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Peruvian archbishop withdraws defamation suit against journalist

Piura, Peru, Apr 24, 2019 / 03:55 pm (CNA).- The Archbishop of Piura, Peru, José Antonio Eguren, announced that he will withdraw a complaint of aggravated defamation against journalist Pedro Salinas, who was found guilty and convicted in the first instance by a Peruvian court.

In a statement published April 24, the archbishop said that "today I have presented before the First Unipersonal Criminal Court of Piura my request for withdrawal of the complaint filed against the journalist Pedro Salinas Chacaltana for the crime of aggravated defamation towards me."

On April 22, the results of an April 8 judgment against Salinas were released. Judge Judith Cueva Calle sentenced Salinas to one year of probation and a fine of 80 thousand soles (about $24,000) for the crime of aggravated defamation against Archbishop José Antonio Eguren Anselmi.

In his statement, Eguren said the judgment provoked "a series of unjustified reactions, even within the Church , which I consider to impact a higher good, namely the unity of the Mystical Body of Christ."

"As a bishop, my first responsibility is to watch over the portion of the People of God entrusted to me. For this reason, without prejudice to the outcome of the judicial process, I have decided to renounce my right to defend my reputation and good name," he said.

The archbishop recalled that "my intention in presenting the lawsuit against Mr. Salinas, was to defend the fundamental right that we all have to the good name, to reflect on the value of the honor of the people, and to prevent those who would make false and offensive accusations without more foundation.”

Therefore, he said, "I trust that this decision will be understood in its proper dimension and can contribute to the unity of Peruvians and our Church, so important in the country’s current moment.”

The case of Pedro Salinas

Pedro Salinas is co-author of the book "Mitad Monjes, Mitad soldados," published in 2015, which recounts the sexual, physical and psychological abuses committed by Luis Fernando Figari, founder of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, and other members of the same group. Eguren himself is a member of the group.

On Aug. 15, 2018, Eguren filed an aggravated defamation lawsuit against Salinas for comparing him in a January article to the Chilean bishop Juan Barros, who was accused of covering up the sexual abuse of ex-priest Fernando Karadima.

According to Salinas, Eguren himself would have a part of the system of physical, psychological and sexual abuse within the Sodalitium.

In the article, Salinas also cited an Al Jazeera article that accused Eguren of illegal land dealings in the city of Piura.

The archbishop reiterated in a statement on April 14 that Salinas declined to rectify those accusations and "dismissed all the information that was sent to him, via a notary, which proved that what he said was false."

In the same statement, he said that he requested that Salinas not be incarcerated, and that any civil judgment imposed on the journalist be donated to a shelter unconnected with the Sodalitium.

Judgment is a "historical fact"

Percy García Cavero, Eguren’s attorney, told ACI Prensa April 24 that the judgment against Salinas is a "historical fact,” and that Eguren decided to withdraw from the lawsuit because "he understands that there are higher interests, that in the present moment of the Church, require him to renounce the right to defend his honor. "

"The purpose is obviously to maintain unity and avoid any type of damage to the process of reparation and accompaniment to the victims of the Sodalitium," the attorney explained.

In this regard, he noted that the withdrawal of the complaint "is not a victory for Salinas, because Archbishop Eguren is not suggesting that is was wrong for him to complain, on the contrary.”

"He recognizes that he had every right, that his honor has been tainted and that an independent judge said so," said Garcia Cavero.

The lawyer said that the issue "is legally settled," recalling that the "sentence issued by the judge of first instance is fully valid in terms of legal oath."

"It is important reference for journalists in terms of regular practice of the profession and I think it should be a resolution of analysis in different legal and journalistic academic environments," he said.

This quarrel was a "historical fact that will not disappear because there was a process and a valid pronouncement that determined that Mr. Salinas Chacaltana slandered Archbishop Eguren," he said.

"Although there is no penalty, civil compensation or any sentence, the sentence has a moral content," he added.

