the courage of faith," the "courage to knock at the door" and the faith that God is listening, he said.

Like the Gospel says, "Ask and you will receive," God will always give his greatest gift: his Spirit, he said.

Before the Mass, Pope Francis visited the nearby Pontifical Oriental Institute and greeted the members of the Congregation for Eastern Churches as well as the patriarchs and major archbishops the congregation supports.

With students gathered in the garden, the pope blessed a cypress tree, and then he met with guests and the Jesuits who run the educational institute.

The pope gave them a written message asking them to reflect on ways the school can continue to fulfill its mission given that the dictatorships of the past have often left behind fertile terrain for the spread of global terrorism.

"No one can close their eyes" to the current situation of persecution against Christians and their forced exodus from their homelands, he said. Many now find themselves settled in Western nations where Latin-rite parishes and dioceses are the norm.

He invited the pontifical institute, which helps members of the Eastern churches strengthen their faith before the many challenges they face, to prayerfully listen to "what the Lord wants in this precise moment."

It may be, "for example, encouraging future priests to instill in their Eastern faithful, wherever they find themselves, a deep love for their traditions and the rite they belong to; and at the same time, to sensitize bishops of dioceses of the Latin rite to take on the task" of offering adequate spiritual and human assistance to these families and individuals.

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Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.

 

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Copyright © 2017 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.