The Sodalitium Christianae Vitae is a society of apostolic life founded in Peru to which the director of CNA, Alejandro Bermúdez, belongs.

 

This report was originally published by ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language sister agency. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Ending isolation key to fighting assisted suicide, Catholic health group founder says

Washington D.C., Apr 24, 2019 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- The founder of a Catholic health-share group has said that battling loneliness is crucial to opposing the growing acceptance of assisted suicide in popular culture.

Chris Faddis, co-founder of Solidarity HealthShare, spoke to CNA about the importance of respecting the dignity of all patients at the end of life.

Speaking to CNA during the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast April 23, Faddis said that a rising social and legal acceptance of assisted suicide is exacerbated by a lack of healthcare options that are both ethical and affordable, but is ultimately driven by loneliness and despair in the face of suffering.

“When you see no way out, something like a pill seems tempting,” he said.

Solidarity helps patients and their families find other options to assisted suicide to ease suffering and, Faddis said, expressed a kind of communion in its structure. In a health-share system, members of the organization help to pay each other’s healthcare costs. Members are self-pay patients who can see the provider of their choice while Solidarity helps to negotiate a lower rate, which would then be paid by the group of members.

“We're just there to facilitate and to kind of direct them,” said Faddis. “The affordability is there because there's no profit in it. We're a non-profit, we're just kind of facilitating that sharing."

“In all ways, we lead our members to the options that are going to respect life, that are going to promote their dignity. We provide care management, we provide services. And we encourage them."

Faddis, who serves as the Catholic health-sharing company’s chief operating officer, told CNA that the experience of suffering and death in his own family had formed his commitment to protecting human dignity at the end of life and led to his founding Solidarity. He served as a caregiver for his wife as she was dying of cancer, and experienced first-hand the importance of dignified and respectful hospice and palliative care.  

The experiences like his, Faddis said, needed to be shared in the wider battle to resist a culture of death in which suffering has no meaning.

“If we don't tell [an alternative view of suffering], the other side's telling the horror stories of suffering all day long."

Approaching death with dignity, Faddis said, is important for patients and families alike. “It’s worth taking time over,” he said, noting that his family benefited “in ways too many to count” from the care and support his wife received from their own community.

Solidarity does not pay for health services that are contrary to Catholic teaching, such as abortion, contraception, or euthanasia. When members are diagnosed with terminal illnesses, Faddis said that his organization works to ensure that members are directed to specific palliative care physicians who will not encourage assisted suicide.

Faddis said that an approach that underscores the value of life is especially important for terminal patients who are often feel as though they are a burden on their family and community. Terminal illness was, he said, a painful experience, but one that can be lived with dignity and meaning.

"When people are cared for well, then they can suffer well. So as they're going through those difficult times, or just those difficult decisions, people can help them just by caring well for them,” he said.

Assisted suicide is now legal in eight states, and is being considered by an additional four. New Jersey’s Catholic governor recently signed it into law in his state, after “careful prayer.”

Faddis said that in the United States, there is a general fear of suffering, which has resulted in an embrace of a quick death.

"I think we have a responsibility to console and give solace to the dying,” he said, stressing that preventing isolation was a vital part of respecting the dignity of human life.

“And I think if we do that well, we've solved the problem. I mean, if you're dying alone, you want the pill."

US House asks court to block funding for border wall

Washington D.C., Apr 24, 2019 / 12:40 pm (CNA).- Lawyers representing the US House of Representatives on Tuesday filed a motion in federal court to block funding for the construction of a wall on the US-Mexico border, which President Donald Trump had planned to fund primarily using Department of Defense money.

“Absent this Court’s timely intervention, defendants are poised to begin construction on the border wall next month, using funds that Congress declined to appropriate for that purpose,” the motion reads.

“This Court should therefore issue a preliminary injunction to prevent that irreparable injury to the House.”

Trump had planned to fund the wall’s construction using money appropriated under an emergency declaration he issued in February. By invoking the National Emergencies Act, the president can gain access to sources of funding otherwise unavailable to him. The 1976 act does not contain a specific definition of what constitutes a “national emergency.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement Feb. 15 opposing Trump’s emergency declaration.

“We are deeply concerned about the President’s action to fund the construction of a wall along the U.S./Mexico border, which circumvents the clear intent of Congress to limit funding of a wall,” read a joint statement from USCCB President Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, who leads the USCCB’s migration committee.

In their statement, DiNardo and Vasquez said the wall is a “symbol of division and animosity” between the United States and Mexico.

Following Trump’s emergency declaration, the Democrat-controlled House sued Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the executive branch, claiming the president’s decision to transfer Defense Department funds to fund the border wall violated the clause of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to designate federal spending.

Congress passed a spending package earlier this year— which Trump signed, ending a 35-day government shutdown— appropriating $1.375 billion for 55 miles of new barriers in the Rio Grande Valley sector. Trump had requested $5.7 billion.

The House’s motion notes that the Executive Branch has already transferred $1 billion in Defense Department money to the military’s Drug Interdiction and Counterdrug Activities fund, with plans to transfer $2.5 billion more. In addition, $3.6 billion will be reallocated to fund the wall from Department of Defense military construction projects, as well as $600 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund. The Executive Branch has already awarded contracts for construction of the wall, set to begin next month.

The motion asserts that the 2019 Department of Defense Appropriations Act only authorizes transfers for “higher priority items, based on unforeseen military requirements” and “in no case where the item for which funds are requested has been denied by the Congress.”

“The House is unaware of any other instance in American history where a President has declared a national emergency to obtain funding after having failed to win Congressional approval for an appropriation,” the motion reads.

U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden has not yet set a date for a hearing on the House’s motion.

There are at least two lawsuits against Trump’s funding decision still pending. In one, 16 states are challenging the president’s actions, while another suit was brought by the Sierra Club and a border-communities group, according to Politico.

A judge in Oakland, California has agreed to hear motions for injunctions in those suits May 17, Politico reports.

Bishops of dioceses along both sides of the border have said that the additional construction of a wall would pose dangers to migrants and would create unnecessary divisions in societies that have transcended countries’ borders.

Although “the Church has long recognized the first right of persons not to migrate, but to stay in their community of origin,” Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas wrote in 2017, “when that has become impossible, the Church also recognizes the right to migrate.”

 

Pope Francis: To stop evil, give more love than required

Vatican City, Apr 24, 2019 / 04:46 am (CNA).- To stop the spread of evil in the world, Catholics must go above and beyond, loving and forgiving others even when it is undeserved, Pope Francis urged Wednesday.

“Jesus inserts the power of forgiveness into human relationships. In life, not everything is resolved with justice,” he said April 24.

“Especially where we must put a barricade against evil, someone must love beyond what is necessary, to start a story of grace again,” he said, warning that “evil is familiar with its revenge, and if it is not interrupted it risks spreading and suffocating the whole world.”

The Easter Octave, he said, is a good time to think about the beauty of forgiveness and to pray to the Father for the grace to forgive others, explaining that Jesus replaced the “law of retaliation” with the “law of love: what God has done for me, I give it back to you!”

The pope continued his general audience catechesis on the ‘Our Father’ by reflecting on the line which says, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

In forgiveness we find “the bond between love for God and love of neighbor,” he said. “Love calls love, forgiveness calls forgiveness.”

“Every Christian knows that forgiveness of sins exists for him. This we all know, that Jesus forgives everyone and forgives always. Nothing in the Gospels suggests that God does not forgive the sins of those who are well disposed and who ask to be re-embraced,” he said.

“But,” he continued, “the abundant grace of God is always challenging. He who has received so much must learn to give so much.”

He said God gives every Christian the grace to do good in the lives of their brothers and sisters, even those who have done something wrong, and with “a word, a hug, a smile, we can convey to others what most precious thing we have received.”

“And what precious thing have we received? Forgiveness.”

Sometimes, the pope said, he has heard people say they will “never forgive” some person for what they have done to them. But God has told his people if they do not forgive others, they will not be forgiven, Francis underlined. “You close the door.”

He recounted a story told to him by a priest, who had visited an old woman on her death bed. She could barely speak, but when asked if she was sorry for her sins, she said ‘yes.’

But when the priest asked her if she forgave others, she said, ‘no.’ “The priest was distressed,” Pope Francis said. “If you do not forgive, God will not forgive you. If you cannot forgive, ask the Lord to give you strength to do it.”

Jesus tells a parable which illustrates the concept of forgiving others as God has forgiven you, he noted.

In the parable, found in the Gospel of Matthew, a servant owes his master a huge debt, something impossible to repay. But miraculously, he receives not only an extension, but full forgiveness of the debt. “An unexpected grace!”

But, Francis explained, the servant immediately turned to his brother to demand from him the much smaller debt he was owed.

“Therefore, in the end, the master calls him back and has [the servant] condemned,” he said. “Because if you do not try to forgive, you will not be forgiven; if you do not try to love, you will not be loved either.”

Supreme Court to hear sexual orientation, gender identity employment cases

Washington D.C., Apr 24, 2019 / 03:30 am (CNA).- In a decision that could have potentially far-reaching consequences, the U.S. Supreme Court has said it will hear cases involving claims that sexual orientation and gender identity should be included under current federal protections barring sex discrimination.

One case involves a male employee who identifies as a woman and was fired from a funeral home for deciding to wear women’s clothes to work.

John Bursch, vice president of appellate advocacy at the religious freedom legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, argued that the court should uphold current federal law.

“Neither government agencies nor the courts have authority to rewrite federal law by replacing ‘sex’ with ‘gender identity’—a change with widespread consequences for everyone,” he said April 22.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday said it would hear the cases in the upcoming court term, with decisions and opinions possible in 2020.

Alliance Defending Freedom is backing the funeral home at the center of one case, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The family-owned funeral home, owned by Tom Roost, has operated since 1910 and now has several chapels.

In 2007 it hired a male employee who agreed to follow the company’s policies, including its sex-specific dress code. The ADF summary of the case said the dress code is “crafted to emphasize professionalism and keep the focus on those mourning the loss of a loved one.”

In 2013, the employee told Roost that he intended to begin dressing as a woman at work.

“Tom determined that allowing this would not be in the best interests of his clients processing their grief,” Alliance Defending Freedom said on its website summary of the case. “He offered the employee a severance package, which the employee refused.”

The employee, who now goes by Aimee Stephens, wrote to colleagues that year: “What I must tell you is very difficult for me and is taking all the courage I can muster... I have felt imprisoned in a body that does not match my mind, and this has caused me great despair and loneliness.”

Stephens filed suit on legal grounds including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law which bars discrimination on categories including race, religion, national origin and sex.

In 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan backed the funeral home. However, the EEOC appealed the case, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit then ruled that the dress code was discriminatory against a male employee who identifies as a woman.

“It is analytically impossible to fire an employee based on that employee’s status as a transgender person without being motivated, at least in part, by the employee’s sex,” said the appellate court, according to the New York Times. “Discrimination ‘because of sex’ inherently includes discrimination against employees because of a change in their sex.”

Bursch, who served as solicitor general of Michigan from 2011 to 2013, said the funeral home wanted “to serve families mourning the loss of a loved one.” He charged “the EEOC has elevated its political goals above the interests of the grieving people that the funeral home serves.”

“Businesses have the right to rely on what the law is—not what government agencies want it to be—when they create and enforce employment policies,” Bursch added.

The Supreme Court accepted the funeral home case on the limited questions of whether Title VII bars discrimination against self-identified transgender people based on “their status as transgender” or “sex stereotyping” under a 1989 Supreme Court decision, Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins.

Alliance Defending Freedom’s brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court argued that the Sixth Circuit’s interpretation “undermines the primary purpose for banning discrimination based on sex,” namely to ensure equal opportunities for women and to eliminate workplace inequalities that have held women back.

If the lower court’s interpretation holds, it said, employment reserved for women like playing basketball in the WNBA or working at a shelter for abused women “now must be opened to males who identify as women.” Such a definition would also undermine Title IX efforts to advance women’s participation in sports and educational opportunities, it said.

“Substituting ‘gender identity’ for ‘sex’ in nondiscrimination laws also threatens freedom of conscience,” the ADF petition added, saying that such interpretations have forced doctors to participate in surgical efforts to alter sex “in violation of their deeply held beliefs” and best medical judgment.

“In sum, the Sixth Circuit ushered in a profound change in federal law accompanied by widespread legal and social ramifications,” the legal group charged.

Two other cases, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia and Altitude Express, Inc. vs. Zarda, will also go before the Supreme Court. They were consolidated because of similar claims regarding employer discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, National Public Radio reports.

The case Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda involves the late New York skydiving instructor Donald Zarda, who said he was fired because he was gay. He was fired after a female customer complained. She had voiced concerns about being tightly tied to Zarda during a tandem dive, and Zarda tried to reassure her by telling her he was “100% gay,” the New York Times reports.

Zarda was killed in a skydiving accident in 2014 but his estate is continuing to pursue the case.

A divided 13-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled that the lawsuit could proceed.

Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann, writing the court’s majority opinion, said “sexual orientation discrimination is motivated, at least in part, by sex and is thus a subset of sex discrimination.” Sexual orientation discrimination is “predicated on assumptions about how persons of a certain sex can or should be, which is an impermissible basis for adverse employment actions.”

“(S)exual orientation discrimination—which is motivated by an employer’s opposition to romantic association between particular sexes—is discrimination based on the employee’s own sex,” Katzmann’s decision added.

The case Bostock v. Clayton County involves a Georgia child welfare services coordinator who said he was fired for being gay, the New York Times reports.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in July 2018 issued an unsigned opinion citing a 1979 5th circuit court decision ruling that firing for homosexuality is not barred by Title VII.

Most federal courts do not consider sexual orientation discrimination to be a form of sex discrimination, the New York Times reports.

EEOC publications on the commission website hold that “sex stereotypes” like “the belief that men should only date women or that women should only marry men” constitute illegal discrimination on the basis of sex. They say that the 1964 civil rights legislation against sex discrimination in the workplace includes discrimination “based on an applicant or employee’s gender identity or sexual orientation.”

However, those opinions lack Congressional approval. Proposed legislation known as the Equality Act would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected categories under federal law.

Critics have warned that the legislation explicitly rejects religious freedom protections and would open the gates to anti-discrimination lawsuits against religious believers and institutions who disagree with the bill’s broad view of what constitutes LGBT discrimination.

Rev. Walter Kedjierski Named as Executive Director of Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON— Rev. Walter Kedjierski of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York has been appointed as Executive Director of the Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), based in Washington D.C.

Fr. Kedjierski will begin the new position effective June 3, 2019. Msgr. Brian Bransfield, USCCB General Secretary, made the appointment.

"Fr. Kedjierski brings to the Conference an abundance of knowledge and experience in the realm of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, both at the institutional and the personal levels,” said Msgr. Bransfield. "I am very grateful to Fr. Kedjierski for accepting this important position in service to the bishops and to the Conference. I am equally grateful to the Most Reverend John O. Barres, Bishop of Rockville Centre, for his kind consideration of the needs of the Conference and the Church in the United States.”

Since June 2017, Fr. Kedjierski has served as Rector/President of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York, where he first served as Vice Rector and Director of Diaconate Formation, as well as Director of the Sacred Heart Institute for the Continuing Formation of Clergy. Father Kedjierski is also the Director of the Diocese’s Office of Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs, where he served from 2007 to 2010 as Associate Ecumenical officer in charge of Relations with Muslims and Other Religious groups, and in which role he is a member of the Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers (CADEIO), the Long Island Council of Churches, and the Long Island Multi-Faith Forum. Father Kedjierski was a member of the board of trustees of the Inter-Faith Center of the Islamic Center of Long Island, in Westbury, NY, for three years. He has participated in sessions of the USCCB’s dialogue with the Orthodox Union of Rabbis in New York and facilitated numerous ecumenical and inter-religious dialogues, the latest being a dialogue on non-violence this past fall with Indian Hindu scholar Swami Nikhileswarananda.

Fr. Kedjierski attended the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, graduating with a Master of Divinity in May of 2002. After his ordination to the priesthood on June 8, 2002, he served in parish ministry until June 2016. In May 2011 he earned an Ed.D. in Inter-faith and Ecumenical Education from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Mishawaka, Indiana, and in August 2016, he earned his Ph.D. in Dogmatic/Spiritual Theology from the Graduate Theological Foundation’s Foundation House at Oxford University Program.

Fr. Kedjierski has additionally published several articles on theological and ecumenical topics in journals such as Homiletic and Pastoral Review and the Princeton Theological Review.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Diocese of Rockville Centre, Fr. Walter Kedjierski, Secretariat Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Monsignor Brian Bransfield

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Bishops Urge That All People Count and Must Be Included in Census Efforts

WASHINGTON—Bishop Frank Dewane, of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Bishop Joe Vasquez, of Austin, Chairman of the Committee on Migration, issued the following statement in advance of the oral argument of Department of Commerce v. New York, before the United States Supreme Court regarding the importance of ensuring an accurate count for the U.S. Census.

“Our country conducts a Census every ten years to count the number of men, women and children residing in the United States. Census data helps direct more than $800 billion annually to key programs designed to advance the common good, strengthen families and reduce poverty. The Catholic Church and other service providers rely on the national Census to provide an accurate count in order to effectively serve those in need,” said Bishop Dewane.

“We urge for all people to be counted in the Census, regardless of their citizenship. Proposed questions regarding immigration status will obstruct accurate Census estimates and ultimately harm immigrant families and the communities they live in. Our society, rooted in the strength of the family, cannot risk missing this opportunity to give children and parents the tools they need to succeed,” said Bishop Vasquez.
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Joe Vasquez, Committee on Migration, Department of Commerce, New York, United States Supreme Court, U.S. Census, society, family

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

President of U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Statement on Terrorist Attacks atMultiple Churches and Hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday

WASHINGTON—The following statement has been issued by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United StatesConference of Catholic Bishops regarding simultaneous explosions in Sri Lanka targeting the country’s minority Christian community as well as luxury hotels around Colombo on Easter Sunday morning. At least 200 people were killed and more than 400 injured inthe terrorist attacks.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“This morning in Sri Lanka a coordinated series of bombings killed hundreds of worshipers in Catholic Churches and others of all faiths in nearby hotels. The Churches were St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo and Zion Church in the eastern city of Batticaloa. This great evil targeted these churches as they were packed full of worshipers who were celebrating Easter, the day in whichChristians around the world celebrate the rising of the King of Peace from the dead. We offer our prayers for the victims and their families. And we join with all people of good will in condemning these acts of terrorism. This evil cannot overcome the hopefound in our Savior’s Resurrection. May the God of hope who has raised his Son, fill all hearts with the desire for peace.”

Keywords: Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, bombings, terrorist attacks, Colombo, Sri Lanka, CatholicChurches, Evangelical Churches, Luxury Hotels, Easter Sunday, Christians, St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, Zion Church

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

 

 

Catholic Church in the United States Will Welcome Thousands of New Catholics at Easter Vigil Masses

WASHINGTON— Dioceses across the country will be welcoming thousands of people into the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil Masses on the evening of April 20th. As the culmination of the Easter Triduum, the Vigil celebrates the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. While people can become Catholic at any time of the year, the Easter Vigil is a particularly appropriate moment for adult catechumens to be baptized and for already-baptized Christians to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church. Parishes welcome these new Catholics through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

Many of the dioceses across the nation have reported their numbers of people who intend to become Catholic on Saturday to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Based on these reports, more than 37,000 people are expected to be welcomed into the Church at Easter Vigil Masses.

Prior to beginning the RCIA process, an individual comes to some knowledge of Jesus Christ, considers his or her relationship with Jesus Christ and is usually attracted in some way to the Catholic Church. Then during the RCIA process, which typically lasts nine months or more, a person learns the teachings of the Catholic Church in a more formal way and discerns that he or she is ready to commit to living according to these beliefs. Thousands of people have already passed through this process and are ready to take this step on Saturday in parishes throughout the country.

Two distinct groups of people will be initiated into the Catholic Church. Catechumens, who have never been baptized, will receive Baptism, Confirmation and first Communion at the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil. Candidates, who have already been baptized in another Christian tradition, will enter the Church through a profession of faith and reception of Confirmation and the Eucharist.

For example, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest in the United States, will welcome 1,560 catechumens and 913 candidates; the Archdiocese of San Francisco will welcome 174 catechumens and 175 candidates; and the Diocese of San Diego will welcome 306 catechumens and 806 candidates.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will welcome 1,512 catechumens and 631 candidates. Among them will be Alfredo Acosta, who is experiencing both intense sorrow and joy over the past two years that led him to become a Catholic. He suffered the loss of his two younger brothers who passed away, but then he also celebrated the birth of his son, Benjamin, now 18-months old. “My wife Gricelda is a cradle Catholic. She was born into her faith. Then we baptized our son last year, so I wanted to be able to share our faith with both of them,” Acosta said. Other catechumens and candidates say they were also inspired by the witness of Catholics in their lives

Other archdioceses and dioceses report numbers as follows: Archdiocese of Washington: 455 catechumens and 183 candidates; Atlanta: 645 catechumens, 1,181 candidates; Dallas: 1,196 catechumens, 1,399 candidates; Fort Worth: 600 catechumens, 500 candidates; Corpus Christi: 130 catechumens, 43 candidates; Tyler: 101 catechumens, 190 candidates; Charlotte: 724 catechumens, 1,284 candidates; Venice in Florida: 148 catechumens, 120 candidates; Archdiocese of New Orleans: 152 catechumens, 161 candidates; Columbus: 173 catechumens, 227 candidates; Erie: 51 catechumens, 80 candidates; Baton Rouge: 158 catechumens, 300 candidates; Orlando: 514 catechumens, 482 candidates; Monterrey: 297 catechumens; Crookston: 7 catechumens, 33 candidates; St. Augustine: 174 catechumens, 315 candidates; Rockville Centre: 272 catechumens; Arlington, VA: 285 catechumens, 277 candidates; Salina: 33 catechumens, 88 candidates; Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis: 205 catechumens, 319 candidates; Archdiocese of Newark: 411 catechumens, 58 candidates; Archdiocese of Oklahoma City: 262 catechumens, 324 candidates; Syracuse: 48 catechumens, 59 candidates.

The Archdiocese of Seattle reports 769 catechumens and 424 candidates; Salt Lake City: 227 catechumens, 107 candidates; Yakima: 255 catechumens, 40 candidates; Little Rock: 272 catechumens, 324 candidates; Archdiocese of Louisville: 185 catechumens, 191 candidates; Davenport: 63 catechumens, 85 candidates; Archdiocese of Denver: 462 catechumens, 348 candidates; Albany: 55 catechumens, 86 candidates; Archdiocese of Philadelphia: 196 catechumens, 267 candidates; Tucson: 136 catechumens, 179 candidates; Savannah: 80 catechumens, 231 candidates; Steubenville: 26 catechumens, 67 candidates; Gallup, New Mexico: 75 catechumens/candidates; Harrisburg: 92 catechumens.  

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati will be welcoming 322 catechumens, 403 candidates; Santa Rosa: 54 catechumens, 22 candidates; Trenton: 161 catechumens, 114 candidates; Honolulu: 197 catechumens, 184 candidates; Rochester: 62 catechumens, 112 candidates; Wichita: 123 catechumens, 234 candidates; Bridgeport: 71 catechumens, 210 candidates and Grand Rapids 171 catechumens, 186 candidates.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh reports: 101 catechumens, 161 candidates; Owensboro: 91 catechumens, 135 candidates; Lexington: 111 catechumens, 74 candidates; Archdiocese of Boston: 288 catechumens, 182 candidates; Covington: 65 catechumens, 121 candidates; Palm Beach: 152 catechumens, 464 candidates; Evansville: 81 catechumens, 94 candidates; Springfield, IL: 102 catechumens; 100 candidates; Manchester: 50 catechumens; Wilmington: 76 catechumens, 122 candidates; Archdiocese of Indianapolis: 330 catechumens, 465 candidates.

Additionally, the Diocese of Worcester reports 95 catechumens, 34 candidates; Belleville: 44 catechumens, 74 candidates; Lafayette: 63 catechumens, 93 candidates; Portland in Maine: 65 catechumens, 57 candidates; Houma-Thibodaux: 37 catechumens, 41 candidates; Yakima: 255 catechumens, 40 candidates; Youngstown, Ohio: 86 catechumens, 116 candidates; Des Moines; 97 catechumens, 131 candidates; Springfield, MA: 43 catechumens, 56 candidates; Paterson: 114 catechumens.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore will receive 227 catechumens, 410 candidates; Biloxi: 72 catechumens, 135 candidates; Green Bay, WI: 40 catechumens, 78 candidates; Shreveport: 27 catechumens, 94 candidates; Kansas City-St. Joseph: 160 catechumens, 155 candidates; Camden: 126 catechumens; Fall River: 43 catechumens, 65 candidates; Jefferson City: 100 catechumens; 165 candidates; Saginaw: 60 catechumens, 53 candidates; Cleveland: 251 catechumens, 270 candidates; Gary: 50 catechumens, 100 candidates.

The Archdiocese of Anchorage will also be welcoming 39 catechumens, 34 candidates; Bismarck: 16 catechumens, 44 candidates; St. Cloud: 17 catechumens, 40 candidates; New Ulm: 8 catechumens, 28 candidates; Great Falls-Billings: 38 catechumens, 60 candidates; Peoria: 82 catechumens, 196 candidates; Lake Charles: 61 catechumens, 141 candidates; Kalamazoo Michigan: 55 catechumens, 46 candidates.

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Keywords: U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Holy Saturday, Easter Vigil, Easter Triduum, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), catechumens, candidates, conversion, baptism, First Communion, Eucharist, confirmation, sacraments, Catholic, archdiocese, diocese

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Media Contacts:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3202

 

President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Issues Statement on Notre Dame Cathedral Fire

WASHINGTON—Amidst the devastating fire taking place at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Pairs, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement to the people of Paris.

The full statement follows:

“The horrific fire that is engulfing the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris is shocking and saddens us all, for this particular cathedral is not only a majestic Church, it is also a world treasure. Noble in architecture and art, it has long been a symbol of the transcendent human spirit as well as our longing for God. Our hearts go out to the Archbishop and the people of Paris, and we pray for all the people of France, entrusting all to the prayers and intercession of the Mother of God, especially the firefighters battling the fire. We are a people of hope and of the resurrection, and as devastating as this fire is, I know that the faith and love embodied by this magnificent Cathedral will grow stronger in the hearts of all Christians.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops USCCB, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Paris, Cathedral of Notre Dame

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200